While typically considered a leisure activity, the pastime of playing games has always served a multitude of purposes—bonding participants, physically exercising or improving athleticism, sharpening memory and strategic skills and otherwise challenging individuals to push their own limits. Currently on view at the Lyndon House Arts Center through Tuesday, Oct. 17, “The Game Show” is a group exhibition exploring these notions of leisure, physicality, sport and competition.
Esteban Patino and Kaleena Stasiak contribute interactive works to the exhibition. Patino’s “Heaps of Language” is precisely that: a pile of unusually shaped symbols jigsawed together. His body of work investigates the formation, perception and often inherently arbitrary nature of language, and he has created his own alphabet of six characters that can be rotated on their axis four times for a total of 24. “Possible (in) Formation” is a giant Tic Tac Toe board that substitutes the artist’s unique symbols in place of straightforward x’s and o’s. Documented through photographs by Stephanie Sutton, Stasiak’s scavenger hunt provides visitors with shadows of artifacts they must seek out in the historic Ware-Lyndon House.
Paul Pfeiffer’s videos often utilize digitally manipulated footage of athletes or celebrities to approach ideas pertaining to contemporary culture. His two-minute loop “Desiderata” shows individuals standing awkwardly on the flashy, cartoonish sets of televised game shows. Hosts, competitors and live audience members have all been erased out, establishing an unsettling loneliness that echoes the disconnect often experienced by viewers who consume media as a way of retreating from the real world.
Mike Landers and Curtis Ames repurpose activity materials into new, color-rich forms. Landers meticulously layers Legos into wall-mounted constructions that please the eye with their rainbow, pinstripe precision. An op-art-esque series, “White Stripes,” includes six squares that collectively form a gradient from left to right as each piece progressively adds heavier black stripes. Ames fills glass spaces with salvaged, deflated athletic balls—soccer balls, kickballs, basketballs, volleyballs—magnifying their inability to perform their one intended purpose, and refocusing on their various colors and sizes. With a bit of imagination, a free-standing cube of balls almost resembles a bubble gum machine.
Noah McCarthy and Lea Purvis both draw influence from animation and pop culture. McCarthy, whom some may recognize as the guy who speedruns old-school video games on a projector in real time as Bit Brigade performs, paints acrylic screenshots from staples like Mega Man, Mario and Zelda. Studio Ghibli fans will enjoy Lea Purvis’ collection of terrariums paying homage to Hayao Miyazaki’s classic anime Princess Mononoke. Tiny Kodama, or forest spirits in Japanese folklore, stare up from their moss-covered worlds with wide, curious eyes. As close collaborators, McCarthy and Purvis demonstrate the excitement of sharing creative practices as a leisure activity through a series of paintings of video game characters that combine McCarthy’s pixelated portraiture with Purvis’ loose, splattered washes of color in the background.
Meg Aubrey and Nicole Jean Hill focus on athletes as the primary subjects of their work. Aubrey contributes large oil paintings of women on tennis courts right before matches, as well as a portrait of three tailgating couples that exemplifies how sports provide an occasion to bond. As a ringside photographer, Hill takes an anthropological approach to documenting boxers and mixed martial arts fighters at amateur fight nights, often touching on ceremonial pageantry and machismo. Her large photographs of grapplers in “The Game Show” are full of physical tension and relay the disorienting chaos of full-contact combat.
Celebrating the power of play, the Lyndon House will host a Field Day at Night to coincide with Third Thursday on Sept. 21 from 6–8 p.m. Patino will challenge visitors to rounds of Tic Tac Toe, Stasiak will lead participants through her scavenger hunt, and Landers will offer a prize to whoever guesses the number of Legos the closest. Attendees can also try their hand at a new video game developed by Air Sea Dolphin, an all-star ensemble featuring Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo, local musician James Huggins and Mike and Matt Chapman, the brothers behind “Homestar Runner.”
Several other exhibitions are also currently on view. Inspired by the northern lights, Zane Cochran’s interactive installation “Aurora” uses a computer algorithm to control suspended structures that glow and fade as visitors move through the space. In “Connecting: Stairs to…,” Thom Houser explores the metaphorical and literal significance of stairways through sculpture, photography and video. Guest curated by Margot Ecke, “All that Remains is Nowhere: A Sampling of 21st Century Book Arts” offers imaginative twists on traditional bookmaking techniques. In the main lobby, the series Collections from our Community presents “Zig Dot Zag,” an annual project of the Athens Fibercraft Guild that challenges members to make a creation using mystery bags of dyed wool in various forms. In the Lounge Gallery, Timothy Adams shares a collection of abstract paintings incorporating elements of minimalism and intense color.
Participate in field day games in celebration of "The Game Show," an exhibition featuring works by Esteban Patino, Curtis Ames, Lea Purvis, Noah McCarthy, Nicole Jean Hill, Hope Kilton, Kaleena Stasiak, Paul Pfeiffer, Mike Landers and Meg Aubrey. See Art Notes on p. 10.