steve defrank
real little people
may 2 - 26
opening reception: friday, may 4, 5:30 -7:30 pm

Clifford•Smith Gallery is pleased to announce the Boston premier of new work by Steve DeFrank. There will be a reception for the artist on Friday, May 4th from 5:30 - 7:00 pm.



< fritz, 2001

hand-dyed LiteBrite pegs on black velvet over lightbox

38 x 28"

DeFrank first gained attention with his portraits of Ken dolls and Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman made out of hand dyed Lite-Brite pegs. In these earlier exhibitions DeFrank reveled in his unapologetic adoration of his forbidden childhood desire for the idealized Ken figure: the handsome, sexy toy intended as a mate for the equally sexy (and equally asexual) Barbie. These earlier works stopped short of the heart of the matter: the conspiracy of silence around adolescent sexuality, especially gay sexuality.
^ chunky cirl, 2000 linolium cut print 13 x 19" (paper size)
However, in his last New York exhibition at the Clementine Gallery, DeFrank kicked the door wide open with a fluorescent rendering of his suburban Connecticut home positioned next to a funny and shocking portrait of his smiling, naked parents à la 1972 wearing nothing more than incredibly mod medallions and ridiculously tiny tan lines. With these two pieces the viewer is instantly transported to a time when we were alternately fascinated and horrified to think of our parents as being sexual and indeed our own budding sexuality was causing us great alarm
^ nellie, 2001, hand-dyed LiteBrite pegs on flocked canvas over lightbox 38 x 28"
In this, his first Boston exhibition, DeFrank goes one step further while exhibiting his skill as a multi-media artist. He presents us with linoleum cut prints, paintings in casein on paper, portraits made of Lit-Brite pegs, works on found etchings, and a sculptural, pixelated portrait made of 1,300 Hasbro Little People toys. Some of the portraits are of re-sexualized Little People such as the gay leather man, Fritz, or the cowboy, Hank, and some are of real little people (i.e. his boyfriend Lewis, gallery owner Rob Clifford, etc.) painted from their first grade school photos.
^ lewis, 2001, hand-dyed LiteBrite pegs on blue velvet over lightbox 38" x 28"
He's even taken the etching of George Washington right out of the elementary school principal's office and pictured him with a vixen-like Martha lounging in the background. With all of this, DeFrank intends to remind us that our dominant suburban American culture offers its children silly models of family life, citizenship, and a host of neutered role models and toys used to train us about how life is supposed to be. In fact we know that the real world is quite a different and ultimately more interesting place to be. Steve DeFrank attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and received his MFA from the School of the Visual Arts in New York.
^ george and martha (detail), 2001 casein on found etching 30" x 22"

for more information please contact the gallery