There was a time when we thought Alex Kuno was a one-trick pony. Sure, we were morbidly charmed by the St. Paul artist’s “Miscreants of Tiny Town,” a now-iconic suite of paintings depicting twee, adorable tots suffering through nightmarish dystopias. But there was only so many times we could write about it—only so many times we could link it to the kiddie violence of Edward Gorey, appreciate it as a Wes Anderson/Tim Burton mash-up, or even consider it as a prescient precursor to the current vogue for edgy young-adult fiction empires of the Hunger Games variety.
In other words, we wanted Kuno to expand his interests a bit.
Courtesy Alex Kuno
But here’s the thing: we weren’t thinking about Kuno’s work narratively. (And we’re writers, for Pete’s sake.) In retrospect, viewed across a span of several years, the paintings take on a story-telling shape, a fairy tale unfolding in long, nuanced arcs. Kuno, it turns out, might not be a rip-off Gorey. He may be more like a visual Charles Dickens, stringing out the exploits of his waifish characters in a serial format.
You might want to keep this in mind if you trek to St. Paul tonight, to see Kuno’s new work in the expansive air sweet air space, a new-ish gallery/loft opened last year by Kuno enthusiast Cheryl Wilgren Clyne. Clyne will show new work alongside the Miscreants, and the two artists will also present a few collaborative pieces.
The pairing is exciting. Like Kuno’s serial fantasies, Clyne has for years sustained our intrigue at a steady simmer, affixing her trademark bear heads into the strangest places. There’s a creepy factor to the work, which obviously compliments Kuno’s bleak dreamscapes, but Clyne also exhibits a predilection for doomsday sci-fi scenarios.
What will the two come up with? Likely something subversively morbid—just think of it as a healthy dose of black injected into the saccharine holiday cheer.
We Will Have All the Time in the World
Opening reception Friday, December 7, 2012
air sweet air, 262 E. Fourth St., Ste. 203, St. Paul