Justin Colt Beckman
February 3 - 26, 2011
Opening Reception: 5 - 8pm
First Thursday, February 3, 2011
Television, movies, music, fashion. Guns are everywhere. Like many Americans, Justin Colt Beckman is aware of the prevalence of guns in society. But, when he started using a Tumblelog this summer to collect images from the Internet for reference and inspiration, he was surprised to discover how much he, too, was attracted to a wooden stock and shiny barrel. Instead of making guns look dangerous, these movie stills, fashion shots and celebrity portraits seemed to imply that possessing a firearm would make him more hip, handsome and self-confident.
The images from Beckman's Tumblelog are the inspiration for Moving Target, an exhibition that continues his investigation of differences between urban and rural societies while exploring the overabundant imagery of firearms in pop culture. For some, guns are an important tradition and method of feeding their family. For others, they're a way of demanding respect, or simply a cool prop for a photo, film or album cover.
Beckman explores his own relationship to the gun and examines the aesthetic appeal as well as the traditional and practical purposes of the lock, stock and barrel. Gone are the days when Sears and Montgomery Ward had a vast selection of guns in their catalogs, and television shows like The Rifleman and The Lone Ranger showed men of justice wielding guns in defense of American idealism. The gun is how the West was won. Parents didn't worry about their kids having toy guns. "Be careful where you point that thing. Here's some candy cigarettes. How 'bout fixing your old man a drink?" Ah, those were good times. Life was simpler back then, and so were our guns. Shotguns were for birds. High-power rifles were for large game, like deer and elk. Small-caliber rifles were for plinking and target shooting. And pistols, well, pistols were mostly for shooting people then too, but only when absolutely necessary. In contrast, kids these days are able to get their hands on thug-worthy "eight plus one" semiautomatic pistols and military-grade high-caliber automatic rifles. First-person shooter games are the norm, and putting a cap in someone is sometimes the hard path to becoming a man.
Lately, home-decor images are giving guns a tough run for their money on Beckman's Tumblelog. Images of bears, deer, motorcycles and gunless fashion are also helping to maintain the balance. Beckman wonders if the gun will ever lose its aesthetic appeal in pop culture, burying itself deep in the style archives and taking with it the trucker hat, fixed-gear bicycles and, dare we say, skinny jeans.
Justin Beckman received a BFA from Art Center College of Design in 1998 and an MFA in sculpture from Central Washington University in 2008. Beckman lives with his wife Monica, their son Porter, and a couple of stray dogs in the unincorporated town of Thorp, Washington.
Hours: Noon-5pm Thurs-Sat,
or by appointment.
Stop or I'll Shoot
Digital C-Print, 24x18 inches, 2011
Still from color video, 2011