Peter Schenck (MFA '09) and Simon Slater (MFA '08) in a group painting show in Brooklyn's Fowler Arts Project space! - up until October 5th.


Fowler Project Space is pleased to present Life of the Party, an exhibition organized by Peter Schenck featuring work by Tess Bilhartz, Austin Eddy, Sarah Lubin, Jeremy Roby, Peter Schenck, and Simon Slater. Everyone wants to be the life of the party, but most of us also grapple with the need to be apart from the group, either in search of solitude or for the purpose of breaking new ground, be it intellectually, materially or physically. Each artist in this exhibition addresses the need for both outside acceptance and for isolation.

Tess Bilhartz weaves a full narrative of cool to ominous with the juxtaposition of two, equally sized canvases. In the first image, we are drawn to a man taking a tired, reluctant drag of a cigarette. His melancholy is only partially camouflaged by his upbeat, brightly patterned glasses. The next and final image is of the man's mouth and chin blown up to a nightmarish scale. His exhaling fills the canvas with almost nuclear neon green puffs of smoke. This is hardly a group of images resembling the Marlborough Man.

Austin Eddy’s paintings are a mixture of cowboy swagger and boyhood prankish wit. But residing in plane site of his gregarious, pipe-smoking, cowboy-booted protagonists are silhouetted, shadowy doppelgangers meant to interrupt and possibly end the party at hand.

Sarah Lubin constructs multi-figurative paintings, but the figures remain aloof from one another, preferring to focus in on the mundane, meditative routine of daily activities. Putting on socks, holding a cup, or propping one’s head up with a casually bent arm on a desk serve as the introduction to each figure’s seemingly voluntary isolation.
Jeremy Roby squeezes a Lego-like blockhead into the narrow confines of a rectangular picture plane. A young boy fills up half of the painting's composition with his own tears, submerging the lower half of his stunned, bug-eyed face in salt water. Unaware of his transgression, we as the viewer share in his shame. Roby’s imagery evokes the same playful adolescence of catching a child with his hand still in the cookie jar, but we feel some darkness lurking beneath.

Peter Schenck de-constructs the body and re-builds it to suit his compositional needs. Tree trunk-like, Guston-esque legs are wrapped in colorful patterns of stripes and plaids. A gloved hand in the foreground presents a pizza-shaped wedge. Is this meant as an offering or as a defensive shield? Schenck’s figures are loud and bright, but they are equally evasive and on guard.

Simon Slater cloaks his subject matter in all over patterning, concealing his work’s true identity. Through the use of comedic timing, he waits until just the right moment to land each punch line. Pizza slices, breasts, and splattering beer bottles are all ripe territory for Slater. He enjoys the game of concealment, but the joke teller in him can’t wait to expose the gag.
All of the figures in these paintings have it in them to be the Life of the Party, but it’s what separates them from such inclusion that intrigues us and makes them relatably human.

~ Exhibition essay by Peter Schenck + exhibition image by Jeremy Roby

Please join us for the opening reception of Life of the Party on Friday, Sept. 12th from 7-10pm. The opening coincides with a neighborhood-wide event: Greenpoint Gallery Night. The last weekend of the exhibition takes place during another neighborhood event, Greenpoint Open Studios, which happens October 4th and 5th from 12-6pm.

This project is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).

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