Music for Reading A Mnemonic of Longing

Music for reading A Mnemonic of Longing,

an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

THE OCEAN

by u2

FIRESUITE

by doves

FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD

by neko case

BLACK MILK

by massive attack

HISTORY SONG

by the good the bad and the queen

MARY OF SILENCE

by mazzy star

PYRAMID SONG

by radiohead

WAITING IN THE KOUNTRY

by gram rabbit

HARES DON’T HAVE TEA, SILLY

by gram rabbit

OAHU

by menomena

M62 SONG

by doves

SHE’S GOT CHANEL NO. 5

by calexico

WILLOW SONG

by doves

SO TONIGHT THAT I MIGHT SEE

by mazzy star

KATMANDU

by cat stevens

Looking Over the Overlooked at MACC

Jacob Maurice Crook and I have a show together at Moberly Area Community College. We installed today and the exhibition opens this coming Monday, June 6th. I hope you can get there to see the show – MACC’s gallery space is quite nice – but if you can’t make it, check below for some shots of the work installed. Click each image for enlargement.

1 ) Crook’s main wall arrangement. One larger oil painting, a small work in oil, and a mezzotint.

2 ) Crook’s inner room set – two oil paintings flank a beautiful graphite and gouache work.

3 ) Crook’s side wall, with an oil piece, two large mezzotints, and a graphite work.

4 ) Crook’s behemoth Hitt Street Garage, an 18 foot, 7 inch oil painting.

5 ) Ballou’s main wall set, with images from Chicago during 2000 and 2001.

6 ) A grouping from Ballou’s 2008 Illinois beach house series.

7 ) Ballou’s 2008 Michigan light photos.

8 ) The 2004 Whitney Ceiling set, installed physically for the first time here (I presented them online during 2010 at this link.)

If you are now sufficiently inspired to see the show for real, MACC is located at 101 College Ave. Moberly, MO 65270.

And here are our statements for your perusal:

Looking Over the Overlooked Exhibition Statement

Matt Ballou and Jacob Crook present work that engages with the proliferation of commonplace, yet ignored, spaces in the urban and suburban landscape.

Using primarily photographic images, Ballou depicts an iconography of geometries and formal tensions based on his experiences with specific interior and exterior spaces over the last decade. Several bodies of work from very different locations around the United States take center stage. These include a latticework of appropriated images showing the ceiling of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, a multitude of manipulated photographs of a skylight in a rural northern Michigan home, and a series of images of the degrading arcs and angles of a dilapidated municipal beach house in northern Illinois. Installing the images in broad arrays allows for a serialized, comparative reading that creates interplay between the total effect of the group and the specific characteristics of individual images. The works are not meant to be singular expressions but rather cumulative contemplations of space, place, light, and the modular effects of specific structures.

A dedicated representational painter and draftsperson, Jacob Crook’s work starts with repeated observation and detailed consideration of the overlooked arenas that quietly dominate the American landscape. Relying heavily on James Howard Kunstler’s book The Geography of Nowhere, Crook’s paintings, drawings, and prints attempt to come to terms with what Kunstler describes as the American “obsession with mobility, the urge to move on every few years” and the results of that tendency: “we choose to live in Noplace, and our dwellings show it.” Casting his eye on the margins of suburbia, Crook tries to locate the dynamic tension that exists between the land and our mundane domination of it. Crook carries on the legacy of landscape painting while rejecting its inherent valorization of the subject matter. Instead of merely creating pleasant pictures, his work uses the historical authority of both painting and the landscape to project a subversive series of questions toward viewers.

Together the work of these two artists is a vision of what American space has become. Not an entirely negative perspective, the work is meant to provoke an introspective attitude in viewers, challenging assumptions and calling questions to mind: “What spaces do I want to live in? What has dictated the sorts of spaces I live in by default? What is my responsibility for the reality of these spaces?” The artists hope that by bringing their own investigations – as humble or as banal as they might seem – to viewers, a thoughtfulness and contemplation might be stimulated.

Biographical Information

Ballou is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri where he has taught since 2007. In 2011 he presented a major solo show at Gordon College in Wenham, MA and will exhibit with internationally renowned artist Tim Lowly at the 930 Art Center in Louisville, KY during the summer of 2011.

Crook earned his BFA from the University of Missouri in 2009. His work was recently included in the prestigious Fort Wayne Museum’s Contemporary Realism Biennial. He has been accepted to Syracuse University’s graduate printmaking program for the fall of 2011.

Jacob Maurice Crook | Artist Statement

My work is a contemplation of how the physical design of our surroundings can influence social behavior and also offer insight to cultural practices that inform the nature of such designs. In choosing the subject matter of my imagery, I focus my sights on the fringe of suburbia, attempting to locate dynamic tensions existing between the landscape and the homogeneous developments quietly dominating its topography. I chose to reject the idealized depiction of subject matter inherent in the history of American landscape painting. Instead of merely creating pleasant pictures, I use the history of both painting and landscape to project a subversive series of questions to viewers: What spaces do I want to live in? What dictates the spaces I live in by default? What responsibility (if any) do I take for the reality of these spaces?

Matthew Glenn Ballou | Artist Statement

These photographs were never meant to be artworks per se. Over the course of many years I have used photography as a way to decipher my own eye, as a way to better understand what visual dynamics draw me to certain scenes or arrangements of form and space. So most of what you see here was entirely reactive and instinctive at the beginning. I was attempting to see something in what others might easily overlook. Ultimately it worked, and in many ways these images have become historical and canonical to me. They are also nostalgic in that they are documents of places and times that carry personal significance. In them I see my own eye remixed, my own memory re-contextualized. In them I see a field of visual forces at play, which I have taken and used, reused, and reapplied. I present them in this way at this time to heighten my experience of their formal tension and balance in contrast with my emotional feeling for the spaces and times they represent. I present them so as to experience all of this again, anew. It is the contrasts and resonances made possible by this new context that bring artfulness to the work. The images themselves remain snapshots while the relationships among these fragments become a place for art experiences to reside: between the lines, in the overlooked spaces, around corners, beyond sight.

Dresses in 1967

In 2003 I found a box of photographs strewn across the pavement in an alleyway in Evanston, IL. The box looked as if it had dropped out of a nearby dumpster, so I figured I could look through the photos, see what was interesting, and then place the rest back in the garbage where they’d evidently been put.

But I became intrigued with a series of portraits of a young woman. Always posed in some new dress in  various locations – out about town, in the bedroom, outside in the sunshine – she seemed full of life and hope. I found it troubling that these images of her youth were apparently no longer important to anyone. So I kept them.

As you can see in the example above, the time stamp shows “May . 67″ – the rest have similar dates from that year.

Though they are banal and nearly 43 years old, I find them poignant and sweet, a lost record of a person’s experience of their life and time.

I have no idea who the woman was. Since she looks to be in her early 20s here, I expect she’s still living. Here’s hoping she’s had a good life… and continued to model her dresses with pride.