"I'd like a sandwich, please, with a side of general disdain for others."

Yesterday, following a great interview with Steve Liggett about the coming New Genre Festival, I lunched with my good friend and fellow art-lover Ashley Heider at The Collective, 3148 E. 11th St. Not only does The Collective boast a menu chock full of delicious lunch fare named for local landmarks, it also opens its doors, walls and dance floor to local artists, musicians, authors and pretty much anyone else who has need for a space in which to do their thang.

While we munched on our sandwiches (the Zingo for me and the Atlas with turkey for Ashley), lounging on The Collective's comfy antique couches, we let our eyes wander to the wall on which an exhibit titled "The Dark Arts" by Meredith Fajardo and D.A. Boone hung. The exhibit, by two of The Collective's employees, attempts to give substance to the angst and anguish felt by sad, skinny suburban teenagers who take part in the "emo"culture.

My younger brother went through an "emo" phase when he was in high school, and, having witnessed his "pain" firsthand, I can't help but mock it and anyone else who describes himself as "emo." In its press materials, The Collective described the exhibit as an examination of the emo culture, in which the artists attempt to determine whether or not the "pain" felt by these black hoodie-wearing teenagers is real or imagined. I didn't meet the artists, so I don't know their history in emo and whether or not they think it's something serious or something at which to point and laugh. And the artwork didn't do much to answer my question, either.

The exhibit included more than one portrayal of a sullen-looking face with long, side-swept bangs covering one eye. I think Ashley's favorite piece was a framed mirror, on which were glued long strands of pink and blond hair so that the person looking at herself could see how emo she could be if she only tried. After taking her picture in the mirror, Ashley joked, "How emo is this?"

Other pieces included a defiled sock monkey attached to a vertigo-inspired background, an eyeless face and an ear, both complete with multiple piercings, and a plain black canvas titled "My Soul: Shades of Black."

Thinking back on the exhibit, it is very likely these two were also mocking the emo culture, but, if they were trying to treat it with some serious, then I apologize for mocking them. It just didn't come off. And I'm not sure, had these two not been employed by The Collective, if their work would be hanging there now.

As it stands, Colleen, who, along with her hubby, owns the cafe/coffeeshop, said her exhibit space is booked through December, which is exciting for her and for local artists. Kelsey Karper, in the most recent issue of OVAC's Art Focus Oklahoma, wrote a really nice story about the importance of having local art on display in local businesses. Check it out, and then head to The Collective, if not for "The Dark Arts," then at least to try the Zingo. Oh. My. God. Yum.