Among the works in Jason Chase's portfolio are larger-than-life paintings of glossy Hot Wheels cars. On one level, they're simply playful, iconic images of childhood. But Chase painted those toy cars shortly after the death of his father, who was into hot rods.
"They are actually really somber and sad for me," he says.
When he spoke to the Indy a few weeks ago, Chase was in the middle of packing a truck with 33 of his representational, hyperrealistic works, readying for his first major art show locally since he graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 2000. The Boston-based artist has shown at numerous galleries on the East Coast, and now he'll be showing with local artist Sean O'Meallie.
Chase says his shiny, well-rendered images and O'Meallie's expertly crafted sculpture each have a "candy crust" belying a deeper meaning. That's the gist of PLAY, their joint exhibit at UCCS' Galleries of Contemporary Art, says director Daisy McConnell, and what draws the two artists together.
Another of Chase's paintings, "Burns," is a seemingly innocuous representation of what appears to be a junkyard. But look closer and you may notice the background of charred matchstick trees. The burned-out trucks are actually toys recovered from when Chase spent a few weeks last summer helping a friend sift through the ashes of his house, which had been destroyed in the Black Forest Fire.
As for O'Meallie, he draws upon his background as a toy inventor. As he puts it, he uses "colors and patterns and shapes that involuntarily invoke a response." One of his PLAY pieces is a monochromatic series of highly stylized black guns with accentuated triggers that are suspended on a wall, pointing at each other. O'Meallie says the work alludes to the "dynamic potential of an actual gun and its dark possibility."