I guess that Keebler crackers and cookies just taste scarier when they are displayed on a giant cardboard likeness of Frankenstein’s Monster. Because, Halloween.
I tell you, it does not ever get boring looking for fucked up shit to photograph for this blog, because it is everywhere. I saw this baby head sculpture with a seed pod body — and actually, if you look below, there are two of them — at the Into the Wild exhibit at Art Now NY Gallery on West 28th Street. And now it cannot be unseen.
Damien Echols has to have the most unusual back story of any contemporary artist I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Wrongly convicted of murder, sentenced to death and imprisoned on death row for 18 years, Damien is best known as a member of the West Memphis Three, who were finally released from prison last year when their erroneous convictions were overturned.
While on death row, Damien studied Buddhism and eastern philosophies, developed a daily meditation practice and turned to creating art as a way to escape from and cope with his horrific situation. Not unexpectedly, the resultant paintings, collages and sculptures created during his incarceration, the surviving pieces of which are now on display at NYC’s Sacred Gallery, are very spiritual in nature.
Many of the pieces, encased in plexiglass displays, are small enough in size so that they could be easily hidden from prison guards, who were inclined to destroy works if found in Damien’s cell. Each work is intricately crafted and highly detailed, revealing not only Echol’s natural talent but also his high degree of devotion to his art.
Collage pieces such as the one seen above clearly show a soul in torment. It is impossible to imagine what he and his fellow wrongfully convicted friends went through during their imprisonment.
Echols has been the subject of many films and books but he has a new self-penned memoir out called Life After Death (Available at This Link) which I am looking forward to reading.
Gallery Owner Kevin Wilson Introduces Echols at Saturday’s Opening Reception
Damien Echols’ Moving Forward, Looking Back will be on Exhibit at Sacred Gallery, Located at 424 Broadway, 2nd Floor (Between Howard and Canal Streets) Through January 31st, 2013.
Me With Damien. He is so nice!
Just when you thought the art reporting on this blog couldn’t get any more exciting, Jeff Soto, one of our very favorite American contemporary artists, returns to Jonathan LeVine Gallery for his fourth solo exhibition! Having been deeply affected by the recent passing of two of his grandparents, Soto’s new series of works Decay and Overgrowth is his memento mori of sorts. For Decay and Overgrowth, Jeff maintains many of his signature motifs while incorporating a distinctive fecundity in the broad use of new colors, such as mossy green, and images of plants and vines that entwine through skulls in a series of paintings that seem to personify the members of Soto’s family.
Expanding upon the themes explored previously in Lifecycle, Soto’s solo 2010 exhibition, works in Decay and Overgrowth deal with the passage of time, early man and life after death, as well as primitive myths and legends attempting to explain the unknown. A connective thread of mortality runs throughout the work, conveying themes such as the transient nature of life, brevity of the average lifetime and inevitability of death.
Soto selected symbols of hope and growth to symbolize the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Organic shapes and elements such as mountains, plants, flowers, rocks and crystals are juxtaposed with manmade objects such as cell phone towers, weapons, polished gems and modern architecture. The resulting imagery combines a bit of magic, unanswered questions and a glimpse into the unknown.
I found this exhibit to be deeply moving and also life affirming. Jeff Soto was at the opening reception on Saturday and he was just the nicest person you could meet, signing a card for me and also posing with his art for this post. Thanks Jeff for your beautiful art and also for being so cool.
Jeff Soto’s Decay & Overgrowth will be on exhibit through October 6, 2012 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th floor New York City. Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Anything is possible when you smell like a monster and know the word “on.”