“Signs of ‘The End’” –or- Who is Ardell Padenom?
Writing and Photographs by: Kris Brandhagen
I was tipped off about a renegade public art installation called “Signs of the End” by conceptual artist Ardell Padenom early in the morning on June 28th. I walked my camera down 13th avenue in the Cathedral area, and was astonished by the number of signs simply stating “The End.” “Signs of ‘The End’ is a public art installation made up of a series of paintings stylized to resemble various types of street signs, and is intended as a light-hearted commentary on society’s short-sighted and always predictable inclination to ignore even the most dire of warnings” (from the artist statement included on the back of each sign; full statement appears below. Here are my questions for Padenom: Why the Cathedral Area? Is there a connection between this location and “The End?” How long did this project take from start to finish? What brings this little lady from Bordeaux, France to Regina, Saskatchewan? And finally who is Ardell Padenom?
I first became aware of Ardell Padenom’s artwork when an acquaintance of mine, Regina artist Robert Bos began to receive mysterious paintings in his mailbox, for a total of six paintings with a collective title of “Mailbox Art” in March and April of 2009. The next Padenom move, on April 30, 2009, was to send out “You are Beautiful: 50 Postcards/50 People” depicting an acrylic self-portrait, mostly centralizing around the patronage of what was then the Crushed Grape. When the Beet Root was still a place, a few poems written by Padenom “Beet Root Poetry Reading Series” were mailed to the establishment, to be read by any interested party at the open mic June 30, 2009. Padenom has exhibited at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois at the Siragusa Gallery in “’I Didn’t Do It!’: Art by Alter Egos” curated in November 2009 by Robert Bos. I personally received a package of chapbooks “This, That, and Other Things: a collection of poems” by Padenom (June 7th, 2010) to be read and be sold to raise funds for the Vertigo Reading Series, which I was then running. Other projects include: “’Jigsaw’ Puzzle” 2010, and “Portraits of Me” 2009.
Signs of “The End” by Ardell Padenom (2011)
Environmental instability, water shortages, natural disasters, a fragile economy, global pandemics, threats of nuclear or bio-chemical warfare, the alignment of the planets throwing the earth off its orbit, a giant meteor hurling itself toward us, intensified solar flares scorching the earth and all life on it, 2012, Armageddon, Divine Intervention, and a growing number of conspiracy theories pointing to secret government agendas and devastating invasions from other worlds or dimensions. These are just a few of the seemingly countless threats or cautionary signs we are constantly bombarded with that suggest the end of the world as we know it might soon be upon us.
Signs of “The End” is a public art installation made up of a series of paintings stylized to resemble various types of street signs, and is intended as a light-hearted commentary on society’s short-sighted and always predictable inclination to ignore even the most dire of warnings. And while some of those warnings listed above likely deserve more of our attention and response than others, the fact remains that no matter how pressing the issue might be, the majority of the population will always remain largely apathetic. Therefore, although each of the installed pieces is literally a sign announcing “The End”, these signs themselves should not be interpreted as being literal, but should be understood as symbols of all those greater signs and portents that consistently surround us and assault our conscience.
The installed signs are planned to be totally abandoned by the artist, leaving them to the public to respond to as they see fit. By placing the signs in locations that are not perhaps the most desirable or convenient, the artist is essentially forcing the public to physically engage with the structures and to respond, in one way or another, to these “Signs”.
How will people react to these signs? Well that’s up to you! Take this sign and keep it for yourself as an art piece, remove it from where it is and dispose of it, or, if you want, destroy it. Be proactive! If you don’t, just think of how quickly it will be before this sign becomes just another part of all that other background noise.
For more information on Ardell Padenom, please visit her online at:
Facebook: Ardell Padenom