“Unconventional Wisdom” is uncommonly good

Mike Elko's Cautionary Tales #2  shows his hilarious and to-the-point style.

Photo courtesy MIA

Ashley Goetz

Mike Elko’s Cautionary Tales #2 shows his hilarious and to-the-point style. Photo courtesy MIA

WHAT: âÄúUnconventional WisdomâÄù exhibition WHEN: Aug. 29 âÄì Oct. 26 WHERE: Minneapolis Institute of Arts TICKETS: free www.artsmia.org The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is freaking enormous. It boasts three floors, dozens of different galleries and nearly 100,000 works of art. It is literally a warehouse of genius. To see every work in the building in one business day, you would have to look at four pieces of art per second. Needless to say, itâÄôs pretty easy to miss something. Keeping this in mind, Mike Elko and Ruthann GodolleiâÄôs new exhibition âÄúUnconventional Wisdom,âÄù is not something thatâÄôs worth skipping. The show, put on by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program,, is a mix of intensely dark humor, poignant wit and social critique that will leave you smirking, despite an apprehensive feeling about the future. The world that Elko and Godollei show us, our world, is one plagued by overconsumption and wrought with violence, yet simultaneously glossed over and reinvented for the American public. It is a world ruled by fear-mongering and political buzzwords. Godollei is a professor of art at Macalester College, with a concentration in printmaking. Her pieces function as biting social criticism that utilize only one word and one object. They are generally absent of people, yet full of peopleâÄôs stuff, household items, and technological gadgets âÄî basically, the things we busy ourselves with. GodolleiâÄôs pieces read like a military memo; the words are the buzzwords of our current administration: âÄúExtended Tour,âÄù âÄúDetainee,âÄù âÄúTroop Reduction,âÄù âÄúRedeployed.âÄù The pieces are black ink on white canvas, impossible to misread and void of frivolities. One piece entitled âÄúearplugsâÄù shows an iPod as an object used to isolate ourselves from the realities of the war. The iPodâÄôs screen has a podcast on it which reads âÄúPretend thereâÄôs no war/ stick it in your ears.âÄù Godollei shows us the way in which each of us controls how isolated we let ourselves become from the world around us. The reality portrayed in GodolleiâÄôs prints is a wry and sarcastic one but also disturbing. âÄúThese images are digitized, altered, and printed again for a menacing, decayed mechanistic feel.âÄù ItâÄôs effective, to say the least. ElkoâÄôs prints are an adaptation of the style and visual language of âÄô50s and âÄô60s tabloids and Sears catalogs. They read like the front cover of a pulp magazine with titles like âÄúDepressing ConfessionsâÄù and âÄúParanoia.âÄù ElkoâÄôs style is humorously nostalgic while bitingly to the point. One print shows a young woman holding her head in distress above a caption that reads, âÄúI feel CHEAP and USED! After four years of heartache, she finally admits, I Chose the WRONG MAN!âÄù Humor and information comprise each print, and remind us of the realities that are too important to forget. Elko will have you laughing but will leave you thinking about the future. Effective art has the power to push us to think. Above all else, this is what âÄúUnconventional WisdomâÄù does. Godollei and ElkoâÄôs pieces work off each other; they serve to form a running dialogue, which will undoubtedly pull you in regardless of whether you are willing to be moved.