“No Money No Honey”–truth, right? This exhibition at 33 Orchard, a collective art space on the Lower East Side, makes the case for this idiom. Director Jane Kim explains how “honey … denotes the pleasures, both material and metaphysical, that are inherently associated with wealth.”
Cue the balloons. In the claymation music video Mercury Rising (2015, 4.31 min.), Colm Dillane & theMIND visualize this theme through a loose, fantastical narrative of two kids ascending out of their ordinary Chicago neighborhoods on a bicycle and balloon-covered wagon to fly among the stars. It is really enjoyable. In addition to the video, the claymation sets that Dillane used to make the animation are on view, originally the only works in the space.
Colm Dillane, Jupiter, 2015 (Clay, fabric, plastic, weave, balloons)
Rather than cynical, as the aphorism “No Money No Honey” might suggest, the show comes across as energetic, not least because the exhibition’s second iteration features additional works of painting, photomontage, drawing, and black-and-white photography on a banana-yellow wall. Works by this diverse group of artists (Peggy Preheim, Sally Webster, Sue Kwon, Vincent Katz, Martha Rosler) come together to form a show is not easily reducible to a single theme. However, broadly speaking, individual works address gender, capitalism, and urban life.
While the LES often offers a fresher take than Chelsea these days, too often work can feel like the carefully packaged product of an MFA program. That is not the case here, and the different aesthetic feels stimulating and deliberately gritty as it cheerfully raises a host of tricky issues. No Money No Honey is up through March 13, in case your winter could use a jolt of exuberance.