John Waters is Not Your Typical Absentee Landlord

For anyone who has had to live with window screens held in place by packaging tape or walls bubbling from mold, the title “Absentee Landlord” may send shivers down your spine. But not to worry, this exhibition curated by notorious filmmaker John Waters consists of playful pairings of work from the depths of the Walker Art Centers’ permanent collection supported by work brought in by some of Waters’ favorite artists.

While this is John Water’s first endeavor as a curator, he is no stranger to dealing with fine art. As a serious art collector, Waters maintains his own collection. His approach here is refreshing. He is not scared to make unorthodox pairing. In this exhibition, John Water’s thinks of the individual works as entities that are forced to live as roommates in tight quarters and considers how they will interact. Works by blue chip artists are forced to share space with younger artists and a few trouble making pieces are thrown into the mix.

[caption id="attachment_886" align="aligncenter" width="384" caption="Eve in a Blue Sweater. Russ Meyers"]Eve in a Blue Sweater. Russ Meyers[/caption]

Waters hangs Eve in a Blue Sweater a photograph of a confrontational busty woman by Russ Meyers only a few feet from Yves Kline’s Suaire de Mondo Cane , a large piece made from the impressions of nude women covered in blue paint.  Waters makes the viewer consider these pieces differently in this context. Both works focus on female nudity covered in blue, but where do we see the difference?  These men were controversial in their day, but Yves Kline is now considered a twentieth century master while Russ Meyers, filmmaker noted for being the father of the “nudie-cutie”, still seems trashy.

[caption id="attachment_892" align="aligncenter" width="417" caption="Woman. Willem De Koonig"][/caption]

Maybe the most interesting pairing in the show is Willem De Koonig’s drawing Woman hung below and to the side of  contemporary  artist Jess von der Ahe’s Helmut Berger as Ludwig ll. Here we have of two artists’ portrayals of the opposite sex.  DeKoonig’s drawing is an expressive sketch that reads of fear and anxiety of the female form. Its aggressive line work and grotesquely distorted figure can be viewed as negative in its portrayal of women.  In contrast, von der Ahe’s Helmut is a supple and quiet painting showing an emotionally distressed man lying in a week state. Its lush monochromatic brushwork reflects a dreamy romanticism. It is not until you realize Helmut Berger it is painted with the artist's menstrual blood do you fully realize the visceral qualities of the work.

[caption id="attachment_893" align="aligncenter" width="515" caption="Helmut Berger as Ludwig ll. Jess von der Ahe. Reproduced with permission from the artist."][/caption]

One of the highlights of the show is Gregory Green’s installation Work Table #9. This piece recreates the den of a mad bomber. Walking in, it is hard not to get a chill. The room feels as if a dangerous outcast just stepped out, with the equipment to make bombs mixed with propaganda books and a hot plate of some questionable food or explosive. This room reads less as shock value as it is an eerie reminder of members of our society that are cast aside and desperate for a voice. Delusional scattered thinking and paranoia are disconcertingly palpable here.

The major thing to take away from Absentee Landlord is how the context of a piece of art enhances certain aspects of its meaning.  There is not one “right” way to hang a show and no piece lives in a vacuum. I have to applaud the Walker for the braveness of their recent curatorial choices. (For another example, check out the “Museum of Natural History” style gallery in Midnight Party, complete with dark wood cabinets). These unconventional choices help the make the art more accessible to a larger audience without trivializing it.

-John Megas


Absentee Landlord

On View: June 11th, 2011 – March 4th, 2012

Where: Walker Art Center

Address: 1750 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55403

Gallery Phone: 612.375.7600

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm , Open late Thursday, 11 am - 9 pm, Closed Mondays


This article has been archived from the original MPLSART.COM site. It may contain dead links, broken images, and formatting issues. We are working to fix these as much as possible. Thank you for your patience.

If you are making art or looking at art in the Twin Cities, use the hashtag to show it off.
Mon May 1st 7PM - 9PM CST
Bethel University - Johnson
3900 Bethel Dr, Minneapolis
Fri May 5th 6PM - 8PM CST
Bockley Gallery
2123 W 21st St, Minneapolis
Fri May 5th 6PM - 8PM CST
Katherine E. Nash Gallery
405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis
Fri May 5th 7PM - 9PM CST
Light Grey Art Lab
118 East 26th St, Minneapolis
Fri May 5th 7PM - 9PM CST
Light Grey Art Lab
118 East 26th St, Minneapolis
May 6th - May 7th
Midtown Farmers Market
2225 E Lake St, Minneapolis
Sat May 6th 5:30PM - 9:30PM CST
Traffic Zone
250 3rd Ave N, Minneapolis
Sat May 6th 6PM - 9PM CST
Vine Arts Center
2637 27th AVE S, Minneapolis
Wed May 10th 6PM - 9PM CST
Le Méridien Chambers
901 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
May 11th - Aug 12th
Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Fri May 12th 12AM - 12AM CST
The Show Gallery
346 N. Sibley ST, St. Paul
Fri May 12th 6PM - 8PM CST
Northern Clay Center
2424 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
Fri May 12th 6PM - 8PM CST
Weinstein Gallery
908 West 46th St, Minneapolis
Fri May 12th 7PM - 9PM CST
Gallery 122 at Hang It
122 8th Street SE, Minneapolis
Fri May 12th 7PM - 9PM CST
David Petersen Gallery
2018 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
May 11th - Aug 12th
Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Sat May 13th 5PM - 8PM CST
615 W Lake St, Minneapolis
Sat May 13th 7PM - 10PM CST
Rosalux Gallery
1400 Van Buren Street NE, Minneapolis
May 19th - May 21st
Kate Iverson Studio
1101 Stinson Blvd, Minneapolis
Sat May 20th 7PM - 10PM CST
Hennes Art Company
160 Glenwood AVE N, Minneapolis
Thu Jun 15th 4PM - 6PM CST
LaSalle Art Gallery
15 S 9th ST, Minneapolis
Apr 1st - May 6th
David Petersen Gallery
2018 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Apr 20th - May 12th
Gamut Gallery
717 S 10th St, Minneapolis
Apr 1st - May 13th
Circa Gallery
210 N First St, Minneapolis
Apr 7th - May 13th
Denler Gallery
3003 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul
Apr 25th - May 13th
Regis Center For Art Quarter Gallery
405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis
Apr 14th - May 20th
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Apr 13th - May 20th
Form + Content Gallery
210 N 2nd St, Minneapolis
Apr 21st - May 20th
Light Grey Art Lab
118 East 26th St, Minneapolis
Apr 8th - May 20th
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Apr 8th - May 20th
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Jan 28th - May 21st
Weisman Art Museum
333 E River Pkwy, Minneapolis
Apr 22nd - May 25th
Hair And Nails Gallery
2222 1/2 E 35th ST, Minneapolis
Apr 6th - May 27th
Bethel University - Olson Gallery
3900 Bethel Dr, St. Paul
Mar 10th - May 28th
Minnesota Center For Book Arts
1011 Washington Avenue S, Minneapolis
Apr 22nd - May 28th
Flanders + Associates
818 West Lake St, Minneapolis
Feb 9th - May 31st
Track 29 City Apartments
2841 Bryant AVE S, Minneapolis
Nov 5th - Jun 3rd
Glick Gallery
811 Glenwood Avenue, Minneapolis
Apr 29th - Jun 3rd
Groveland Gallery
25 Groveland Terrace, Minneapolis
Apr 29th - Jun 3rd
Groveland Annex
25 Groveland Tr, Minneapolis
Apr 22nd - Jun 10th
Kolman Pryor Gallery
1500 Jackson St NE #395, Minneapolis
Mar 16th - Jun 25th
Mia's U.S. Bank Gallery
2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis
Feb 25th - Jun 30th
801 Washington Lofts
801 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis
Apr 20th - Jun 30th
Ditch Gallery
400 1st Ave N #535, Minneapolis
Apr 29th - Jul 1st
Midway Contemporary Art
527 Second Avenue SE, Minneapolis