A well-designed future

Design can brand a time or an era. Consistently placing forms and text in a certain way can give a generation its own brand. The Compound (107 N.W. Fifth St.), a store that sells toys and games from Japan, houses a gallery known as Just Be Design, which focuses on the art and graphics of a young generation known as Pacific Rim. A Japan-to-West-Coast connection, Pacific Rim is influenced by animation, comics and graphic design.

"Hope For A Better Tomorrow"
Compound Gallery
107 N.W. 5th Street.

Sometimes there’s just too much emphasis on the cute. The tendency towards the diminutive and precious can get way too repetitive. See enough of it and it all sort of blurs together. No doubt if you’ve been raised with this style, you can see the variations more easily, but still a little sweetness goes a long way in my book. The

Compound is definitely not as guilty of this as the handmade goods store Motel across the street, but they’ve had their moments.

The current show at Just Be Design is titled "Hope for a Better Tomorrow" and there is, appropriately enough, a certain optimism in this group show as a whole. While the mediums are varied – posters, paintings, works on paper or wood, even a parachute – the styles of the artists (all local) are unified enough to make a tight show in what is a small space.

The stellar contribution indeed belongs to the ultra-variant: the parachute by Scott Patt. Hung dead center in the room it gleams with whiteness worthy of Mr. Clean. Something about the white hails from the 1960s: works by Yoko Ono, mod clothes and a jet-set era feeling. The parachute idea also reminds me a lot of the straight jackets of Vivienne Westwood and her fashion ideas for punk rock in the late 1970s, save that white gives this piece an optimism and an almost clinical sanitization that those black outfits were never trying to achieve. Is the parachute an artifact for the future? Or a twisted fashion statement on how to bail?

One of my favorite artists around is Bwana Spoon and his piece in this show is a small work on paper of one of his typical happy birds. Spoon is one of the few artists who can execute that cute thing and somehow doesn’t overdo it. He manages to take all of those Asian influences in just the right measure, adding his love of nature in an inventive way. Plus his color palette is always just right. New issues of Pencil Fight, his radiant fanzine, are also available.

In political times as shockingly dark as these, any kind of hope is very welcome. Looking at these works, you have no idea if some kind of plan is at hand but, if there is, at least it will be very well designed.

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