A rare, themed exhibit, “The Current State of Affairs,” is in recognition of the current national atmosphere, and in homage to the longstanding tradition of artists addressing issues of their time.
Artists were given few directives by Curator Steve Bowersock, beyond sharing their perspectives on current issues – cultural, social, economic, human rights, environmental or political, “to express their views, feelings or perhaps just a personal reaction, to some element in our tumultuous landscape.”
Some issues being addressed are power, ethics, depression, personal mind set, and compassion.
These works may be introspective, give attitude, or rail against an issue. It can be a statement of mood, a color they perceive the world draped in, or a hard-hitting take on what’s happening around them in their towns, states, country, and the world.
There will be both new works and pulls from Bowersock’s archives, including works by Christopher Pothier.
Pothier’s work has long been a statement of the larger world’s effect on his personal life, and global state of affairs. “Current State of Affairs” will include a number of his ongoing dialogues, including the business men in hollow and harrowing situations which speak beyond the boundaries of the immediate image. Chris’s work has always been thought-provoking, sometimes confrontational by demanding the viewer consider the image. Still, he leaves it wide open to interpretation.
Even artists best known for quirky humor are getting into the act. Carey Armstrong-Ellis has been a favorite with her slightly twisted, pop culture representational work. This time Carey lets Barbie and Jabba the Hutt make her statement.
Armstrong-Ellis’s “Big Money, Big Mouth, Big Trouble,” touches on a lot of issues. In it, Barbie is standing before Jabba who has a bear looking over his shoulder. There’s also a nuclear explosion in the background.
“I sort of feel it’s pretty obvious,” Armstrong-Ellis says with a laugh. “The Barbie – which I think looks like Ivanka – and Jabba, obviously speaks to Trump’s view of woman. The bear is Russian, leaning over Jabba’s shoulder and controlling him. The nuclear explosion is my worry about North Korea and Trump’s incendiary statements.”
The exhibit will be as diverse as the gallery’s stable, along with select guests, and will include both 2 and 3-D works. Painter Steve Bowersock explores vulnerability and self-reflection. Sculptor Jeanne McCartin addresses the need to reflect, and seek. Bonita, Carpenter, Lush, Adams, Kinson, Pothier, Beck, Kramer, Jaeger, Armstrong-Ellis, Rafferty, and Schappler will also be weighing in.
All presented works have layers of meaning; this is not a “quick” show, by any means. It’s to be viewed slowly, more than once – pondered. Without a doubt, the viewer will color these with their own beliefs and issues. It’s always that way, but given the nature of what’s presented this round, likely, even more so. We’re hoping that people will turn the pieces around, thinking of them in multiple ways. That’s the hope, the purpose. It’s not meant to inflame or outrage, but rather to ignite thought.
“yup, it’s fuckin gone”…. this piece is my reaction to the various wars in the middle east, but specifically Syria, where western involvement is cutthroat and aggressive, without any dirt on the politicians’ hands… total destruction is the end-game… like all wars, the guys in suits are pulling the strings, while the poor citizens pay the ultimate price with loss of life and home and way of life… whereas the ones at the top maintain their innocence… in reality, western involvement in these types of conflicts further shows their ignorance of culture/ history/ society in other locations.
We are living in times a majority of Americans never expected to relive. I truly had believed that the evolution of the past 50+ years had permanently instilled a growth of civil liberties, environmental stewardship, equality for all and a general maturing of the old white-male-centric sense of privilege that could never be undone. The behavior of so many Trump followers has proven to me that I was naive. Day by day, thread by thread, the fabric so painfully woven by so many hard won battles, is being torn apart. Utter discouragement has been a common emotion in me since the election. When I am at my most disheartened, I remind myself of the strength of those in the past whose resistance prevailed over wrong-headed bigotry and self-centered priorities. If we have to fight these battles all over again, we will. We need to resist the deniers of climate change, the actions hampering or crippling the EPA, the elimination of regulations in an attempt to re-install white male privilege, etc., etc., etc. The owl in my painting is looking over its shoulder, to the past. The braille is a quote from Maya Lin: “To fly, we have to have resistance.” So…we need to remember the past, turn forward and learn to fly again in the face of strong headwinds.
My paintings usually involve toys and pop culture references. When I heard the theme of this show, “Current State of Affairs,” I immediately thought of Jabba the Hutt, to whom our glorious leader bears a striking resemblance. The blank-eyed Barbie seems like the kind of woman he would prefer, and she also looks a bit like the First Daughter, who was supposed to keep her father’s baser instincts under control, or at least under wraps, but has failed miserably in that regard. Leaning over Jabba’s shoulder is a Russian bear, controlling things from behind the scenes. In the background is a mushroom cloud – the result of impulsive and incendiary statements made by our leader with no regard for the serious consequences they might bring. Prepare to hide under your desks… The money…well money in politics is one of the reasons we are in this situation. Of course, I painted this before the latest “I heart Nazis” debacle. Perhaps I should do another piece concerning what has come crawling out of the woodwork since the election.
Basically, the idea behind this is that I fear we are in big trouble as Our Peerless Leader strives to benefit only himself and his wealthy cronies, not caring about, or even understanding, the issues that concern all the rest of us – health care, climate change, education, the environment, civil rights, nuclear holocaust, the end of life on this planet…
Of course, if he ends up removed from office for some Russian, I mean reason, then Mr. Christian Nation will be in control and that will be a whole new painting.
The apple sits on its pedestal being weighed for it’s worth, all the while its fate has been brutally dealt out. Nails decorate its body as it sits atop a rusty scale like a martyred deity. The scale symbolizes the truth, that which can be measured and tested. Its use has been reduced to an afterthought as the “pears” sit below ripe and fat and draped with self-righteous judgment.
We find scapegoats to project the hate we ultimately feel for ourselves. We take a perverse joy out of the persecution of others. It gives us a false sense of purpose, validation, and camaraderie at the expense of the truth and what is right. We’re exposed to this daily, via social media, the news, and personal experience. I see this painting as an interpretation of this modern yet timeless reality.
“Trust Me”. Haven’t most of us had that experience where we let someone talk us into something maybe-not-so-good for us? I’ve wanted to paint this rather gullible pig and somewhat shady fox for a while. The Current State of Affairs show was a perfect excuse to do it. From a first boyfriend (oh yeah, ‘trust me’) to our current leaders (both sides) we often find ourselves in difficult situations. This painting is a reminder that perhaps we need to be careful in our choices and who we follow.
Lydia the Lawyer is the first painting in a series that uses iconic poses from historical artworks and reimagines them in a modern way. This painting recreates Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter. The original Rosie reflected women’s changing roles in the face of world war and in so doing, reshaped the image of the ideal, patriotic, American woman. My modern day Rosie is Lydia, an African American, Boston lawyer fighting for the rights of the underserved and underrepresented. This painting invites viewers to think critically about issues of race and gender, what it means to labor for our country and to be a patriot. Part of the intention of this painting is to contribute to contemporary representational work by providing a more dynamic view of femininity/masculinity and exploring diverse visual representations of gender in the 21st Century. Symbols in this painting include the pins on her dress, the apple, and the ironic mock Boston Globe cover with Trump as President under her shoe.
“Make America Sane Again!”. The direction that our nation is heading, with all the lies, discord, and ignorance that is on display in our government has brought the average person to a state of high frustration and angst.
This piece is my way of expressing all the anxiety that is the result of the current state of affairs. We have to make a change or we are not going survive as the country we have known and supported throughout its short history.
Alfred E. Neuman, The Mad Magazine icon, dawns an ill-fitting Superman costume. His arms stretched out in an apathetic embrace of the world he finds himself in. A Globe placed to his left covered in bandages serves as a temporary fix to larger problems. A lemon sits beside him suggesting the sourness to the current situation. The three rest a top a crumpled piece of paper, reflecting the discard of thought out ideas. All the while the three objects share a bright colorful primary harmony amongst them.
To me, this painting is a nod to the absurdity we find ourselves in. In an age where information is in excess, seemingly designed to make us feel as if we are drowning in an ocean of frustration and anxiety. I see Alfred E. Neuman oddly living up to his Superman costume; serving as a reminder to embrace the absurdity and ask ourselves—“What, I worry?”