Posted August 7, 2009



In our gentrified Australian cities where art galleries now jostle for space with restaurants and real estate agents in suburbs once inhabited by prostitutes, greasy takeaway joints and rock venues, it’s surprisingly difficult to find art that’s fun, imaginative, challenging, open to all and – most importantly – affordable.

I can think of a few galleries in Sydney that fit all the criteria, but there’s only a handful. The ever-fabulous Outre, the politically committed Mori, that place in Newtown whose name I forget but only displays works made out of recycled materials, the National Grid (located amongst the shopping malls and factories of Brookvale), Palmer Projects and Monster Children (which - like Outre - are located in Darlinghurst, proving that not all of the inner city’s soul has been sold to the cash rich but culture poor!)

The large public galleries such as MCA can still throw shows that astonish and amaze (including their recent fanzine day, an event to gladden any old zine writers heart!), but too many of them increasingly rely on the corporate sponsored blockbusters to bring in the crowds and cash. Is it just me, or does every new year seem to bring with it the latest in a never-ending series of impressionist invasions?

But what about suburban and regional public galleries? Ever thought of popping in to check out the art on show in Manly, or Murwillumbah – or Orange? Well three of the coolest shows I’ve seen in recent years were tucked away in these little venues.

The Manly Art Gallery (blink and you’ll miss it, tucked into a hillside across the beach from the Manly Oceanarium) recently hosted an awesome retrospective of Bruce Goold’s outrageously Oztraliana themed woodcuts (think Mambo big shirts and if you’re not thinking Reg M, you’re thinking Bruce G).

Set amongst green fields with real dairy cows providing an ongoing kinetic (and oral) exhibition of their own, the Murwillumbah Regional Gallery hosted the equally mind-boggling Alice Springs Beanie Fest creations – made from anything from shopping bags to emu feathers and almost everything in between - last time I was up there.

And opening at the Orange Regional Gallery last Friday was Wall To Wall, a multi-generational exhibition of rock poster art (many by artist-musicians) that would be the envy of many city galleries with names including Warwick Gilbert, Ben Brown, Peter Oxley, Ray Ahn, Ross Tesoriero, Mr Frumpy, Daymon Greulich amongst the performers.

Names not ring a bell? Well apart from wondering what the hell you’re doing hovering around the i94 Bar if you don’t know Messieurs Gilbert (Radio Birdman, The Hitmen, New Christs et al), Oxley (The Sunnyboys), Brown (The Hellmenn) and Ahn (The Hard-Ons), you may not know many of the artists but you’re probably seen – if not lusted after – some of the posters they’ve created.

Like Mr Frumpy’s New York souvenir stamp advertising The Dictators' Australian tour. Link McLennan’s cartoon series for his bandmates The Meanies. Daymon Greulich’s creepily stoned out children of the corn gathering to salute the Pixies. Craig Phillips’ wistfully sketched portraits of Queens Of The Stone Age and Foo Fighters, or Rick Chesshire’s caricatures of Johnny Casino, Spencer Jones and You Am I (the latter wolf whistling at a set of sexy guitars and a snare drum walking past their window!)

Created and curated by Glenn “Glenno” Smith of Unbelievably Bad magazine and Lawnsmell infamy who is no slouch in the poster department himself (check out his website and gaze upon his Rocky Erickson portrait!), Wall To Wall will run at Orange throughout August to September 13, with showings at other galleries currently being organized to follow.

If you’re in the mood for a weekend drive (and Orange is also serviced by regular and reasonably inexpensive train and plane services) you could do a lot worse than checking it out, then returning to the Big Smoke with some of the local wine and produce. (I’m still kicking myself that I missed the exhibition BEFORE Wall To Wall – classic rock portraits from the 60s and 70s by one of Go-Set magazine’s main snappers!)

Orange Regional Gallery in Civic Square at 149 Byng Street Orange is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sundays and Public Holidays 12 noon to 4pm, closed Mondays. Phone 02 63938136 website or Google "Orange Regional Gallery".

J.J. Adams is a genuine rock writer for the once fabulous but now defiunct RAM magazine, lured out of retiirement with the promise of belated millions when the I-94 Bar is floated on the Australian Stock Exchange. She also goes by the pen-name TORW (The Old Rock Woman.)


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