It is a gallery rule not to ever suggest to artists that they collaborate with each other. It’s one of many rules I have to keep the gallery from intruding in the creative process.
This is not a matter of virtue as much as wanting the best for exhibitions. To be authentic and successful, the collaborative venture works best when the impulse originates with the artists.
Among the artists the gallery represents are Jason K. Milburn and Dexter Davis. And both were scheduled to have exhibitions during the 2014-2015 gallery season. They proposed an exhibition of collaborative work. I was cautious, but placed the exhibition on the gallery calendar, and suggested that if things did not work out, not to hesitate to change their minds.
The individual works of both artists revolve around the human figure engaged with experience. For both artists, the figures are often something that might be a self-portrait, in whole or in part. Dexter’s work tends to fill the paper with explosive energy; Jason’s work sets narrative pensively, in a modestly-detailed, but highly suggestible field. They both work in collage, informed by drawing and printmaking processes.
There is a collegial link between the artists. I first saw Jason’s in an exhibition of works by staff artists at the Cleveland Museum of Art; Dexter’s work was in the same show. I asked Dexter to pass along to Jason that I was interested in his work and would welcome the opportunity to see more.
Dexter Davis was born in 1965 and grew up in Cleveland’s Hough Neighborhood – dense and textured with urban materials and experience. Jason K. Milburn was born in 1977 and grew up at the edge of Spencer, Ohio– a small town west of Medina, where the land levels out and towns are spaced more or less every 5 miles down the road. Dexter graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1990; Jason in 2003.
As it has happened, the work is more responsive than collaborative – Each started a few pieces and then passed the work to the other. And then maybe a little work to make the contributions fit better. But not a lot of back and forth. Both artists will also be showing a group of their own work.
In exhibitions of more than one artist, there should be something in context and comparison that illuminates and intensifies the work of each of the artists. There is something between – an energized, transcendent space, informed by the experience of the viewer. That is what to expect.
William Busta Gallery
2731 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Tuesday- Saturday 11:30- 5:30 or by appointment
Barbara Polster, Video Installation: September 5 to October 11
Bellamy Printz, Mixed Media: September 5 to October 18
Dexter Davis + Jason K. Milburn, Individual and Collaborative Works: September 5 to October 18
Kate Budd, Sculpture: October 17 to November 15
Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson, Paintings: October 17 to December 1