Adams exhibit spotlights ‘Tricks in the Tea Room’Written by Dave Willinger | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We know words can have more than one meaning. After a sneak peek at some of the pieces in Kim Adams’ new solo exhibition, which is on view at the Launchpad artists’ cooperative through March 15, I don’t know that I will ever again be able to describe a modest location as a “hole in the wall.”
The Adams show is titled “Tricks in the Tea Room” and a majority of the work on display here dresses up a decidedly down ‘n’ dirty sex tradition known widely as the glory hole. Perhaps most recently “genre-fied” by internet porn, glory holes historically have served as portals for anonymous oral sex, often but not exclusively associated with the seedy side of the gay scene.
Adams acknowledged the baggage this icon of erotica brings with it but was not deterred from following her muse into, in this case, the glittery gutter. Adams believes her show could contribute to “breaking the stereotype.” Besides, as the artist told Toledo Free Press, the history of the glory hole is long, dating back to ancient Egypt. Yes, the glory hole was one of the kinks known to the builders of the Sphinx.
Still, why spotlight this felicitous gateway to dubious fellatio, especially in an exhibition opening on Valentine’s Day? According to the artist, it’s all about prodding the public to answer that age-old query: What is art? And further, what does her show have to do with it? Adams wants to spark a dialog with the public. She wants viewers of her exhibition to think about where art is headed.
Adams, whose body of work to date has often explored patterns originating in nature, knows she runs the risk of alienating the public with this show. But Adams also accepts that as an inherent risk for the artist.
The candid artist struggled to explain the genesis of the idea for her show. Adams said she had done some work in response to a relationship and the art “turned erotic.”
Viewers will have to decide for themselves whether the show wallows in sleaze, can be dismissed as “harmless fun,” in the artist’s words, or represents something more pernicious.
Sensibilities could be offended, Adams admitted, and with the marketing aplomb of a Madison Avenue master, warned the squeamish to stay away. “It’s pretty raw,” Adams said of the exhibition. “It probably shouldn’t be for anyone under the age of 18.”
Those prone to prudishness as well as anyone with a low threshold when it comes to desecration should steel themselves before entering the Launchpad cooperative gallery at 911 Jefferson Street. Just repeat to yourself: It’s only art. It’s only art.
Still, Adams said she hopes she will not offend anyone’s religious sensibilities and alluded to the po
ssible incorporation of a statue of the Blessed Virgin in one work. The artist herself admits, “It’s so far out of my comfort zone.” When asked if she worries the show could negatively impact her reputation, Adams quickly replied, laughing, “I’m always worried about my reputation.”
As a founding member of the Launchpad – the artists’ cooperative celebrates its one-year anniv
ersary in May – Adams is allowed one solo show per year. “Where else could I do this show?” she said of the controversial nature of her project. “Having the Launchpad allows me to push my limits,” she said. Originally, Adams planned to drill holes in the wall of the Launchpad gallery. She finally decided to build a series of glory holes mounted on small, rectangular wood frames.
The glory holes on display will flaunt a variety of textures, poking fun at virginal
bride’s lace and rendering a bit of duct tape homage to the sordid reality of those in situ seducer slots. Also expect a lot of glitter. “I like glitter,” Adams said on the Saturday before her Valentine’s Day opening, sitting on a paint splattered step ladder surrounded by a floor covered in glitter spills in the center of – literally – a hole-in-the-wall studio.
Launchpad is located at 911 Jefferson Street. “Tricks in the Tea Room” opens with a reception at the gallery on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m.