Nov 14, 2011

REVIEW I Idle Hands: The Devil's Art Show

Idle Hands: The Devil's Art Show
I had absolutely no intentions of reviewing this art show. In fact, I had looked up several exhibitions in Austin that I wanted to check out, but when I checked the syllabus and saw when this entry was due, I knew I was out of luck. For the last couple months, and especially these last couple weeks, I've been furiously painting and planning, getting ready for Idle Hands. So unfortunately, due to these deadlines and time constraints, I'm left with no other option but to review my own art show.

For the last few years, I've been putting on art shows at The Stratosphere Lounge, a hookah joint right next door to the tattoo shop I work at. Putting on these art shows has been a great experience for me, and just as frustrating. But it's nice for me to have a goal and a deadline, ensuring that I'm getting off my ass and getting some artwork done.


Mark Von Diehl, Brigadoon Satanic Pork Chop, Ink and watercolor, 2011

The theme for this years show was to honor Ol' Scratch, the Devil himself, architect of our desires and scapegoat for our failures. Regardless, I felt he deserved an art show. The piece that got the whole satanic ball rolling was a collaboration piece between myself and my co-worker, Brigadoon. We started with an idea to do a series of themed pork chop sheets, which are larger sheets of small to medium sized designs that were displayed in tattoo shops, showcasing the cheaper designs. The creation of this pork chop sheet inspired us to center the art show around it.

Idle Hands: The Devil's Art Show

Putting on an art show at the Stratosphere has always presented some very unique challenges. One of the most difficult is the fact that the largest wall to display work on is brick. Because of this, there's no way to simply hammer nails into the wall, which necessitates hanging the work from the exposed rafters. This year, I came up with the idea to hang sheets of plywood from the rafters and hang the art on the plywood. This worked out a lot better than trying to hang each individual piece, and saved hours of prep time.

Another challenge is the fact that, as a running business, The Stratosphere still needs seats for customers to sit while puffing away on their hookahs and, as you can see in the picture above, it makes it a royal pain in the ass for people to maneuver around people to try to get a look at the work. 

Brigadoon and his work
The show featured work by Adam Burdine, Dan Olson and Gabe Hendricks from 1836 Creative, Brigadoon, and myself. As far as the art itself, Brigadoon stole the show. He and I have been working together for about a year now, and his seemingly endless imagination has been very inspiring. Not content to sit around the shop reading or dicking around on the computer during down time, Brigadoon takes full advantage of lulls to draw and paint, which has rubbed off on me, for which I'm quite thankful. While the amount of work Brigadoon had to hang on his piece of plywood left his presentation cluttered and busy, the stylish continuity of his style helps remedy this. Brigadoons approach to classic traditional tattooing styles, combined with his imagination give his work a folksy, timeless feel without coming across as stale.

Unfortunately, Brigadoon and I were the only two to present our work on sheets of plywood. Dan and Gabe had to string their work up from the rafters, which really lends a sense of being half-assed and slapped together, which, in a way, it was. But, these shows, being what I've come to call "No-Brow," are just that, a bunch of artists coming together to show their work, and knowing very little about presentation, or really much else about how real art shows are run. 

Wes Texas
 While I may not know a ton about putting on an art show, I do know what I want out of it, and that's a fun, laid back environment where folks can check out the art work, catch up with friends, hear some good music, and down some cold beers. In this aspect, the Idle Hands opening reception was very successful. 

-Mark Diehl


  1. ContributorNov 28, 2011 08:54 PM
    Okay so you critiqued your own show. I understand the difficulties putting a show together, having just gone through a similar situation-but what about the content of the art work? Did it all relate to your theme of idle hands or did someone draw pictures of their grandma? What made Brigadoon's work so special that he stole the show? Dan Olson and Gabe Hendricks had to hang from the rafters-hang what exactly? I would like to see the actual artworks as well. Otherwise I appreciated your take on the amount of work that goes into an Art show.
    -Serena Rangel
  2. ContributorDec 10, 2011 10:05 AM
    Many of your questions would be answered by reading the post....