Kohler Arts Center’s Adventurous ‘Sense of Humor’
Mike Simi’s robotic
puppet, titled Mr. Weekend,saw action in Detroit as a mechanical
Nachi arm constructing the Chrysler 300 automobile. Now obsolete, the machine
has been recycled into a contemporary piece of art as a 13-foot-tall puppet.
Like several other
artists in “A Sense of Humor,” Simi captures both the comedy and tragedy of his
subject. The idea of talking to a monstrous puppet whose mouth and torso move
realistically appears hilarious on the surface, but the puppet’s past life
echoes the experience of millions of unemployed people during this serious
economic recession. Is Mr. Weekend merely
funny, or a compelling work of contemporary art?
Bill Amundson continues
the ambiguity while using colored pencil and graphite to comment on
commercialism and suburbia. Amundson’s Tuscan
Landscape with Starbucks depicts the hilly Italian countryside dotted with
commercial cafés—an especially amusing thought, given Italy’s history of
producing its own delicious coffee products.
In a completely
irreverent use of ceramics, Charles Krafft revisits the decorative arts with Martha Stewart Commemorative Prison Plate,
whichparodies the famous
blue-and-white consumer collectibles with hand-painted expertise. Exhibited
alongside Krafft’s porcelain Martha
Stewart Skateboard,modeled after
Delft tile, both objects offer a sardonic commentary on American celebrity and
The renowned William
Wegman presents a video and prints of his beloved Weimaraners from his private
collection. This includes a 1991 color Polaroid featuring his pet dog in a
Laughter is said to universally relieve stress and lower blood pressure, yet humor itself differs from person to person—a concept that is explored throughout this exhibition. An introductory warning informs viewers that certain artworks “may not be appropriate for all audiences,” but each piece still embodies artistic integrity. And the Kohler Arts Center proves that exploring society’s proverbial “funny bone” can lead to adventurous territory.