Ogre Hungry — Matt Grote’s Street Art at 464 Gallery, Buffalo, NY

“As traditional ideas of high and low art have been redefined, art forms such as crafting, (including such extensions of craft as yarn bombing), video art, digital art, street art, and graffiti have made their way into national and local galleries. Instead of diminishing classical standards for art, the emergence of these art forms has created a wider acceptance for new media and methods of expression.”  Jill Greenberg, Artvoice

Our son Matthew had his first art showing at a gallery this past weekend in Buffalo, NY.  He was fortunate to receive nice press coverage with a short article in the Buffalo newspaper, and a feature in Artvoice, a popular weekly newspaper distributed for free in the local area. A large picture of the above mural appeared on the cover of this Artvoice this week.

This publicity was a big deal, as we came to realize over the course of the weekend through our conversations with Matthew’s friends and acquaintances. It was fun because our hotel lobby had a stack of Artvoice with Matt’s painting on it. We soon realized his artwork was spread throughout town as we encountered the publication at grocery stores, restaurants and the local college cafe.

We arrived in Buffalo Friday afternoon to help Matthew with the last minute preparations. His show consisted of paintings on boards, pen and marker sketches on paper and paintings on carpets.

I might describe Matthew’s artwork as whimsical with an edge. He creates captivating characters like the little dog in the striped sweater in the above mural, but places the little dog with his buddies in the mouth of green creature with jagged fingernails. Matthew says that he throws things into his artwork to make people a little uncomfortable. He wants to allow them to explore their discomfort. The jagged fingernails really get to me. I don’t understand why.

Some of his artwork contains social commentary. Frequently he uses letters in his paintings and sketches that form words that are not always readily apparent to the casual observer. The animals in the above mural spell out the name of his show — Ogre Hungry.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In an interview with Franklin Aquilina, Matthew “says that he gains inspiration for his work everywhere. ‘I’m an avid reader,’ he said. ‘I also surf the net a lot, and draw inspiration from everything. Lately I’ve been influenced by Mayan art.'”

A few days before the gallery showing I asked Matthew if he was going to show my favorite piece. When he said he was, I put dibs on it. I’ll be framing this and hanging it in my home soon.

Artwork Copyright © 2011 by Matthew A. Grote