Originally organized by Carrie Lederer for Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California, Blow UP is on view at Vision Gallery in Chandler through October 30th before traveling to six additional states. An exhibition comprised of work by various artists working with inflatables, this exhibition is – yes I’ll say it – fun! That was not a shock, but I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation and description of varying conceptual motives that drove these artists to make inflatable sculptures. Upon entering Vision Gallery, I couldn’t help but feel that the space had been invaded by these giant, puffy beings; the sculptures are stuffed into corners, scrunched into place, and confined by the ceiling. Movable walls separate most of the sculptures, resulting in a maze-like experience that kept me wondering what new air-filled shape I was going to encounter every time I turned a corner.
Guy Overfelt’s life-size inflatable 1977 Pontiac Trans Am questions the solidity of the American dream that he feels is best represented by this car. What does it mean to make this symbol of masculinity, speed, and power nothing more than an enclosure of air? Surely a crowd-pleaser, this piece has an irresistible sense of humor. Momoyo Torimitsu’s giant pink bunnies barely fit in the gallery space; their heads touch the ceiling, forcing their ears to fold over, creating a canopy over the viewer who stands beneath them. The sheer size of the bunnies combined with sharp buckteeth and wide eyes undercuts their “cute” nature and hints at a more ominous message. Torimitsu’s Somehow, I Don’t Feel Comfortable is a critical response to Japan’s Hello Kitty culture, or what she refers to as “the cuteness syndrome”.