Saturday, October 6, 2012


Focused Field: an online exhibition at Curating Contemporary 
curated by Brett Baker
This exhibition presents the work of seven artists, Sarah McNulty, Kazimira Rachfal, Dan Roach, Henry Samelson, Altoon Sultan, Ken Weathersby, and Brett Baker, whose small-scale and miniature works free abstract painting from the confines of its own recent history. Through an attentiveness to this under-explored scale, each artist challenges and extends the language of abstract painting. The results push the boundaries of gestural abstraction, site-specific painting, materials, and process, while forging fresh connections with painting’s past.

Focusing the Field (essay)

Expanding the visual field is one of the essential innovations of the New York School. This innovation redefined scale in painting so decisively that subsequent movements including Color Field, Pop, Minimalism, and even installation art all adopted it without question. Yet, while nearly every other aspect of abstract painting has been exhaustively investigated and re-imagined, examples of focusing the field to a small scale have been isolated and few. Miniature abstract paintings are almost non-existent. 

My first encounters with Abstract Expressionism’s signature expansiveness, in works by de Kooning and Rothko, made me want to be an abstract painter and convinced me that scale was a crucial component of the language of abstract painting. For a over a decade, I painted almost exclusively on a large scale, until circumstances forced me to radically scale down my work.

I moved from a large studio upstate to a small Manhattan apartment that functioned as both a studio and a home for my family. The change was fortuitous, though, for it opened my eyes to new painting problems. Instead of rehashing the problem of creating an intimate experience from immense scale, I concerned myself with preserving that immensity on an intimate scale. At first, a two foot square painting felt like a postage stamp to me, an impossibly small area. Ten years later, many of my works measure only 4 x 5 inches.

Recently, it’s been a pleasure to discover other painters - Sarah McNulty, Kazimira Rachfal, Dan Roach, Henry Samelson, Altoon Sultan, and Ken Weathersby - equally invested in small, even miniature scale abstraction. Though sharing a similar format, each artist challenges and extends the language of abstract painting in a different way. These painters use scale not as a commentary, but rather to push the boundaries of gestural abstraction, site-specific painting, materials, and process while forging fresh connections with painting’s past...

Ken Weathersby’s interest in miniatures was sparked by a scale model for a gallery exhibition of his larger works in 2010. He recalls, “it started as just a pragmatic process. But the feeling of seeing things reduced very small or, when next to full-sized pieces, seeing the huge leap in scale, became interesting, trippy, like Alice in Wonderland. It becomes uncanny and gets the imagination going.”

His tiny “model” paintings led to a group of diminutive works exhibited together as one work entitled Time Is the Diamond at Some Walls, an apartment gallery in Oakland, CA. In his essay for the exhibition Chris Ashley wrote, “To call [the small works] miniatures would not be an insult or diminution, but instead a useful label to place these small pieces as a specific set within Weathersby’s body of work. And though small, each works scale reads as large and full-sized, or, rather, right-sized”

“Rightness” of scale is significant to the achievements of each of these painters, born of individual visual concerns yet essential to the expression of each artist’s vision. 

Brett Baker

(1) Harold Rosenberg, "The American Action Painters," The Tradition of the New, Da Capo Press, 1994, p. 25.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Structural Catalyst:

An illustrated essay regarding the exhibition
"Mark Dagley 35 Years 1976-2011" at Kent Place Gallery,

Sunday, September 23, 2012


“Mark Dagley 1976 - 2011”

The Kent Place Gallery will present a chronological selection of artworks spanning 35 years by Mark Dagley, from Monday, September 10, through Friday, October 5, 2012.  There will be a reception for the artist from 6-8 pm on Friday, September 28.

Mark Dagley’s visually dazzling, exploratory abstract art has been exhibited in New York and internationally since the mid-1980s.  This Kent Place Gallery exhibition is a carefully selected timeline, including strong pieces from all periods, reaching back to a few very early works from 1976 and concluding with recent paintings. (To coincide with this overview, Minus Space gallery in Brooklyn will open an exciting show of Dagley’s newest works, called “Structural Solutions.” The Minus Space exhibition runs September 7 – October 27.)

In the paintings, works on paper and sculptures at Kent Place, one can see Dagley developing a wide range of artistic possibilities, including hallucinatory optical and retinal color effects, intense patterns, contradictory painterly spaces, and geometric constructions.  There is a through-line of abstraction, and of surprising wit and inventiveness, evidence of a rigorous and playful sensibility linking all the objects on view.
One of the most striking pieces in the show is a chunky, stacked “ziggurat” from the mid-eighties that seems to be both a sculpture and a painting.  Its squat monumentality and position on the floor say sculpture—sculpture that refers to architecture.  Its black, reflective surface is lush and slick, almost reading as standing liquid. This surface is clearly a poured paint film, and the stretched canvas visible on the sides of each of the object’s “steps” further links it to traditions of painting in general, and to other black paintings in particular.  One can think of Stella’s “pin stripe” paintings, or of the black square images of Malevich.  The glossy surface and simplified formal progressions in such works by Dagley also resemble early video game icons, introducing a flavor of the digital. The condensation of these implications and more into this elegant self-contained object has unusual humor and poetry.

Gallery Director Ken Weathersby said, “I am very excited to be able to present this show at Kent Place.  Mark Dagley is a significant artist, someone whose achievement and ongoing uncompromised creativity I greatly admire.   When we first discussed the possibility of his exhibiting here, it was his idea to do a chronological overview. What could be better in a school setting, for young artists to see, than a record of someone creating, developing and experimenting over three and a half decades?  We included a group of working drawings as well as finished pieces.  Mark’s thinking is present in all of this, but seeing his process and notes to himself in the drawings gives a peek behind the curtain, to some of how he gets there, which will be great for my students. This is also a show that contemporary artists will want to see.  I can think of many active painters in New York (myself included) who can be informed by it.”

Mark Dagley was born in Washington DC and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Venues for his recent New York solo shows include Minus Space, and Up & Co.  He has shown extensively in the US and Europe since the mid-1980s, including many important solo and group exhibitions, and is included in many major public and private collections.

Kent Place Gallery is on the campus of Kent Place School, 42 Norwood Avenue, Summit, NJ.  Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  For more information call (908) 273-0900, or visit

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

belated, in the present tense:


In the Present Tense

a Critical Look at our Immediate Culture

Ken Weathersby - Strange Fit at Pierogi 
I don’t know how or why Ken Weathersby got to the point in his life and career where he’s making the work that he makes, and for the record, I don’t particularly care; I’m just really happy to be able to stare at it and be equal parts confused and transfixed. Strange Fit at Pierogi is the second full exhibition of Weathersby’s that I’ve seen, the other having been his 2010 Pierogi exhibition Perfect Mismatch. Seeing these, plus coming across the few other pieces here and there, is how I’ve gotten to experience this work. The particular tropes in place that I find fascinating are the overabundance of structure and support creating a tension between finished surface and a rigid yet organic outgrowth of materiality, all used in a format which reinforces what the other is doing. Then there are interventions, both overt and subtle, through which Weathersby has managed to create an interesting and diverse body of work that tackles notions of the seen and unseen, construction, presentation, recto and verso, along with a slight nod -intentional or otherwise-  to crafts such as model making.

Granted, to suggest something as “organic” for works that are so clearly based in geometry, materiality, and systemization may on the surface appear dubious. The way in which Weathersby’s paintings appear to develop, while paying respect to the structures of Sol LeWitt, the reversed canvasses of Johns, and architectural models among other things, share just as much with crystallization or even balloon-frame construction methods gone awry; which, in their own right, are forms of naturally organized growth. In addition to generating an interesting discussion about the relationship of the structure and surface, Weathersby subverts and mirrors events within his pieces to thoroughly dissect the object of painting. Overmining the recursive lattice used to buttress the “image area” through a selective vocabulary of wood, linen, and acrylic paint, Weathersby takes order and precision to a whole other level. At their most basic, Weathersby’s artwork is predominantly either a black and white gridded pattern, or a series of red/yellow/blue gridded patterns rendered tightly on the surface, which are then meant to be cannibalized, cut into, reversed, amputated or re-attached as he sees fit. Often the re-attachments can employ this wooden grid-structure which then becomes a very prominent fixture in support of its blasphemy. These structures therefore become an autonomous element within the works, revealing themselves as more than just support but as appendage, growth, goiter, bandage, armor, housing, prosthesis, scaffold, or prison.

Through these tools Weathersby goes well beyond simply inverting the role of surface and support, to create more than mere visual tension. I’d go so far as to say some of these pieces are even engaged in a no-holds-barred BDSM relationship where the lattice-work of wooden framing structure employed on the reverse, grows out and around to thoroughly encapsulate the traditional painting surface within its dominant embrace as in 191 (csk). These elements are then frozen in a moment of ecstatic coupling for the creepy voyeur in all of us. But rather than shaming us into turning our gaze elsewhere, we are compelled to keep looking, waiting to see if one or the other element will utter the “safe word”. We are dumbstruck and in awe that these works have managed to allow us in to witness their depravity, while rapt with attention to see which part might finally succumb. All the while questioning the nature of its relationship with itself, and our relationship to it.

We stare, trying to dissect the actions of these materials, trying to discern a function that these forms may be following. Wanting to unravel the idiosyncrasies of Weathersby’s exploration, I’ve tried to take in the whole of the exhibition, which, in addition to the strange outgrowths of structure, we come across extractions, and vignettes. These works reveal much about the history and traditions of painting in a way few artists are able to pull off. These pieces are so intrinsically Weathersby’s, and at the same time explore the legacy of materiality and presentation within the painting idiom. Through peculiar miniature dioramas, to interventions of near surgical precision, and structural inversions, we are confronted with not only the object of painting, but the object of viewing paintings. The action of observation becomes a puzzle we need to piece together, just as the independent components of the works are fitted together. Tightly dovetailed elements and ideas are crafted together with such attention to detail in order to create something akin to the Frankenstein Monster of paintings. A glorious aberration of what we have come to expect from painting. Now electrified and thoroughly educated, the creature wears a sport-coat in an attempt to fit into our socially acceptable notions of what paintings should be. I just pray the simple-minded villagers don’t repeat the same mistake with these paintings as they did with Frankenstein’s Monster, but then again, they’re the ones who are stuck being merely human.

Monday, August 13, 2012

see closing paragraph:

Magic Eye: Op Art At Mixed Greens
by New American Paintings Blog August 10, 2012

“They may be cold, they may be as objective as a laboratory experiment, they may say nothing about the spiritual goals that have concerned great art of the past. But they are at least an art, or a craft, truly of our time,” John Canaday wrote in 1965 of MoMA’s op art exhibition “The Responsive Eye.” Mixed Greens’s present show “Post-Op” (on view through August 17th) seems to second that thought for 2012, but this time, without the punch. Since being written-off by many critics, Op’s life has, for a while, popularly been linked more to drug culture andadvertising than the art world. Mixed Greens’s handful of work instead documents the movement’s silent, pervasive seeping-into highbrow culture.

The group show presents a handful of the usual tricks, but with less of the “Responsive Eye’s” pulse and more of a subdued shimmer. (Interns, for instance, won’t need the sunglasses which MoMA’s museum guards wore in 1965.) Most are very familiar, but not-quite-placeable. Rebecca Ward’s horizontal bands strung between walls make moiré patterns; Emilio Gomariz’s “Invisible “O”bject”– an illusion of an invisible spinning donut– references a Photoshop canvas; Suzanne Song’s three-dimensional-looking paintings on wood panel are impeccable. It’s seductive, if a worn bag. As always, the interest wears off once you know how it’s done.

Technically, though, they’re not all Op, but more “Op-adjacent,” as termed by David Rimanelli in a May 2007 issue of Artforum. Rachel Beach’s wood block sculptures resemble one facet of an impossible drawing; Jay Shin’s light projection simply layer geometric shapes; Peter Demos’s grey strips on black paintings bow slightly, but don’t elicit an optical effect. They recall everything from Kusama to “Ghosts in the Machine” to various emerging shows the Lower East Side. While you might have suspected that Op is an island, decisively Op or Not Op, with little discernible path beyond, this show sketches an entire progeny of “Op-adjacent” parents like Josef Albers, Frank Stella, or Agnes Martin. Just to give a sense of the term’s breadth, “Op-adjacent” could encompass contemporary artists from Virgil Marti or Thomas Bayrle, Tomma Abts, Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, or Doug Wheeler, and on, and on.

It’s possible that the moderated Op FX came from critical response. Greenberg deemed it “novelty.” Rosalind Krauss, finding it didn’t fit her rubric (it “tricks the eye,” like trompe l’oeil), deemed it gimmicky. Critics were troubled by the physical response which Op demanded, some even calling it an “assault.” As Pamela M. Lee notes in her book “Chronophobia,” Op may have been associated with recent trends in fashion of mimicking televised effects, [p 187] or, as she quotes Max Kozloff from the Nation, the “deceiving” “search to untap resources within the impersonal, almost computerized, geometries and visual artifacts of an automated age.” [p 191] Further pushing Op into the “Low” culture realm, Lee writes, it was often associated with fashion and textiles; artist Bridget Riley was frequently discussed in terms of her feminine nature, a “pretty, smiling Irish girl,” according to one reporter.

Artforum linked Op’s recent revival to two major exhibitions from 2007, “Optic Nerve: Perceptual Art of the 1960s” at the Columbus Museum of Art and “Op Art” at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. Since, we’ve seen them in art fairs and galleries, like Carsten Nicolai’s “Moiré” at Pace in 2010, or even Yayoi Kusama’s present exhibition at the Whitney. Much of the work at this year’s New York art fairs could have been confused with Bridget Riley or early Frank Stella.

So why now? If Op came out of televised effects, as Pamela Lee suggests, then the same could be said now of digital effects, as evidenced in net Op– to cherry pick just a few, work by Laura Brothers,  Travess Smalley, Nicolas Sassoon, Rick Silva, Brandon Jan Blommaert, the aforementioned Emilio Gomariz all come to mind. It helps that physical Op-adjacent works are also very collector-friendly, like dependably beautiful Op-inspired Aeurbachs and Guytons, or even Mark Barrow, Phillipe Decrauzat, and Garth Weiser. Unlike the fun, popular Op, though, these exude emotionless, self-obsessed beauty: the magic combination of utter narcissism and extreme sensitivity only possible from an artist’s touch.

Meanwhile Op’s less collectible brother, kinetic sculpture, has yet to make the same return to Chelsea. The two were closely linked as art forms which, often, weren’t reproducible in photographs and depended on movement. But you can’t exactly pack a Calder in a suitcase; the more masculine kinetic sculpture is clumsier and more breakable, often with a “don’t touch” wall label. Today’s Op maybe be delicate, but it’s anything but clumsy. Decades after Riley’s press descriptions as “eas[y] on the eye,” one can’t help but think of the ethereal snapshots of Tauba Auerbach, which often accompany writing about her work.

But at Mixed Greens, there’s something else which doesn’t translate in a photo: Ken Weathersby’s paintings of minute blue, red, and yellow grids. In one, he’s cut a diamond out of the canvas and rotated it once, so that only the slim edges reveal tiny, mismatched squares. In another, he’s cut out a circle and rotated it slightly. It’s a whisper of a protest: a small change becomes an utter transformation, asking us to stop in our tracks. Instead of wearing a digital aesthetic as fashion, it prescribes a tiny rock in a massive system of cogs. Maybe reticent, and even objective– but that act feels far from cold.

- Whitney Kimball, NYC Contributor 

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Group Exhibition
curated by Ken Resseger 
Aug 5 - Aug 12, 2012
Reception: Aug 5, 4-7 pm 

George Blaha
Michael Brennan
Just Kids
Carey Maxon
KD Resseger
Lynn Talbot

Ken Weathersby

"Charlie plays an actor who bungles several scenes and is kicked out. He returns convincingly dressed as a lady and charms the director. Even so, Charlie never makes it into the film, winding up at the bottom of a well.
- The Masquerader, 1914 starring Charlie Chaplin (synopsis of) —-"

The Howard Art Project
1386 Dorchester Ave.
Dorchester MA 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Clk, Gd & Ocg, Post-Op:


Group Exhibition

July 12–August 17, 2012
Opening: Thursday, July 12, 5-7pm

Artists: Rachel Beach, Peter Demos, Andrew Falkowski, Emilio Gomariz, Jay Shinn, Suzanne Song, Rebecca Ward, and Ken Weathersby

"Mixed Greens presents Post-Op, a group exhibition exploring the influence of Op Art within contemporary visual art practice. The recognizable movement of the mid-60s was dismissed by many critics of the time, but the movement—grown out of geometric abstraction, trompe l’oeil, and the uncertainty and perceptual change of the mid-20th Century—has proven to be of current importance. Post-Op brings together eight artists working in a variety of media, all of whom contemplate perception, form, function, and rationality to create works tied to the lineage of the Op movement. Through color, line, lighting, and even animation, these artists explore visual illusion in exciting ways.


Mixed Greens -- 531 west 26th street, 1st floor -- new york, ny 10001 -- tel: 212 331 8888 -- fax: 212 343 2134 --

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Strange Fit:

 178 (hLLL), detail, acrylic paint film over wood over linen

Ken Weathersby
Strange Fit

1 June – 1 July, 2012

Opening reception: Friday, 1 June. 7-9pm


11am to 6pm, Tuesday through Sunday and by appointment

177 North 9th Street Brooklyn, NY 11211
T: 718.599.2144


"Ken Weathersby’s exhibition, Strange Fit, presents abstract paintings that shuffle optical and physical elements, playing the visual against the tactile.  In each painting there is an unraveling of expectations as paint, linen, and wood deviate from their usual roles.  Grids of bright color on the painted fronts of the canvases create retinal effects like moiré patterns, and the suggestion of visual movement and space.  But those surfaces are often interrupted by a reordering of the parts of painting.   Works have pieces removed and replaced, or have parts of their painted faces covered, reversed or hidden from view.  Painting seems to have been taken apart, then carefully fitted back together, but fitted together strangely, with odd elisions, inversions and substitutions."

Friday, April 13, 2012


The zte idea at a bigger scale. "194 (z)" is the first larger zte painting element, about 72 inches tall.

194 (z)
Ken Weathersby
 click image to enlarge

194 (z)
Ken Weathersby
 click image to enlarge

194 (z)
Ken Weathersby
 click image to enlarge

"194 (z)" is a painting. 

It is a painting, and the presence in real space of this free-standing painting is occasion for and a counterpoint of the painting's various undoings.  It also may become an element of a large tableau.

Earlier, I made three small tableaux, including "zte II" (pictured in the photo below) that contained space. The container / box of "zte II" is a folded-up painting plane.  "zte II" is a painting, and also contains paintings and painting space. It also contains real space. It creates the possibility to set relationships among the elements (paintings) within the tableau, for particular constellations of placement and empty space to be made specific. 

zte II
Ken Weathersby
 click image to enlarge

zte II (element)
Ken Weathersby
 click image to enlarge

Sunday, February 26, 2012

(you are the weatherman):

The Other Ken Weathersby
Gallery Aferro - 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ 07102
March 10 – April 14, 2012
Reception, March 10, 7pm.

"Ken Weathersby’s exhibition at Gallery Aferro includes easel-sized, patterned abstract paintings, photographic works, and several wall-mounted boxes containing tiny, crafted objects resembling miniature paintings.
The works in the show shuffle the traditional given stuff of pictures and picture-making. The paintings are subtly pulled apart, or have pieces cut out and removed, or their painted faces refuse to be seen. The wall-mounted boxes may be mere models for groupings of larger works, or may be works in themselves. This intentional ambiguity extends to photographs included in the show, paired portraits, which offer false resemblance and shifting identity in seemingly straightforward profile pictures."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

JSM at KP Gallery:

 Ris X, 2012
Acrylic and Bismuth on linen
27 x 22 inches

 Roedelius Dawn SQNC, 2012
72 x 57 1/2 inches 
Acrylic Gouache and black gesso on waxed and sewn canvas

installation view, YOU HAVE FOUND A WAY TO BE HERE at Kent Place Gallery, 2-15-12

Jeffrey Scott Mathews
The Kent Place Gallery
Tuesday, February 14 – Friday, March 9, 2012.  Reception 6-8 pm on Friday, March 9.

The surfaces Jeffrey Mathews works are incredibly palpable. They create a site where the artist compresses information, sensation and energy into a concentrated and refined form. In this mixture we see the artist’s actions and the workings of matter joined in an unusual way. An enormous amount of processing and discrete conjuring results in works both rugged and delicate. A kind of lucid, canny, post-post-modern version of the alchemist’s “philosopher’s stone” seems on the verge of forming before our eyes. These works are strange, but entirely convincing. 

see more here:
Jeffrey Scott Mathews

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview, NY arts:

John O'Connor interviewed me for NY Arts Magazine.  

"In my paintings those various given terms tend to get outside their usual roles, to do different things. Sometimes the linen support and the painted front switch places. Sometimes the wood gets itself in between the paint and the linen. Paintings seem to be undoing something about how they would normally work."

I talk about zombies too.

To read the full interview: 


Thursday, January 5, 2012

At vacnj:

179 (twn - detail), Ken Weathersby, 2010


Opening reception: Friday, January 13, 6 -8pm
The show runs until Sunday, April 1, 2012 
Visual Art Center of New Jersey
68 Elm St.
Summit, NJ 07901

I'll have work in this show, along with a very interesting group of other artists. The exhibition opens with a reception on Friday, January 13, 6-8pm at the Visual Art Center of New Jersey. A fully illustrated catalog that includes essays by both curators will accompany the show. The exhibition runs through April 1, 2012.

"Co-curators Mary Birmingham
and Joanne Mattera coined the word 'textility' to describe a new sensibility that they divide into three separate categories: paintings without paint (and its corollary, drawing without pencil), textiles without thread, and idiosyncratic work made with a strong focus on materiality and process."  (-- Sharon Butler / Two Coats of Paint)

Participating artists: Joell Baxter, Caroline Burton, Sharon Butler, Mary Carlson, Jennifer Cecere, Pip Culbert, Elisa D'Arrigo, Grace DeGennaro, Barbara Ellmann, Carly Glovinski, Elana Herzog, Marietta Hoferer, Nava Lubelski, Stephen Maine, Lael Marshall, Derick Melander, Sam Messenger, Sam Moyer, Lalani Nan, Aric Obrosey, Gelah Penn, Debra Ramsay, Susan Still Scott, Arlene Shechet, Susanna Starr, Leslie Wayne, Ken Weathersby and Peter Weber.