If It Walks Like Art...

UW students at the Henry.

This is going to sound like a pretty stupid criticism, but the art in the University of Washington MFA Thesis Exhibition looks like art. Take the biggest attention-grabber, George Rodriguez's Instrumental Divide, a clay wall of larger-than-life mariachi musicians with cartoonish faces, their joined backs a plane as blank as the underside of a gift-store trinket. Could this be about, uh, the commodification of cultural stereotypes? Yes, no, maybe—but who cares, really? It's fun and admirably obscure, and it fills gallery space credibly. The same can be said of Bo Choi's absurdist garments and Anne Petty's mysterious, sexually-charged oils of (I think) gardening scenes. If the goal of the MFA program is to produce artists who can run with the art-world herd, this show must be seen as a sign of its success—the secret handshake seems to have been transmitted to a new generation. Nothing looks out of place here, and wouldn't look out of place in a gallery in Manhattan. The work is ambitious, colorful, stylishly enigmatic, and lacks even a hint of fresh air. Like I said, it looks like art. 

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