HELP US KEEP REPORTING. DONATE TO ORLANDO WEEKLY PRESS CLUB.

click to enlarge “GEN-X DAILY MEAL” by Patrick McGrath

“GEN-X DAILY MEAL” by Patrick McGrath

At the Henao Center, three artists post a lament against the rot of consumerism 

Urban decay

North Edgewater Drive's high energy retains the yesteryear charm of commercial strips before they became inflated with Targets and Starbucks. Cheek-by-jowl with taverns and thrift shops lies an older, blue-awninged structure right on the sidewalk, beckoning pedestrians who long ago vanished in the haze of automobile exhaust. Inside the Henao Contemporary Center is one of our newest galleries, hitting its stride with Consuma + Dos, an eloquent lament against the rot of consumerism that has so demoralized our culture.

Carlos Barberena, Patrick McGrath Muniz and Kevin Haran each contribute a voice to the lament. Haran has made a study of war and destruction in his career as an artist, and his sculpture populates the gallery's center. Haran's military machines – tanks, battleships, halftracks – are made of cereal boxes, applying Madison Avenue marketing genius to weapons of war. Their bright energy is at first satirical, but the more one gazes down a tank's gun barrel, the less one sees these as toys. Instead, a sense of death creeps in, oddly reinforced by the Lucky Charms-like green of the vehicle.

click to enlarge “TEMPUS FUGIT (2014)” by Patrick McGrath
  • “TEMPUS FUGIT (2014)” by Patrick McGrath

McGrath works from Houston and has exhibited a running commentary about hollow narcissism using the Mexican religious art form of retablo. Each piece is a highly crafted, self-framed tablet on which a scene is painted in the manner of Caravaggio, Leonardo and the old masters. McGrath has honed his underpainting technique, starting with shade and shadow and then adding color, celebrating a viewpoint that is darker, both in his treatment of light and his viewpoint of humanity.

"Hercules and the Virtues" shows poor Hercules, club on his shoulder, sizing up Sarah Palin and three other women representing the Four Virtues. The giant maw of a big-box store is atmospherically rendered, inflating its scale to mythical proportions. The big guy doesn't stand a chance. Other paintings show princesses checking their iPhones, Ronald McDonald comforting Chris Christie and odalisques reclining on cheetah skins eating fast food.

click to enlarge “TANK” by Kevin Haran
  • “TANK” by Kevin Haran

In contrast to McGrath's burnt umber and alizarin crimson, Barberena is a black-and-white kind of guy. A Chicago artist originally from Nicaragua, he works in the traditional art form of linocut prints and engraved portraiture. "Madre de Desaparacido" is posed as a traditional saint, but is the mother of a "disappeared one": someone removed by the authoritarian regime. Long years of utter despair etch deep grooves of sorrow on her face as she holds a portrait of her son.

Elsewhere, a death's-head skull replaces George Washington's portrait on the dollar bill; Coca Cola is helpfully renamed as "diabetico"; and Botticelli's Venus has donned a gas mask, all of it rendered in a Latin folk-art style. Relentless capitalism, for those on the outside, ain't so hot.

Like a good cup of Greek coffee, the unified message of this show is dark and strong. Life's a ball, but it's a hollow ball, decorated on the outside with the accoutrements of consumerist society, dark and empty within. Make the trek to see Consuma + Dos before it closes, and if you see yourself in some of these images, don't be surprised.

click to enlarge “Calavera Cañera (After Posada)” by Carlos Barberena
  • “Calavera Cañera (After Posada)” by Carlos Barberena

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Calendar

© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation