Friday, February 26, 2016

Erin Lee Jones

Last Friday night I went to the opening of Casino Cabaret at Safe Gallery, a very cool new spot in Williamsburg run by artist and curator Pali Kashi. It was the New York art scene at its best: great art work, accompanied by a high energy screw-ball speakeasy and a keg of beer. Melissa Brown, master of all things casino and cabaret (and curator of the show) vivaciously MC-ed the performance portion of the evening. It kicked off with Michael Mahalchick singing "Cabaret," almost better then Liza, to a swooning audience. Even with all this intermittent excitement, I was somehow able to make an impromptu appointment to draw Erin Jones' studio before her own opening at Safe Gallery next week: a two person show with Kari Cholnoky. The spirit of connectedness on Friday night carried over into our visit. Jones' studio housed some of the most stimulating works I have seen in awhile. Her space was electric, with terrazzo filler, towel fragments, tin foil, and a Minion Snake Goddess balancing a cat on her head.

Jones' process involves making her compositions before making their surfaces. In other words, she is painting inversely, and the freshness that this gives the work is unmatchable. Smoothing wet Hydrocal over a wide variety of materials laid out in her mold, these wall sculptures transform as they dry, resulting in surprises not only for Erin, but also the viewer. Highly saturated Harlequin patterns ooze over the cold white surface like melted Crayolas, uniting the busts of two curiously wide-eyed characters. And the subtlety of the tinfoil lines that hover just beneath their surface, makes the touch of their palms all the more tender. Like Dubuffet's Art Brut, her use of unorthodox materials and directness of image making excitingly lives just outside of art norms. The tactile qualities of the work made me want to experience them with more than just my sight; they begged to be touched.

At the end of the day we settled into a beer and talked over the restraint it took for Jones to not flip over the piece she had been working on before it was fully dry. We also talked about our shared feelings on the growing art world, our artist community, and how having nice people out there still made all the difference. The power of a smile and a hug are often overlooked. Go see this show on Sunday February 21st at Safe Gallery and connect with these awesome new works like I did. To see more of her work go here

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