America’s Sweetheart: A Brief History of the Shackway Corporation

Posted in Flotsam by charlie b. ward on April 23, 2010

Art lovers who will be in Minneapolis on Saturday (the 24th of April, 2010) ought to visit an exhibit at Bockley Gallery, called America’s Sweetheart: A Brief History of the Shackway Corporation.  The show features 21 new works on canvas by David Sollie, and a few prints.   Mr. Sollie is apparently the “historian” of the imaginary Shackway corporation, which (he says) was founded by his fake grandfather after WWII. From this starting point an entire world has sprung into being, and the results are rich and varied.

In two decades of visiting contemporary art shows at museums and galleries around the world, I can honestly say that this is one of the best shows I’ve seen. In a larger market, it’s the sort of show everyone would want a part of. What makes it good?  There best of the pieces are just plain generous: conceptually, visually and emotionally. They give things to the viewer. Further, the work is so quintessentially American. What could be more American that inventing a fake company and turning it into a real corporation – at that, one that’s attempting to sustain itself by selling it’s fictional history?  It’s a hall of mirrors take on the American dream, but it’s how I’d want my own country characterized at the American Pavilion in Venice, at a Biennialle somewhere down the road.

A larger look into the culture of the “company” can be found at and some of the works on paper are available for giveaway prices at  Canvas works are available through the Bockley Gallery. A sign in the gallery window announces “Shackway family fun day” will mark the closing of the show on Saturday.  Apparently there will be a magician and balloon twister on hand after 2:00, and live music after 5:00.

Robert Blackwell

One Response

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  1. bob black said, on April 24, 2010 at 8:18 am

    totally americana! :))))

    loved the painting ‘UFO Hoax Outfit’ (that bottle cap is ingenious) and Elevator and of course Riding Dreamliner clockwork! :))))))))

    wish the show would come to NYC or Toronto….it reminds me of, in essence, some of the things that defined my childhood:

    1) Roadside America (…Alec if y’all haven’t see it, it’s a must….

    2) Moravian Pottery and Tile Work Museum (

    3) A Christmas Story (

    4) Henry Darger (and all ousider art/Folk Art):

    5) all that beautiful shit in all those damn beautiful basements and garage sales scattered across the states….

    shows looks brilliant…thanks for the post


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