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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Flesh & Flash

Art Review

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CarriSkoczek’s artistic grit sparked flaming parties at her Walker’s Point loft before she left for New York City 12 years ago. She returned recently for a wild opening at the Portrait Society in Suite 526 of the Third Ward’s Marshall Building. Exhibiting in tandem (through April 27) is 82-year-old local artist Melvin Tess, who began his pin-up girl paintings in the late-1940s. Local musician Paul Finger set the raunchy tone with a hilarious old-time DVD of female strippers doing their stuff via a mini-theater draped in cheesy red fabric. Fabulous in feathers, Sally Rand passed the test of time.

Skoczek has come a long way since the era when her raggedy, audacious linoleum block prints enlivened Art Muscle magazine. Her recent work (much of it on paper) is happily mature, though the youthful grit holds fast in her bodacious broads whose eyes flash and lips pout. They are reminiscent of angular black widow spiders ready to devour the unwary who veer near the carefully crafted surfaces “made-up” with glitter. The artist, dressed in black at the opening, sported a beaded voodoo doll around her neck, plus patterned Hue hose and red shoes by Fluevog. Coco Chanel perfume wafted from her black bob and, well, she was a living version of what she pinned to the gallery walls.

Tess arrived wearing a jacket stitched with “Globe Conservation Club.” He retired as Globe Union’s company driver years ago and recently took up his brushes again at the behest of his wife, who enrolled him in a class at Milwaukee Area Technical College. His 1940 oils have a nave, skewed perspective, so what you see is what you get: nostalgic, fleshy brunettes draped and undraped, posed hopefully in the bygone; politely hot models hustled-up at The Flame, a longdefunct local nightclub. Later this year, Paul Finger will host more of Tess’ work in a TBA exhibition.

An elegant essay by gallery director Debra Brehmer is included in the exhibition catalog. Regular hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 1 to 4 p.m., at 207 E. Buffalo St.
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