Art fans tired of the same old cliches should not be fooled by the titles like “Untitled” and “Self-Portrait” in Tony Waldron’s new exhibit.
Waldron’s show, which opens today at the Louise Jones Brown Gallery in the Bryan Center and features 10 of his works through Nov. 14, offers a new twist on the standard pieces found at most art shows. Reversing the usual process of creating an artwork and then giving it a title, Waldron started his pieces with a common title and then created an unexpected interpretation of each cliche. The exhibit, titled “Cliche,” features mostly photographs as well as sculpture work under the overarching theme of overused concepts in art exhibits.
“In this particular case, I realize artists often have the same titles for their works, so I wanted to poke fun at that,” Waldron said. “Each one of these is not exactly as it sounds. You would have to see it in person—my ‘Flowers in a Field’ is actually in a parking lot.”
Waldron’s style itself is unexpected, taking monotone photographs and manipulating their composition with colorful ink and permanent parker and spray-painted backgrounds on top. White shapes will also be incorporated into the photos to make the colors pop off the image. A self-portrait, for example, features superimposed neon sunglasses with the lenses melting onto Waldron's face.
“In ‘Crucifixion,’ Jesus has some Facebook and Twitter tattoos surrounded by four words—’like,’ ‘favorite,’ ‘share’ and ‘follow,’” Waldron said. “It’s a sort of comment on our social media use today.”
Waldron said that some of his past works have similarly revolved around social media, and it is a medium with which he likes to experiment.
“It doesn’t take long to take a walk anywhere and take a look at people walking around looking at their phones,” he said. “Every now and then I like to put my phone in my pocket and just look around.”
Another piece, a three-dimensional sculpture, involves a cubic foot of concrete with a secret chamber inside connected by a wire. Viewers can pull on the handle of the cord and hear clinking on the inside.
Waldron has roots in West Virginia, but has lived in North Carolina for 17 years and in Durham for seven. Being in Durham for an extended time has helped to bring out his creative side, he said.
“The great thing about Durham is that everyone is kind of crazy if they’re creative to express that and be rewarded for being unique on an individual level,” Waldron said.
One of the pieces included in the gallery, the largest of the 10, is composed of photographs taken exclusively in Durham of various recognizable buildings, to create a skyline compressed together with a warped perspective. Waldron said that the photos for that piece were taken as recently as last Thursday, and that all but three of the pieces in the show were made in the last month including building frames.
Despite the quick turnaround, Waldron said that he has had the idea for the show for over the past year before finally producing the entirety of the collection, and had kept ideas for the images in his head before creating the physical forms.
“The problem with me is that I could have sat on it for another year and it will still come out differently than I originally intended,” he said. “You just have to roll with it.”
The gallery opening will take place today, Thursday Oct. 22 at 5 p.m., at the Brown Gallery, which is curated by duARTs.