Words by Carlos Suarez De Jesus
Some artists like to create works from scratch. Others prefer destroying what already exists to imbue the resulting detritus with new life. At Primary Projects, “His Wife & Her Lover” is a new exhibit whose curatorial premise is the notion of causing damage to something in order to redirect its existence. The group show features work by Valerie Hegarty, Mark Jenkins, George Sanchez Calderon, Scott Shannon, Manny Prieres, Emmett Moore, Franky Cruz, Andrew Nigon, Cleon Peterson, Nick Klein, Johnny Robles, Jessy Nite and Edouard Nardon.
Displaying a healthy dose of defiance and broad artistic practices, and not unlike the protagonists engaged in a steamy love triangle, the show’s participants rise to the challenge with a call-and-respond to destruction, secrecy, violence, social class, pride and desire.
Hegarty channels the soul of the show in her arresting works commenting on the politics of the American myth. Peterson presents a world in which contrasting schemes of morality result in eruptive hostility between social classes. Meanwhile Nardon weighs in with twenty shivs confected in the jailhouse tradition with objects assembled from common prison materials.
The exhibit was curated by the fearsome threesome of Books IIII Bischof, Typoe and Chris Oh, the alt space’s brain trust.”We are looking for a darker type of feel,” Bischof explains. “We are looking for artists who share what we’re into. People like Valerie Hegarty, whose work really embodies the concept of the show,” he adds.
The artist and indie curator says that Nardon’s cellblock shanks are also reflective of the urge to destroy and create again. “He’s been locked up before and definitely coming from a grim place he doesn’t want to return to. The knives are also indicative of the people Nardon has surrounded himself with in the past,” Bischof informs.
Typoe mentions that Primary’s goal is to help garner attention for Miami artists outside the city while attracting fresh talent to the area.”We want to bring in outsiders who share our vision and give locals the opportunity for broader exposure,” he says. “We are not part of the traditional gallery system in this town. We are more like fuck you, if you don’t like what we do don’t come. Nobody dictates what we want to show here,” the talented and unrepentant renegade intones.
Instead he wants visitors to the space to feel like they stumbled into a sensory buzz saw and experience the type of gritty work one has to get their fingernails dirty to scare up in these climes. “People don’t know what to expect when they come here,” Typoe says. “We just want to show what we love. We want to work with artists with a bit of street swagger, that’s who we are”.
Exhibit A for Typoe’s avowal might be Scott Shannon, he of the Crayola-rendered floral swastika, founder of the Dead Dads Club Corporation, and now one of the Primary stable’s show ponies. During “His Wife & Her Lover’s” opening reception, Shannon could be seen cutting quite the dashing figure in the gallery while swigging straight from an open bottle of hooch and appearing somewhat like a black-clad cross between Rob Zombie and a fugitive from a Twelve Step program.
But don’t confuse the intense talent with a total poser. Shannon apparently has plenty brewing in his brain pan. In fact, his artist’s page on the Primary website is rendered in ancient Latin. “We are attracted to that type of artist. You know what I mean, the kind who doesn’t care about fitting into to the standard gallery scene,” concludes Typoe.
The complexities and patently sinister mood of the romantic yet ominous exhibit makes a compelling argument for their cause.