Tilton Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of work by John Outterbridge, his second solo show with the gallery. The exhibition will be from October 23th - December 21st. The reception will take place Tuesday, October 23rd, 6 - 8 pm.
Artist, community activist, and often spoken of by friends and other artists as poet and philosopher, John Outterbridge is known for creating art from the mid-sixties to the present that addresses the human condition, primarily through assemblages made from diverse salvaged materials. Outterbridge transforms these materials, whether metal, wood, or rag cloth, into poetic statements that speak to his own personal history as well as to the history of African Americans, the civil rights movement and the community. Symbolism and metaphor permeate each visual detail as well as the layers of meaning embedded in the works' titles.
An out-spoken community organizer and educator, Outterbridge was co-founder and Artistic Director of the Communicative Arts Academy in Compton, CA from 1969-1975 and directed the Watts Towers Arts Center in South Central Los Angeles from 1975-1992, bringing the arts into the community and educating generations of young African Americans. He has also been a Visual Arts Panelist for the California Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts. He has been recipient of the J. Paul Getty Fellowship for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship and United States Artists Fellowship, among others.
Born in 1933 in Greenville, North Carolina, Outterbridge moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in 1963, bringing with him at least one documented early assemblage. In Los Angeles, he soon became a central figure in the art community that included David Hammons, Noah Purifoy, John Riddle, Betye Saar and many others.
John Outterbridge's show at Tilton Gallery will include a large body of early works from the sixties to the nineties as well as a selection of new work, done since his 2009 show in New York. The exhibition will also include a site specific installation, Rag Factory III, the third in a series of configurations of this piece. Previous iterations were at LAX in Los Angeles in Fall 2011 as part of the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions (he participated in five of these PST shows), and at the Studio Museum in Harlem in Spring 2012. Outterbridge's use of found rags is one of many threads uniting his work through the decades. He incorporates them in his assemblages, and has repeatedly used rags as the basis for larger installations. They can be found in his early Rag Man Series, works made out of cloth, his Containment Series, works primarily made out of discarded cut and hammered metal, his Ethnic Heritage Series and his early dolls, right through many of his newest works.
As expressed in a statement Outterbridge wrote for his exhibition last year at LAX, "I feel good about the use of rag as an expressive element, but I don't see it as different than other aspects of my life.... Rags have always been in and around the environments I've been a part of. With me, art has the audacity to be anything it needs to be at a given time. Anything. Because the creative process is the beginning of all things, no matter what we're doing or where we are going. You just can't get away from rag, even when you throw it away it comes back to you. It's like water, nourishing to your character, to the character of the cast-off, and to the way we practice living."
John Outterbridge's exhibition coincides with the opening of Now Dig This! African-American Art 1960-1985 at MoMA P.S.1, the Pacific Standard Time exhibition that has traveled to New York from the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and in which his work is featured prominently.
Outterbridge's community involvement in the civil rights movement, as well as his wide ranging work, is illustrated in photos and ephemera in L.A. Object & David Hammons Body Prints, edited by Connie Rogers Tilton and Lindsay Charlwood and published last year by Tilton Gallery. This volume focuses on his work from the sixties and seventies and includes excerpts from his Oral History conducted by UCLA, abridged to essay form.