The art of Kevin Blythe Sampson

THE ART OF
KEVIN BLYTHE SAMPSON

7/1/15

Living with Art: From Elia Alba’s Collection Kevin Blythe Sampson's work is included


“Living with Art” is a series that examines the private collection of artists. Our innagural edition started with artist Nicky Enright writing about his art “accumulation”(as he calls it). We find that artists, being makers of art, have a special appreciation for how experiencing art on a daily basis enriches their life and work.
This month, we are lucky to have award-winning artist Elia Alba choose a few pieces from her collection to share her stories about special friendships, memories from important moments in her personal and artistic growth, and sources of inspiration.
Friends know award-winning artist Elia Alba has a wonderful contemporary art collection. As an artist, she has exhibited her multi-media conceptual artworks in prestigious museums in the U.S. and abroad. The culmination of Alba's current critically-acclaimed project, The Supper Club, is highly anticipated by the art world.
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When I started off as an artist, I was primarily working in abstraction, but my art slowly evolved after the birth of my son into figurative work. The ‘body in art’ has been the fundamental source of inspiration for my entire practice of the last 15 years, and the work that I have in my collection reflects this. Most of the works are by artist friends with whom I have made exchanges or who gifted work to me,a very nice perk of being an artist. From performance art to photography to drawing, my collection is an exploration of black, brown and queer bodies in space. Here are some highlights of my collection!
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Rajikamal Kahlon, Pow Pow (from Cassell’s illustrated history of india) 2003, gouache on nineteen century book paper, 7” x 20” courtesy of the artist
Rajikamal Kahlon is one of the first artists whose work I collected. I purchased a small drawing from her during her time at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 2001-2 (at a crazy discount!). We became friends soon after and we have traded 3 times after that purchase. Most of Raj’s work in my collection comes from her project Cassell’s Illustrated History of India. The drawings and paintings are done on unbounded pages of the book of the same name that she purchased from Sotheby’s for $400. The works, at times humorous and at times grotesque, respond to and deconstruct the book’s original intent. With her work she grapples with her relationship to India’s history by creating charged and fragmented narratives to address colonialism as well as the brown body.
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Emily Roysdon, Untitled (David Wojnarowicz project), 2001-2007, silver gelatin print, 11” x 14”, courtesy of the artist
Another artist in my collection — and someone I met during our time at the Whitney ISP (2000-1) — is Emily Roysdon. Emily was barely out of the gate when she made this amazing photograph I have in my collection. Part of the series Untitled (David Wojnarowicz project), Emily and her friends donned a hand-drawn mask of David Wojnarowicz and photographed themselves throughout New York City. Clearly an homage to Wojnarowicz’ 1978-9 series Arthur Rimbaud in New York, Emily’s project was a source of inspiration for my own Larry Levan photographic series,which likewise looks to and engages with Wojnarowicz’ series Emily too juxtaposes a historical time — that of Wojnarowicz — with her present to keep him engaged in a queer but feminist backdrop. I chose what I thought was the most sexually-charged of all the images and, for me, the most powerful.
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Kevin Blythe Sampson, Africa Weeps, 2001, ball point pen ink, ledger cover, 8”x 14”, Courtesy of the artist
Kevin Blythe Sampson is obsessive to say the least! The last time I was in his studio in 2001 the ceiling was strung with chicken bones, all of which he had consumed. There were a lot of bones which, by the way, he often uses in his sculptural practice. Kevin, an exceptional self-taught artist and former police officer from Newark NJ, tackles difficult issues that concern him and his community. On that last visit, the walls were covered with dense, powerful, ballpoint pen drawings he had been working on for over a month. If I remember correctly, he said he does these when he can’t sleep! (Yowza, that’s a lot of no sleep!!!) I was admiring the entire environment when he handed me this amazing drawing he had done on the inside cover of a ledger.
The title on the drawing is Africa Weeps, and it depicts a very sad yet phallic African sculptural figure, surrounded by a rain of tears or what could possibly be sperm. In the drawing is a quote that says: “The motherland is turning to dust so where will our souls rest now — AIDs!” It’s beautiful and sad at the same time!
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Janelle & Lisa Iglesias in collaboration with Bodhild Iglesias, From the Nude Suits Series (Tasmania), 2010-ongoing, Digital c-print and custom hand knit and embroidered suits, 11”x15”, Courtesy of the artists
 Janelle & Lisa Iglesias are two sisters of Dominican / Norwegian descent from Queens! They are artists with individual practices but also have a collaborative practice called “Las Hermanas Iglesias.” As a gift to me for including them in my current project, The Supper Club, the sisters gave me a beautiful photograph from their Nude Suit Series (Tasmania). Here the sisters collaborated with their mother, Bodhild Iglesias, who hand-knitted the custom suits complete with tan lines, to which the sisters then embroidered the scars and tattoos to complete the suit. This work holds a very special place in my heart as I too collaborated with my mom on nude suits, but they were photocopy transfers on fabric. I see this work as a kind of ying to my yang. In the playful yet serious photograph, the sisters sitting on top of a rocky coastline present an image that makes us reimagine or rethink the nude in nature.
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Clifford Owens, Tell Me What to Do With Myself, 2005, b&w prints, 5” x 7”, Courtesy of the artist
Lastly, another fellow Whitney ISP 2000-1 alum, performance artist Clifford Owens is someone who has traded with me throughout the years. One particular work that always stands out is a suite of photographs from a performance he created for MoMA/PS1’s “Greater New York: 2005” exhibition titled Tell Me What to Do with Myself. A precursor to his seminal Anthology series he did 5 years later, this performance entailed the audience instructing him what do as they were either lying down on the floor looking at the performance through a peephole or standing in a room viewing the performance through video monitors. Clifford has considered this a complicated piece and for me this makes sense. Here audience engagement was anonymous and, as a witness to that performance, it was most alarming the way the group as whole was reacting to the commands of others: there was a certain amount of glee in causing Clifford pain. It made the performance very charged and the artist very vulnerable. The images in the collection capture Clifford in different stages of movement.
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11/1/14

ExAIR Artist Kevin Blythe Sampson collaborates with volunteers and staff on a work of art in The ARTery.

ExAIR Artist Kevin Blythe Sampson collaborates with volunteers and staff on a work of art in The ARTery.
ExAIR (Exhibition Artists-in-Residence) offers students exciting opportunities to meet and work with renowned artists exhibiting at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. Participants learn more about the art in the galleries and explore the creative process with the artists.
Past ExAIR residencies include:
Kevin Bythe Sampson (2014)
Anya Davidson (2013)
Souther Salazar and Monica Choy (2013)
Lauren Fensterstock (2013)
Dave Eppley (2012)
Anna Hepler (2012)
Mike Bender and Doug Chernack (2012)
Lisa Lindvay (2012)
Brett Walker (2012)
Gregory Blackstock (2011)

Book an ExAIR experience for your class, community group, or club! Included are hands-on workshops and instruction with the artist, workshop materials, and a guided gallery tour. For more information about adding a residency experience to your curriculum in the future, contact Cate Bayles at cbayles@jmkac.org or call (920) 694-4553.
The Exhibition Artists-in-Residence program is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
#kevinblythesampson,Newarknewjersey,cavinmorrisgallery,johnmichealkohlerartcenter

10/23/14

Wiegand Gallery’s ‘Roots Of The Spirit’ Reunites Four Outsider Artists

Wiegand Gallery’s ‘Roots Of The Spirit’ Reunites Four Outsider Artists

BELMONT, CALIF. — The Wiegand Gallery, at Notre Dame de Namur University, is hosting the West Coast debut of four of the country’s most notable Outsider artists in “The Roots of the Spirit: Lonnie Holley, Mr Imagination, Charlie Lucas and Kevin Sampson,” on view through November 26. Curated by Martha Henry and Robert Poplack, director of the Wiegand, the exhibition sees the foursome’s work reunited for the first time since their controversial 2011 Venice Biennale showing.
“The Roots of the Spirit” includes works created while they were in Venice, as well as throughout their careers.
The genesis of “The Roots of the Spirit” goes back to 2011 when the four artists were invited to participate in the 54th Venice Biennale by the American Folk Art Museum in New York and Benetton in Treviso, Italy, to create large, site-specific installations at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. The inclusion of the four self-taught Outsider artists during the 2011 Biennale promised to be revolutionary because it offered the opportunity to exhibit within a broad international context.
Due to an unexpected loss of funding, the invitation was rescinded, but the artists — under the aegis of gallery director and curator Martha Henry who ultimately managed to secure a venue in an Eleventh Century garden — decided they would still attend.
Lonnie Holley, Mr Imagination (Gregory Warmack), Charlie Lucas (Tin Man) and Kevin Sampson have all achieved renown individually as self-taught African American artists. Notions of divine intervention and spiritual renewal are at the heart of much of the foursome’s work. It is art that honors ancestors as an antidote to death and private grief.
Viewing themselves as caretakers of the earth, the artists harvest the overflowing debris of contemporary civilization and transform it into art as a means of preserving the rescued materials to teach future generations.
The materials and methods place them squarely within the wider context of the international contemporary art world. Their use of assemblage, found object sculpture and installation invite comparisons to contemporary art practices dating back from the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Their work can be found in many major American museum collections including: American Folk Art Museum, New York; Birmingham (Ala,) Museum of Art; American Visionary Museum, Baltimore; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; High Museum, Atlanta; and Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago, among others.
The Wiegand Gallery is at 1500 Ralston Avenue.
For additional information, www.ndnu.edu/arts-events/wiegand-gallery or 650-508-3595.
Lonnie Holley, “Steel Worker,” 2008.
Charlie Lucas, “Two Brothers Lock Their Mind Together.”
Mr Imagination, “Doll’s Throne,” 2004. 
#kevinblythesampson

9/30/14

Roots of the Spirit Wiegand Gallery Notre Dame de Namur


Roots of the Spirit


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ROOTS OF THE SPIRIT
until Nov 26
The Roots of the Spirit: Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination, Charlie Lucas and Kevin Sampson, curated by Martha Henry and Robert Poplack, sees the foursome’s work reunited for the first time since their showing together at the 2011 Venice Biennale.
Wiegand Gallery
Notre Dame de Namur University
1500 Ralston Avenue Belmont, CA 94002
http://www.ndnu.edu/arts-events/wiegand-gallery/roots-of-the-spirit
(caption: mr imagination, kevin sampson, charlie lucas, lonnie holley)
#kevinblythesampson

John Micael Kohler Art Center, New exhibition series explores the role of place in the human experience

http://artdaily.com/index_iphone.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=73228#.VCthC1e5u2K

New exhibition series explores the role of place in the human experience




SHEBOYGAN, WI .- This Must Be The Place, a series of five exhibitions at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, explores the concept that there are places, large or small, in our lives that hold meaning and influence far beyond a point on a map. The complete series will be on view October 23, 2014, through January 4, 2015; individual exhibitions began on September 14, and the last exhibition closes February 22.

Through installation works, sculptures, photographs, a film, drawings, and the work of a vernacular environment builder from the Arts Center’s collection, twelve artists reveal their relationships with a powerful place in their lives. “The works illuminate the humanity and significance that can be drawn from and invested in a location when the experience of it transcends materiality,” said the series curator, Karen Patterson.

This Must Be The Place presents a group exhibition with works by Heather Benning (Saskatchewan), Beverly Buchanan (MI), Scott Carter (IL), Sanford Darling (1894–1973), Frank Albert Jones (1900–1969), Alexandre Larose (Quebec), and Sebura & Gartelmann (IL). Four solo exhibitions in the series present works by Brent Green (PA), Kim Morgan (Nova Scotia), Martin Prekop (PA), and Kevin Blythe Sampson (NJ).

An opening celebration of the series takes place from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, October 3. Guests can tour the galleries with Patterson and six of the exhibiting artists. There will also be a performance by world-music band Painted Caves, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is located at 608 New York Ave. in downtown Sheboygan, WI. Free parking is available. Admission to the opening event is free for members and $10 for the general public. Tickets are available at the Arts Center and online at jmkac.org.

Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is dedicated to making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience that ranges from academics to young children. Central to its mission is promoting the understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through original exhibitions, commissioned works of art, performing arts programs, community arts initiatives and publications. The Arts Center’s collection focuses on works by vernacular environment builders, self-taught and folk artists, and works created in the Arts/Industry residency program.

Looking to the future, the Arts Center continues to generate new explorations in the arts that foster creative exchanges between an international community of artists and a diverse public, making real the power of art to transform lives and strengthen communities. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is supported by corporate and foundation donors and its many members; it is not an entity of Kohler Co. or its subsidiaries.
#kevinblythesampson

9/20/14

Sharp Details, Fuzzy Lines: Images of Ferguson, MO / artcritical

Sharp Details, Fuzzy Lines: Images of Ferguson, MO / artcritical



#kevinblythesampson

Wiegand Gallery - Belmont, CA | Yelp

Wiegand Gallery - Belhe genesis of The Roots of the Spirit goes back to 2011 when the four
artists were invited to participate in the 54th Venice Biennale by the
American Folk Art Museum in New York and Benetton in Treviso, Italy to
create large site-specific installations at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.
mont, CA | Yelp




#kevinblythesampson

Wiegand Gallery - Belmont, CA | Yelp

Wiegand Gallery - Belhe genesis of The Roots of the Spirit goes back to 2011 when the four
artists were invited to participate in the 54th Venice Biennale by the
American Folk Art Museum in New York and Benetton in Treviso, Italy to
create large site-specific installations at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.
mont, CA | Yelp




#kevinblythesampson

Museum gotta see ‘um

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/arts/2014-09-19/museum-gotta-see-um/1776425130290.html
Museum gotta see ‘um
September 19, 2014, 05:00 AM By Susan Cohn Daily Journal


The Roots of the Spirit: Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination, Charlie Lucas and Kevin Sampson, at the Wiegand Gallery in Belmont, presents the West Coast debut of four notable Outsider artists. The opening reception is 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21.
THE ROOTS OF THE SPIRIT ON VIEW AT NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR UNIVERSITY. The Wiegand Gallery, part of Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, hosts the West Coast debut of four of the country’s most notable Outsider artists in The Roots of the Spirit: Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination, Charlie Lucas and Kevin Sampson. The exhibit is curated by Robert Poplack, Director of the Wiegand Gallery, and Martha Henry.
While Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack), Charlie Lucas (Tin Man) and Kevin Sampson have all achieved renown as self-taught African American artists, they refer to themselves simply as American artists. Born in the mid-20th century, they came of age during the Civil Rights movement when deep and abiding racial discrimination was the norm. Lacking opportunities, education and artist role models, they managed to become artists despite great social and economic obstacles.
Martha Henry said, “Their artworks express their African and American culture, their everyday lives, dreams and aspirations. When we look into the mirror of the black experience we have a better understanding of American culture, values and spirituality. Black artists have played a vital role in distinguishing our culture throughout the world, indeed the black experience is so interwoven into our larger culture that it defines much of what the world perceives today as American.”
Notions of divine intervention and spiritual renewal are at the heart of much of the foursome’s work. It is art that honors ancestors as an antidote to death and private grief. Examples are Kevin Sampson’s shrines to deceased friends and relatives; the ancestor thrones of Lonnie Holley and Mr. Imagination; and Charlie Lucas’ metal sculptures that honor his grandparents by their material and method. Their use of assemblage, found object sculpture and installation invite comparisons to contemporary art practices dating back from the beginning of the 20th century when Picasso and Braque, inspired by African art, began to use found objects in their work.
Gallery Director Poplack said, “The processes of painting, assemblage, construction and found object sculpture reveal restless minds capable of expression that ranges from the serious to playful. The work shows an openness to the spirit of imagination as well as a desire to entertain. Their immersive, layered environments — often located in their yards and inside their homes — need to be experienced to be fully appreciated.”
The Wiegand Gallery is part of the Madison Art Center, a stone building built as a carriage house on the country estate of the financier William Chapman Ralston. The exhibition space, with its porthole windows and skylights, is an inviting environment in which to experience art. The gallery’s mission is to focus attention on the contributions and accomplishments of important artists who are less recognized, as well as to exhibit lesser-known works of established artists. The Wiegand Gallery is located at 1500 Ralston Ave., Belmont, on the campus of Notre Dame de Namur University. Admission is free. For information call 508-3595. The Roots of the Spirit: Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination, Charlie Lucas and Kevin Sampson runs through Nov. 26; The public is invited to the opening reception 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21.
LAST DAYS OF MODERNISM FROM THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, AT THE DE YOUNG MUSEUM IN SAN FRANCISCO. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco present Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection, an exhibition of 46 paintings and sculptures which includes works by Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko and Frank Stella. The de Young Museum is located at Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. For information call (415) 750-3600 or visit www.deyoungmuseum.org. Through Oct. 12.
PROJECT MAH JONGG: THE MEMORIES AND MEANING OF THE GAME, AT THE CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM THROUGH OCT. 28. The 1920s through the 1960s were the heyday of the Chinese game of mah jongg in the United States — a game with a rich history in the Jewish American community, especially among women. The Contemporary Jewish Museum examines this cultural phenomenon with Project Mah Jongg, an exhibition that includes images and items from the mah jongg craze of the 1920s, including vintage advertisements, Chinoiserie and a colorful array of early game sets distributed by companies such as Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. A game table at the core of the exhibition space encourages players and non-players alike to take part in a game of mah jongg and there are both American and Chinese sets on hand for visitors to play. 736 Mission St. (between Third and Fourth streets), San Francisco. For general information visit thecjm.org or call (415) 655-7800.
Susan Cohn can be reached at susan@smdailyjournal.com or www.twitter.com/susancityscene.

 

9/18/14

The Roots of the Spirit’ brings in outsider artists at Wiegand

http://www.sfgate.com/art/article/The-Roots-of-the-Spirit-brings-in-outsider-5762906.php

'The Roots of the Spirit’ brings in outsider artists at Wiegand

Published 4:40 pm, Wednesday, September 17, 2014
  • “The Roots of the Spirit,” an exhibit at the Wiegand Gallery in Belmont, features artists Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack), Charlie Lucas (Tin Man) and Kevin Sampson. Photo: Courtesy Of Wiegand Gallery / Courtesy Of Wiegand Gallery
    “The Roots of the Spirit,” an exhibit at the Wiegand Gallery in Belmont, features artists Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack), Charlie Lucas (Tin Man) and Kevin Sampson. Photo: Courtesy Of Wiegand Gallery / Courtesy Of Wiegand Gallery

The four artists whose work will have its West Coast debut at the Wiegand Gallery in Belmont have this in common: They are self-taught, use found objects and became artists out of some personal tragedy.
They have been called outsider artists because they were not a part of the art establishment, didn’t know what they were making was art until someone gave it that label and have lives even more colorful than the objects they create. The more than 75 sculptures, drawings and paintings by Lonnie Holley, Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack), Charlie Lucas (Tin Man) and Kevin Sampson are part of a new exhibit, “The Roots of the Spirit.”
Although the four men — Warmack is deceased — are known as outsider artists and African American artists, they refer to themselves simply as American artists.
“The works reflect each artist’s vision and ideas about art and why they make art,” said Martha Henry, curator of the “Roots” exhibit. “Is there a commonality? They all use found objects and feel that the found objects came to them. They all feel they are doing something that teaches about the present while preserving the past.”
Henry added, “Mr. Imagination wanted to make people happy. Kevin Sampson’s subjects are about class warfare. Lucas is making art to express the fears and joys and dreams of his neighbors and community. Lonnie feels he is rescuing materials and reintroducing it as sculpture.”
The works also tell a story of the artists’ ancestry. For Holley and Lucas, who live in the Deep South, there is a “Southern vernacular,” Henry said. Born in the mid-20th century, the men came of age during the civil rights movement, and faced racial strife and discrimination. Sampson has created shrines to deceased friends and relatives; Holley and Mr. Imagination have made “ancestor thrones;” and Lucas’ metal sculptures honor his grandparents through their materials and methods.
“This is a type of art that is much more prevalent in the South and in New York and Chicago,” said Henry, whose co-curator on the exhibit is Robert Poplack. “This is exciting to have a West Coast debut.”
The exhibition sees the foursome’s work reunited for the first time since a controversial 2011 Venice Biennale showing that happened despite having their invitation to represent the American Folk Art Museum within the framework of the international art world suddenly rescinded. With the help of Henry, the four secured a venue in Venice in an 11th century garden. Some of the works shown in “The Roots of the Spirit” exhibit were created while in Venice.
Holley, who recently expanded his art to include music and recording, will create a site-specific piece made from materials found on the university grounds.
“As boundaries break down between self-taught and formally educated artists,” says Henry, “I felt it important to celebrate the achievements of these four who emerged from the depths of personal despair to make valuable contributions to the American visual experience.”
Julian Guthrie is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jguthrie@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @JulianGuthrieIf you go
The Roots of the Spirit: Opens Friday; reception 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Through Nov. 26. Noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Notre Dame de Namur University’s Wiegand Gallery, 1500 Ralston Ave., Belmont. (650) 508-3595. www.ndnu.edu/arts-events/wiegand-gallery.