Aaron Spangler, "Government Whore"

Spangler whittles dark remembrances of war.

  • I Owe My Soul To The Company Store

  • Government Whore

  • To The Valley Below

I Owe My Soul To The Company Store

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Aaron Spangler’s three blocky black wood carvings on metal stands pile up images and motifs, just like the ancient Romans heaped up captured armor and weapons as trophies. And Spangler’s subjects similarly suggest the spoils of war.

The largest, the eponymous Government Whore, features a long-haired person in bed clutching a semiautomatic rifle. A tiled floor crumbles underneath while a G.I. holding a flag floats above. This entire vignette is dwarfed, however, by a welter of lush foliage, a spear, an animal skull, flowers, an Art Deco frieze and a hirsute head in a crushed bowler hat. The ensemble evokes a PTSD-induced fever dream, perhaps hallucinated by the aforementioned recumbent figure.

Flanking sculptures share this miasmic effect. In I Owe My Soul to the Company Store, posts supporting a pitched roof (a picnic area? a covered bridge?) pierce a uniformed body whose head is covered by a cardboard box, while an owl alights on a fluttering banner. Another owl, in To the Valley Below, perches upon one of two structures bearing images that suggest religious paintings—one of an angel, the other of pilgrims in what appears to be Yosemite National Park.

Spangler whittles with folksy charm, and like outsider art, his sculptures teem with hermetic meaning. But far from triumphal monuments, his works hint at some dark remembrance of imperial adventures.

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Horton Gallery, through May 22