Purified Thoughts

Ben Berlow
Mike Hein
Carolyn Salas
Lizzie Wright

Curated by Jon Lutz

Opening reception: Thursday, June 23, 7 – 9 pm
June 25 – July 31, 2011

Selected Works

For Immediate Release

Rawson Projects is pleased to announce "Purified Thoughts," a group exhibition of the work of Ben Berlow, Mike Hein, Carolyn Salas, and Lizzie Wright curated by Jon Lutz. Lutz lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and has curated several exhibitions under the "Daily Operation" moniker. More information about the project can be found at http://dailyoperation.org. Below is a short interview between Lutz and Rawson Projects.

Rawson Projects: First of all you have been curating exhibitions for quite some time. To me they always seem to have a certain aesthetic to them. The thing I notice most is a tension between clean and messy, loose and tight lines or composition. Can you talk about what draws you to this aesthetic? Do you think it’s very conscious or more of a product of being part of an artist community?

Jon Lutz: I think that my attraction to this kind of work is mostly about identifying the presence of the artist’s vision without over-thinking it. I’m not interested in objects that are overworked, formulaic, or hinge too much on being visually pleasing. There is usually some nuance, mystery or incompleteness. If someone’s work doesn’t claim to have all the answers, there’s a humanity that parallels the cadence of the everyday.

Being a part of an artists’ community has fueled my curiosity about what people are making. At the same time, I definitely think that this is a less conscious or conceptual process.

RP: The title you chose for the exhibition is Purified Thoughts can you talk about the source of the title, and perhaps what relationship you think it has to the artists and works you selected for the show?

JL: The title is taken directly from a song on Ghostface Killah’s Apollo Kids. The song itself is perfect, but I was especially attracted to its use of a sample from Them Two which repeats “Am I a good man or am I a fool?” I feel like making art is ultimately about asking a similar question. There’s an existential balancing act between success and failure. It's like a struggle with yourself that suggests an attempt to be reductive to the point of being pure-thinking.

RP: What is always interesting to me about curating, especially in recent years, is that success seems to come from nuanced, visual relationships between the works rather than specific didactic concepts. Are there specific moments in this exhibition where you see those sort of relationships developing?

JL: The works in the show contain the kind of sweet vision and clear-minded reflections on that balancing act. Mike Hein’s work is focused on conflating notions of spirituality, metaphor, still life, and landscape painting to where they become unrecognizable. For Ben Berlow, it’s an exercise in collage where shape, material, and color mimic tradition but in the end, do not show a blind reverence for it. Lizzie Wright discovers her forms from nature and turns them into notes on the closeness between organic form and what we call ‘abstraction’. Carolyn Salas’ works are similarly poetic, but her process and the end result is a comment of the nature of making a painting vs. sculpture. In all cases the works appear visually spare, but ultimately, they are complex, layered, purified thoughts.