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Untitled on a Towel 2010

November 6 - 27, 2010

Stuff Art
Deb Brod
Michael Hunter
Pam Lins
Paige Williams
B. Wurtz

U-Turn
2159 Central Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45214

U·turn Art Space is very pleased to present Stuff Art, a group exhibition that includes works by Deb Brod, Michael Hunter, Pam Lins, Paige Williams and B. Wurtz.

Perhaps more than any previous exhibition at U·turn, Stuff Art draws attention to a central concern in all of the gallery’s aesthetic decisions. These gathered artists allow the materials from which their works are created to remain evidently themselves. Whether it be wood and particle board, paint, or other collected detritus, the ‘stuff’ in this exhibition remains basically untransformed. Rather, through shifts in context (especially the relocation of humble materials into the gallery environ) and control, everyday objects and non-illusionary uses of art materials are aestheticized. These artists use spatial relationships and juxtaposition to increase our awareness of the common by approaching a free-for-all of range of materials as freed form.

This discussion has its origin in early collage and assemblage art, as well as Duchamp’s notorious Readymades from the beginning of last century. The evolution of these art practices is also in dialogue with “truth to materials” philosophies that began in the International Style of Modernist architecture, which was such an influential shift in thinking that we continue to live in cities and environments that embody those ideals. This conversation has cycled through other art movements and modes of working, such as the Italian conceptual art movement called Arte Povera and even the Post-minimalists who sough to call attention to a material’s potential by using it in blunt, casually experimental and straightforward ways. Even in our own gallery’s history, artists like Ellen Nagel, Keith Benjamin and Shinsuke Aso, as well as work from our collective, have demonstrated a faith in the potential for surprise and profundity that resides in the most humble or mundane of materials. Stuff Art seeks to isolate this trait in contemporary art practices by pairing two of Cincinnati’s most interesting artists with artists from Chicago and New York.

The conceit of this exhibition predisposes it to sculpture in the round, but solutions that address the wall and the history of painting are included as well. Paige Williams, for example, presents brand new paintings that allow the supports she is working on (wood panel or, in other cases, thick paper) to operate in their final visual experience. Revealed wood grain is interfiled with a sparse visual language of horizontal lines in paint. Michael Hunter also explores the potential of a painting as an object in raw, poetic installations.

Deb Brod’s work recycles a hodgepodge of her everyday life into installations and arrangements that reflect on the human potential to imbue objects with associations and symbolic meaning. Furniture, clothes, books, yard clippings and knick knacks are practically enshrined through Brod’s thoughtful placement and consideration. Thus composed, these still lifes flash with memory and secrets, appearing obviously meaningful without their direct sources explained.

In some ways, Lins’ practice reflects the variety of this exhibition. Traversing sculpture, painting and the repositioning of cultural artifacts, Lins builds constructions that wobble between the totally familiar and the totally abstract. For Stuff Art, Lins is presenting several works that play critically with reflectivity through simple constructions of boards and mirrors. Like small, smart cartoons of Robert Smithson’s indoor sculptural experiments with mirrors, these pieces’ are positioned so that reflections of their environment are mapped across their surfaces.

B. Wurtz is the final word on poetic, minimal and humble assemblage art. Wurtz is at the heart of this exhibition, around whom the rest of the artists were selected. His quirky oeuvre has searched out all sorts of strategies to augment the everyday with the slightest gesture. For Stuff Art, Wurtz has curated a number of diverse works that summarize his interests in objects and how they operate in conjunction with one another. Plastic shopping bags, various food container lids, screws, bits of wood, a wire hanger and a sock without its mate are brought together in a series of works to be displayed on the wall and in space.