Total Study Center

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

Artist: Bruce Tapola
May 25 – July 15, 2001
Minnesota Artists Gallery

In his new site-specific installation called Total Study Center, Bruce Tapola playled with our expectations about art, mixing high and low culture in scads of vibrant paintings, humorous drawings, and sketchbooks filled with fragments of pop culture, past , and present.

Tapola's installation parted company with conventional “museum-style” formats that present art works as discrete, isolated objects. His signature style is to jam-pack large quantities of art into contexts of his own creation, which acknowledges the exhibition's site and reveals his take on the world of art. Past projects include: gallery as convenience mart, corporate collection, Rothko dentist office, Dia Foundation on acid, studio as bunker, and artist as Davidian.

Total Study Center was designed as a hybrid lounge/laboratory/library space – the installation was a Tapola soup, featuring a absurd cast of stolen characters, such as a mutant Elmer Fudd; the handsome Brawny paper towel guy; a 1950s scientist (“who has the potential to do real damage”); a hackneyed and pathetic little street waif; and wildlife-art ducks.

This unlikely lineup, originally gleaned from newspapers, romance novels, religious manuals, and the like, were masterfully painted and mixed into a conceptually prismatic world of holier than-thou achievements and important landmarks, such as the Hoover Dam or Frank Lloyd Wright's house “Fallingwater.”

Tapola's cultural shards cut across time and memory, yielding myriad associations (depending on the viewer), crystallizing reality and fiction into a carefully orchestrated chaos. In an endless leveling of “meaning” and value, Tapola used humor and subversive juxtaposition to topple human arrogance and challenge various cultural presumptions. Not that Tapola ever presumed to know what is best. He gave both the image and the viewer the benefit of the doubt. This is his generosity as an artist. He feels real affection for his viewers. He loves the quirky images that he has rescued and resurrected. Happily for us and for the likes of Yogi Bear and Illya Kuryakin, he shows no sign of abandoning his mission.

Related Works of Art

Related Events

  • Opening Reception: Thursday, May 24, 2001 at 7:00 p.m. in the Minnesota Artists Gallery.
  • Artist talk: Thursday, July 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Minnesota Artists Gallery.

Related Exhibitions