New Work by: Alfred Harris, Ken Kelly & Jeffry Mitchell
June 23rd– August 12th 2017
Artist Talk July 8th
“WHY WE’RE GOING TO TREASURE ISLAND, I’ve been asked to articulate why Jeffry Mitchell, Alfred Harris and I want to present an exhibit of new work together. That’s not an easy task, since we each approach such things the same way we approach making work in our studios: instinctively and spontaneously. It’s a simple fact of life that artists have their own ways of thinking— ways that differ from critics, curators, gallerists and pretty much everyone else who plays a part in the larger art world. And our ways are often not easily expressed with words or well-constructed theories, nor are they obvious on the surface.
Most people attempting to put together a group show would take an objective look at common threads of content, formal concerns, historical connections, and the assorted other things that people rely on to make sense of the cacophony of art-making. We, as artists, tend to just wing it and go on hunches, and that is certainly the case here. Our connections—the things that we see and respond to—are not as obvious or easily explained as those a professional curator might make.
Alfred, Jeffry, and I are, first of all, good friends of many years standing. That, in itself, is certainly not a very strong basis for curating otherwise unrelated work; I have many good artist-friends whose work has nothing in common with mine and, indeed, would make for an awkward and unrewarding combination. With the three of us, however, I think our work fits together in ways that perfectly reflect our bonds of friendship. We share, both in and out of the studio, a love of beauty and visual exuberance; we each have a critical and eye-rolling attitude towards both the absurdities of modern life and the pretensions of High Art; and, most of all, we share a twisted and no-holds-barred sense of humor that helps us negotiate the many ups and downs of our lives. So many evenings spent howling with laughter and sharing a priceless common outlook have bonded us in ways that must, in some way, connect our art as well. Looking at a room full of our latest efforts, you might not see any of this reflected in the work itself…but it’s there. The connections are off to the side, in the background…they are not expressed in style, media, or subject matter, but rather in attitude, tone and our affirmation of the power of seeing and looking.
Finally, I think we three are all connected by a deep respect for each other’s art and an intimate knowledge of what we each go through in order to make that art—the end results are quite different, but they somehow manage to inspire each of us to do more, to do better, to push it further. For over 25 years (in Jeffry’s case) and 35 years (in Alfred’s), I have been inspired, pushed, influenced and humbled by these two friends and fellow travelers. The ties that bind us, and therefore our art, are partly the result of this longevity and depth of experience we have with each other—and that goes directly to the heart of what our work really has in common: a commitment to the long view, the slow gaze, and the lifelong search for Treasure Island.”
– Ken Kelly