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Radical Vernacular opens to the public September 8
             *open by appointment all summer*

Radical Vernacular

Inaugural program, Gold / scopophilia*

 

For the 2-part inaugural program of Gold / scopophilia* Contemporary, five mid-career artists come together to bewitch and entertain; to flaunt mastery of languages they not only speak fluently and poetically, but that each also invented for her voice alone. 

 

Part I of the exhibition runs from June 24 through September 1, and can be viewed by appointment only. Part II of the exhibition runs from September 8 through October 15 and is open to the public.

 

Radical Vernacular is a really good time. This is easy work to love. There is an abundance of joy, clarity, and swagger in every hand crafted object or surface on display.

 

Leah Tacha makes free-standing sculpture from glazed ceramics that incorporate printmaking, foam, metal, and paper inventively and improvisationally, all in service of a more rigorous thematic through-line. Jauntily titled, often with playful urban vernacular, the work tempts anthropomorphizing and misplaced empathy. These little objects are replete with personality, and that is strange, given that they are made of clay. Critic Stephen Maine describes a recent show at 106 Greene Gallery: The excitement here is that Tacha draws on a range of apparently contradictory or discontinuous sources, including Russian Constructivist collage, Japanese design aesthetics, antique Classical pottery, and postmodern appropriation, and makes the mashup work. She doesn’t poach styles or genres for their own sake, or just to show that she knows about them. She has found a personal through-line in her enthusiasms that allows her to both plumb her moment and link to our collective past.

 

Kirsten Hassenfeld’s woven sculptures incorporate a variety of found and recycled materials. Her process evolves a tradition of craft that is in many ways the most rigorous language of the domestic realm. Over the course of her career Hassenfeld has subjected ephemeral materials (often paper) to painstaking technical processes that eventually transform and transcend their materiality. Low material is worked up to baroque excess, often at a massive scale. Decoration is prime. An alumna of RISD and Skowhegan, and a veteran of solo shows at Smack Mellon, Bellwether, and other important institutions, Hassenfeld has spent decades developing a unique aesthetic merging craft technique, meaningful materiality, and formal beauty without shying away from the political conversations this work elicits.

 

Heidi Pollard has been making paintings and sculpture since the 1980s. An astute and luminous thinker and a prolific maker, Pollard has earned a place amongst the great living American painters via her inclusion in numerous important group shows and prestigious fellowships and awards; including a Pollock-Krasner Grant, a Gottleib fellowship, and a recent award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Critic Peter Plagens listed Pollard among a small group of abstract painters who share Wassily Kandinsky’s DNA on the occasion of the 2009 Kandinsky survey at the Guggenheim.  The other artists on Plagens’ list, published in Newsweek, include Arshile Gorky, Willem De Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Terry Winters, Elizabeth Murray, Thomas Nozkowski, and Mark Mullen. I am thrilled that my dear friend and colleague Heidi has sent work on paper to be included in Radical Vernacular.

 

Meg Lipke is a third generation textile artist whose work is radically pleasure-inducing and dizzyingly beautiful. She has an elevated sensibility to color and texture, and the painterly facility to resolve incredibly complex pages to a place of perfect formal sweetness. It’s an astounding aesthetic that I find quite transcendent in its jolie-laide strangeness. Meg deals in real, serious beauty. Critic Geoffrey Young writes, “Lipke’s surfaces are fields of action and reaction. . . surprises abound; the right kinds of questions are housed and answered in complex edifices.” Lipke’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has been reviewed in Art in America, The Village Voice, The New York Times and many online publications.

 

Melissa Vandenberg (exhibiting in Part II of the exhibition) is the most overtly political artist in the group, making objects that address the dark shadows of nationalism and identity of place. Vandenberg works within conceptually rigorous parameters that she sets for herself, citing her upbringing in Detroit and her southern sensibilities as engines of her artistic production. Perhaps surprisingly, Vandenberg has a nuanced sensitivity to materiality and construction, and the works in the show include drawings made with melted popsicles and lit matches.

Patricia Satterlee "a superb painter whose work hasn’t quite achieved the level of visibility it deserves.” – Thomas Micchelli, Hyperallergic. Exhibitions include Zurcher (Paris), Valentine Gallery, and Frosch and Portmann (Manhattan). A pair of delightful chalk and wax crayon drawings hang in Radical Vernacular.

 

* * *

Consider at the outset:

to be thin for thought

or thick cream blossomy

 

Many things are better

flavored with bacon

 

Sweet Life, My love:

didn’t you ever try

this delicacy – the marrow

in the bone?

 

And don’t be afraid

to pour wine over cabbage

 

Lorine Niedecker