On the Money, Christopher Doyle, Viggo Mortensen


The transformations the participants in “On the Money: At the Intersection of Art & Commerce” visit on legal tender are especially tender, if hardly legal: However archly and even brutally, these artists effect changes on the almighty dollar with wit, sharp insight and deft craftsmanship. Oriane Stender’s intricate interlacings make quilts out of greenbacks, occasionally enmeshing a commodified icon (e.g., a Warhol Marilyn in the weave. Lisa Kokin uses shredded bills as a multiple stand-in (for hair, stuffing, papier-mache’) to fabricate a variety of pleasant or mysterious or vaguely grotesque objects, not the least of which are cleverly transformed midcentury handbooks on business. Robin Clark scrapes the ink off the money, a gesture at once conceptual, alchemical (turning the bills into pale white slabs) and magical (reducing the group scene on the back of the $2 to a single table and chair, for instance). Ray Beldner chops dollars into doilies, stitches them together into flags and bags, cuts them strategically so that particular features are isolated, and otherwise comes off as the show’s biggest spender. (He is in fact its curator.) The show’s non-Bay Areans are Houston’s antic Art Guys, the only ones here working with coins, and Florida’s J.S.G. Boggs, notorious for drawing frightfully exact replicas of sawbucks and century notes. Here Boggs subverts existing designs with playful alterations and, more impressively, invents two new bills for our billfold, both multicolored and bearing portrayals of women – on of whom, a youngish lady of color, Boggs bills as the “First Female President.” – Peter Frank.

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  • Peter Frank
  • LA Weekly
  • January 1-7, 1999