Christenberry’s photos of rusted, misaligned or long-unpainted facades have been shown often, but they still look great. They’re alluring simply for their colors and compositions, but are also suggestive of a place where something’s just a little off. The artist makes that explicit with work based on the iconography of the Ku Klux Klan, whose hoods he sometimes melds with the simple shapes of the white frame houses he constructs. This show includes two Klan pieces, one an eerie, red-tinted 1983 hologram.
Less familiar are Christenberry’s ink paintings, mostly made since 2004. An untitled piece from 1959 mixes acrylic and ink with a fluidity that presages the later work. More recently, the artist has been experimenting with backdrops as well as media and forms: One painting was done on sandpaper, and two employ white ink atop a blue acrylic-pigment field. Stark yet delicate, the latter also summon images from memory, as is made explicit by the presence of a high-contrast 1962 photograph whose basic format resembles that of the paintings. All three show Southern trees, seemingly fragile yet deeply rooted.
Richmond musician Mark Linkous made five albums under the nom de guitar Sparklehorse, a career that ended with his 2010 suicide. Local artist Patrick McDonough pays tribute to Sparklehorse with “All I Want Is to Be a Happy Man,” a heartfelt if somewhat arcane show at G Fine Art. The exhibition, named for a Linkous lyric, opened last month on what would have been the alt-rocker’s 50th birthday, and one of McDonough’s gambits is a bit of birthday-related numerology. That explains why the gallery’s front door is currently pink.
Huh? Well, McDonough has decided to pair Linkous’s spirit with that of Royal Cannon Chex, a horse born the day the musician died. The six digits of that shared date, when applied to HTML’s color system, yield pale blue. So he painted two blocks of that color on linen, along with a block of pink, which is the HTML hue of Linkous’s birth date — and the one on the door. An empty space waits for the color determined by Royal Cannon Chex’s death day. (Maybe the horse will outlive HTML, which would make this formulation even more hermetic.)
McDonough has planned carefully for the horse’s death, building an urn for his ashes that comes with a requirement: The buyer must attempt to purchase Royal Cannon Chex’s remains and cannot use the vessel for anything else. Also included is a photograph of McDonough as a horse, wearing an equine mask, as well as various sacred relics of the musician’s life. Characteristic of the show is a 62-minute video of the drive from Linkous’s suicide site to Royal Cannon Chex’s birthplace, assembled from approximately 40,000 clicks on Google Maps; the obsessiveness of its construction is more moving than the result.