John Carlson’s BLUES at HEDGE Gallery
February 2020 brings to HEDGE Gallery a very personal exhibition of artist John Carlson’s most recent paintings and drawings. With similar themes to the musical genre, artwork for the exhibit BLUES was inspired by humanity’s will to survive, as well as the artist’s need to work through a devastating personal loss. “It was through Blues music,” says Carlson, “that I was able to grieve the death of my son. I was given permission to moan and weep but also to embrace this burden, and finally lay it down.”
Carlson explores the history of Blues music in this exhibition, and portrays images of African Americans in both the present and the past engaging with landscape, family and musical themes through his distinct expressionistic style. He captures emotion, gesture and spirituality with heavy oil stick drawings, impasto layers of oil paint, and even collaged found objects appearing on some of his more recent canvases.
The artist has been inspired to explore this theme both by other creatives and by his recent travels to the Mississippi Delta region. Carlson attended a talk in Oberlin featuring choir director Jessie Reeder, who spoke on the origins of slave songs and spirituals. Carlson has interviewed Reeder for his BLUES project, and her voice will be part of the exhibition during an artist talk at the gallery in March. Reeder will be sharing her story of how music helped her process the inequality, prejudice and racism she endured as a young African American woman growing up in Detroit, Michigan. She also will be performing a series of spirituals and discussing their history.
During the summer of 2019, Carlson took several trips to Mississippi to the towns where Blues music was born. He desired a full sensory experience and wanted to explore for himself the mystery and spirituality of these places. John has incorporated aspects of his travels, such as the sound of insects, the unrelenting heat, the smells of the river and the vastness of the fields, into this recent work. He intends to take viewers on a visual journey to the places in our souls where the stories of survival, love, loss, and joy originate.
Photographic artist Shari Wilkins will accompany John Carlson’s BLUES exhibit, with selections from her recent film images of abandoned homes printed on handmade paper.
JOHN CARLSON: BLUES, FEATURING SHARI WILKINS
RECEPTION 5-9PM FRIDAY FEBRUARY 21
ARTIST TALK & PERFORMANCE BY JOHN CARLSON AND JESSIE REEDER | MARCH (DATE TBA)
1300 West 78th Street, Suite 200
Cleveland, Ohio 44102
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