“Drunken Angels”

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  • July 9, 2015

May 16 – June 22

“They manifest a nature’s sublimity. That is why Gabriel is represented with wings. Not that angels have wings, but that you may know that they leave the heights and the most elevated dwelling to approach human nature.” – Saint John Chrysostom, speaking of angels“

Some kind of savior singing the blues/a derelict in your duct tape shoes/Your orphan clothes and your long dark hair/looking like you didn’t care/drunken angel” – from lyrics to “Drunken Angel” by Lucinda Williams

While none of the artists in this exhibition have a drinking problem, wings, nor do they wear duct tape shoes (though all of the painters in the show do combine non-traditional material in their work), their works, created in different regions of the county, cross boundaries of race, age, education and gender.

Each artist works with a variety of materials and scale.The stories Brickhouse tells are made all the more powerful by the intimacy of his jewel-like scale; a mythology made personal. Dial creates assemblages regarding race, politick and religion, which weigh as much as 300 lbs. Schwartz’s physicality is best served by formats that allows for gestures that are the length of her own body, which speak to “truths” she arrives at out of the dialogue with herself. And Young, who painted on and with whatever material he could find, tells stories of sexuality and deep personal struggle.

They all share a painting practice defined by an “attack” that is physically immediate, a discipline that is slow, and victories that are hard-fought and arrived at over long periods spent reworking their surfaces. This level of transformation for each painter’s practice and process, coupled with their authentic, desperate urgency to tell a story of great personal meaning, builds and gives birth to imagery – modified, adjusted over long periods – that charges these works with universal meanings and narratives so deeply personal that we intuit the works’ content, enter their transformative practice, and are moved in ways we don’t fully understand, but most certainly feel deeply.

Their initial approach to their painting may be rapid, direct, violent, passionate, drunk with materiality and the process of painting, but the stories they are whispering to themselves (and sharing with the viewer), are created through countless hours of small revisions and adjustments. They are created with an intimacy so delicate, the paintings flutter with the “touch of angel wings”; to leave the heights and the most elevated dwelling to approach human nature. Angels drunk on the act of painting, carnal in their physicality, sacred in the search for that honest moment, “manifesting a natures sublimity”.

Michael David
May 3, 2014