Mar 202024
 

Akron Soul Train supports local artists through a residency program, exhibitions, and a shop in the front of the gallery which sells their work. Currently the gallery is showing work by Matthew Kurtz (work seen above) and Thomas Smith (work pictured below). Both artists are approaching the environment in different and interesting ways. Several of Kurz’s video pieces are focused on his upcoming performance for the solar eclipse. His photographs, for which he’s created additions to scenes he finds, are charming- as is his sculpture- a piano that moves his natural additions when played.

From the gallery-

Performance artist Matthew B. Kurtz presents Drumroll for a Total Eclipse: A Preliminary Exhibition, a prelude to his upcoming live performance with this year’s solar eclipse. Kurtz’s work fuses place, nature, sound, rhythm, and movement to question the mystery of existence. With humor, curiosity, and in tandem with his surroundings, Drumroll explores the process of trying to understand wonder.

For his upcoming performance on April 8, 2024, Kurtz will invite an audience to celebrate the total eclipse. Collaborating with the cosmos, he will perform a drumroll before “totality” passes over Northeast Ohio and creates the natural phenomenon known as “the blackout.”

“When I engage with a site for an art piece, I consider its history, recontextualize its objects, and insert my identity through intuitive gestures. I was raised to believe that humans are supposed to connect the lines between their innate feelings and the unknown. Making art is [my] attempt to reclaim this existential directive. These experiences are documented so outside viewers can participate in my examination of ambiguities, systems, and the sublime.” — Matthew B. Kurtz

Kurtz is also a musician. Check out his Instagram and Bandcamp to listen to his 2021 album 107.

For Thomas Smith’s sculptures he creates natural environments within man-made structures and uses the results as a commentary on the growth and sustainability of suburban development.

From the gallery-

In SUBARIUM II reprise, Thomas Smith combines materials from big box stores with contained terrariums to generate a sense of security and quality. However, upon second look, the viewer may see past the façade of what may look safe to what is substandard. Perhaps it is even denying growth and positive change. Smith’s sculptures dare to ask questions about survival, public image, and the landscape of today.

“Akin to an ecosystem enclosed in a terrarium, my sculptures depict a vibrant but, ultimately, unsustainable artificial environment. As plants within the terrarium grow, competition for space intensifies, turning the once-comfortable space into a struggle for survival. The metaphor extends to suburban America, where curated living conditions prioritize aesthetics over functionality, reflecting an impermanent American Dream.”

— Thomas Smith

 

Both of these exhibitions close 3/23/24.​

Jul 212023
 

“Precarious recline”, 2015, Found lawn chairs, strap, bottle

This sculpture, Precarious recline, is from Bjorn Copeland’s 2015 exhibition Over Easy at Various Small Fires Los Angeles. It was created using discarded furniture found around East Los Angeles.

The exhibition also included a sound sculpture, Scrambled Eggs, Mexican Radio Edit (2015).  It was made in collaboration with the artist’s Black Dice band mates Eric Copeland and Aaron Warren, and combined signals from multiple car radios in an unpredictable and erratic disharmony. The resulting composition was synthesized in real-time and constantly changing.

The video below is for White Sugar, from Black Dice’s 2021 album Mod Prog Sic.

Apr 202023
 

“Pink and green music”, 2023

“What we re-quire is…silence”, 2023

“Within the Lattice”, 2023

“An Ode to Hugs”, 2023

It’s the last week to see Kennedy Yanko’s exhibition, Humming on Life at Jeffrey Deitch gallery’s Wooster Street location.

Tonight, 4/20/23, she will be at the gallery discussing her work with Alteronce Gumby.

From the press release-

By employing paint skin and metal in ways that both transmute a bodily essence and reposition the weight of gravity, Kennedy Yanko wields materiality and abstraction with the possibility of intervening in the viewers’ perceptions. In Humming on Life, Yanko‘s first exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch, the artist continues this exploration.

Although the tactile quality and lyrical processuality of Yanko’s works emphasize their sculptural quality, the artist considers herself foremost a painter. In her new body of work, Yanko takes an approach to sculpture that reconnects it, and her, with painting. In recent years, the weathered paint and bruised patinas found on salvaged metal relics informed her palette for the paint skins. Now, the artist is introducing colors to the metal she finds. By painting the metal directly, underpainting, fire-cutting forms and compositions, and then crushing those new shapes, Yanko is expanding the definition of painting through her process. She remarks:

Working this way has been labor-intensive and has exposed me to sounds, like water thrashing inside a metal tank while cleaning it. Feeling that thrashing—hearing a power that felt like infinity incarnate—encouraged me to probe water as a medium and examine my intuitive method more closely, which seemingly only comes from physical exchange: input and output, expansion and contraction. In pulling water apart and becoming more curious about its behavior and participation, I’ve enjoyed revisiting the ways in which it’s a web of activation, a source, and information. It’s a cue and a salve and carries with it tinges of what it’s gone through.

What water did for me in that moment was to point back to the livingness of my medium — of the metal and paint skin I rely on — and wash away the binary between life and matter. Erasing this divide expands the possibility of experience; it gives materiality an abstract power that we yield to. It’s that vitality, found in color, form, attention and consciousness, that I hope this work can be a language for.

The “Illuminating Sound” presented apart of the exhibition, composed by Samuel Kareem, is derived from audio Yanko recorded while working in the yard. Kareem expanded one striation of sound within the clip—one small element he excavated from the layers of water, metal, paint and movement—and created 10 ten unique soundscapes. Each of the scapes corresponds with a sculpture within the show, and illuminates it. Listen to “Illuminating Sound” here.

Mar 022023
 

Artist Miguel Luciano– Vinyl banner from the public art project “Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio”, 2019 Image: Young Lords Member with Pallante Newspaper (1970)” by Hiram Maristany and “The People’s Pulpit” (2022), a repurposed vintage pulpit from the First Spanish Methodist Church in East Harlem.

Miguel Luciano- Vinyl banner from the public art project “Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio”, 2019 Image: Young Lords Member with Pallante Newspaper (1970)” by Hiram Maristany

 

Poor People’s Art: A (Short) Visual History of Poverty in the United States at USF Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa uses installations and artworks to tell the story of, and expand perspectives on, The Poor People’s Campaign- from its origins in the late 1960s to the present day form, as well as comment on poverty and other social issues. Both educational and engaging, it shows that despite long struggles and some progress, we are still very far from much needed social change, especially in regards to poverty.

The museum also produced a free full color, 48 page workbook that you can pick up there or download as a PDF that can be downloaded from their website.

From the gallery’s website-

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is well known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, yet much less emphasis is placed on his campaign to seek justice for America’s poor, “The Poor People’s Campaign.” This was a multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-racial movement aimed at uniting poor people and their allies to demand an end to poverty and inequality. Fifty-three years after Dr. King’s death, the Reverend William Barber II launched a contemporary push to fulfill MLK’s ambitious brief — one that calls for a “revolution of values” that unites poor and impacted communities across the country. The exhibition Poor People’s Art: A (Short) Visual History of Poverty in the United States represents a visual response to Dr. King’s “last great dream” as well as Reverend Barber’s recent “National Call for Moral Revival.”

With artworks spanning more than 50 years, the exhibition is divided into two parts: Resurrection (1968-1994) and Revival (1995-2022). Resurrection includes photographs, paintings, prints, videos, sculptures, books, and ephemera made by a radically inclusive company of American artists, from Jill Freedman’s photographs of Resurrection City, the tent enclave that King’s followers erected on the National Mall in 1968, to John Ahearns’ plaster cast sculpture Luis Fuentes, South Bronx (1979). Revival offers contemporary engagement across a range of approaches, materials, and points of view. Conceived in a declared opposition to poverty, racism, militarism, environmental destruction, health inequities, and other interlocking injustices, this exhibition shows how artists in the US have visualized poverty and its myriad knock-on effects since 1968. Participating artists include John Ahearn, Nina Berman, Martha De la Cruz, Jill Freedman, Rico Gatson, Mark Thomas Gibson, Corita Kent, Jason Lazarus, Miguel Luciano, Hiram Maristany, Narsiso Martinez, Adrian Piper, Robert Rauschenberg, Rodrigo Valenzuela, William Villalongo & Shraddha Ramani, and Marie Watt.

Below are some images from the show and the descriptions from the museum.

About the two works above from the museum’s walls-

A multimedia visual artist whose work explores themes of history, popular culture, and social justice, Miguel Luciano revisits the history of the Young Lords, a revolutionary group of young Puerto Rican activists who organized for social justice in their communities beginning in the late 1960s. Luciano’s first contribution to Poor People’s Art is a vinyl banner from the public art project Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio (2019), a collaboration with artist Hiram Maristany. It features the photograph “Young Lords Member with Pa’lante Newspaper (1970)” by Maristany, who was the official photographer of the Young Lords and a founding member of the New York chapter. This banner, along with nine other enlarged Maristany photographs, were installed throughout East Harlem at the same locations where their history occurred 50 years prior.

Luciano’s second contribution to Poor People’s Art is the sculpture The People’s Pulpit (2022), a repurposed vintage pulpit from the First Spanish Methodist Church in East Harlem. The Young Lords famously took over the church in 1969 and renamed it “The People’s Church”; they hosted free breakfast programs, clothing drives, health screenings, and other community services there. In this exhibition, The People’s Pulpit features an historic recording of Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri reciting the celebrated poem Puerto Rican Obituary during the Young Lord’s takeover of The People’s Church.

Placards created by USF Contemporary Art Museum students, faculty and staff

Martha De La Cruz, “Techo de Sin (Roof of Without)”, 2021, made from stolen, scavenged and donated materials found in Southwest Florida.

About the above work from the wall plaque-

Afro-Taino artist Martha De la Cruz fashioned her sculptural installation Techo de sin (Roof of Without), 2021, from stolen, scavenged and donated materials found in Southwest Florida. According to the artist, “Florida is home to a large population of Latin American migrants who have ended up in the US largely due to economic pressures, exploitation and veins of power etched by Europe and the US.” Her powerful work deals with the results of this disjunction and the “symptoms thereabouts (e.g. houselessness, fugitiv-ity, government corruption, and income disparity, etc.).” According to De la Cruz, the word “sin” is a common Dominican mispronunciation for the word “zinc.” The sculpture is animated by a single light bulb that turns on for just ten minutes a day.

Narsiso Martinez “Hollywood & Vine”, 2022

Jason Lazarus “Resurrection City /Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival / A Third Reconstruction”, 2023, plywood, utility fabric, blankets, sleeping cot, paint, lamp, plastic, research library, historical ephemera

From the wall plaque about the Lazarus installation-

Jason Lazarus’s sculptural installation Resurrection City/Poor People’s Campaign: A National call for Moral Revival/A Third Reconstruction (2023) is anchored in the artist’s historical research and several key photographs of Resurrection City. A tent-like shelter inspired by the temporary residences that populated the 1968 mass protest, the interactive sculpture contains simple sleeping quarters and a curated library filled with physical literature and ephemera centered on both the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, co-led by Rev. Dr.William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. The library allows for audiences to trace, listen, and talk about the history of advocating for the poor, from 1865 to the present. Additionally, the artist provides a custom transcription (and a QR hyperlink) to Barber’s 49-minute address on the syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club” in which he carefully outlines his powerful vision for how we might address poverty going forward.

Inside the Jason Lazarus installation

A book and magazine from Jason Lazarus’ installation floor

Mark Thomas Gibson, “Town Crier July 23rd”, 2021

Rico Gatson, “Audre #2”, 2021

Jill Freedman, “Poor People’s Campaign, Resurrection City” 1968

About Jill Freedman’s photograph-

In the spring of 1968, the talented young street photographer Jill Freedman quit her day job as a copywriter in New York City to join the Poor People’s March on Washington. Freedman lived in Resurrection City for the entire six weeks of the encampment’s existence, photographing its residents as they rallied, made speeches, protested in front of government buildings, confronted police, built makeshift kitchens, organized clothing swaps, and dealt with flooding, petty crime, and illness. One of the most important postwar documentarians, and one of the few women photographers of the era, Freedman captured it all. Freedman’s 2017 book, Resurrection City, 1968-from which this exhibition draws a dozen powerful images-showcases the photographs that she made as a participant in the original Poor People’s Campaign. In multiple ways, Freedman’s images are the sympathetic perch upon much of which much of the present exhibition loosely hangs.

This exhibition closes 3/4/23.

Feb 042023
 

Le’Andra LeSeur, “In Reverence (An Honoring)”, 2019

Le’Andra LeSeur, “There are other hues of blue”, 2019-2022 (ongoing)

Le’Andra LeSeur, “There are other hues of blue”, 2019-2022 (ongoing)

Le’Andra LeSeur, “The CD Man”, 2017

Le’Andra LeSeur, “Superwoman”, 2018

Spirit, Rhythm, BluesLe’Andra LeSeur’s exhibition at Gallery221@HCC Dale Mabry Campus is a multimedia exploration of life, death, and rebirth- all bathed in blue.

From the Gallery 221 website-

LeSeur’s body of work—a celebration of Blackness, queerness, and femininity—seeks to dismantle systems of power and achieve transcendence and liberation through perseverance. In “Spirit, Rhythm, Blues” at Gallery221@HCC, LeSeur’s installation encourages viewers to contemplate themes such as identity, family, grief and joy, the experience of invisibility, and the power of language.

From the Gallery 221 press release description of Superwoman

This video is a documentation of a self-baptism that took place in the summer of 2018. The work speaks to the cyclical process of the emotional “waves”- highs and lows- experienced in life. As LeSeur conducts the baptism Donny Hathaway’s rendition of Superwoman plays over the visual, and the words “Where were you when I needed you last winter” repeat as the video proceeds then visually plays out in reverse. The words in the song symbolize the internal struggle present when asking how we show up for ourselves during moments of transition and change. Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to be better or do better, those words bring us back to a place of understanding the importance of self-love in how we overcome and get back to a place of grounding and balance in our lives.

It is a moving piece and works well as a balance to the other video works that reference the police killings of Akai Gurley and Alton Sterling (The CD Man, 2017, pictured above).

This exhibition is on view until 3/2/23.

 

Dec 162022
 

Themes for a Left-Handed Pitcher”, 2021: “Still Life with Left-Handed Pitcher (04-06)”, 2021. serigraphy, pochoir, collage, acrylic ink, gouache on paper; “Left-Handed Pitcher Still Life (II)”, 2021. particle board, acrylic ink, concrete, polymer clay; “Perfect Games (Theme for a Left-Handed Pitcher)”, 2021. projected sound from single speaker. 9:00 min. (infinite loop)

While at Dunedin Fine Art Center to hear Ry McCullough’s talk, I was reminded of seeing this work at the USF Contemporary Art Museum last year as part of Skyway 20/21: A Contemporary Collaboration. The discussion was great and touched on a lot of interesting topics, especially around his use of collage.

From the gallery’s wall plaque about Themes for a Left-Handed Pitcher

Inspired by the perfect game Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Sandy Koufax threw against the Chicago Cubs in 1965, Themes for a Left Handed Pitcher engages compositional fielding of the domestic pitcher and black and white balls in a callback and comparative dialogue between sculptural objects and works on paper. Inviting playful and participatory discovery, the project includes an amplified palindromic sound score and a zine, which are both available to download. Interspersed with abstracted baseball references, the project evokes a change-up between the fabricated and found forms, the known and the unknown.

On McCullough’s website you can find the downloadable zine and the audio file mentioned in the description above and its a chance to check out more of his impressive collage pieces. For his most recent work, also check out his Instagram.

In addition to his independent practice, he is part of the collaborative project, small_bars, with artist Nick Satinover.

From the small_bars information page about the project-

Within their collaborative practice they explore the structural authority of their band name moniker, small_bars. This ambiguous name serves as an all-encompassing banner which simultaneously referencing pixels on a screen, lines of type of a letter press, halftone processes, and the physical clubs and venues their former bands played. As small_bars, McCullough and Satinover are able to generate a collection of collateral materials such as audio recordings, videos, printed ephemera, performative events, and structural arrangements, all of which support and expand the notion of what the moniker suggests. This collaborative effort seeks to use the form of a band-like entity to create a space where the acts of publishing, printing and performance co-exist.