Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Okey Dokey Smokey by Ella Weber Makes its Midwest Debut

Nebraskan printmaker Ella Weber's prints are proving themselves to be a pretty fun look at some interestingly combined imagery. She says of her work....I’m interested in the influences, both internal and external, that help shape one’s identity in this world. My work explores how popular culture reflects our own humanity as well as mortality. 

Weber's been fast gaining interest with her cleaver images and sense of humor. Her prints use iconic toys symbols to evoke personal feelings and reflections for the viewer. ..  Weber saturates these subjects with both innocence and humor - in this case, a dude wearing casual lumberjack wear -smoking a cig,  and who should his buddy be?why Smokey the Bear, of course. They two are placed in an open void of space, so there's nothing to distract them from one another - reminiscent of  Nicholas Africano's seated discussion paintings of the 1980s. It's laughable that Smokey would hang with the lumberjack guy, but there they are - two seemingly unrelated yet related subjects finding themselves together, and then the social/political connections start the humor rolling. 

This guy's not the image of the Brawny lumberjack of mainstream consumerism that we associate with men who live out in the timber wilds. He's just an average joe,  a kid really, and he's looking our way like we just called his name from across the skateboard park.  He looks the least able-bodied to deal with living in the wild. The juxtaposition of placing him with Smokey the Bear, who is as iconic a figure as you can get about not smoking or burning anything that could cause a forest fire - and is here standing next to this person, is hilarious. 

We see that Smokey's at the 'ever-ready  position - nose up-lifted to smell the smoke burning next to him without even looking at the guy. He's almost lost in the moment of realization, like the two figures have been conversing, and then Smokey smells the 'smoke' and an alert stance overtakes his dopey body as he tries to figure out where the smoke smell is coming from. Duh. But lest the viewer worry, he's ready to put out that cigarette butt the second the guy drops it onto the ground. He'll do his duty, of that you can be sure. 

The question is whether the lumberjack kid will be quick enough to realize he's about to be beaned on the noggin for smoking next to Smoke the Bear. Another Duh moment, to be sure....

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