Friends and Family at Peter Mendenhall Gallery, image courtesy of the gallery

Seven Columbia Artists Featured in Group Exhibition in Pasadena

BY Audrey Deng, January 14, 2020

Keith Mayerson’s Friends and Family exhibit at the Peter Mendenhall Gallery in Pasadena, CA features seven artists from Columbia University: Marc Handelman '03, Dana Schutz '02, Jesse Bransford '00, Esteban Cabeza de Baca '14 (Faculty), David Humphrey (Mentor), Bea Parsons '12, and Heidi Howard '14.

Mayerson is an Artist and Chair of Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking at Roski School of Art & Design at the University of Southern California. He arranged this exhibit “with the curatorial conceit of bringing together artists I admire and whom I feel like I'm in conversation with, literally and figuratively, and if I were to have a great holiday dinner I would want at the table.” For this show, Meyerson asked artists to include art they personally might deeply care about. By requesting his favorite artists to include works they cared about, rather than choosing from their collections, this show is truly a call to togetherness in artistic communities. Mayerson’s exhibit brings together well-known and lesser-known artists for a show which he hopes might be “a subtle antidote for our world right now…”

“Inspired by comics, [Mayerson’s] exhibitions are often installations of images that create larger narratives. Each work is imbued with allegorical content that relates to our world, yet allows through its formal nuances for the transcendent and the sublime,” according to Mayerson’s USC bio. Friends and Family is one example of this curator and artist’s ability to build micro narratives into macro narratives.

Handelman is a visual artist and teacher. Through paintings, installations, artists’ books and other media his work explores exchanges and entanglement between painting, art history and image culture within the visual rhetoric and politics of landscape. Engaging themes such as the re-emergence of nineteenth-century landscape aesthetics in corporate advertising, political branding, white-nationalist mythology, settler-colonialism, and the essentialization of Nature, Handelman’s work questions the ways in which the omnipresence of these and other naturalisms obfuscate, aestheticize and legitimize forms of violence and oppression.

Schutz is a painter who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Her work frequently depicts figures participating in violent or creative activities, or in impossible or contradictory situations. She studied art at the Cleveland Art Institute and received her masters at Columbia University in New York City in 2002. She first came to attention with her debut exhibition Frank from Observation (2002) based on the conceit of Schutz as the last painter, representing the last subject “Frank”.

Bransford is a Brooklyn-based artist and associate professor of art at New York University and the chair of the Department of Art and Art Professions. Bransford's work has been involved with belief and the visual systems it creates since the 1990s. Early research into color meaning and cultural syncretism led to the occult traditions in general and the work of John Dee and Henry Cornelius Agrippa specifically. He has lectured widely on his work and the topics surrounding his work and is the co-organizer of the biennial Occult Humanities Conference in New York.

Cabeza de Baca is from the border town of San Ysidro, CA (USA). In 2019-2020 he will participate and exhibit work in the Drawing Center’s Open Sessions program in New York. He was recently featured in The New York Times, and had three exhibits in the fall last year. Cabeza de Baca holds a BFA from The Cooper Union and an MFA from Columbia University.

Humphrey is a New York artist who has been showing his paintings and sculpture internationally since the 1980’s. Blind Handshake, an anthology of his art writing, was published in 2010 and includes a variety of reviews, essays, and curatorial statements.

Parsons’s paintings are nocturnal in spirit. They are often created at night when she can take advantage of the quiet hours to work. She uses painting as a means of representing mental liminal space. The images are conjured from an introspective painting practice that involves working slowly on several surfaces at given time. Fluctuating between abstraction and symbolism, the paintings are created in reverence and acceptance of the fleeting nature of the mind.

Howard is a painter who lives and works in Queens, New York, and Amsterdam, Netherlands. Her figurative work draws on the intimacies of friendship as a foundational element of her inventive paintings, which are characterized by loose, free strokes and detailed, staccato texture.

The show ran from Nov. 23, 2019 to Jan. 4, 2020.