No Fear. Yes Art

This editorial was originally published in alt break art fair‘s Responses to Community Building (2016) publication. It has been edited slightly. To read the publication at large click here: alt_break_responses_to_community_building

Life can be boiled down to two key components: fear and love. After the results of arguably the most polarizing election in our nation’s history, many individuals are expressing either one or the other. Shock turned to mourning, then to anger, and now we must turn our emotions into a unified response. It is as important now as ever that love reigns supreme over fear. We should be emboldened by acts of kindness and compassion and rise above hateful actions and discourse so that the hard fought freedoms so many gave their heart, soul, and bodies for is never in vain.

As artists we have a job to do. Throughout history, the arts have been a means to confront and take on difficult issues. Artists have resoundingly responded to devastating wars, fascist regimes, and social injustices. Participating in the arts allows us to communicate our experiences repletely and expressively. We are active participants in shaping the cultural landscape and therefore we need to come out from our studios into the community. We should learn from others, hear their experiences, and help them to tell their story. Now is not a time for self-righteousness or ego, as artists we can facilitate the kind of change that civilization needs.

The day after the election I revisited and was moved again by the words of Toni Morrison who wrote  a poignant essay about why the arts are necessary, especially when despair seems to outweigh hope:

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.”

We will survive this period and many other moments when the situation seems bleak. The best we can do is to embrace uncertainty and not give in to the fear. Don’t fear failure, because we are all flawed, however, we can challenge the conditions of humanity and push the limits of our creativity to un-chartered territories. My colleagues (Audra Lambert, Kimi Kitada) and I started the alt break art fair because we saw artists as great advocates for change. Through partnering with non-profit organizations that work tirelessly to help those in need, we hope to raise both an awareness and participation in humanitarian efforts amongst the art community and the community at large.

As an artist, curator, and arts educator, I will do my part to impart hope, strength, and knowledge wherever I can. I hope to see you on the frontlines in our community.

Benny Andrews’ Humanistic Collages


Benny Andrews, Circle, 1973, oil on twelve linen canvases with painted fabric and mixed media collage, 120 x 288 inches. Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery presents a seminal series of collages and drawings from Benny Andrews’ Bicentennial Series (1970-1976). The series’ six thematic groups that are the basis for this exhibition include: Symbol Series, Trash Series, Circle Series, Sexism Series, and Utopia Series. Within these themes, Andrews reflects his experience as an African American in the post-civil rights era and during the two hundred year anniversary of the United States of America. At the time series was conceived, it was evident that African Americans had made innumerous significant cultural contributions both locally and nationally, yet their role in shaping American history had been vaguely reported and celebrated. Additionally, the national dialogue surrounding the celebratory attitude of the bicentennial seemed naive and dishonest in light of the social and economic conditions across the country.

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June Leaf at Edward Thorp Gallery

Many words can be written about the work of American artist June Leaf. She has maintained a visionary style since emerging as a seminal contingent of post-WWII American artists committed to representational imagery through uniquely expressive means. It’s due time that she’s getting recognition on a grand scale with a major exhibition at The Whitney and a career survey at the Edward Thorp Gallery, where she is represented. Below is a visual essay of the current June Leaf exhibition at Edward Thorp Gallery. The show is on view through June 4, 2016.
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Broken Grey Wires

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Lizz Brady. Installation view during alt_break art fair 2016 at The Fountain House Gallery. 

The result of the artist making art is the release of that work from the artist to the viewer. Art has the means to be cathartic by releasing the artist’s innermost thoughts and sharing them with the outside world. Once the artwork is released, it is the role of the viewer to make connections from the fragmented pieces that the artist released. Studies have suggested that there is viable evidence for a neurological relationship between visual creativity and language.

Lizz Brady, an artist based in the United Kingdom explores various themes relating to mental health and mindfulness, which yearn to harmonize the expressive and psychological artistic process with the subjective experience of the viewer.

Brady is the founder of Broken Grey Wires (BGW), an art collective that seeks to create a comfortable and welcoming space for creative minds to engage in topics that concern mental health and psychology. Below Lizz Brady and I discuss the benefits of art within the areas of psychology and mental health.

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Rhino Horn Artist Updates!

There’s quite a lot of exciting news involving past-Rhino Horn artists. Co-Founder Benny Andrews currently has work in a group show titled Hereat the Arts and Sciences Center for Southeast Arkansas. The show, which runs through October 15, 2016, presents a selection of art by African-American artists from the museum’s permanent collection.


June Leaf, Twin Volcanoes, 1951, Ink on paper, 8.5″ x 9″ Courtesy of Ed Thorp Gallery, New York.

June Leaf has two important upcoming retrospectives in New York City.  The first is Leaf’s major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which opens tomorrow, April 27th. The exhibition will focus mainly on her incredible large scale drawings. The second exhibition, organized by Edward Thorp Gallery will showcase works in a variety of mediums during her career from 1949 to most recently and will open on Thursday, April 28th. The exhibition will run concurrently with the Whitney show. June Leaf has been represented by Edward Thorp Gallery located in New York City since 1985.

Jennifer Samet recently spoke with June at her New York City studio and has published the inspiring conversation on Hyperallergic in a segment called “Beer with a Painter.


Jay Milder, # 13, 2016, Oil Stick on Rag Paper, 20″ X 26″, Courtesy of the artist and Quogue Gallery.

Rhino Horn Co-Founder, Jay Milder’s latest work will be on view at Quogue Gallery beginning May 12 and running through June 15, 2016. The exhibition titled Noah’s Ark: Many Views focuses on Milder’s recurring Kabbalistic interpretations of the covenant between G-d and humankind, envisioned through vivid works on paper and canvas that recall spray-can graffiti and embody a brilliant spectrum.

Suggested Reading: Spring Ahead Edition


– “a lot of curation today leads to the homogenization of emerging cultures — emerging from the perspective of the West — instead of forming collaborative exchanges with people that fall outside the dominant art world.” Art-world darling and sometimes provocateur Oscar Murrillo says that flushing his passport down the toilet mid-flight to Australia wasn’t done in protest. via New York Times

– Two major museum surveys organized by the Centre Pompidou and Sharjah Biennale feature the art of the Egyptian Surrealist Movement. Unfortunately, Egypt’s Ministry of Culture has rejected this art historical movement. via The Cairo Review

– Art Historian, Harriet F. Senie published a new book titled Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11 (Oxford University Press), which examines the way we memorialize contemporary tragic events. Some of the main issues Senie addresses is how to define the new memorial paradigm that conflates memorials and cemeteries; consider the practice of heroicizing victims; point out what is lost when any mention of the perpetrators is eliminated; and emphasize problematic aspects of the memorial process. Senie will give a talk at Pen & Brush on Tuesday, April 19th (don’t forget to vote in the NY primaries!). Her talk will focus on two specific events, which she covers in her book, The Oklahoma City Bombing and Columbine. via Pen & Brush

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Nicki Green’s Revolution


Nicki Green, Chanterelle Bricks, (edition of 18), 2016, Glaze on found brick, 8″ x 4″ x 3″ each

Nicki Green is an artist from the Bay Area, whose multi-disciplinary work includes, ceramics and textiles that examine the legacy of marginalized communities. Green’s use of traditional materials like ceramics and textiles conflate the tangible and hermatic forces within the human condition. They’re objects that encompass the history of marginalized individuals and reflect on the visibility of contemporary marginalized communities. Her ceramic and brick works are ubiquitous objects that also employ revolutionary tactics.

Nicki’s work is currently on view in the group exhibition (SIGNAL) at Smack Mellon on view through April 17, 2016. The exhibition, curated by Alexis Heller, is a poignant survey of contemporary artists whose work challenges the gender binary. Additional artists include: Jess T. Dugan, Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, Rhys Ernst & Zackary Drucker, Young Joon Kwak, Carlos Motta, Cobi Moules, Chelsea Thompto, Gil Yefman, and Rona Yefman.

I recently had the pleasure of asking Nicki a few questions about her work:

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