Olde Stuff a Retrospective – Terry Durst
Me and Jean’s Gallery
by Terry Durst
If I liked sports I would use the “if you build it, they will come” analogy, but I hate sports – I absolutely detest sports, and religion too – all kinds of sports and all religion – I detest them all!
But enough about me.
In 1990 Jean had an idea to use her law office space as an art gallery, and I was pleased as punch to be asked to do the first show.
I hung sort of a retrospective, 22 pieces, I think – time sure fades away and memory sure fails – and called the show “Old Stuff.” It was wall-hung found object sculpture from the previous ten years, mostly, and there might’ve been a floor piece too. I hung it salon style in the small room.
We even made little table tents to put at Miracle’s Restaurant to advertise the show.
At the time there were a few fledging galleries in Tremont: Ron Naso’s Studio Gallery, Jim McCall’s. But Jean has a vision of creating a real gallery, with regular shows, regular hours, announcements, and listings. And openings with cheese, wine, beer, and, well, just whatever anybody brought.
The basement was always fun.
In 1995 I did an installation there, in the basement, which involved over four hundred men’s socks hung on clotheslines, by one clothespin each.
I believe, ahem, that it was the longest running show? We left it up for months.
Dan came into town from Chicago, just happened to stop at Jean’s gallery, just happened to see my work, my socks hung there all forlorn and lonely, and later Jean said to me you gotta meet this guy, Jean told Dan you gotta meet this guy (me), I called Dan for a blind date, and Dan and I have been together since that blind date night. Eight years in December.
And until the end.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of using the gallery space as my own. Whatever I wanted to do, whatever I wanted to show. I’ve always loved the small single room on the main floor, perfect for an intimate show of wall-hung work, or a small installation.
Even a big window at the front sidewalk with a little “stage” area behind it. Once I made this window area into a gym locker room, just because I detest sports so much I guess – it was kinda homo, ya know?
This gallery has always been perfect for me.
Jean has never placed any restrictions on what I’ve wanted to do. She’s fearless that way, as all good gallery directors – needless to say artists themselves – have to be.
Once when showing at Busta’s with Michael Loderstedt, we were not permitted to display blurred naked photographic images of ourselves in the window where we wanted to put them. Fuck that, I say. Later Michael and I showed much of that same work at Jean’s, and she offered us nothing but encouragement to do whatever the hell we wanted. (That was the “Jesus H. Christ” show).
Artists accepting less than complete freedom to do whatever the hell they want are just spineless fucking sell-outs. I don’t have time or tolerance for this shit. I’d rather not show.
I’ve done many shows at Jean’s – how many? Do I hold the record? Who cares? I loved doing all of them, and Jean facilitated my growth as an artist in a way that’s not often found – it’s been a gift. it’s very hard to find.
One of my favorite shows was in 1997 because I had the main space and Jeesun Park did a beautiful installation in the basement. (Oh yeah, that was the show with the locker room….)
And the time I filled the gallery with thirty-five angel food cakes on little beds having a sleepover, an installation I recently re-created at Lake Erie College.
We hung a show of my dad’s work right after he died.
My last show at Jean’s was in 1999. I called it “New Work” and it consisted of four black wall-hung sculptures, all pretty much about the death of my dad.
So what have you and I and everyone else you’ve shown wrought upon our community, Jean Brandt?
Just kidding. But now we have committees (!) and stupid fucking painted guitars and even dumber fucking painted fire hydrants, and Tom Mulready telling everyone what’s fucking cool.
Real artists stay home and work, dammit!
dead Horse is the only new gallery I trust.
And Angle Magazine is a great thing, although they did print that full-page picture of the motherfucking Cleveland Indian. What did that have to do with art, anyway?
Goddamn sports and religion are everywhere! Jesus people in Lincoln Park now!
Oh screw it.
Jean, you got the real thing baby. Ineffable thanks for your impossible dreams.
(But just one thing – where is my DIAMOND DOGS album?)
September 28, 1990 – December 21, 1990
Paintings – Craig Robertson
Craig Robertson: art of a trickster
by Amy Sparks
February 21-27 1991
There are several ironies in playing the art game in Cleveland. It requires playing by rules that no one has bothered to write down, or I suspect, have been encrusted in oil and encaustic and are in a vault somewhere on the east side. If you don’t play by the slippery rules – which gets you local notoriety, legitimacy, exhibitions and sales – you can choose two paths. Try bending or breaking the rules (don’t forget to smile), or play off the board entirely.
If an artist says there is no place in Cleveland to show his or her work, you know they are lying. There are many, many places to show work – bank lobbies, restaurants, clubs, vanity galleries, beat-up storefronts, theater lobbies, malls, offices, frame shops, arts and crafts shops, schools. The artists has the satisfaction of knowing that their technicolor hearts and souls grace the bent heads of diners crunching on arugula, prowling shoppers, worried bankers, sleek, numbed dancers, workers who could not care less, people who think looking at art always requires cafe au lait afterwards. But there are very few places that bestow the kind of “legitimacy” that artists need – or think they need. The kind of legitimacy offered those who have successfully passed GO and schmoozed the hotel owners on Boardwalk.
Two individual artists opened solo shows last week that are, if not off the board, off the beaten track. …
Artist Craig Robertson is a trickster, one who shuns the urban art game in favor of his farm and the company of his goat, Satan. He despises government grants for art, academia, and general art-world pretentiousness. His works are by turns raw and primitive, beautiful and disconcerting. A sample of them can be seen at the law office of Jean Brandt, a high-ceilinged storefront in Tremont at 1028 Kenilworth, near Lincoln Park.
This is the second art show Jean Brandt has organized, the first being 22 works by Terry Durst last December. She has minimal guidelines: She will only present work she likes, send out postcards, and buy a twelve-pack of Dos Equis for the opening. This is art among friends, for friends and anyone else who wants to see it. This is about loving art and wanting to be in the midst of it all day long.
Here Robertson shows two large paintings that are strung like hides between heavy wooden frames. Both are lushly painted and varnished, and quite eerie. In “Search Party” a flat, unbroken field holds four figures: three men searching for something, and a woman, naked and open to the sky behind a wall of spiky red vines. There is disturbing unreality about the painting. The other, ” Tangle of Incidents in an Angle of Incidence” is a night scene of a stout, leafless tree caught in the glare of unseen headlights. Among its bare branches death’s head moths grin and glitter. He also shows four “voodoo boxes” – painted wooden vessels holding images from his farm (chicken leg, larva, his goat, and a gate adorned with bones). Strung onto three poles that act as spiky stands, they are fetish objects caught in a static, unbalanced dance. They are images that capture what it’s like to be an artist who refuses to play the game.
February 15 – March 31, 1991
Paintings – Maria Winiarski
The black crow as an archetype communicates with the creature and the collective conscience,
stirring ancient memories of myth and depth of spiritual unease.
Such is the case of the black feathered muse.
April 8 – June, 1991
Sensory Overload Chamber – Charlotte Pressler
Black Velvet Art curated by Jay Clement
The idea of a black velvet show started, as I remember it,in a drunken conversation at Sindy’s bar. It turned out that a surprising number of people actually owned a piece of black velvet art.
In a later conversation with Jean, we talked about me actually organizing such a thing.
I tentatively said maybe and started asking around. Another surprising number of people were actually willing to make a piece with a black velvet theme.
Artists included Joan of Art, Marc Clements, Terry Durst, Bruce Edwards, Frank Green, Ron Naso, Steven B. Smith, Steve Torkar, Laila Voss, Beth Wolfe, Maria Winiarski, and a number of others who I hope are only slightly miffed that I just can’t remember (for instance there was a late submission of a truly exquisite tall black velvet chair sculpture.)
It should also be noted that this show served as a good backup for Charlotte Pressler’s freaky little ride.
June 7 – April 11, 1991
Mark Alexander – Sculpture