Nov 1st 2017

A friend contacted me asking for advice marketing art on-line. In the course of responding to this artist I was faced once again with the dilemma that artists frequently wrestle
with: how does one sell this stuff that is so personally–and frequently mysteriously–meaningful? After several years developing a marvelous body of deeply mystical paintings
Kathleen Mercado had begun to explore ways to get her paintings out into the world. That interaction (and the realization that the artist’s last name, translated from Portuguese,
means “marketplace”) sparked the idea of this exhibition.

When I think of “art” and “market” the first artist who comes to mind is Conrad Bakker whose work, gathered under the title “Untitled Project” has over the last twenty years
interrogated the mechanisms of capitalism. Bakker’s typical strategy of presenting carved and painted facsimiles of objects of commerce tilts in a somewhat more obscure
direction in these new paintings. These paintings based on photographs of televesions for sale, but cropped to just the screen, might read first as simply murky paintings of
figures in a domestic interior. But then, even as the source image becomes evident, the implication of a reflective surface curiously implicates the viewer into the image,
complicating the relationship between the viewer / consumer / object / image.

The focus of much of Samantha Haring’s work has been on artifacts of and in the artist’s studio. To many people the making of a painting is something of a mystery, but rather
than unveil that mystery the concentrated gaze of Haring’s paintings in some way underscores the essential mystery of objects (not unlike repeating a word over and over until
it is but a puzzling sound). In this group of three paintings there is a meditation on the structure of paintings (stretcher, canvas) that takes delight in it’s simultaneous act of being
(a painting on such stretcher and canvas) and representing (the painting’s architecture.)

When I first encountered Mark Ottens monumental drawing “A Torrent Released from an Arm on South Division Avenue” it appeared, from a distance, to be a cloud. While closer
observation revealed a staggering accumulation of imagery there is no explanation or suggestion of particular meaning offered in the work. For me this drawing resembles a
teeming marketplace, but unlike the structures of capitalism, which rely on clarity for commerce, this marketplace revels in an overwhelming and mystifying mash-up of
imagery. Perhaps we have wandered into a cloud of unknowing.

– Tim Lowly, curator and gallery director

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