This is my first effort at curating a group show, a role that came unexpectedly as part of a conversation I had with Brad Barber, Marketing Director, Nicole Longnecker Gallery. I’ve known Brad for a long time, with shared passions for cars, motorcycles, music and art. Though we’ve only ever met on the Internet, the friendship is not virtual, it is real. That virtual reality is an interesting and growing force in the art world where access to art is now a mainstream, global experience. Just as viewing works of art is as easy as entering a search term, so are creating new communities of working artists with shared interests.
The creation of this exhibit rests firmly on a rich, online network effect that made it possible to connect with artists while thinking about what focus of the show would become. The speed of communication, sharing works and words, seeking other artists to consider and managing all aspects of curating a solid collection of works assured that all stakeholders could work with relatively few seams and pretty good agility.
This emerging capability for artists to gather in self-selected and curated communities helps provide fuel for both group and individual art works. I am fascinated by this new social construct and the implications for a new, global art market. I do not attempt to answer any questions here about what will drive curators, collectors, museums or galleries to intersect with these art communities. I am curious to learn where we are all headed.
Curator’s Statement from the exhibition catalog:
When I received the call asking if I was interested in curating an exhibition for the Nicole Longnecker Gallery, I was both excited and more than a little nervous. Excited at the prospect of making all the hard curatorial choices of selecting a set of artists and the art works that would comprise a great show and nervous about the prospect of the same…
We initially talked about a desire to bring an urban-based realism theme into Houston, something that would be fresh, new to the community. I quickly realized that if I were to deliver on this I would need help. Enter fellow artist and friend, Allan Gorman. Allan graciously agreed to become a co-curator and immediately rolled up his sleeves, collaborating on building lists of potential artists, on developing a theme, working to do a virtual installation of selected works based on the gallery floor plan, helping out with communications with the artists and getting another gifted artist and writer, Lorena Kloosterboer, who lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium to write up the exhibition statement.
I am deeply grateful for Allan’s hard work collaborating with me on this show.
It was incredibly difficult to narrow the scope of artists to those who are in this exhibit, there is so much wonderful art being made today. However as I worked with Allan through the process of defining the body of work, I truly enjoyed the refinement process of bringing the set of works together that, in my opinion, present a wonderful visual treat. And, I have been getting to know a new set of artists, which I find very rewarding.
Four decades ago, my friend and mentor, Don Eddy, suggested that it is important for an artist to get together with a group of other artists, that the community is an important source of creative energy. I view this group of artists as one aspect of that community, many of us connected by social media, a few living close enough to meet in person frequently. My hope is that as we move on, more of us will meet in person and that our conversations will grow and deepen to add to that creative energy Don was talking about so many years ago.
Though the artists come from across North America, displaying a wonderful diversity of imagery and technique, throughout the selection process no thought was given to geography. And, while we started from the seed of an idea of urban realism, the resulting body of work is much bigger than that, exploring a contemporary view into an idea of “industrialism” though not strictly tied to it, of the ties to a group of artists working almost a century ago who loosely referring to themselves as the “Precisionists” and with an eye toward the future.
There is so much here for you to see from across the continent: Californian Joe Santos’ beautiful watercolors depicting aspects of heavy machinery, Detroit photographer James Ritchie’s haunting imagery of an industrial era that echoes Demuth and Sheeler, the landscape paintings of another Detroit artist, Stephen Magsig setting industry and nature into a wonderful dissonance, Houston’s own Mark Cervenka with his dark, moody setting that shares a sense of place, engaging with a story being illustrated, Ottowa artist Sheryl Luxenburg and her tightly rendered watercolors of the glass and steel of the Shaw Centre, Chicago artist Rolland Kulla’s paintings of bridges that tell stories of industry in motion, Ontario-based British artist Chris Klein’s dramatic paintings of salvage yard scenes, New Jersey artist Allan Gorman and the abstraction that lives in his paintings of riveted steel girders and buildings, and New York City’s Don Eddy whose richly layered paintings talk to the spiritual as well as the physicality of his imagery. And my work, reflections of time and its effects on human endeavor.
I hope that the viewer finds this exhibit as delightful as I do.
Jan Anders Nelson
Exhibition Catalog available:
Hardcover available on Amazon: 13″ x 10″ imaged wrapped. 50 full color pages on proline pearl photo #140 pages.