Subversive Suburbia

GAS, Jeremy Chandler & Shawn Cheatham, Kate MacDowell, Scot Sothern

June 7 – July 27, 2019
Both Galleries

Reception Friday June 7, 7 – 9:30 pm

7:30 pm
World Premier Screening:
INVASIVE SPECIES

8:30 pm
Q & A WITH FILMMAKERS
JEREMY CHANDLER &
SHAWN CHEATHAN

Artist present: Tony Campbell, Matt Vis, Jeremy Chandler, and Shawn Cheatham

Subversive Suburbia

“You’ll be surprised to see what can collect in a mattress over the months, over the years. Every day, every night of our lives, we’re leaving little bits of ourselves, flakes of this and that, behind. Where do they go, these bits and pieces of ourselves? Right through the sheets and into the mattress, that’s where! Pillows, too. It’s all the same. He”

― Raymond Carver, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?

It all looks good until you open the basement door.

― Anonymous neighbor

Lush plants, manicured lawns, and perfect families. The American dream. Except when it’s not. Dysfunctional families, crazy house pets, and lurking beings- animal, vegetable, and mineral. All of the unseen and unknown. This is the story of Subversive Suburbia. Told through the creative lens of 4 artists and artists’ collaboratives, each artist has a unique and topical story to tell.

Kate MacDowell has spent her career studying and interpreting the animal world and the intersection between man and nature. She explains:
We may also choose to look toward our own destiny as we track early casualties of our transformation of the environment–from the spread of invasive species such as pine-bark beetles to historical extinction events such as the destruction of the passenger pigeon.  In each case our desire or longing for a psychological union between man and nature is complicated by friction and the discomforting feeling that we too are vulnerable to being victimized by our destructive practices.”

MacDowell’s sculptures are intricately articulated narratives. The subject of her work is the impact industrialization and gentrification has on the natural world. Whether it is the development of suburban housing communities, or scientific experimentation, animals and plants suffer the consequences. Forced to adapt to diminished food supplies and increasingly populated areas, animals become ever more cunning in their efforts to survive and thrive.

Scot Sothern is an urban explorer. Sothern states: “I grew up in Springfield, Missouri, in the 1950s and ’60s. I left shortly after high school and headed for Southern California looking for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve moved around a bit since then, but Los Angeles is home and where I have spent most of my life. My father had a portrait and wedding photography studio so I was in the darkroom and behind a camera at an early age. Photography for me, at that time, was merely bread and butter and had little to do with art. I was groomed to take over the family business and, while that never happened; photography just felt like the only thing I knew how to do. Like a modern day Edward Curtis, Sothern documents his subject matter for posterity. Highlighting the plight of those simply trying to get by.

Generic Art Solutions (GAS) is the collaborative efforts of Matt Vis and Tony Campbell. This New Orleans-based art duo utilizes nearly every art medium as they examine the recurring themes of human drama and the challenges of navigating the social and political issues at play within contemporary society. Using history as a springboard for reinvention, the artists’ re-contextualize existing imagery, often well known and recognizable. Pointing out the absurd and dysfunctional- GAS shows us how very alike we really are.

Jeremy Chandler is a photographer and an outdoorsman. In his newest project he explores themes common to his work- community, nature and masculinity. He writes of his newest project, Invasive Species: The Florida landscape comes alive in this experimental documentary film created by Shawn Cheatham and myself. Striking cinematography and a haunting original score guide the viewer through a contemplative glimpse into the state’s ongoing struggle with the Burmese Python. Told from the perspective of “the local”, Invasive Species explores how pythons were artificially thrust onto this fragile ecosystem and continue to challenge the ethical, social, and psychological paradigms of a people learning to live side-by-side with a new predator. The landscape is presented as a dangerous, wild space that can harbor and effectively conceal an entire breeding population of apex predators, as the python invasion becomes a vehicle to poetically meditate on metaphysical concepts of place, masculinity, and the indigenous.

Invasive Species

Film 7:30, Q & A with Filmmakers Jeremy Chandler and Shawn Cheathan

The Florida landscape comes alive in this experimental documentary film created by Shawn Cheatham and Jeremy Chandler. Striking cinematography and a haunting original score guide the viewer through a contemplative glimpse into the state’s ongoing struggle with the Burmese Python. Told from the perspective of “the local”, Invasive Species explores how pythons were artificially thrust onto this fragile ecosystem and continue to challenge the ethical, social, and psychological paradigms of a people learning to live side-by-side with a new predator. The landscape is presented as a dangerous, wild space that can harbor and effectively conceal an entire breeding population of apex predators, as the python invasion becomes a vehicle to poetically meditate on metaphysical concepts of place, masculinity, and the indigenous.

About the Artists

Generic Art Solutions is the collaborative efforts of Matt Vis and Tony Campbell. This New Orleans-based art duo utilizes nearly every art medium as they examine the recurring themes of human drama and the (dis)functions of contemporary society. Always rooted in the performative, they play every character in their work. In their more distilled “duets” we see something of a yin and yang (a balance between individuals that aren’t quite interchangeable), but in their more elaborate stagings the resultant effect is as epic as the subject matter itself. By combining Classical, Romantic, and Baroque compositional elements with contemporary pictorial techniques, they manage to illuminate the common thread that connects past histories with current events. This strategy creates something of a “Déjà Vu effect” that is driven by drama and surreality with traces of levity. In this dialogue between the past and present the viewer realizes several things: 1) that the history of art is inextricably political, 2) that human behavior repeats itself no matter how tragic or brutal, and 3) that this cycle of repetition must be broken so personal and societal progress can be made. Despite all this, their work contains a glimmer of hope–a hope that through thoughtful examination (and armed with a commitment to change) we can indeed forge a better future.

Their “Video Portraits” (Caesar and Caligula, Power and Shame, Tin Soldiers, etc.) are certainly no less poignant, if less visually complex. Shot in black and white and viewed in pairs, the near-identical figures (again, played by Vis and Campbell) resemble “living human sculpture” struggling to keep their composure. These nearly motionless figures portray disciplined characters as they accept their fate before our very eyes. Consequently, these looped real-time observations provide the viewer a feeling of control as they stand in silent critique of society’s power figures and their eventual corruption.

Jeremy Chandler is a photographic artist who creates through a variety of conceptual and formal approaches, such as straight photography, tableaus, and documentary and narrative film projects. His work subverts ritualized expressions of masculinity to reveal a more nuanced idea of maleness while questioning how culture and myth can often intertwine to create altered perceptions of space and place.

In addition to being the 2008 Photographer Laureate for the city of Tampa, Florida, he has exhibited at notable venues, including: Hagedorn Foundation Gallery in Atlanta, GA; Balzer Art Projects in Basel, Switzerland; and Giampietro Gallery in New Haven, CT. He received his BFA from the University of Florida in Creative Photography and MFA from the University of South Florida. He is currently an Assistant Professor teaching photography at Southern Connecticut State University.

Shawn Cheatham is an artist, filmmaker, and instructor of art. He received an Interdisciplinary studies degree in film and media from the University of Florida and holds a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida. His films have been exhibited both nationally and internationally in such venues as the New York Short Film Festival and the Toronto International Film and Video Awards. The work attempts to critique institutional discourses, to examine how these discourses manufacture and control knowledge, and to make people fall in love.

Kate MacDowell’s hand-built porcelain sculptures respond to environmental threats and their consequences, revealing the rifts and frictions between man and nature. Based out of Portland, Oregon, her work has been shown throughout the US and Europe at Scope Miami and New York, Seattle Art Fair, ArtAmsterdam, Art London, London Art Fair, Showoff Paris , Art Paris, Solo Project Basel, NEXT and Art Chicago fairs. She was an artist in residence at the Kohler Arts and Industry Program and has had work in group exhibits in the Museum of Arts and Design (NY), Banksy’s Dismaland Bemusement Park, MOCA North Miami and Virginia, and the Akron, Crocker and Everson Art Museums.

Her work has been published in books and periodicals including The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Hi-Fructose, American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, Beautiful Bizarre, O.K. Periodicals (NL), Creative Review and Rooms (UK), and Hey! (Paris) among others. Her work was featured on the CD and single cover art for Erasure’s album, “Tomorrow’s World” and she can be seen sculpting in stop motion in the official audio video for a song on Miike Snow’s ‘III’ album.

Kate MacDowell’s newest work explores our physical and psychological relationships with the animal kingdom. Whether as proxy, trophy, raw material, or mythic symbol, animals currently occupy a space in our subconscious which layers history, fable, and an awareness of species fragility. MacDowell uses a variety of methods to create these pieces from hand sculpting porcelain, often building a solid form and then hollowing it out, to slip casting and assembling multiples. She sees each piece as a captured and preserved specimen, a painstaking record of endangered natural forms and a commentary on our own culpability.

Scot Sothern (born 1949) spent forty unsettled years hustling freelance photography. Scot worked in department stores, churches, bowling alleys, sports events and high school proms. He worked in a cave at a tourist-trap in Missouri, making and selling photo mementos. Traveling with a portable studio, knocking door-to-door in suburban America, he made and sold children’s portraits and novelties–photo buttons and key-chain viewers. Scot shot model’s portfolios, head-shots, and nude magazine layouts. He spent three years in Tallahassee, Florida, with a photography studio, three seasons with a high school yearbook studio in Los Angeles, and has been employed in three different cities as a darkroom technician.

In 1983, in Saudi Arabia, Scot made industrial training films and photographed the disappearing Bedouin tribes. He worked as an optical camera operator in Los Angeles and New York City. Scot photo-illustrated a series of magazine stories including Shopping For God: Religious Cults in America. These essays were represented by both the Black Star and Onyx Photo agencies and published worldwide.

Forced into commercial retirement by the crippling byproduct of a motorcycle mishap, Scot now writes books and has continued making photographs. In 2010 Scot’s first solo exhibit, LOWLIFE, was at the Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles.
In 2011 Lowlife, the book, photos and text, was published in the UK by Stanley Barker. Scot has since been in solo and group shows on both coasts of the US as well as Ottawa, Canada, and London. His work has been reviewed and lauded in the US and in numerous publications throughout Europe.

Scot’s memoir, CURB SERVICE was published by Soft Skull Press, July, 2013.

An American Lowlife, a digital photo book was published, by Powerhouse BOOKS, in July, 2013.