Local artists express dark humor, showcase satire

As visitors step inside the Space 63 Gallery on Audubon Street, they will be confronted with such images as Aretha Franklin “puking” the blues.

The painting is part of a new exhibit titled “3 Miserable Bastards” that displays the humorous and insightful works of three local artists, brought together through their dark senses of humor. The show debuted yesterday evening in conjunction with an open mic comedy night.

The three artists — Tarn Grannuci, Tony Juliano and Aidan Moran — employ a satirical and detached view of life to produce works that poke fun at the world and at themselves. Debbie Hesse, the director of artistic services and programs for the Arts Council of New Haven, which sponsored the event, said the common themes of the artists’ work made the exhibit an obvious choice.

“[Their works] were naturally meant to be together,” Hesse said. “It was a no brainer.”

The works displayed at the exhibit range from cute cartoons to comical photographs and paintings that utilize word play.

“I just like laughing and smiling,” Tony ‘Baloney’ Juliano said about the inspiration for his work. Juliano’s paintings are parodies, plays on words, and reflections of a dark sense of humor, including such paintings as “Lobotomy Barbie,” “Mars Needs Kittens,” and “Portrait of Fritos Kahlo Chips.”

The work of Dublin-native Aidan Moran employs similar comedy, but utilizes a technique he calls “photographic humor.” His diverse images include “Whores Against Wars,” in which a woman brandishes a sign with the message. Photographs such as “Q-Tips,” — in which a drag queen wears an extravagant head dress made of the hygiene product — display a prominent theme in Moran’s work: the gay subculture and drag queens.

Moran also uses photographs in conjunction with music in his comedy routines. Using two slide projectors, Moran developed a stand-up comedy routine in which he fades one image into the next in coordination with his jokes. He said after living for eight years in Berkeley, Calif., he fell in with a group of photographers who introduced him to the technique.

“I think of it as visual concerts,” Moran said.

Tarn Grannuci, the final member of the trio of “Bastard” artists, has created a collection of predominantly ink drawings that are cartoonish in style.

“Well, I grew up on goat farms and I think it did something to my psyche,” Granucci said. “I’m not much for talking. The written word is more my forte.”

Drawing since the eighties, Grannuci is a self-taught artist who said his real schooling was on the streets and his inspiration comes more from “dive bars and pool halls” than anything else.

All of the artists said they plan to continue their artistic careers. Juliano has branched into everything from murals to comic books and even merchandising.

Moran is just starting to get his work out in a few venues across the area and said he hopes to be known as both a photographer and performing artist.

Tarn Grannuci said he is content for now to keep drawing, but is looking to get into advertising some day.

“Particularly BudLight advertising,” he said. “I’d really like that.”

The “3 Miserable Bastards” show will be on at Space 63 until Feb. 20. All the artists, who had never met before this show, have pieces in various art fairs and galleries in the area.

Comments