West Prize finalists show at SEI

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Thomas Doyle
Thomas Doyle, 2006, Null Cipher, mixed media, 14” x 13 3/4” x 13 3/4”.  West Collection finalist, in the show at SEI, now until the first week of April.

We dashed out to the West Collection at SEI in Oaks last month for a peek at the West Prize Finalists exhibit before the Grand Prize Winner is announced on Feb. 26. The exhibit showcases works by the ten finalists in the international competition– and all of the works in the show have been purchased by the West Collection.  Each finalist had $10,000 of work purchased; the Grand Prize Winner will receive, in addition, $25,000 in cash–no strings attached, no reports to write. Paige and Al West will select the Grand Prize winner.

Dufala Brothers
Dufala Brothers, 2007, Ice Cream Truck Tank, mixed media, 8’ x 6’ x 13’

In what must have been one of the hardest juryings ever, the Wests looked at submissions by 3,600 artists to make their picks. The ten finalists they chose make work that fits with what the West Collection has always specialized in — edgy art by emerging artists, a lot of it about reality/lies (sci fi, technology and cyber touches) and much about notions of gender fluidity and social and class issues.   Here it’s worth noting that they’re on record that the Philly art community is making great stuff and certainly their choices for finalists in this first round reflect that.

Here’s the finalists — you can see more about each one of them at the West Collection website (link at top of post):

Rob Carter
Brian Cooper
Jonas Criscoe
Thomas Doyle
The Dufala Brothers
Deborah Hamon
James Johnson
Georg Parthen
Ann Toebbe
Nathan Vincent

We were already familiar with five of them — the Dufala Brothers (Steven and BIlly), James Johnson, Thomas Doyle and Deborah Hamon. And it was great to see what the collection bought. The big surprise is that they bought the Dufalas Ice Cream Tank Truck — a real food truck customized with faux guns that the Dufalas served free ice cream out of when the piece showed at Space 1026 in 2006.  Apparently, according to Collection Director, Lee Stoetzel, who gave us a tour of the show, the Ice Cream Tank Truck has already caused a ruckus at SEI when an employee became very upset and said she couldn’t bring her children to work now because of the scariness of the piece. (Stoetzel talked with the employee about her issues and then put up a sign to explain the piece, which apparently cooled the heat). It’s a wild piece–the most wild piece in the show. Maybe the most wild piece in the collection. But it’s a wonderful work and great to see it there.

James Johnson
James Johnson, 2004, First Mirror Picture, two-way mirror, inkjet prints, foam-core, tape, pushpins, wood, screws, fluorescent lighting fixtures, clamp lights, light bulbs, extension cords, power strip, front 32” x 32” x 1”, back 96” x 32” x 96”

The Dufala Brothers are longtime Artblog favorites who have been featured at Fleisher-Ollman Gallery. James Johnson — also an Artblog fave — is a Vox Populi artist. His piece is a mirror peekaboo work with an interior and landscape hidden behind a large mirror in which there’s a small peep hole of a sort. (in typical Johnson fashion, the back of the piece is open so you can see what’s hidden).

Deborah Hamon
Deborah Hamon, 2007, American Girl, c-print, 28 1/2” x 28 1/2” (ed. 1 of 5)

Deborah Hamon and Thomas Doyle are artists whose work we’ve seen (and loved) in group exhibits at Pentimenti Gallery. Hamon inserts painted figures into photographic background creating digital works that make heads turn. Doyle makes intense tiny landscapes inside bell jars–cartoony and apocalyptic, they suggest an unpredictable world (see pic at top of post).

Nathan Vincent, 2005, Cigars, mixed media, 15” x 32” x 14”
Nathan Vincent, 2005, Cigars, mixed media, 15” x 32” x 14”

Nathan Vincent is a young artist whose knitted rifle, cigars, ashtrays, beer cans and fish create a universe of hunter-fisher comedy. Stoetzel said the works are so affordable that they bought everything and it still didn’t add up to $10,000 so Vincent has a “credit certificate” for new works that will automatically go into the collection. This work reminds us of Sto‘s papier mache interiors seen a while back at Space 1026. When we mentioned this, Stoetzel, who seems to follow emerging artists the way he drinks coffee in the morning, knew Sto’s work and agreed.

Rob Carter
Rob Carter, 2006, The Cardinals of Cardiff, c-print, 29 1/4” x 29 3/4” (ed. 1/5)

Rob Carter’s stop action animations about the building and rebuilding of cities will be projected large at the show’s opening (otherwise they’ll be on a monitor in the show). Carter’s a Brit although he’s lived in the US for 5+ years. He cuts up old books to find his images then collages them and adds soundtracks of everything from cash registers ringing to cheers of fans in football stadiums.

ANN TOEBBE
Ann Toebbe, 2008, Red Plates, hand-painted cut paper on cardboard, 30” x 24”

Ann Toebbe is a Chicago artist Stoetzel says he’d been following for some time (she was featured in New American Painters a while back). She paints and collages works that look a little naive and have references to religion and Americana.

Jonas Criscoe
Jonas Criscoe, 2006, Sky, mixed media, 3 panels:  24” x 48” x 2” ea.

Jonas Crisco is from Texas and has been artist-residency hopping, said Stoetzel. His works — which they originally thought were paintings — are digital prints under a coating of shiny vinyl/resin. They’re all about technology and the little boxes we live in. Because they are prints they are quite affordable and Crisco, too, got a credit from the West Collection for a bunch more work.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper, 2008, The Romance of Space and Time, oil on canvas, 48” x 36”

Brian Cooper is from Los Angeles. His paintings are trompe l’oeil works that remind us of Duchamp‘s Nude Descending a Staircase.

Georg Parthen
Georg Parthen, 2007, Cupolas, c-print, 30” x 48” (ed. 1/6)

Georg Parthan is from Germany. His photos are “fully digital, 100%” says Stoetzel. He may take some pictures but it’s hours and hours in Photoshop.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves visiting this show and seeing more of the collection.  If you’ve never been there you really owe it to yourselves to get out there.

The competition will go on annually and Stoetzel says it will continue even in these tough economic times. The impact of the economy however will affect the collection this way: the budget for art purchases is about half of what it usually is — all of it absorbed by the prize expenditures.   There will be a catalog for this show — not fancy, says Stoetzel — with an essay by Christian Viveros-Faune, creater of the Next Fair in Chicago, who helped launch the prize in April. Stoetzel says the show will travel to the Next Fair May 1-4. The Tank Truck too, we asked? Yes — it fits in a 24 ft. truck, he said, sounding pleased. The exhibit’s on view now through the first week of April. Call or email to make an appointment to see it.

Also seen out at SEI, an Adam Cvijanovic mural which they bought a number of years ago.  Are they still working with Cvijanovic?  No –“He’s unapproachable now because of his price.”

Tags

brian cooper, deborah hamon, georg parthe, james johnson, jonas criscoe, n ann toebbe, nathan vincent, rob carter, steven and billy blaise dufala, thomas doyle, west prize

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