Consider the Oyster
James Graham and Sons is pleased to present a group exhibition, conceived and curated by Ingrid Dinter, titled Consider the Oyster.
Inspired by MFK Fisher’s evocative prose, in particular her musings on the oyster, Dinter’s group exhibition is a dreamy take on things “oysterish.” The oyster, enigmatic of all ocean creatures with its tough exterior, is, like an artist, hard to pry open, yet worth the time it takes to shuck as inside its crusty shell hides not only the perfect mouthful of succulent, briny flesh, but the ever present possibility of discovering a pearl.
Each artist in the exhibition offers a variation on the theme: from the literal, such as Eva Faye’s renderings of gastronomic leftovers, or Elizabeth Lennard’s recording of the oyster beds off of Ile d’Oléron in France; to the obvious, as in Rob Wynne's and George Stoll's pearly references titled, respectively, Mother of Pearl and Mother’s Day, as well as Dan McCleary’s painting Man with the Pearl Earring, and Judith Hudson’s pearly Bribe. Sexual references are made by Kathy Rudin, Karen Hesse Flatow and Betty Tompkins; a statement about eco-destruction is clear in Lance De Los Reyes' hourglass of dirty oil. John Zinsser shows us his oyster (the art world) with Myron Stout as the pearl; Nancy Lorenz’s plaster casts for a Zen garden remind us of the oyster’s fleshy interior. Colette is her own oyster and pearl in her The Girl from Pearl Street. Further a-field the riffs become looser, as in Joe Fyfe’s bundle of wood salvaged from the edges of New York Harbor, once a world-class oyster bed; Billy Copley’s multi-colored bag, which in some peripheral way passes for an oyster floating by; Brian Belott’s variations on the color grey; James Franklin’s oblique narratives; and Aaron Sinift’s lyrical abstraction. Each artist brings another shift in focus, another layer of reference: Julie Ryan and Jet-te L. Ranning remind us of things culinary; and Nicolas Rule warns us not to take things for granted. Julia Condon takes us from transcendent literalism to luminescent transformations, and Michael Byron has us (oysters) “after the bath.” David Dupuis filters the essential nature of things, while Konstantin Kakanias glimpses the core; Gerhard Naschberger is our mystery guest; and Dimitry Merinoff bursts forth with a vintage version of a feast fit for royalty.
The exhibition is its own oyster and in the space festooned with pearls, it becomes clear that, as MFK Fisher describes, an artist’s chance, like a mollusc’s, “…to live at all is slim, and if he should survive the arrows of his own outrageous fortune and in the two weeks of his carefree youth find a clean smooth place to fix on, the years afterward are full of stress, passion and danger.”