Stopping in Memphis
on view August 18th-September 23rd, opening reception August 27th, 3pm-6pm
Memphis as a creative community has always had to struggle to survive. This daily struggle is where Memphis derives its creativity, the reason why rock-n-roll was invented here, and why it is home of the blues.
Justin Bowles "Sparkle Force Field" Paper and Plastic on Paper 96 x 96 inches
Memphis Statement: I moved to Memphis 5 years ago for graduate school and have been happy I've stayed. As a grad student, I had the opportunity to meet and be influenced by members of the art community, which was integral to my development as an artist. There are many artists here that I admire. I'm grateful for their commitment, encouragement and inspiration. In other places I've lived the art community was not so accessible, but here I feel an attitude of support, as well as space for each artist's unique endeavors.
Bio: Justin Bowles was born in Little Rock and spent most of her childhood in the woods of northwest Arkansas, picking blackberries, listening to the whip-poor-wills, and catching lightning bugs. She has lived lots of places, including Kansas City, New Orleans, and Ocean City, Maryland, where she worked the prize counter at a giant video arcade on the boardwalk. She attended Ouachita Baptist University and graduated from The University of Kansas with degrees in English and Sculpture. Justin received her MFA from Memphis College of Art and still loves chasing lightning bugs.
Alan Duckworth "Blue Skies and Open Highway" (Blue) Acrylic on Canvas 36 x 48 inches
Memphis Statement: The city of Memphis has affected my work in more ways than I am probably aware. I've spent nearly my entire life living and working here. I studied art at the University of Memphis with Greely Myatt, Dick Knowles, and Bonnie Beaver, just to name a few. After college, our exhibition opportunities were limited, to say the least. A little group of us got together and started doing DIY shows in apartments or empty spaces downtown. At these one night only events we served peanut butter sandwiches, Cheetos, and Busch in a can. My first studio after college was at Marshall Arts. I loved painting down the street from Sun Studio, so close to downtown and the Mississippi River. Having a studio there helped connect me to the art community, just showing up at the studio was exciting. I was excited to see who would be there and what they would be working on that night. There seemed to be a collective energy generated by just being in the studio working, knowing that other people were doing the same. When I think about how Memphis has impacted me, and my work, it's through relationships in the art community - the helpful critique, unexpected insight from a different point of view, and all the other interactions that motivate and inspire.
Bio: Alan Duckworth, born in Alabama, and raised in Memphis, studied painting at the University of Memphis. He has been featured in solo exhibitions at David Lusk Gallery, as well as multiple group shows including the National Civil Rights Museum. His work has been reviewed in numerous local publications and twice featured in New American Paintings. After spending the last several years in Cleveland, OH, he now resides in Memphis, TN where he works from his home studio, with his loyal studio assistant Samantha, a Jack Russell Terrier.
Meredith Olinger Room#1 Reconfigured Wallpaper, Wall Liner, Acrylic, Latex, and Marker on Panel 96" x 144 x 16 inches
Memphis Statement: I'm from Memphis, and I've lived here most of my life. Like most people's relationship with their hometown, it's had its ups and downs. But for better or worse, I'm in it for the long haul.
Over the years, I've made some bad art and I've made some great art. And the city has supported me every step of the way. There is the University of Memphis, where I finished my painting degree and who's professors still shoot me emails and show up at my openings. Memphis College of Art, where I completed my graduate education, and really learned what it takes to be an artist. The Memphis Fashion Design Network, which allowed me to flex my fashion design skills, which ultimately led me to working with pattern. Advance Memphis, who showed me that art could change people's lives in a very real and tangible way. This list could go on and on.
I used to think that to be a great artist, I needed to get out of Memphis. I thought there was nothing for me here. But the older I get, the more I realize that without Memphis, I don't know if I'd make art at all. Cuz it's Memphis. We grind here.
Memphis loves and supports the arts, so I'm growing where I'm planted and trusting the process.
Bio: Meredith Olinger is an artist living and working in Memphis, TN. Olinger works
primarily with wallpaper of her own design. Her work deals with the dependence of art and design on each other, handmade versus digital production, and blurs the line between painting and installation. Olinger has been included in many group shows, including Public/Art/ists I and II, and the 2016 Best of Memphis exhibition. Olinger holds a Masters of Fine Arts from Memphis College of Art.
Alex Paulus Living the Dream Oil and acrylic on Canvas 60 x 48 inches
Memphis Statement: I moved to Memphis in 2007 for graduate school. I expected to be here for 2 years, then planned to move on and find work in another city. I ended up teaching part-time right after I graduated. After years of being poverty level poor, I was finally offered a full-time teaching position. So I decided to stick around and keep making paintings on the side.
The work in graduate school was very minimal in color and imagery. I was making very simple line drawings that were incised into oil paint. From there, I started incorporating collage materials into the paintings. I eventually gave up on oil because it took too long to dry and became very expensive. I started using acrylic and paint markers and the work became very colorful and comical. I don't know if the materials had much to do with the subject matter, but I really liked the results I was getting.
Memphis has a great community of artists, and that is another reason I decided to stay. There is a lot of amazing art being made here, we just need to get the rest of the Memphis community involved.
Bio: Alex Paulus is originally from southeast Missouri, but has been a resident of Memphis, TN since 2007. He received his MFA from the Memphis College of Art and is now an Assistant Professor at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Paulus's work has been shown in numerous galleries in Memphis, Nashville, Dallas, St. Louis, London and many others. His work has also been published in Studio Visit magazine, Beautiful/Decay, It's Nice That, Osso Magazine, and Glasstire. He will also be featured in the South 2017 edition of New American Paintings.
Jared Small "Stained Glass" oil on mylar, 29.5x21.5 inches
Memphis Statement: I was born and raised in Memphis and have been here my entire life. I have built and cultivated a very satisfying life and career as an artist. I think Memphis is a wonderful city full of history and culture with many positives and negatives.
Being born in raised in Memphis has greatly affected my art. I paint a lot of structures. I've always like old architecture and in the neighborhood where I grew up there were a lot of old houses. The people who owned them didn't have a lot materially, so the houses were ramshackled, but still beautiful to me. It would amaze me how I could ride along the Parkways and see essentially the same house in different state of repair. When I was young I didn't understand the impact of socioeconomics on communities. The people I knew were good people but I still just did not understand why their home and lives where such a contrast. Those houses made me ask a lot of questions.
Bio: Jared Small grew up in Memphis, TN. He is best known for his paintings of old dilapidated homes from around the American South. He also explores floral and figurative subject matter as well. The center of each painting focuses on a painstakingly accurate image, while the background dissolves into abstract elements that devise an emotional and dramatic interpretation of the subject. This technique allows Small to hypnotize the viewer into a dream-like state, caught between the realities of the obvious image and the possible mysteries that lay beneath the surface.
Jill Wissmiller "Gilding the Lily" Digital Video Projected on a Glitter Screen
Memphis Statement: My relationship to Memphis = awesome – both impressive and daunting. Indeed inspiring great admiration and yet, at times, apprehension. Memphis amplifies. Adding detail to both the negative and the positive. It is a trick to deal with this sticky scene, and to determine what you will affix to. I choose to adhere to the storytellers and characters of this staggering city.
Bio: Jill Wissmiller is a Midwestern farmer's daughter transplanted to the Midsouth where she can now often be found caked in glitter. Wissmiller uses glitter in her video installation work for its' reflective quality that causes the flat surface of the screen to deepen visually and in turn, expand the layers of meaning to reference bling and bling's connection to power and finally as a nod to the ultimate bling and influence the stars. Her video work has been screened at a variety of venues both nationally and internationally, including the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, and Electrofringe New Media Arts Festival Australia.
Esther Ruiz Wells Plexiglass, Neon and Hardware 25 x 17 x 3 inches
Memphis Statement: I came to Memphis because of an ex...but I stayed in Memphis because of Rhodes and because the city immediately felt like home. I made some amazing friends in the music scene and went to some awesome neon-filled living room dance parties. I changed my major from poetry to studio art despite my mother's great discontent. I got lost in the sculpture studio behind those gates surrounding Rhodes and really found myself within and beyond them. Local artist run spaces like Odessa and the thriving music scene became safe places to explore ideas and identity. The work I'm doing now is still closely related to the work I was making while at Rhodes. I made a lot of important decisions in Memphis; I guess you can say Memphis sculptured who I am today.
Bio: Inspired by space operas, pop culture, geometry and the setting sun, Esther creates objects that operate simultaneously as miniature landscapes from a distant future ("A planet with neon cosmic dust rings and a triangular shaped moon, which align perfectly as they slip away from the sun...") and actual size sculptures informed by the family of Minimalism. The cylinder, the semicircle, the triangle, and other Euclidean forms are combined into colorful and expressive freestanding sculpture. She tops cast cement columns with Plexiglas triangles, neon arches and fractured geodes in a way that leaves viewers thinking of (among other things) Dan Flavin, Pink Floyd and the stark beauty of the desert.
The newer works, shifting away form the cylindrical forms, but still adhering to a strict material diet, act as objects from these landscapes. Some act as tomes, containing foreign information; others as stand-ins for familiar domestic objects but with fundamental idiosyncrasies. The series of Wells, began in 2014 as wormholes or portals to these other worlds. By reflecting the viewers and also warping them and their surroundings, the Wells, placed above eye level, induce one to look beyond or through their current place. As sparse and concise as these pieces are, this work is replete with inherent feuds. Esther somehow manages to investigate and celebrate both fictional landscapes and material honesty. It is elegantly abstract and evocatively representational and, in the way she positions synthetic and natural materials together, she creates a tiny battle over those materials' permanence in relation to each other.
Esther Ruiz received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Rhodes College in 2011. She has shown nationally and internationally at various galleries including yours mine & ours gallery, New Release Gallery, Planthouse Gallery, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Platform Baltimore, Vox Populi, Field Projects, Fridman Gallery, Regina Rex, and The American Center for Physics. Spaceworks has awarded her the Artist Grant and Williamsburg Studio Lottery. She was born in Houston, Texas, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
About the Curator
Dwayne Butcher is a cultural producer living in Memphis, TN. He recently made his return home after a three-year hiatus in Baltimore, MD. Initially, Butcher was none too excited about returning to Memphis. But let's face it, for Dwayne, Memphis is Home. For the past decade, his work has wittily commented on his life living in the American South, often around issues of gender identity and classism. During this time, his work as an artist, writer, and curator has gradually shifted from thinking and being local, to exploring their respective roles in a national and international context.
He has exhibited work in Paris, Helsinki, Milan, Amsterdam, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chonqing, China, and numerous others. He has been featured in articles focusing on his work and community art projects for the New York Times, The Washington Post, Hyperallergic, Art21, and Big, Red and Shiny.
He is one of the world's greatest Risk players and has won awards for his chicken wings. Dwayne spends a lot of time with his wife taking pictures of their worthless cat.