Art: Rhodehamel reigns

Rhodehamel reigns
May 1-4 at the Orange Studio
1121 N. Mills Ave.; 407-898-7234

Doug Rhodehamel's a.thunderstorm installation was shown at the Orange Studio. Like most Rhodehamel happenings, it was a short-lived affair; the show opened May 1 and closed May 4.

Rhodehamel's conceptual art approach has been fine-tuned through many installations, and this one is one of his best. "This is the most fun project I have done in a while," Rhodehamel confessed. "I spent hours happily smashing videotape cassettes to get the guts out."

The pile of smashed videocassettes in the middle of the floor is an installation in itself, but the process yielded miles of videotape, suspended in a net from the ceiling, under which blue glow sticks were hung. The thunderstorm sound and light show (a collaboration with DJ Nigel) created an atmospheric effect and immediately connected with the children in the audience, who played happily under the lights as if in the rain.

The artist, however, was not totally pleased with the effect, calling it a "larva" in his notes on the show. This subjective interpretation may be a test for the viewer, so that the installation doesn't come off as a one-trick show.

He shouldn't worry; by now, Rhodehamel's installations have become anticipated, multivalent events with an innocent, playful nature. Part of the experience is the buildup: His invitations and his notes become collector's items and are designed to evoke a feeling for the event; his parents dutifully stand around wearing name tags ("Doug's Dad," "Doug's Mom"), and his mom's delicious buckeyes (peanut-butter balls dipped in chocolate) in some ways were show-stealers.

The art scene is fortunate to have Rhodehamel, for he is demystifying this art form and presenting it in an innocuous, accessible way. Rhodehamel is a talented conceptual artist and will be part of the RS 21 exhibit opening May 29 at Maitland Art Center.


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