Monday, July 18, 2011

Travis Rice Has Serious Fun

July used to be the dead month for Des Moines fine arts. Not any more. This year the kind of big brilliant shows that galleries used to hold back until autumn are opening this month at four different venues.

Travis Rice’s exhibition “Contamination” is the largest one person show ever at Moberg Gallery, taking up the entire gallery plus an outdoor wall. It’s inspired by a 1980 Italian cult film of the same name. That sci fi classic was about alcoholism, green eggs and coffee with the green eggs plotting to take over the world. I don’t make this stuff up. You can leave all expectations at the door of the exhibition.

“I’ve always had issues with germs and bacteria. I became interested in the way they move and multiply. I observed some bacteria that expanded into aerial routes, detracting and retracting to new hosts. That’s the way they are. That’s what I tried to capture in my prints, then in the paintings. Those are my ideas about what a 3D diagram of a sneeze might look like,” Rice explained.

Rice’s meditations on bacterial growth also include neon sculptures, 3D paintings, video monitors, and several metal sheds filled with fluorescent lights and props one might use in decontamination zones. Some of those are covered with metastasizing green eggs. All are covered with textured fluorescent film and separated from each other with shredded colored paper, a Rice trademark. This show is serious summer fun. Through August 20.

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