AJS, Part I

In advance of our interview with Jeff Gauntt (and following the curatorial lead of his writings and exhibition design for the Annual Juried Show), we’re posting a few installation shots of CAC and the statement he wrote to accompany the exhibition. Stay tuned for the interview.

“…be yourself, use everything around you, don’t be afraid.”
Roberta Smith, NYTimes review of Sigmar Polke exhibition, February 25, 1996







My approach to art is direct and sincere. I do not distinguish between so-called “highbrow” and “lowbrow” art, which are often simply divisions for classicist categories based on education and skill. Before attending art school and learning about these divisions, my visual education was derived from comics, movies, videogames, books covers and album art. Thanks to the benefits of college, my interests and appreciation have grown to include all forms of art, expression and creativity. Together with my academic awareness, the education of my youth creates a well-balanced view of art in all forms and stages; one that allows me to be both critical and innocently inspired across the board of expression.

For this exhibition, as in my daily life and art, I attempt to locate a balance between these two worlds; the clean, idealized world of the academy, combined with the beautiful chaos of popular culture and reality. The works have been arranged using my own personal logic; as if the room is just another part of the puzzle. I am interested in how the works create a dialogue with each other and the space. The architecture of the gallery is unique, and the works within the installation reflect this system.

For my selection, I looked through nearly 600 submissions, and my goal was to experience each piece as openly as possible. I began by spending time introducing myself to the work; slowly looking at each image while resisting judgment. During this initial phase, I avoided additional information, such as materials and dimensions. I ended this phase just before sleeping, so I could absorb the information, allowing everything to settle within me.

During my second viewing, I paid attention to scale and medium, although I still held off on making any decisions. Finally, during a third round, I noted pieces that had an impact on me, whether it was academic, conceptual, formal, emotional, or simple curiosity. This initial purging narrowed the possibilities down to the 124 works I found most interesting. Finally, through a marathon session of repeatedly examining the pieces, I narrowed the selection down to the 41 works in the show.

Also, during this final phase, I instinctively began to discover connections between the pieces I was selecting. Sometimes these similarities hinged on elements as tangible as images, lines, shapes, colors, process, or psychology. However, I also found more ephemeral connections, corresponding to memories, experiences or stories.

I love every piece of art in this show, and I am thankful for having had the opportunity to select them. It was truly inspiring to see such a huge variety of work, and then having to narrow that down. Clearly, I had to leave out works which I would have enjoyed including, but the restrictions make that inevitable.

I would like to thank all of the artists who submitted work for this exhibition. Just taking that first step requires a huge amount of courage, so keep working. Thank you to everyone at the CAC for asking me to jury this exhibition, as well as several great volunteers for their invaluable assistance during the installation. Foremost I would like to thank John Bissonette and Wendy Kveck for your hard work, confidence and patience. I’d also like to thank Marguerite Insolia, for her love and support.

Jeff Gauntt, 2010

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