Melissa Pokorny


Bay Area Painter's Thematic Center Shifts Toward Common Ground

San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, May 29, 2023

by Kenneth Baker

Pokorny at Anglim: Former San Francisco artist Melissa Pokorny, who lives and teaches in Illinois, has crammed the small room at Anglim with sculpture in her signature found-object mode.

Sixty years ago, Clement Greenberg (1909-1994) wrote a famous essay envisioning an epochal struggle between high art and kitsch. He lived more than long enough to see kitsch win, but never acknowledged the work of artists such as Pokorny who saw no defeat in the tide of fakery and sentimentality in consumer goods.

Her art consists not merely in assembling tacky stuff -- cast plastic critters, polar fleece, laminated paneling -- but in making it crackle with improbable life by a kind of frozen juggling act.

In "Cur" (2004), she has used silver-pigmented polyresin adhesive to keep slices of faux-brick paneling stacked on edge. A cluster of them hangs perpendicular to the wall. The brick segments have been cut into ovals that bring to mind cartoon speech balloons.

A strand of yellow polar fleece ties the brickwork structure to a single "brick" slab that rests upright on the back of two plastic terriers, each with one leg lifted.

Forget meaning. This work functions like some sort homemade cultural probe. Think of a kid poking a stick into swamp water and removing it to see what lies beneath. Pokorny's creative imagination seems to work that way.

People have a hard time imagining living with Pokorny's sculpture, but in a sense we all do already.

Images - Biography - Artist's Website