Corbett vs. Dempsey
Celeste Rapone and Betsy Odom: Everlast
September 21—October 27, 2018

The work of Celeste Rapone and Betsy Odom linked up seamlessly to advance an exhibition steeped in unequivocally gendered pictorial and sculptural invention. The exhibition’s title, Everlast, evokes the eponymous boxing glove manufacturer, suggesting a competition between the two artists (extending the implications of the gallery’s own name) and their divergent visual languages. The Everlast logo appears in Rapone’s painting “Full Crouch” (2018), and the graphic brand also makes a knowing nod to the photographic image of Basquiat and Warhol standing side-by-side, fists up and donning Everlast boxing shorts and gloves for the poster announcing their joint 1985 exhibition. But at its core the title-play illuminates Rapone and Odom’s humorous approach to art-making and the bounty of rip-offs, quotes and puns that undergirds the work of both artists.



Odom’s sculptural objects graced the tops of standard gallery pedestals, suggesting various interpretations on familiar accessories and sports apparel. The to-scale vernacular items include a single cork-soled Birkenstock, a single Doc Martin boot, a life vest, a batting helmet, a bugle, a lawn chair, shoulder pads and a “Schutzhund Glove” (used for training dogs). In these highly crafted simulations, Odon relies on incongruent material choice and ornamental flourishes to alter familiar subjects. For example, “Life Vest” (2018) remakes the vest’s variously shaped buoyant pads with colorful tooled leather and paint. “Gym Shorts” (2014) is fabricated from tooled leather. The shorts are stiff and take a vessel-like form on the pedestal. A decorative flower pattern is embossed on the smooth red leather, and the linear articulation of the thick white thread used for stitching suggests a fetish article alien to the hips and thighs it evokes.

Misshapen and pliable, Rapone’s figures are pulled from Nicole Eisenman’s lexicon of expressive anatomy. The figures’ contorted relationship to the painting’s edge and to various props leads to complex compositions that overshadow any psychological connection to the female protagonists. “Resporting” (2017) is an entanglement of limbs, tennis rackets and striped uniforms and tennis shoes. The violet and pink painting bristles with small punctuations of green. Like all of Rapone’s paintings included in Everlast, it is an active and humorous image. But unlike Oden’s work, where humor gives way to a deep and uncomfortable truth about bodies, accessories, and identity, Rapone’s wit remains joyously superficial.

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