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Editorial: Recommendations
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Joe Coleman
at Cal State Fullerton, Begovich Gallery, Fullerton, California
by Liz Goldner

Joe Coleman, “The Glory that was Once New York,” 1994, acrylic on panel, 22 x 28”

In his intricately detailed paintings Joe Coleman addresses such dark subjects that one might be driven to wonder about his sources. In fact, his depictions of anti-heroes, outlaws, psychopaths, murderers, sex symbols and illness comes from pop culture and depictions on TV and social media that most of us see every day. Yet far from banal, these are exceptionally audacious and obsessive paintings. They often contain long, hand-written passages explaining the subject matter. “American Venus (Jayne Mansfield)” (1997) is a larger than life portrait of the sex goddess. Her enormous breasts are falling out of her ultra-tight dress. The phrase, “beautiful Aphrodite is who I shall sing,” is one among several phrases framing her. “The Glory that was Once New York” (1994) presents a dystopian scene of that city, circa 1850, with evil card players, harlots, thugs, a circus performer, among others. All are packed within a seedy saloon. “The Mad Hatter (Boston Corbett)” (2000) depicts the civil war Union soldier, in military uniform and sporting a severe haircut, surrounded by sordid and noble images from that era. Corbett, a religious fanatic, shot and killed John Wilkes Booth. “Ed Gein” (1996) depicts the Wisconsin farmer who became the inspiration for the movie “Psycho” “And a Child Shall Lead Them (Mary Bell)” (2001) portrays an adorable 10-year-old English girl who murdered two children in the 1960s. In spite of the dark nature of Coleman’s subject matter, or perhaps because of it, the exhibition entices, entertains and even captivates.

CSU Fullerton, Begovich Gallery

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