Downstream at Fort Gondo
Despite being embellished in gold duct tape, Garry Noland’s dock float foam sculptures are relatively restrained when paired with the work of his daughter, Peggy Noland, who uses similarly economic materials, but instead cakes them in glitter and forms them haphazardly into creatures with shiny white teeth and phantom gowned bodies. For Downstream at Fort Gondo’s Beverly, Garry, an acclaimed Kansas City-based artist and Peggy, primarily known as a fashion designer, are showing together for the first time.
The work of both artists references a playground. Garry’s bubble-wrap mallet is poised to be unrolled from its tight coil and popped by a parade of bare-footed kids. Peggy’s cardboard cutouts are reminiscent of a plastic grocery store play-set, placed among the other objects and acting as a backdrop on her stage of skewed proportions. It is a dreamscape characterized by a garish creepiness in which the objects might at any point begin mechanically moving through the space. Carnival music would click on, but the eyes of the characters would remain unblinking.
Some of Garry’s foam objects are also anthropomorphized more subtly in how they come in contact with the ground, huddled in a cluster, their gold sides giving them a sort of face. The woven duct tape on the foam objects acts as a façade just as the expressions of Peggy’s characters are suspiciously happy. Even in a pile of phallic cylinders covered in marbles, Garry’s work shows restraint and a thoughtful, meditative approach to making. Like Peggy’s, Garry’s work evokes more sinister elements, but somber in nature rather than verging on horrific. Although Garry has carved smooth sides and edges into the foam, he has let the grime remain, giving the cluster of sculptures on the floor qualities of an old, unmarked gravesite.
Downstream addresses material in a direct way. Neither artist tries to hide the material they are using. On one hand, Peggy confronts the cheapness of the material by creating a scene with screaming colors, barely held together by wrinkled tape. On the other hand, Garry works to refine his materials by cutting them into jewel-like forms but also showcases the history of the dock foam by allowing the dirt to remain part of the piece. In spite of being louder than Garry’s work, Peggy’s installation does not work against Garry’s. Instead, the father-daughter pair has exhibited a synergetic exploration of material playfulness.
Images courtesy of Fort Gondo.