The Garage at AR4T Gallery: Laguna Beach, Aug. 2-25, 2012 – Coming off the heels of a existential femininity show last month, the timing could not have been better to swing the pendulum the other way at AR4T Gallery and introduce a machismo-fueled, oily rag-devoted, ode to the realm of man: The Garage. Seattle artist Brennan Coyle teamed up with the Electric Coffin duo, Patrick “Duffy” De Armas and Justin Kane Elder, also both of Seattle, to set Rat Fink loose and pinups aglow. Coyle is known for his handcut, handpainted skate decks. Electric Coffin’s signature is using salvaged materials. It’s not just the built-from-scratch-quality and sturdy construction technique borne out of strict hands-on mentality that gives these works have permanence. It’s the fact that these remarkable artworks are just so pleasing to look at — like the soup can-inspired Bardahl oil cans in those purrrfect colors — that marks these works with solid staying power. Let it be known that these Pacific Northwest artists who call themselves the “brotherhood of creative rebels” are following generations of builders for whom the camaraderie of the workshop makes work better. Says Brennan, who took on 1 shot and pinstriping for this exhibition: “Customizing stuff: this is saying thanks for teaching us how to do this before it goes away.”
Brennan Coyle has been crafting skate decks for the last several years and this collection of 9 here is incredible. In making them he went through 25 jigsaw blades. His Sailor Jerry-esque triptych is a stunner. These may be some of the last decks we see from Brennan for a while, since he alluded to the fact that bigger canvases — like the Kustom Kulture panel-lage step canvas collab with Electric Coffin hanging on the back wall behind the 1965 Harley Sportster — are calling his name.
To know Electric Coffin, which means “shocking the dead”; “the rebirth of death,” is to know thy workspace, which is why this pair, a former carpenter with a penchant for hues and a sculpture-trained artist with a motorsports shop in the family, turned AR4T Gallery into their idea of a workshop splashed in black paint, transferred graphics, chevron stripes, skateboards, surfboards, a handbuilt motorcycle, wood canvases, custom paint colors and patterns, screen printing, lettering, collage, ink transfer and vinyl stickering and a bit of low wattage marquee lighting. “If this is what the gallery looks like after a week, you should see our shop.” You have through Aug. 25 to check out this show at at AR4T Gallery in Laguna Beach. –Dana Nichols