At first glance, the exterior of Waterloo Arts looks almost as if it's between exhibitions. Black paper hides what is going on inside. But when you walk in, it's another world. We're greeted by a fluorescent wonderland under black light, with artwork using that awesome paint, DayGlo.
Despite its seemingly gimmicky reputation, DayGlo paint has moved forward through many an artist's practice. In fact, the medium has been used to create some wonderful contemporary art, such as the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinon's Seven Magic Mountains, an outdoor installation that can be found in the desert just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
More than 40 regional and national artists have been invited to work with the paint, which is donated each year by the Cleveland-based DayGlo Corporation, for this year's DAYGLOSHO7. Curated by Angela Oster, the show moved from Doubting Thomas Gallery to Waterloo Arts in 2015. "I'm thrilled that Waterloo invited me to curate this year's show. I have sought out other artists who use a DayGlo inspired palette or who I think are naturally suited to its qualities," she says.
Sarah Royer's "Karina's Shoes at the Beachland" is a great example of pushing the envelope with the paint. The artist screen-printed the color on top of her photograph of a patron or artist at a concert. The work is expertly executed and whets our appetite for more of the same.
To the right of Royer's piece, we immediately recognize a painting by Cleveland art giant Douglas Max Utter, whose retrospective exhibition will be on view at HEDGE in April. Utter's work brings us into intimate spaces within the paintings' borders and hits a home run again with "Detective Story." We meet an enigmatic figure — perhaps contemplating the next clue, perhaps giving a secret away. The effect of the paint in his style is glorious.
Another Cleveland artist, Laura Herbold, has us weaving through kelp-like loops and strands in her painting "In the Woods," which won Best in Show this year.
Gallery director Amy Callahan instructs us to put on a pair of 3-D glasses, which are available at the entrance, to really get a good look at the work. "DayGlo paint has three lives," she states, "daylight, black light and then another with the 3-D glasses on."
Nothing could have prepared us for what happened when we gazed upon Sacramento artist Jose DiGregorio's "Luminous Traces" after donning the eyewear. The painting moves in ways that has us optically confused. Two octagons merge as a Venn diagram. Under the black light it's already delicious in a candy-like way, but with the glasses on we are slapped in the face with layers that give the illusion of collage. It's really wild.
Despite DayGlo's assets, it's hard to achieve depth when working with the paint.
"This year it was strongly suggested the artists use black light to check in to the work," Oster says. "It looks totally different in the daylight and the layers can get lost."
Krista Tomorowitz gives us one tunic in hot pink with writing and another in black with neon green lines that mimic a fun-house tunnel. Instead of using the actual paint, she sought out the science behind the acid dyes and worked from there to create some cutting-edge pieces that we would certainly wear. The dynamic Cleveland fabric artist, Rebecca Cross, dyed her trademark silk as well as used the paint and grouped them into a vertical line of fragile puffs, which give the illusion of solid river rocks.
Poster artist Don Picton, from Aurora, Illinois, entices us to "Get Hip Drop Out" with his sultry-eyed Frankenstein, whose disembodied head floats in the middle of the surface, radiating groovy vibes. Buffalo's Christopher Fritton, known as the itinerant printer, goes around to various shops throughout the United States and has documented his work in a book. Here's where we see how DayGlo and printmaking go hand in hand. "Alphablox 1" and "Alphablox 2" look like test prints on steroids.
Hannah Manocchio's "Gimme Some Sugar," a lollipop crunching, plumped pouty mouth within a sumptuous saccharine dreamland perfectly sums up this fun show.
Now in its seventh year, DAYGLOSHO7 is surprising and refreshing and killed any prejudice we had toward the medium. We love witnessing artists step outside the box to research and breathe new life into something they don't normally work with. We are already anticipating next year's show.