A couple of years back on a family road trip to Yosemite, our car zipped past an unusually muscular highway sign that had been inexplicably emptied of all of the usual text that one normally associates with these objects. Devoid of the familiar words and pictograms, the sign stood as a strikingly overbuilt monument to its own muteness. Instead of announcing an upcoming exit or how many miles to Fresno, the sign was transformed into a physical curiosity the sole purpose of which seemed to be to the promotion of intense scrutiny over its own peculiar structure. When I made verbal mention of the otherworldly turn that had been taken by this normally prosaic object, my mom rather casually uttered the phrase from which this show takes its title.
I think it bears mentioning that my mother is, artistically speaking, a layperson. She is by all accounts a sharp woman with an agile mind, but she is not a trained art-historian or semiotician by any stretch, and perhaps that is how she chanced to capture with such an elegant bluntness the oddball metaphysical singularity of this encounter. The sign was just the thing itself. No longer depicting, the sign had flickered momentarily into the realm of the depicted. It had suddenly switched places with the content habitually trapped inside of it to become a strange, inscrutable cipher in its own right. Divorced from its voice, it became a foreign phrase to be parsed from within the context of the landscape, which held it conceptually and physically suspended in the air above the speeding car.
It seems to me a reasonable assertion that the works in this show are all coming from a place very similar to that of the sign in question. The visitor to this exhibition, if I have done my due diligence as a curator, will be placed in the midst of a modest, contemplative array of works that are asking some big questions rather quietly. The hope is to have orchestrated a temporary physical field of inquiry populated by eight discrete visual propositions, each equally committed to straddling the line between showing and being. Paintings that begin to let your eyes sink inside of them before forcibly ejecting you back onto the surface... Sculptures that seem to operate as models for imaginary architecture, or furniture for the natural world, but which might just as likely be mysterious, extraterrestrial artifacts or self-referential totems representative of nothing more than their own rich physicality and situation in space... Carved and cobbled reliefs meticulously describing themselves while simultaneously referencing the world at large... Each of the artists in the show has arrived at abstraction through his or her own unique, rigorous, and extremely specific investigations into the nature of visual representation and apprehension. If there is a single, salient characteristic that ties these works together above all others, it is, in my opinion, a commitment to the creation of visual structures whose subject matter has, perhaps counterintuitively, less to do with what we are seeing than how we are seeing and why.
- Jon-Paul Villegas
THE SIGN WAS JUST THE THING ITSELF
July 19th - August 11th, 2013
Opening Reception: July 19th, 7-10 pm
Todd Bourret, Leah Dixon, Ash Ferlito, Jennifer Fiore, Eben Goff, Chris Oliveria, Noam Rappaport, Jon-Paul Villegas, Curated by Jon-Paul Villegas