Stay Gold: June 3, 2011 through July 8, 2011, a group exhibition at Curbs & Stoops featuring Criminy Johnson/QRST, Don Pablo Pedro, Nathan Pickett, Quel Beast and Vahge. Curated by Robin Grearson.
Stay Gold is a showcase of five exemplary artists who are based in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The expression “stay gold” derives from a Robert Frost poem but became widely known in pop culture because its two short words deliver a simple but powerful directive: be true to yourself and your own character. The works in this show embody these local artists’ commitment to this principle. Each artist has developed their own visual language to communicate their ideas, and when the works are considered together, a motif emerges that reflects the complexities of human experience. The work comprises oil paintings, acrylic and gouache portraits, narrative mixed-?media works and collage.
The mysterious Brooklyn-based Criminy/QRST, formerly the mysterious San Francisco-based Criminy, sometimes makes paintings for inside and sometimes makes paintings for outside. He often paints animals, but describes painting a human as “simply one more strange creature with questionable motivations inhabiting…strange and bent places.” The artist says his paintings often focus on “the intersection of memory, wool-gathering and dreaming.”
Don Pablo Pedro
There once was a beautiful nymph, an amazing creature with five heads and three vaginas. She was seduced by a magnificent satyr, a satyr who was revered as the greatest painter in the small port town in which both beings hid. The nymph bore two sons from this union, although both were extremely unusual. The first son was born with a lavish beard that reached down to the tips of his toes, and had a mysterious eye which resided on his single testicle. The second son was born with a pussy for a face, and had an arm in place of his penis. In an epic battle not long after birth, the long bearded boy killed and raped his mutilated brother. This bearded son lives on today, as Don Pablo Pedro.
Nathan Pickett’s nonlinear narratives explore human experience and its inherent tension and contradictions. In wondering where our culture is headed tomorrow, Pickett looks from present to ancient past in his examination of the individual’s struggle to understand its self and its place in society. Pickett’s work includes symbolism that references universal truths embedded within archetypes that transcend the boundaries of language, time and form. Through fine-art painting techniques, intricate paper-cutting, stencils, patterns and line, and spray painting, Pickett depicts our myths, fantasies and fears. His compositions offer a perspective from which the viewer can consider the multidimensional aspects of his work as a reflection of the complexity and dichotomies of their own life experience.
Quel Beast creates figurative paintings which balance emotion and gesture in a self-created style that blends fine-art and graffiti sensibilities. His work toys with the dual motivating forces that distract us from ultimate death, while simultaneously celebrating these vulnerabilities.
Vahge grew up in too-quiet suburbs where neighbors with watchful eyes kept too-perfect lawns. An isolated child with few friends, she withdrew to her imagination and began making collages that contrast whimsical and romantic with unsettling aspects of reality. She incorporates elements of dreams, literature, music, theater and classic portraiture, and draws heavily from German expressionism and Victorian culture. Vahge often crafts her highly detailed works on a small scale, using layers of paper to construct characters and scenes with precise proportion and depth. She often makes females her central characters, exposing all their faults and unique beauty. In all her work, Vahge celebrates oddity with elegance.