EXTENT. A Quotidian Project
Extent, began as an exhibition about negative space in sculptural form. When my mother, Francine Kelly, director emeritus of Featherstone Center for the Arts, came to California to start Quotidian with me, we were investigating the commonalities of our aesthetics. With our shared interest in richly tactile, self-referential forms, we focused on Peter Shelton's foundational work.
Shelton (b. 1951) once described his practice as "a threshold between in and out, object and space, heavy and light." His pieces are potent examples of a California aesthetic tradition that merges meaning and form and provides the opportunity for weighted content conveyed through a surprisingly contradictory materiality.
When we conceived of Extent we wanted to highlight how Shelton's work made space for other investigations of juxtaposing signifying forms, bringing together members of my community of Los Angeles based artists: Blue McRight, Lisa Bartleson, Joe Davidson, Duane Paul, Nike Schroeder and Lisa Soto, whose sculptures weighed objects with formal and narrative relationships to volume.
Then my mother's lupus attacked her heart and she died on January 8, 2017. These artists who are also my friends, supported me when she was in hospice and after she was gone and allowed me to reconsider the weight of their objects in the chasm of my sorrow. We talked about their own stories of love and loss narratives that resonate through clear aesthetic decisions about process and practice.
The more I tried to situate my mother and our vision of Extent, the more the negative space of the sculptures took on a greater consequence and seemed to echo my loss, shifting the meaning away from what is to what is implied. Conceived as ex-tent - the amount to which something is or is believe to be the case. The physical weight and weightlessness of the objects become a tragically heavy framework contextualizing deeply personal emotions-- the artists' and my own.
Extent expresses a visual language of content and form that highlights permanence and ephemerality, gesture and absence. From titles to materials and color palettes, McRight, Bartleson, Davidson, Paul, Schroeder and Soto engage in a call and response with Shelton's seminal irondress and longbag and with each other. Mounted in a location of L.A.'s historic past, Extent speaks of memory, of the spaces we remember and the emptiness we cannot forget. It is a tribute to friendship, and to an unyielding aesthetic of the West, where transformational ideas can be observed in and around objects.
This exhibition is made possible by a community dedicated to the arts. Thanks to Tom Gilmore of OBD, Allison Agsten, executive director of Main Museum, Ben Milch and his team at Secure Installations, Jennifer Brown at J Brown Signs, LA Louver, Fresh Paint, Walter Maciel Gallery, and of course, the artists themselves.
Curated by jill moniz