FACES IN THE CROWD
JUNE 26 – SEPTEMBER 13, 2019
Wednesday, June 26, 6 – 8 PM
Thursday, June 27, 11AM
On June 26, SOCO Gallery will open the summer group show Faces in the Crowd, curated by independent curator Jen Sudul Edwards, Ph.D. In addition to revered gallery artists Alejandro Cartagena, Jackie Gendel, Holly Keogh, Juan Logan, Jen Ray, Ken Van Sickle, Burk Uzzle, and Carrie Yamaoka, the show will also include internationally acclaimed artists Art Kane and Summer Wheat. The show is on view through September 13, 2019.
Each image—whether an abstract painting, a figurative drawing, or a photograph—depicts the individual in a context of larger groups and the society to which they belong. The migrant workers crammed into a truck’s flatbed like equipment in Alejandro Cartagena’s Carpoolers series, the ghostly visages from some bygone era in Jackie Gendels’ drawings, the carefree abandon in Holly Keogh’s painting of running girls, and Juan Logan’s dense network of self-portrait silhouettes—they all explore questions of anonymity and collective responsibility or empathy for the stranger in our midst. Other works in the show present more immediate portraits of individuals coalesced into a tribe: Art Kane’s iconic 1958 photograph of jazz musicians on a stoop in Harlem, Jen Ray’s fabulously fashionable feminine warriors, Ken Van Sickle’s beatniks gathered around their mouthpiece, Allen Ginsburg, Carrie Yamaoka’s mirrored reflections of the immediate presence, and Summer Wheat’s color-saturated mazes of figures emerging from and merging with landscapes, the biological world imagined in a fantastical oneness.
Despite the diversity of media and methods, these works raise questions that have become more urgent in an era marked increasingly by nationalism, xenophobia, and the growing need to self-identify. What do we focus on first—the specific or the overall? Does the individual become subsumed by the larger group or stand out more resolutely. Do we ever see the individual in the masses?
One inspiration for the exhibition’s theme is Burk Uzzle’s iconic photograph from the 1969 concert in Woodstock, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this August. A couple stands in the foreground, cocooned within a blanket. Though their identities are obscured—he looks away, she is all hair and sunglasses—they, like the crowd scattered behind them, have come to represent an era and an ideal as specific as a fingerprint.
The other inspiration is Ezra Pound’s 1913 poem “In a Station by the Metro.”
The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough
Individual entities remain distinct, but unite as a larger organism—free to move at will, but always interconnected, as we are in the world.