Momenta Art

Kathleen White @ Momenta Art

Warm pastel tones unpretentiously pinned to the white walls of Momenta Art inaugurated a mood as precise as the rigorously level blue line which the artist Kathleen White had all but continuously drawn along each. Picture an exploded diagram of a Zen rock garden translated once again into three-dimensional space—that same aura of contemplative stillness pervaded (A) Rake's Progess, where the veteran New York-based White found a way to make her highly immersive, yet conceptually-motivated practice mingle with the monochromatic hues of pastel on paper, with the lingering instrumentality of a rake suspended from string, with a pair of worn shoes situated on a pedestal near your feet.

Her pastels were not works of abstraction, but studies in presence, complemented by three installation pieces, a video montage of Ms White's pigments in the snow (made in collaboration with her husband, Rafael Sánchez, in 2009) and a sound piece that served to weave the entire show together. The show’s centerpiece, “Rake & Plumb ( #1 )”—also made in collaboration with Sánchez—was a well-used rake and a steal plumb diaphanously hung by a fiber of string from the ceiling. The frailty of this design demonstrated a decided preference for the aural over the visual—a preference rendered pervasive by the sonic aspect of the show: the staccato clacking of typewriter keys, paced like the traveling of feet across a forested surface.

Delving the conditions of meaning, of expression, the exhibition as a whole was poetry of the highest order; it articulated an actual environment shot through with enough holes or points of ambiguity that visitors could constructively engage their own meaning, discovering their own subjectivity in the process by which they explored the interlocking of the works on exhibit.

(A) Rake’s Progress created the semblance of narrative, without actually delivering one: a very praiseworthy achievement. Especially when considering the heavy-handedness of other literary artists who showed in NYC lately—Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim comes to mind, along with lesser shows—White’s and Sanchez’s work spatially presenced that which makes suggestiveness possible without depending on the overt use or denial of expressionist techniques. Moments of expressivity were subtle. The blue line drawn around the gallery walls at about eye level was broken in places, like Morse code, perhaps mimetic of the typewriter’s broken rhythms; and the pastel works pinned to the line felt gestural. Everything worked to echo the continuousness of time as it closes around the habits of a single life, making the modestly-sized gallery feel mysteriously spacious, an expansive atmosphere bathed in quiet transparency.

Kathleen White: April 26th, 1960 -- September 2, 2014

Jeff Grunthaner

Momenta Art presents Kathleen White

Kathleen White

(A) Rake’s Progress curated by Rafael Sánchez

August 8-31, 2014

Opening reception:

Friday, August 8, 6-8pm

Sound Texts: Sunday, August 31, 7pm readings performed by Jim Fletcher, Joey Gabriel, Rafael Sánchez, Kate Valk, Kathleen White

 Momenta Art is pleased to present an installation of the work of Kathleen White.

The exhibition, (A) Rake’s Progress, is comprised of the complete polymorphichrome drawings produced by Ms. White outdoors in the summer of 2009. The cycle of pastels on paper, a progression numbering 71 works, were created in remembrance of Ms. White’s late brother Chris White.

Chris’s suicide of 2007 was unreconcilable. Gripped by the shadow of loss, I spent a year studying the colors in my Ludlow Street courtyard —the wild garden was transformed from a derelict garbage heap by Rafael and myself. Knowing also that the garden would soon be lost to the high rents plaguing our city -as “the lost decade”, “the fear decade”, “the greed decade” turned 9 -this physical exploration of color through its endless grinding, its proliferating combinations and intense contact onto the page is at once a stance of grace and defiance against the all the world’s insults.

The “glut” of information which prevails over the pursuit of knowledge and feeling in modern times is of particular distress to Ms. White who often utilizes the phrase, “Get out of the way, hobo!” to refer to the state of our present culture's pervasive, implosive, subtly celebrated, corrosion of empathy. As in the artist’s earlier installations over the past three decades this presentation is in keeping with Ms. White’s practice of creating spaces of reverence, connection and love.

The choice of the pastels was made during a conversation with Mr. Sánchez, “I want this to be an installation of color and sound.” The two artists who have collaborated on numerous acclaimed projects looked to this body of work that has lain dormant for five years. The inclination toward sound comes from a more recent body of work by Ms. White, Sound Texts, which will be represented by the recorded sounds of her instrument of choice during their production: the typewriter.

This “allusion soundtracking” of one group of work with another is an intentional experiment in creating a conversation that might not otherwise exist but through its performance in time and space. The bodies of work are thus considered as characters or beings unto themselves …bodies that are allowed to engage as in a play. The gesture is also intended as a commingling of aspects through pure intention in their simplest forms: “Here …these colors and these sounds.” The Sound Texts will be performed on site by readers on the last day of the show, Sunday August 31.

The show’s title, (A) Rake’s Progress is a multilayered reference to the 1732-33 series of paintings by William Hogarth, (considered to be one of the first storyboards in western art history). The inclusion of an actual rake within the installation refers to the garden where the polymorphichrome drawings were created and thus also serving as a readymade reversal on Hogarth’s tale, signifying the passage of time.

A twist on the rake as not only the individual lost in their desires is also suggested, offering the possibility of the rake as a symbol of the world itself that proceeds in an escalating progression of squandered morals.

(Text written by Rafael Sánchez / edited by Momenta Art)

Solo exhibitions of note by Kathleen White include The Spark Between L and D (Straight Line Studios, 1987); Spirits of Manhattan (Apex Art, 1997), Devotion (Participant Inc, 2004); Palettes (Charlois, Rotterdam, 2010); Her 1993 Hair Suitcase was also included in Familiar Feelings, on the Boston Group, Centro Callego de Arte Contemoranéa, Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 2010.

Kathleen White studied painting at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She has created sets for Bolshoi Ballet, prepared costumes and participated with NYC performance legends including The Lady Bunny, Flloyd, David Dalrymple and has appeared as a subject in iconic photographs by Nan Goldin, David Armstrong and Linda Simpson. In recent years she has performed and collaborated with Rafael Sánchez on numerous projects including Double-Bill (Art in General, 2010); Somewhat Portable Dolmen (The Street Files, El Museo del Barrio, 2011); alLuPiNiT, the new york city environ mental magazine (Millennium Magazines, MoMA, 2012). The two artists have operated their (set up the) Table Project (break it down) an outdoor bookstand at 579 Hudson Street, NYC since 2004.

Ms. White is a 2014 Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient. Kathleen White (A) Rake’s Progress at Momenta Art marks the artist’s first Solo Exhibition in New York in a decade.