Torpedo Factory takes it to the street

Target Gallery’s ‘Culture Shock’ interprets contemporary life through street and pop art.

Punk, Pop and Propaganda, Michael Holt

“Art is not a crime” bleeds red down a 2-D work by Arlington painter Sandi Parker in a new Torpedo Factory exhibit called Culture Shock. It’s a particularly resonant statement today for artists who feel shunned by an administration whose budget drastically cuts funding for the arts and that recently lost all 16 members of its Committee on the Arts and Humanities, who resigned in response to President Donald Trump’s recent comments on the Charlottesville demonstrations that erupted in violence last month.

The exhibit, which employs pop and street art to comment on contemporary living, is on display now until Oct. 22 in the Alexandria art venue’s Target Gallery.

“Really we were looking at art that represents street and pop culture,” says gallery director Leslie Mounaime. “So there’s a pretty large community in this area who works in that genre, and I really wanted to connect with them and have an opportunity to show that kind of work in our space.”

Though the Metro-D.C. area hosts a vibrant street art scene—with the Pow! Wow! mural festival in D.C.’s NoMa area last May—Mounaime says it’s been roughly 15 years since their last street-art show.

Huge, Sarah Jamison

The selections in Culture Shock, curated by Epicure Café co-founder and artist Mojdeh Rezaeipour, include five Virginia artists and a wide swath of subject matter. Sarah Jamison, who lives in D.C. but hails from the commonwealth, presents Huge, a brightly hued, iPhone-sized drawing with Pokemon’s Pikachu happily sitting atop Trump’s head. As She Waited from this Point by D.C. artist Khánh H. Lê is a striking portrayal of loneliness that melds prints with an overlay of geometric shapes in metallic paint.

In this exhibit of 16 artists with varied mediums and messaging, there are some commonalities. “Probably the most common theme out of the selected work is two things: a critique of pop culture and our obsession with it and how we kind of put it on a pedestal, and also artistic freedom—so standing up for not necessarily a political view but standing up for the right to express themselves as an artist,” Mounaime says.

As She Waited from This Point, Khánh H. Lê