By E. H.-A., Art News December, 1989


Raconteur artists, Charles Brohawn and Chris Mason, better known as The Tinklers, paint folksy landscapes with consciousness-raising captions. Their work has a love-thy-neighbor '60's warmth without an '80's acerbity. And that is its appeal. The painstakingly detailed images are jewel-like in their preciousness. The texts tell engaginly bittersweet tales. In this media-blitzed era, The Tinklers realize that a whisper grabs more attention than does a shout.

The Tinklers address ecological ruination in paintings whose naive style belies the extreme control they exercise over their work. In Oil they depict black, oil-slicked waves srrounded by a pristine coastline of infinite, spindly evergreens. Burning an inscription onto the wooden frame, they describe the havoc wreaked upon nature by the oil tanker Exxon Valdez. InSeattle The Tinklers comment on the white man's rape of the earth, depicting an Indian encampment infiltrated by two white men dressed in ominous black suits. The artists express both their reverence for the land and their scorn for those who do not realize that, to quote from one of their inscriptions, "whatever befalls the Earth also befalls the Children of The Earth."

The Tinklers communicate their messages by adopting the simple, straightforward style of American folk art. They carry this lack of self-consciousness over to their offbeat performances in which they sing songs, tell stories, and play home-made instruments. In all of their work, the Tinklers demonstrate an unabiding and refreshing humility.


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