Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to announce Brad Kahlhamer: Fort Gotham USA, an exhibition of mixed media works, all made between 2005 and 2022. Opening on Thursday, May 12, 2022, the exhibition will include a number of the artist’s dreamcatcher works, composed of sprawling expanses of wire and bells, along with a number of paintings, drawings, and sculptures. The show will be the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Like many of his works, Topps Platinum Dream Catcher #1 (2011) is autobiographical—reflecting his rich, peripatetic history. While working for the Topps chewing gum company, the artist met his coworker Art Spiegelman, who in turn introduced him to New York’s thriving underground comics scene. This influence is evident in Kahlhamer’s jagged lines, informality, and improvisational tendencies, which carry over into the artist’s sculptural work. Other features hint at Kahlhamer’s singular trajectory from the Sonoran Desert to the city, from years as a traveling musician to his sojourns within underground visual communities.
The work is a frenetic mix of visual registers: of spray paint, stencils, collaged elements, and penwork, dreamcatchers and Northwest Coastal formlines. In the towering canvas American Horse II (2022), the artist similarly mixes heterogenous symbols and patterns freely. The diverse imagery reflects the artist’s self-described “tribal ambiguity.” His official connection is sealed in records that predate his adoption by German American parents. This experience seems to have generated an acute desire to connect with his occluded past, even as it enables a deep ability to engage across tribal affiliations and geographies. The works, and his life, explore this disjunction and union, as well as the energetic tension between authenticity and ambiguity.
In his vast constellation of wire and bells, Super Catcher (2022), Kahlhamer revisits dreamcatchers—the spiritually potent objects woven by Ojibwe and Lakota that were relentlessly diluted by commercial plastic reproductions. Perhaps in a wry nod to the dreamcatcher’s complicated history, the artist suggestively bends peripheral wire into the phrase “please pay me so I can pay them.” The expansive hanging wire sculpture is composed of dozens of smaller catchers of varying sizes, stitched together into a great circle. While some may be tempted to place the dreamcatcher amidst gift shop debris, Kahlhamer affirms its magical apotropaic energy, as well as its symbolic role as a unifying symbol across numerous tribes. In its materiality and scale, the work is a paradox of lightness and strength.
The exhibition coincides with two solo exhibitions of the artist’s work: Brad Kahlhamer: 11:59 to Tucson, on view through September 25 at the Tucson Museum of Art, and Brad Kahlhamer: Swap Meet, on view through October 9 at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Kahlhamer has been the subject of over 31 solo exhibitions at prestigious venues, such as: Deitch Projects (1999, 2001, and 2006, New York); Denver Museum of Contemporary Art (2008); Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2012–2013, Ridgefield, Connecticut); Jack Shainman Gallery (2013, 2014, and 2017, New York); Minnesota Museum of American Art (2019, St. Paul); and Plains Art Museum (2020, Fargo, North Dakota). The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Tucson Museum of Art will both be mounting solo exhibitions of his work in 2022. His work features in numerous public collections internationally, including: the Museum of Modern Art (New York); Tucson Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Walker Art Center (Minneapolis); and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York).
Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to represent Brad Kahlhamer.