The soundtrack of the 1970s was disco- the culturally dominating force that conjures images of clubs filled with the psychedelic haze of flashing strobe lights, grooving bodies on the dance floor, and white leisure suits just as much as it recalls the beat-driven party music. Disco represented not only a new musical genre, but also a cultural revolution rooted in liberation and freedom of expression.
Coinciding with a time of social and political upheaval, disco was an agent for change. Linked to racial politics and sexual-liberation movements, disco embraced marginalized gay, black, and Latino communities before eventually attracting a commercial, mainstream audience. Quickly spreading worldwide, disco’s attitude of inclusivity provided a safe haven for artists, musicians, designers, and outcasts who were able to explore creativity, identity, and self-expression in bold, new ways.
JoAnne Artman Gallery proudly presents, That 70s Show: Saturday Night Fever, featuring the works of Greg Miller, John ‘CRASH’ Matos, Anja Van Herle, and Jana Cruder. Providing a glimpse into the glamour, rebellion, and acceptance of the era, each artist captures its feelings of nostalgia and freedom. Replicating the iconography and high-energy rhythms of disco music, That 70s Show: Saturday Night Fever demonstrates the indelible impact the music had on our lifestyle, fashion, culture, and art.
Integrating image and text with moments of poetic juxtaposition and historical allusion, Miller often uses archival texts, illustrations, newspaper, and photographs as a base. Completing the works with elements of typography as well as the painted form, he produces optic landscapes of great narrative depth. With each piece chronicling the past, present, and future, Miller’s unique brand of Americana celebrates and notes society’s ties to the iconic imagery that transcends the passage of time.
CRASH’s process is rooted within his identity as a Bronx-born graffiti artist, having come of age in Bronx of the late 1970s. As a young teen, CRASH (b. John Matos) ran with the local kids, tagging subway cars, creating large murals, perfecting his style and making a name for himself amongst the NYC visual landscape while also pioneering a new age for graffiti. One of the first graffiti artists to make the transition to canvas, he creates all his work from freehand, showcasing vibrant compositions reminiscent of pop art while reflecting his own signature style that combines text with human forms.
Rooted in Pop art, street art, graphic design, and his life in Southern California, Michael Callas’ paintings are done with spray paint and precise stencil work. Intricately produced through a rigorous process of drafting, mapping, and hand-cutting precise templates before being transposed onto canvas with aerosol paints, Callas creates a surface that is uniform and rich in color. Remaining true to his practice, Callas meticulously maps out color planes of saturated hues and gray tones, crafting dimensionality and dramatic light sources on his subjects. Applying his distinct approach of working in aerosols, Callas explores the famous character archetypes and narratives throughout history.
Mixing classical and contemporary ideas of fashion, self-expression, and beauty, Anja Van Herle’s dramatic interplay of detail and vibrant color tells stories of the past and present. Maintaining her emblematic lux and feminine approach (complete with the adornment of Swarovski crystal), Van Herle cites the satirical phenomenon of Disco Duck. Referencing the novelty hit by Rick Dees and “His Cast of Idiots,” she touches on the playful musical craze and its imprint on the disco era.
Set in the early 1970s, Jana Cruder’s new photography series, We Knew Then, navigates the domestic and sexual roles of women in society. Imploring her viewers to consider the socioeconomic drivers of consumerism, financial earnings, and the haunting expectation of motherhood, Cruder’s depiction of the 70s reflects the enduring female desire to make change in a world that seems un-changeable.
“I love music
Any kind of music
I love music, just as
Long as it's grooving”
-I Love Music, The O’Jays, 1975
These artists’ work will inspire, provoke, engage and mesmerize. With visual perceptions always changing, peek behind the stories told and you're sure to find the right artistic expression.