Fresh out of the Fridge: Exclamation Point

Troy Price
Reporter

For the first time, Alex Goldstein’s Fridge is filled with his own stuff.

Goldstein, founder and owner of the Southeast D.C. venue and performance space the Fridge, opened a new exhibition Saturday night called “Exclamation Point,” that features his first ever solo work in his own venue.

The showcase consisted of pseudo-prints created with spray paint and stencils that portrayed variations of two images. One was a photograph taken by Diane Arbus, and the other a shot from the John Waters film “Cecil B. DeMented.” Arbus’ photograph shows a child squeezing a toy grenade in one hand and making a gesture of frustration with the other. The shot from “Cecil B. DeMented” shows a woman demonstratively holding two guns high in the air.

“The imagery that I was showing here were kind of exasperated people, at the end of their rope,” Goldstein said. “And although that’s not how I feel personally, I think that’s kind of the tone that I’m seeing out there right now. I noticed a lot of people just seeming really stressed out. And that’s the imagery I was interested in exploring with the show.”

To do that, Goldstein enlisted a diverse color palette that he applied to his handmade stencils, typically using six to 10 layers of stencils and paint to create one image.

Peter Orouke, who, along with his artist wife, has been frequenting the Fridge for about a year, believes “John Waters would get a kick out of” Goldstein’s appropriation of the shot from his film.

Local artist Tim Rodgers also liked how “Exclamation Point” used found objects to create something new.

The Fridge itself has become quite the attraction in its three and a half years of existence,  having hosted the work of over 600 artists. It originally had a trendy, club-like atmosphere, but has since evolved into a more family-friendly space.

“Just a huge range of work by artists from many different age groups, ethnicities, gender, orientations,” Goldstein said. “A huge range of diversity representative of the population, and more importantly, representative of the population that actually lives here, as opposed to just what’s kind of stereotypically made available. This place is really open to people of any background.”

Goldstein emphasized that the Fridge is a place where people can interact with art and form their own thoughts and opinions about work made by their peers, not by “very famous, dead old people that you’ve read about in books.”

“Exclamation Point” is a fitting microcosm of the Fridge itself, incorporating a diversity of color and really-similar-but-not-quite-the-same imagery that’s reflective of the surrounding community in Southeast Washington.

“For the Fridge, I just want it to be here forever,” said Goldstein. ” Even after I’m gone, I’d love to have it continue on as a non-profit center for the arts, and for emerging and outsider artists who don’t normally have the chance to show [at] other places.”

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