Monday, January 26, 2009

More about Archipelago


for one week only:
February 22-March 1, 2009

An archipelago (pronounced /ɑrkəˈpɛləgoʊ/) is defined as being a chain or cluster of islands. They are usually found in the open sea, isolated from larger landmasses, and their formations are odd and intricate. Collectively, the islands of an archipelago record a moment in history; an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, a rising sea—all factors to which they owe their existence. Individually, the islands are fragments; pieces to a larger puzzle that tells the entirety of their story. In this way, the islands are a community, an identity that is interdependent, sharing a common origin while living and growing together.

In his new body of work, Zach Pearl develops these concepts of the archipelago and of community through his drawings. Highly-designed, highly-detailed, and above all surreal; Pearl’s Archipelago series is made up of 18 “portraits”. These portraits are of fictional characters, faces and creatures emerging from islands that float in an eerily calm ocean of white space. These portraits, Pearl describes as, “…partly autobiographical…facets of his own self, and his experiences as a current 20-something”.

Perfectly suspended between the carefree nature of his teenage years and the “settling down” often associated with turning 30, Pearl became inspired by the sensation of keeping one’s head above water that he feels best represents living in one’s mid-20’s. Archipelago has become a way for him to chronicle this experience.

For one week only, Archipelago will wash ashore at the Susan Hensel Gallery in South Minneapolis. A special brunch and reception will be held to open the exhibition on Sunday February 22nd from 12 to 4 p.m., to which all are welcome. Pearl will be present to greet guests and discuss the process of his breathtaking series, which involved creating five separate drawings on different layers of vellum and acetate to produce each finished piece. The result is a three-dimensional feel for each portrait, as well as a glassy sheen that emulates the ripples and reflective qualities of the water’s surface.

Besides the fact that Archipelago is Pearl’s largest body of work to date, this opening also celebrates Pearl’s two-year anniversary as an employee of the Susan Hensel Gallery, where he serves as the Assistant Coordinator. Always striving to be as active in his duties for the Gallery as possible, Pearl decided that a show of his own would be an excellent way to experience both sides of the exhibition process; both as the Artist and as the Administrator. This endeavor follows in the spirit of “Revisions of the American Dream”, an international group show at Susan Hensel Gallery in June of 2008 that Pearl single-handedly organized and curated to complete his internship for the gallery’s owner.

In addition, the day before the opening, on February 21st from 1 to 4 p.m., a very special takedown reception is being held for the closing of REVIEW=REFLECT=RECYCLE, an unusual retrospective by James Michael Lawrence. Lawrence, who produces thousands of digital collage prints each year will be clearing out his “artistic closet” by offering as many prints as people can pull off the walls of the gallery for any amount of donation that they are able to give. For those interested in attending both events, a very intriguing contrast awaits as Lawrence’s recent plethora of work reflects his newfound perspective on life at 60, as compared to the atmosphere of Archipelago that romantically buzzes with the uncertainty of young adulthood.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A James Lwrence piece still on the wall

This piece is available at the Take Down/ Take Home event scheduled 2/21/09. Stay tuned for more pieces.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Take Down/ Take Home

Here is a sample of what you might take home from REVIEW=REFLECT=RECYCLE on Feb 21.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ARCHIPELAGO is coming soon

My assistant Zach Pearl will soon have a brief show in the gallery. The day after the great TAKE DOWN/ TAKE HOME event that closes REVIEW=REFLECT=RECYCLE on February 21, he and I will hang his show. Over the next few days I will be sharing images you can expect to see at his show as well as images you can expect to have available to take home from REVIEW=REFLECT=RECYCLE.

ARCHIPELAGO is an exhibition of large (2feet x 4feet) complex drawings. To quote Zach's artists statement,"This series of work owes its origins to the overwhelming sense of
uncertainty that is a trademark of being 20-something. Perfectly
suspended between the righteous years of being a teenager and the process
of "settling-down" associated with turning 30, there is a wealth of
uncharted space...In reaction to this sensation, I was inspired to make a series of
work that reflected my own experience with these tribulations and to share
sympathy with those who may feel the same. "

Monday, January 19, 2009

COMMUNION by Jon Coffelt Coming in April

My assistant, Zach, interviewed Jon Coffelt today about his upcoming show COMMUNION, the show of memory clothing, seen in the current issue of Fiber Arts magazine

ZACH PEARL // 11:00 A.M., JANUARY 19TH, 2009

1) What is it about working on a miniature scale that intrigues you, or how is it most rewarding?

Jon is drawn to miniatures, because of their very detail-oriented nature. He uses a higher concentration of stitches per inch than the average amount used for doll clothing. He is determined to make this distinction, because he wants to make clear that when he "miniaturizes" a piece, he does it with as much accuracy to the original as possible.

2) Why do you feel that people have such a strong affinity towards the Miniature?

Jon feels people are drawn to works on a miniature scale, because miniature objects often hold sentimental value for many people. He feels, especially since 9/11, the majority of the country has returned to appreciating works of a sentimental nature, and has even started to allow for more emotional behavior in public contexts in general. He believes that this is an important and powerful occurrence, because, "Sentiment takes the Viewer into a personal space." He also believes that since 9/11 there has been increase in public artworks and art that invites the viewer to participate, and even to interact with one another. Jon sees this as a positive trend, and he sees great potential for public interaction with, "Communion" this April.

3) Can you talk more about the meaning behind the name of your show, "Communion"? Is this exchange of feelings and ideas happening between the works or between the members of the audience?

Jon says, the name of the show encapsulates the collaborative process between himself and the commissioner. And, that Communion also means the sense of the community that is generated by seeing all the pieces displayed at the same time. "Each piece represents a person. Many of those people have passed, and so the piece of clothing is a fragment. The pieces are just fragments of ourselves—people that we may have been at one time, or will be at some point."

Jon also comments that when a person commissions a piece, that they are not only donating a piece of their clothing, they are, in fact, donating a part of themselves, "paying it forward in a way," and laying the groundwork for future collaborators.

4) You have sometimes referred to this body of work as being "memory clothing". Can you expand on this term/concept further, and how you see the role of clothing in a person's day to day life (a form of expression, a record of a time period, etc.)?

Jon said that he firmly believes, "we carry ourselves so much in what we wear". He described clothing as, "the shell", that we put on everyday, and that our style of clothing is often a key attribute of how we are remembered and how we are interpreted once we are gone. In this way, his miniatures work to commemorate events and periods in history as much as they do the person who wore the original. He says of his term memory clothing, "each piece helps the commissioner to transform through his/her grieving process in the same manner that the garment transforms from the original to the miniature."

5) What do you think about as you're making these works? Do you make a conscious effort to concentrate on the story behind the garment, or is it more about the physical process of constructing the garment?

As one might guess, Jon says his, "primary concern is the physicality of the pieces." When making a piece, Jon is entirely focused on the physical construction of the garment; operating as a machine, striving for an exact replica of the clothing donated.

6) Did you see yourself making this kind of work 10 years ago? 15 years ago?

Jon says that he did, in fact, see himself making this kind of work 15 years ago. In fact, his work on a miniature scale began all the way back in 1993. What he did not foresee, however, when he started this kind of work was the immense emotional responses that miniature artworks could elicit from people, and he was intrigued by this. From this moment on, Jon decided that he wanted to make work that contained as much emotional value as it did beauty and precision.

7) How has this body of work influenced your other artistic processes? Is miniature scale a permanent attribute of your future endeavors?

This body of work has had an effect on Jon's creative process. When he goes to the drawing board, he says that he thinks of how the finished work can be a shared experience between himself and the viewer. How can it be experiential? He also says, that another body of work of his, "Cosmos" has been drawing closer to the work of , "Communion" in the way that the paintings are very meditative, and offer a quiet moment of reflection for all who view them.

Since making this body of work, Jon is also concerned with "translating the same experience of making the work into the experience of viewing the pieces".

Short Story

Jon told the story of a plein air painter, Jon Laub, who died a few years ago from leukemia. Only recently, Laub's partner, Bruce, approached Jon with a bundle of clothing. He told Jon that he had kept some of Laub's old clothes hidden away since his death. Bruce had never admitted this to anyone up until now. Jon didn't know exactly how to react to this request, but he knew that the fact that he had been entrusted with Bruce's meant that making these pieces would yield a very personal meaning. Jon accepted Bruce's commission.

When Jon arrived home, he opened the pieces. He knew immediately that these were the clothes that Laub had painted in—"the clothes that he really wanted to be in". Jon proceeded immediately to miniaturize Laub's clothes.

Upon completing the pieces, Jon delivered them to Bruce in a legal-sized envelope. He handed them to him one by one, and could see in the way that Bruce touched them there was both newness and familiarity in the pieces. Bruce began to cry. Without knowing what he had triggered, Jon apologized for bringing up so many feelings at one time about the replicas. But, Bruce immediately assured Jon that he was just a bit overwhelmed. The pieces, Bruce explained, had allowed him to cry about Laub's death for the first time in years—to really be able to cry about it and confront it but that he felt comforted too.


Jon got two more commissions this morning. He is now up to 378.

He recently got his first commission for an animal; a miniature dog jacket.

He is participating in another exhibition for this series during Mardi Gras of 2010 at the New Orleans with Ammo Arts.

Notable Quote

"One thing that makes us Human, is that we make Art."

Monday, January 12, 2009


An extraordinary opening for an extraordinary show! These pictures were taken just before the crush! It got very busy, very full of people, gazing, pointing, wanting the images on the wall. People arrived and stayed for the remainder of the night. Many people stayed several hours, trying to see every image.

It was an amazing night. You would think that many images would be overwhelming. In a way they were: it was hard to see each piece, hard to decide which you liked best. But, despite the number of things to see, the dance of colors and images, it was actually peace inducing! You'd gaze here- you'd gaze there- and your breathing would slow down as your eyes reacted with delight to the jewel tones or your heart broke just a bit for the remembered pain in some of the images.When you look up at that wall you see the sweep of a life,of the recent past and of the hope for the future.
All the prints must go. James plans to start fresh, with a clean slate. He is releasing this art and beginning again. In fact, James is already starting the new work! The clean sweep he desires has begun.

So help him by returning Feb 21, between 1 and 4 , to help take down the show and take the prints home. All you need do is help, chose and donate as able. Otherwise, the prints go in the dumpster. REALLY!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Installation continues

The installation continues. Peter Wilson is assisting. At the end of day three, the walls are beginning to close in.