Exhibition: March 19 - April 17, 2011

Three Card Monte is a convergence of the work of three artists: Marco Kane Braunschweiler, Martine Syms, and Paul Cowan. There is not one, but many games here. A card game is comprised of many players like the artists of a group show, the elements of a painting, or the spectators in an art exhibition. There is a type of social game played between the artists, as individuals and as a collaborative group, and the spectators. The artists act in accordance with certain conventions in the gallery and in the social realm of art. The individual pieces of art play with other pieces in the gallery. An artist establishes rules of play for each artwork but must use tools from outside that system in order for the viewer to begin to engage the piece. The artists state:

With these works we're looking at what painting, cinema or literature can't do instead of what they can do. We acknowledge the incomplete view of convention to allow for a variety of access points. We open up the symbols of culture to different readings and consider how work can be constructed, displayed and viewed.

Martine Syms' series entitled, Belief Strategy I-III (2011) deals with the language of cinema. The purple on black text pieces are quotes from the 1985 film A Color Purple. Sym's carries the visual language of the film's marketing campaign into an exploration of the secular belief system of a film about belief from Hollywood. Belief Strategy IV (2011) are taped Xs littered around the gallery floor like an actors' position marks used in theatre and film. But who is positioned and what is framed? Who is framing them or it?

In Paul Cowan's work we find musical notes painted in a rather naïve fashion on white canvases. Visually the notes vibrate on the canvas. The paintings seem to resonate not a sound but a collision of two artifacts: musical language and painting. If we ignore what the musical note is actually denoting and focus instead on what a semi-abstract painting of a musical note implies we have another game at play. Cowan's Untitled sculpture consists of a block of self-drying sculpting clay connected to a helium balloon by a normal wrapping ribbon. This presents a type of timer in a move between the art object and its evolving value. During the course of the sculpture's existence the block will lose its moisture and solidify as the helium balloon slowly deflates and gradually sinks to the floor. Here the tragedy of the art object is embodied and played out. The value of art soars above the brute materiality of the object of art.

The work Different Ways of Looking at the Same Thing (2011) by Marco Kane Braunschweiler brings together normal elements of everyday modern life that all function to create value. Braunschweiler's three Untitled (Bench for the Green Gallery) (2011) are placed about the main exhibition room as if inviting viewers to take possession of the space. An invitation to sit and reflect.  

TV commercial for Three Card Monte by David Robbins: