The scene steps inside the front doors of the Walker for their Jim Hodges retrospective opening was a scene. A crush of well-heeled patrons obediently queued for tickets (R.T. Rybak, he's just like us!), interspersed with boyfriends dragged by insistent better halves to an art event on Valentine’s Day. Smart girls.
Hipsters among us beelined straight for the elevator to Sufjan Stevens onstage with his latest project (the event doubled as a Sisyphus album release party), but the eighth floor Garden Terrace was full to capacity before it even began. No matter; at least they got first dibs on the LP.
And who was left to wander galleries of postmodern sculpture? The amused, the apprehensive, the admiring—and the admonishing staff (too close!) It can’t be helped, with a full bar downstairs.
A spread of paper napkin doodles as tribute to friends lost to AIDS, a pile of discarded clothes post-undress (nice Hanes), ink doodles transferred to paper by the artist’s own saliva—yep, Hodges' work is seriously personal. A tapestry hand sewn out of scarves pilfered from his mother and grandmother’s closets is a peek into what’s meaningful to him, as well as the struggle of gender roles and sexuality Hodges faced as a gay man in the 80s.
Heavy stuff. But there’s artifice, too: cracked mirror wall hangings that bounce light are good-looking art, never mind the existential question it poses: is the work complete without a viewer, a reflection? More importantly: Can I take a selfie in front of it?
Give More Than You Take is on view at the Walker Art Center until May 11.
Check out Arts & Entertainment Editor Tad Simons' thoughts on the retrospective.