Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Info:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

D. Eric Bookhardt Reviews JFG's 20th Annual NO DEAD ARTISTS International Juried Exhibition

Main Gallery Installation View 

Main Gallery Installation View 

Centre Gallery Installation View 

Centre Gallery Installation View 

[photography courtesy of Mike Smith, New Orleans]

by D. Eric Bookhardt

We all live in outer space—the earth is but a minor planet of a lesser star in the depths of the universe. We also live in inner space—everything we experience comes to us through the senses that are part of the neural systems of our body and mind. Artists work with inner and outer space and everything in between. Every year for the last two decades, the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery's No Dead Artists exhibition has featured the work of artists not yet part of the entrenched interests of the global art world to exhibit their own fresh perspectives on the ever-changing world around us. The results have often been striking for their originality and sometimes for their prescience. Now it its 20th iteration, this 2016 edition continues to intrigue with its insightful exploration of a world transformed by technology-induced changes in which everything can seem closer yet elusively distant, more enlightened in some ways yet more violent in other ways, and where the micro and macro perspectives often can seem to overlap as the disruptive forces of globalism and digital communications forever alter the way personal identity and sense of place are defined. 

Today cities and towns are paradoxes in which the traditional and the modern assume new guises or meanings as electronic tidal waves of data overwhelm mere mortals through digital devices that turn even the most prosaic words, gestures and activities into electronic artifacts that can live eternal lives in cyberspace, so what was once a world of things becomes a world of abstract patterns. Lithuanian-born Chicago artist Alex Braverman gave up a high tech career to explore this kaleidoscopic reordering of the way we perceive the built environment through his shimmering geometric cityscape photo-collages based on the striking architecture of Chicago, Vienna and other iconic world cities, images that reflect the dizzying perceptual vortexes in which all of us are increasingly immersed. 

At first glance, Nate Burbeck's bucolic oil on canvas views of spacious Minnesota vistas seem to almost suggest a deadpan update of Norman Rockwell's America, a place of modest suburban enclaves and the harmonious relationships between their mild mannered inhabitants and the state's fertile green expanses. But there is a sweetly surreal, almost virtual-reality quality about some abandoned party balloons on a suburban front lawn, and the stark, graffiti-tagged pillars of an elevated expressway slicing through a verdant green prairie in a world where nature slowly yields to man made abstractions. 

Advanced technologies transform the way we live our lives but time and nature always have the last laugh, or so we might infer from Beth Davila Waldman's acrylic and ink jet paintings of urban ruins, places where the dreams of empire of past ages have come to rest and now exist as architectonic relics in societies on the cusp between new capital-intensive digital dreams and crumbling analog realities. Built environments are inevitably rendered transitional and artifactual by changing concepts over time, and by the way ideas are given form and life that shape places and the people who inhabit them. Jenny Day's landscape paintings reflect a macro approach to the ever-shifting contours of places and spaces “eroded through conceptualization and use.” Incorporating satellite images of Superfund Sites along Western interstate systems, she explores the fragmented spaces of technologically mediated landscapes and the effects of environmental degradation on our sense of place. 

Anyone following news reports in 2016 inevitably encounters accounts of mass displacement and forced migrations. But displacement takes many forms, and MaryLou Uttermohlen's photographic documentation of the shantytowns inhabited by those who fell through the cracks of a society ruled by disruptive capital and its concomitant societal fragmentation, presents us with a striking visual narrative of social abandonment. Here homeless encampments in Miami and New Orleans take us to America's own internal refugee camps in a 21st century dystopia of our own making. But of course the most horrific forced mass migrations were caused by the 18th and 19th century African slave trade in numbers that made genocidal 20th century fascists look like amateurs. Crimes against humanity that vast are hard for most of us to even begin to comprehend and it comes as no surprise that they still echo in the form of the structural racism that Ti-Rock Moore endeavors to address in her dramatically confrontational works based on the pop icons of social malaise and grievance, neon embellished nooses and the like.    

But not all displacement is physical, and the ever-shifting boundaries of what constitutes identity can create zones of unsettled ambiguity in periods when social and cultural change can sometimes seem to occur at warp speed. Christina West's mostly nude sculptural figures, as she puts it, “walk the line between pleasure and distress” in “psychological scenarios about the complexity of being human.” Here the quirks from the recesses of the psyche are sculpturally extrapolated as the virtual narratives of micro-mythology. Of course, those secrets from the dark corners of the soul are rarely revealed under ordinary circumstances because most of us employ a variety of subtle adjustments to buffer potential collisions between what society expects of us and who we really are. For Jason Willaford, that means masks and camouflage tactics that can either mitigate or exaggerate the way we are labeled in a world with little time for complexity. His colorfully dimensional works on paper represent identity as a kind of sculptural Kabuki theater in which personality types are represented as abstractions cobbled together like patchwork quilts, ad hoc concoctions resulting from the mythologies of particular cultures and societies rather than the inner paradoxes or mysteries that our external personae inevitably conceal.  

Clues to the deeply personal inner lives of individuals, or even entire societies or cultural epochs, are often revealed within the privacy of our homes. Sarah Knouse's intriguing and surreal sculptures are based on the notion that even traditional domestic objects like the woven household doily, a decorative item originally created to protect furniture from human messiness, can be “an object of inheritance” that functions as “a second skin, or membrane between these conflicting realms of romanticism and reality” that functions as a keepsake of our shared intergenerational humanity. Similarly, Larry Simons deconstructs discarded domestic furnishings and utilitarian objects that he mines for their clues to who we are and where we come from as a culture, and reassembles them according to the compositional harmonies that their diverse forms suggest, thereby extending the pioneering aesthetic purview of Louise Nevelson and other pioneering assemblage artists into a new century. The reduction of physical, mental and cultural information into abstract digitally ordered systems constitutes the essence of the reordering of consciousness taking place in the world today as machine languages increasingly merge with human neurology. For Korean-born, North Carolina-based Mia Yoon, the inherent poetry of that process can be expressed as colors that assume the form of oversize pixels of tangible, dimensional pigments arranged in compositions that illustrate the synchronicities between mathematical and musical harmonics--works that suggest musique concrete expressed as prismatic minimal sculpture. 

The unsettling existential dilemma posed by the digitalization of everything—a process that crudely and imprecisely mimics the atomic and molecular structures of the physical world—can be seen in the difficulties people are having adjusting to a time in which nothing is quite what it seemed in the past when the Newtonian universe of tangibly physical, mechanical relationships appeared to define the world as we knew it. The fluid forms of Christopher Rico's paintings reflect his interest in “the mysterious and unknowable” and his acceptance of the fluidity of the phenomenal world as the basis of wonder, and our capacity to intuitively connect with universal mysteries greater than ourselves.   

The most profound sages of all ages have invariably suggested that the macro and micro realms are one and the same that the universe is a divinely intelligent energy continuum that exists in each of us and that inspires our interpretations of the infinite forms that surround us. That sense of universal energies as the mother of all forms--known in in different cultures by names ranging from the “House of Thunder” to the “Dharmakaya”--is evoked in Ben Long and Jack Schoonover's rhapsodic video, Cosmosis, a kind of macrocosmic space odyssey that evokes a 21st century creation mythos--a lyrical extrapolation of Shiva's dance transposed over the vastness and minutia of the cosmos. 

The works by these thirteen artists were selected from over 2500 submissions by 500 artists. This year's jurors were Director of the Perez Art Museum, Miami, Franklin Sirmans, Associate Curator at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum, Anastasia James, and noted collector Lester Marks.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The New Orleans Advocate Features JFG's 20th Annual 'No Dead Artists' International Juried Exhibition

NDA 2016 Installation View - photography courtesy of Mike Smith

20 years of 'No Dead Artists' at Jonathan Ferrara gallery
BY JOHN D'ADDARIO | Special to The Advocate

This year’s Whitney White Linen Night will be an extra special one for Jonathan Ferrara and his gallery team, who will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their “No Dead Artists” group show.

Conceived in 1995 as a showcase for emerging artists, “No Dead Artists” has become one of the most important and eagerly anticipated events in the New Orleans art calendar.

“ ‘No Dead Artists’ is a play on the old adage that artists never get any recognition or have any work sell or make any money until after they are dead,” said Jonathan Ferrara. “This show was created with the intention to turn that adage on its head and give young emerging artists an opportunity to share their creative voice to the world …often for their first time ever.”

While the show is usually presented every September, gallery director Matthew Weldon Showman explained that the 20th anniversary of the show was an occasion to have it coincide with the larger Whitney White Linen night celebration.

“Opening it on Whitney White Linen Night not only brings the exposure of the fantastic turnout that the Arts District receives that evening, but it also marks the kickoff of the New Orleans arts season,” said Showman.

As always, the offerings on view will be eclectic.

“Our panel of jurors did a fantastic job selecting a cohesive yet diverse group of artists and artworks this year,” said Showman. “The themes include sociopolitical issues (primarily dealing with race and homelessness), artists who are inspired by architecture, and a strong trend of recycled/found materials in abstraction across all mediums — painting, photo, sculpture, installation and video.”

And despite the fact that artist nowadays have more opportunities and venues to exhibit their work, Ferrara said that the founding purpose of the No Dead Artists exhibition remains as strong and vital as ever.

“I have always been committed to giving emerging artists an opportunity, and (the show) also gives us and our viewers a real pulse on the current trends in the art world,” said Ferrara. “And this show has led to our finding talents that we have gone on to represent and place in many national and international public and private collections.”

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pelican Bomb Features 'Art Hysterical' Group Exhibition

E2, Ode to Manet's Olympia, 2011, archival pigment print.

Exhibition Pick: “Art Hysterical”

JUNE 24, 2016

Maricela Murillo visits an exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery that turns art history on its head.

JUNE 1 - JULY 30, 2016

Stepping into “Art Hysterical” at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, which was curated by the gallery’s director, Matthew Weldon Showman, feels at first like stepping into a European museum. Two groups of what, from afar, appear to be classic paintings are arranged salon-style across the flat white walls at the front of the gallery. But on closer inspection, the works reveal themselves to be surprising re-creations by artists who are currently based in New Orleans. In a group of photographs by E2 (Elizabeth Kleinveld and Epaul Julien), the artists transform the white men and women who traditionally look out blankly from dulled canvases. Now women of color stare defiantly into the viewer’s eyes, the subjects’ modern makeup contrasting sharply with their antiquated dresses. A black Olympia is tended to by her white servant, and, in another reversal, a man sits naked next to two women in suits in Ode to Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 2011.

On the opposite wall, Generic Art Solutions (G.A.S.) have similarly taken art historical works and put them in a contemporary context. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, 2013, no longer features the holy figure dressed in flowing folds of fabric; she’s replaced by a homeless man, asleep or unconscious, about to be beaten by a police officer in uniform. G.A.S.’ work explicitly addresses issues plaguing the modern world such as wealth inequality and the abuse of authority.

In one painting, Rachel Burch Williams reimagines the Baroque motif of memento mori, which are reminders of death that painters included most notably in still lives. Nora See’s skeleton instead poses playfully at a windowsill with a cigarette. Adam Mysock’s works, all the size of paperback books, are painstaking copies of canonical American paintings—the only difference being the addition of a snow globe-like flurry of white falling from impossible places in the canvas. Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks café and Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow now have their own snowstorms. Overall, “Art Hysterical” stays true to its name—tipping the sometimes stuffy world of art history into the chaos of the 21st century.


Maricela Murillo is a rising junior at Tulane University. This past spring, she participated in Pelican Bomb’s internship program with local undergraduate students.

Adam Mysock Featured in Young Masters Exhibition with The Cynthia Corbett Gallery

ADAM MYSOCK, The Beginning of a Long Distant Relationship, 2014, acrylic on panel, 4 x 6 inches
After: Edward Hopper's City Sunlight (1954) and an illustration by Ed Valigursky

The Cynthia Corbett Gallery Summer Exhibition | Gallery Artists & Showcase YOUNG MASTERS
Royal Opera Arcade Gallery
5B Pall Mall, St. James's, London, SW1Y 4UY

Exhibition Dates ::: 27 June - 9 July 2016

Private View ::: Tuesday 28 June | 6.30-9.30pm | Live Music and DJ


Bonnie Maygarden Interviewed by Swiss Blog 'I Saw Something Nice'

1. What was the idea behind the artwork for AESOP?  

“I knew I wanted to create something that is conceptually in line with my current work, but would also work to draw people to the VOLTA Art Fair and the AESOP Store. In early discussions of the project what felt most interesting was creating an installation of paintings on the storefront rather than the typical digitally printed reproductions of artworks. I painted directly onto adhesive vinyl using the same process I use to create my works on canvas and paper.

I am fascinated by the role of painting in the digital age, and the way this project unexpectedly uses paintings to replace something that would usually be created digitally is conceptually consistent with with my current work. The works themselves are also meant to reference digital imagery with the use of bright colors, gradients, floating geometric shapes, trompe l’oeil, and photorealism. Playing with traditional modes of painting in a language that visually references technology allows me to explore what our expectations of contemporary images are in a digital world.”

Icons, 2016, acrylic on canvas

2. How do you approach your art, meaning where do you get your inspiration from?

“I think, like many painters, that I’m inspired equally by the past and the present, and, like many painters, I am essentially making paintings about painting. I am inspired by movements in art history such as Minimalism, Photorealism, and Op Art, as well as how the visual narrative of painting has generally evolved over time. I am also interested in processes and imagery that feel seamless to our current digitally dependent culture, and I mimic elements of those aesthetics using painting.  I look at stock photography, advertisements, graffiti, photoshop filters, and the digital screen as inspiration for my work.”

3. Do you like the AESOP products, and if so which one is your favorite?
(my favorite one is their hair and scalp rose masque.)

“I love the Fabulous Face Oil and Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil.  A couple of years ago I discovered how amazing oils are as cleansers and moisturizers, these two really are fabulous!”

4. Would you be interested to put your artworks on fabric and combine your art with fashion?

“Absolutely, if the right situation came along. The theme of the trompe l’oeil crumpled surfaces that runs throughout my work is meant to hit on a history of drapery in painting as well as natural phenomena of light and color.  A the same time it is also something that people want to somehow interact with. People always want to touch the paintings to understand them. The playfulness of something that is a flat pattern but looks three-dimensional is something I could certainly see being exciting to wear.”

5. Do you have a favorite fashion designer?
“I absolutely love Céline, Stella McCartney, and Alexander Wang. I am always looking to innovation in fashion and design for artistic inspiration. However, I tend to dress much more subdued than my work, lots of black and white- I leave color for paintings!”