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“Shiny Sticky, Smooth: Pop Art and the Senses” pops at Faulconer

Jonathan+Seligers+%E2%80%9CThree+Scoops%3A+Vanilla+Chip%2C+Mint+Chip%2C+Chocolate+Chocolate+Chip%E2%80%9D+and+%E2%80%9CFresh.%0A%0APHOTO+BY+JEFF+LI
Jonathan Seliger’s “Three Scoops: Vanilla Chip, Mint Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip” and “Fresh.” PHOTO BY JEFF LI

By Lily Bohlke

bohlkeli@grinnell.edu

The pop art exhibition “Shiny, Sticky, Smooth: Pop Art and the Senses” premiered in Faulconer Gallery on July 1 and will be running until Sept. 3. A multi-sensory experience, pop art uses the techniques of consumer culture and advertising to engage audiences with art. The collection in Faulconer features various pieces of art of multiple mediums that come from the Jordan D. Schnitzer Family Foundation.

In post-war America, as industry began to change and Americans were exposed to brightly colored advertisements around every corner, artists realized they could use similar strategies to draw in audiences for art instead of commerce. The Faulconer Gallery exhibit, full of vibrant colors and familiar shapes, attracts eyes across the room.

“Shiny, Sticky, Smooth” features artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jonathan Seliger and many more. Warhol’s print series “Gems” depicts bright jewelry as related to consumer culture in America. A combination of bright, shimmery and dark colors give the prints a pop-style texture, making the series feel right at home in this exhibition.

Lichtenstein’s works use explosions from popular comics and abstract domestic interiors to turn everyday items into statements on pop and advertising. His familiar images of explosions evoke another sensory strategy: sound. In the work “Sweet Dreams Baby!” a cartoon style “POW!” and “SWEET DREAMS BABY!” make the viewer feel as though they can hear the fight happening inside the frame.

The other Lichtenstein work on display is a print series of tidy cartoon-style homes called “Interior Series.” The subtle color schemes and textured patterns of the furniture shown in the prints also provide a strong pop feel. 

Seliger, another featured artist, turns everyday items into artistic representations of tension between mass manufacturing and handmade goods. His ice cream cone sculpture series, “Three Scoops: Vanilla Chip, Mint Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip” from 2004, and his mini pie sculpture, “Fresh” from 2001, are made with excruciating detail and care, yet they resemble ordinary ice cream cones or pies in daily life.

The sensory effects of pop art are the most outstanding. The tag “pop” is no misnomer. Each of the pieces in the current Faulconer exhibition stand out as either whimsical or dazzling, reminiscent of TV advertisements and standout fliers, engaging audiences with sensory details rather than relying solely on content. A 3D teabag encased in a frame called “Teabag,” a stainless steel and ceramic balloon animal called “Balloon Dog (Blue)” and three loaves of bread with eggs called “Bread with Egg” are just a few examples of the many subtle but strong images represented in this exhibition.

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