WILD THINGS at Paul Petro Special Projects (962 Queen West), to June 29, Friday - Saturday only. 416-979-7874. Rating: NNNN
It’s damn hard to put the “alterna” in “alternaqueer” when gay marriage is mainstream, Bud Light sponsors a Pride Stage and Church Street is an official T.O. tourist destination.
Many folks, both gay and straight, consider such phenomena a triumph of acceptance. But to those who loved (and were in many ways defined by) the old-school outlaw scene, these advances can feel more like tragedy.
So Wild Things, Paul Petro’s tiny if fierce 08 Pride show, focuses on a group of “Queer West” artists who aim to keep both their lives and their art at least a teensy bit shocking.
I don’t think they come through on the blanch-?and-?gulp factor, but the show is still a Vatikan-?load of fun.
As always, lez-?craft queen Allyson Mitchell rises to the challenge with some hilarious and pointed work. Her rug/wall hangings featuring the word “Dyke Pussy” in large capital letters – with kitty-?cat images added for effect – are terrific.
Patrick DeCoste offers a strong work as well. It’s a large painted self-?portrait made especially for the show that features the artist symbolically submitting to a skunk. Trust me, it’s better than it sounds – especially given DeCoste’s touch with figuration and dreamy sepia tones.
Relative newcomer Sholem Krishtalka wins points for his interesting approach, producing sketches of art-?world maverick Robert Rauschenberg, who remained in the closet for many years. It raises questions about how much of the generally queer-?friendly art world remains closeted – in its historical record, if not elsewhere.
Amongst usual suspects like Andrew Harwood and Will Munro, there are some interesting additions: John Abrams, for example, continues his cinema ?still obsession with a couple of paintings based on Brokeback Mountain. And Clint Griffin offers a couple of pastiched paintings that are more about landscape than sexuality. They’re not so wild, but, given the sexual overtness of the show’s concept, including them kind of is.