Gallery-goers may have shown up at Julie Saul Gallery for last Thursday’s opening reception of Brian Ulrich’s Copia—stunning photographs that show how mass production permeates the everyday life of pop princesses and counterculture teens alike—but it was Roz Chast’s Theories of Everything series that sideswiped the show. Originally scheduled to close last month, the exhibit has been extended to February 10. And with good reason.
People at the gallery were nudging their dates to take a look at the smirk-inducing cartoons. The complexities of human nature, it seems, have no place to hide from Chast’s ink. Take for instance laziness and frustration, which show up in the illustration of someone who simply moves over to a different window rather than arm-wrestling the stuck window they really wanted open. Or, the overbearing tendencies of mothers, whose complaints with her children—such as, “He never should have divorced his first wife”—get engraved on tombstones in Mom’s Mortuary. Even your diet is scrutinized. If you eat your sandwich on whole-wheat bread, that’s a sure sign of being a “liberal, big city Democrat,” according to Deconstructing Lunch. And if you’re the type of person who buys only free-range chicken, then you’re probably just as naïve as your feathered friends in The Delusional World of Free Range Chickens, who chirp, “Ain’t no stopping us now,” probably minutes before they become your dinner.
“Those of you who don’t know who Roz Chast is … please leave now,” joked actor/writer Steve Martin, as he opened up his interview with the artist at last year’s New Yorker Festival. He went on to call her cartoons, which she has been publishing in the magazine since 1978, “insightful.” Meanwhile, The New York Times has called her a “small, blond, bespectacled and self-deprecating—equal parts Mia Farrow and Woody Allen.” Chast was born on November 26, 1954, and grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. She now lives with her husband, writer Bill Franzen, and two kids, in Connecticut. Her cartoons have been collected in several books.