conTEXTual abstraction @ Peter Blake Gallery: A Chat With Mat Gleason

559364_10152224098723916_626364298_nSaturday night the Mat Gleason curated exhibition conTEXTual abstraction opens at Peter Blake Gallery. This group show will feature artists that utilize various forms of text in their work and includes Mark Dutcher, Jonmarc Edwards, Gary Lang, Molly Larkey, Adam Mars, William Powhida, Cole Sternberg, and Tim Youd.

Gleason, a long time art critic and curator, founded the Coagula Art Journal in 1992 and now runs the dynamic exhibition space Coagula Curatorial in Chinatown.  Gleason is also a long time Angels fan and is no stranger to Orange County. He has curated shows in the county before and has been spotted by this blogger at various OC art venues from Santa Ana to Laguna Beach. Gleason was kind enough to answer a few questions we asked him about the upcoming exhibition, his thoughts about the OC art scene, and projects he has planned. The interview follows:

So how did this project/collaboration with Peter Blake come to fruition?

Peter asked me, he had a framework of an idea. We went back and forth looking at artists, their websites and their work in person and we honed it down. As we did that the idea of the show became sharper, it was a creative collaboration.

Can you tell us a little about the artists included in the show and why you chose them?

Each artist uses text in their art but the results skew toward abstraction. •Gary Lang composes grids of letters that are actually short poems. •Mark Dutcher uses verbal scrawlings as a point of departure upon which to make abstract paintings he calls “Time Machines” that relate to different years in his life. •Molly Larkey makes abstracted letters. •Jonmarc Edwards uses text as an element within abstract paintings that can often be deciphered. •Tim Youd retypes whole novels on two sheets of paper sandwiched together in vintage typewriters and ends up with an abstracted diptych caused solely by text itself. •Adam Mars paints slogans that deconstruct contemporary culture, often hilariously. •William Powhida writes screeds and then paints the crumpled sheet of paper upon which this analytical writing rests. He takes on a lot of art targets, hilariously. •Cole Sternberg uses text as an element within paintings that reference landscape. We looked around, bandied about a few names, ended up with these ones for their distinction, not wanting to repeat ideas that might be too similar, curating is a real honing process.

Mark Dutcher "Time Machines"

Mark Dutcher “Time Machines”

This isn’t the first show you have curated in Orange County. Can you give us some of your thoughts/impressions on the Orange County art scene?

When you think about it, OC is really sprawling – the difference between what is going on in Fullerton and their monthly art walks then all the way to South County, that alone is a radically different set of art approaches. Add in Grand Central and OCCCA in Santa Ana and OCMA of course, it is a diverse, sprawling scene – not as much a “melting pot” as a salad with many individual ingredients with their own taste and texture. Peter Blake does major international art fairs and every fair has a sign that lists the gallery’s name and the city where the gallery is from, Dan Cameron makes the rounds at the L.A. galleries, the certainty that OC is not just a little regional backwater is common knowledge.

Finally, What are some other upcoming projects you would like our readers to know about?

I’m taking Karen Finley to the Dallas Art Fair in early April and then we are opening a solo show of Abel Alejandre’s new work April 18 at the gallery in Chinatown. I’m sure I will fit in an Angels game or two down in Anaheim once the season starts but it’s a full plate of art here.

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