Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Info:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

press release ::: SKYLAR FEIN --- 'Strike Anywhere'

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to announce, Strike Anywhere, an exhibition of the latest work by artist SKYLAR FEIN in his ongoing ‘Giant Metal Matchbook’ series. The exhibition will also feature a special presentation of the artist’s collaboration with New Orleans street artist MRSA entitled Children of the Night. The exhibition will be on view Wednesday 1 April through 30 May 2015. The gallery will host first Saturday artist receptions on 4 April and 2 May from 6-9pm.

Fein is best known for his large-scale installations, including Remember the Upstairs Lounge, an exhibit during Prospect.1 that threw a spotlight on a little-known chapter of history. The 1973 arson fire at a gay bar in the French Quarter is still the deadliest attack against gay people on record. But here, in Strike Anywhere, the Bronx-born artist turns to something on a more intimate level.

Fein says of the ‘Giant Metal Matchbooks’ series…
Why matchbooks? It reflects the artist’s love of pop culture, its vibrancy and also its accidental depth and poignancy. “A common object is a perfect meeting place.” That’s a Claes Oldenburg quote, and it’s still true—the most banal objects, aren’t.

Obviously Claes Oldenburg’s giant sculptures are forerunners, along with a dash of Warhol’s Brillo boxes and a side of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." The aluminum matchbooks open up, revealing—yes, giant wooden matches, with realistic (rubber) match heads. 

Do they light? Not exactly. But they burn.

Children of the Night is a collaboration between Fein and New Orleans street artist MRSA, member of several local graffiti crews including: Young Rectums, Tweenz Kult, and Illegal Trouble. The two artists have actually worked together for years, but this is their first outing of any kind on a gallery wall. Here they make wood reliefs that run from mythic and figurative to formal and starkly abstract. The work reflects MRSA’s interest in the “fantastical” with content from “all persuasions of mythology -- Greek, Christian, Roman, Nordic and more.” In his graffiti, he starts with myth, then "adds chaos to disrupt the known patterns.” The mash up between the graffiti artist’s oddly classical inspiration and the studio artist’s oddball-outsider methodology is a pleasing one, and we expect this brief experiment to yield more fruit with time.

SKYLAR FEIN was born in Greenwich Village and raised in the Bronx. He has had many careers including teaching nonviolent resistance under the umbrella of the Quakers, working for a gay film festival in Seattle, stringing for The New York Times and as pre-med student at University of New Orleans where he moved one week before Hurricane Katrina hit.

In the wreckage of New Orleans, Fein found his new calling as an artist, experimenting with color and composition of the detritus of Katrina. His work soon became known for its pop sensibility as well as its hard-nosed politics. After a few starring roles in group shows, he had his first solo show in May 2008 at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans.

In the fall of 2008, his Prospect.1: Biennial installation, "Remember the Upstairs Lounge," shined a spotlight on an overlooked piece of New Orleans history: a fire that swept through a French Quarter bar in 1973, killing everyone inside. The worst fire in New Orleans history has never been solved. His installation walked visitors right through the swinging bar doors, and offered visual riffs on politics and sexuality circa 1973. The piece was praised in ArtForum, Art In America, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker, among others. In late 2009, Fein had his first solo museum show, "Youth Manifesto," at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The exhibition was an ode to punk rock as a force for social and cultural upheaval. True to form, the opening reception was shut down by police responding to the look of the unlikely art-going crowd.

In March 2010, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery presented Fein's solo installation, “Skylar Fein: Rise of the Youth Front" at VOLTA Art Fair in New York during Armory Week. This installation drew thousands of people and delved into revolutionary politics past and present, a continuing theme in Fein's work.  In May 2010, Fein was invited by the New York curatorial project No Longer Empty to recreate his "Remember the Upstairs Lounge" installation in a vacant Chelsea space.  The exhibition, once again, drew thousands of visitors and sparked renewed interest in this piece of history. In September 2011, Fein exhibited over eighty new works in his solo exhibition Junk Shot at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans. This exhibition embodied this artist’s turn towards formalism and art historical reference while maintaining Fein’s iconic sensibilities and aesthetic. Fein's solo exhibition "Beckett at War" in September 2012 at C24 Gallery in Chelsea was praised by The Village Voice as one of the top ten exhibitions of the year in New York. He then followed up with his November 2013 installation of "The Lincoln Bedroom" which received wide media attention. Fein unveiled his “Giant Metal Matchbook” series in his 2014 solo exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery. Since then, the series has been exhibited nationally at art fairs such as, Miami Project for Art Basel Miami Beach, Texas Contemporary, and artMRKT San Francisco, and has continued to gain momentum in rave reviews and collector acquisitions.

Skylar Fein was the recipient of a 2009 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award and his work is in several prominent collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, The Louisiana State Museum, The Birmingham Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, curators Dan Cameron and Bill Arning, and collectors Beth Rudin DeWoody, Lance Armstrong, Lawrence Benenson, Brooke Garber-Neidich, Stephanie Ingrassia and Thomas Coleman.

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

press release ::: DAVID BUCKINGHAM --- 'Strong Medicine'

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to present, Strong Medicine, a new exhibition of found-metal sculpture by Los Angeles-based artist DAVID BUCKINGHAM. The exhibition will be on view Wednesday 1 April through 30 May 2015. The gallery will host first Saturday artist receptions on 4 April and 2 May from 6-9pm.

Strong Medicine features Buckingham’s continuing self-excavation of a deep vein of personal memories that constitute the majority of his work. Inspiration can come from any direction: rock & roll, colorful slang, an audacious comment, even an outrageous flight of fancy.  The artist gathers a handful of these seemingly random ideas and combines them into a cogent whole, bringing them to life from colorful found metal, gathered from the California desert. 

Buckingham says of the latest suite of work…
It all came together like this. Got a show in New Orleans. Went to work. Thought about stuff. Started kicking metal around. Thinking. Scheming. Plotting. Remembered seeing DAVE TURGEON and The Sluts in the 80s. Led to distant memory of nights at CBGB+OMFUG. Heard a ZAPPA song on the radio, then a KINKY story from a VANILLA friend. Someone asked WHERE'D YOU GO TO SCHOOL? Told same someone to SHUT UP. Laughed when recalling THE WORLD ACCORDING TO RAY KELLY. Muttered MEH! under breath. Then I got busy. With sparks. Noise. Blood Fire. Now I'm done. Enjoy.

Raised in New Orleans and a traveler of various worlds, DAVID BUCKINGHAM received a degree in Communications, career in survival.  With his advertising background, Buckingham worked at agencies in Boston, New York, Australia, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In the early 90’s he met “Cowboy” Ray Kelly, who had started a Lower East Side movement called Rivington School, a group of anarchist welders and poets who had taken over an abandoned lot on Rivington Street and built unconventional scrap metal towers. In 1999 he arrived in Los Angeles and began to weld in earnest, and his career snowballed from there. 

Buckingham became obsessed with making art; venturing into the Mojave, he discovered tons of old, battered colorful metal- ancient cars, trucks, hay balers, rice threshers, school buses- and began to work exclusively with those materials.  Having spent 20 years as a professional advertising writer; text and words play an important role in his work. Lines from movies are one vein of his work, reflecting the major business role movies play in LA and their pervasive impact on our cultural identity.  Mass culture that has been pounded into his head for over 45 years now comes spewing out in creative rushes.  Cartoon sound effects, guns of infamous assassins, text lines from movies and famous sayings all created from the man-made detritus of a desert landscape.

Naturally, Buckingham’s work is in the collections of several Hollywood luminaries in addition to other prominent collections. These collectors include Steven Bochco, Josh Groban, Gwen Stefani, Harrison Ford, Seth Rogen, Perez Hilton, Prada/Milan and the Cisneros Foundation.

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

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY Named One of the Best 25 Galleries in the Nation for 2015 III American Art Awards

18th Annual NO DEAD ARTISTS International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Art [installation view]

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY revealed as one of American Art Awards' 25 Best Galleries in The Nation for 2015.  All 25 Galleries have now been announced and can be viewed on


JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY at upcoming San Francisco Art Fair

SKYLAR FEIN, IBM (The Selectric II Typewriter), 2015, painted aluminum, wood, rubber

Art Market San Francisco's fifth edition welcomes back many ​of our ​esteemed exhibitors​,​ and ​we're thrilled to announce the participation of new galleries from around the country. ​Highlights include Catharine Clark Gallery's exhibition of Deborah Oropallo, Timothy Cummings and Chinese born sculptor Wanxin Zhang. Nancy Hoffman Gallery's presentation will include Hung Liu mixed media, Joseph Raffael watercolor,​ ​and Colette Calascione oil on linen. Brian Gross Fine Art will feature the Robert Arneson bronze, Untitled (ME), 1991. ​Rena Bransten Projects will show work by Nobuyuki Takahashi. ​Other exhibitor highlights include​ Jonathan Ferrara Gallery's exhibition of a hand cut road map installation by Nikki Rosato and work by Skylar Fein as well as presentations by​ Forum Gallery, ​Paul Thiebaud Gallery, and first-time Art Market San Francisco exhibitor Joshua Liner Gallery. ​Our fifth edition will also play host to an amazing group ​of Cultural Partners including Asian Art Museum, ArtTable, Bonhams, Bolinas Museum, Cantor Arts Center, di Rosa, First Exposures, Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, NIAD Art Center, Private Collections, Richmond Art Center, Stanford Arts Institute, The Crucible, THE THING Quarterly, and many more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

DAN TAGUE featured in exhibition 'Cashing Out' at Kala Art Institute

DAN TAGUE, State of Fear, 2010, archival inkjet print on rag paper/sublimated print on aluminum

Current Exhibition: Cashing Out
October 27 – December 3, 2011
Juror: Julio César Morales

Round Table Discussion: Thursday, November 10, 7-9pm
Kala Gallery, 2990 San Pablo Av., Berkeley, CA 94702

Since September, America has been experiencing a newly mobilized social imagination. Join Cashing Out artists for an evening of discussion on art’s agonistic relationship within contemporary capitalism.

Artists: Art for a Democratic Society, Bert Bergen, Stephen Chalmers, Kathryn Clark, Torreya Cummings, Lauren DiCioccio, Jessica Eastburn, David Arthur Hamlow, Lacey Haslam, Luis Guillermo Hernandez, Sarah B. Hirneisen, Kelly Lynn Jones, Amy Susan Keefer, Kathryn Kenworth, Geraldine Lozano, Jocelyn Meggait,Zach Moser, Juan David Obando, David Edward Parker, Walter Robinson, Dan Tague, Jenny Wiener

MEL CHIN 'Rematch' featured in Glasstire

MEL CHIN, The Funk and Wag from A to Z, 2012, cut vintage encyclopedias

Cities cling in perpetuity to a hometown boy made good. Mel Chin left Houston in 1983, and was clearly influenced by the time he spent in our diverse, surreal and polluted swampland. Mel Chin: Rematch, is an epic set of exhibitions that originated at the New Orleans Museum of Art; the show’s Houston iteration adds additional work and feted Chin with multiple openings, lectures and discussions.

Like a lot of other Houstonians, Chin is the child of immigrants. He grew up in the largely African American 5th Ward, where his parents ran a grocery store. His family later moved to the suburb of Meyerland but continued to operate the store, where Chin also worked. He came of age in the politically active 1960s and 1970s.

Like his hometown, Chin’s art isn’t easily labeled or defined. His fascinating works range from the 524 delicate collages of The Funk & Wag from A to Z, 2012, cut from a vintage set of encyclopedias (on view at the Blaffer), to large-scale sculptures like Our Strange Flower of Democracy, 2005, a bamboo “bomb” suspended from the ceiling of the Asia Society. It moves from video installations like the 1991 Degrees of Paradise with a ceiling of early video monitors and Kurdish-woven carpets (on view at The Station Museum), to early examples of social practice art in the Revival Field documentation at Blaffer, and to performance artifacts like Lecture Ax (at the CAMH) which contains the artist’s notes for a talk at the New School for Social Research. Organizing a Mel Chin retrospective has to be a daunting task. Curator Miranda Lash perceptively used a viral analogy to describe how Chin’s work evolves as it spreads from idea to idea.

In 1970, Chin organized an ecology club at Bellaire High School. One of its projects was to clear trash out of a small, stagnant section of reeking bayou. (Just imagining it will easily stimulate the gag reflex in Houstonians.) The impulse toward environmental repair reappears in Chin’s Revival Field, documentation of which is on view at the Blaffer Art Museum. For the project, Chin worked with Rufus Chaney, a senior USDA research agronomist. Based on Chaney’s research into phytoremediation, a field of plants known to be accumulators of heavy metals was planted at the Pig’s Eye Landfill, a superfund site in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Traditional remediation involves soil being hauled off to a hazardous waste landfill but Chaney believed that plants could be more effective at removing toxins. The various plants were laid out in a pattern designed by Chin that referenced the concentric rings of a target, as well as a circle and square derived from an ancient Chinese conception of a circular sky and a square earth. The artist overlaid the research with additional symbolism, adding plot markers based on the Mayan numerical system, fabricated from redwood, aluminum and stainless steel. Then jars were suspended from the plot markers containing a bar of zinc, lump of lead or ball of copper. (In description, all that symbolism seems a little overwrought, but I never made it out to Pig’s Eye to see for myself.) Chaney continued his research using the plants in the project, which also brought attention to the scientist’s work outside the scientific community.

One of Chin’s most iconic works, Operation Paydirt, 2006, is also on view at the Blaffer. It began in post-Katrina New Orleans. High lead levels in children have been linked to violent crime, learning disabilities and lowered IQ. With an estimated 86,000 residential properties in the city contaminated by lead, Chin sought to make people aware of the environmental cause underlying social issues. At the Blaffer, the giant safe door originally mounted on the exterior of a New Orleans shotgun house leads from one gallery into another. Inside the gallery is a massive pallet of hand-drawn “Fundred dollar bills” largely made by children from all over the country. The total count is around half a million. Visitors can add their own contributions on site. Each bill is a symbolic request for lead remediation funding, as well as a mechanism for educating people about the dangers of lead poisoning.

The artworks on view at the Asia Society are relegated to the lobby but include some striking sculptural objects. In 1980, Chin began a stint working as a preparator for Dominique de Menil at the Rice Museum, a precursor to the Menil Collection. While there, he came in direct contact with work from de Menil’s phenomenal collection of surrealist art, an opportunity few art students every have. Surreal moments occur throughout his work. On view at the Asia Society, Chin’s Scholar’s Nightmare, is an elegantly strange object. At first glance, it is a Ming dynasty style table with gracefully curved legs. Then you notice one of the legs ends in a taxidermied horse’s hoof. The perfection of the table is subtly disrupted with something wild and unsettling.

The Contemporary Arts Museum includes a number of pieces Chin created addressing gun violence. In 1981 Houston was the murder capital of the country with 701 homicides. In the exhibition catalogue, Chin states, “My uncle Dick’s murder [WWII veteran Dick Yee Chin] prompted me to relocate of New York City the following year.” Yee was shot at a Houston gas station by a recently released mental patient. In his 1994 work, HOME y Sew 9, Chin repurposed a 9mm GLOCK-17 handgun into a surgical first aid kit for a gunshot victim containing “microelectronic distress beacon on FM band, ACE bandage, saline, narcotic, angiocatheter, epinephrine.” The aid is ironically camouflaged in a weapon favored by everyone from law enforcement to gang members to UN peacekeepers.

Politics have long been a part of Chin’s work. In what could retrospectively considered an early Houston performance, Chin washed his draft card into pieces. It seems a slower and more meditative choice than the customary burning. While working with Dominique de Menil in the early 80s, Chin also saw the documentary Inside the CIA: On Company Business, the film investigated the CIA’s backing of the Chilean coup d’état. The film would influence the artist’s own 2007 film, 9-11/9-11, also on view at the CAMH. The hand-drawn animated film links two tragedies. The characters of its narrative connect the September 11, 1973 US-backed Chilean coup that overthrew the democratically elected president Salvador Allende and ushered in dictator Augusto Pinochet with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Chin skillfully weaves a story of relationships and politics.

In the film, the artist character takes her boyfriend to see work by Mark Lombardi, the late Houston artist whose intensely investigated drawings diagramed the players of multiple scandals. The Bush family and various Houston enterprises made frequent appearances in Lombardi’s work. Lombardi, whose drawing linking the Bush and Bin Laden family became of interest to the FBI after 9/11, would have appreciated the political connections in Chin’s narrative.

The film was supported by Jim and Ann Harithas of the Station Museum with Ann Harithas as producer. The CAMH presents the final version of the film, in which the drawing is cleaner and color is added. The Station is presenting their favorite version, an early rough cut. There is something beautifully haunting in the restrained sketchiness of the drawings in the earlier version. It’s reminiscent of William Kentridge’s poignant hand-drawn animations but more spare.

Hitting four separate venues to see all 60 works of Rematch is something of a commitment, but it is one worth making. With such varied artistic production, seeing one Chin work is in no way seeing them all. Chin’s fearless approach to any media that serves his purpose is inspirational.

Rematch is on view at the Blaffer Art Museum through March 21, the Asia Society Texas Center and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston through April 19th. Other Chin works are included in Degrees of Separation at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art through May 1st. There was also a brief show of drawings by Chin at the Art League Houston.