Opening: Friday, September 6th
7:00 – 9:00pm
Curated by Amelia Biewald
The Royal is excited to present Analog Garden, work by Erik Benson, Brent Owens, and Lina Puerta.
Community gardens are about the creation of little worlds of wonder and respite from busy urban environments. A place once vacant and ruined is wholeheartedly transformed into a beautiful and intriguing garden haven. Tremendous work, time, and craft goes into their creation — the rubble cleared, trash moved out and overgrown weeds cut to make way for the new intended trees and flowers. It’s a process of becoming. It’s a process of love.
The city still has a few of these wonderful gardens left, and I pass through them when I can on my way to view other arts and culture. It’s a visual smorgasbord, there are bits and pieces of painted canvases, stuffed animal sculptures, re-worked public artworks made into furniture, decaying architectural ornaments, hand-made mosaic fountains, homemade shrines and chicken coops. Cultural remnants of our humanness juxtaposed with the natural world.
In Analog Garden interesting combinations of materials and techniques collide to build upon the relationship these artists have with their world. Natural materials collide with hyper-manufactured ephemera ever present in our urban environments. These artists are intrigued by artificially and our ever-expanding ability to mimic nature, how we control nature, and how it controls us. There is a sense of humor about the predicament of our human condition, but also a certain sense of longing. Perhaps it’s a sort of nostalgia for an analog world, when we now have a digital one.
I am interested in making paintings in an analog, physical sense. I believe that painting is a visual language made up of thinking, seeing, and making. I build my paintings by a process of pouring acrylic paint onto sheets of glass. Once the shapes have solidified and acquired elasticity, they are peeled off and collaged into larger compositions. These collaged constructions create a certain mimetic relationship between the visual information depicted and the processes in which they are made. This process-based painting allows for me to explore how something is made and how it weathers in its surroundings.
My paintings are informed by fragments of our urban landscape and culture that are found in the everyday. With my current body of work, I have been interested in the lessons learned from failure. Still lives that intervene into totemic monuments celebrating the mundane; set in precarious settings. The impossible idea of mending a vase with stickers, packing and duct tape. A lot of these concerns arise from the unease of our current political and environmental predicament. I’m interested in the temporality of these homemade architectural structures, and the impermanence of their fragility and precariousness.
Erik Benson is an artist whose process-based paintings are informed by architecture and everyday objects found in urban landscape. He received a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design and. BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He studied at the Skowhegan School Painting and Sculpture. He has had solo and group shows throughout the United States and Europe. He is the recipient of a NYFA painting fellowship as well as a participant in the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, and a McKnight Fellow.
My work in this exhibition, like all of my work, is centered in a synthesis of natural material and novel ephemera. In clumsy, grotesque anthropomorphic form, it is my intention that these works embody or resonate with the “healthy” disrespect for nature that drives our anthropocentric impulses as humans, driving the spread of our civilizations, and our “dominion over nature.” Rather than presenting a narrative or taking a position, the work operates as a simultaneous lamentation and awkward celebration of the perpetually clumsy position of civilization within the natural world, an embrace of the pathos of the human condition.
Brent Owens was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1980 and received a BFA from Winthrop University in 2003. He currently lives and works in New York. His long-term involvement in the now burgeoning Bushwick, Brooklyn arts community has included three solo exhibitions at English Kills Art Gallery. He has also shown extensively in group exhibitions throughout New York, and in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Venice, Italy. His work, primarily sculptural and largely based in woodworking, fuses two disparate strains of Americana – workmanship and a thirst for novelty – in a particular strand of pop production that borders on the surreal.
Lina examines the relationship between nature and the body. She utilizes a wide variety of materials in her sculpture — concrete, clay, resin, wood, foam, fabric, artificial plants, paper pulp, and handmade paper; craft and recycled items. With these materials she creates textural forms and compositions that blend the human-made world with the natural, exploring notions of control, consumerism and life’s fragility. Her artistic process is in great part guided by the physical qualities of the materials, their textures, forms and colors; and informed by concepts of femininity, fashion, sexuality and artificiality.
Puerta (born in NJ and raised in Colombia) lives and works in New York City. She holds an MS in Art Education from Queens College/CUNY and is recipient of several residencies and grants including: the 2017 NYFA Fellowship, 2016 Dieu Donné Workspace Residency, Artprize-8 Sustainability Award, 2015 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, 2015 Kohler Arts Industry Residency (WI), 2014-15 Keyholder Residency at the Lower East Side Printshop, 2013-14 Smack Mellon Art Studio Program, 2014 Materials for the Arts, 2013 Wave Hill Winter Workspace and the 2010 Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. Exhibition venues include: The Ford Foundation Gallery, The 8th Floor, El Museo del Barrio, Socrates Sculpture Park, Wave Hill, Geary, NYC and Pi-Artworks in London. Puerta’s work has been written about in Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Wilder Quarterly and Artnet News among others.