In the exhibition, Pretty Vacant, lens-based artists Todd Bates and Selina Roman examine the colorful underbelly of roadside Americana. The works, a combination of screen prints and large-scale photographs, imbue not only a sense of nostalgia but mysteriousness and foreboding. Bates traverses America looking for the ideal vintage neon signs for his graphic screen prints and reimagined-photographs. Roman, on the other hand, stays close sliding into Florida’s mid-century era motel rooms where she photographs willing participants for her series Please Disturb.
As a graphic designer and photographer, Todd Bates has been attracted to old neon signs since the early nineties. He sees these relics as an art form, one that is quickly disappearing from tourist routes across America. For years now, Bates has traveled the country documenting those signs and has crafted a collection of bold images inspired by their distinctive typography and luminescent colors. In re-imagined photographs and silk-screened gig-poster treatments, Bates transforms neon artifacts into dreamy landscapes and graphic oddities.
Selina Roman’s photographic work explores ideas of femininity, perception, liminality, place, and how the invisible offers more answers than the visible. In her ongoing series, Please Disturb, she photographs participants in aging mid-century motels. From peeling pastel exteriors to the dated tropical linens, it’s these endearing characteristics that set them apart from the homogenized chain motels and where she finds the most inspiration. The motels serve as metaphors for aging beauty, dark pasts, secrets and transformation. She received her Masters of fine arts degree from the University of South Florida in 2013.
689 Dr MLK Jr Street N, Unit C, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701
September 13-29th, 2019.