Friday, August 10, 2012

After The Storm...Reflecting on Greg Gossel's work by Katie Parr

My life has been full of changes these past few weeks. A new job and a new home have taken up most of my time during these long, hot days of summer. I began to feel myself getting lost in the repetition required to pack up my life and move again, and in a way, start over. I felt lucky to have taken a well deserved break to view the newest work by Greg Gossel in his solo show, Weathering The Storm at Soo VAC.
Because of my recent life changes, I feel like I’ve been packing, unpacking, putting away, pulling apart, organizing and compartmentalizing my life to fit into a new dwelling and new routine. I’d like to pride myself on being a flexible person with the ability to adapt to new situations, and sometimes part of me is fully capable of handling change, but I find as I settle into my mid-twenties I’ve become a creature of habit. Reflecting on this floods my brain with images crossword puzzles, cat ladies  and nursing homes, and I start to feel a bit queasy. But this doesn’t stop the orderly side of me taking comfort when my life feels like it has no hurdles to leap over. I’d like to take charge and clear the road of any possible bumps. I want to know when and where things will take place. That way I can prepare myself for the unexpected, whatever that means. And unlike the past few weeks, I want my life to fit into a neat little box. Without the clutter. And the worry. And the anxiety.
But life is full of complexity. And bumps are inevitable.
Gossel’s work features various pieces taken from billboard advertisements from cities like New York, Chicago and here in Minneapolis. The pieces are pasted together, layered, pulled apart, ripped, scratched and cut. The large scale pieces showcase brightly painted fields of blue, blacks and yellow that contrast with weathered and faded bits and pieces of advertisements pasted underneath. Large blocks of text use language boldly displaying slogans like “Advertise Here, Space Available”, and “Liquor, Lounge, Dance.” My eyes dart from piece to torn piece, and as I dig deeper, the layers become more evident.
What may seem like little more than cluttered elements thrown together on the surface starts to oddly fit together and make sense. I find this bizarre; almost difficult to comprehend. To me, “clutter” is a four-letter word. Clutter causes confusion, disorder and disarray. It’s something I try to limit as much as possible in my living and working spaces, because I like to easily find things. I’d like to think that it’s easier to put my time and effort into organization rather than franticly tearing my apartment apart because I can’t find something. Clutter causes my anal retentive side to rear its ugly. I’ve attempted to make peace with that side of my personality, and I think my boyfriend has tried too as well. Whether or not that’s true- well, I guess that’s a different story. And yet there is another part of my personality that questions this take on life, and feels like I need to sit back and enjoy the ride. Like Gossel’s work, I am reminded that I am not some kind of control freak organizing my life to the point of exhaustion, but that I have various sides to my being, layered and complex. The surface doesn’t tell the whole story and that one’s depth must be accounted for. Sometimes the dominant becomes the submissive. Life doesn’t fit into a neat package, and doesn’t need to. Because frankly being incredibly meticulous takes a lot of work. It can be exhausting to be so neat and tidy.
Greg Gossel’s work has been with me at a time when I’m in need of a reminder that there can be beauty amidst the chaos, that parts do not need to fit perfectly together to create something dynamic, and that pieces from seemingly unrelated parts of my life can blend and meld together and work to form something meaningful and new. My life can’t be a neat little package wrapped with a bow. And that’s ok.
I hope all of you find time to see Greg’s latest work, and allow yourself to just simply enjoy it.
-Katie Parr
 More Information on Greg Gossel's Show HERE.
More of Greg Gossel's work HERE.