Upon the occasion of our Lois Dodd and Sharif Farrag exhibitions, Adams and Ollman invited Portland writers and poets to respond to a work on view.

Sharif Farrag, Bouquet, 2020, glazed stoneware, 23 x 15 x 18 inches.


for Sharif Farrag

by Jae Yeun Choi

in the clay mirror again
blushing and so sincerely
wagged my dog life
under fig leaf
enormous and spread.
there i followed every
accelerated whim
skirting my discernment off
into a drifted broad paradise
where the clock dropped out
bronzed and so handsy
under jackal code,
and i counted six slugs
in the crinoline like hours.
i was of the ant's mouth
sure and strengthy
pulled for miles by
peachy ropes knotted
at my ribs smelling of
rotting hibiscus i know the scent
representing the violence of inquiry
that special-interest small claims pressure
that draws such a swollen and furious
loneliness behind me.
still i stroked along
a bud of adulation
and tasted it on me stamen too.
i go willingly i told her
baby i come so willingly
mosquito unheeded in
the garden vault
kudzu i got
swept up by—
            the pain of never worrying
            over anyone any more than
            the even tones germinating
            behind chicken wire,
            a scowl the size of
            the current world on my lips.

Jae Yeun Choi's poems have been included in A Plume Annual, The Volta, Tin House, The Iowa Review, and Flying Object's It's My Decision series, among other publications, and with visual art exhibitions at the Lumber Room and Portland Museum of Modern Art, both Portland, Oregon; Page NYC, New York; 356 Mission, Los Angeles, 3 Days Awake Gallery, Los Angeles and Good Press, Glasgow.

Sara Jaffe on Sharif Farrag’s The Nourisher

William Beebe entered the bathysphere hungry. There’d been Danish and fruit at the send-off, but he was taking his own advice not to descend on a full stomach.

The gnawings set in at 100 feet. They were ignorable at first, inseparable from excitement. At 200 feet, the hunger was stronger. His gut wanted something from him. He distracted himself by exclaiming with Otis at the parrotfish out the porthole, by tightening a rivet come loose on the bench.

The deeper they got the more depth to his hunger. A scooped-out feeling, its own organ. The kind of hunger so greedy it would refuse a bite if it couldn’t get the whole bowl. At first what he craved was thick stew, rich with roots and meat. They kept going down. It was at 1,700 that they sank into the nest of eels. Out the small cloudy porthole, all he could see: wriggle and ooze, an elegance. He was always careful with metaphor. To say the eels’ movements were intestinal was to say he felt his own gut quiver. An eel sucked a worm down its mouth. To say the bathysphere’s walls felt permeable was to say that at 2,000 feet Beebe left the vessel. Not in mind but in stomach. To swallow and hunt. To feed what they fed on, to feel it.
Sara Jaffe is a writer, educator, and musician living in Portland, OR. Her first novel, Dryland, was published by Tin House Books in 2015. Her short fiction, essays, and criticism have appeared in publications including Catapult, Fence, BOMB, NOON, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She co-edited The Art of Touring (Yeti, 2009), an anthology of writing and visual art by musicians drawing on her experience as guitarist for post-punk band Erase Errata. She teaches in the Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Sharif Farrag, The Nourisher, 2020, glazed stoneware, 13 x 11 x 17 inches.

“Sharif's piece brought me back to this obsession I used to have with the early diving vessel the bathysphere (sparked, of course, by the Cat Power song), and the early 20th century diver and zoologist William Beebe, who wrote a number of very beautiful books about his undersea adventures.”

— Sara Jaffe in an email to Amy Adams, October 2020

Lois Dodd, Wissemann's at Night, 2005, oil on masonite, 7 7/8 x 19 inches.


by Genevieve Hudson

Under a tree is evidence of fun: empty chip bag, dead cigarettes, bra. You walk down a road through the woods. Keep the river on your right, and you will find your way home. A car coming behind you sounds sick, wheezing and stammering, unable to breathe. The car moves past you, crunching up the morning stillness, and then stops. Dust rolls together loose and low around the taillights. A stalk of anxiety stands up inside you. You rearrange your body. “Fire,” says a voice from the car. “Fire!” You have come to a clearing in the woods. A hot color surrounds you. Smoke gets in your eyes. Suddenly, it is night. “Fire,” says the voice in the car. “Fire!” A roof lights up in the distance. A loud noise sounds like a beam buckling. The brightness is blinding. It pulls. You would get in the car if you could and drive away with this stranger, but there is nowhere left to go. You walk to the house because it is burning. Because it is burning, you walk toward the house.

Genevieve Hudson is the author of the novel Boys of Alabama. Their other books include the critical memoir A Little in Love with Everyone and Pretend We Live Here: Stories, which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist. They have received fellowships from the Fulbright Program, MacDowell, Caldera Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. They live in Portland, Oregon.

sidony o’neal on
Sharif Farrag’s Watermelon Warthog Jug

Sharif Farrag, Watermelon Warthog Jug, 2020, glazed porcelain, 13 x 10 x 11 inches.
So will you inherit the name or not, sha? Unbend a few internal chords and meet land as more-than-upside-mouth. Enfouie it in loam you can’t touch with your tongue, run around, whip the wind with your sick glass glass glass. Hein. It’s time. And by that I mean rational and positive like the quotient of a real and a real pact. Aloud we might dream that all sweet numerator is pus. Or a bumpy triangle missing pores swishes past and you think of course it’s not always about poisoning you/that. i love you/that.

Knocking around some just-got-in-a-bit-ago I must say meeting this way, is not well, it may as well be a fucking tomb. Still we bundle across some histological absence. Wondering where being together makes sense, you might laugh. HMMM: the force of thought is not the best angle, it heaps fear. I hope you believe me when I say there will be more than one chance to set fire to it, my dear taxon. I want that wretched thing for you that no translation can.

sidony o’neal (b. 1988) is an artist and writer based in Portland, OR. Recent exhibitions include Sculpture Center, Fourteen30 Contemporary, and the Institute for New Connotative Action. Performances as a part of non-band DEAD THOROUGHBRED have been presented at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Kunstverein Düsseldorf, Volksbühne Berlin, Performance Space New York, and If I Can’t Dance Amsterdam. o’neal’s writing has been published at Arts.Black and the journal of Women & Performance. Their chapbook LYFE IN A BOTTLE TREE BOTTLE was recently published by House House Press. o’neal is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary.

Sara Krajewski and Katherine Bradford in conversation upon the occasion of the artist’s exhibition, Mother Joins the Circus.

Katherine Bradford, Mother Joins the Circus (2019), acrylic on canvas. 

Sara: I thought we could start by discussing the work that gave the exhibition its title: Mother Joins the Circus (2019). I was really struck by the fact that it's a smaller scale painting, but the sentiment of it is rather large. I wondered: what's happening in this painting and what inspired you to think about the circus?

Katherine: I think circus people are one step away from swimmers, which are characters I’ve used often in the past. I think of swimmers as sparsely-dressed acrobats. I tend to paint figures economically, often they don’t have faces and most of the time I don't put a lot of clothing on them. I did a painting where I made the people look like they had colored suits on as an experiment with the different ways I could not make them all flesh colored. Somebody referred to it as circus people, and I thought, oh yes, it does look like circus people. I liked that idea.

I also liked the notion of circus people being a community of individuals who are somewhat outside-the-mainstream and get paid for being unusual. I see a parallel between that community and the art world.  I wanted to call the show Circus People but Amy Adams, of Adams and Ollman, was hesitant because she thought it might be confused with freaks, freaky people, and she didn’t want that connotation coming in. Amy wanted to call the show Figures, which I didn't like at all because I like my figures to be specific characters instead of generalized figures. By that I mean, I don’t want them to be the kind of figure that might come from life drawing or nudes. I think this gave it a specificity. In talking to you I figured it out a little more, just now.

Sara: The characters in many of the circus paintings do give the impression of being specific types, like the strong man, the bareback riders, or the circus lady in a skirt. It also struck me that this circus is a gendered space. I know you've sometimes used clothing in other paintings to indicate gender, but I've always seen those works as fluid rather than these more specific types.

Katherine: Are you reading the gender because sometimes they’re wearing ballet skirts like tutus?

Sara: Yes, and I was thinking about the painting of the circus ring: these inflated male figures with their dumbbells and the outward showing of strength that we associate with masculinity.

Katherine: I can see why you would use the word gender. Actually, I'm most interested in representing the figures’gender identities as very fluid. I think the men could wear skirts and the women could have barbells.

Sara: In the painting that gives the show its title, there are two figures standing with one figure lying in their arms, being held up, or maybe held back by the others. Can you explain what’s going on in the scene? It's an ambiguous action to me, I could interpret it as either support or restraint.

Katherine: Maybe they’re about to shove her in a cannon! Or maybe they just caught her, she just flew through the air from a trapeze. Really, I felt I needed a horizontal figure because I had too many upright figures. It was a formal decision. If I’m trying to make an interesting looking painting, that’s the kind of problem I have to solve. I think the idea of two people carrying another person is how I got to that composition. I've done it before in several paintings with upright figures and horizontal figures, without much explanation. Sometimes they're all in the water.

Sara: The figures wearing skirts really did strike me as dancers and acrobats with the fluidity in their motion that I associate with your swimmers. But in this show the swimmers feel more static to me—they’re standing upright or laying on top of each other instead of moving more freely in water. They seem heavier; the figures are really pushed into the foreground and fill that space, instead of being suspended within the color field.

Katherine: I know why you say “suspended in the color field,” because of my painting that's now at the Portland Art Museum, which is definitely a color field with smaller figures in it, and was made in 2017. I think in my most recent paintings I’ve made the figures bigger and they take up a lot of room in the rectangle. But you're asking me why does that happen…[laughs] I’m not sure I know. I think it’s a visual decision, in many ways.

Sara: There's a kind of crowded feeling that I get from those figures when they're standing close together, but very still. It has a kind of stuck-ness.

Katherine: I know what you mean. Sometimes I think about photographs and how often people are lined up, all facing the photographer. We're used to seeing people presented that way: facing out, in a line, the same distance from the camera. I think there are few paintings in the show like that—I see it is a basic way of people presenting themselves.

Katherine Bradford, Swimmers and Hooves (2019), acrylic on canvas.

Sara: There are a couple paintings too, like Swimmers and Hooves (2019) and Yellow Beach Towel (2019), in which the figures almost become small abstract paintings within the larger frame. There are very different ways to read those pieces, and you laughed when I mentioned that piece so I want to hear more about it.

Katherine: [laughs] I heard you say swimmers with hooves, instead of swimmers and hooves, and imagining swimmers with hooves made me laugh. The painting is three swimmers, with three hooved legs descending behind them, which is no less absurd.

I find these ideas in the process of painting and they don't always make sense. It's not always a rational image I'm giving you. If it's too absurd or it doesn't have the right tone or spirit, I'll change it. But if it's just kind of whimsical or a little absurd, I rather enjoy that. That play with reality and expectations is something a painter can do and it evokes a lot of freedom, which I like.

Katherine Bradford, Full Moon Swimmers (2019), acrylic on canvas.

Sara: I like the whimsical nature too, though I find it both whimsical and serious. In Full Moon Swimmers (2019), the two figures look like they’re laid right across a Rothko-style stack of color fields.

Katherine: Yes, exactly.

Sara: That made me smile. But it also made me think: Is this compositional choice is a way of poking fun at the grand nature of abstraction while also asserting the human within it?

Katherine: I've often thought about that. I revere Rothko, as you can imagine, and I’ve often wondered what he might think of me putting figures back into his fields of color after he took out images all together. He cleared everything out to purify his abstractions, to great effect. The works are so successful in their simplicity, and on the one hand they bear the question: why put any kind of reference at all into the beautiful fields of color that he made. On the other hand, I like what you said about poking fun or bringing down to earth the grandeur of abstraction. I'm not an abstract expressionist white male. I come from somewhere else, and I think I wanted more humanity in my paintings—directly, not obliquely the way color field painters and abstract expressionists do.

Katherine Bradford, Team Players (2019), acrylic on canvas. 

Sara: What can you tell me about how you balance building up of color in the ground of the painting and then introducing form by drawing on the surface? I'm thinking specifically about Team Players (2019), and your use of a bold red line for the figures. The background appears monochromatic yet is far from it.

Katherine: You're right, I think that painting is different from the others. Amy found it in my studio and said she loved it, and I said, well, you can take it. I didn't know she was going to put it in the show. In that painting you know there’s a lot of gender fluidity. Can you see that?

Sara: Yes, definitely.

Katherine: I did that painting slightly earlier than most of the other paintings in Mother Joins the Circus. I put down a very light yellow ground and then drew on it in red, as a way to get the figures. I think I was experimenting with another way to put people in the space, very simply.

Sara: When you say you drew onto the ground, do you mean with paint, or…?

Katherine: I used a paintbrush, but the act was more like drawing. I had done some other paintings that were on a light ground with red lines and I liked the way it looked. This is probably part of that series.

Sara: I love the gesture of the team huddle, with their hands together. It comes off as a joyful moment within the show. Not that the other paintings aren’t joyful, but the emotions of the other works feel more ambiguous to me. I can't help but be affected by what we're living through right now with the Co-vid 19 pandemic, quarantines and social distancing, and this sense of being alone together feels very timely. It’s comforting to remember how, until very recently, we used to engage with each other in a much more physical way—touching, being close. We’ll get back to it at some point. You often create scenes in which the figure or figures feel physically close but psychologically isolated, which feels particularly relevant now as we’re all physically isolated.

Katherine Bradford, Ritual, 2017, acrylic on canvas. Collection of Portland Art Museum. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Victor Platt.

Katherine: I know just what you mean. I like your use of the phrase “alone together.” I think that's echoed a little bit in the painting, Ritual (2017), which isn’t included in this show. I imagine the figures in that painting have their hands up in the air in some kind of collaborative gesture.

Sara: In that painting, I see it as a moment of transmission from the moon or a celestial body to a group of people, and they're all reaching up to touch that magical moment in unison.

Katherine: Right. I just thought of that as you were speaking; both of these scenes are rituals, Team Players, and Ritual. The psychological is a recurring theme that I come back to, and explore what it's like to be alone, what it's like to be together, what it’s like to be alone together.

Sara Krajewski is the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon. Over her tenure at the Portland Art Museum, Krajewski has reinvigorated the contemporary art program through exhibitions, commissions, collection development, and publications, and she has fostered collaborations that bring together artists, curators, educators, and the public to ask questions around access, equity, and new institutional models. Recent exhibition projects include: Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being EqualWe.Construct.Marvels.Between.Monuments.; Josh Kline: Freedom; and Placing the Golden Spike: Landscapes of the Anthropocene. Krajewski holds degrees in Art History from the University of Wisconsin (BA) and Williams College (MA) and has been a contemporary art curator for twenty years, holding prior positions at the Harvard Art Museum, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Henry Art Gallery, and INOVA/Institute of Visual Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A specialist in transdisciplinary artistic practices, Krajewski was awarded a curatorial research fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and received arts leadership training through the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG) and the Center for Curatorial Leadership (2019).

Katherine Bradford: Mother Joins the Circus is currently on view at Adams and Ollman and online

Arthur Bradford
walks us through Katherine Bradford: Mother Joins the Circus

Arthur Bradford is the author of the books Dogwalker and Turtleface (nominated for a 2016 Oregon Book Award). He has told stories for The Moth MainStage and BackfencePDX and is a Moth Grandslam winner. He is also an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, most recently working with the creators of South Park and The Book of Mormon.

Katherine Bradford: Mother Joins the Circus is currently on view online at adamsandollman.com and by appointment.

Indie Folk: New Art from the Pacific Northwest

Listen: Play List by Mississippi Records

The genre "Northwest Indie Folk" could mean a lot of different things to different people. Our region is home to a lot of folk cultures that have adapted their traditional folk music to the modern world. This playlist could have been filled with innovative Native American music or new school shape note singers or Black church Gospel bands, and the term "Indie Folk" would apply.  

The outside world tends to see the Northwest as a bit of a "soft" music scene, and they are not far off. The vibe here is exceptionally gentle. Even the punk and avant-garde music of the NW seems to have softer edges than the comparative scenes in other parts of the USA.  The skies are grey, the trees are green, and the music is minor chord and sweet.

All of the artists on this list worked day jobs while still producing music. They are all firmly working class. Fred and Toody Cole from Dead Moon built their own Western Ghost town, ran a dollar store called Buckaroo, and did construction and laundry work. Folk singer Shelley Short worked as a school teacher and ice cream scooper. Sun Foot's members worked as a librarian, a printer, and a house painter. Michael Hurley was an 8-track repair man and a parsnip farmer. Ural Thomas still works construction jobs at the age of 80. This is all real working class folk music. Yes,this music is gentle.  But, it is also hard won, honest and fiercely independent. It makes me proud to be from the Northwest. 

—Eric Isaacson at Mississippi Records, Portland, OR. April 28, 2020 

Eric Isaacson is the founder of the Mississippi Records label and retail shop in Portland, Oregon. Since 2003, the Mississippi Records label has released over 260 records, including many by Pacific Northwest-based artists.

Michael Hurley: In the Garden. 

The Northwest’s OG "Indie folk" artist. He’s been at it since the early 1960s and is still making homemade albums.

Dragging an Ox Through Water: True and False Comforts.

Uses homemade light sensitive electronics that respond to a candles random flicker to determine a lot of the sounds in his songs.

Ural Thomas: Smile. 

Since the late 1950s, Ural has been playing music in North Portland. He recorded this home folk recording with a ten-year-old drummer and produced just 300 copies of the single.

Sun Foot: House Party. Features Chris Johanson.

Art rock / folk band.

Marisa Anderson: Into the Light.

Portland guitar wizard. Always reinventing the idea of the folk guitar.

Ted Lucas: Baby Where You Are.

Southern Oregon singer-songwriter who recorded only one album in 1975. True indie pioneer of the sound.

Shelley Short: Death.

Born and raised in Portland from deep bohemian roots.

Lori Goldston: Serenade.

Cellist with many big names like Nirvana and David Byrne. Solo work is very earthy and folky...an avant-garde take on simple folk music.

Dead Moon: Unknown Passage. 

The DNA of the Northwest sound. Rootsy as it gets. 

Indie Folk: A Conversation with Melissa Feldman and Grace Kook-Anderson

Grace Kook-Anderson, Arlene & Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art at the Portland Art Museum, speaks with independent curator and writer Melissa Feldman on the occasion of Indie Folk: New Art from the Pacific Northwest, organized by Feldman.

Grace Kook-Anderson: I’m pleased to be in conversation with you here today, Melissa -- thank you so much. Given my field of focus, it’s great to see this exhibition and your thinking around some of the characteristics of our region.

Melissa Feldman: Thank you Grace, great to be here. Indie Folk, which is viewable at adamsandollman.com, includes works by seventeen artists, as well as a 25-minute playlist of indie folk music—which obviously inspired the show—put together by Eric Isaacson of Mississippi Records, a Portland-based label and record store. It really sets the mood!

You’ll also see installation views—none of this work actually crossed the threshold of the gallery, they are all virtual installation views. There are short texts written by myself and others that are comprised of email conversations I had with the artists -- so there is a variety of different texts presented as part of the exhibition.

GKA: Can you talk about how you came about this exhibition and its title came about? It’s a great group of seventeen artists, and they’re each represented by one or two pieces in the exhibition that create a really nice conversation together.

MF: The title came about when I discovered Indie Folk, the music genre. I wanted a soundtrack to accompany the show, and I initially thought it would be folk music, because I noticed that there are a lot of bands, even from my 22-year old son’s generation, who are dedicated to the folk genre. Then I discovered that there is actually a genre called indie folk—which I know I probably shouldn’t admit to not knowing about—but it is a genre that originated in the Pacific Northwest. So, there was my soundtrack and there was my title.

GKA: And then how does that translate into the visual arts specific to the exhibition?

MF: Well, indie folk is “updated” folk music—folk combined with other genres. You’ll see in the soundtrack that there is quite a lot of variety, just like there is quite a variety of work in the show. These artists take traditional techniques from enamel painted glass and hand-tooled wood, to quilt-making and indigenous basket weaving, and updating them so that they speak to our contemporary situation.

Joe Feddersen
High-Voltage Tower, 2015
waxed linen basket
9 x 6 x 6 inches

For example, on Indigenous artist Joe Fedderson’s woven baskets, you have his geometric designs which are traditional to that form. In Joe’s work, however,  it takes the form of electrical pylons—referring to systems of our contemporary civilization in a very pointed way.

GKA: In putting together this exhibition, how did you think about the Northwest region? What does the Northwest mean to you specifically in the context of this exhibition?

MF: I’m originally from New York City, but I was based on the west coast for almost twenty years -- seven of those years in Seattle. The exhibition came from work I was seeing around me in the Pacific Northwest, and noticing that it had this particular folk or vintage quality. There was a real interest in the handmade, and work that could be understood as both art and a utilitarian object. I’m still figuring out how this reflects a Northwest identity.

Another aspect of the Pacific Northwest that is a real inspiration for the show is the great regard and presence of Indigenous culture in this part of the world. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Artists over the years have been inspired by the work by Indigenous artists from this region. For example, the Northwest Mystics were looking at Coast Salish—the kind of imagery and style of figuration and patterning from that culture.

I think another aspect of the Northwest that overlaps with Indigenous culture is a great respect for nature. And I think there’s something about the old world to that—the way things used to be when we were more connected to the natural world, and working in concert with it.

I noticed this was a common thread between artists of this region. As curators it’s our job to be observant and to be knowledgeable about what’s going on elsewhere. So for example, in a lot of scenes elsewhere around the world  you see a really strong influence of minimalist and conceptual art—you don’t see that very much in the Pacific Northwest.

Another thing that I was excited about was the opportunity to bring some critical focus onto the scene there, which hasn’t really had a movement for seventy years, I’d say. I think the last group of artists who spoke to a moment and had related styles was the Northwest Mystics. I think what’s going on in the Northwest right now is very exciting.

GKA: I think that’s really interesting—that idea that movements and collectivity as sort of a shared sensibility is not as prominent in contemporary art in the way that it maybe used to be, even through Modernism in a lot of ways. As you point out, this is the first time they’re shown together in this context. Even though there’s a common characteristic that you’ve identified, these are artists that haven't necessarily written a manifesto or made a concerted effort to move together in this kind of cohesive way. I think that, too, defines our current moment in contemporary art, where it’s so much of everything. Artists are not committed to a medium—it’s more about what needs to be said and the materials don’t dictate what that is necessarily. 

D.E. May
Untitled #273, 2019
ink, gouache, found papers, tape and graphite on cardboard
7 1/4 x 5 x 1 3/4 inches

Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Butterfly Kiss, 2019
flashe and acrylic and wood stain on board with glazed ceramic
11 3/4 x 15 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches

Blair Saxon-Hill
On Deck, 2018
LA metal, wash cloth, tin can, railing element, wood, rain jacket, fiber reinforced plaster, gouache, foam
84 x 48 x 8 inches

MF: I think that for these artists though, the materials are speaking to them. Blair Saxon-Hill, for example, scavenges materials for her works, as do Jessica Jackson Hutchins and D.E. May. Both of their work has a sort of patina of age. There’s a history to the materials—whether it be a dress or a piece of styrofoam—being scavenged for the works.

Sky Hopinka
Lore, 2019
Total run time: 10:16
16mm to HD video, stereo, color

Joe Feddersen
Floating By, 2016
monoprint with spray paint, relief, collage
30 x 22 inches

GKA: Yes, the artists in Indie Folk are not monogamous to the sanctity of painting or clay—they use a lot of different materials. I appreciate that you’ve also included Native American artists like Joe Fedderson and Sky Hopinka. I like the inclusion of Marita Dingus, too. Can you talk about the inclusion of her work in this exhibition? I think there are some great connections with Blair Saxon-Hill as well Jessica Jackson Hutchins.

Marita Dingus
Silver Fence, 2003
pull tabs, wire
48 x 48 x 2 inches

MF: I would say that the three artists you mentioned—all of their work comes out of domestic space. Marita Dingus’s work draws from traditional African art and spiritual practices for her in-situ outdoor sculptures. She lives in the woods outside of Seattle in the house she grew up in, and she has basically created a sculpture garden around her house.

GKA: We’ve previously talked about your interest in intergenerational artists being shown together. Can you talk about this in terms of your own curatorial work but specifically in this exhibition?

Denzil Hurley
Strip Glyph #1, 2019
oil on linen
28 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches

Gaylen Hansen
White Fish and Blue Glove, 2019
acrylic on canvas
48 x 60 inches

MF: If I can break down boundaries in my shows, I do. So if work can be intergenerational—great. If it makes sense to have a lot of different mediums, I’m happy. Here, the more senior artists, which would include Marita Dingus, Joe Fedderson, Denzil Hurley, Gaylen Hansen—they establish a bit of a lineage for this kind of work. I think that’s an important role of the curator—to help understand what’s going on now, and how it might relate to what’s happened before.

GKA: I want to wrap it up by thinking about creating an exhibition that lives online. I really enjoyed browsing through Indie Folk, not only with the installation images but looking at the checklist of all the works, as well as texts by the artists and yourself. I also loved the notes section—which I encourage everyone to browse through—because it acts as an index in a way. I was particularly taken with Jeffry Mitchell’s image that inspires the idea of lacing or a canopy in his work. And then additionally, to listen to the playlist. To have a multisensory experience is really great, especially at a time when many of us are stuck in our houses right now. The playlist really plays into the whole experience quite nicely. Can you talk about all of this as a way to put together an exhibition? Were you thinking about the show three-dimensionally as well?

MF: No, I wasn’t thinking three-dimensionally—I was only thinking two-dimensionally. It wasn’t really until we started playing around with the installation views that I started thinking about conversations between individual works. I’ve always wanted to have a show with music, so it was great to take advantage of the multimedia that an online show offers. I did miss doing studio visits and installing a show—two of my favorite parts of our work. At the same time, it felt good to be able to put something out there especially under the circumstances.

GKA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Cappy Thompson
Blue Tree Keeper, 2015
vitreous enamel reverse-painted on blown glass
11 x 10 x 6 inches

Warren Dykeman
16 KON, 2019
acrylic and graphite on muslin
43 x 70 inches

MF: These artists have never been shown together this way, with a thematic connection. For example, an artist like Cappy Thompson who paints with enamel on glass as well as other techniques involving glass— her work is treated as a craft. I don’t see her work that way, and I think that there are a lot of connections between how she is treating figuration in her work—looking at ancient Indian art, Pennsylvania Dutch, and all kinds of global styles of the past—and Warren Dykeman’s work, for example. I like making leaps between artists in these different camps.

A lot of these artists’ work has only received attention regionally, so I am really glad to present their work alongside artists who have more of an international following as well.

GKA: How will Indie Folk continue in your work and research?

MF: I’m interested in the idea of the  rural these days. I think it has to do with where I'm living, in central Pennsylvania, which is very rural. The rural connects to a certain socioeconomic group—in fact a lot of the artists in this show are from working class families and grew up in small towns. Some of them are self-taught and didn’t go to art school, and I think that it’s an important part of leveling the playing field in the art world now.