Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Social Currency, The Shared Photograph

Ron and Andy Chen discussing our piece (photo by Satch)
Since the Social Currency, The Shared Photograph exhibit will be coming down this Friday I thought that I would post the artist statement about the exhibit and its concept.  Soon I will be posting photographs and a description of our piece.

Social Currency, The Shared Photograph - Artist Statement

The concept of this exhibition, photography as social currency, challenged me to take a closer look at the contemporary state of photography.  Social currency is information shared that encourages further social encounters, increases one's sense of community, helps form one's identity and potentially provides status and recognition.

The digital age has ushered in a period in history where the "visual" dominates nearly every aspect of our day to day life.  The incredible ease of producing a picture and making it immediately available for 24/7 viewing on social networks, photo-viewing websites, PDAs, etc. is transforming the very essence of photography. 

Historically photography has been an analogue print medium.  Today it is primarily a digital medium that has unique parameters and a transformed aesthetic; the computer screen emits light where a printed photograph reflects light.

This new aesthetic combined with instant access is propelling photography into internet parameters that both broaden and restrain it.  The democratic culture and psychology of cyberspace certainly affects the work that is produced.  Short attention spans and the consumer’s ability to interactively click through a series of images nearly requires the picture maker to bring forth bold, high-powered photographs.  This is not a favorable tenor for investing time required to create and appreciate meaningful images. 

The case could be made that these new circumstances are merely a result of high-tech contrivance and the hyper-democratic philosophy of social media.  The vast numbers of individuals easily producing millions and millions of photographs, all of which are vying for attention on various networks, have revolutionized picture making, but it also has resulted in a fuzzy line between public and private imagery.  While these images strive to create social currency the question must be asked, what is the constructive and quantitative effect?  With the immense amount of images constantly bombarding the social network collective, it is hard not to envision a future meltdown calling into question the value of their social capital.

The portrait is so ordinary in contemporary life that it is nearly impossible to conceive of a time where it did not exist.  The advent of the printed portrait photograph on paper, the carte de visite (1857) and the cabinet card (1866), resulted in the extensive exchange and collection of personal photographs thereby giving the general public the ability to seek a social identity.

Today, the explosion of the digital age’s easy-to-use cameras and social networks has ushered in history’s next watershed moment of using portrait (and self-portrait) photography as an integral element in forming one’s identity within a social dynamic.

Ron Kern, February, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pete Brown at Kellar Mahaney

Pete Brown at Kellar Mahaney
During the month of March The Kellar Mahaney Gallery in Zionsville is exhibiting Pete Brown's stencil and aerosol based art.  Full disclosure, Pete is a friend of mine and is a fellow artist represented by Lolly Mahaney.  And, I am by no means an art critic.  I like Pete's work so I thought I'd post about it.

It's terrific to see art shown in Zionsville that is somewhat out of the norm.  Pete puts his own unique stamp on pop cultural icons and subjects as diverse as oompa loompas and exotic wildlife.

I especially like the pieces in the show that are on wood.  There's something about how the paint works into and around the wood's grain that makes the work feel organic.

Never Shoulda Left
My favorite work in the exhibit is Never Shoulda Left which shows Barney Fife in a place a lot less friendly than Mayberry.  He has blood on his uniform's pants and hopefully has more than one bullet for his revolver that he's holding in his hands.  The wood grain makes for an ominous sky.  Hand drawing by Pete and a piece of (real) police caution tape across the bottom complete this piece.

Check out the exhibit.  Kellar Mahaney is easy to find; it is directly north of the Friendly Tavern.

(Click on the photos to enlarge)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Social Currency, The Shared Photograph, Opening Reception

Here's a short video from the First Friday, March 4, 2011 opening reception for Social Currency, The Shared Photograph at the StutzArtSpace:

Dan Grossman's Article on the Exhibition (Nuvo)

Dan Grossman's Review of the Exhibitions (Nuvo)

Carmel Artists Ron Kern and Satch Exhibiting at Stutz Art Space

Ron Kern and Satch collaborated on a conceptual piece that is a part of the critically acclaimed group exhibition, curated by Andy Chen, “Social Currency, The Shared Photograph.”

Intertwining historic carte de visites and cabinet cards with contemporary portraits from Facebook, along with other contemporary and historical elements including a self-portrait made by Ron, the piece compares and contrasts the historical and contemporary use of portraits as the means to develop social currency.

Satch - “This is the first time that we have collaborated on a project of this size.  It was very exciting to see the piece come together.  This exhibit examines picture making as a part of our daily lives that we rely on which to communicate and create social interaction.”

Ron Kern - “The exhibit’s concept challenged me to take a closer look at the contemporary state of photography.  The incredible ease of producing a picture and making it immediately available for 24/7 viewing is transforming the very essence of photography.”

Social Currency, The Shared Photograph
Monday - Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment
Cost - Free

Stutz Art Space
Stutz Business Center
212 W. 10th Street, Suite B110
Indianapolis, IN  46202

Friday, March 4, 2011

It Is About Time, The Time Is Now

I have been struggling with finding the words to write this blog entry about Thornton Dial's new exhibit, "Hard Truths," at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  So, I've decided to go with more of a stream of consciousness and simply begin writing, see where it takes me and attempt to follow myself.

Joanne Cubbs Addresses the Reception
First, about the exhibition's well attended opening reception - It was our good fortune that we had arrived early as the documentary by Alabama Public Television, "Mr. Dial Has Something to Say" was playing in IMA's Davis Lab.  Satch knew about Mr. Dial and his work but I was unacquainted.  Being able to watch the entire program helped me begin to comprehend Mr. Dial's work and his long and complicated journey.  The film was also a good introduction to the passion and dedication of Bill Arnett of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Maxwell Anderson
Satch and I had been speculating as to whether Mr. Dial would be present, but we were hopeful.  Very soon after we emerged from the Davis Lab, we realized that, yes indeed, Mr. Dial and his family were present.  And, almost immediately, we recognized Bill Arnett.

IMA's Director Maxwell Anderson, as well as the exhibit's Curator Joanne Cubbs made terrific comments about Mr. Dial and his art and how the IMA's exhibition finally delivered to Mr. Dial his long coming acknowledgment as a master (my word).

There was a lot of hubub around Mr. Dial as the pleasure and delight of the evening's significance was palpable.

Hubub Around Mr. Dial
Satch and I sought out Mr. Arnett to offer our congratulations.  He was quite cordial and we had a short chat about the exhibition and its importance.

We enjoyed a nice visit with Kyle Ragsdale and Jean Easter.

It was time to visit the exhibition.  We had an inkling of what we were going to experience as IMA had purchased one of Mr. Dial's works and they had displayed two works as an exhibition preview.  But we were not prepared for the amount of work (70 pieces) that displayed the skill of a artistic genius.

Photographing Mr. Dial and Family
Mr Dial's work transcends simple interpretation, it engages and challenges the senses on many levels - spiritual, political, aesthetic, emotional, intellectual just to name a few that immediately come to mind.  It addresses the human condition in an unfiltered way that is free from academia, expectation and stereotype.  It is contemporary art of the purest form.

I will leave to you, the reader, to do a little research and learn about the culutural origins of Mr. Dial's work.  I do recommend that visitors to the exhibition take the time to watch the previously mentioned documentary before viewing the art.

Secondly - Satch and I wanted to briefly meet Mr. Dial but he was obviously getting tired and he was trying to finish his dessert!  So rather than impose ourselves we briefly spoke to his son who assured us that our message would be delivered to Mr. Dial.

Bill Arnett (on the left)
Thirdly - The next morning we went back to the museum so we could spend more time with the art.  At the top of the escalator that comes up from the garage entrance we ran directly into Bill Arnett - we had a nice long talk.  He was very generous with his time.  Arnett's passion and dedication to Mr. Dial and African American art is immeasurable.  Throughout the last thirty years he has taken a lot of hits, but how anyone can question what this gentleman has made possible and what he has preserved for history is beyond my comprehension.
Satch and Kyle Ragsdale
In closing this long entry, I want to attempt to briefly explain how I see Mr. Dial's art.  His work examines and makes meditative statements about the human condition and the historical role that humanity has played, and plays, in our journey.  Ultimately his work requires me to look inward and think about what my responsibility is in the world and, in many ways, suggests a path, but a path that I must discover for myself.  The physical construction of his work is complicated yet seamless.  It relates to the subject matter in a way that challenges the imagination.  In other words, the art and its message are in absolute harmony.

It is wonderful that IMA has curated this exhibition that presents Mr. Dial and his work in the proper light and context.

Big and Huge kudos to Maxwell Anderson and all of the staff at IMA.  It is exciting to see our "little museum" step up to the plate and make a difference.  Between "Hard Truths" and the 2010 La Biennale IMA is having quite a year.

Satch and I plan on making many more visits to IMA to view Mr. Dial's work.  I may have more to say about it on another day.

Below are three videos and three links.

New York Times

Time Magazine

Indianapolis Star

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Yesterday Satch and I were able to hang our piece, "Life in the Present Connected to the Past," without incident.  After getting a preview, the exhibit, "Social Currency, the shared Photograph," promises to be excellent and the opening should be a blast.

Here are a couple of photographs from yesterday, one made by Satch of Andy Chen (exhibitor and the Director of the StutzArtSpace) and I discussing the piece and one that I snapped of Andy after he was finished hanging the exhibit!

There's going to be a live Twitter feed during the exhibit's opening so those that cannot attend will be able to check it out.

Andy Chen and Ron Kern

Andy Chen