On point: Halloween drawings timely and fun

It’s more than a little refreshing to find at least one artist in this town with Halloween in his heart. Granted, the holiday is mostly considered a kid’s thing, but it’s also one of the few holidays—if not the only one– that comes with a decent dose of the subversive. There aren’t too many holidays left having anything to do with the outdoors at night (exception made for the 4th of July), let alone strangers’ houses, night-lit streets, and disguise. 
With his latest exhibit at the Mudhouse, “Halloween 2002,” Steve Ingham shows an affinity not only for the holiday’s sneaky side, but also for the kid’s stuff, which is a pretty cool thing. There’s irony here as well as an obtuse sense of humor– Ingham never completely reveals the joke with a few pieces here. However, cartoons and comic books obviously inspired Ingham in much of what he’s done, as have the classic monster movies that set the standard for bread-and-butter Halloween imagery.
In the best of his work on display, which also happens to be the bulk of his work, Ingham uses what looks like a thick marker tip with a clunky bent line on plain white paper, which gives his work a fun, throwaway feel, like something you might pull out of a Cracker Jacks box. His habit of marking the corners of his works with a date-stamper only piles it on.
And then there’s the subject matter– as in “Night of the Werewolf.” The drawing is arranged almost like a movie poster, with the head of the werewolf taking up the entire right side of the frame. In the blackness past where his pointy ear would be, Ingham has inked in a torch-bearing mob.
Ingham’s cartoon-strip humor surfaces in “The Reason Why It’s Haunted.” The title of the piece is actually written on the drawing, which also includes an old country house next to a twisted, barren tree. Of course, the reason it’s haunted is that the house sits on top of a layer of skeletons running like a coal seam underneath. In the goofy picture it’s all exposed like an ant farm.
Ingham also works with what appears to be an airbrush, with lesser results. His monster portraits, done up in this technique, come out a little too tidy. And with “Triple Otis”– a not-very-intimidating three-headed dog on glowing green grass below a bright, cloudless sky– Ingham tries his hand at cute, unfortunately. Stick with Ingham’s drawings, despite the few non-topical filler works (where Ingham tosses in a Sharon, an Arafat, and a couple of sailor boys) that pop up at the far end of the exhibit.

Steve Ingham’s “Halloween 2002” runs, appropriately, through October  31 at the Mudhouse. 213 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-6833.

Read more on: steve ingham