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Big kid stuff

Pink Hobo Gallery’s “The Itch that Burns” exhibition gives an adult treatment to childhood aesthetic.
Big kid stuff
Image by Erin Westover

What: The Itch that Burns

When: Now through May 25

Where: Pink Hobo Gallery (507 E. Hennepin Ave)

NortheastâÄôs Pink Hobo Gallery can feel more like a grade-school clubhouse than an art gallery. The space functions as a bit of a storefront for MinneapolisâÄô PUNY Entertainment, a local animation and design company that has offered creative talents toward recent child television mainstays like NickelodeonâÄôs wonderfully absurd âÄúYo Gabba Gabba!âÄù It is a childhood center that is immediately apparent from the hodgepodge of unique cartoon paraphernalia that the main entrance area dons.

In essence, it is a place that embraces the most elementary moments of everyoneâÄôs cultural exposure. Minneapolis artists Mitch Loidolt and Brett Von Schlosser have drawn their inspiration from that exact realm of influence for their current exhibition, âÄúThe Itch that Burns,âÄù which will be running at Pink Hobo until May 25. Naturally, the show undercuts this interest in childhood fodder with the sort of anxiousness and discomfort only an adult perspective could allow.

âÄúThe âÄô80s was a pretty great time to be a kid because there was a lot of really weird childrenâÄôs material happening,âÄù Von Schlosser said. âÄúThat continues to inform the way I look at a lot of things.âÄù

Von SchlosserâÄôs work toes that line of juvenile representation with the ugliness of social and cultural scenarios. One of his larger canvas paintings, âÄúRodeo for Brutes,âÄù depicts a man going to the bathroom on an exposed public toilet amidst a crowd of peer mockery, a scene that the artist witnessed at the Triple Rock Social ClubâÄôs regularly doorless menâÄôs room stall.

These scenes of agitation are commonplace within his portion of the exhibition. Moreover, it is that undertone that the showâÄôs name is intended to reflect.

âÄúIt was an aesthetic that described both of our work pretty well âÄî weird, kind of nervous, kind of compulsive,âÄù Von Schlosser said.

LoidoltâÄôs work carries similar thematic resonations of boyhood crudeness. However, his portion of the collection is fused with a greater level of imaginative whimsy. Animated sea monsters have been placated onto old thrift store landscape canvases, and dweeby artifacts from his generationâÄôs pop culture lexicon are commonly present.

âÄúIf it looks like it needs a monster, it gets one,âÄù said Loidolt, who is also part of PUNY EntertainmentâÄôs creative team. âÄúI put the pencil to the page, and whatever happens happens.âÄù

Such a creative process lends itself better to classroom doodles than gallery pieces, but considering the subject matter, it arguably elevates the impact of his work. Their interest in manipulating the capacity for their nonsensical output has also provided a range of media within the exhibition, from screen printing to oil painting to gouache.

âÄúWhen I first learned to silk screen print, I kind of realized it was sort of the medium I had kind of been looking for,âÄù Von Schlosser said. âÄúIt totally informed how I approach making images and drawing.âÄù

The cartoon caricatures of âÄúThe Itch that BurnsâÄù may be burdened by the emotive perspective of adulthood, but some of the most notable contemporary animation has tended to do the same âÄî from John KricfalusiâÄôs hilariously grotesque âÄúRen and StimpyâÄú to the dumpster toddlers of Art SpiegelmanâÄôs âÄúGarbage Pail Kids.âÄù

Knowing that minds like Loidolt actually have a hand in AmericaâÄôs contemporary afternoon output makes this exhibition all the more enlightening.

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