Last Chance: Entangled: Art and Word at Jordan Faye Contemporary at Case[Werks]
James Rieck’s “Something Special”
Saturday, Oct. 18, is the last chance to check out the inventive, if curious, remix of artists and writers that is Entagled: Art and Word at Jordan Faye Contemporary at Case[Werks]. What’s engaging about Entangled is the project’s very existence: As Jordan Faye Block acknowledges in the show’s accompanying catalog-qua-chapbook, local writing about local arts has only recently started to become more prevalent, thanks in large parts to online publishing ventures such as Bmore Art, There Were Ten Tigers, Gutter Magazine,
I’m actually loath to say anything about this show, given that Bleau has written for me, and that another one of the project’s contributing writers, Betsy Boyd, was somebody I interviewed for a previous story and later invited to be a judge for City Paper‘s fiction and poetry contest, but this nexus of visual artists and writers is an avenue that should be a much more freely trafficked feedback loop in any arts community, as more people providing more verbal discussion about anything inevitably brings more ideas to that discussion and, ideally, may reach a broader audience that ropes in more viewers of local art. That being said, this debut installment of Entangled–Block says she and Bleau hope to make the project a recurring endeavor–is a tad inchoate. The exhibited artists–John Folsom, Johnny Love, Renée Rendine, Beverly Ress, James Rieck, Jacqueline Schlossman, Jessi Southern–run from painting to photography, mixed-media sculpture to tattooing, and their pieces serve as visual catalysts for the seven writers (Bleau, Boyd, Amy Eisner, Aaron Gentzler, Peter Levine, A. Loudermilk, Deborah Rudacille), who use an artist’s work as a leaping-off point for poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
This curatorial decision makes for buckshot viewing. The lone organizing thread is that the writers picked an artist/work, so neither the styles, approaches, themes, nor media really unites the works. In the accompanying chapbook, a reproduction of the piece accompanies the writer’s response–e.g., Rieck’s “Something Special” (pictured) runs alongside the first page of Boyd’s “Sweetheart” short story. Its makes the works partially feel like mere illustrations to the writing alongside which they appear.
All of which is fine and dandy: Entangled feels to aim for that space where the labor of visual artists and writers collide, but not being intimately familiar with all the writers included, it’s difficult, as a reader, to get a good handle on how these visual artists inspired, influenced, or otherwise affected the writers. What you’re left with is the juxtaposition of images and text, and you’re invited to draw your own conclusions as to how they’re interacting with one another.
Which is not to imply that this exhibition is a failure or otherwise listless, merely suggesting that the why behind it is a tad elusive and nebulous. But it’s a curious first step in what could turn into a rich territory that makes writers and artists converse. Perhaps future installments can reconsider the project’s execution and push the collaborative possibilities–both writers and artists prove their mettle when pushed outside of their comfort zones and, perhaps, more compelling and interesting results could come from changing the process up a bit. Perhaps have artists pick local writers to respond to their work. Perhaps randomly pair artists and writers to consider a subject, theme, or idea with new works from each. I don’t know–but the instinct behind the exhibition is ripe for exploration.
Also ending this week: Chul-Hyun Ahn Visual Echoes at C. Grimaldis Gallery (through Oct. 18). Joy Goldkind’s Tableau Vivant at Gallery Imperato (through Oct. 18). And The Awakening Eye, MICA alum Reed Sayre’s experiments with studio photography, concludes tonight at Joe Squared.