Friday, May 18, 2012

Wes Lang - Here Comes Sunshine - Half Gallery

Wes Lang

 Bill Powers and Eddie Martinez

Maia Ruth Lee and her awesome jacket

Jamison Brosseau (left) with Javier Pinon (right)

Lang and Ari Marcopoulos

Nate Lowman

Clayton Patterson

Aaron Wojack

Minka Sicklinger

 Glenn O'Brien and Wes Lang

Who knew Peter Sutherland was only 20 years old?

Rachel Corbett

 Manu Sawkar

Last night Wes Lang opened his new show Here Comes Sunshine at Half Gallery. Almost a year ago, my very first post on this site was about another opening at Half Gallery, and incidentally where I first met Wes Lang.  I hadn’t really been shooting events at all and I was just getting comfortable with taking pictures of strangers. Lang roared up on an amazing chopper that was incredibly beautiful. After a minute I went over to check out the bike, and I snapped a picture. “Don’t take pictures of the bike.” said a voice from above me, and I turned around to see Wes, who is like 6’6” and at the time had very long hair, standing directly behind me. “I don’t want that shit all over the internet.” Later I spoke to Wes and he apologized for his gruff approach, he said he was just trying to keep imitators from biting the design. He seemed like a really nice and thoughtful dude with ability to get surly quickly if needed. The work in Here Comes Sunshine seems further affirmation of that impression.

The iconography draws from tattoo and motorcycle culture, with nods to ‘high art’ and zen philosophy. The result can look like an issue of Outlaw Biker got thrown in a shredder with a Basquiat. Some pieces are simple, graphic, and look like they’d be just as at home on the back of a conversion van as hanging in a gallery. Other pieces have an incredible level of detail that is done no justice by these photos. You could stand in front of them for hours and still not really “see” everything. They are rewarding to explore, and my viewfinder felt like a great way to zoom in on each little section and geek out.
Perhaps surprising considering the imagery, the messages in the text-heavy works are largely positive, sincere, uplifting even; like eastern philosophy distilled into a shot glass. Reading through the many mantra–like phrases it was hard not to feel the positive energy yourself, and it seemed to carry over to the crowd. The Half Gallery is small and openings always spill out into the street to create an impromptu block party.  The weather was just perfect and the trees above the sidewalk green, and with a group of artists and bikers and creatives hanging out and feeling good vibes, it was a perfect little moment to start the summer.

*For the record, I never posted the picture of his bike anywhere, and I never will.