Collaboration can foster an exchange of ideas and alternative art practices that are not always possible when an artist works in isolation. Untitled I is the first collaboration between Jeremy Boyle and Mark Franchino. As both an exhibition of recent work by each artist and a central sculptural and sound installation, also called "Untitled I," the exhibition is a result of conversations between the artists.
Boyle and Franchino both teach in the art department at Clarion University, and working together fosters a continuous exchange of ideas, processes and materials. However, the only real collaborative piece in this show is a sculptural installation and preparatory sketch. Situated in the middle of the gallery, the sculpture looks like a treehouse propped on metal poles and cinder blocks. Made from repurposed shipping pallets, it has four differently colored cords emanating from it, each emitting a bird song. The piece conjures thoughts about home, garden and sustainability but it is also about materials and process. The house itself is small and inaccessible and appears to be halfway embedded in the ceiling. In their statement, Franchino and Boyle explain that the piece "combines their decade-long creative interests (systems, communication, definition, context and value) into a sculptural installation. With the conflation of cheap material, careful construction, high and low tech, the work arrives in a simultaneous space of cynical observation and playful/imaginative thought."
Pallets, containers, Dumpsters and treehouses figure prominently in Franchino's exacting, architectural-style drawings. In one, a Dumpster is retrofitted with windows, open butterfly roof, and a porch made from pallets on which sits an inviting lawn chair. The image hovers in the middle of a white page, but the tiny house is clearly grounded while renderings of treehouses appear to float, accessible only by staircases or ladders.
What both artists share is an eye for whimsy and the slightly absurd. Franchino's homey spaces are welcoming yet clearly impractical. Likewise many of Boyle's works. His "plug/plug," a cord that plugs into two outlets, thereby charging only itself, is both comical and poignant. Boyle's other work includes electronics, sound, video, sculpture and drawing, all engaging and well presented. But the overall exhibition would have been enhanced by a more total collaboration with fewer individual works. Given the strengths of the presentation, any future collaboration between these artists would be a worthwhile endeavor.