The Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida, announces “BLOW UP II: Inflatable Contemporary Art,” on view Oct. 8-Dec. 11, 2022.
The larger-than-life inflatable art will transform the Edith-Marie Appleton Gallery and the museum lobby. This exhibition explores the imaginative and often whimsical ways that artists use air as a tool for creating large-scale sculpture. The eight internationally renowned artists of the supersized inflatable installations translate everyday materials into a wide array of figurative, conceptual and abstract imagery that are rich with meaning.
“BLOW UP II” was organized by Carrie Lederer, Curator of Exhibitions, Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, California.
“The first inflatable, invented in 18th-century France, was seemingly pure magic and continues to fascinate,” Lederer said. “Ever-present in our daily lives, the ubiquitous inflatables – from bouncy house to floppy tube men – provide endless amusement, whimsy and a playful sense of lift-off and levitation. Tapping into this idea with humor, scale and surprise, the artworks in “BLOW UP II” harness the power of air and our imaginations to take us on extraordinary journeys, exploring subjects as varied as anime, superheroes, history, politics and even mortality.”
What type of new viewing experiences are created when objects are blown up to an enormous scale? Los Angeles-based artist Jen Stark goes the abstract route, expanding her acclaimed neon rainbow to a massive scale in her first experiment with inflatables. Her vibrant, psychedelic visuals cover an 8-foot-tall cone, transporting the viewer to a dayglow fantasy space. Artist Susan Lee-Chun uses inflatables as a means to make unconscious or intentionally buried perceptions in our social fabric impossible to ignore. Her cheeky sculpture “Untitled (Flamingos only hang by the pool)” enlarges pink flamingos, a common symbol of Miami Beach, to an impossibly large size. Their imposing pink bodies force viewers to consider the pink flamingo with all of its flamboyant symbolism and history.
Regardless of underlying meaning, humor, playfulness and accessibility are key aspects of all of the works featured in “BLOW UP II.” This is especially important to the work of FriendsWithYou, a fine art collaboration of artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, who state that the sole purpose of their collective is “spreading the positive message of Magic, Luck and Friendship™.” Their whimsical, adorable anime characters prompt joyful reactions from viewers young and old.
Artists participating in “BLOW UP II” include Nicole Banowetz (Denver, Colorado), Sharon Engelstein (Houston, Texas), FriendsWithYou (Los Angeles, California), Joshua Harker (Dexter, Michigan), Susan Lee-Chun (Miami, Florida), Matt Ritchie (San Francisco, California), Lizabeth Rossof (Denver, Colorado) and Jen Stark (Los Angeles, California).
“With even the smallest works towering at over 8 feet, the renowned artists manipulate technology and air in breathtaking ways that overwhelm one’s senses while drawing you in to enjoy and learn,” said Jason Steuber, director of the Appleton Museum.
Director’s Circle Reception
On Oct. 15, 5-7 p.m., Appleton Director’s Circle members are invited for an in-gallery meet-and-greet with Miami-based artist Susan Lee-Chun. There will be a complimentary bar and light hors d’oeuvres. RSVP is required to Colleen Harper, email@example.com, or 352-291-4455, ext. 1831.
Free Admission Days
See “BLOW UP II” with no admission fee on Arthur I. Appleton’s Birthday Weekend (Oct. 14-16), Free First Saturdays (Nov. 5 and Dec. 3) and Veterans Day (Nov. 11).
The Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store are open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. A campus of the College of Central Florida, the Appleton Museum of Art is located at 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, east of downtown on State Road 40 (exit 352 east off I-75 or exit 268 west off I-95). Parking is free. For more information, call 352-291-4455 or visit AppletonMuseum.org.