DIVISION 169

Colin O'Con
Derek Franklin
Jamian Juliano-Villani
Erik Schoonebeek
Richard Tinkler

Curated by Justin Adian and Wendy White


Opening reception: Saturday, June 2, 6 – 8 pm
June 2 – July 15, 2012

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For immediate release

Rawson Projects is pleased to announce DIVISION 169 a group exhibition of the work of Colin O'Con, Derek Franklin, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Erik Schoonebeek and Richard Tinkler. The exhibition is curated by visual artists Justin Adian and Wendy White and is the pair's first curatorial collaboration.

Justin Adian lives and works in New York City and is currently the subject of a solo exhibition entitled Come and Take It at Blackston Gallery, NY. Selected exhibitions include New Traditionalists, organized by Mary Grace Wright, Martos Gallery, NY, 2012; Battle of the Brush, curated by Alexander Glauber, Bryant Park, NY, 2010-11; Afterglow, Blackston, NY, 2010; You Were There, curated by Thomas Duncan at Rachel Uffner Gallery, NY.

Wendy White has had solo exhibitions at Leo Koenig Inc. in NY; Galeria Moriarty in Madrid; Van Horn in Düsseldorf, and Andrew Rafacz Gallery in Chicago, as well as numerous group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Her work is featured in Vitamin P2: New Perspectives in Painting, published by Phaidon Press. White has an upcoming solo exhibition at Leo Koenig in September 2012. She lives and works in New York City.

Below is a short interview between the curators and Rawson Projects.

Rawson Projects: First, let’s discuss how you both began to conceptualize the exhibition. There seems to be two distinct approaches to curating a group show. One can build a show around a specific concept, or one can assemble a group of pieces that work well together aesthetically and draw concepts and themes from those visual interactions. Do you agree? How did the process develop for this exhibition?

Justin Adian: The shows I am attracted to deal with the objects first and their intentions second. I like lookin first and a thinkin second.

Wendy White: Amen (southern accent). There are probably a million ways to curate a show, but I guess as artists we naturally want to put things together visually.

RP: The title of the show is Division 169 which makes reference to 169 Bar in the Lower East Side. It’s a pretty funky place with a very distinct décor. Can you discuss why you chose this title, and your relationship to the bar?

WW: Justin and I have been going to 169 Bar for years…it’s a real dive. The owner is from New Orleans so there’s a raw bar, which is hilarious. It’s on East Broadway near Canal and Division, so Division 169 is kind of a cobbled-together reference to the general area.

JA: Yeah, it's a dive, but it works really hard to maintain its diveyness… even as the clientele changes to become more affluent. It used to be referred to as the “blood bucket,” but, now, you barely see people raising their voices at each other. Progress!!!

RP: Progress indeed. When you presented the artists you wanted to include, one theme that emerged was the relationship of the work to the architectural space of the gallery. Even the title makes a reference to specific place. What interests you about these relationships? Is there something about this motif that you find especially relevant to contemporary art-making today?

JA: It’s nice to fill up a space without it feeling crowded. When things look like they belong in a specific niche or wall, it just jives a bit easier.

WW: Plus all of the artists were already dealing with construction of image in some way. When it turned out that Erik would be making a painting to fit exactly on one wall, it just seemed to take on real relevance to space and place...putting things in niches rather than just plunking stuff in a gallery and expecting it to magically do something.

RP: Finally, all of the artists in the show are based in New York, but they are not necessarily widely shown. Beyond those similarities, the artists are from a variety of different educational and geographical backgrounds. As working artists yourselves, you know that group shows tend to make strange bedfellows. How did you become familiar with these artists? What does this say about the “community” in New York, and how these connections develop?

WW: In the first five minutes we ruled out all the stuff we don’t like: overreaching thematic shows that fall flat visually, big shows with a bunch of unknowns then one big name, and shows where the curators include themselves (the absolute worst!). We also didn’t want to do a straight painting show. We thought of artists we knew and genuinely liked. A lot of art is boring and can't stand alone, and group shows have a way of polarizing that.

JA: We also wanted fun artists. Lately I meet artists, and they seem so god damned stuffy and uptight, and it shows in the work. I think these folks give off a different vibe entirely.

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