Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Unnerving Joy




"Out of Order," the first exhibit in the Thunder-Sky, Inc. not by and/or about Raymond Thunder-Sky, features the works of two artists who, biographically at least, don't have a lot in common.

Kevin White (his work is the top photo)is an artist who spent much of his working artistic life in a sheltered workshop for people with developmental disabilities. Labeled with "Down syndrome," Kevin would draw all the time, with and on anything he could find, and many times he was told not to. But he persisted, and in 2002 Bill Ross, a cofounder of both Visionaries & Voices (a studio for artists with disabilities here in Cincinnati) and Thunder-Sky, Inc., was introduced to him. Kevin, along with Raymond and several other artists, were in fact the inspiration for Visionaries & Voices. Kevin still attends the V&V studio in Northside regularly.

David Jarred is an artist who has a degree in visual art and who writes about visual art regularly. He is just beginning his career, and Bill and I discovered his work late last summer in a gallery in Over-the-Rhine here in Cincinnati, 1305. His work seemed to be both provocatively simple and inherently strange. A lot like Kevin's.

When you put Kevin and David's work together, it completely pops -- as if one of David's objects has been pulled from one of Kevin's large paintings, or as if one of Kevin's paintings is a billboard on David's planet. There is a mutual and eerie happiness in their work, a sort of ethereal and somehow unnerving joy in the oddness and authority both artists share.

The main reason we curated this show is art, not biography, not resumes, and yet knowing upfront that these different people might not have ever met unless they made art really is inspiring. And also it is another example of the 2 + 2 = 5 thesis: pulling together the two bodies of work embellishes both beyond just showing them side by side. Knowing the back story also intensifies the experience of getting to know the art.

By juxtaposing David and Kevin's works, Thunder-Sky, Inc. offers viewers the chance to witness art as an equalizer and the gallery space as a site for new insights into what makes an artist “an artist,” and what makes art “art.”

Show opens February 26, 2010, with a reception 6 to 10 pm.