At JayJay, a marriage of the eccentric narrative art
Suzanne Adan and Michael Stevens are showing together again for the first time in seven years. “Seven Year Itch,” their joint show at Jay Jay, starts out with a bang.
Adan’s “Sugar Daddy” juxtaposes paint-by-number paintings of clowns from a thrift store with her own eccentric clownlike figure. Stevens’ “Mouthpiece” is a thrift-store painting of George Washington with a sinister, shiny-faced ventriloquist’s dummy extending from his mouth.
Thrift-store finds are part of both artists’ work, and the artists have a similar approach to making eccentric, narrative pieces. Both are superb craftspeople with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Adan’s large painting “Cabin Number Seven,” made up of tiny stippled brushstrokes that create a textured surface alive with visual incidents, took three month to complete.
Stevens’ tour de force “Uncle Wiggly’s Paradox,” with its vocabulary of stacked-up forms — an ax and a saw, fish, books, ventriloquist’s dummy cases and the like, all bracketing a startled Uncle Wiggly figure in a picnic basket — began with the trunk of the “butternut” tree (actually a paradox elm) cut down in West Sacramento to make room for a water-pumping station in 2010. Both sinister and silly, it’s an impressive totem made up of evocative components that often appear in Stevens’ work.