For the past three years, Doug Hammett has been decorating art galleries by accenting their architecture with painterly swirls of multicolored cake frosting. His latest installation, and first solo show, is his most playfully impressive and wholeheartedly wonderful.
Part of its charm results from the 30-year-old’s capacity to balance goofiness with seriousness of purpose. The other component that contributes to the success of Hammett’s tongue-in-cheek (and edible) work is its location in a private home.
Installed at TRI, a weekends-only gallery in Rory Devine’s handsomely appointed, 1920s apartment, Hammett’s bands of frosting take on more resonance than they’d have in the impersonal, professional and neutralized space of a typical gallery.
Hammett has slathered a rainbow of colors, such as teal, violet and peach, and a generous selection of flavors, such as banana, anise and bubble gum, on stretcher bars that trace a continuous path through three rooms, traveling past doors, windows, wainscoting, vents, arches and bookshelves. His circuit of frivolous froth occasionally erupts in exuberant displays of angled segments that lean against walls or zigzag across the floor like mad-cap electrical lines or misguided plumbing.
In a domestic setting, Hammett’s geometric accents put a finger on the connections between architectural function and decorative excess, taking pleasure in the fact that the most satisfying examples of each occur at the intersection of both. Art’s power resides where we live, in the overlooked spaces of everyday activity, where a little something different is as necessary to our well-being as are our more mundane satisfactions.
* TRI, 1140 S. Hayworth Ave., (213) 936-8255, through Sunday.