Lisa Lapinski: Snoopy Mitosis
October 21 – December 15, 2019
Opening Reception: Sunday, October 20, 3-6pm
Sylvia’s Sculpture Garden 4225 Gibson Street, Houston, TX 77007
Sylvia’s Sculpture Garden (SSG) is pleased to present its inaugural exhibition, Lisa Lapinski: Snoopy Mitosis, on view through December 15. Over the last two decades, Lapinski has produced a remarkable body of work mining popular and vernacular cultural forms, as well as decorative arts and crafts traditions, to question and complicate the ways in which such symbols produce meaning. Her semiotic approach to sculpture, photography, and collage often results in works that incisively critique distinctions between “high” and “low” cultural objects, mixing familiar symbols such as Joe Camel and Snoopy, with more obscure and absurd characters like Little My and Holly Hobbie. Frequently returning to this cast of characters across individual works and exhibitions, Lapinski charts a narrative that is both continuously unfolding and always partial or out of view, as we grow further away from their elaborate backstories. For example, Snoopy Mitosis, which is at the center of Lapinski’s installation at SSG, appeared in its initial form in a 2003 exhibition in Los Angeles.
For SSG, Lapinski has installed a picket fence perimeter adorned variously with two large, Christmas-tree like shapes, an upside-down cross, and a wheat-pasted poster based on a flier the artist found in David Antin’s archives at The Getty Research Institute. The flier—advertising an instructional class on computer use for University of California, San Diego students and faculty—was made by then-grad student Mary Ann Buckles, whose 1985 dissertation is largely credited as the first substantial academic paper on video gaming. At the center of the installation sits Snoopy Mitosis, a black and white ceramic modeled off an agility soccer ball, as well as one of the artist’s signature sculptures resembling both the shape of a bow and the iconic pixelated aliens of Space Invaders.
In its geometric, box-like construction of ubiquitous cedar slats, Snoopy Mitosis is reminiscent of the minimalist sculptures of Tony Smith and Jackie Windsor, while its campy allusions to middle-class suburbia recall the works of Mike Kelley, Haim Steinbach, and John Waters. The installation’s looming scale and claustrophobic interior hint at the more disquieting and insidious aspects of American suburban culture, suggesting a scene informed, in equal measure, by Charles Shultz’s gleeful A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and Bob Clark’s more sinister A Christmas Story (1983).
Since graduating from Art Center College of Design in 2000, Lisa Lapinski has exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries and institutional venues. She moved to Houston in 2014 to teach sculpture at Rice University. A 20-year retrospective of her work will open at the Visual Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin on January 24, 2020. Also in January, she will present work in a two-person show with Toronto-based artist Gareth Long at Jonathan Hopson Gallery in Houston. Their show will incorporate works called “chaplins” made by current undergraduate students at UT Austin, University of Houston, Rice, and University of Toronto.
Sylvia’s Sculpture Garden is a not-for-profit outdoor exhibition space in Houston, Texas.