For the 2021 edition of FIAC Online Viewing Rooms, Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of ten signature works by gallery artists Allan D’Arcangelo, Rosalyn Drexler, Paul Feeley, Ralph Humphrey, Al Loving, James Luna, Gladys Nilsson, Nicholas Krushenick, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. The artists in this exhibition span multiple 20th and 21st century American art movements, often taking idiosyncratic approaches. Their work, geographies, and careers intersect in manifold ways, painting a polyvocal portrait of the country from which they spring.
A number of these artists—Allan D’Arcangelo, Rosalyn Drexler, and Nicholas Krushenick—engaged with the visual language of Pop, mass culture, and advertising’s flat but colorful imagery. Each, however, differed significantly from their peers as well as from each other, particularly in their sometimes coded social commentary. In Rosalyn Drexler’s The Lesson (Men and Machines) (1962), for example, the artist celebrates what she describes as the “concentration of men at work.” Two male scientists project an ominous and potentially destructive power, even as they engage in homosocial distraction. Allan D’Arcangelo, by contrast, turned his attention to the landscape and America’s pragmatic and industrial relationship to it. In works like Shuttle (1982) the artist foregrounds the technological icon of the space-bound rocket ship against the boundless, infinite sky.
Nicholas Krushenick rejected the narrative and representational conventions of his Pop contemporaries altogether. His bright and processed colors, broad black lines, and overlapping, quasi-organic forms earned him the moniker of “the father of Pop abstraction.” In Quick Red Fox (1963), the artist employs his iconic warp-and-weft pattern that flexes and bulges organically.
The tension between mechanical precision and human imperfection was also central to the work of Paul Feeley. Helena (1962) is governed by mathematical curvature and symmetry, resulting in his hallmark jack-like or atomic forms. The hand-painted blue and red fields trace each other, creating mesmerizing figure-ground ambivalence, and sensuously deviate from perfection. At the heart of much of Feeley’s work was an interplay between the Apollonian and Dionysian.
Other artists in this exhibition form more proximal influences. James Luna was a master at subverting and complicating cultural expectations surrounding Native American identity. The commercial peddling of Indigenous wisdom and spirituality was a particular target of his ire. In Wet Dream Catcher (1992), Luna dresses an old tennis racquet with feathers, condoms, and lucky rabbits’ feet, reframing the sacred dream catchers’ cheap ubiquity in gift stores. Luna used humor as a tool to simultaneously disarm and confront. “My appeal for humor in my work comes from Indian culture, where humor can be a form of knowledge, critical thought, and perhaps used in a way of easing the pain,” he said in an interview.
This unsettling mix of humor and poignance is carried forward in the work of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. I See Red: Grandma! Grandma! (Red in the Hood) (1998) presents the outline of a Christmas tree doused in dripping red paint along with the panicked headline “Grandma! Grandma!,” possibly alluding to Mother Earth in peril. A quote from Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature confirms: “The greenhouse effect is the first environmental problem we can’t escape by moving to the woods.” Smith humorously includes a puzzling quote from Ronald Reagan, “Eighty percent of pollution is caused by plants and trees,” along with ads like, “If you can’t see every plot twist coming, rush to your optometrist now.” Obviously, the plot twist of the story referenced by the painting’s title, Little Red Riding Hood, is that grandma turns out to be a wolf. Such is the structure of our environmental crisis. In the end, it is not Mother Nature that is ultimately in peril, but us.
This multi-generational group of artists vary in their use of media, in their geography, and in their approach. Their multivalent works, however, capture the uncontrollable energy, paradoxes, and contradictions of the broader country in which they produced their work.
Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to represent Rosalyn Drexler, Gladys Nilsson, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith as well as the estates of Allan D’Arcangelo, Paul Feeley, Ralph Humphrey, Al Loving, James Luna, and Nicholas Krushenick.
FIAC Online Viewing Rooms will be available to view online through Sunday, March 7, 2021. For more information, please contact Garth Greenan at (212) 929-1351, or email email@example.com.