The Blender Studios Xmas party had a food truck, a bar, and a variety of entertainment, along with an exhibition of works by resident artists. Two bands, the electro-soul band Rumpus and Jazz House combination of Jonquil Christmas Quartet, followed by a DJ set by Jonquil. Live acts, including live spaying by Blender Studio artists up on a ladder in the lane. Nakarin Jaikla’s dance performance used the air, keeping it light as the soup bubbles guns at the start and as the former warehouse’s hard concrete floor would allow. The group exhibition had recent work by the two dozen Blender artists. Included jewellery by Edie Black and Emma Rea and gallery work by street artists Akemi, Barek, Kasper and Suki.
It was a long way from the first Blender Studios Xmas Party that I went to in 2009. Dark Horse Experiment was called Michael Koro Gallery, and the party was more of an improvised BYO affair amongst the studio partitions.
Established in 2001, Blender existed until 2004 when it closed, opening again in 2007; so not the twenty years of operation implied. Since then, it has been in two locations around Melbourne’s northwest. The first was on Franklin Street. Now it is on Dudley Street. Geographically and culturally, Blender has always been on the edge of the city centre. Not to forget a couple of years that they were lured to the Docklands with cheap rent on the second floor of a near-empty shopping mall (see my post).
What made it a blender is that has always been a mix of street and gallery focused practices. The street practices meant that it spilled out of the studios and into the laneway beside it. The one rule different from other studio warehouses was that the artists had to show their visitors around to all the studios and with two dozen or so artists that is a lot of studios.
Blender’s only other consistent feature is Doyle, who outlasted Melbourne’s mayor with the same name. Artist, managing director, semi-reconstructed bogan and the subject of the ABC documentary Subtopia (see my review). Creating images of suburbia, this time front-on views of suburban houses.
A hot and enjoyable evening catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen in years. And just like at my first Xmas party at Blender I didn’t take any photos. Cheers!
Off the Kerb is a favourite for street artists exhibiting and the exhibitions that opened last Friday night were very much about street art.
“House of Ghosts” by Barek features both paintings and sculptures of Barek’s whimsical ghosts. A large ghost house model serves as centre-piece for the exhibition, visible from the street through Off the Kerb’s shopfront window. Barek’s ghosts and other characters have a narrative sense but often they seem like the ghost of rabbits frozen in the headlights of the artists vision. Although he has long had a presence on Melbourne’s street’s with his paste-ups Barek is now based in Melbourne after moving from Brisbane.
Akemi Ito, Wisdom
Drasko, B-29 Super fortress
“Hard Boiled Wonderland & The end of the World” by Akemi Ito and Drasko (who signs his work DB) is an exhibition of stencil art. Akemi Ito looks to Japan for inspiration whereas Drasko looks to America. They also have a different approach to stencil making; Akemi hand-drawn stencils emphasis the line whereas Drasko uses the blocks of colour to create his images. Drasko’s spray painted rubber floor-pieces are both effective and unusual.
Tinky, “Sam knew this was going to be his most impressive topiary attempt yet.”
Tinky, Wilbur loved going for his evening walk in the park.
“Tinkyville: Land of Folly” by Tinky packs in 30 of her Lilliputian models to one of the upstairs rooms. Her tiny HO scale figures are often oblivious of the larger scale objects that they are set in. The humorous scenes are full of action, their titles adding to the narrative and the joke, like “Sam knew this was going to be his most impressive topiary attempt yet”. Even at this scale Tinky’s work can also be found in Melbourne’s streets; I first saw her work in Presgrave Place.
Mie Nakazawa, Untitled
“Same Same and Different” Mie Nakazawa monoprint line drawn heads; I hesitate to use the word ‘portraits’ because they are all untitled. They looked inspired by the Austrian Expressionist artist, Egon Schiele. Unlike all the other street artists Nakazawa is a Sydney-based contemporary printmaker who has also painted a few murals in Sydney.
There were galleries with exhibitions opening all along Johnston Street on Friday night. There was a group exhibition with work by more of Melbourne’s artists associated with Melbourne’s streets. Be Free, Baby Guerilla, HaHa and Suki amongst almost twenty artists exhibiting at a pop-up exhibition at 178 Johnston Street, as part of the first birthday celebrations for Qbank gallery from Queenstown, Tasmania.