Bare naked ladies 

Peep Show: Exploring Erotica Through Folk Art at Orange Hill Art

An unstated but undeniable aspect of folk art's appeal is the stereotype of folk artists as innocent, unschooled kooks ranting, raving and offering their oddball vision to the world in house paint on cardboard.

Peep Show: Exploring Erotica Through Folk Art at Orange Hill Art blows folk art's inoffensive cuteness out the window. The exhibition features naughty, debauched, schoolyard snickering and sometimes genuinely funny renderings of epic mammaries, crudely detailed intercourse and the kind of gargantuan penises typically reserved for ancient fertility figures.

Folk artists, it turns out, are randy, too. They're just more inclined than the rest of us to hash out their fantasies in yard dirt and glitter.

Jimmy Lee Sudduth takes the folky fascination with religion in an unexpected direction by rendering angels with gaping you-know-whats, and Adam and Eve performing the kinds of acts that get people booted from public parks. The hijinks of conceptual art are one thing, but Sudduth's "Fucking Angel #245"? Now that's transgressive.

Peep Show presents the expected shut-in folky spasms of misanthropy, conspiracy and no small amount of castration anxiety. The most pronounced hatefulness comes from Royal Robertson, who devotes several works in marker on paper to a "slut sex whore" who seems to personify sexual deviance to Robertson. Even condemning one such slut sex whore to the fires of hell doesn't stop Robertson from taking the time to render her flat stomach and epic breasts with precision detail.

It would be hard to classify Whitney Lee as a true "folk" artist since she has more in common with the new craft movement and brings a saucy feminist sensibility to her porn-star rugs. "Soft Porn," a 64-by-94-foot rug featuring an iconic porno blonde reclining fully nekkid save her requisite high-heels, also evokes high-art traditions, from pointillism to the photorealism of Chuck Close.

Lee's latch-hook rugs are the perfect evocation -- in lowbrow acrylic yarn, no less -- of porn's cornball conventionality, and provide a blessed relief from some of the oppressive, obsessive schoolboy fantasizing in much of Peep Show.

Peep Show: Exploring Erotica Through Folk Art. Through April 22. Orange Hill Art, 331 Elizabeth St. Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 404-215-2100.


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