MAKE WAY FOR THE RESISTANCE
Provincetown Magazine May 10, 2017
By Rebecca M. Alvin
It’s undeniable. There is a sense of outrage and fear, coupled with disbelief that has spread since the election of President Donald Trump, spurring ordinary citizens to become highly political in their everyday lives. It’s no wonder that artists would want to express these sentiments in their work, as often it is in times of struggle and strife that great strides are made in the arts. French Surrealism after World War I, Italian Neorealism after World War II, and now perhaps something fresh and beautiful will grow out of this time of conflict and intolerance.
Artist Jo Hay and her wife/gallery owner Carolyn Kramer have decided to make their first show of the season at Jo Hay Open Studio Gallery one that reflects the political climate around them. Opening this weekend, Resistance features the work of four very different artists who explore that theme in very different ways.
Hay’s work takes a decidedly optimistic tone in featuring individuals who are continuing to stand for truth, tolerance, and justice through their work in various fields, such as Sam Brinton, a nuclear engineer who is at the forefront of the fight to ban so-called “conversion therapy” programs. These large-scale portraits are usually done from life, but in the case of Rachel Maddow, featured in this show, the artist worked from a photograph to bring her subject to life.
“I’m very optimistic, and I looked for what I saw as the light —someone that I knew was clearly looking for the truth, because it’s such a dire situation,” says Hay when asked about her choice of Maddow as subject. In her artist statement, she elaborates, “I made this painting wishing to express my deep gratitude to Rachel Maddow for her tireless effort to uncover the truth with regard to the Trump administration and its ties to Russia, and to simultaneously advance the dialogue around her exceptional efforts.”
We Need a Political Revolution (2017, 36” x 24’, oil on canvas) by K.J. Shows
Hay’s work will be shown alongside works by Tess Barbato, KJ Shows, and O’Neil Scott, a new addition to the gallery’s roster. Scott, an artist from Philadelphia, is surprisingly self-taught, but his work is both technically accomplished and conceptually provocative. Working with the themes of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as a general anxiety around intolerance and violence, Scott’s work includes a piece called Citizen, (which graces our cover this week), and a series called Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Water, featuring individuals with squirt guns pointed in various directions, including the one shown here with a black man holding the water gun up, evoking it’s inspiration, Trayvon Martin. Others use the theme to explore suicide and violence in other contexts. Scott, who will have a solo show at the Gallery later this year, had never been to Provincetown before Kramer asked him to be in the show after she saw Citizen on Instagram.
Don’t Shoot It’s Only Water No.3 (2017, 48” x 48”, oil on canvas) by O’Neil Scott
Scott sees his work a little differently. “I think it’s less political and more about these marginalized communities,” he says. “The political atmosphere is just in your face. It’s everywhere you look, and I think that’s what happens, it’s definitely showing up in my work.”
For KJ Shows, best known for her series Portrait of an Artist, in which she paints portraits of different artists’ shoes, using their actual shoes as a model, this is a chance to paint individuals who are significant to the burgeoning Resistance movement, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
“Bernie’s the one I did first,” Shows says by phone from Maine, “I was painting his face and being kind of like gentle and caring in painting his portrait, and then I got kind of mad, too, about all the stuff that’s going on, and it went from this really caring, respecting portrait that I was painting into this protest poster. I started cutting out letters and [formed them into] something he said and just spray-painted over it. I kind of did this drastic change.”
Shows says she’s been making lots of political art lately, including Donald Trump voodoo dolls, which she sells online, and, we’re told, provide great satisfaction for those frustrated by the Administration’s policies.
Since its opening in 2014, the gallery has shown Barbato’s work, which is focused on Capitalism. Barbato has long used her art to speak about injustice and the power dynamic inherent in her images of American money. She shares one piece in this exhibition, A Corrosion of Democracy. In an e-mail interview, she explains, “This painting is a reaction to the actions and rhetoric of Mr. Trump. He has been trying to slowly break down the fundamentals of our democracy. From attacks on women, to delegitimizing the press, and undermining the once guaranteed right to freedom of religion and speech, he has made it clear that he is unfamiliar with our constitution. I wanted to use the gradual corrosion of the copper pennies as an analogy for how an unprotected democracy is subject to erosion. Our democracy will not die with a bang but with small acts of destabilization.”
A Corrosion of Democracy (2017, 36” x 36”, oil on canvas) by Tess Barbato
There are many ways to cope with the political drama (or satire, depending on your perspective) unfolding before us. The artists in Resistance demonstrate the power of art to provoke thought, inspire, and speak out, and they do so without compromising their talents in service of a message, creating works that are beautiful, provocative, and that will remain meaningful through time.
URBAN RICHE gallery
portraits: jo hay's "Dodger" - best in show
"My captivation with gender duality was definitely founded in my childhood. Alongside my developing interest in art was my obsession with the Glam Rock era, a period of time in the UK in the 1970’s when it was absolutely the norm for boys to parade themselves around town looking like girls and vice versa. We reveled in the gender chaos of bands like ‘The Sweet’ while David Bowie called upon us all to be ‘Heroes’. It was a heady time for a young girl who related to the stereotypical role laid out for boys. We could be who ever we wanted to be and that felt magnificent! I recognize that same energy now in any figure who appears entirely comfortable shifting back and forth between genders."
URBAN RICHE Gallery, February 1-29, 2016
Further Reading- URG Interview with artist Jo Hay
ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal
“Gender is a harmonious identification of a person as “man” or “woman.” However, human being is a complicated creature, whose self-perception can diverge from generally accepted social norms based on natural determinism. Biological sex is the result of a pure coincidence, but how can we allow chance to define norms? Jo Hay is an artist who opposes insularity of conventional wisdom in her works…”
Art Ascent, Art & Literature Journal February 17, 2016 pp 20-23
Further Reading: ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal
Tori Rysk RABBITUDE:
AN INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST JO HAY
"The rabbit as a symbol has powerful associations for me. My mother gave me a soft toy rabbit on the day I was born that I still have today. It was a constant presence in a very secure childhood. But aside from being a symbol of great comfort I see traits of the rabbit personality in my own, especially when making paintings. I relate to their alert, edgy energy and the constant vigilance required to always remain nimble enough to get in and out of fluctuating situations. " -Jo Hay
Tori Rysk, Lionheart Gallery, Pound Ridge, NY January, 2016
Read the full Interview: Rabbitude: An Interview with Artist Jo Hay
WOMR PROVINCETOWN ART TALK: CHRIS BUSA INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST JO HAY
JANUARY 27, 2016
"Hay's work probes the mystery of gender by creating composite images that do not identify a specific individual but rather embody the idea of flickering glimpses of sexual duality that so mesmerized Hay while she was living in Provincetown and the West Village. The ethereal nature of sexual identity is crystalized in her ambiguous portraits, where the subject appears simultaneously male and female."
Chris Busa, Provincetown Arts Magazine, 2014/2015 pp. 36, 37
JO HAY SELECTED BY MADONNA AS FINALIST #ARTFORFREEDOM
A GLOBAL INITIATIVE ENCOURAGING CREATIVE EXPRESSION THAT BRINGS AWARENESS TO HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
"nice. i like it. it’s poetic. its musical turn it into a song."
NOVEMBER 14, 2014
INTERVIEW: ARTIST JO HAY
Jo Hay: "It fascinates me that we are so afraid of what appears to be confused sexuality. I understand that we are deeply programmed to procreate. I also know that many studies have been done on the conscious and unconscious choices we make from the gene pool in order to best serve the survival of our offspring, but I am still surprised by the degree of public hostility that often accompanies an experience of witnessing possible gender uncertainty.
Ryan Stamerro: "And you're exploring that in your work, which may create controversy, but it also causes conversation which is what art is all about."
Jo Hay: "Yes, absolutely. Given the climate of fear attached to gender uncertainty, I would consider it a mark of success if my work could inspire conversation even if it was difficult and not particularly flattering."
-Ryan Stamerro, The Kind Artist, March 4, 2015
Read the Full Interview: Artist Jo Hay
ALDEN GALLERY STARTS IT'S SEASON: art aplenty in town and in provincetown
Alden Gallery in Provincetown launched its busy season Friday night with an opening party for Square a group show that features works by artists such as Kevin Cyr, Joerg Dressler, Jo Hay, Paul Pedulla, Linda Reedy, Anne Salas, and Heather Toland, all of whom created works that are square.
-Meredith Goldstein, The Boston Globe, Lifestyle, Names, May 25, 2015
YOU ARE SELECT
"Presented by Jo Hay Open Studio and The Cure8 Group, this will be one of the highlights of your night. Within these walls lies an innovative exhibition of contemporary art, featuring conceptually driven paintings and photographs by internationally acclaimed artists. Art really does rule."
Bernadette Lords, Martial Vivot, CULTURE, May 15, 2015
LETTER FROM PROVINCETOWN:
AN INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST JO HAY
"While living and painting in Greenwich Village she became aware of the obvious presence of androgyny represented by the transsexuals, transvestites, and transgendered men and women. Fascinated by the mysterious middle ground between the sexes, she began to probe the psychological and sexual perceptions of gender through her work..."
-M. Sebastian Araujo, Visit Provincetown, April 29, 2014
Read the full article: LETTER FROM PROVINCETOWN
SCHOOL DAYS NEW YORK ACADEMY OF ART -
LIFE + TIMES
David Kratz, School Days, New York Academy of Art, Life & Times, Video, April 27, 2012
Jo Hay Featured Artist 1:17 /3:27
Originally founded by Andy Warhol, the New York Academy of Art is one of the last bastions of professional education in traditional studio skills (painting, drawing, sculpture) left in the city. Here, President David Kratz leads Life + Times on a visit of the institution, as we observe some of the students and artwork invigorating the space, ahead of NYAA's recent showcase, the annual Tribeca Ball.