Gentlemen, start your symbolism

Ryan Everson strips down familiar icons, then rebuilds them

Krystal Baugher | Boulder Weekly

“Aww, can you buy alcohol now?” A colleague teased Ryan Everson about his recent birthday this past Sunday. Having just  turned 24, University of Colorado Master of Fine Arts candidate Ryan Everson has been the center of plenty of youth-driven  wisecracks. But his portfolio of work is nothing to laugh about.

He’s been creating charged, yet pop culturally driven, art for more than six years. His most recent work will be showcased this Friday, June 10, at Installation Shoe Gallery in Boulder. The installation, called Rocket 88, is part of the store’s Fresh Fridays series that occurs at various times throughout the year.

“I want to put art in people’s hands,” Raul Pinto, owner of Installation, says. “I want art to be accessible to everyone.”

Everson shares a similar opinion on his own work.

“I think that for the most part, my work is easily approachable to all, and I really aim to make that so, “ he says. “That is why a lot of my work involves replication of real objects and easy to identify materials.”

His work consists of hyper-masculinized items, such as cars and guns, deconstructed. The pieces are made from foam, OSB boards, recycled two-by-fours and other similar building materials. Most of his work is an attempt to reinterpret pop culture iconography.

“I’m interested in the hands-on things, such as auto-mechanics, technical maintenance,” Everson says.

“Currently my work is a direct correlation between the two.”

The pieces become no longer about the function but about the symbol and, maybe more importantly, about lines. What is beautiful about the frame of a car? What most people are drawn to is the body, the curves, the color. Everson forces us to engage with familiar objects whose references have been removed, focusing our perception on isolated parts. What is left is just the basic building block. But it’s also the most vital part; it’s what holds it all together. The car frame becomes a metaphor for getting back to our most basic selves. Or maybe it is Everson’s attempt to re-build a symbol, to strip it of its meaning, in hopes of eventually layering new connotations onto the frame.

Everson has lived in Oregon most of his young life; he moved to Boulder for graduate school last fall. And though Oregon doesn’t have an immediate parallel in his work, it has influenced his sensibilities. His greatest influence, though, is illustrator/designer Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl and Gorillaz). Hewlett’s brilliant styling peaked Everson’s interest in comics and graphic design, but somewhere down the line, he felt eager to experiment with different mediums.

“I like being able to move fluidly through lots of materials and ways of working,” he says. “It’s important for me to be able to use the most suitable material for my ideas and I don’t want to limit my ideas because I am not comfortable. I don’t want to trap myself with a limited skill set and end up making the same work forever.”

It’s a good fit for Installation, too, as they are ever-changing, creating new vibes with each Fresh Friday. Pinto and his partner JG Mazzato started these events six years ago. They’ve had every thing from CD release parties to promotional signings, DJ events and art shows. The shoes are a catalyst for allowing the creative space to exist.

“The shoes keep the art happening,” Pinto says.

Most gallery spaces can’t keep up with the financial strains of rent and end up folding early on, but being a shoe store plus gallery space allows for more fluidity and for the space to stay afloat.

But there is something youthful about the store itself; many of the shoes are neon, bright-colored hip-hop fashion, which balances well with Everson’s own youthful exuberance. And also balances the monochromatic, subtle styling of Everson’s work.

Together they’re creating a vibe of clean aesthetics, fresh lines, and uncommon experimentation.

The show, which also features a DJ and free refreshments, will be up for just one night, so don’t miss it.