Town Hall Meeting

Jesse Bercowetz               Paul Brainard                David B. Frye                  Ben Godward               Luisa Kazanas                 Gwendolyn Skaggs                Jacqueline Skaggs      Chris Uphues                Doug Young
Alcove was founded by artist Gwendolyn Skaggs, founder of SUGAR

an exhibition of w...
By Gwendolyn Skaggs

Indianapolis, IN Midland Art Center
May 1, 2009 to June 13, 2009

Opening Reception: May 1, 2009 6-9pm
Midland Art Center
907 East Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Monday through Saturday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday - noon to 5 p.m.

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Gwendolyn Skaggs 917-443-1986 New York, NY 09.04.09 - 10.08.09

mission statement
Jesse Bercowetz (KY)

photo by Chester Alamo & Costello, Jesse Bercowetz, Chicago, IL, 1997

left: all flowers are dead, 2008

right: The Pale Memory of Man, 2008
mixed media, 16'X20'x20'

i got kicked out of school in kentucky and followed a girl to indianapolis. then i followed a guy to chicago and then another girl to new york.

Paul Brainard (PA)

left: O The, 2008
graphite on paper, 30" x 22"

right: Coney Island Whitefish, 2008
graphite on paper, 40"x 26"

I was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and lived there until I moved to New York to attend graduate school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.    While living in Pittsburgh , I had many different food service jobs that were alternately hilarious and totally loathsome.    The experience was very informative to the directions taken years later in visual art.

The use of advertising in my work came from the subversion of the advertising used in one of the “Family” Restaurants where I worked in the late 1980s.  The small ad's at each table , shiny and glossy, were food pornography.  The assault of loads of whipped cream, ice cream and enormous burgers with bacon, ham and cheese loaded with friend onions and special sauce was nauseating to say the least.   One place served a “mystery sandwich” with at least 4 kinds of meat, sauce etc.  The customers were fairly extreme in the tastes too, I can recall cooking 14 scrambled eggs for a young groom, still in his tux and his newlywed still in her gown at 4 am.

The composition of much of my work is influenced by the figure ground relationship that occurs in the average advertisement, through the person/product visual relationship.  In  most ad's, a happy consumer is pictured next to a product and their life becomes better as a result.   The inclusion of self portraiture into the environment of the advertisement  is representative of  the gulf that exists between reality and the world of unreality.
David B. Frye (IN)

Well Gwendolyn, lets see...... I was born in Mildenhall, England in 1963. I am the son of a black U.S. airman and an English woman. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I have worked in various trades since leaving Indianapolis, Indiana where I was raised. I have cooked (line cook /Souse Chef), painted houses and repaired walls for divorcing couples (David B. Frye - Divorce Carpenter ca 1988-90). I taught school, worked in a museum as a guard, studied vocational rehabilitation counseling, and I now work as an elevator man. I have lived in Virginia, Washington D.C, New Jersey, and New York (Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens). Hope you are well.

Artist Statement, regarding the Lincoln Paintings

American historical painting has, for the most part, always been about ideals and ideal realities. Americana is an ideal representation of the glory of us. Through this device painting is frequently pressed into the service of some perceived “good” to our society. I think of the happy slaves one sees romping through their chores at the splendid home of George Washington. I can promise you all there is such a painting. It hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I did not paint it, of course, but it is as much a product of lies as any thing I ever dreamt up. Such a painting not only tells the “story of George Washington,” it supports an ideal social order that many Americans are comfortable with. Think of pious Christian mothers free from the struggles and trials of women, or walls filled with images of those soldiers who do not bleed, but walk eternally towards the glory of battle. Our national story is made clean by means of these symbolic realities. Our history is thereby esponged of the lessons hidden in its tragedy. This may be seen as the noble lie that Plato spoke of.
Years ago, while I was attending a funeral reception, an old friend commented on his horror at seeing two men kiss. He went further to express his contempt for gay marriage. The whole time he was speaking his children played in front of a blaring television. On the T.V screen were images of the burnt bodies of two men hanging from a bridge. The Iraq war was decent enough for his children, but sex never! It was then that I began to really wonder; what could be making so many people blind? Violence is all around and few people act to stop it. Very few people curse and oppose violence the way they oppose equality for gays. People speak out on somber occasions, organize voter referendums, and scream all night in churches to stop sex. The fact that American children are being shot on the way to school proves my point. There are limits on who can see sex, still more limits on who can buy or sell sex. However, anybody can buy a gun in most places. I am convinced that no amount of depicting violence as it is would cause reflection or even discussion. My work uses sexual imagery as a form of protest. I have asked myself, “Is a dick in somebody else’s ass worse than a child being shot on the way to school?”

My piece is called Sick Semper Tyranus. “Sic Semper Tyranus” is what John Wilkes Booth shouted as he murdered Abraham Lincoln. In my Painting Mr. Booth is absent. Instead I depict Mr. Lincoln, and the rugged frontiersman Davy Crocket, double teaming a Black woman in front of a rustic log cabin. As I worked the painting I realized that the original small penises weakened both the composition and narrative of the painting, so I decided to render the first of many snake cocks. The carved figure was built sometime after the completion of this painting; I reasoned that the use of real sculptural space combined with the theatrical qualities of my painting would create a more dramatic piece. I felt that the result was much more confrontational and aggressive. When this piece first showed in Indianapolis, (Town Hall Meeting exhibit) the public was clearly charmed. A steady stream of visitors left comments about my works ability to offend Jesus. Meanwhile something like three people are murdered in Indianapolis everyday. So few “cheeks” are turned in my home town, yet I was flattered that Jesus found time to hate my paintings.

Sincerely David B. Frye

Ben Godward (IN)

Caves of Limestone, Caves of Bedrock
Cool and wet.
Respite for the summer heat.
They wonder with their wildlife
and give you a place to know you are alone.
Light glinting off the slot canyons of glass.
Unsure of direction.
A world of motion and pace.
Slide into the flow.
Test its’ dimension.
You are always youself.
Cold wind above, unrelenting
Gusting steamed air from below.
The city that is impossible to get lost in.
Fall in step with the umbrellas and do exactly that
Ride a dream in the neon’s glow 

left: Cock Rings and Bubble Gum, 2006

right: Fit to Live and Love, 2008

Luisa Kazanas (MO)

I was born in Columbia Missouri and moved extensively. I have lived in Brooklyn for 13 years, 10 years longer than anywhere else.

Gwendolyn Skaggs (IN)

"it's not about "where" you are, as much as it is about "who" you are and "what" you gather and give."

corresponding pages from Elephant Ears (an object d'art)
Wendaferd Press 2009
a scene from a Billy Graham crusade
a scene from a stoop

I was born to a carpenter and an artist/activist/homemaker in Indiana, right smack-dab in the middle of the middle class and white culture. I am number 7 of 8. I thought I wanted to be a draftsman. I chose to explore art. I went from Indiana to Southern California, and back to Indiana. I tried Chicago and Baltimore. I wanted extreme diversity, deep tones and rich contrast. New York is a nice fit. A good challenge. A great competitor. When I create art of any medium I trust my intuitions, I am driven by the "tug and pull" effect (both physically and metaphorically) of an artwork, whether 2d or 3d.

Jacqueline Skaggs (IN)

I was born in Indiana and moved on some 30 years later, for good. I lived in Atlanta for a bit in my twenties and considered Colorado, for a second. I moved to Baltimore for graduate school with plans to move on to NYC afterwards. And so I did. Finally, New York feels deliciously like home.

left: For Mr. Reinhardt, Opals, Dreams, Lines and Hearts, charted periods from "Art as Art", Art in Theory, pp. 806-809, graphite powder and ink on paper. Dreams (above) is one of a set of 4 drawings/essay pages.

right: Knows no bounds, gouache on wood, rhinestones, 10 1/2" x 11 1/2" From the series The charted breaths of letters, poems and notes. Received. Some never sent. Some charted and destroyed.

Chris Uphues (IL)

left: Screaming Skull, 22" x 22"
oil on canvas 2008

right: For You (In Full Bloom), 32" x 30" oil on canvas 2009

When I lived in chicago I felt like some hunchback that stood outside in the cold peeking in the windows of a party I would never be invited to. In New York women tell me I'm good looking, bartenders buy me drinks, and money appears from thin air.