Jen Deveroux to Host "Barnyard Riot Art Show" at Phoenix's Monarch Theatre on Saturday
The task of reading George Orwell's famous dystopian tome Animal Farm is something practically everyone experienced in high school. We had to do it, and -- in all likelihood -- so did you. And probably because it's something that's typically digested during one's formative years, the satirical yet frightening sociopolitical allegory is something that tends to stick in your craw and offer influence for years afterwards.
Mike Maas Barnyard Riot
Prolific art party impresario Jen Deveroux, for instance, read the book as a teenager, and memories of the exploits of Snowball, Napoleon, and their cohorts bubbled to the surface when she was planning the theme of her latest event, which wound up becoming this weekend's Barnyard Riot Art Show at the Monarch Theatre.
Courtesy of the artist Robert Gentile's Rural Calamity
"I was looking at jobs and considering this particular thing working for PETA, and I'd also been thinking a lot about my next big art show and what it would be about," she says. "And I just remembered Animal Farm and it all just came together."
The book helped inspire the show of animals revolting or striking back in some form. There's a little bit of When Animals Attack mixed in with Animal Farm, since Deveroux says the not all of the 60-something local artists participating used renditions of beasts of burden or livestock in their works.
"The overall idea behind Barnyard Riot is animals fighting back against humans or just animal rights in general," Deveroux says. (A portion of the proceeds from the event, she adds, will also be donated to the Valley-based Pee Wee's Pals Animal Rescue.)
Some of the dozens of artists involved in the showcase are Tato Caraveo, Jeremy Arviso, Geoff Soderberg, Erika Jaynes, Glen Allan, Holly Anderson, Orlando Allison, Jondo Fett, Yai Nosaur, and Jared Aubel, among others. Naturally, each piece is unique and there is a wide variety of creatures great and small depicted in the paintings, illustrations, sculptures, and mixed media efforts that will be on display around the Monarch's upstairs lounge on Saturday night. That includes pieces that were directly inspired by Orwell's novel.
Painter Robert Gentile created two such works for the show that remix the ideas of farm animals becoming a revolutionary armed force with propaganda-style imagery and his own street art style. One piece, Rural Calamity, is both minimalist and militaristic, has a Napoleon-like pig standing in the poise and uniform of a four-star general with a farmhouse in the background.
"It seemed to fit the mood of Animal Farm. I read the book in high school, and, it wasn't fun, because I wasn't really big on school at the time, so I really didn't make a lot of the connections with Lenin, Stalin, and Russian revolutionaries," Gentile says. "But the older I got, the more it made sense. And as soon as I heard about the theme of the art show, it's the first thing that popped into my head."
The 37-year-old painter also created a second piece that ties into both Animal Farm and his background as a tagger while growing up in New York. It features another pig spray-painting arguably the most famous phrase of the book -- the oft-quoted edict, "Some animals are more equal than others" -- onto the side of a barn.
"I'm a reformed graffiti artist from New York, so a lot of my style is comes from that," Gentile says.