About 150 drawings comprise Nathanael Roney's exhibit Take Me Out, currently on display at Harvest Records in West Asheville. The sheer volume of work is impressive and when viewed as a whole, the mass of drawings tells a compelling story as strange and beautiful as each individual piece.
Xpress readers may already be familiar with Roney's work; he regularly illustrates the "Junker's Blues" column and has illustrated many fine newspaper covers. His drawings might best be described as "anti" contour drawings, as the confidently rendered lines run against the natural contours of his subjects, for a stylized effect that is oddly disarming and expressively gooey. Literally these are "twisted" drawings.
Using only a ballpoint pen, the simplicity of Roney's medium exaggerates the curious quality of his subject matter, that ranges from baseball players, to portraits of historical figures, to monkeys, goats, soldiers and landscapes. The artist has drawn himself and his wife in many of the pictures — often in cheeky ways, such as the drawing where he appears as a minotaur. In another he stands contemplatively in front of a gravestone.
Peppered here and there are witty text and thought bubbles that poetically challenge the viewer's experience." Go ahead, look back" is written next to an image of Roney, looking over his shoulder — referencing the ultimate iconic rebel, Bob Dylan, subject of the film Don't Look Back.
"He F—ks Me" is written over a barren landscape in one drawing, and in another drawing of the same landscape (with slightly differing shadows)"He F—s Me Not" is written. This is the kind of thing that is so refreshing about the show — moving through differing emotional textures, Roney doesn't dumb down or compromise subject matter for his viewers. And his viewers appreciate that.
Roney's show will be up until Jan. 7.
There is still time to see the drawings of Ted Harper at BoBo Gallery this month. Still, if you happen to miss them, don't worry; the artist has painted a dazzling mural on the outside of the building (in the alley way) containing the characters he has become known for — including grubs, birds, houses, waterfalls and spray cans.
The drawings at BoBo are affectionately rendered in paint markers upon old paper record sleeves. "I like using found materials because there is already so much information on them to work from," Harper says.
He begins each drawing with a scribble of ball-point pen, and then layers in design elements that he develops based on what he sees in the scribbles. "I rely on accidents and randomness to inform what I make," he says. Eventually, narratives emerge: cartoonish creatures interacting as symbols for broader ideas.
The titles of Harper's exhibit come from religious propaganda pamphlets. In "Man, I'm so high!" a forlorn bluebird is draped with an upside-down grub whose numerous legs splay out to the sky. "Grubs just seem like funny little underground dwellers to me," says Harper. "They look like they don't really have opinions about anything, and also they're food for the birds."
More of Harper's grubs can be found in the paintings that currently grace the walls of PUSH SkateShop & Gallery (25 Patton Ave.) alongside Kimberly Turley's multimedia BFA exhibit I used to be an animal.
Most notable at PUSH is the diptych "High Beams," which portrays a grub with a skull head, and an earthworm wearing a bird mask, a black thought bubble extends out of one eye containing a dark crystal mass. It's the largest painting Harper has made for a gallery, and the detail of it is tremendous.
The show will remain at PUSH through the month of December. www.edwardsharper.com