Curated by Harrell Fletcher
Laura asked me to curate a show for the gallery. I selected various artists that I've come across who's work I find interesting. I'm not sure if there is any more to it than that. I like the title Abstract Things partly because it’s about the vagueness of my own subjective tastes and interests. But also I think the artists that I selected, even when their work is very literal and representational, are trying to get at the sort of abstract, mysterious parts of life, but in modest ways, nothing overblown or dramatic, just simple, weird life and beauty and feelings, lots of feelings.
About Veda's Bible [above image]
Last year, I was in San Antonio, Texas doing an Art Pace residency. I spent a lot of time just walking around. At some point while on one of these walks I ran across woman sitting in a doorway of a church highlighting every line of a bible with an array of bright colors. I was curious so I started up a conversation. Her name was Veda Epling, she said she was homeless and lived there in the doorway of the church. She told us she had highlighted about ten bibles already, she was about a third of the way done with the one she was working on. She said there was a system to the colors she used but it was hard to explain. I asked her if I could commission her to make me a highlighted bible, but Veda said she only gave them away and wouldn’t take money for them. She said that if I got her a bible and some markers she would make one for me when she finished the current one. The next day I came back with a set of makers and a couple of bibles I’d gotten from a used bookstore. I asked her if there was anything else I could get for her. She reluctantly said that she would like a phone card so she could call her daughter. I went and got her a couple of phone cards.
During the rest of my residency I stopped by and visited Veda almost everyday. She told me a little about her life and asked me about mine. She ended up coming over to Art Pace for a couple of public events I did as part of my show The American War. I took some photos of Veda’s bible and showed them to some people. Everyone thought they were very beautiful. I was having prints made at a really good local digital print shop for my show, and it occurred to me that the bible pages might look good blown up as prints too. I mentioned the idea to Veda and she was interested so I arranged to bring her to the printshop. The printers worked with her and we made a few variations on the prints. I asked Veda if she would like to do a show of them and she said she would.
Then I had to leave San Antonio because my residency was over. At some point after that Hills Snyder asked me if I’d like to do a show at Sala Diaz in San Antonio. It seemed like a great opportunity to show some of Veda’s bible page prints. Somewhere along the line Veda got a cell phone and we started talking on a fairly regular basis. She was excited about the show. A smaller set of the prints had been sent to France for a show there (those are the prints in the show here at Laura’s too), but Veda wasn’t able to come out for that. Doing the show in San Antonio was important for me because I wanted Veda to see her work framed and presented in a gallery context. She liked the idea that people saw her bibles as art.