This is what I was thinking.
These were my intentions.
And this is how it turned out.
I’ve given enough history about my past endeavors so I won’t burden you with that. Please explore SUGAR’s website, “about” and “history”, if you need to be filled in. I’ll just start at this current exhibit and how it came about; it’s quirks, and what works — for me.
I will, however, tell you how I came to writing about this exhibit (installation) and the decision to critique and write about future shows at SUGAR. A patron visited SUGAR one day (her second visit, second show); she is a critic, educator, curator, and consultant. She’s also an art’s journalist, copywriter, and a kind, honest and really fucking cool person. I found her by searching for the kind of writer I wanted to write about SUGAR, as well as someone who would simply follow SUGAR’s footsteps should this endeavor be headed into the distant future.
She arrived at the time scheduled and I gave her time to herself to view the show. I prepared some corn bread and made me a cup of coffee. I offered her a cup and she had just had one. She viewed the exhibit and then settled on the mid section of the chase lounge chair in the living area. We talked about several things (all important and critical in my book, even if some of it was about hair and finding the right stylist). Most critical however, we talked about her writing about This Much IS True. She stated that there were some aspects of the exhibit she did not like, and writing a negative review would not serve anyone, plus the editors would not be interested any which way (This is not a quote mind you, just how I remember it, or how it felt.). Bottom line, I think, she needed to write something that an editor would pay for, and this exhibit was not it.
Late this past summer I invited Eliza Swann to participate in SUGAR’s anniversary show. I was most interested in her videos, and photographs (stills). Her artwork is unlike others that I have exhibited at SUGAR. I’m envious of her uninhibited playfulness. Her aesthetics has a beautiful warm palette with a vintage silent film-like quality. Upon a studio visit she showed me two artworks incorporating mirrors and lenses. I was impressed with the concepts of these objects, but curious of the construction (this left me a little apprehensive to show them). I decided to give them the benefit of my doubt. The disinterest in craftsmanship and technical details had a nice contrast, and harmony, with the other artworks I had in mind by the other artists for this group show. So, I invited the mirrors in. We selected a few photographs and the two objects. I would narrow it down once I had gathered all of the works from the other artist.
I had been looking at Christy Singleton’s work for several months; I liked her motives and inspiration, materials and process. I was considering her work with Eliza’s, mostly on a surface level, pure aesthetics. I later came to appreciate how opposite their works derivatives are. Eliza is more metaphysical and mystic (statement) while Christy’s is pure physical and heartening (statement). Though I was fonder of Christy’s silicone works I accepted, with admiration, her Hershel and Clair of plaster, foam, wire, and plastic bags. The stippled plaster was echoed on Eliza’s masked hypnotized subjects. I have grown equally fond of Hershel and Clair since living with them for over a month now. Christy’s hanging hardware/solution is equally raw and confident and prevalent in appearance. I dig it. Her skills and intentions are evident in this artwork, on Hershel’s smooth complexion and glossy red lips, with drips defying gravity, and in the peach pit of Claire’s grocery bagged bosoms. A headed traffic cone screams silently, to boot. I wanted Hershel and Clair to follow Eliza’s dazed and whimsical subjects.
I have been aware of Luisa Kazanas’ work since I was first introduced to her monoprints. I included them in a show I took to Indiana titled Town Hall Meeting. I brought Luisa’s current work into this group show because it presents an understanding of the psychology encompassing the good…the how to, on a mindful level. “Held” by a skinny stick the chalkboard-like mass of suggested “rules”, presented with carpenter like skills in an elementary format, pull you in like a good teacher, upon reading. However, there’s no end and no beginning because you started in the middle. You then begin to hear a voice loud and clear reciting what you are reading and it turns out to be your own (in your head), attempting to carve what you just read into stone. Luisa’s work comes from “here” (pointing to the head). Not “there” (pointing to the universe) or “here” (pointing to the gut). The title of her artwork I Want Everyone to Win is sincere. I wanted this artwork to follow the “brutal honesty” of Hershel and Clair.
Then there’s me, Wendaferd Gregory, pseudonym for Gwendolyn Skaggs. It’s both tricky and sticky including oneself into a show at your own art space. But I did. For the one-year anniversary exhibit I wanted to make an artwork that exhibited the trials and tribulations of having and running such an endeavor in our living space. Glitter is the New Grass is an artwork about the labor, complexities, challenges, and satisfaction of maintaining and establishing an art exhibition space within a live/work environment, and the ability to present this act as an installation with the integrity of the “conventional gallery” and how doing so is somewhat of an invasion to our personal space. Making way to cut each hole in each closet without disturbing much of the immediate and neighboring surroundings was apropos, as was hitting my head on the pipe when retrieving something from the closets. The chair is evidence of items pushed out due to the need of more space. Balanced precariously against the wall with a glitter covered cracked seat the chair threatens to fall forward. A tricky situation when anyone desires to look through the protruding pipe to see what’s on the other side, and not knowing if they should or should not explore. I carefully placed blue glitter directly under the chairs seat crack into the cracks of the floor, like a Tibetan Buddhist making a sand mandala. For this, I wanted Glitter is the New Grass to follow I Want Everyone to win. I also like having it across from Eliza’s artwork, because as she says in her statement “The Oraculum purports that illogicality and nonsense can be the catalyst for truths of great profundity.”
So, this is how it turned out. There are some things I don’t like about this show. Mostly details that I feel influence the whole. This is the first show I relaxed on a few things, and the first show I had to monitor throughout. A lot of technical things were not addressed by the artists and poor construction or installing caused some malfunctions. I wish Eliza’s photographs had been mounted so they were not wavy or buckling. I wish a contemporary frame with a simple clean line had been used. The existing frames (refurbished ornamental) are a distraction. The implied periods say nothing and the quality even less. For me, the images speak volumes and the frames deadened the message a bit. I struggled with this prior to installing but I allowed the artists to make this decision, at some point I felt I had to give the artist “room”. I figured why force an artist ahead of their time in the studio. Some things have to come on ones own terms to be fully understood, and I can greatly appreciate this. Not even halfway into the exhibits run however, the one mirror artwork that made it into the show fell twice. The second time it broke, so I removed it and re-photographed the exhibit for the website as if it never existed. Luisa’s piece threatened many times to remove itself from the wall but due to my diligent surveillance I recognized the artworks unintentional convexity and put pressure where needed to those wise words.
All of this is process. And the bottom line is, this exhibit fucking rocks. And it IS the mix of resolved and unresolved issues that I want to continue to bring forth and juxtapose. I don’t place judgment on the results of where an artist is on his/her path when it comes to the end product. I can see past that. I am interested in the potential of an artwork. As it is in the now, for both the artist and it’s time. Like a given moment is to a photographer and the decision and choice to capture it. SUGAR is an alternative space and not because of the zip code. But because I do believe the (co) existence of improbable possibilities is a real and necessary idea. This is risk. I realize that a lot of the decision-making process for creating these installations is internal and twisted like a colon, from the gut. And sometimes I can’t verbally decipher it all, nor am I obligated to. I am more interested in presenting questions rather than answers.
SUGAR is about more than CV’s. It’s about more than the wanting for a video interview placed down my throat. It’s about more than being a “pick”, or a prick. It’s about exploring the nature of art and the artist, this much is true.