Nowhere Backwards: Randy Bolton, Michael Krueger, and Tom Reed
Nowhere Backwards: Randy Bolton, Michael Krueger, and Tom Reed
September 28 – November 17, 2012
Opening reception: Friday, September 28, 2012 from 6-9pm
Gallery hours for this exhibition will be Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 1-6,
and by appointment.
“How do human beings fit into the landscape? How do we begin to tell the long and varied story of man and nature’s delicately interconnected history? The studio practices of the artists Randy Bolton, Michael Krueger, and Tom Reed share this common desire. In the show Nowhere Backwards we see each artist’s own particular, peculiar mixture of wide-eyed wonder, exuberance, dry wit, careful observation, and an uncanny sensitivity to their chosen materials as they labor to construct their individual narratives.
Bolton’s direct, complex works, Krueger’s spare, singular landscapes, and Reed’s rustic assemblages share a deep desire to lay out the parts of their powerful stories. Each also seems to draw upon and revel in days of their youth: Bolton’s references to children’s book illustrations, Krueger’s use of colored pencils, as well as Reed’s reoccurring foundation of well-worn Bingo cards and weathered word-finds. The palette in each artist’s skillfully constructed prints and drawings echo those found in old magazines or story books, reinforcing the sense of wonder created by these delightful, ornate images. Their subject matter blends iconic, singular parts like a lone tree, a bird nest, or a waterfall with the most specific and intricate characters to form engrossing stories. These reoccurring, yet varied bands of players are usually animals in Reed and Bolton’s hands, while Krueger employs a wide range of human figures that might include a Native American chief, a dreadlocked hippie, or a colonial soldier. In these extraordinary works we see each artist portraying a common longing for a time long lost. The viewer finds the stark openness of the Krueger’s Technicolor landscapes, Reed’s truncated oaks, and Bolton’s idyllic terrains obscured by myriad signposts and billboards. This uneasy longing is balanced by a richly cultivated sense of boyish charm. In this show we find each artist at the peak of their artistic prowess, deftly orchestrating these parts to layer his own wondrous, narrative tapestry”
Randy Bolton’s work is characterized by an exploration of images that seem familiar and comforting on first glance, but become strange and disturbing on further consideration. His prints borrow from and adapt the nostalgia-evolving illustrations of early children’s books and science texts. In their original contexts these pictures served as visual tools to help educate young minds about acceptable morals and beliefs. In his work, however, Bolton has reclaimed these illustrations with a more subversive intent. By digitally altering and recombining fragments of these old illustrations, new meanings are suggested in which an undercurrent of uncertainty or apprehension undermines the initial flash of familiarity and comfort. Images originally intended to reflect childhood security and innocence become ironic metaphors of a chaotic world that is threatened by forces beyond our true comprehension and control. Bolton’s work is about the power these illustrations have in shaping our view of the world as children, followed by the disillusionment that occurs when these images fail us as adults. Despite the seemingly amusing quality of the images he employs, there is an element of concern in Bolton’s work and a vague feeling that the valuable things in life are in jeopardy.
Born in Dallas, TX in 1956, Randy Bolton received a BFA from the University of North Texas in 1978 and a MFA from the Ohio State University in 1982. Bolton has taught in many visiting artist positions across the country, including four years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1989-2002, Bolton was Professor of Art and Printmaking Area Coordinator at the University of Delaware. In 2002, Bolton was appointed Head of the Print Media Department and Artist in Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Bolton’s work has been widely exhibited in one-person, invitational and juried shows since 1982. Recent one-person exhibitions include “Twice-Told Tales” at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Michigan; “Two Sides to Every Story” at Littlejohn Contemporary in New York; “Books of Nonsense” at Evergreen House in Baltimore, MD; “Things Are Rarely What They Seem” and “Chase, Tumble, Slide” at Schmidt/Dean Gallery in Philadelphia. Recent group exhibitions include “The Altered Landscape” at Hines Lobby Gallery in NYC, “Three Americans” at the Glasgow Print Studio in Scotland, “Illustration Bitter & Sweet” at Ruffin Gallery in Charlottesville, VA, “Trouble in Paradise: Examining Discord Between Nature and Society” at the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ; “Tales From an Imaginary Menagerie”, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA; “Inner Child: Good and Evil in the Garden of Memories” at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, NJ; “I’d Rather Be Drawing” at the Dennis Morgan Gallery in Kansas City, MO; “New Prints 2004/Spring” at the International Print Center in NYC; “Popular, Pop & Post-Pop: Color Screenprints, 1930s to Now” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; “Look Out” at Revolution Gallery in Ferndale, MI; “Digital: Printmaking Now” at the Brooklyn Museum of Art; “Sculptural Prints” and “Digital Press: Artists Exploring New Technologies” at the Print Center in Philadelphia and “Sight/Insight” at the New York Public Library. Bolton has completed artist residencies at the Frans Masereel Center in Kasterlee, Belgium, the Evergreen House in Baltimore, the MacDowell Art Colony in New Hampshire, Yaddo in New York and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. Bolton’s prints are in many corporate and museum collections including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Public Library. Bolton received a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 2000, an Art Matters Fellowship (NYC) in 1996 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1989.
Michael Krueger was born on January 5, 1967 in Kenosha Wisconsin. His family moved to South Dakota in 1970 and he spent his childhood years in Sioux Falls. These formative years in the West cultivated a fondness and curiosity for the history of Westward Expansion and the epic struggles that were cast on the Great Plains. In 1990 Michael earned a BFA from the University of South Dakota and in 1993 he graduated with an MFA from the University of Notre Dame. In 1995, Michael moved to Lawrence, Kansas for a teaching post at the University of Kansas. Michael’s creative research has taken him all over the globe from Asuncion, Paraguay to the United Arab Emeritus, to Scotland, England, Belgium, France and Italy. He has given over 100 lectures and workshops at venues such as Cranbrook Academy of Art, RISD, City College of New York, Edinburgh College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA. He has recently had solo shows at Sunday L.E.S., New York, NY, Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston, MA, Packer/Schopf Gallery, Chicago, IL, Bennington College, Bennington, VT and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Recent group exhibitions include, KRETS Gallery, Malmo, Sweden, Baer Ridgeway, San Francisco, CA, Ambacher Contemporary, Munich, Germany, Glasgow Print Studio, Scotland, UK, Adam Baumgold, New York, NY and the Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA.
Tom Reed received his M.F.A. in printmaking from the University of Iowa in 1998 and is currently the master printer at Washington University’s Island Press. In the intervening years, Tom was a printer for Landfall Press and Big Cat Press in Chicago. He had solo shows at numerous galleries including the Philip Slein Gallery in St. Louis and Anchor Graphics in Chicago. His most recent solo show, “Famous Anonymous Wilderness” was at Grover/Thurston Gallery in Seattle.
Perhaps it’s because he’s from the Midwest, but Tom Reed’s work is infused with a nostalgia for the scenery of every boy’s idyllic childhood. He appropriates images from cartoons, children’s books, Boy Scout manuals, holiday ornaments, thrift store junk, dishes, coloring books, etc, that carry a certain vintage nostalgia with them. Certain elements—acorns, waterfalls, coats of arms, woodland animals, log cabins, and canoes recur, suggesting, in the words of Brian Eno, another green world.
Artist and friend Neil Whitacre wrote the following statement about Tom’s work:
tom reed’s art.
You are in a thrift store in a foreign country that does not exist. pushing the vines off an old weather-worn brown sign for a state park – you know the kind of sign – brown painted wood with yellow routed
lettering. The old sign for the State park says “tom reed’s art”. A tiny drunk accordion plays and old skate tape in the nearby box of junk. you get the sense finally that tom reed is the real golden bear showing up early for one of his own paintings. the ranger winks because he knows the corncob pipe is the real computer. and the cartoon here inside thee Olde Acorn turns earnestly in the something that is more exactly our lives.
neil whitacre, 2009