Monday, March 4, 2019

Works from the Anna Pierrepont Series on Display with Park Slope Windsor Terrace Artists at 55 Water St., Dumbo, Bklyn

Opening reception during First Thursday Art Walk on Thursday, 3-7 from 6-8pm

Thanks to the efforts of Janie Samuel and others, this image of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and others of Confederate statue removals are on display along with other artists from the Park Slope, Windsor Terrace Artist Group on the water in Dumbo. The opening reception is on Thursday, March 7th, from 6-8pm.

Works from the Anna Pierepont Series on display in March and April 2019 at Riverviews Artspace in Lynchburg, Va

Thanks to Meg Weston, Brooke Marcy and their colleagues for my gracious welcome to Lunchburg for the 'First Friday' opening reception for the exhibition, Public Discourse with Jenny Wu and George Lorio.

I spoke at the reception on my thoughts on being invited to participate.

These are the prepared remarks

I thank Riverviews Artspace for inviting me to participate in this exhibition about art becoming ‘political discourse’.

The works that you see here were created for my art project the Anna Pierrepont Series during the past half-decade.

I explore the erasure of public and private memory through the installation and increasingly the removal of figurative public monuments in works created plein-air and in the studio.

Charlottesville is less than an hour and a half’s drive from where we are gathering. The violence that took place there mid-August 2017 and the political dithering that followed have unleashed the greatest wave of iconoclastic attacks in US history, the subject of most of the larger panel pieces that Meg Watson, Brooke Marcy and their crew have beautifully installed at Riverviews.

In early July 2017, I was asked by Streetlight, a literary magazine in Charlottesville, to create a pictorial essay that was entitled Teetering for a blog post.

I had made a number of images of figurative monuments installed on impossibly thin columns and ceremonial arches way up high that seem to dangle in midair.

I then imagined the politics of this moment causing these monuments to teeter on their high perches.

I forwarded a selection of these images to editors in Charlottesville, fully aware of Charlottesville’s decision, postponed in the summer of 2017 by court order, to remove equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Stonewall Jackson from prominent public places in the town.

As I have learned in exploring in iconoclastic attacks in NYC, local communities often feel deeply conflicted about the removals of even the most troubling monuments, particularly when deliberations about the fate of the monuments seem to take place far above the heads of ordinary residents.

In the first days of August 2017, I discussed with my Jonathan, who is here with me now, driving together to Charlottesville, so I could sit in a folding chair and draw the Lee before its removal.

A quick search of the news suggested that a rally in defense of the monuments was to be held the next weekend. Jonathan and I decided to shelve our plans until after the rally had concluded.

That rally is now burnt into our collective memories and into the historical record. Streetlight’s editors became victims of the violence of those attending the rally, along with numerous other innocents, particularly Heather Heyer.

Teetering then morphed into toppling.

Rosalyn Deutsche, a Columbia University scholar of Art History, wrote a book, Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics in 1996 where she states, ‘The notion that the city speaks for itself conceals the identity of those who speak through the city’, which raises the question for us gathered here, ‘do the monuments that we regularly cross paths with, speak for us or to us?’

Charlottesville was a battle between those who believe that the statues of Lee and Jackson spoke for them against those who believed that the statues spoke to them. The statues arose under the former and are now falling under the later.

The privilege to speak for all for is one of many benefits that flow from control of the city. Deprivation is conferred on those compelled to listen. Those rallying in Charlottesville in defense of the monuments certainly recognized how much they stood to lose as the Lee and Jackson statues teetered.

As you can see in many of the works that I include in the exhibition, monuments throughout the US that, for decades, spoke for many US cities, after Charlottesville, were hooked into ropes and harnesses by yellow vested workers wrestling them into the air, leaving them to dangle before they disappeared forever into the darkness of erased memory. After Charlottesville, many places have decided that they would now listen to the previously silenced and let those who the past spoke for slip into the darkness along with the monuments that once spoke and no longer speak on their behalf.

'Do the public monuments in your midst speak to you or for you?'

Works from the Anna Pierrepont Series exhibited at the Berrie Center for the Performing and Visual Arts at Ramapo College in March and April 2019

Thanks to Sydney Jenkins and his crew for including these works in !!!PUBLIC ART??? INQUIRIES, ENCOUNTERS from February 27 – April 19, 2019.

A group exhibition and series of programs and art events exploring and questioning public art at the Berrie Center's Kresge Gallery where works from the series share space with works by Lady Pink, Matthew Shain, Gregory Sholette and others.

I had no prepared remarks but asked the students if the monuments they encoountered in their travels speak for them or to them.

A question with a much more complicated answer when asked to the citizens of Lynchburg, Va where for an exhibition at the Riverviews Artspace, I asked the same question for an opening of other works from the series less than 48 hours later.