Bardo Pond takes over Crane in “Between Two Worlds”

Arts / Article

Philadelphia’s very own seminal psychedelic/noise rock band Bardo Pond has just begun an artful September in Gallery 105 of the Crane Arts Building. The band members have assembled a group show of their artwork under the banner “Between Two Worlds.” While this title certainly does a fine job of describing the sounds they produce as Bardo Pond, all of the musicians were already busy making visual art prior to forming the band in 1991. As this show proves, their interest in process, experimentation and improvisation is clear in both their auditory and visible pursuits.

Michael Gibbons, “Blue Lemur.”

The show’s title makes an appearance in an artwork by guitarist Michael Gibbons, which itself is named “Blue Lemur.” Gibbons interestingly chooses to let the text in the piece speak for itself and instead focuses on the image of a crouching, blue-ring-tailed lemur. Placed over a background of gold leaf, the animal’s shape and color demand attention, especially considering that it is entirely without context; there is nothing in the frame beyond the lemur and its half-formed shadow. It peers cautiously to its right, perhaps looking into the distance at one of the worlds between which it lies. Gibbons also includes a number of illustrations depicting so-called ‘personal demons.’ These cartoon-like renderings seem almost harmless to the casual viewer, but to the artist, these creatures could surely represent struggles and personal dilemmas that remain hidden to all but himself.

Clint Takeda, "Squawk."

Clint Takeda, “Squawk.”

Clint Takeda includes a wide variety of two-dimensional artworks in CD cases, on wood panels, and on paper, but his most impressive works are generally his 3D manifestations. A twisted, mutilated bust and a dangling, mutant rabbit-like beast are just a couple of his surreal jaunts. Possibly Takeda’s most noteworthy creations are the standing, disembodied pair of red legs that eerily occupy the middle of the floor, and the combination bird/spy plane diving from a wall-mounted pedestal. The former, entitled “Saboteur (Bill Ward’s Ass)” gives the impression that an attendee to the opening departed and absentmindedly left behind their lower half. Think that forgetting your phone or wallet somewhere is a hassle? Try forgetting two of your limbs. “Squawk” is a tiny piece that takes the form of the Cold War-era SR-71 Blackbird, only with an actual avian update: the nose of the plane is actually the skull and beak of a bird. Both a play on the aircraft’s name and a sleek, black form, it is a modest but well-crafted highlight of the exhibit.

Dechemia (Isobel Sollenberger and John Gibbons), "Made."

Dechemia (Isobel Sollenberger and John Gibbons), “Made.”

Isobel Sollenberger and John Gibbons produce process-based, non-objective forms and textures together under the name ‘Dechemia.’ The objects they construct are smooth in spots, with cracks, canyons and fissures dividing these flat areas or billowing over one another. They explore the natural possibilities of the media they choose, specifically Hydrocal plaster and paper. Entirely achromatic, the pair works in white, black and gray hues, which put the physicality of the material before all else.

Assorted artistic Bardo Pond paraphernalia.

Assorted artistic Bardo Pond paraphernalia.

A table full of sketches, posters and assorted album art rests in the center of the gallery space, tying the show together through this group’s shared musical connections. There is plenty to see and much to ponder in this space, and as with anything, the characters of Bardo Pond produce, it is as deeply layered and inscrutable as it comes.

Bardo Pond will also play a set in the Icebox Project Space on September 26th in conjunction with the 20/92 Video Screening night.

Crane Arts is located at 1400 North American St., Philadelphia; [email protected]cranearts.com.