Memoirs of a shopaholic

    Tabor Porter’s first confession is to being an addict. His current addiction is antique shopping, although he is also not afraid to admit to a somewhat more dangerous past. He has titled his current show at the Guardino Gallery Craving, in reference not only to his history, but also to his new passion.

    ”My first question when I walk into an antique store is ‘what’s broken?'” quipped Porter, “I’m not interested in the perfectly preserved.” Shopping for junk is what fuels Porter’s current artistic output, assemblages of castoff remnants of another time that evoke the mystery of memory. Certain objects are presented more often than others: measuring tapes, keys, mirrors and wings are recurring themes. Viewers are encouraged to attach their own personal meanings to his ingredients, resulting in individually tailored interpretations.

    ”The Ultimate Dad” is a perfect example of this appeal. A golden father figure strides forth from what could be a door, briefcase in hand, smile on his face. The text above his head admonishes us to “Be Prepared,” while the chain that emanates from underneath ends with a key inserted in the side lock. For some, this is a pleasant memory of the wise father returning from work; for others, it evokes a father fleeing the family for the peace and quiet of the office. Porter isn’t telling.

    The majority of Porter’s work is presented within the form of a wooden box. Porter readily admits to the influence of Joseph Cornell, a mid-twentieth century New York artist who is known for his many box creations. Like Porter, Cornell purchased items from flea markets and junk shops to realize his artistic vision. Porter’s box constructions go further than Cornell’s – breaking out of the preset boundaries, with elements often refusing to be confined by the wooden sides.

    Immediately inside the door of the gallery, “Starving 4 Enough” is an appropriately intriguing work incorporating a doorknob, license plate and whistle within its composition. The work wraps around the sides of the wooden frame, encouraging the viewer to move around to get the full effect. Even the included text is not blatantly obvious – Porter seems to be playing a game with words, breaking each up into random syllables across the center. “Remember” is carefully written on the side, urging the viewer to remember the past, the art or the experience of both.

    In the back of the gallery, “Good Boy, Bad Boy” gnashes ceramic teeth at the world. But at the same time, the small lens in the middle magnifies a tiny old photograph. You have to get close to see what’s in the picture. And you will, because Porter’s art is in the details, little secrets that can only be found upon close inspection. Once you discover your meaning for a work, there’s an urge to share – to explain to others what you’ve found, what it means.

    In Cravings Porter’s work is paired with the new and old photography of Robert Huff, who mounts his images on found wood. Between the two, the Guardino Gallery is transformed into an antique store of personal memories. If you’re lucky, the work of Richard Francis will also be playing softly in the background, an oddly familiar collage of audio junk that perfectly matches Porter’s work.



Sept. 28 ?” Oct. 4

The Guardino Gallery

N.E. 30th and Alberta