The Jam

Andrea Bergart Meghan Brady Tara Geer Peter LaBier Janice Nowinski Matt Phillips Kyle Staver a group installation August 1 - August 31, 2012

The exhibition draws its name from a famous breakbeat hit by 70s funk outfit Graham Central Station.

Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents The Jam, a group installation, featuring works by seven artists: Andrea Bergart, Matt Phillips, Meghan Brady, Tara Geer, Peter LaBier, Kyle Staver and Janice Nowinski. The exhibition draws its name from a famous breakbeat hit by 70s funk outfit Graham Central Station.

The Jam is designed as a total painted environment. A mural by Andrea Bergart and Matt Phillips, and a sound component by the chill-wave band Color War set the stage for an eclectic mixture: DIY geometric abstraction and figurative painting and works on paper.

This exhibition expands on SHFAP’s installation “Meta-Decorative” for the Scope Art Fair 2012 – where Andrea Bergart designed an abstract mural for the walls of the booth, inspired by Pendleton patterns, that was hung with contemporary paintings, works on paper and textiles all connected to a home-grown geometric tradition. Less homogeneous in its vision, The Jam is designed as a sprawling installation of hand made pattern with abstract and representational works on paper and paintings.

Andrea Bergart’s vibrant paintings are infused with an energetic rhythm reminiscent of West African textiles. Matt Phillips paints boldly colorful abstractions related to Gees Bend style quilting. Phillips has also previously collaborated with Meghan Brady, whose abstract images combine underlying geometric structure with spontaneous whimsy. All three artists studied at Boston University.

Tara Geer and Peter LaBier both dig into drawing as a medium. Geer’s large-scale charcoal drawings superficially recall Cy Twombly and Joan Mitchell. Geer gets so close to her subjects that they become abstract. Whether rendering a backpack or the center of an ice cube, Geer gives voice to the beauty and complexity in the commonplace and small. She also teaches drawing at Teacher’s College and privately. Geer will hold a drawing workshop in the gallery on Friday August 3rd at 2pm. Like Geer, LaBier pays careful attention to the every day. His colored ink drawings of bunches of flowers have a wiry intensity of line. LaBier is also the frontman for the Brooklyn band Psychobuildings.

Close friends and figurative painters, Kyle Staver and Janice Nowinski make work in conversation with the history of painting. Staver’s figurative compositions evoke the painterly touch of Matisse, Bonnard or David Park while their compositions quote earlier masters such as Titian. Her image of a boy on a rope swing in a dark wood reads like a mix of Dana Schutz and Elie Nadelman, simultaneously personal, humorous and mythic. Janice Nowinski’s paintings have a self-aware wit that can be seen in her transcriptions of historical works. Her transcription of Boucher’s reclining nude (included here) was a pivotal painting for her: “I came across the odalisque by Boucher…all of a sudden I realized what was missing from my work: a sense of humor and also the possibility that sex could be a great painting subject for me.”

Like both sides of a 45rpm single dividing a long song into two parts, The Jam is the extended funky breakdown that follows the more conventional stating of melodic themes on side 1 (side 1 being the Meta-Decorative installation at Scope). The Jam creates a dense pictorial space that layers painting and drawing over decorative painting.

Simultaneously with The Jam, SHFAP presents in the rear gallery a single important 1959 painting by the mystical American abstract painter Alfred Jensen (1903-1981). Born in Guatemala, Jensen was an early student of Hans Hofmann in Munich, and while he was a long-term friend of Mark Rothko, he remained a singular figure in the heyday of New York school Abstract Expressionism. He attempted to bring together human history in abstract painting. In search for a universal, spiritual geometry, Jensen combined complex numerical and linguistic systems in mysterious ways. The painting included here, “Quadri”, dates from the period of Jensen’s investigation into the Spanish Renaissance. It forsakes the artist’s alternating black and white checkerboards for diagonal patterning derived from Moorish geometric motifs.