For its latest exhibition, Wedgewood-Houston’s Julia Martin Gallery presents a compelling, sardonic collection of mixed media pieces by New Haven-based artist Mark Mulroney. The show, called “Family Values,” offers artistic takes that are firmly rooted in the here and now, as well as reflections that are thoroughly timeless.
Mulroney’s work features political figures, cynically-edited cartoons, magazine cutouts and other creative collections to elicit humor, ironic reflection and a range of other reactions. In the pieces that dwell on current events particularly, this approach is uniquely effective for this confusing and unprecedented time.
“Mulroney’s narratives often depict superheroes, baseball players and charming little scenes from when America was so ‘great,’ albeit peppered with missing limbs and squirting blood,” exhibition curator Daniel Lonow explained in a message from the gallery. “This is a grail show for me. Mark is an artist I have dreamed of bringing to Nashville since I first encountered his work in Miami in the early 2000s.”
Lonow highlighted Mitch McConnell From Memory, a piece that depicts the Senate Majority Leader as a pink puddle of goo wearing his trademark spectacles.
“His touches on the political are flat-out genius,” Lonow said. “For instance, Mitch McConnell From Memory captures McConnell as a slab of raw meat wearing glasses. Enough said.”
The acrylic collage June 2020 offers multiple touch points that serve as a kind of microcosm for the collection as a whole. Painted on “quarantine cardboard,” as the gallery put it, it includes a smattering of cartoon characters, memento mori and earnestly haggard faces — all rendered in cartoonishly bright fashion.
It speaks well to how Mulroney has been able to capture the unique, disturbing essence of our time throughout Family Values.
Mulroney holds a BFA from San Diego State University and an MFA from the University of California at Santa Barbara. His work has been exhibited throughout the world, including at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, SUNY Cortland in New York and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago.
Julia Martin Gallery is located at 444 Humphreys Street in WeHo.