Michelle Blade (Los Angeles), Walt Cassidy (New York), Sarah Gamble (Philadelphia), Jordan Graw (Philadelphia), Esther Ruiz (Brooklyn), and Paul Swenbeck (Philadelphia)
Checklist available here.
Drawing Down the Moon is a group exhibition featuring artists who draw on ritual, prophecy, and mysticism in works that rely on intuition or imagination in their investigation of being. Paganism, the occult, spirituality, altered states of consciousness, and the end of the world are all allusions in this otherworldly grouping of painting, sculpture, photography, and installation. The show is curated by Vox Populi’s Executive Director, Andrew Suggs.
Michelle Blade is an artist whose work explores the meaning of being and human attempts to creatively encapsulate that mystery. She is represented by a series of watercolors from “366 Days of the Apocalypse,” in which she made one new painting each day for a year inspired by and paying tribute to the apocalyptic prophecies surrounding 2012. She will also present an installation and a duo of larger watercolors.
Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Paul Swenbeck is fascinated with the macabre and occult, which is clear in his sculptures, paintings, drawings, and installations. “I present artworks as tools or artifacts to communicate with creatures that populate a spirit world,” Swenbeck says. In recent years, he has worked largely with clay, an alchemical experience that is central to his practice. Walt Cassidy is a multi-media artist who examines alchemy, allegory, and the occult through diaristic utility. Drawing forth on an agricultural spiritualism, his work has evolved from still life photography to what he refers to as “narrative abstraction.” The work seeks to illuminate darkness by attempting to reveal order amongst the chaos of the emotion experience, while referencing violence and transcendence simultaneously in an ongoing struggle towards spiritual evolution. There is a sense of magic being invoked in his attempt at understanding the world and his place in it.
Sarah Gamble makes paintings and works on paper that she says “explore the multiverse.” She is keenly interested in UFOs, dreams, psychic ability, and the psychology of everyday life. Her works look into unexplained phenomena, using myths as well as personal experiences, to create a parallel world. Esther Ruiz works in poured concrete, neon, and Plexiglas to make modestly-scaled personal totems that might send signals into the universe hoping for communication. She makes use of primary shapes – circles and triangles – which suggest a coded language and evoke various symbologies.
Jordan Graw has recently completed a series of large-scale works inspired by late-nights woods wandering in places across the country. The paintings often feature either recognizable or more abstract clusters of figures, perhaps alluding to the notion present in Mystikos, the Greek root of the word mysticism, which means “a small group of people who share obscure knowledge.”
Michelle Blade’s work has been featured at Western Exhibitions (Chicago), Jack Hanley (San Francisco), the San Jose ICA, Roberts & Tilton (LA), Carter & Citizen (LA) Bravin Lee Gallery (NYC), V1 Gallery (Copenhagen), and Center for Contemporary Arts (Santa Fe,). She is a 2007 recipient of the Murphy-Cadogan Fellowship, a 2X2 Pro Arts Grant, an Alternative Exposure SOEX Grant, and was a SF MOMA Seca finalist in 2011. Blade lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Walt Cassidy is a multimedia artist based in New York. He has shown his work at MASS MOCA; Paul Kasmin Gallery; Deitch Projects; 303 Gallery; Torrance Art Museum, among others. He is represented by Invisible-Exports, New York and Galerie Melilli Mancinetti, Berlin. Throughout the 1990s, Walt Cassidy (then called Waltpaper) was at the center of the New York City Club Kids, an artistic and fashion-conscious youth culture. He founded the band BOOB (1995-1998), a conceptual hardcore rock band.
Sarah Gamble has shown her work most recently at Edward Thorp Gallery, Field Projects Gallery, Pageant Soloveev Gallery, Lump Gallery and Projects, and Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. She has attended residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, the Ucross Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and is currently attending the Roswell Artist in Residence Program with her cat Tony. In 2009 she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts for works on paper.
Jordan Graw is a painter and performance artist who has been working in Philadelphia since 2006. He received his MFA in 2010 from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Graw has shown painting and performed at venues in Philadelphia including the Avant Gentlemen’s Lodge, Pageant Soloveev, Jolie Laide, Pterodactyl, Vox Populi, Little Berlin, and Bunker Hull.
Esther Ruiz received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Rhodes College in 2011. Inspired mostly by space operas, pop culture, geometry and the setting sun, her work investigates and celebrates fictional landscapes and the objects residing in them. She has shown nationally including Odessa Art Space, Brooklyn Wayfarers, Vox Populi, Field Projects, Trestle Gallery and most recently, David Lusk Gallery. She was born in Houston, Texas, in a hospital built atop a graveyard. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Paul Swenbeck grew up in Salem, Massachusetts a town synonymous with the witch trial hysteria of Colonial America. His works are found in the West Collection, Oaks, PA, and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Exhibitions include Dirt on Delight: Impulses that Form Clay at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and during Locally Localized Gravity at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. He and his wife, Joy Feasley, built a solar oven in a greenhouse for use in a celebration of the pagan holiday Imbolc. Swenbeck graduated with a degree in ceramics from Massachusetts College of Art in 1991.