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Exhibitions

Sailing the Barbarous Coast

Running from January 15, 2010 to February 24, 2010 in the Main Gallery

Curatorial Opportunity Program (COP) Selection

Curated by Anthony Smith, Jr. Artists include Colin Matthes and Anthony Smith, Jr.

Sailing the Barbarous Coast brings together two artists who draw connections among themes of militarism, consumerism, and economic hardship. The show’s title references the Battle of Derne in 1805, the first US military action overseas, which was an attack effort to eradicate the “pirates” on the Barbary Coast in North Africa.  The artists have referenced this historical incident as an allegory for contemporary aggression, power, and intervention.  These works in conversation reflect a sense of uncertainty in the midst of economic calamity, social unrest, and global disruption.  The artists imagine that these works, which were specifically created for this exhibition, will spark a rethinking or questioning of our relationships to others in the world and our participation in activities not necessarily endorsed by all.  In their scrutiny of global events and concerns, Smith and Matthes infuse wit, humor, irony, and mischief to also examine personal experiences.

Anthony Smith, Jr.  begins his work with simple sketches upon which he builds a dense layer of lines, paint, and collage into what he describes as an “orderly-but-exotic” universe.  His works for this exhibition consist of a series of twelve paintings which communicate a narrative using certain staple elements such as bright colors and high-contrast lines.  The series, entitled Who is Prester John, all envision a moral fable based on the idea of a savior personified as a man – the character Prester John, also created by the artist.  John references a mythical Christian king in an exploration of hero worship in the midst of calamity.  This character was inspired by the past presidential election and the subsequent Obama-mania that swept America and the world.  Over the course of the story as it unfolds across the canvases, the central character smites real and perceived enemies for a great society that will in the end elude him. 
Colin Matthes creates drawings and sculpture that envision a world teetering uneasily between contemporary life and a nostalgic future.  Dated high tech gizmos, survival gear, and everyday scavenger objects including scrap wood and milk crates are combined to frame this world.  Staying Afloat, a nine panel 90” x 126” drawing, consists of isolated events completely surrounded by meticulous representations of water.  A puppet show, figures in protective body suits, a surveillance billboard, and a border wall stage set are just a few of the objects rendered in this work.

Anthony Smith, Jr.

Anthony Smith, Jr.

Anthony Smith, Jr.

Anthony Smith, Jr.

Colin Matthes

Colin Matthes

Colin Matthes

Colin Matthes

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