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Good Grief: Prints By Rob Jones At Galerie F

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 31, 2014 9:00PM

Galerie F's current exhibition, "Grief: 100 Self-Portraits" showcases sardonic and self-loathing prints by Rob Jones. The works feature a variety of recognizable characters from pop culture, with the central character Charlie Brown, adorned in his trademark chevron-patterned shirt. Humor permeates the show, but it is a dark humor in its themes of loneliness and loathing within the compositions. These are defined as self-portraits, highlighting a cartoonish view of self that we all likely feel at one time or another.

The large-scale "Clean Slate" definitely occupies a violent and dark space with the head of the figure as an upside-down skull where a mother bird feeds her babies a worm, using the skull as a nest. Beyond that, the figure holds a handgun, hinting at suicide. Most every print in the show is morose even if it is still possessing a blackened, hardened silliness.

Jones is making fun of himself while meditating on the effects of this, looking in many of the works as exasperated and giving up or giving in to a cartoonish evil as in "...forever and ever," a collaborative piece with Neal Russler. Satan's arms are adorned with the trademark "Good Grief" and has hair à la Lucy from "The Peanuts." He holds a terrified Charlie Brown, speaking again to the notion of giving up using a hyperbolic humor.
Visual hints to suicide, cutting, loss, loneliness, and stepping into someone else's shoes as a way to escape self, or as a way to express kinship with certain figures, is deeply intriguing. The woe-is-me of Charlie Brown, the sass of Lucy, and all the connotations that come with other pop culture characters such as Don Knotts and Woody Allen operate as a kind of self evaluation that utterly mystify the central figure in each work.

The gallery is worth frequent visits for original prints and this exhibition makes the trip to Galerie F on the fast-growing 2300 block of Milwaukee Avenue a necessity. The opening was well-attended and showed many entertained by its dark humor despite the meditations of the universal awkwardness of self in the world. It is a solid, silly, and thoughtful body of work, executed with incredible technique by Jones.

Through Aug. 19 at Galerie F, 2381 N. Milwaukee Ave.