The exhibition is titled Colors and the Kids, after the title of a song by Cat Power.
It will include recent work by both artists: Bok’s studio interior paintings, filled with the objects of a life in painting and music, and color abstractions (paintings and woodcuts) by Meghan Brady.
Music and sound infuses this exhibition of painting. Bok’s work is titled after songs and records, several by David Bowie (Blackstar, TVC15), and U2 (Unforgettable Fire). His studio interiors are filled with vinyl albums and instruments: drum sets, guitars, and even a “Butti” accordion, which has become a significant “character” in this group of work.
Brady has written about using the noise of the studio as creative fuel – meaning the voice of influences. She also writes about an aesthetic of noise, which manifests in the work as looseness, open-ended compositions, and a conscious awkwardness or vulnerability.
Brady’s paintings fuse translucent, raw painterly gesture with elements of geometric abstraction. Her compositional arrangements divide the work, loosely, into quadrants and segments. In this way, big moves become echoed and cropped in unpredictable and seemingly unlikely ways. For instance, a wide brushy X of orange is cropped into its segment of the painting. Other gestures, like an elongated C, in different shades of orange-pink, are repeated and turned on their side, across multiple segments. These recurrences and shifts, and the fresh color chords that unite gestures, give the paintings a feeling of perpetual balancing and unbalancing.
Balance and unbalance is also present in Bok’s paintings. In this group of work, he shows us his barn studio in Maine from all angles, all at once. We see the wood crossbeams at the ceiling, a radiant globe hanging from a beam, the window at the wall’s peak, an electric guitar attached a structural column, a prominent sign bearing the name “Jones” in large font, a ladder, red and blue canisters, record albums like Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot by Sparklehorse on the floor, and studio furniture: a yellow wood chair, and bookcases, filled with either vinyl records or art books. It is disorienting and pleasurably impossible to try to map one’s way across these painting spaces.
Bok has made the studio interior his subject for several years, but for a while the figures present in early work (his friends and family, studio visitors, often shown playing music) had almost disappeared. Now, figures have returned. They are half-presences, dissolving in and out of the work. Bok works on these paintings over several months, and does not paint a “static” image, so visitors come and go, and he paints them in and out of the work. They do not sit or pose for him in a conventional way. Over this winter, an accordionist from New Orleans named Matt Schreiber, and Zoë Wright, a painter and musician, lived on the farm and recorded music in Bok’s studio, while he painted. David Bowie is, symbolically, the ghostly presence and overseer in the studio; Bok has always been a tremendous admirer, and Bowie’s records were on constant rotation in the studio over the last few months.
Also on view are two of Brady’s woodcuts, made during a winter residency at the University of Maine, Orono. These have a similar openness and spontaneity to her paintings. Brady devised a system in which she was composing directly at the press, responding to the print in progress by arranging shapes on the bed of the press.