David Shelton: Kelly O’Connor’s “Post-Utopia”

Kelly O'Connor

"Portrait of the Artist's Room as a Child"

Somewhere between childhood wonder and adult disillusionment, Kelly O’Connor is creating a psychic landscape from fragments of familiar movies, TV shows, vacationlands and fairy tales. While she’s been making the collages mined from her childhood pop culture for years, O’Connor’s “Post-Utopia” show at the David Shelton Gallery seems more intimate and introspective, inspired by a photograph of the artist as a young girl standing in front of the Mammoth Terrace Falls at Yellowstone National Park.

With rainbow-colored water, the falls provide the setting for O’Connor’s most complex, three-dimensional shadow box, “Portrait of the Artists’ Room as a Child.” Judy Garland as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” serves as her alter ego. The Scarecrow is surfing the falls, while Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka appears ready to leap using three open parachutes. On a cratered plain beyond the falls, the young girl in “The Poltergeist,” instead of a haunted TV, is kneeling before a silver vortex of six-sided polygons. Cosmetic bottles with clown tops, a lonesome coyote, Shirley Temple and a buffalo roam this psychedelic phantasmagoria of Americana.

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