EXHIBITIONS: A Serious Paradise featuring Jane Callister, Yuko Murata, Jason Middlebrook, Claire Sherman


A Serious Paradise
Jane Callister, Jason Middlebrook, Yuko Murata, and Claire Sherman
Curated by Patricia Maloney
5 July – 18 August, 2007
Artist Reception: Thursday, July 5, 5:30-7:30 PM
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:30-5:30 PM
Email: info@gregorylindgallery

I was made at right angles to the world/and I see it so. I can only see it so./I do not find all this absurdity people talk about./Perhaps a paradise, a serious paradise where lovers hold hands and everything works./I am not sentimental.
- From Keaton by Elizabeth Bishop

Gregory Lind Gallery is pleased to present A Serious Paradise, an exhibition featuring work by four artists who conflate the utopian with the quotidian in their highly stylized landscapes. Jane Callister, Jason Middlebrook, Yuko Murata, and Claire Sherman construct vistas that veer between ready recognition and fluid abstraction; contrasting exuberant approximations of form against more straightforward, unadulterated terrains. While producing visually disparate work, the selected artists all mediate the tensions between culture and nature, infusing their landscapes with humor and solemnity, pathos and pleasure.

The exhibition’s title is taken from the last stanza of the poem Keaton by Elizabeth Bishop, in which the narrator envisions a refuge where “everything works." The included artists foreground the material qualities of drawing and painting, with particular attention to surface, form, and color. While acknowledging current and future ecological uncertainties, they present visions of Arcadia that are neither ruinous nor untouched. Instead, they create new idylls that are perhaps idealized in intent, yet formally rigorous and anchored in the physical world. One is drawn into the fantasy of these places, and intuits their plausibility - understanding how, within these landscapes, everything works.

The paintings of Jane Callister oscillate constantly between explosive abstractions and psychedelic landscapes resembling alien or primeval terrains refusing to conform to the laws of physics. They also refuse to affix themselves in the mind of the viewer as one or the other, as the assimilation of shapes into recognizable objects is continually undermined by the seduction of amorphous form and acidic colors. Callister manipulates the application of paint to her canvases – pouring, spilling, and rotating liquid over diaphanous brushwork – and effectively charges the surface with the pleasure of viewing without offering any solid ground on which to stand. Yuko Murata, on the other hand, takes a much more subdued approach, offering quiet fragments of landscapes that are vacant except for the occasional animal observer. Like the prairie dog surveying his unseen domain from atop a narrow mound in an untitled drawing from 2006, Murata’s paintings cast a wide and contemplative perspective on the world, while simultaneously filtering it down into simplified, semi-abstracted forms. Her brushwork is casually but distinctly layered, and builds a visual vocabulary of place that is whimsical, serenely beautiful, and highly personal.

Jason Middlebrook also infuses a sense of humor into his drawings and sculptures, creating half-wry ruminations on a world that is just about shot to hell. He does not depict the natural environment so much as the incomprehension of the human impact upon it. Silhouetted and sinuous weeds become ensnared upon themselves or stand in stark contrast to a muted grey background. They are both symbols and reflectors of a social order that is invested in and enthralled by destruction, yet ever-confident of its regeneration, no matter what shape that might take. The sublime and the chaotic coalesce in Claire Sherman’s lush paintings of wooded glens and rocky stream beds – hushed terrains invigorated by dense brushwork and saturated colors. Vibrant greens sketch out the ferns and foliage in Logs, 2006, the range of hues suggesting both the unseen treetop canopy and the fractured light which filters through it. The forest’s un-tread ground suggests entrance is not permitted beyond the painting’s surface, on which the broad strokes of paint merge and shift between an abstracted array of color and shape, and a verdant landscape that potently suggests our distance from it.

About the Artists:

Jane Callister received her MFA from the University of Las Vegas in 1994. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City; Southfirst Art, Brooklyn; Mixture Contemporary, Houston; Galerie Anto Weller, Paris; and the University Art Museum, UC Santa Barbara, among others. She has shown in group exhibitions internationally, including the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, in the Prague Biennale, at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; the Otis College of Design; the UTSA Art Gallery at the University of Texas at San Antonio; Luxe Gallery, New York; and the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Callister is Professor and Chair of the Department of Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she lives and works.

Jason Middlebrook received his BFA from UC Santa Cruz in 1990, his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and was a Fellow in the Whitney Independent Program in 1994-95. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions internationally, including at the Kunstverein Wolfsburg, Germany, Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York, and Lisa Dent Gallery, San Francisco. Hi s work has been included in group exhibitions at such venues as, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT; Centro Arte Contemporanea, Sienna, Italy; Wellcome Trust, London, England; the Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA; the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; and in New York at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Public Art Fund, the Whitney Museum of American Art and Wave Hill. Middlebrook lives and works in Hudson, New York.

Yuko Murata was born in Kanagawa, Japan. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Galeria Horrach Moya, Mallorca, Spain; Inman Gallery, Houston; and in Tokyo, at Gallery Side 2, IID Gallery, Rocket Gallery, and Graphic Station. Her work has been shown in group exhibitions in numerous international venues, including Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand, Kent State University, Ohio, the 2006 Taipei Biennial; GroeflinMaag, Basel; and in Tokyo at Spiral Garden, Logos Gallery, Speak For Gallery, and TakaIshii Gallery. Murata lives and works in Tokyo.

Claire Sherman received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago and Houldsworth Gallery, London. It has been included in group exhibitions at the Beverly Art Center and at Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery in Chicago. Sherman is Assistant Professor of Art at Knox College, Illinois. She lives and works in Chicago.

About the Curator:

Patricia Maloney has curated and written for numerous exhibitions, including most recently The Searchers at White Box in New York; I is We: The Garage Residencies as part of Anti/Social at Mission 17 in San Francisco; Open Network: Brooklyn at Ampersand International Arts in San Francisco and Firmament at Ampersand and Turpentine Gallery in Reykjavik. She has worked as a Curatorial Assistant for the Matrix Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and as a Program Associate for the International Program of MoMA in NY. She lives and works in Berkeley, CA.