October 25, 2009

The Pleasure of Being Robbed

The Dirty Green: The Art of Grifters and Con Men, a two-man art exhibition showcasing the work of Washington DC-based artists Billy Colbert and Kelly Towles took place Thursday night in a nondescript warehouse space located at 1226 9th Street in Northwest. Exploring the act of thievery in its many forms, the show uses images of clowns, sneak thieves and pugilistic burglars to make statements regarding the frequently sordid details of the crime of theft.

Kelly Towles, one of Washington, DC’s most promising emerging artists, presented a composition of twenty small paintings on wood, juxtaposed with five oversized pieces depicting his eponymous social and emotional deviants. Towles ability to accurately portray his principal characters’ temperaments and to visually captivate his viewer is a major success of this show.

Towles’ combination of raw energy and his recurring interest in the subject of depredation reveal the artist’s vision of how such individuals deal with the society in which they live and often take for granted.

Mixed–media artist Billy Colbert’s painting and print work is both visually stunning and instantly recognizable for its dynamic, complex layering of imagery ranging from popular advertising icons and criminal mug shots to family photographs and cartoon characters.

In his work, the process begins with a base material such as aluminum, canvas, or commercial photography paper, which is used to create an atmosphere. Next, a layered combination of paint, screen-printed images, random patterns, and text are applied to produce greater depth. Once the desired effect is created, more screen printed images are added, followed by additional layers of paint to complete the work.

His paintings are poignant tributes to and critical analyses of popular culture in the US, including the impact of that culture beyond national borders. Colbert incorporates various forms of popular culture including television, advertising, sports, fashion, magazines and comic books. He explores issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, cultural imperialism and censorship, as shaped by and reflected in various mass media.

In addition to his artistic talents, Colbert is important to DC fashion as proprietor of clothing label Policy Brand. For more information visit www.billycolbert.com and www.policybrand.com. Kelly Towles’ street inspired art can be viewed at www.kellytowles.com.

Bonus: On Saturday November 7th from 6:30 to 9:00 you are invited to U street corridor boutique Redeem which is celebrating its third anniversary with a pop up show by De*Nada, new works by Kelly Towles and tunes by DJ Cassidy.

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