“Okay Mountain,” The New York Times

Okay Mountain

“Benefit Plate”

by Ken Johnson, The New York Times

Jack Kerouac once said that if you own a rug, you have too much stuff. But for many middle-class Americans, too much is not enough. That is the subject of this amusing installation by Okay Mountain, a 10-person collective from Austin, Tex.

The centerpiece is an elaborately customized barbecue trailer, a little house on fancy-rimmed tires stocked with everything a backyard chef could want: a grill, electric stovetop burners, pots and pans, audio speakers, two flat-screen televisions, a toilet, a basketball hoop and other sports paraphernalia, mounted steer horns and much more.

The gallery walls are partly paneled in unfinished wood fencing, enhancing the suburban ambience, while two cartoon-style paintings, “Puke 1” and “Puke 2,” in which pea-soup-colored vomit floods backgrounds painted to resemble red-and-white picnic tablecloths, allegorize the bulimic binge and purge of mindless consumerism.

In the gallery, the trailer seems an absurdity, a glittery, neo-Pop assemblage mocking Wal-Mart-style materialism. But in its inventive construction, loving attention to detail and keen-eyed connoisseurship of entertainment merchandise, it would surely impress tailgaters — not as art but as a creative spin on the real thing — were it transported to a football stadium parking lot.

Sophisticates may chuckle at the abysmal taste that the barbecue trailer represents and, on a deeper level, ponder the spiritual vacuum that acquiring such shiny toys tries to fill. But it might also be seen as a tribute to proletarian creativity and to the ways people in all walks of life invest their souls in alluring objects.