Friday, April 25, 2008

Fancy the South

Headed out of the city on a quest for art.

All the way to Madison, GA for the "Madison National 2008."

Larry Estes, "Hey Whitney" - pen on paper

It's a juried show, the juror being Sylvie Fortin of Art Papers.

Jody Fausett had a nice spread.

Wild cats and wilder furniture.

Jody also won a prestigious "Best in Show" (and really enjoyed the attention)

Trish Ramsey "Squink" sewing nylon, wool

as did Trish Ramsey from Columbus, GA who created these interesting three dimensional drawings using steel and nylon.

Trish Ramsey "Day Dreaming" steel, nylon

This one was especially cool. Fortin gave a short talk during the opening to explain her mindset while jurying the show. She said that she wanted the show to serve as an "index" of the contemporary art practices happening in this region. Each work selected represents a larger movement.

"Day Dreaming" detail

Fortin also said she was surprised by the large number of submissions relating to drawing or photography and decided to focus on these media, selecting artists who are expounding upon these practices. Hence Ramsey's drawings, which for me, summed up the scope of the show.

Ashley Nason "Observatory" drawing, collage

One of the best aspects of this exhibition was seeing such a sharp collection of contemporary works housed within the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center (the building is amazing, check out the link). Originally a school, the beautiful old building sits in the middle of quaint Madison, drawing in a friendly crowd, and giving an interesting context to the show, merging the antique and the new in an excellent way.

This water fountain was great

and classrooms back in the day look incredibly uncomfortable

and they had such small chalk to work with, I pity the kid with meaty fingers.

The show was hung very well, each piece relating to the next, drawing connections between the quilting of graphite on paper and the abstraction of basket weaving.

Barb Bondy, Opelika, AL "RW" Graphite on paper

This piece was intense, unassuming until viewed close enough to see the infinite number of graphite markings cover the 360" long roll of paper.

Peggy Wyman "Swoop in Glide" Fiber sculpture

I could not help but notice this was the only piece in the large show which had been marked with a red dot. Nevertheless, I withhold making any sweeping generalizations or coming to any sort of critical conclusion.

Jon Davis, Miami FL, "Lady With a Fan" mixed media

This was an slick light box sculpture which Joyce said reminded her of the box sculptures of Duchamp and his crowd.

"Intelligent Design" color pencil on paper

This is a great drawing by Alanta artist Philip Carpenter.

"A Self Study" photography

And a pair of great photographs by Atlanta artist Maria Watts, who I met and doesn't resemble either one of the people photographed.

In group exhibitions the placement of your artwork is always the fear, its the one thing the artists don't always have control over and the wrong context can unintentionally change the interpretation of the work. I was very pleased to find my photograph in the exhibition room with a "Warning: Exhibition Contains Nudity" sign by the door, and in the company of Watt's naked self studies. Like I said, the time and thought spent by the Madison-Morgan crew in laying out the show was apparent and well worth it.

The installation "Battleships, Battle at Sea" by Corrina Mensoff and Hartmut Koenitz occupied a third room.

Interesting to imagine that this use to a be a classroom.

After the opening was the fanciest private reception party I have ever attended and the hosts had an impressive collection of lighting sculptures and custom furniture.

And most importantly, the champagne was freely flowing. Shana and Alex made the trip, brought a little glamour with them.

Sylvie Fortin and Susan Bridges.

Jody regretting the decision to be the driver of the caravan.

If you happen to be anywhere near Madison, GA between now and June 30th, it's worth the detour to check out the show and spend some time cruising around town.


Cinque said...

This show looks excellent. But was Sylvie really surprised by the preponderance of photography and drawing? I think you don't have to dig very deep to see that those are by far the dominant modes of production in this city. Those and painting *based on* drawing.

Jonathan said...

Hmm...I'm not sure if she used the exact word "surprised" or not (I forgot my tape recorder in Atlanta) but while the popularity of photgraphy in Atlanta is a given, I was surprised that it was drawing instead of painting, and not traditional drawing either - but various manifestations of it - many becoming sculptural. The show felt cohesive and very non-traditional to be populated with a majority of southern artists (with no particular age group dominating).

lalalembik said...

Wow--I can't wait to see this exhibit. Thanks much for your awesum images and thoughts. RE: painting, I wish there was a larger contingent of artists in the area deeply dedicated to the process. We have some amazing folk who are, but it is a surprisingly short list. Painting isnt especially hip/cool right now, where drawing & photog is tha shit (is that still cool to say?). It gets attention as a sideline when it is integrated into a larger installation/concept.

Jonathan said...

I would have to say that painting is still the dominant medium being shown in art galleries in Atlanta and is still considered the most commercially viable.

I have wondered if the absence of painting in many non-commercial exhibition spaces (i.e. The Contemporary, Art papers) is a reaction to or balancing of this - or if painting is simply not the preferred stage for conceptual exploration right now - perhaps the very act of painting has become too commodified?

Jeremy said...

This looks amazing. (Lady With a Fan = Wow.)

You're inspiring me to take an "art road trip" sometime soon...

On painting: Ialambik brings up a good subject. I don't feel qualified to comment, but I agree that painting it still dominant in ATL. What I've heard from Art Papers people is that video, digital photo, and other technological media are considered "the Future."

I think this idea is dangerous, and, personally, my heart is in painting.

(Keep in mind that I'm not an artist. I can't paint to save the life of me...)

LC Neill said...

Thanks for posting all those photos! I didn't get a chance to go and this is the closest thing to being there.