“Let’s Ride a Bicycle Made of Friendship and Rainbows!” might sound too “Care Bear” for some, but beneath the neon bright colors of the newest exhibit at the Ronald E. Holstein Gallery at the Erie Art Museum lies dark humor and quirkiness that will delight the most baleful souls.
Not that one should read too much into Krysten Allen’s work. Her art reflects a carefree mindset rather than the musings of a beret-topped snob. “[Art] can just be some fun, entertaining silliness,” Allen was quoted as saying in an Art Museum brochure. “I think it’s important that people keep imagining and dreaming and don’t get too caught up in ‘growing up.’”
“I think there’s a dark side to all this…” inspires imaginings. One wonders what the two women – a redhead with a pink slip and gloves and a brunette with a yellow corset, gloves and boots – are scheming. Their king – a shirtless man with feminine facial features who holds a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” cigar and wears a jaunty, feather-adorned cap – looks directly at the audience, pleased with his luck. But they look toward the side of the picture, where they may be imagining the fulfillment of a sinister plot.
“on Friday Nights I like to watch Gilmore Girls” also reveals a darker image than that captured by the title. It features a woman sitting in a sparse living room, facing away from the television. She is completely nude, except for bow-adorned pink underwear. A cigarette dangles from her mouth. Her bright green eyes and ruby locks stand out against about half of the rest of her body, which is skinless and looks like Lady Gaga in a meat dress. The verbose, brunette babes of Gilmore Girls never had quite that effect on a viewer before.
“my other crab is a Gundam” delves into Allen’s comic book interests. The image shows a cat with pink hair, wearing boots and riding a red hermit crab. The background is a psychedelic display of bright, mustard-yellow beams of light. Gundam refers to “The Gundam Series,” an anime comic created by Sunrise studios that uses massive robots called “Mobile Suits.” The crab looks more like a robot than a crustacean, a fitting tribute to the anime series. However, it’s not necessary to know anything about anime to appreciate the funky spirit of this piece.
Allen’s work will surely appeal to lovers of quirky comic books, but it also will draw in anyone interested in looking at spunky, cool images. For her works, which are hand-drawn, hand-inked and then digitally colored using an ink jet printer, Allen draws inspiration from fantasy, science fiction and comics.
Her art will also be a relief to students suffering the brain drain of academics. “Art doesn’t always have to be this strange thing that you need a textbook to understand,” she said.
“Let’s Ride a Bicycle of Friendship and Rainbows!” can be viewed through April at the Ronald E. Holstein Gallery at the Erie Art Museum. A public reception will be held during Gallery Night from y to 10 p.m. Friday, March 11.