A Great Piece of Turf
Mixed Greens is pleased to announce A Great Piece of Turf, their second solo exhibition with Pittsburgh-based artist Kim Beck. Beck takes her title from Albrecht Dürer’s 1503 watercolor by the same name (she substitutes “A” for “The”) and uses the word turf to refer to both lawn and territory.
In the front gallery, Beck presents a series of draped chain-link fences made of hand-cut, primed linen. Subtle graphite lines appear along cut edges, imperfections reveal themselves, and a glow emanates from painted undersides. Working from images of security fences and construction barriers, Beck’s life-sized fragments of fencing become collapsed, ineffective grids, failing to secure or protect. As remnants of what were once blockades, these pieces are meditations on fences, territory, turf, and even painting itself.
As one approaches the back gallery, a large-scale graphite drawing of what appears to be a garden or tropical swamp gradually coalesces into the image of an overgrown lawn. Here, Beck has rendered a piece of her own backyard at a monumental size and scale— a ground-level examination of her own turf. In 2012, this piece of ground was transported from her yard in Pittsburgh to Flux Factory, where it flourished under grow lights before being transplanted in Queens. Based on photographs of the installation, the drawing calls attention to an otherwise mundane plot.
Also in the back space, one sees clusters of works on paper drawn from territory considered to be brownfields, greyfields, or greenfields—land that is either contaminated, abandoned, or undeveloped. Shifts in scale and material suggest a fragmented landscape, sometimes overwhelming and threatening. The drawings are small but the grass and weeds loom large. Seen in groups, the drawings are a reflection on soil, place, and lawn and on the invisible elements and ideas beneath the surface.
Finally, charcoal drawings stretch horizontally from one wall to the next. Collectively titled “A Flock of Signs,” depictions of arrows point everywhere and nowhere at once, creating a landscape where place itself is provisional and evolving, mutable and unfixed. The pieces were inspired by Beck’s installation commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art for 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park. On view through 2014, the installation is a Dr. Seuss-like landscape comprised of witty and informative arrow signs installed throughout the park. The resulting series of drawings was published by Printed Matter in NYC in the form of an artist’s book. The launch will take place April 25th at Printed Matter and a limited number of books will be available at Mixed Greens.
Kim Beck grew up in Colorado and now lives in Pittsburgh where she teaches at Carnegie Mellon. Her work has been shown on the High Line, at the Walker Art Center, the Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, the Philbrook Museum, Smack Mellon, Socrates Sculpture Park, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, International Studio & Curatorial Program, Cité Internationale des Arts, Vermont Studio Center, VCCA, and the Helsinki Internationale Artist Programme. She has received awards from ARS Electronica, Pollock-Krasner, Heinz Foundation, Thomas J. Watson Foundation, and Printed Matter. Her work has been reviewed in Public Art Dialogue, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Art in America. Beck has an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and BA from Brandeis University.