There are two separate pictures, drawn in pencil and painted in watercolor, hung in a frame one above the other. The top picture shows a part of a church—the pointy steeple part—and nothing else on the white paper. The other picture, also isolated, is a runway model in strappy stilettos who's fallen. Her crotch is exposed between the V of her awkwardly bent legs. The paper is turned upside down. Her stilettos point upward just like the steeple, and so does her crotch. The stilettos (and the steeple) are spines, failing.
Dawn Cerny made these, and they're in Robert Yoder's dining room. Yoder is a Seattle artist who used to be represented by Howard House gallery; since it closed, he has turned his own living room, dining room, and second bedroom into an instantly notable contemporary gallery called Season. The other artist showing at Season this spring is Adam Marnie of New York; Cerny, of Seattle, was recently short-listed for the Henry Art Gallery's Brink emerging artist award.
Marnie's contribution is sculpture and collages, all with a basis in painting. He marks an X on a piece of drywall and smashes it there, then frames and hangs the "finished" experiment on a freestanding wall without the drywall finish—one that's just two-by-fours, prisonlike. His collages of naked female bodies and still-life paintings are cut so they also invoke bars, or some kind of structure against which actions are taking place. Spines being smashed.
Both artists are building actions rather than depictions. One picture acts upon another, or a frame acts to freeze a smash.
Cerny has always been about humor and history, but she's begun leaving out direct historical references. Camp Carmel—referring to a childhood memory? We don't know—is two duffel bags made of paper. The paper looks like it was dipped in plaster (it was coated in resin). One of the duffel bags stands on its end like a pedestal, and a silver vase with fake flowers sits on top. The handles of the bags are splayed and the bags are split open and hollow, ghostly; they're only tentatively sturdy, as if they've been blown up with air.
Trained as a printmaker, Cerny is now giving her images rise, pumping two dimensions into three and wondering about how we relate differently to objects than to images. One drawing shows rows of pairs of hands working at various tasks, partially erased. Above them, Cerny drew a row of ornamental curves from an ornate picture frame. The repeated curves of the frame echo the repeated curves of the hands (all drawn by the artist's hands, disappeared but hovering over everything). Modern hands don't sculpt ornamental curves—there are molds and machines for that. Cerny draws them as best she can, imperfectly.
Cerny and Marnie are true collaborators, their separate works taking part in a web of associations that includes the pietà (any pietà, every pietà, of an upright mother and her slumping dead son), a sonnet about an anus by Verlaine and Rimbaud, and a play involving a sad boy in a gas station by Bradley Rubenstein (the poem and the play are tucked into the show's little catalog). The pair are also showing in LA at the moment.