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THEASTER GATES DRY BONES AND OTHER PARABLES FROM THE NORTH Part of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts’ Transformation Project

bruno david gallery


THEASTER GATES Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North Curated by Juan William Chavez

May 15 - June 5, 2010 This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition: Dry Bones and Others Parables From the North Part of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts’ Transformation Project St. Louis, Missouri, 63108, U.S.A. Editor: Bruno L. David Catalog Designer: Alana Downie Design Assistant: Claudia R. David Printed in USA All works courtesy of Theaster Gates and Kavi Gupta Gallery Cover images: dwelling for fisherman, single occupancy, 2010 Acrylic and mixed media on wood hopeful commerce, mixed use dwelling, 2010 Silver leaf, Acrylic and mixed media on wood floor plan with orange barrier, 2010 Gold leaf, Acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) Bruno David Gallery 3721 Washington Boulevard, Saint Louis, 63108 Missouri, U.S.A. info@brunodavidgallery.com - www.brunodavidgallery.com Director: Bruno L. David Copyright Š 2010 Bruno David Gallery, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Bruno David Gallery, Inc.


CONTENTS

FIRST PAINTINGS by Alana Downie AFTERWORD by Bruno L. David CHECKLIST OF THE EXHIBITION BIOGRAPHY

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FIRST PAINTINGS by Alana Downie 2


Theaster Gates’ exhibit Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North presents a series of panel paintings that are heavily inspired by the Book of Ezekiel and St. Louis’ north-side Hyde Park neighborhood. Chicago born artist Theaster Gates, or activist, community organizer, and performer, as many would also refer to him, draws his inspiration for his work from minority issues. A visual artist with a background in urban planning, he explores conversation between cultures and is deeply concerned with the current state of underprivileged neighborhoods and communities. As part of The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts’ exhibition Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark and their four part Transformation series, Gates worked in conjunction with fourth and fifth grade children from Holy Trinity Catholic School in St. Louis. Gates listened to the children as they created their “master plan” and expressed their ideas and desires for the reconfiguration or “transformation” of the Hyde Park neighborhood. His response to his conversations with the children was this show. Drawing on the elements of resurrection and construction from the biblical book of Ezekiel, Gates worked with the students to try to capture the current state of life in Hyde Park as well as to discuss its future. This dialogue between Gates and the students is one of the first steps in the reconstruction of the Hyde Park neighborhood and community. Gates’ work serves as a portrayal of the current cultural, spiritual, and familial life in the neighborhood. He is able to evoke a strong curiosity from within the viewer through the stories his paintings depict. He illuminates the strong hope the Hyde Park residents hold for their community in the forthcoming years. Each of Gates’ fourteen pieces showcase themes from Japanese culture drawing from his prior time studying in Japan. The juxtaposition of Japanese culture within that of the deteriorating urban landscape of the Hyde Park neighborhood inspired work celebrates the historic city’s culture while intertwining biblical and cultural themes to create a work demonstrative of social inclusion.

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Elements from Japanese culture such as those seen in the works Dwelling for Fisherman, Single Occupancy and Red Mountain draw on a more primitive and simple facet of life as well as landscape from the Japanese countryside and combine it with contemporary elements from the current housing issues of the St. Louis neighborhood. Gates’ works are composed on recycled wood panel. These long rectangular works are treated with acrylic paint, silver or gold leaf, and a mix of medias to create stunning pieces. Scale is an important contributing factor in Gates’ work. While his pieces are constructed out of multiple large wooden panels, many of the figures represented in Gates’ paintings are of a smaller scale, leaving room for the surrounding Japanese countryside or to transcend the tranquility of vast space. The use of smaller architectural forms against such a large scale places emphasis on the quiet historic splendor of the decaying buildings of the Hyde Park neighborhood while infusing them with Japanese motifs. One can see this demonstrative quality in Face of the Deep and Mixed Use Dwelling with Black Horizon. Gates explains that “the dominant narrative” of his work “is curiosity.” Gates’ paintings leave room for the future, the “what if.” He evokes a curiosity within the viewer, forcing them to question their current surroundings and the world they live in today; to question what they can do to help with the hope for the reconstruction of the Hyde Park neighborhood, the hope of revival. The large turquoise chair exhibited is also successful in captivating the audience’s attention as well as piquing their curiosity. The chair stands sturdy, strong, and tall, and serves as a physical symbol of the Hyde Park neighborhood. Constructed out of recycled and found objects, the urban throne invites the viewer to interact within the space. Composed out of an assortment of scrap materials all intertwining into one, the chair symbolizes the neighborhood and all of its facets. Although some of the materials are mismatched or old and deteriorating, it is steadfast in the ground and will remain there while it undergoes construction- just like the neighborhood. Other sculptures constructed out of discarded wood siding and other housing parts punctuate the gallery space, physical symbols of the decaying urban elements of the neighborhood. All of these physical elements incorporated by Gates spark curiosity within its viewers but through their interactions around these physical forms they are directly engaging in the process of reconstruction and revival of the Hyde Park neighborhood.

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The gold and silver leaf that Gates utilizes within his pieces provides an extra, outstanding, eye-catching element to the recycled wood panel and acrylic paint. The shiny leaf represents that extra element of the Hyde Park residents, that of hope. It is the sun beating down on the decaying storefront as well as the shine in the school child’s eyes when he talks about his home and his dreams for its restoration. The gold and silver leaf also represents the “silver lining” found in each building of the neighborhood. Although decaying and surrounded by an environment in the midst of an economic crisis, the shimmer around the house in Cloud for Single Family Dwelling builds on the importance of family. It represents the power of the home and the love within each family that inhabits it. When the schoolchildren recounted their hopes for their neighborhood they brought to life the children, parents, grandparents, neighbors and everyone who lives in Hyde Park. This element furthers the point that although one may not be in the greatest of economic circumstances, what is most important and a key contributor to growth and prosperity is the strong uniting ties between people. The Hyde Park community is not lost within the economic crisis. The gold and silver leaf used in Gold Cloud and Floor Plan With Orange Barrier creates a foundation for revival of the neighborhood. It creates energy within the piece that moves all the way up, from the base to the top. As it catches the light in different ways it shimmers, just like the glisten of hope that all the Holy Trinity Catholic School children expressed in their dreams for restoration of the neighborhood. The shining foundation is one that will continue to be built upon; it is a foundation of hope. Alana Downie is a writer who lives and works in St. Louis. This essay is one in a series of the gallery’s exhibitions written by fellow gallery artists and friends.

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AFTERWORD by Bruno L. David 6


I am pleased to present a solo-exhibition by Theaster Gates entitled Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North with the gallery. Support for the creation of significant new works of art has been the core of the mission and program of the Bruno David Gallery since its founding. Theaster Gates’ remarkable and compelling paintings and sculptures make him one the most impressive artist of his generation. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Juan William Chávez for curating the exhibition and Alana Downie for her thoughtful essay. I am deeply grateful to Yoko Kiyoi, who lent much time, talent, and expertise to the production of this catalogue. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Kavi Gupta and Matthias Waschek for their support in making this exhibition a reality. In conjunction with its current exhibition Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts has organized three artist-driven projects, one of which concluded with an exhibition on view at the Bruno David Gallery. Chicago-based artist and 2010 Whitney Biennial participant Theaster Gates exhibit “Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North,” features a series of installations richly influenced by the Book of Ezekiel that address the future of the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis. This series of installations is the culmination of Gates’ work with students from Holy Trinity Catholic School in the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis as part of the Urban Expression project, led by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, also in collaboration with Succeeding with Reading by ACCESS Academies. In conjunction with Succeeding with Reading, photographer Stewart Halperin, poet Janie Ibur and artist Juan William Chávez guided students from Holy Trinity Catholic School in explorations of their daily lives through photography, writing and drawing. These workshops were in preparation for the project with Gates, who worked with the students to activate empty spaces, organize a town hall meeting, and create works of art responding to the neighborhood. In this exhibition, Gates responds with his own artwork to Hyde Park residents’ thoughts and desires. These residents formulated a neighborhood “Master Plan” with the help of Chávez and Cujawa Architecture. Gates’ project brings to the forefront the current state of cultural, spiritual, and familial life in the Hyde Park community while visualizing some of the residents’ hopes for upcoming years. These installations at the Bruno David Gallery spark new conversations regarding the present and future of this historic St. Louis neighborhood.

-Bruno L. David

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CHECKLIST & IMAGES OF THE EXHIBITION

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face of the deep, 2010 Acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 10


face of the deep (detail) 11


ranch style with Sumi sky, 2010 Acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 12


dwelling for fisherman, single occupancy, 2010 Acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 13


boat ghost, 2010 Gold leaf, acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 14


hill for single family dwelling, 2010 Gold leaf, acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 15


mountain dwelling, 2010 Acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 16


mountain dwelling (detail) 17


cloud for single family dwelling, 2010 Silver leaf, acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 18


roofline detail with cloud, 2010 Silver leaf, acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 19


mixed use dwelling with black horizon, 2010 Gold leaf, acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 20


floor plan with orange barrier, 2010 Acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 21


untitled, 2010 Gold leaf, acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 22


gold cloud, 2010 Silver and gold leaf, acrylic and mixed media on wood 22 x 84 x 4 inches (55.87 x 213.36 x 10.15 cm) 23


thrown, roof and clapboard, 2010 wood 78 x 34 x 34 inches (198.12 x 86.36 x 86.36 cm) 24


thrown, toward the close of day, 2010 wood 70 x 27-1/4 x 35 inches (177.8 x 69.21 x 88.90 cm) 25


itinerary for silver hill, 2010 Silver and gold leaf, neon, wood and acrylic (2 elements) 112 x 104 x 32 inches (284.48 x 264.16 x 81.27 cm) 26


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 27


A walk through Hyde Park, Saint Louis 28


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 29


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 30


A walk through Hyde Park, 2010 31


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 32


A walk through Hyde Park, 2010

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A walk through Hyde Park, 2010

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Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 35


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 36


A walk through Hyde Park, 2010

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A walk through Hyde Park, 2010 38


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 39


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 40


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 41


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 42


A walk through Hyde Park, 2010 43


A walk through Hyde Park, 2010 44


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 45


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 46


A walk through Hyde Park, 2010 47


A walk through Hyde Park, 2010 48


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 49


Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North, 2010, (Installation view - detail) 50


video stills 51


video stills 52


video stills 53


3716, 2010 54


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THEASTER GATES Lives and works in Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri.

EDUCATION 1996 1998 2006

Iowa State University, B.S. Urban Planning, Ceramics University of Cape Town, M.A. Fine Arts, Religious Studies Iowa State University, M.S. Urban Planning, Ceramics, Religious Studies. Thesis: Space, Memory and the Constant Pursuit of God: I Built This House

SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2011 “Theaster Gates,” Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA 2010 “To Speculate Darkly: Theaster Gates and Dave, the Slave Potter,” Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee WI “Dry Bones and Other Parables From the North,” Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO (in collaboration with The Pulitzer Museum of Art) 2009 “Holiness in Three Parts,” Boots Contemporary Art Space, St. Louis, MO “On Another Note: Extractions from the Chicago Jazz Archive Collection,” DOVA Temporary, Chicago, IL “Temple Exercises,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL “Erogenous Wonder,” An Installation, Salvage One, Chicago, IL “Symposium on Contemporary Painting,” Performance, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL “2008 Yamaguchi in Residence,” Experimental Station, one year, ongoing lifestyle performance, Chicago, IL “Dinner Intervention, Culture Community #1 meets Culture Community #2,” Chicago, IL “Representations Series, Talking Series concentrated on the concerns and thoughts of contemporary artists of color,” Chicago, IL (in partnership with the Experimental Station and Illinois Humanities Council) 2007 “Artists Connect,” Performance Lecture, 16th Century Japanese Aesthetics, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL “Uprising, Voice, Violin and Cello,” Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL “Yamaguchi Institute, Plate Convergence,” Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL Recreation of the Candy “Stow,” Acquisition and renovation of a small South Side commercial building for dinner interventions; recycled materials, local labor. “Life After Qualls, African American Artists Respond to the works of Michael Qualls.” Performance and sculpture at South Side Community Arts Center, Chicago, IL

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2007 2005

“Un-housed. Gentrification and the constant need for Space,” Architecture and design conference, Chicago, IL “Rachmaninov and the Slave Spiritual, Piano, Violin and Voice,” Ames, IA “The American Negro; Too good to be True,” St. George Cathedral, Capetown, South Africa “People of the Mud, An exhibition of 15 ceramic artists,” Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago, IL “Mississippi Houses,” Inax Ceramic Museum, Tokoname, Japan “Facing Fuji: 10 Sculptors in Japan,” Tokoname Museum of Ceramic History, Tokoname, Japan “Theaster Gates,” Yakimono Ceramics Exhibition, Tokoname, Japan

GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2012 “Feast: Radical Hospitality and Contemporary Art,” Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL 2010 “Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism Inspired Contemporary Art,” Rubin Museum of Art, New York, NY “Hand+Made Contemporary: Just a Closer Walk With Thee, Toward a Legendary Black Clay Superhero,” Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX “Whitney Biennial 2010,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY 2009 “Black Monks of Mississippi,” Performance, South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, IL “Holiness in 3 Parts,” Performance, Boots Contemporary Gallery, St. Louis, MO “Black Monks and the Gospel of Black,” Performance, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands “Nada Fair,” Miami Basel, Shoe Shine Stands and other archetypal structures of Blackness, Miami, FL 2008 “Branded Alongside the Cabinet of Curiosities,” Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI “Tea Shacks, Collard Greens and the Preservation of Soul,” Center for the Proliferation of Afro-Asian Artifacts, Chicago, IL “Contemporary Response to the Plantation Cabinet, circa 1782,” Chipstone Foundation Estate, Milwaukee, WI “Black Monks and the Gospel of Black,” Performance. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands “Black Monks of Mississippi, If You See Jesus Tell Him Where I Am,” Performance, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL 2007 “Storied Toy: The Emotional and Imaginative Relationship Between a Boy and His Toys (plus a few other things),” with Professor Mitch Squires, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA

LECTURES 2009

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“Arts and Activism in St. Louis, Detroit, and Chicago,” Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center, Chicago, IL “Intersections of Art and Architecture,” Catalyst Iowa, Des Moines, IA “Shacks, Sheds, and Other Small Spaces,” University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC “The Dorchester Project, Symposium: Accidental Publics,” Northwestern University, Chicago, IL


2009 “To Be Pocket: Militaristic Effeminacy, The ‘Hood’ and Adorno’s Last Sermon, or, It’s Over When The Black Marching Band Goes Home,” Our Literal Speed, Chicago, IL “Unpacking Yamaguchi, Myth, Ecstasy and the Black Church,” School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL “Why Make Art Now,” Performance Studies, School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL 2008 “Dave: Neo-Slave Narratives and Contemporary Black Identity—I made this Pot,” Performance Lecture, Paris, France

PROJECTS AND RESIDENCIES Loeb Fellowship, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2010-2011 Cosmology of Yard, Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, February 2010 Pushing the Archive, Art History Archive and a Mover’s Uniform, a performance at the Armory, New York, NY, March 2010 Resurrecting Dave, Solo Exhibition, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI, April 2010 Just a Closer Walk With Thee, Toward a Legendary Black Clay Superhero, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, May 2010 Feast, An Exhibition of Radical Hospitality, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL, 2011 John Michael Kohler Arts in Industry Residency, Sheboygan Falls, WI, January 2010 Gestures of Resistance, A residency at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR, May 2010 Artadia New York, International Studio and Curatorial Program Residency, New York, NY, July 2010

PRESS BIBLIOGRAPHY The International Review of African American Art, “Theaster Gates: Cultural Collisions for a New Public Space,” vol. 23 no. 2, 2010 Jettison Quarterly, “A Q&A Session with Theaster Gates,” Fall 2010 ARTslanT, “The Slant on Theaster Gates,” May 2010 Chicago Magazine, “Urban Outfitter: Fresh off the Whitney Biennial, Theaster Gates Jr. shakes up his hometown art fair,” May 2010 Time Out Chicago Magazine, “Clay Feat: Theaster Gates and a gospel choir engage a slave potter’s legacy at the Milwaukee Art Museum,” April 10, 2010 Time Out, Opening of “To Speculate Darkly, Chicago, April 15, 2010 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, WI, April 2010 New City, “Artist Theaster Gates Can’t Stop Reaching New Heights,” March 31, 2010 Chicago Tribune, “Artists gear up for Armory: Local talent represented at international fair, Biennial exhibition in New York,” March 4, 2010 The Village Voice, “Welcome to the Mixed-Up, Dialed-Down 2010 Whitney Biennial: Bye-bye bling! The new realists win out this year,” March 2, 2010 Smart Museum of Art, “Heartland,” October 1, 2009

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Bad at Sports – Contemporary Art Talk, August 2, 2009 Chicago Now – Art Talk Chicago, “Theaster Gates: Chicago’s Very Public Artist,” June 16, 2009 Proximity Contemporary Art & Culture, May 2009 White hot Magazine, “Theaster Gates @ the Museum of Contemporary Art,” February 2009 Chicago Weekly, “The Space Between: Artist Theaster Gates Bridges the Gap Between Culture and Community,” January 22, 2009 Newcity Art, “Portrait of an Artist: Theaster Gates,” January 12, 2009 The University of Chicago Chronicle, Vol. 28 No. 1, “University, South Side communities can feast on the arts with Arcopia Events,” September 25, 2008 Hyde Park Art Center, “Plate Convergence,” September 2007 Oriental Institute, Annual Report, 2007 Prairie.org, “Chicago Artist Theaster Gates and Kelly Tsai in a performance that combines sculpture and spoken word at West Englewood Public,” October 20, 2006

AWARDS Harpo Foundation Grant, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE, 2010 Harvard, Loeb Fellowship, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, 2010 Artadia New York, International Studio and Curatorial Program Residency, New York, NY, 2010 Joyce Award, Chicago, IL, 2009 Artadia Award, New York, NY, 2009 Graham Foundation Architecture Award, Chicago, IL, 2009

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ARTISTS Margaret Adams Dickson Beall Laura Beard Elaine Blatt Martin Brief Lisa K. Blatt Shawn Burkard Bunny Burson Carmon Colangelo Alex Couwenberg

Damon Freed William Griffin Joan Hall Takashi Horisaki Kim Humphries Kelley Johnson Howard Jones (Estate) Chris Kahler Bill Kohn (Estate) Leslie Laskey

Patricia Olynyk Robert Pettus Daniel Raedeke Chris Rubin de la Borbolla Frank Schwaiger Charles Schwall Christina Shmigel Thomas Sleet Buzz Spector Lindsey Stouffer

Jill Downen Yvette Drury Dubinsky Corey Escoto Beverly Fishman

Sandra Marchewa Peter Marcus Genell Miller

Cindy Tower Mario Trejo Ken Worley

brunodavidgallery.com

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Theaster Gates: Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North  

64 page fully illustrated color catalogue of Theaster Gates’s exhibition "Dry Bones and Other Parables From the North" at Bruno David Galler...

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