Tyler students’ art in a vintage ‘warp’

Robinson’s Urban Thrift Shop gives an outlet for blurred perspectives of art and antique visuals.

Robinson’s Urban Thrift Shop gives an outlet for blurred perspectives of art and antique visuals.

Though this week will surely be filled with St. Patty’s Day events at many of the local bars, I’d encourage a quick jaunt over to Robinson’s Urban Thrift Shop at 1500 W. Oxford St. for what I can only describe as wicked art.

nicole welk

It is not often one can witness great art displayed in a thrift store, and what Tyler School of Art students Justin Morris, Andy Soroka, Jake Yeager and Mat Tonelli offer bridges the time gap between modern surrealism and the contemporary age.

Rightfully titled “Warp,” the art show features the works of these artists among thrift store items and blurs one’s perspective on how art can be displayed and appreciated. Graphic designer Morris and three printmaking majors decided to come together to showcase their works, which are all very similar in style, to create a visually stimulating exhibition. This included working with what was already presented at the thrift store and incorporating what the artists had to offer with the various racks of clothing and vintage knick-knacks.

“Since the show is located inside of a thrift store, we found a way of working with many of the structures that were already in the space, embracing the feel of it and incorporating our art with it,” Morris said.

Morris said featuring their artwork within a thrift store made the artists’ works easier to be “received and appreciated” by general viewers.

In response to seeing these works within the store, “Warp” does what it claims to. The artwork by the various artists is what you can call chaotic in itself, showcasing everything from swirls of color to strange characters of the imagination. With the added effect of the chaotic and random nature of the thrift store, the setting itself can truly warp your senses.

By no means is this overbearing. Though many pieces are meant to play with the eye, causing illusion and constant movement for the viewer, the experience is an enjoyable one. Some of Soroka’s prints play on out-of-this-world landscapes, placing their viewers in a realm comparable to Japanese and comic book inspiration and style.

Tonelli’s prints equally play on landscape ideas, but his play on swirling blocks of colors cause one to become instantly intrigued and “sucked in to” the work. I guarantee most will return to Soroka’s and Tonelli’s works to find new details they hadn’t seen earlier in the print. They are almost eternally entertaining.

You may initially be startled by Yeager’s prints, but his play on color and texture make his subjects, inspired by Norse mythology with a modern twist, a wonder to the eye and mind. There is a humor behind his wall of faces, adorned with a blocky fish sculpture at the top of his prints. The colors Yeager uses are enough to make anyone do a double-take of his work.

Many of Morris’ works blend into the thrift motif perfectly – as he chose to display some of his headgear and T-shirts he designed under his clothing name “Jus Ink.” His use of texture and detail is comparable to the other artists’ works, and his small, graphic books add an additional, fun element to the show overall.

The art even works so well with the thrift store motif that some of the sculptural works feel like they are part of the store itself, blurring that line many artists like to play with – the line between reality and art. It is hard not to have your mind a little “warped” with the dual nature of chaos in the color punching, excruciatingly detailed works of dream, imagination and illusion. There is a surreal quality to the contemporary works, some even incorporating robotic and space elements to their subject matter.

If anything else, “Warp” is a fun exhibit for the eye to experience. The exhibition will be up in Robinson’s Urban Thrift through the end of March, where the store will present a new show for April’s First Friday.

Nicole Welk can be reached at nicole.welk@temple.edu.

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