The Terra Firma Art Company on Third Avenue in Whitehorse bills itself as your “promotional product company”.They put images, logos and text onto products, mainly garments, helping businesses and teams brand themselves.
Men of Terra Firma showcases the artists behind this commercial endeavour.
Terra Firma workers Chris Blaker, Adam Green, Matty Marnik, Allen Moffatt and Rory O’Brien display their work in the show.
Beautifully ornate vinyl announces the show on the way in. It also mentions a special guest Matt Willis, but I couldn’t find his artwork in the show.
Overall, the artwork in the show reflects the discipline required for t shirt design. Images are depicted using hard-edged areas of colour rather than blending. This strategy lends itself readily to reproduction.
Rory O’Brien exhibits a Trip-Tych of vinyl on pock board, which seems to be a black foam core-style surface. The surface is covered with diagonal stripes of vinyl in white alternating with red, yellow or blue, with stripes of the black board showing between.
Each of the three paintings depicts a different open mouth with its tongue out. Lines delineating the chin and mouth creases are cut into the white or coloured stripes. Each tongue, in the picture’s base colour, sports a pattern of plus signs or dots, with white highlights added to the tongue. The teeth are also white. A sugar cube rests on the tongues. Three of the sides are visible—one is black, two are white.
Chris Blaker also worked on pock board. He used some kind of screen or stencil with acrylic aerosol paint. He depicts a series of sea creatures in Octopus, Jelly Fish, and Nautilus, using photographs with contrast increased substantially, until the images are depicted just in black and one colour. In Squid2.0,fuscia is the new white.
Both Blaker’s and O’Brien’s work would make excellent t-shirts.
Adam Green has two different kinds of work. He exhibits a series of digital photos, Mr. Januarythrough Mr. December. Again, colour contrast in these images has been increased to creat hard-edged areas of colour. Each has a multi-colour palette, often yellow, red, green and blue, with black added in some images. Each image works with a different palette, but the principle is the same. Imagine the colours not as colour per se but in terms of how dark or light they are. Yellow is lightest, blue or purple is darkest, and the other colours fall in between. The images are intriguing, suggesting the character of their subjects. It’s not a nudie calendar, though one nicely shaped fellow has his shirt off.
A similar colour strategy is used in his Madonna, the only oil painting in the show. The oil is very thinly applied in these distinct areas of colour. It would not look very different in any sort of paint.
Madonna depicts a woman with a sulky expression on her face and bare breasts. She’s surrounded by purple shadow, which cuts her head off from her body. At edges of some of the curves, there are some interesting thin slices of colour.
Matty Marnik is also working photographically, but he keeps his images photo realistic. He creates whimsical assemblages of candid, snapshot-style images that suggest stories on close examination. He’s particularly good with cats. In Untitled 2, a black cat, clearly into the catnip, sprawls on a linoleum floor, one eye almost winking. This image is printed beside a snap of a smaller cat, white with stripes, sitting in front of an oven, perhaps in the same kitchen. Its head pokes out of the plastic Super A bag it seems to have been playing with.
Allen Moffatt has a large grouping of soapstone carvings on display, mostly small to medium sized. In “Gone Fishing” (Eagle/Salmon), an eagle lifts its wing and finds a salmon in the curve underneath.Surprise is carved in orange soapstone—its expression aside, I was surprised to find that soapstone came in that colour. Family is slightly larger, and more diverse in shapes, with the stone pierced through to depict leg forms. The smaller ones don’t include this feature, which makes them a little blocky.
The Men of Terra Firma shows until June 14 at Gallery 22. Gallery 22 is located above Triple J’s Music in its new location between the Hougen’s Centre parking lot and Fourth Avenue.