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Review: Adam Milner: Desirable Objects Lives Up to Its Name at David B. Smith

Adam Milner, “Weak Container,” ready-made and altered materials.
Adam Milner, “Weak Container,” ready-made and altered materials.
Wes Magyar

Adam Milner: Desirable Objects, now on display at the David B. Smith Gallery, highlights recent works by Adam Milner, an artist who lives in Pittsburgh but is still well remembered in Colorado for his time here. Many of these pieces hark back to the kind of personal things Milner has focused on since before he graduated with a BFA from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2011 — for example, depictions of his bed and lineups of identically framed pieces. But as demonstrated by this show, an outgrowth of Milner’s MFA exhibit at Carnegie Mellon University, his oeuvre has become more clearly visceral over time.

At first blush, Desirable Objects has an elegant minimalism; it’s a spare installation with lots of rectilinearity. But when you look closer, you realize that the topic is not formalism, but rather autobiography. It’s about the artist’s own body, and the body of his partner, Fred, and the bodies of others. How Milner conveys this content is at times stomach-churning, even if the pieces themselves are not graphic in any way.

Desirable Objects, installation shot.
Desirable Objects, installation shot.
Wes Magyar

The centerpiece of the show is an installation in the middle of the gallery: “Weak Container.” Milner has placed two retail display fixtures close together, and on each is a pink men’s suit. Perceptions of the piece change when you learn that the pink tint comes from the suits having been soaked in water tinged with the blood of Milner and his partner: What could have been just a sweet if sophisticated gesture, conveying a relationship via two suits hanging together, becomes something else when blood is introduced as another expression of their bond. (That the blood of gay men is politically charged is not referred to explicitly.) The two big pink panels from Milner’s “Letting” series have also gained their rosy color from being soaked in bloody water; more works incorporate hair, eyelashes, teeth and other things that come directly from the human body.

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Cabinet, curated by Adam Milner.
Cabinet, curated by Adam Milner.
Wes Magyar

In addition to providing the work in Desirable Objects, Milner has curated a small show in the project room, Cabinet, that apes an archive, right down to its limited hours and limited number of visitors allowed at one time.
The exhibit comprises a set of shelves covered with tiny sculptures by invited artists, including many who work around town, and several of the individual components are extremely nice.

Both shows have been extended through Saturday, July 22. The David B. Smith Gallery is located at 1543 A Wazee Street; call 303-893-4234 or go to davidbsmithgallery.com for additional details.

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