That seemingly useless cliché, “write what you know,” appears to have inspired Stephanie Bonham and Art Silva to create works that reflect, well, what they know. And just what do these two quirky artisans cognize?
Drums. And cats.
Silva explains that the concept for their joint Sala Diaz exhibit, Drums and Cats 4ever, popped out one day while they were brainstorming. He has a passion for percussion, while Bonham, apparently, is a cat person. Why not combine their loves into something remarkable, awe-inspiring, and unique?
OK, so maybe the exhibit isn’t exactly remarkable and awe-inspiring, but it is certainly unique. The works consist of a variety of images of both cats and drums, constructed in different mediums. In one room hangs a mobile of cut-out images of cats, pasted together to form a collage of staring felines. In another room, a large kitty is made from drums, Styrofoam, and an old record, all painted garishly in the style of a second-grader’s art project. All of the pieces, in fact, have an elementary-school air about them, but that is part of the intention.
“I don’t know if art needs to be political,” Silva says. “I just like to have fun.”
He and Bonham seek to create work that places more emphasis on balance, color, line, and shape, than a message. It turns out drums and cats just make these two happy. Silva has been playing the drums for about 11 years, and Bonham is the proud owner of an exceptionally large cat named Mr. Universe. But the artists admit that the drum/cat juxtaposition may be a reference to a male/female relationship: The drums are the louder, more aggressive male, while the cats, typically associated with females, are softer and gentler. Or something.
At about 8:30 on the evening of the opening, guests began to trickle slowly into the gallery from the porch (where they had been enjoying a few drinks), lured by the strange sounds of kick drums, cymbals, and, yes, cats. The artists and a friend were positioned in front of three kick drums. Silva also had tambourines and a cowbell, while Bonham played a keyboard and was wearing a cat mask. The third fellow played a cymbal.
What emanated from this conglomeration of percussion and keyboard was an almost techno beat broken by the plaintive wails of a cat, meowing to a beat while alternating tones. The group performed three improvisational pieces with the keyboard standing in for an actual wailing cat — which, no doubt, would have soiled itself had it been placed in the center of the drums, bells, and tambourines.
The tagline for the show promises “Forbidden love betwixt percussion and feline.” “Forbidden love” may be a bit of a stretch for the relationship depicted in this sparse exhibit; it could have been made more interesting by the inclusion of actual cats, but the work is meant to be fun. Traumatized cats do not equal fun. Humans wearing cat masks and playing drums? ME_OW!
Stephanie Bonham & Art Silva: Drums and Cats 4ever
Through Jun 28
Closing reception: 3-5pm Sat, Jun 27