. Kendell Carter’s new installation at Monique Meloche is titled “Common Ground,” seemingly in reference to Carter’s shrewd hybridization of traditional artistic and craft styles with the vernacular imagery and objects of hip-hop culture. Carter has done an excellent job of transforming the gallery with the addition of traditional wainscoting, tagged walls and chandeliers constructed from clustered Kangol hats, fat shoe laces and do-rags; all of which create an inviting scene for the centerpiece of the exhibition: the custom furniture. Carter’s sly amalgamation of “bling and baroque” (the title for one of the ink drawings on view) has its most sophisticated realization in his original furniture which combines classic design (Wassily and wing back chairs) with well-calculated contemporary alterations: in this case, “puffy” jacket upholstery and the coy addition of a sweatshirt hoodie to the back of each chair. Other pieces, such as gold plated “Mark” coat racks and metalized milk crate ottomans complete the scene. While these are evocative and even tense cultural cross-breeds, the entire effect is somewhat diluted by the pervading atmosphere of a high-end sneaker store (see Alfie Rivington Club, NYC). This is undoubtedly part of the artist’s intention, but it threatens to mask the subtlety of Carter’s wit and sociological interventions. (Rachel Furnari)
Through April 19 at Monique Meloche Gallery, 118 N. Peoria.