Them! at the Transformer Station Features the Work of Musician/Visual Artists

“Circuit City” from My Life in Politics by Tim Davis

Fri 5/19-Sun 8/13

One of the hallmarks of the contemporary arts scene is how many creators mix disciplines. It’s not unusual anymore for visual artists to mix media; in fact, it’s typical. Printmakers are painters are photographers are sculptors are installation artists. But increasingly actors are musicians are dancers are writers are painters are ex-presidents ….

OK, we’ll leave George W. Bush out of this. But this ability to create across those boundaries is the premise of the new show Them! at the Transformer Station. It features the photography of six musicians, and it’s not what you would expect: for example, a big name like Michael Stipe of R.E.M. taking photos of life on tour. You’ve probably never heard of the bands and musical projects of these artists, except for Melissa Auf der Maur, who played bass with Hole and Smashing Pumpkins, and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Unsurprisingly, only Auf der Maur and Zinner focus their cameras on the music scene.

The artists in the show, in addition to Auf der Maur and Zinner, are Tim Davis, Joseph Desler Costa, Jacob Koestler and Darin Mickey. (Given the still lingering misogyny of the music scene, it’s o be expected that all but Auf der Maur are men). All are college/university-educated photography majors (three attended Bard College in New York State) and all live and work in New York City except Auf der Maur who lives in Hudson, NY, and the Cleveland-based Koestler.

Despite this sort of homogeny among the artists, they do a wide range of work. Davis has a strong interest in found objects thematically grouped. Costa, who also does film and video, favors painterly, often abstract work making artful use of limited color palettes. Jacob Koestler’s work crosses boundaries into printmaking, drawing, video and installation often using landscape as his raw material. Darin Mickey is a documentarian who photographed independent record shops for his book Death Takes a Holiday and his father’s life in Stuff I Gotta Remember Not to Forget. Nick Zinner is a street-style photographer who shoots the environment of a touring band.

Them!, whose title comes from the 1954 sci-fi film of the same name, will present the artists’ photos and other objects, video work and their music to encourage visitors to consider how they relate — or don’t relate — to each other.

Them! also features the non-photographic, but still undeniable artistic, work of Clevelanders Heather Gmucs and Sarah Barker, whose day jobs at vinyl pressing plant Gotta Groove inspired them to form Wax Mage Records, which produces hand-pressed one-of-the-kind records.

The show remains on view through Sun 8/13.

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