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Past Perfect

LawsonFredrickson2

The black and white postcard arrived from KM Art announcing “Lil’ Buddies: Memories We Always Wanted.” On the front, a composite photograph with (there on the left) four-year-old Mike Fredrickson squinting into the light. On the right, Mark Lawson, a sprite in short pants, cap askew, clutching a bag of candy. The years fly by and the buddies mature to bring their memories to the fore. Those in the know, know KM Art is one flight up in a big brick building on the east side of S. 1st Street at 226. Nothing smarmy about the joint. Owner Kent Mueller, whose first gallery was way-back-when in Riverwest, knows what it takes to make things stick. So what are the memories the Lil’ Buddies Always Wanted? The promo postcard includes a dog, a rope swing, and an expanse of yard somewhere in rural Mt. Horeb, where Fredrickson’s Norwegian parents and grandparents farmed. Lawson, an Omaha area Norwegian, resembles a scrubbed poster-boy of the All-American type. No visible graffiti or bloody violence. The land and the lads seem unscathed. Time fixes that. Fredrickson, age 46, is now a bass player with Robbie Fulks’ band. In addition to producing beautiful paintings, he paints houses, teaches Life Drawing at MIAD, and makes fine music. His approach, bold and unblinking, lovingly portrays family and friends in bigger-than-life-color. In lieu of a McMansion, his moments are spent in a Fratney Street attic, soon to be his studio. Lawson, also a MIAD employee in charge of (among other duties) their swell Design exhibits, long ago shed the short pants and proper jacket. Active in the Riverwest Artists Association and known about town for his dedication to non-profit projects, at age 55 he aces crafting something out of nothing. Consider his cool salute to Dean Martin and the orange shag 70s — a madly fun “DVT” (Dino’s Vegas Tan), pouring forth Dino’s “Volare!” via a recycled curbside credenza. Inside the masterpiece, re-painted a coppery tan, a color wheel rotates to the beat. Dig the bodacious black and white boy-toy robot. Blow your mind over a ’40s made-in-Ohio Vernado fan mated with a Christmas tree stand. Theatrical. Sensational! Watergate, Vietnam, Kent State, the assassination of two Kennedys and Dr. King no doubt blasted holes in their midwestern roots, but the point here is great art — neither hip nor pretentiously hot — but right on and right from the heart. Life is equal parts crap shoot and grit. If you miss this one — tough Twinkies, sucker. Now-June 19 KM Art 228 S. First St. W-F 6-8 PM Sat 11-4 PM 414/226-2272
LawsonFredrickson2