The art of the ‘stache

Northeast art show focuses on humor and fun.

Featured artist Atom Pechman poses with his moustache sculpture, from which the show in Northeast Minneapolis takes its name.

Photo courtesy Atom Pechman

Featured artist Atom Pechman poses with his moustache sculpture, from which the show in Northeast Minneapolis takes its name.

by Griffin Fillipitch

What: Juicy Steak Moustache

When: 12-4 p.m., Saturdays until March 10

Where: Northrup King Building, Studio 395, 1500 Jackson St. NE

Cost: Free

Anyone who has caught a glimpse of Michael Cera’s thin, wormy, vaguely horrifying moustache in pictures from this year’s Sundance Film Festival knows that moustaches are better when bigger. Anita Sue Kolman understands this important truth better than a relief pitcher, and it shows in the title of her Northeast Minneapolis art gallery’s latest show, “Juicy Steak Moustache.”

The show is not dedicated to moustaches, however. “More than anything, the show is about things that are whimsical and have a sense of childlike indulgence,” said Patrick Kemal Pryor, curator of the Anita Sue Kolman Gallery and contributing artist in the show.

That spirit is reflected in the unusual title, which is no accident.

“It comes partly from Atom Pechman’s series of moustache sculptures. When we first saw those, we knew they had to be included in the title,” Kolman said. “But we also wanted the title to sound weird and nonsensical, like a kid might say without thinking.”

The idea of a show dedicated to humor and fun is one that she and Pryor have had for more than a year.

“It was something that we wanted to do before the gallery even opened,” Kolman said. “We went to an exhibit and saw the work of Kyle Fokken, who is featured in the show. He makes what look like toys out of all kinds of materials. Patrick said to me, ‘We’ve got to have something like that in the gallery.’ That’s what planted it in our heads, I think.”

There are 10 artists featured in the show, most of whom have contributed to the gallery in the past. With that number of artists, perceptions of the whimsical and fantastical vary drastically. Not every piece is an action figure or a moustache sculpture.

“I’m very happy with the diversity of the show,” Pryor said. “This one has an extremely broad range of kinds of art. It is probably half sculptural pieces and half paintings.”

But even within those two categories, the styles of the pieces continue to differ, along with reactions to them.

“Art is a very personal thing. To me, that is the valuable thing about art,” said Kolman. “I might look at something and not see anything fun about it, but that same piece could make someone else start laughing.”

Disconnects or differences in opinion like this are not just inevitable, but encouraged.

“It is not necessarily a bad thing if the fun is not there in your eyes,” said Kolman. “But it is more likely that this show will find you laughing than the shows we’ve done in the past. It just depends on what the pieces say to you.”

Even though viewers of the show may be laughing, it is important not to mistake the humor in the pieces for carelessness or nonchalance.

“It is serious. People make a living being artists, so they are very serious and work very hard at it,” Kolman said. “But at the same time they have fun doing what they’re doing. We are serious about what we’re doing and want to present good work that will resonate with people, but the work itself does not always have to be so serious.”