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Ruben Ochoa
Ruben Ochoa’s simple, lifted slab is the one piece at SITE’s current exhibition that might leave my mom cold. But it’s my favorite.

Pssst! Hey, Mom

SITE has an art exhibition that mothers (and others) will love.

July 8, 2009, 12:00 am

I suppose it’s unprofessional, possibly even unethical, to use a public medium like a published art review to speak directly to one’s mother, but I’ve got something to say.

Mom, you should go and check out the show at SITE Santa Fe. Three different artists are doing three different things, some of which I think are pretty cool, and you will love it.

As you enter the first gallery, which contains Ruben Ochoa’s work, you’ll think I’m crazy. There is a slab of cement that has been cut straight from the gallery floor and is tilted up at an angle and supported by a toothy hedge of rebar. It’s an extremely elegant disruption, a kind of minimal adjustment of space and the contextual interplay between construction materials and the land beneath. You will not be into it. You will think, “Why did my stupid son send me here? Why did I pay $10 to get in?”

But as you come fully into the gallery space, you’ll see more slabs of concrete, cut from the floor but elevated much higher and resting at jaunty angles atop tall tangles of thick rebar. These simple materials have been transformed into figurative creatures that look, for all the world, to be dancing. You will totally dig the way they are grooving right there in the gallery, kind of austere but kind of go-for-broke at the same time. You will make up stories in your head about how floors and sidewalks come alive at night because they need to boogie after a long day of being walked all over. I do not make up those stories. The dancing floors make me roll my eyes and imitate puking.

The next two rooms contain work by Brent Green. It’s a bit dark, which appeals to me, but definitively whimsical, which makes me want to break things but which you will appreciate. You’ll also like the way Green’s work touches on madness, angst, death and the big issues that affect us all even though we try to hide from them.

I think we’ll be in agreement that Green can be a little saccharine—and not in the cool, ironic way that he thinks—especially when he uses text. I like the whirling steampunk blimp thingy that is circling around on the ceiling—and you will too—but can’t stand the mopey steel figures that populate his installation. They’re like bad 3-D rip-offs of a Marc Chagall painting that Chagall would have been too embarrassed to show. But they won’t bother you; you will dig them.

Green’s films are very good. One is about Thomas Edison. Another is about a deaf and cantankerous Ludwig Van Beethoven bothering his neighbors. Yet another—the one I think you will like the most—is about the artist’s aunt dying from diabetes. I kind of feel like the aesthetic is predictable and I should be watching them for free over the internet or on late-night cable TV, but you won’t mind. The sound is kind of tricky. Watching them will really put your new hearing aids to the test.

The two rooms filled with ceramic work by Klara Kristalova are where we’d have the most fun together. Her work is playful and sinister at the same time, full of little girls peering out from behind piles of rocks and horse butts. She finishes the ceramics with a kind of sloppily gaudy, craft-on-crack enthusiasm that is almost horrifying, but instead delightful and painterly. I think you will really like the cabinet of curiosities that is set up with a kind of imaginary pantheon of friends and fears. We also would have a good laugh together at the oven overflowing with baguettes that look like poops.

Thanks for everybody’s patience while I had a word on the side with my mom. If you’re at all like her, you should probably check out the show too.

Brent green, Klara Kristalova and Ruben Ochoa
Through Sept. 6

SITE Santa Fe
1606 Paseo de Peralta


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