Chip Southworth continues his lifelong exploration of art with faithful strokes
[“Anxiety,” mixed media on panel, 59 x 72]
One roadblock I have experienced in writing about art is the same impasse encountered when I am looking at that very thing: distance. My own personal volition in creating this blog was to celebrate and explore not only the arts in various forms but also to try and reveal the intentions, philosophies, histories and hopefully very lives of the equally diverse people who choose to create. I guess what I have been seeking is some kind of articulation of intimacy.
This entire STAREHOUSE experiment was based on a few very encouraging conversations with people I had either known from my past or had the good fortune to encounter during my brief tenure as the Arts and Entertainment Editor at Folio Weekly. After amicably resigning from the paper, folks like Staci Bu Shea, Tony Rodrigues and Rob DePiazza in particular were supportive to the point of demanding that I at least attempt to aim my writing directly into the blogosphere and I am publicly indebted to these three, as well as others who pushed me forward during a weird transition in my life. A short list of local artists I had wanted to write about soon became a longer list and I am as grateful for the small audience that reads these pieces as I am for the gleeful sense of freedom in handpicking who I wish to feature. And that list, penciled in a spiral bound notebook, thankfully continues to grow. The fact that they have let me and my questions into their studios, homes and humored me with some oppressively long phone conversations says as much about their generosity of spirit as it does about my own skills at lock-picking the hearts and minds of artists.
I say all this as a possibly overwrought disclaimer that my lack of neutrality in writing about Chip Southworth is indicative as much of my affection for the person and his art as it is my certain admission that I am still and forever not a journalist; just another person who loves art.
Photographer Masha Sardari reveals a realm of allegory and dream
[“with a bear by the hearth,” 2013]
The environmental landscapes of Masha Sardari are inhabited by waif-like women who are posed like ghosts caught in a sidelong glance, a snapshot glimpsed only in the dusk of the subconscious mind. An otherwise familiar realm of flora and fauna is seamlessly merged with a unique approach to rendering the female form; all anchored by narratives that touch on fairy tales and the darker emotional dominions of the human experience.
A trio of Northeast Florida artists offers a public viewing of recent works with an “Open Casket”
On Saturday, Feb. 9, Ryan Strasser, Dat Nguyen and Philip Cozma unveil their group show “Open Casket” at CoRK in the Riverside district. While these three artists have their own distinct and signature styles, they also seem to share some similarities in regards to delivering somewhat cryptic, or at least otherworldly, works of art that touch on the personal, political and playfully absurd. Continue reading
Thony Aiuppy makes 21st century visual mashups of the sacred, the profane and things in between
[“Doxology (The Bathers),” 48 × 36 inches, oil and acrylic on canvas]
Thony Aiuppy creates pieces that address everything from earthly terrorism to divine grace, sometimes within the same picture frame. Utilizing things like “found” or clip art of combat imagery and landscapes, Aiuppy makes oil canvases that address concepts such as ongoing social injustices as they are fueled by sources as disparate as the polymath spirituality of 19th
century Danish philosopher Søren
Kierkegaard to the gritty, paranoiac-fueled visions of contemporary NYC-bred author Don DeLillo.
Southlight Gallery presents the inventive work of three young artists on the rise
In the past decade, the local arts community has certainly participated in the greater global trend of artists blurring the lines between various media. While a term like “interdisciplinary” can sound clinical or even militaristic, the fact of the matter is that younger artists are increasingly surrendering to several styles, materials and techniques to create singular works of art. It is a trend that is probably based on inevitably more than fashion, honoring the very personal and even ephemeral nature of what we consider to be visual arts.
Southlight Gallery is documenting this phenomenon at the local level with their current exhibit “Mixed Messages: Selected Photographic Works and Prints by EV Krebs, Austin Moule, and Eileen Walsh.” The show is curated by acclaimed photographer Paul Karabinis, who is currently the Associate Professor of Photography at the University of North Florida.
Absurdity, identity and grace find union in the work of Jason John
(“Fissure,” oil on linen, 28″ by 32″)
Jason John combines the skills of an Old Master with a cutting edge, creative vision. Still in his early thirties, the painter creates pieces informed by a bulletproof understanding of a half millennium of visual arts. Utilizing classic techniques and the highly contemporary methods of photorealism, John gives the viewer purchase to strangely moving worlds featuring people that are bound by what he considers a kind of “nobility.” Adorned with junkyard crowns and surrounded by deliberate signifiers like shifting clouds and universally recognized still-life motifs like fruit and birds, the people in John’s paintings that can appear as poignant as they are ridiculous. Continue reading
Northeast Florida artists reflect on the 1980s
Ed Paschke (1939-2204) “Malibu,” 1984, oil on linen. Acquisition Trust Fund. MOCA Jacksonville Permanent Collection.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville is currently hosting the exhibit “ReFocus: Art of the 1980s” through January 6. The collection features works by eighties arts luminaries including David Salle, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman and Eric Fischl, along with works by influential predecessors such as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, David Hockney and James Rosenquist. MOCA has been offering some decent programming to coincide with the exhibit. Some of their choices have been sublime: Barbara Colaciello’s October 11th lecture chronicling her time working at Andy Warhol’s de facto art manufacturing plant The Factory was a resounding success. While other events, such as the Nov. 8th screening of the 1983 David Bowie-driven, new wave vampire suckfest known as “The Hunger,” veered towards the sappy.
The museum’s final 80s-themed event has the possibility of being the most interesting, if not community specific, of them all. This Saturday, Dec. 15 from 1-5 p.m., MOCA presents “MyFocus: A Community Response to the Art of the ‘80s” a unique panel discussion that features 11 members of the Northeast Florida arts scene. This free event allows these artists a chance to talk about specific pieces from the exhibit while also reflecting on their own lives during the decade that witnessed everything from the arrival of AIDS and Reaganomics, to the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of crack cocaine. Continue reading
Staci Bu Shea is arranging to take curatorial arts to the next level
(Staci Bu Shea photographed at Bold Bean Coffee on Sunday, Nov. 25.)
Social media, radical aesthetics and organizational savvy are mixed like alien colors on the conceptual palette of Staci Bu Shea. Since graduating from University of North Florida last year, the 24 year old South Florida native has channeled her youthful exuberance into an inventive and focused presence on the Northeast Florida arts scene. In roughly a year’s time, Bu Shea has arranged and presented seven shows featuring both local and national artists while also landing a notable gig as the personal assistant to artist-educator-environmentalist Jim Draper. And while her contemporaries explore better-known disciplines such as painting, photography or sculpture, Bu Shea finds her calling in the specialized realm of curatorial arts. Yet within that highly academic field’s seemingly mundane demands of organization, overseeing, management and inventorying, Bu Shea uncovers new strategies and solves compositional problems, armed with highly 21st century ideas like pluralism, relational art and social formations. And while most curators are almost bound to be associated with one organization such as a museum or gallery, Bu Shea seems most excited in taking the curatorial arts figuratively and literally to the streets; in her piece “Subsidence on Forbes,” Bu Shea turned a Riverside sinkhole into a temporary art exhibit and an organic commentary on themes like impermanence and government hypocrisy. Bu Shea is most inspired by the blur that occurs when philosophy merges with art theory, yet she is also as enamored of the traditionally tactile pleasures of producing catalogs or even custom-made, letter pressed business cards. Continue reading
Overstreet Ducasse chronicles secret realms through the prism of popular culture
(a work from Overstreet Ducasse’s recent series, “Rock Paper Scissors.”)
Symbols, identities and dreams all merge in the visionary work of Overstreet Ducasse. The 37 year old Riverside based artist creates highly engaging works that address everything from politics and religion to national identity, yet rather than issuing his messages with the heavy hand of a zealot, Ducasse instead creates compositions that are guided more by a soft secrecy, a personally defined order of ciphers, logos and archetypes. Born in Haiti, at the age of six Ducasse moved to South Florida with his family. Encouraged by his parents to pursue his obvious childhood skills at illustration, in his adolescent years Ducasse began utilizing various paints to express his burgeoning creative desires. While in his late teens and early twenties, Ducasse discovered the music and mythology of the NYC hip hop pedagogues known as the Wu-Tang Clan, who he credits with inspiring not only his work but even subsequent life philosophy and worldview.
While Ducasse is quick to dismiss the comparison, visually his work finds some affinity with the Surrealist movement of the early 20th century. Faceless figures and grinning celebrities are juxtaposed alongside religious and occult-like icons, as objects as disparate as batteries, food and familiar product brands are seemingly chosen for their numerological and metaphysical values. Yet unlike the at times-rigid or manifesto-driven work of those same cerebral predecessors, Ducasse seems more directed by his recurring motifs and concepts by way of a loose and ever-changing system that is expressed in the form of various series. Continue reading
“Deformance Artist” Liz Gibson cuts a striking figure of creative empowerment
(Liz Gibson as “Three Legged Fox”)
Confessional storytelling, visual art and full-blown imaginative possession disguised-as-performance seek union in the world of Liz Gibson. The self-described “Deformance Artist” uses characters like Three Legged Fox and Ben Wa Betty to invite the audience into captivating events that chronicle Gibson’s personal life story of deformity while touching on universal themes of alienation, adversity and ultimately hope. A native of Western Pennsylvania, the 38 year old artist and educator was born with a deformed right hand featuring two fingers. Over the past decade plus, it is a disability that Gibson has explored, celebrated and even fetishized to the point of that word’s original definition – imbuing her body’s unique story with an almost mystical fervor that is tempered by the artist’s inquisitive, personable and humorous nature. Her two most summoned characters are extreme dual archetypes of Gibson’s interior realm sent out to explore our world. Three Legged Fox is Gibson’s tender persona, an innocent suddenly realizing that she is not like the other children. Ben Wa Betty is the sexualized form of that same self-conscious sense of difference, a brash adolescent intent on shocking and even terrifying the audience. Gibson creates these characters from the ground up, spending months writing the original script, planning what she calls an “immersive experience” with an obsessive attention to detail that ranges from tirelessly rehearsing her lines to designing and making her own costumes.