In years past, the Corporate Collector Program of the Studios Inc. made things simple. In exchange for cash, businesses could pick up a neatly bundled mini collection of art. Each of the nonprofit's resident artists was included in the deal. In turn, the art-hungry companies that stepped up got a commitment from the Studios Inc. that word of their corporate largesse would be duly spread.
Director and participating artist Colby K. Smith explains that this year, as in 2010, things are a little different. Rather than an up-for-grabs preassembled corporate collection, this exhibition is a showcase of the sprawling East Crossroads building's 13 artists. Executives need not limit themselves to what's on the gallery walls, as long as something by each artist ends up in the shopping cart.
The 14 works assembled for Studios Inc: 2011 don't do much more than simply advertise the investment opportunity. It's smart business but not very inspired curation.
Not that the most likely buyers want a lot of challenge. The repeating clips of screaming mouths in Barry Anderson's "Deep Down Trauma Hounds" video installation, for example, may not go over well with someone dealing with the fallout of the financial crisis. But Smith's pleasant abstraction "Break Wave Under Sky #3" would look at home in a beige hallway.
No office manager worth his or her salary would condone Diana Heise's "Breath – Take." The artist asks visitors to write what helps them "breathe easier" on green Post-it Notes and affix them to the silhouette of a tree she created on the gallery wall using soil and seeds. (Well, maybe an allergist's office would approve.)
Profit-obsessed CEOs with a guilty conscience may have a use for a do-it-yourself halo in their corner offices. Stand underneath Dylan Mortimer's "Halo #2," and the bulbs on the suspended dome-shaped contraption light up. A close look at the sculpture reveals exposed screws and electrical tape, wires attached with staples, and a dust- and fingerprint-coated surface. Maybe Mortimer is subverting the promise of redemption implied by the angelic symbol. Maybe not. Either way, sometimes buying art for corporate walls means going with the devil you know.