SWEET by Brantley Ellzey


The frontage of 422 N. Cleveland St. at Crosstown Arts for Brantley Ellzey's SWEET. - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • The frontage of 422 N. Cleveland St. at Crosstown Arts for Brantley Ellzey's SWEET.
With the orange and pink graphics (designed by Loaded for Bear) on the exterior of Crosstown Arts, one gets the feeling immediately that he or she is being transported back in time to a vintage candy shop.

The purity of the 22 pieces in SWEET, which artist/architect Brantley Ellzey spent a year working on, are a reaction to the contentious climate that the country finds itself in.

Over the past 15 years, Ellzey typically has done commission work consisting of rolled magazine, book, and other printed pages, something he refers to as “time capsules.” SWEET has the artist drilling down to the most simple form of his practice in terms of color and composition. Instead of patterned papers, he uses blank sheets of individually hand-rolled construction paper.

Ellzey sought out the inspirations derived from growing up in late 1960s Osceola, Arkansas — things like the Sears “Wish Book” catalog (also in a nod to the neighborhood’s affiliation with Sears, now Crosstown Concourse), childhood books, and the interior design and home decorating magazines that his mother received.

Other inspirations: Mary Blair, who worked for Disney studios, whose folk art and imagery Ellzey realized had inspired the way he perceived the world growing up. (Blair also designed “It’s a Small World.”) Also, modernist architects George and Ray Eames and Alexander Girard. In particular, Girard’s textiles are an obvious source of inspiration for several pieces, with bright, one or two color columned or checked patterns.

All of the pieces in SWEET are horizontal and face up except the Pixies (a reference to Pixy Stix), which on its base nearly reaches the room’s ceiling; Homer, which is a donut; and Honey, Honey, which is modeled after a honeycomb with rolled paper tubes facing outwards toward the audience.

There are grapes (with groups of rolled paper tubes in different hues of purple in the shapes of bunches), licorice, pink glittery spun cotton candy (surrounded by a contrasting cotton candy machine base designed by Perry Sponseller), and Laffy Taffy.

Homer by Brantley Ellzey - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Homer by Brantley Ellzey

The aforementioned Homer is an oversized homage to The Simpsons' family patriarch and his love for the pastry. In real life, the piece is an inflatable pool raft with rolled paper paper-mached to it, topped with with three kinds of glitter replicating a donut, purple icing, and delectable sprinkles.

Homer includes a placard humorously forbidding both touching and eating the object.

All in all, SWEET accomplishes a tricky feat — invoking whimsical escapism while at the same time maintaining a high level of sophistication.

Through November 5.

Carnival by Brantley Ellzey - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Carnival by Brantley Ellzey

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