Plenty: Mixed Media Paintings by Dan Schank

January 29, 2016 through May 7, 2016 
Ronald E. Holstein Gallery

An opening reception will be held on Gallery Night, Friday, March 11 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Artist Dan Schank is interested in the tension between fantasy and reality as it applies to social space. In his mixed-media paintings, Schank pulls from an assortment of mundane and visionary sources, including cruise ships, utopian community models, apocalyptic frontiers, shopping malls, and other public gathering settings. His work explores the contradictions that arise when the spaces we physically inhabit are forced to reckon with the mediated spaces we imagine inhabiting.

Schank’s most recent series considers the idea of the false promise as it relates to a market economy. More specifically, Schank is interested in the ways that familiar environments—malls, box stores, gift shops, the internet—attempt to satiate as many human desires as possible, often within a confined setting. Aesthetically, Schank tries to locate a visual vocabulary that emerges when we offer more than we can deliver. Put differently, he’s curious about the ways that evangelical bombast, conspiratorial posturing, and advertising campaigns overlap visually.

The sources for these paintings relate to UFO speculation, conspiracy theories, religious extremism, and online mysticism, as applied to everyday spaces (real and virtual). Schank hopes to transfer some of the nausea and vertigo that attends misguided zealotry to the places he physically navigates, drawing connections between the cult-like avowals of underground prophecy and the appetites that propel mainstream markets.

Dan Schank lives and works in Erie, PA. His work has been exhibited across the country, in galleries in Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, San Diego, Milwaukee, and New York. He earned his BFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in 1998 and his MFA from the University of California at San Diego in 2003. In 2001, he was a resident at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME. In addition to maintaining a painting practice, Schank is also a lecturer in the English program at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College and a regular contributor to the Erie Reader. This is his first exhibition with the Erie Art Museum.

This hot pink, hallucinogenic scene littered with jeering jack-o’-lanterns and alien doll-babies was inspired by a photo from a gift shop in Roswell, NM (known for UFO sightings and conspiracies). Schank’s painting, Twilight Zone, explores how disturbing UFO imagery is and how people have cashed in on the paranoia surrounding it.