I Know It’s Only The Rolling Stones…But I Like It

The Temptations proclaimed, “Poppa was a rolling stone.”  Blues maestro Muddy Waters told folks that he was a rollin’ stone.  But little did he know when he recorded that tune for Chess Records in 1950 that the title would be the moniker for one of the most iconic and successful groups of the 20th century.  Known as the first bad boys of rock ‘n roll and complete with a “g” on the end, The Rolling Stones formed in 1962 when then guitarist and founding member the late Brian Jones christened the name while setting up a gig.  Little did he, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman or Ian Stewart know that they would help to cement the British Invasion of the 60s as well as become some of the architects of rock ‘n roll. 

Fifty years later, amid a few changes in bandmates, The Rolling Stones are just as relevant and popular as they ever were.  And as the band and their throngs of fans worldwide commemorate the legacy of music The Rolling Stones has created, it was Porter Contemporary that had me in its sway.  Last Thursday the gallery gave its own homage to the group that ranked number 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists when it debuted, A Rolling Stone.  The exhibition is not only a celebration for the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones,  it also inspired by the proverb, “A rolling stone gathers no moss,”  (a sentiment that  perfectly exemplifies the career and members of The Rolling Stones).   Displayed in A Rolling Stone are the works of Jason Bryant, Jennifer Murray, Johnny Romeo, Adam Normandin, JaH-HaHa and Naoto Hattori.  The show is concise and cohesive; the 10 pieces selected for the exhibit are a beautiful representation of the individual artists’ style as well as the theme of the show.  JaH-HaHa’s paintings feature a young Mick Jagger and Keith Richards atop sheets of music.   Jason Bryant created works based on The Rolling Stones’ iconic album Sticky Fingers, while Jennifer Murray’s work showcased the proverb.

The merging of music and art has always been a particular source of inspiration and enjoyment for me.  Wild horses couldn’t drag me away from seeing this exhibit, considering that I’m a huge admirer of The Stones.  Well curated, reflections of each member’s personality are inherent throughout the space.  But out of all the members, A Rolling Stone reminds me most of Charlie Watts, understated but with a driving back beat that is intrinsic and entrancing, A Rolling Stone will be on exhibit until May 26.  I recommend going to see it; I guarantee you will leave satisfied.

Formerly Raandesk Gallery, Porter Contemporary is located in Chelsea section of the Village at 548 West 28th Street and is open Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Porter Contemporary

Slideshow by F.A.M.E NYC Editor

Three Dimensions, One Mind

Jason Bryant is a man with a subtle disposition and an exquisitely beautiful soul.  During his openings you can find him with a glass of wine in his hand, humbly chatting in the corner or in a circle of guests; traces of his southern roots are hardly recognizable in his accent.    It is almost as if he has forgotten that the night is about him, instead he allows his work to speak volumes.  Devoid of eyes, Bryant’s work challenges the viewer to see the world through his point of view.  The realistic quality of the closely cropped images unearth an alluring elegance and symmetry that otherwise might not be seen if the entire inspiration of the work had been simply replicated on canvas.  In this way, his artistry gives direct insight into Jason Bryant the man.

Trilogy, Bryant’s latest solo exhibit at Raandesk Gallery, provides further entrée into the mind of this talented artist.  Using three diverse concepts, Rubric, Merging Iconography and Symbolic Portraiture, Jason Bryant offers an intimate view of classic Hollywood, skateboard culture and the exhibition of the human form.

Rubric is a series of four paintings whose source images are derived from vintage Hollywood movies such as Wild One with Marlon Brando.  Although the eyes are edited out, one can clearly see from the lifelike quality of the paintings that faces belong to Brando, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and others.  Instead of becoming just a painting from a movie scene, Bryant transforms the images into something else entirely through thought-provoking copy.  The paintings like the films that inspired them are black and white and are no less as crisp and captivating as Bryant’s works in color.   Evoking nostalgia and social commentary, Rubric is a luscious addition to Jason Bryant’s body of work.

Merging Iconography are two paintings that successfully blend the realms of skateboarding and film stills.  Bursting out of the frame are bold, colorful graphics.  Both chic and cheeky the pieces grab you and shake your ideas of pop culture to the core.  Equally beguiling as Rubric, Merging Iconography create an elevated, symbiotic union.

Music is as important to who we are as the foods we consume.  Symbolic Portraiture cleverly offers viewers a human profile without a face.  Instead, the audience sees the back of two women, one dressed in a hoodie, the other in a t-shirt.  Album covers on the back of the clothing replace features and expressions.  Although, the faces are hidden, viewers see a deeper perspective of the women in the painting.  By revealing the album cover that best represents their personality, you get a more profound understanding of who they really are. 



Not even torrential rainfall could keep me from attending the opening of Trilogy on September 16.  I found myself doing laps around the gallery space constantly changing my mind as to which piece was my favorite.  Time after time I find myself entranced by the meticulous, flawless art of Jason Bryant.   Trilogy will be on exhibit at Raandesk Gallery, located at 16 W. 23rd Street, until November 12 so you still have time to introduce yourself to the art of Jason Bryant. 

Photos:  Courtesy of Raandesk Gallery

Slideshow:  F.A.M.E NYC Editor

Behind the Curtain Unveiled


On the 14th, Raandesk Gallery unveiled its first exhibition for 2010 with Behind the Curtain, featuring artists Jason Bryant and Kevin Cyr.  I was introduced to both these artists in 2009 while visiting separate exhibitions at different galleries; from my initial introduction these two men left an indelible impression.  Although both artists showcase contrasting subjects, the realistic quality that exudes from their work makes them a match in art exhibition heaven. And indeed it was fate that brought these two men together having first met as assistants at Kehinde Wiley Studios where they first discussed the possible collaboration of an exhibit.  Thanks to Jessica Porter and Raandesk Gallery, their idea came to fruition. 

Jason Bryant’s portraits are inspired by pictures of models, actors and various ad campaigns, although at first sight, you would never know.  Removed from the closely cropped images are the eyes, thus removing the souls, but like an individual stricken with sudden blindness whose senses compensate for their lack of sight, other features of the face are highlighted to reveal the essence of the portrait.   A laugh line here, a wrinkle there, the positioning of the lips and check bones reveal a deeper story than the eyes ever could.   The richness of color coupled with the superimposed skateboard graphics gives the portraits a 3-D aesthetic and the earnest quality of the portraits combined with the whimsical effect of the graphics provide each work with sublime balance.

What is more New York than delivery trucks parked on every corner?  We curse them as we navigate through traffic and scramble to find parking. It is our traffic nightmares that provide Kevin Cyr’s inspiration.  Kevin takes the dilapidated delivery trucks and other vehicles and places them on large panels of wood using striking palettes of color.  Jason Bryant removes the eyes.  Kevin Cyr removes the background scenery making the trucks and cars the single focus in his portraits.  By placing the vehicles behind a solid colored background, the trucks become omnipresent – they could be anywhere.  The vehicles’ details seem to be enhanced and give them a new found charm.   

By featuring unconventional subjects, both Jason and Kevin challenge the audience to pay attention to the details – the various fragments within our society and even ourselves that tend to be dismissed.  Each time you peer into their portraits a new layer is exposed, a new detail is revealed and your sense of awareness is heightened.  The exhibit is designed to build on the color and themes of the portraits accomplishing a harmonious synergy against the white and bricked walls and provides a new meaning to the words “parallel universe.”  Bravo to Jason Bryant, Kevin Cyr and Raandesk Gallery for pushing the concept of portraiture into a new, intriguing territory.

Behind the Curtain is currently on display at Raandesk Gallery at 16 W. 23rd Street, 4th Floor until March 12, 2010.  You can also view more of Jason Bryant’s and Kevin Cyr’s work on www.raandeskgallery.com.

Photos courtesy of MyNameIsPhoto.com.