I am fascinated by the diversity and the complexity of artwork that an invitational show can offer. The possibilities of curating a show that has no real limitations is at once exciting and daunting. Over the last twenty years while living in New York I’ve seen a lot of artwork that has influenced me as well as challenged me. I must say that the artwork that makes me think, or challenges me, or has a multidisciplinary nature to it, excites me and it expands the stereotypical notions of what art is. When reviewing the artwork submitted for the Axis Gallery 5th National Juried Exhibition, I was thrown into a reaffirmation that art can “transcend the realm of consciousness.” There are many possibilities that present themselves. I do find that the artwork can be simply a means to an end or a therapeutic process sometimes. If making art is only about technique then it is of less interest. The opportunity to challenge yourself is always there but it’s always the what when how and even why that are obvious questions. My curatorial vetting of this work sometimes is bvious to me. Even though everyone is very proud of what they do I need to edit because there is a large redundancy of what is expected in “Art Making.” I prefer the work that might not even succeed as a discreet object or a concept if chances are taken in making it, or if there is a larger context to the body of work that is remarkable. The way I understand it, if we compete or challenge ourselves to get somewhere we can’t take the same road as someone else and take credit when getting there, and if we do take that road at least tip your hat to the person ahead of you. You can’t take a naive approach to things in a very critical world especially with the internet at your fingertips. When I look at work I do keep this in mind. Maybe you might say I take things too seriously and should relax. Well, I do take it seriously.
The work I have chosen is from an eclectic sensibility. I did see a number of works that might have worked well in a thematic context but ultimately I felt that there were too many works I would have left out that deserved to be included if I had done so. I decided tserhat it would be best to develop the show within a broad context ranging from strong figurative paintings with strange psychological narratives (such as ones by Forrest Solis and Nicole McCormick Santiago) to intriguing, meticulous abstract drawings and watercolors (like those of Nancy Brown and Ander Mikalson). The brilliant nuanced collage work by Louise Captein, La Thoriel Badenhausen, and Dana Hemenway showed me that the elegance of a composition can be seemingly off-handed and clumsy yet honest and direct. Photography ranged from the wit and telling compositions of Henrique Bagulho and Katherine DuTiel, the incredible architectural compositions of Richard Ashby and Jess Bournay (with the help of Anish Kapoor ), to the amazing camera manipulations of Wes Carson and Stephen Arnold. The few conceptual works by Colleen Ellis and Brad Thiele gave me hope that what’s predictable out there is also penetrable. There are many more I haven’t mentioned here whose work is included in the show. For those ones I didn’t include in the final selection, this is only my conclusion, there are others who would have chosen differently but I want to say thanks for your participation.
Juried Exhibition Juror, Joe Amrhein