Orpheum Community Hub, Albuquerque
April 6 – April 27, 2018
A narrow entrance and hallway separates two exhibition spaces in downtown Albuquerque’s Orpheum Community Hub, a building that features classrooms, art spaces, and more, as well as offices for the Homewise Albuquerque Homeownership Center. Word is that the building is being renovated, but, for the month of April, it was home to the artworks of two local artists.
Home Whispers and Eggs in the Rain, Eggs on the Floor are exhibitions of works by Shaelin Jornigan and Jazmyn Crosby, respectively. The aforementioned hallway showcases a selection of their collaborative drawings and paintings that reveals the creative connections forged between the two women as they conceived of and prepared for their individual shows. A Bonus color zine offers a backstory for their collaboration, failures and all.
For Home Whispers, in the north gallery, Jornigan takes memory as her subject matter, specifically family moments she holds dear. Tinged with nostalgia but balanced by bold, colorful, dynamic compositions, the paintings eschew timid depictions of saccharine, idealized pining. Instead, they present those seemingly random elements that often trigger or otherwise play a role in the act of remembering—in this case, a swing, a paw, peanut butter. She employs a collage-like painting style in these unstretched, unframed canvases, with their exposed, frayed yet tidy edges, by blocking off one area to reveal a thin, multicolor underpainting against a smooth, painted top layer.
Pulling at the thread of memory can cause things to become topsy turvy. With a visual tug, Jornigan lets loose the flood of emotions that memory can generate, incorporating elements of landscape, domestic interiors, and personal effects. These depictions aren’t so specific to the artist’s personal experience that viewers are left in the lurch. Instead, she draws attention to the vaguely familiar through the use of generalized, flat, referential shapes, colors, and patterns.
Maybe we didn’t slip and fall in red platform shoes, but many of us can recognize—maybe even directly recall—the vulnerability, and even danger, of finding ourselves head over heels, whether figuratively or literally. In Big Biff (Asphalt and Red Platforms) and Big Biff Assist (Tar to Teeth), she uses pattern, visual trailings, and flattened compositions to move our eyes around the canvas, triggering our own experiential memories.
Similarly, in Daddy in the Morning, a large, floor-to-ceiling painting on canvas, we see a conglomeration of references to Jornigan’s relationship with her father and his personal daily habits. In others works, she depicts specific memories through the use of a simple shrine-like compositional element, patterns, and titles: She Sewed the Sun into my Blankets, Sainthood in a Cast, Lizard Catching (Park and Mesa).
In the south gallery, Crosby fills the space with sculptures made of scavenged materials and refuse alongside abstract paintings and small assorted pen-and-ink drawings. She wraps and ties cinder blocks, bricks, and pieces of trash in nylon, then covers them in a thick coat of paint, thwarting assumptions of strength, weight, and function.
In a region known for its vast landscape and natural beauty, Crosby is primarily interested in “the body in urban space.” As a founding member of the Graft art collective, her practice incorporates performative actions such as walking, with an emphasis on the physical imprint humans leave on the landscape. For Eggs in the Rain, Eggs on the Floor, she uses discarded hardware store off-color paints of bright green, dusty pink, buttery yellow, and sky blue and combines them with the asphalt black and concrete gray of city streets. With her gallery map zine—hand-drawn illustrations of each exhibited artwork, including a list of cast concrete “fossils”—Crosby invites gallery visitors to traverse the space she has created from elements found inside and outside the built environment.
Shelves of handheld-size concrete sculptures draw attention to the material’s mimicry—for example, the smooth shiny surface of plastic bags, the velvety texture of nylon mesh, the squish of a rotting apple core. A green brick wall hides an egg and hugs a curiously lit corner while Collected Objects Dangling in Nylon hangs ominously and drips from the ceiling, its dark gray coloring reducing the specific objects inside to basic forms. Paintings such as Neighborhood Stroll, Pig and Hammer, On Birds and Rocks spark the imagination about connections between tools, tufts of hair, sinewy fibers, and meaty shapes. Each of these elements plays a role in Crosby’s story of living in and traversing a place. What effects does city life have on organic forms, on soft flesh and a wanderer’s spirit?