Simon Plemon's Fr3ak Sh0w
It isn’t exactly typical for a college sophomore to have a solo show at the Harrison Center, even if he is attending Herron School of Art and Design. However, Simon Plemon isn’t exactly a typical college sophomore. His show this month in the Hank & Dolly’s Gallery is a 2D representation of an artist who is anything but flat.
To begin with, Simon has an amazing reputation as a cosplay artist. Cosplay is the name of an art form that combines the words “costume” and “play” to describe a type of performance art in which the artist designs and creates costumes for characters who become alter egos. If Simon’s Instagram page is any measure, with over 23,000 followers it is safe to say he has been quite successful and effective in this venue. (Check out simon.aliens on Instagram to see what all the fuss is about.)
The collection is called “Fr3ak Sh0w”, which in itself is a hint that it may not be what I’m used to seeing in the galleries of the Harrison Center. That is actually what I love about it. The skillfully created sketches, digital and acrylic paintings, etchings and collages seem to have sprung from the mind of someone who is in the planning stage of creating something that will later come to life. Being somewhat squeamish when it comes to choosing entertainment, I confess that the images and characters make me feel uneasy. This is also a measure of Simon’s success, since I can’t imagine that it is his intention to create art that is relaxing. As Cesar A. Cruz said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” This edgy collection, which includes an article of clothing he has designed, is a bit dark and discomforting. It demands that I at least take a peak at some less familiar possibilities in terms of the faces and characters I am used to interacting with in my so-called “everyday life”.
There is a freshness and informality in the way that this work is curated that makes it feel as if I am leafing through the artist’s sketchbook. Simon’s show is just a nice little slice of his reality and I enjoy the way he has filled this space with a point of view that is so playful and creative. It will be fun to watch this artist grow in the coming years. Be sure to see this collection in Hank & Dolly’s Gallery during the month of July as a point of reference for his future work.