It is time again for A Radical State of Independence. Developments in the art market, the stock market and the political arena are all pointing to the same phenomenon. The failure of institutions, large systems of collective organization, to provide for and empower the individual. This is not for lack of good intention and intelligent design. It is rather an outgrowth of the simple humanity of collective efforts and their inherent tendencies to become distorted with success. Western History is a powerful teacher of how systems develop to further a particular ideology, achieve success through early innovation and then sink into their own miasmic demise. From the classic cultures through feudalism, religions, monarchies, technocracies, democracies, marxism and capitalism. None of these philosophies and their concomitant structures has found a way to be truly inclusive and distributive, spreading the love and taking care of every individual.
This failure of larger systems is not depressing, not stultifying and certainly not tragic. It is perfectly human. As such, it reminds us of where the responsibility ultimately lies. With us and with the communities we can touch. Some of us dwell in a place of feeding these systems, frantically rushing to keep up, gain status and receive our reward. All the while we forego our true passions, ignore our close allies and families and believe that we will have time for all of that in some future, perhaps in retirement. And this is not all there is. This is a distinct choice we make, a choice to follow a line of thought, support a model of organization and to push further into its frail humanity. And that’s all it is – a simple choice.
The artists in this exhibition point to another way. They make powerful choices that allow them to undertake the effort they wish to. They make art beyond the dictates of the art market and it’s academic/commercial/institutional system. This is not to say that they seek to be outside of the market or to be seen as outsiders. They simply choose not to allow the system to mould their lives and their works. In so doing, they make powerful work worthy of all of our attention and the simple illustration that we have the power to shape our own lives. In fact, that is what we have.
Working in her shipshape studio apartment in Los Angeles, China Adams creates powerfully conceptual works that point us to a place of reflection and self-awareness. With a sense of humor, and a strong sense of irony, the works make pointed statements that nudge at our comfort zones. Betsy Ross Perversion celebrates the power of our American heritage while literally questioning the shape our national values and political institutions have taken over time. www.chinaadamsart.com
Likewise, Tina Bluefield brings wisdom, combined with a light touch, to a series of abstract oils that may point to the simple lessons of nature and close observation. Or not. Working in a studio she built for herself in Joshua Tree, Tina pushes out from her experience in landscape painting to create works such as Promise, a meditation on human desire. These works point to a space of potentiality and the choices we make to bring our world into existence. www.tinabluefield.com
John Luckett’s work pushes even further into the power of the individual to shape their reality. Using a variety of materials, found and bought, traditional and unusual, local and foreign, he creates works that find a clear resolution of form and subject. Tugboats, made on a substrate of found corroplast, is shaped to create a playful work full of maritime references and painterly layers. Perhaps We Meet, by contrast, shows Luckett’s deft hand in selectively marking a canvas and finding a subtle point of resolution that evokes feeling rather than understanding. Luckett lives and works in Joshua Tree. www.johnluckett.com
Working in a wide variety of media, Randy Polumbo asks us to give up our preconceived notions, old strategies for being, and look at his work from a fresh moment in the present. Randy recontextualizes objects, ideas and technologies such that we can experience something truly new and enter into his playful world. Gold Buttercup takes cast glass hotdogs, replete with phallic reference, and combines them with solar panels and gold-plated steel to arrive at an internally-illuminated, self-powered flower referencing the energy and wonders of nature. Technology and individual components laden with subjective judgements transformed through the alchemy of the free creative mind. Randy lives and works between New York City and Joshua Tree. www.polumbo.com
Collectively, and individually, these artists point the way to A Radical State of Independence through their works and their individual practices.