I'm in Love with the Future Now*

The six artists in this exhibition represent the vitality, and necessity, of the studio practice. Each artist has come to terms with their own visual vocabularies, and processes. Defining ones work is an arduous task that can take years to fully realize. This show captures these six artists in the act of working. That is not to say that these works are not fully realized, it means that the work is hot, active, and in motion. There is a vigor here born out of a passionate engagement with materials.

These diverse works engage rigorous material investigation with play. The results are nuanced pieces that display rich visual personalities and intelligences. In bringing these works together multiple conversations are generated between the individual artworks. This show speaks to the range and potential realized by these practitioners.

Jennifer Dailey’s works have a sense of ordering, collecting, mapping. These works have the natural orderliness of a sock drawer.  These works have an exercised and earned groove. They have the tension of a net; the pattern of a table or bed spread, a sense of rightness we associate with a home. Pattern here seems simultaneously random and purposeful. Dailey’s color is both synthetic and natural. Her compositional fields have an undulating intensity. These works reverberate, moving and settled, with a sense of play and order.

Rachel Davis’s paintings evoke a concrete awkwardness. These paintings are quirky, intimate, oddball, and cool. The play with both texture and the figure-ground relationships create a space that feels inhabited. These paintings evoke warm, safe spaces that are oddly familiar. Davis’s lush paintings are like lived in interiors, places worn and warmed by touch. Her forms are friendly, and at times a little ominous - like a large stack of dirty dishes in the sink at the end of a long night with friends.

Sue Scott's works have a serious sense of funk play which immediately generates a set of questions- is it a rug? card? greeting? can I touch it? can I smell it? Scott’s work operates in the space provided by bulletin boards, and peripheral decorations at the office or around the house, pronouncing (announcing) get well soon /welcome home.  These works have co-opted this space, hybridizing it with the gestures of recently perverted high abstraction. Mapping and sprawling out into the room, on the floor and on the wall, these pieces explode into the space with a gentle array of shapes and colors.

Natasha Sweeten works with the current dialect of abstract painting. A kind of loose and playful formalism is engaged. With a mix of organic and synthetic color Sweeten evokes vernacular architectures, like sheds, or compost fences, wood paneling, and trophy heads in a bar/tavern somewhere upstate. These works celebrate the structural conundrum of inside-outside painted space. Ultimately the space she develops is idiosyncratic-close to the space of something fermenting inside of a glass jar with a bright label on the outside. These paintings appear to be brewed, stewed, cooked, and caressed into being.

Joshua Mitchell has concocted works that are seriously compulsive. Color is stacked in a visual layer cake that might be endless. These are high calorie, sugar saturated, pure pleasure eye bombs. Mitchell’s color is tropical optical. He creates works that are like a science experiment with layers of strata from alien topographies. These psycho static notations are convincing with their compulsive layering. Color becomes a force in these pieces; it is both powerful and strange, and fully intoxicating.

Albert Weaver employs a strong horizontal structure. His compositions imply landscape and pay homage to Pure Painting, referring to the 70’s work of Blinky Palermo and Brice Marden. Weaver’s works are to abstract painting as Bob Dylan is to Pop Music. They have both grit and a sense of honest engagement. His textural surface plays with memories of rust and peeling paint, of the road tested and road weary. These structures are like flags for countries that do not yet exist. Here color is worn and torn, weathered, and true.  Mr. Weaver you can renew my subscription to the cult of painting.

What are the parameters of the dialog between these six artists? There are definite threads that tie these works together: properties of form (color, texture, surface) are shared sympathies within this group. Beyond form there is a deeper connection, one of openness, experimentation, and possibility. This connection is born out of a love for materials. It displays itself by the hum these works generate in proximity to each other, the sound of vital chatter.

Derrick Buisch
Painter/Associate Professor University of Wisconsin-Madison

* Stolen from song lyric Peter Quinn / CandyMachine, Baltimore 1990

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