In her current exhibition at Nancy Margolis Gallery, Provenzano has amassed a curious and somewhat dark salon of such memorabilia, which the artist has collected over a lifetime, and now studies in the stark conditions of her studio. The scrutiny of her observation is reflected in the precision of her painting.
“She is so full of detail,” murmured Provenzano in praise of a small glass figurine, a winged cherub with rigid blonde pigtails, a rhinestone sash, and a mouth open wide for singing. The red and blue stripes on her white dress, in addition to the name spelled across the hem—JULY—recall patriotic melodies from our childhood.
“July,” an object of fascination for the artist, represents only one figure in the carnival of colored glass and plastic toys titled Earth. The girl is joined in mute cabaret by a rigid woman on the accordion and a grass-skirted ukulelist who doubles as a candle, happily oblivious to other subtle signs of danger: A caterpillar lies motionless on its back, a glass tree falls at the decapitated head of a Japanese doll, and an orange traffic cone—a blatant note of caution—is positioned front and center of the chaos, dividing the canvas symmetrically.
Nearby, the piece Heaven pictures only perfectly translucent materials, emphasizing light, and Hell depicts a lone violinist—another cherub, this one in a bright devil’s costume—dwarfed by the looming party hats and a horned pink bow.
“Realism and fantasy exist in [my] painting simultaneously,” said the artist, speaking to the stories told by her compositions, “The moment you’re born on this earth, you can be in danger… It’s a serious thing, or is it?”Melodie Provenzano.
In the cyclical, visual treadmill of Plan A, Provenzano uses symbols to further emphasize the equal bliss of childhood, and the child’s innate awareness of lurking dangers. In a 20-canvas installation that runs the length of the gallery’s western wall, the artist playfully reveals other objects that have aroused her curiosity. The outermost edges of both collages are marked with V-shaped canvases, a design that the artist attributes to her love of ribbon. This is the first exhibition for which the artist has attempted such an installation.
Stealth Peace is closing after this weekend, so we encourage you to visit the exhibition at Nancy Margolis Gallery before the 27th! To learn a little more about Melodie and the title of her solo show, check out the video below.
Mary E. Hurt is a curatorial assistant, art handler, and writer living in Brooklyn. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in Art History in 2013. After a depressing experience working for an infamous vanity gallery in Chelsea, Mary began establishing a freelance network to depend on, assisting established and avant-garde artists in curation, installation, website development, and–most importantly–writing. She is excited to join the staff with Quiet Lunch Magazine and Smoothie Tunes, that dope music interview blog. In upcoming projects, Mary hopes to explore how counter-culture art and music stay alive in an increasingly corporatized playing field.