Kelly Towles' second solo show, "I Call Shotgun," with Adamson Gallery is currently on view. I attended the opening reception and saw the show before many people showed up. When I first walked in, I was disappointed. My first impression was, "Uh oh, Kelly just repeated his last show." Which at the highest possible level was true. Kelly painted up the walls and he did colorful, large-scale prints of his characters. The only things missing were the paintings on wood cross-sections. Or so it appeared.
I had to leave the show and come back at a later time to really see it. And when I did, I saw the work that Kelly had done. This show is a big step forward for the artist. The prints in this show, besides being impeccable quality per the Adamson standard, push Kelly's work conceptually. Instead of just depicting a character as he did in the last show, this time more thought seems to be given to composition and contextualization. Towles has photographed the urban landscape and used these images on which to digitally draw his characters. Using super crisp detail and saturated colors, the resulting images are at times hard to make sense of. What's real? Just how far did the artist take his intervention?
After seeing the show three times now, I appreciate the work Kelly has done. He seems to have taken a sophisticated step forward. The imagery, while still graffiti inspired, is more complex. The work is simply better.
When Kelly's first solo with Adamson was basically universally praised, many people asked how he would handle his second showing. Would he suffer a sophomore slump? While this show is somewhat similar to his last, perhaps less grand, it's smarter. In my opinion, he met the challenge of his second show with gusto and a strong showing is the result.