SOFA KING WHAT? is a reprise of my first “proper” gallery exhibition roughly 10 years ago while seeking my (not nearly as paid down as I’d like) Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute. “THE MOST POLITICAL SHOW EVER” was presented at the then-named Lounge Gallery (AKA Michael X. Ryan’s office) in the also then-named Champlain building at Wabash and Monroe. The exhibit featured 100 paintings made in one week while I was enrolled in the highly sought after course offering Conceptual Approaches To Painting headed by artist Gaylen Gerber. Being the obedient student (AKA Gerber Baby), I fulfilled the challenge by Gaylen to complete 100 paintings in a week. This decision was made at the end of an awkward critique of 5 resoundingly bad paintings I presented (that the class deemed illustrated the concept of “laziness” rather than embody it, which I thought maybe was the style at the time, trying to fit in).
As you might expect, the paintings were executed in a variety of hurried styles, not quite slapdash, but full of an erratic energy dosed with humor (sarcasm), meta-inside jokes (“look how smart I am”) and soft-conceptualism (installed in a grid). I wanted to make sure they were all unique works that could stand on their own but were always tied to their place in the set. All the paintings were eventually numbered in the order of completion and titled one by one. I also wanted to make sure that I liked them and that they felt good. What that meant at the time isn’t exactly clear and definitely isn’t so clear 10 years later, but it was a document of my thoughts and ambitions at that point in my life. The crit went well and I felt I was maybe making art for the first time after Gaylen remarked, “This looks like it was made with someone I’d have a beer with”.
We never did get that beer and the paintings were eventually trashed to make room in my UIC grad studio (after a studio visit with artist Carlos Amorales who said, “I don’t want to sound like your mom, but you need to clean your room…”). I’m not sure if they hold up after a decade but I really hope I didn’t also trash the documentation. What I can say is that the whole experience has stayed with me (as evidenced by its continual presence at the bottom of my CV) over the years and many of those initial impulses continue in my practice until today.
SOFA KING WHAT? is a reflection of that point in time (Relational Aesthetics was still kind of new, darkroom art was still the norm, WiFi was magic and one year into George Bush’s first term!) a work that responds to our current time (Relational Aesthetics is kind of old, darkroom art is an artisanal process, everyone complains that their 3G is f’n slow and Michelle Obama has bangs!) but mostly exhibits my desire to just forget all that and make some paintings.
Sofa King is a gallery that exhibits flatworks in Christopher Smith’s apartment. It is a prerequisite that all exhibiting artists have a conversation with Christopher Smith about how their work relates to economics, audience, patronage, and access while being displayed in a domestic setting . The ideas expressed in these conversations will inform how the artist will proceed, whether they use it as a prompt, or something to resist and subvert. Sofa King’s programming will end after the fourth exhibition in the winter of 2013