Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Three shows open Thursday evening at Real Art Ways

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Johannes DeYoung: Ego Loser
Steffani Jemison: Such is Your Luck
Phil Lique and Laura Marsh: Half Off
Ego Loser and Such Is Your Luck on view Apr.19—Jun. 17, 2012; Half Off on view Apr. 19—Jul. 8, 2012.
Opening reception during Creative Cocktail Hour: Thurs., Apr. 19, 6—8 p.m. Admission is $10/$5 Real Art Ways members.

Press release

Real Art Ways opens three exhibitions Thurs., Apr. 19, during Creative Cocktail Hour.

Ego Loser, by Johannes DeYoung, explores shifting identities in a series of short videos.

Such is Your Luck, by Steffani Jemison, investigates how luck, faith and accidents impact moments that matter and make up a person's life.

Half Off, an exhibition curated by John O'Donnell of work by Phil Lique and Laura Marsh. Half Off examines experiences and products of American consumer culture through sculpture, works on paper, video and documented performance.

Johannes DeYoung's videos are essentially portraits. The characters in his videos occupy dream spaces that reflect, distort and magnify reality. Ego Loser features composite animations of talking heads that spout affirmations, esoteric advice, spam, and legalese from online sources. Humor is an entry point in the work: absurd narratives expand to confront failure and mortality. The final results are images and sounds that teeter between humorous and grotesque.

Steffani Jemison's Such Is Your Luck is concerned with the ways that we make sense of the matter of our lives——the values and the raw materials; the episodes, the contingencies, and the accidents.

Several pieces in Such Is Your Luck are part of a larger body of work that uses an inspirational text, "If I Could," as the starting point for interventions. This body of work began, in 2009, when Jemison read an article in the Chicago Sun Times about the brutal beating and murder of Derrion Albert. The family struggled to understand how their honor roll student's life could have ended in such violence. His grandfather said Derrion spent most of his evenings studying. He had copied a poem called "Affirmations for Living" and posted it where he could view it while doing homework. Each phrase begins, "If I could…," and the final line triumphantly concludes, "If I could…and I can…so I WILL!" The Chicago Sun Times reported that he was a victim of random violence; he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Laura Marsh and Phil Lique share a similar focus: to critique misguided American inclinations. Half Off treads the line between patriotic nostalgia and dissonance. The artists overtly employ icons such as sneakers, twenty-dollar bills, the American flag and decorative patterns to reference consumer illusions and product promises. A blind celebration of the American way informs their work as notions of discounts and deals are positioned in relation to ideals and identity.

"When looking at Laura and Phil's work I was immediately struck by the perfect balance of profundity and superficiality. Subtlety is not the aim; dissonance is rarely subtle," comments John O'Donnell, Visual Art Manager at Real Art Ways.

An opening reception will be held on Thurs., April 19, from 6—8 p.m. as part of Creative Cocktail Hour, Real Art Ways' monthly third Thursday gathering. Creative Cocktail Hour is from 6—10 p.m.; admission is $10/$5 Real Art Ways members.

Ego Loser, by Johannes DeYoung and Such is Your Luck, by Steffani Jemison, will be on view through Sunday, June 17, 2012. Half Off, by Phil Lique and Laura Marsh will be on view through Sunday, July 8, 2012.

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