A Monthly Look at The Good The Bad and The Ugly of the Jacksonville Art Scene.
Art Walk is always a hit and miss sort of experience. You will find a few great things and then there's the woman selling photographs of her cats. This month was no different, a handful of interesting pieces scattered throughout a maze of kitsch nonsense and poor copies of kitsch nonsense.
Pretty much since The Nullspace Galley opened there hasn't been anything to top it in Art Walk. The shows these guys are doing are something great and different for Jacksonville. Art Walk this month showcased Greta Songe's All Things Near and Far at Nullspace.
The piece was an installation that took up the entire gallery. The walls were covered with drawings and paintings with some three dimensional aspects as well. The piece focused on disasters big and small, analyzing the distances at which we feel or don't feel connected to them.
Another show worth mentioning at Art Walk was Kevin Roach's. Roach only graduated high school this year but is on the path to big things. He has been accepted to the prestigious Cooper Union in New York and will be attending there in the fall.
Cooper Union is like the Westpoint of art schools. The school accepts only 60 art students a year on the basis of a home test. The home test is basically ten prompts that an applicant must respond to by creating art pieces. The acceptance rate on average is below 5%, but once accepted Cooper Union pays all of the tuition.
Large scale mixed media pieces make up most of Roach's current work. He initially started off with printmaking but after the home test for Cooper Union became more interesting in exploring art on a conceptual level as opposed to a process based understanding. He said the home test was want sparked him to get deeper into his art, it forced him to make his work mean something. "There not enough concept makers in Jacksonville," he says "I think with art you have to put something behind it. Right now I'm into routine, analyzing our habits, looking closely at all that."
The scale of the work makes the subject seem minimal but Roach manages to add complexity to his subject making the viewer more inclined to take a closer look. The color palate is dark but avoids being ominous. Subtle stories are laid out in each piece, every concrete image flows together against the abstract background. He arranges the piece like a puzzle that's been jumbled but in such a way that the viewer can still make out what the image should be.
Puzzles appeared to be a theme this month with Ian Chase opening his show Physical Access/ Pure Stygian at Nullspace. The show came off as a labyrinth of sound and shape with Chase navigating visitors through a world of juxtaposed organic and synthetic materials meeting with seamless cacophony. While the gallery had what could be considered several seemingly separate installation pieces Chase ties them together beautifully. The gallery as a whole became the piece and as the keg dried up the viewers became part of it.
Some wild eyed animal man-boy busted out a synthesizer pad and sequencer then began what could only be described as noise dance music. The crowd erupted in dancing of some unsorted form some slamming into each other with a maniacal fury. I saw a man yelling to no one in particular in the middle of the room, there was an old drunk trying to bag a red head in the distance who appeared highly offended. Chase started to rip his own smaller paintings off the wall and chuck them at the crowd rather indiscriminately, a few people got hit in the head. One has to wonder when the last time a gallery opening in Jacksonville had become this wild.
The wildness is great though; in a town where any half-wit with a digital camera can take a picture of a sunset, have it blown up on canvas, and slang it as art, the wildness is most certainly appreciated.
Kevin Roach- He's a great young artist to support. If you like what you see and are interested in getting your hands on it drop him a line. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Chase- His show will still be up this ArtWalk, check it out. The Nullspace boys have also cooked up some catalogs of it, and I suggest you get yourself one before they are all gone.
Greta Songe- She's got herself a blog. http://gretasonge.blogspot.com/
Now for things I didn't like this month:
Self Portraits being sold- Who buys these? It's incredibly narcissistic for an artist to price a self portrait and hang it in gallery. Self exploration should be done on your own time, the technical skill in some is admirable but at the end of the day why should the public care what the artist looks like in the mirror. They are a waste of time, waste of space.
Homages to Jackson Pollock- There were a few of these floating around ArtWalk, Jacksonville could do with out them they represent a lack of skill, originality and concept. Jackson Pollock was a fine man but you my friends are not him.
Anything blown up and printed on canvas- They make great decorations for your second beach house or bland dental office, however it's not art. Kinkos can apparently print your digital pictures to canvas for you. If you have to have that downtown skyline above your mantle cut out the middle man, take the picture yourself, and have it printed. Don't give these lice ridden kitsch charlatans another dime, with the money you save you could invest in real art.
That's it see you next month. Robb Tabone