Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Info:

Monday, October 5, 2015


JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY Featured in Traverse Magazine


Independent Newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis ||| GUNS IN THE HANDS OF ARTISTS

Danielle’s ARTicles: ‘Guns in the Hands of Artists’
Danielle Leventhal

When guns are placed in the hands of artists, most of them aim towards their viewers’ hearts and minds. At least that’s what the participants in the Des Lee Gallery’s current show, “Guns in the Hands of Artists” did. Stepping through the doors of the Washington University-owned off-campus gallery space, I suddenly came face-to-face with a 21-foot long circular swoop of welded steel holding a 9mm machine pistol.

photo courtesy of Madeleine Underwood

A couple of weeks earlier, at around 1 a.m. in my apartment on Washington Avenue, my friends and I heard six gunshots ring through a nearby alley. We compared these powerful, deafening pops to the heavy fireworks on Art Hill that had startled us just a week before. None of us grew up in places where it was normal to see or hear guns unless it was in movies or media. It was a vexing reality. We sat for hours together, our ears pressed against the wall, hoping for the sirens to fade or for a note from the Washington University Police Department that it was safe to sleep before realizing there was nothing we could do. I’m pretty sure those sounds smashed through the Wash. U. bubble that I have lived so comfortably in for the past three years. I hadn’t been able to shake the reverberating sounds from my mind ever since. Little did I know that those bullet sounds were nothing compared to the jolt and internal response I would receive by entering a gallery space filled with guns.

The piece that I initially noticed was “Open Carry,” a comment on the endless capacity of guns. The steel is shaped in a circular clip to symbolize the never-ending violence and cyclical nature of this weapon. It was created by Brian Borrello, the man who jumpstarted the Guns in the Hands of Artists project in the 1990s when the New Orleans, La., murder rate hit a high. The show was originally put together by the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, first exhibited in 1996 and again this past year before traveling to many other locations around the country. Decommissioned guns were removed from the streets of New Orleans and handed to artists to use as material in their work with one goal: to create conversation about guns and gun violence in our society.

Although the first show sparked a response in the news and in art spaces around the nation, the issue of guns was not solved, and may not be for generations to come. Eighteen years later, curator Jonathan Ferrara decided to give it another “shot,” so to speak. He partnered with the New Orleans Police Department to collect 186 guns from their gun buy-back program and distributed these firearms to over 30 internationally recognized artists of various mediums. Since last year, the New Orleans-based exhibition has jumped around the country, landing here in St. Louis for the next two months. “Guns in the Hands of Artists” takes another small step toward generating productive dialogue at the Des Lee Gallery. It was brought to St. Louis in conjunction with Wash. U.’s yearlong initiative, “Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis,” run by the Institute for Public Health and the Brown School of Social Work.

photo courtesy of Madeleine Underwood

These guns have certainly been repurposed into conversation starters in the context of an art space—viewers can talk about these potent power objects in a less political environment. Most striking to me were the pieces where the artists have forced their audiences to stare straight into the barrels of their decommissioned guns. Mel Chin’s two concrete sculptures look like simple portraits of a man and woman at first glance, placed in the back left corner of the first viewing room in the gallery. But when you inevitably walk by the sculptures, you’ll find the handles of two dark revolvers protruding from the backs of these classically shaped heads. In his pieces, including “Arthur,” Chin has positioned these guns into the portraits of two famous criminals so that when you look into their empty eyes, you’re staring straight down the barrels of the weapons embedded in their being and culture.

A panel was held at the Sam Fox School the day after the show opened to trigger the dialogue. Mediated by artist and former St. Louis police officer Terrell Carter, gallery owner Jonathan Ferrara, original New Orleans organizer Brian Borrello, exhibition artists Ron Bechet and Margaret Evangeline and associate professor Bob Hansman, it discussed the show’s goals to stimulate an action for change in its audience. Hansman commented particularly on this issue in the City of St. Louis and reiterated that this show must reach further than just the audience that can view the artwork.

“It bothers me that we can’t take this more personally than we do. It’s not about just forming an opinion. I want everyone to go do something after seeing the show,” Hansman said. “My goal is very personal. I want to see my kids live.”

The effectiveness of the show relies on its accessibility to community and our ability to spread the word.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at a piece by Luis Cruz Azaceta titled “Street Sign” that read: “No Dying Here Anytime Between 7am to 7pm.” Does this refer to the gallery space or to St. Louis in general? Either way, it sends a powerful message. Azaceta claims in his artist statement that “what sustains [him] as an artist is the belief that art has the power to awaken compassion and hope.” The curators of this show, as well as community members and teachers who have brought it to St. Louis, hope to teach younger generations that there are other ways of accessing the power that they need than by purchasing a gun; The creative power of the artists exhibited needs to be discussed as much as possible.

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY || booth 408 || Texas Contemporary Art Fair 2015

The gallery is proud to have been selected to exhibit, for the fourth consecutive year, at Texas Contemporary Art Fair. The fair returns to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston's historic downtown district this October 1 - 4 with exciting new programs and sixty leading galleries from around the world. Building on its years of success as the region's leading art fair, Texas Contemporary's fifth edition will afford new opportunities for engagement with the city's thriving arts community.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Press Release for Brian Guidry's 'Invisible Ping' Exhibition

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to announce Invisible Ping, new paintings and collage by artist BRIAN GUIDRY. The exhibition will be on view in the main gallery from 1 through 31 October 2015 with an opening reception on Saturday, 3 October from 6-9pm. For his debut solo exhibition at the gallery, Guidry unveils a suite of work three years in the making. Seemingly digitally produced with their stark lines and pulsating hues, his paintings portray an abstracted view of nature. Guidry creates a duality in the exhibition with the inclusion of his representational collages. The still life imagery in these works tussle with the graphic cut-lines of the artist’s hand, echoing the lines in the paintings. The collages offer a reference point for the paintings; working in tandem to share a view and experience of the unseen, an Invisible Ping. 
Guidry says of his work . . . 
The invisible world around us is not what it seems. Surreal and sometimes bordering on science fiction, my work seeks to illuminate this invisible landscape of energy pathways.  I see these conduits as they relate to modes of communication, transportation, locomotion and concrete spaces. I have always had a tendency to create artwork that is in some sense a recording of these imperceptible subjects, whether physical or conceptual.

Many of my works begin as an idea —a kernel of information, a flaw or imperfection that precipitates growth. I usually work on several bodies of work concurrently, each emerging with its own media and process.

In my paintings I use a very specific color palette sampled from a wide variety of natural sources in the landscape/environment and from flora in particular: reflections from water, festering storm clouds, fronds, sugar cane, exhausted foliage, flowers, lichens, soil... The colors, which I rigorously match, are blended on-site (plein-air). The samples are then taken into the studio where I mix larger quantities of these matched colors. I use these colors as my primary palette and have a collected hundreds of samples. By injecting these "natural" colors into the geometric planes and constructions, the created shapes and voids suggest portals and slips in time and space where the viewer is lead over the precipice of the normal, into the magical realism of the uncanny, peculiar and quantum.

Collage has also always been a part of my art making practice. The floral “re-arrangements” are constructed from found lithographs, which are cut up and “re-arranged”.  These re-arrangements stem from a fascination with still life painting, vanitas and imagery alike. My intentions are not to create perplexing symbolism but rather to exploit the colors, shapes and textures of these cut-up lithographs to create an anomaly that speaks to our memories and reconstructed experience.  Perhaps these arrangements also function as receivers and transmitters of information, not unlike the artificial trees and cacti along the highways which double as radio and communication devices.

A native of South Louisiana, Brian Guidry was born in New Iberia, Louisiana. He earned his BFA from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and his MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Selected exhibitions include; The Bronx Museum in New York; Gana Art Space, Seoul, Korea; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans; The Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans and the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. His work has been featured and discussed in The New York Times,Time Out Chicago, Art Forum, The Times-Picayune, Gambit Weekly, Pelican Bomb, and New American Paintings. His work is in the collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art; The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA.; National College of Arts--Lahore, Pakistan; New York Public Library, New York, NY; Pratt Institute Library, Brooklyn, NY; and Paul & Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette, LA.  He lives and works in Lafayette, Louisiana and is represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery.

For more information, press or sales inquiries please contact the gallery director Matthew Weldon Showman at 504.522.5471 or email

Press Release for Monica Zeringue's 'Absence and Presence' Exhibition

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to announce Absence and Presence, new drawings and paintings by artist MONICA ZERINGUE.  The exhibition will be on view in the centre gallery from 1 through 31 October 2015 with an opening reception on Saturday, 3 October from 6-9pm in conjunction with Art For Arts’ Sake, a city-wide kick-off to the Art Season in New Orleans. For her second solo-exhibition at the gallery, the artist continues her “Goddesses and Monsters” series while honing in on lunar iconography. Known for her self-reflexive and mythical drawings, Zeringue shifts her concentration from the female figure and turns to the phases and form of the moon and its cultural associations, prevalent in society tracing back to ancient divination, religion, language, calendaring, and art.
Zeringue says of her new work . . . 
My use of the moon as a subject in my new work began as an extension of the mythology-based images of my most recent work.  Rather than using the image as part of a larger allegory, I decided to use color and texture to explore the mystical and cultural connections we have to this heavenly body.

In the oil paintings, the Blood Moons and Flesh Moon, I wanted to make the connection between the moon and the body, the moon and the feminine.  The surface of the moon is rendered to look like flesh, pink and wet, with craters that look like wounds and birthmarks, and hair sewn onto the surface. My exploration of these references continues in the moon cycle series, rendered in graphite on primed linen, I chose 8 phases to represent the full lunar month.  The moon grows, diminishes, dies, and then is reborn.  Here, my interest lies in how that repeating pattern relates to the cycles in our own lives— in the grand scale of human history, in an individual’s life and death, and especially in the small endings and beginnings in everyday life.  Hope and anticipation can be found in the young, growing moon, and loss, longing and fear as the moon wanes. I am particularly interested how endings bring about new beginnings.  The dark moon is called a new moon, so the completion of the cycle is really a birth.

In each individual moon I finish with hand-sewn beads to play with the tension between the light and shadow.  Shiny beads reflect light back to the viewer, much like the moon, whose glow is dependent on an outside source.  Dark, light-absorbing matte beads define craters and shapes on the shadowed side in an almost obsessive attempt to remember and recreate what is lost. Positive and negative spaces are given equal attention, as is the border between the two. Absence and presence.  Both are vital to the mystical nature of the moon.

Monica Zeringue received her MFA from the University of New Orleans in 2006, and her BA in 1993. In 1999 she was awarded the Prix de l'Acadamie de Paris, Societe Internationale des Beaux-Arts. She has exhibited her work at the Meadows Museum of Art, Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, Dishman Art Museum and the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, and numerous gallery solo exhibitions in New Orleans since 1999. Her artwork was featured in the New American Paintings 2011 and 2013. Her work has been exhibited at various art fairs including Texas Contemporary, Miami Project art fair for Art Basel Miami Beach, and VOLTA 10 in Basel, Switzerland. Most recently, Zeringue was one of only 25 artists nationwide to recieve of the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painter and Sculptor Grant. 

Zeringue's work is included in various public and private collections worldwide, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Diane and Sandy Besser collection, Frederick R Weisman Art Foundation Collection, Los Angeles, CA, the Alexandria Museum of Art, Alexandria, LA, the Arts Council of New Orleans, Collection of Thomas and Dathel Coleman, New Orleans, and Collection of Donna and Ben Rosen, New York. Zeringue lives and works in New Orleans, LA and is represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery.

For more information, press or sales inquiries please contact the gallery director Matthew Weldon Showman at 504.522.5471 or email

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Panel Discussion || Guns in the Hands of Artists || Washington University in St. Louis

In collaboration with Washington University's Office of the Provost, and in conjunction with Guns In The Hands of Artists, this panel discussion will feature gallery owner Jonathan Ferrara and artists Brian Borrello, who collaborated to mount the original exhibition. They will be joined by artists Ron Bechet and Margaret Evangeline, whose work is featured in the exhibition, and Bob Hansman, associate professor in the Sam Fox School, Gephardt Community Engagement Fellow, and prominent community activist. Moderator Terrell Carter, an artist, community developer, and former St. Louis City police officer, will lead a conversation on how the transformation of these once deadly weapons can create a space for poignant commentary, challenging viewers to think in a totally new way.

During the event, Saint Louis Story Stitchers artists and teens will present two new songs in a live premiere performance. The songs, entitled Not Another 1 and Gun Shots!!, were written and produced at the Stitchers Storefront Studio in the Loop District under the direction of Story Stitchers music director K.P. Dennis. In addition, as a tribute to the people lost to gun violence in the St. Louis community, Story Stitchers Collective member Mario Miles-Turnage, a violinist and music education major at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, will perform His Eye Is on the Sparrow, written in 1905 by Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel.

As part of Washington University's year-long initiative Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis, the Sam Fox School hopes to engage partners and collaborators in taking a hard look at the serious, tragic public health consequences of gun violence in America. Through programs such as this panel discussion, individuals and communities will have unique opportunities to engage in the conversation about guns in our society, using art as the catalyst for dialogue.