The exhibition includes a copy of the mock screenplay, “American Hero: Copy Protected Red Paper Studio Script” that was sealed in a glass case and displayed on a pedestal in the gallery. A key scene is “Denzel and Brittany Spot #1-6” sequencing their out-running the flames in the burning offices, stopping for a quick breathy kiss and leaping from the tower. People did leap from the tower that day, but somehow seeing the scene as a painting with high-paid actors as stand-ins shifts the horror to humor, the tragedy to insincerity.
Using a bit of kitsch to further emphasize the camera’s ability to turn tragedy into entertainment, Coe created a lenticular print called Fuselage. A lenticular print is like those 3D blinking Jesus postcards. It was a printing technique developed in the 1940s to show motion. Coe created two paintings, one of a bustling office scene with people going about their daily business; the second shows the nose of a plan crashing through the window. As you stand in front of the print and move slightly from one side to the other the image shifts back and forth—one moment all is calm, the next death and devastation. This one piece encapsulates so beautifully all the ideas Coe is after with this body of work. As Michael Simmons said of Coe in a recent issue of Los Angeles’ new freebie art-zine Artillery, “. . . the lenticular print has the effect of never resolving the narrative.” With no resolution, the wound stays open and angry; the terror remains constant, which fosters an unstable and fearful state of being for the current administration via the media to exploit.
As with any major news story there are always “spin offs,” and Coe has his “spin off” paintings related to stories that got the full media blitz—stories manipulated into mini series by the networks. Coe has followed the successful morphing of Osama bid Laden into Saddam Hussein and the war on Afghanistan shifting to Iraq. These works aren’t necessarily part of a large coherent series like “American Hero,” but they focus on major events that consume every single news program for weeks on end. “Photo Op,” is Coe’s rendition of one of the infamous human pyramid images from Abu Ghraib Prison. “Regime Change,” is the settling of a turf war at the local and global levels. These paintings are tough, witty, and poignant and show his ability to make strong editorial comment; a direction Coe is interested in pursuing in the illustration world and the inspiration for his moving from Los Angeles to New York City this year.
Coe’s work was recently shown in New York as part of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art’s third annual “Peekskill Project 2006,” opening September 17 through October 7. The Center hosts a citywide exhibition with over a 100 artists’ works being displayed in store windows, galleries, at the train station, waterfront, parks, and vacant lots. Coe was given a large 7 x 7 foot store window on Division Street to display his work. He sent five of his scale model boxes including “US Occupation,” “Human Pyramid,” “I.E.D,” “Rescue and Betrayal of Jessica Lynch,” and “Guantanamo Guard Dog,” and the following artist statement: “The Supreme Court recently ruled that if schools receive federal funds, they must make all students personally available to Army recruiters. My work explores how children are exposed to and sold