Press & Media

“Last Call: Stephen Paul Day at Arthur Roger Gallery,” Pelican Bomb

Self-loving, self-reflexive, or perhaps self-deprecating, Stephen Paul Day’s “Blame It On Vegas: Collecting Meta-Modern” offers many opportunities for similarly complicated readings. As both curator and artist, Day forms the exhibition’s thesis by creating and gathering an odd variety of objects from historically and geographically distant places. These objects share a palette of white, bronze, and pastels but the harmony ends there. Wavering between humor and novelty, with a hint of disgust, the viewer is taxed with making sense of Day’s assemblage of the “metamodern.”

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“Review: Blame It on Vegas: Collecting Meta Modern,” Gambit

What do the rise and fall of empires have to do with Las Vegas? Probably not much except that both are marked by glamorous and grandiose symbolism. History is a roll of the dice, and somebody always loses. Empires were often fueled by visions of vast wealth, yet they eventually crumbled. Stephen Paul Day’s Blame It On Vegas exhibition actually focuses far more on European history than it does on Nevada’s Sin City, which is mostly represented here by his oversized paintings of tacky souvenir matchbooks. By contrast, his sculptures often feature mini-renditions of major figures in European history.

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“Stephen Paul Day’s Blame it on Vegas – Collecting Meta-Modern,” a Short Essay by Amy Mackie

A zebra leg, a copy of Mein Kampf, slave shackles—discrete objects laden with meaning and chosen for their obvious aura—are precisely the kind of curiosities one might find in collections housed at institutions such as The Museum of Jurassic Technology, The Griot Museum of Black History, or the Mütter Museum. Contextualized alongside other anonymously created or found works, some humorous, some horrific, Blame It On Vegas – Collecting Meta Modern functions as a Wunderkammer, a collection that inspires infinite interpretations. The title is both a response to Robert Venturi’s controversial book Learning from Las Vegas and a rejection of postmodernism in favor of a new romanticism or what has come to be known as metamodernism. This slightly nebulous curatorial approach is, in a sense, a “metagesture,” where objects and ideas are abstracted and obscured. Oscillating between modernist vocabularies and postmodern strategies, but relying on neither, there is a rigor and a sense of purpose that unites this collection, though the precise meaning may not be, or may never be, fully realized.

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