New Exhibition on Waterloo Recycles Wasteful Consumer Habits


  • "SPRING 12 FOS ISM #19,” Epson inkjet print, 20 in. by 20 in., 2015
“What do we use and what do we waste?”

That is the question raised by artist and ARTneo Curator and Collections Manager Christopher Richards in his new exhibition, Chromatic Consumption, opening this Friday, Oct. 2 from 5 to 10 p.m. at Waterloo’s Native Cleveland Annex.

Exploring themes of consumerism, sustainability, wastefulness, capitalism, art market hype and more, Chromatic Consumption is like a mirror, reflecting back on the consumer. The exhibition includes a collection of new work inspired by the sticker dots used for merchandising in retail department stores, in the Native Annex.

“The disks are a byproduct from cardboard advertising displays used in big box stores,” Richards says. “The displays are distributed nationwide to celebrate lower quality products of high end fashion and home goods brands. They speak to the temporality and fetishism of flashy newly released mass produced merchandise aimed to create a proliferation of brand loyal consumers aspiring to feel as if they belong to a higher class. Making use of discarded pieces of the displays illustrates the quantity of waste produced. A recognizable link to the often quickly forgotten display cannot be discerned, the only clues are the coded corporate titles assigned to the pieces.”

Chromatic Consumption is both a critique of the art market and wastefulness of our consumer-driven economy. The works have a definite conceptual meaning, but Richards intends for the works to also be enjoyed as simple decorative works. Richards’ concept was also inspired by Damien Hirst’s notorious spot paintings.

“The photographs are made by laying out printed color cardboard disks on canvas board referencing the act of painting,” Richards explains. “They are a response to numerous heated discussions about the global exhibition of Damien Hirst's spot paintings, and the merits and originality of the work itself. Peers had derided the work as being frivolous and void of any artistic significance, that paintings were rip offs of artists like Thomas Downing. They became, in their minds, a symbol of everything that was wrong with the Art World, a painting of spots – often created by studio assistants – priced as much as $3.4 million. Only the most wealthy could afford to go view all of the works displayed by the Gagosian Galleries. I argued that these critiques became part of the cultural importance of Hirst's work, as he has often dealt with issues concerning wealth and art. In a way, the photographs are a critique and celebration of these things. It is a psychological paradox, one of which many of us belong.”

Richards’ exhibition is organized by John Farina and Adam Tully of the Maria Neil Art Project. As Executive Director of ARTneo, Farina works closely with Richards to preserve and showcase the region’s most significant artists and their work.

“I work with Christopher everyday as he brilliantly curates ARTneo’s exhibitions,” explains Farina. “When he shared that he was an artist himself, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to curate the curator. I’m excited to show his work and share this side of Christopher with the arts community.”

Christopher Richards’ Chromatic Consumption remains on view through Oct. 25. Also, you can view Scott Goss’ Incoherent Spaces inside the Maria Neil Art Project’s main gallery space, just around the corner from the Native Cleveland Annex, on the side of the same building. Incoherent Spaces remains on view through Oct. 18.

While you’re on Waterloo, be sure to explore the whole neighborhood during Friday’s Walk All Over Waterloo. October’s first Friday event features for the debut of Monsters from Space, a “Haunted Alien Invasion” at Loren Naji’s Satellite Gallery (442 E. 156th St.), as well as new work by Rebecca Cross at Praxis Fiber Workshop and Elenia Dimalo at Brick Ceramic + Design Studio. Additionally, you’ll have one more chance to see a number of acclaimed exhibitions throughout the neighborhood, including: closing receptions for Jake Kelly’s solo show at Gallery 160 (16008 Waterloo Rd.), Bottled Water, a collaborative group installation, at Waterloo Arts (15605 Waterloo Rd.), and From the Dust: Industrial Art Show at Article (15316 Waterloo Rd.). Outside of Gallery One Sixty, the Waterloo Sculpture Garden hosts Laila Voss’ Conceptual Migrations: An Initial Survey of Contemporary Sculptural Practices. The installation includes work by Maeve Doley, Lisa Kenion, Nelson Morris, John Ranally, Marchelle Simms and Jim Vandenboom.

(Maria Neil Art Project/Annex Gallery) 15813 Waterloo Rd., 216-481-7722,

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