Elisabeth Kley, Artnet, February, 1997

Larry Krone at Lombard-Freid

Larry Krone’s work is permeated with a homespun esthetic of alcoholic Americana. Valentines made of crushed beer cans, dancing cocktail peanuts with pipe cleaner legs, liquor bottles personalized with stick-on letters–Krone’s feats of fabrication seem to stem from ideas dreamed up drunk and carried out sober. Using familiar craft techniques to make cozy but perverse keepsakes, his installation brought the dysfunctional comforts of home to Lombard-Freid, a gallery specializing in conceptual art. Even the announcement, a personalized newsprint take-off on the old Wild West “wanted” poster, helped set up the perfect ambiance of a basement bar with a country music soundtrack.

Spread over three rooms, this ambitious exhibition, Krone’s first one-person show in New York, included sculpture, drawings, an installation, a series of videos, and sculpture–things like ornate souvenir pillboxes filled with spools of hair, tiny little clowns with heads made from painted wisdom teeth, and a brown cotton tree stump cushion stuffed with cedar chips. Maudlin country lyrics are etched on the bottoms of empty liquor bottles and glasses placed on shelves throughout the gallery, as if to show drinkers the contents of their hearts. And you didn’t need to be drunk to see cocktail peanuts grow arms and legs and prance about, because Krone brought three thousand of them to life with tiny white pipe-cleaner limbs.

Taking over one small room, the animated nibbles overflowed from wooden bowls, holding each other in chains like monkeys, and carpeted the floor, waving their arms and legs in the air. Standing in the shower, trying to sober up, watching your hair clog up the drain?

For a series of small drawings, “All I Ever Got From You Was Being Lonely” (1995), Krone pressed clouds of drain hair between sheets of transparent paper. In the bottom row of drawings was more hair, wound around nail templates and stiffened with hairspray, to spell out poignant title phrase, a pathetic sentiment rendered in an even more pathetic material. If you drink a lot, you pee a lot, so Country Music Video #3 (1992) begins with an open toilet, seat up, country music playing in the background, while flowing into the john for over three minutes, exactly the length of the song, is a stream of urine, so noisy you can almost smell it, almost drowning out the music, until the tip of a penis enters the frame and shakes, and the toilet flushes. According to the artist, this marathon urination film is “the crude realization of a fantasy–a grandiose macho achievement.

In intimate spaces–the bathroom, the shower–Larry Krone exposed his vulnerable self to the world. Capping the entertainment with a charming live performance at the gallery on Nov. 21, he ineptly strummed a tiny monogrammed ukulele, accompanied by family and friends, and warbled classics like Jimmy Buffett’s “Wastin’ away again in margaritaville, searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt…” His dry sense of humor and the obvious affection for the music infused genuine feeling into the hackneyed sentiments of the familiar country tunes. With its endearing domesticity tempered by constant variation of material and form, this body of work was sophisticated enough to keep you guessing, yet cuddly enough to take home and love.

Larry Krone at Lombard-Freid Fine Arts
470 Broome Street
New York, N.Y. 10013
Nov. 15 – Dec. 15, 1996

Elizabeth Kley is a New York artist who writes on art.

Published in Artnet, February, 1997

Copyright 1997 by Elisabeth Kley