Our own correspondent is sorry to tell
Of an uneasy time that all is not well
On the borders there’s movement
In the hills there is trouble
Food is short, crime is double
Prices have risen since the government fell
Casualties increase as the enemy shell
The climate’s unhealthy, flies and rats thrive
And sooner or later the end will arrive
This is your correspondent, running out of tape
Gunfire’s increasing, looting, burning, rape
– Wire, “Reuters”, 1977.
Seeing an art show at a nightclub has its drawbacks, but one thing I took away from seeing the one-night only six-man show Oscar Mike at Nightrocker: Live was the idea that more galleries should paint the walls black. With proper lighting, it can be a natural neutral framing device which highlights the work and renders negative space somehow richer.
The line-up of the show drew me out of what has become, in my advanced years, a somewhat habitual avoidance of loud and smoky music clubs (note to San Antonio: in NYC, the smoking ban in bars seems not to have had any effect on the level of trade and sure makes it more comfortable for everyone, smokers included.) San Antonio-based artists Albert Alvarez, Jimmy Canales, the brothers Ruben and Rigoberto Luna, Miguel Nelson, and part-time Angeleno Vincent Valdez came together after the experience the first four had of putting together the possibly-someday-to-be-considered-seminal group exhibit Techjano/a: Hybrid Logic this spring at el Museo Alameda. The germ of the idea for this new show came from Valdez and developed after Rigo Luna introduced him to brother Ruben (who had curated the Alameda show.) A fast friendship and evidently an effective creative alliance was quickly formed, although Rigo is quick to point out that “Oscar Mike is a show, not a collective.”
The basis for the work in the show is the participants’ shared boyhood love for the 80′s iteration of G.I. Joe. A running theme of the youthful acceptance of the glamorization of war represented by the action figures, comic book and cartoon series – one of the early pioneering brands which synergized toys and media in an attempt to saturate children’s imagination and desire – is contrasted with the now-adult artists’ deeper understanding of the full ramifications of organized violence, and their rejection of the pop culture romanticization of the warrior myth.
Addendum: Scuttlebutt amongst the dogfaces says they may re-stage in a new theatre of operations. Waiting on word from the top brass back at HQ.