William Powhida

What madness lurks in the mind of Brooklyn scribbler William Powhida is anyone's guess, but the jetsam is amusing, intense, and not without its sting. In the tradition of satirists like Alexander Pope (the "Wasp of Twickenham") or Ambrose "Bitter" Bierce, but with a graphic artist's seductive lines, Powhida notates, collates, and skewers visually and verbally. But he's not just a volcano of vitriol. The guy generally knows what he's talking about, as in his top-10 list, mimicking Art Forum Magazine, deftly critiquing another artist. His Everyone I've Ever Met from Memory (that I can remember) is a swarm of tiny portraits allegedly from memory. Judging by the detail, you might not want to get on his bad side. It's unclear whether there's a tug of war or a symbiosis between Powhida the writer and Powhida the artist. He writes well and draws with amazing dexterity, mostly in pencil, but can paint a perfect cigarette packet or replicate a want-ad in watercolor. He is "a GENIUS artist and BRILLIANT critic," according to his own bio, yet his "Itinerary" of what he'll do when he's famous remains just a wish list, albeit a twisted one: "Dinner with ex-wife DON'T SIGN ANYTHING" and "Check out account in Caymans." Like Dave Eggers' preemptively self-adulatory book title A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Powhida tries to pull the rug out from under his critics' feet. Yet "he worries about pissing people off too much," admits gallery owner Dirk Park. And there are hints of poignancy and poetry in his work. In his collage of his past life with roommates, Everyone from 104 Judson Street, he remarks that none of them went on to start the revolutions they promised. (Perhaps Powhida's fomenting his own in graphite and spit.) It's possible the artist himself might be a jerk. Or secretly an art-damaged dreamer. As is the case with many attention-grabbing provocateurs, I suspect the latter. The petulant brilliance of Arthur Rimbaud comes to

mind. Powhida is either going to implode or emerge as a genius; until we know for sure, he may well be burning bridges, but he's making a magnificent bonfire. Reception: 5:30–8 p.m. Thurs., April 6. Platform Gallery, 114 Third Ave. S., 206-323-2808, www.platformgallery.com. 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. Ends May 6.

 
comments powered by Disqus