Cute and Creepy Museum Show

Guest curator, artist and instructor, Carrie Ann Baade, unleashes a new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts at Florida State University tonight entitled, “Cute and Creepy: An exhibition of sweet and sticky macabre art.”

I am not entirely sure what the sweet and sticky references are, but the line up is exceptional: Ray Caesar, Thomas Woodruff, Martin Wittfooth, Kelly Boehmer, Kris Kuksi and many more. I loaned the Ray Caesar original, “Messenger,” (22"x30" digital print edition of 20 2004), and the Ray Caesar Limited Edition with a dynamic print too. The “Cute and Creepy” exhibition runs through November 20 and looks to be a show not to miss.

Carrie Ann describes her curatorial inspiration, “My tastes and interests have always been the strange and unusual, but what drives one to spend four years of their life making an exhibit like this a reality is the desire to support the artists who have come to make up my community. Ten years ago I was in graduate school when I first saw Judith Schaechter's stained glass at the Whitney Biennial. It was the first time I had seen such a graphically dark sense of humor paired with exquisite craftsmanship. Six years ago the Pop Surrealism genre developed and artists such as Kris Kuksi, Richard Kirk, and Travis Louie were showing with me in New York and Berlin. Becoming fast friends and fans of these fellow artists, I wanted to promote those who paired skill with unique vision.

While there is work that is far darker, it is the playfulness that makes these works endearing. For example, Jessica Joslin's delightfully retrofitted, articulated animal sculptures, or Kate Clarks disarmingly beautiful diorama of animals with quixotic human faces makes one want to collect this seemingly endless supply of freakish pets.

With the recent publicly celebrated exhibitions of Tim Burton at MOMA and Edward Gorey at the Wadsworth Athenaeum, now is the time to revel in the genre of the macabre. It's my desire to seduce new art lovers with this enchanting contemporary art that is so easy to adore.” (Ray Caesar, “Morning Glory,” edition of 500, dotless serigraph, Limited Edition Book by Murphy Design).

Author Nancy Hightower wrote a compelling article that is published in the “Cute and Creepy” catalog for the show entitled, “Revelatory Monsters.” Nancy describes her discovery process and the development of her featured piece, “I actually discovered the theory by accident as I was reading scholarly articles about the short fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Franz Kafka. The term “grotesque” intrigued me, so I started researching more scholars who had written about it—Wolfgang Kayser, Philip Thomson, Geoffrey Galt Harpham—as well as authors such as O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, and others. But it was reading Modern Art and the Grotesque that made me realize it wasn’t literary theory at first—but a theory derived from art. That fascinated me and opened up a whole new world of the fantastic and strange to me, starting with artists such as Goya, Dix, Bosch, Brueghel, etc. and expanding into contemporary art.

What I admire very much about the theory is that it has to play by certain “rules”—i.e. just because something is strange and weird, it’s not necessarily grotesque, not in the sense that I teach it. The grotesque is an operation, a form of persuasion that artists and writers use to create a paradigm shift in the viewer. And to me, this shift must always move in the direction of redemption, i.e. in making us a kinder, more loving world.

I never teach shocking stories or art merely to shock, for that, to me, would be cruel and insensitive. But I will introduce people to the shocking if it allows them to see what they have deemed “Other” in a new light. Most people think of grotesque as being something pejorative or strange or bizarre. This is certainly the more pervasive definition of the grotesque, yet it is limiting. The grotesque has always existed in the underside of culture; it is always taboo. As culture changes, so the grotesque.” (Laurie Lipton, Travis Louie, Martin Wittfooth, featured above).

This exhibition is described as grotesque, cute, sweet, sticky, creepy...and you are invited to determine the appropriate term(s) for yourself. The exhibition, “Cute and Creepy,” is now on display at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts, Fine ARts Building at the FSU Campus in Tallahasse, Florida. Check for exhibition hours, Monday—Friday 9am—4pm and Saturday and Sunday 1—4pm. Enjoy.

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