Q&A with Jessica Wohl

  Log Cabin Drip Drape

Log Cabin Drip Drape

In your artist statement, you say this is possibly some of the most formal work you have made. Would you consider the formal nature of the work to be in tension with the inherently useful character of fabric and quilting? If so, could you briefly discuss how that tension may speak to the nature of the work?

I actually see the character of the fabric and the quilting as being a significant part of those formal choices. Being that I'm at the end of a body of work that has been exploring the same concepts for the last eight years, by feeling a resolution with those issues, I'm able to let these works be predominately defined by their form: their colors, textures, lines, patterns, etc. Where I see the most tension in the work is between the fabric and the hair. While the fabric may conjure up notions of nostalgia and familiarity, the hair disrupts a sense of comfort often associated with quilts and domestic textiles. 

   Blue Bunches

Blue Bunches

Where do you mine the majority of your materials? Are they used and reclaimed from thrift stores or yard sales, carefully selected from fabric stores, or from personal collections?

All of the above. Mostly, the fabrics come from thrift stores or my own home. My old clothes, as well as my finance's clothes, rarely make it to the thrift store anymore; now they either end up on a shelf in my studio or on a gallery wall. 

How do you use the language of varying fabrics (velvet, cotton, lace, knits, rayon, etc.) to create dialogue within the pieces?

I rely on the associations people may have with these fabrics to inform the work. For example, some lace might imply lingerie while others might imply a tablecloth. Polyesters will tend to imply something dated, while a solid cotton shape might feel more timeless. Some fabrics might evoke delicate dresses while others can clearly be recognized as masculine, button-down shirts. Hopefully these contradictions will confuse a viewer, and encourage them to spend time figuring out, or considering, these tensions. 

How do you see your work responding to a history of feminist textile works, such as that of Faith Wilding? 

Red Drippy Droops    

In making this work, I didn't intend to respond to the feminist textile artists who came before me; in fact, I have a hard time calling myself a textile artist, even if that's what I am. I approached these works as a painter who likes to sew, using fabric as my paint. That said, I do rely heavily on associations with domesticity and femininity through the use of textiles and their history. 

The recurring forms in these pieces imply specific verbs: droop, fall, sag, slouch, dip. How does this language inform your concepts?

The concepts I had been exploring for years came to the end of their life in this body of work. I'm tired. The work was tired. In a way, these old ideas are dying. I used the droop, fall, hang and slouch as way of expressing that spent energy. It imbues the work with relaxation, despite its otherwise highly active aesthetic. I want it to feel like it's lost its elasticity, but that there's still something valuable in it's old, nearly-lifeless body. 

Jessica Wohl's latest body of work, Letting Go is on view at Zeitgeist through June 27

Q&A with John Donovan

Beast Head Wear

Your use of ceramics breaks expectations that traditionally label clay as a medium of “craft” and not “fine art”. What tactics do you use to break down these assumptions?

I feel like a lot of time and energy has been sucked into the black hole that is this “craft” and “art” hoo-hah with ceramics. I know where I stand for myself, and I know what I talk about in the classroom. For me, the technique (craft) should always be in the service of a greater idea or concept, the content of the work. If the work digresses into merely technical exercises that initiate no greater dialog going beyond the physical object, then something is missing.

There are a lot of technical masters out there, who invest lots of research capital on getting glazes to do just this or that, then they sit around with a little club of like-minded individuals congratulating each other for achieving this or that glaze affect, all the while neglecting to think about what they are putting that glaze on, or why they are making the object in the first place, the “why” of their work. Technique (how) serves concept (why), that’s my rule in the studio. When I have an idea I am trying to express, that idea is where I look for clues to help me make purposeful decisions about what techniques will best manifest that idea.

Technique always follows, never leads (for the most part.) What do you want to say? Wrestle with that first, then decide how you might best say it.  I also feel like our regional geography is a bit of an impediment to the medium of clay, there are other regions in this Great Nation of ours where this dialog has been put to bed decades ago, West Coast, Northeast, even in places like New Mexico and up in Seattle and the greater Northwestern area, this craft-art stuff has diminished due to the variety of high-quality work being made. Go to the Philadelphia Clay Studio, and you won’t see philosophical rants about craft and art, you’ll just see world-class work.

Chartreuse Bear Warrior

I am a big fan of high-quality functional work, I have learned a lot from world-class potters like James Watkins, Peter Beasecker, who make pottery simply to DIE for. I tell my students to make the best work they possibly can at that instant they are working, and if they can do that, no one will care if it is art or craft, they will care because it is good. Make good work, that’s what is needed right now. I am also a big fan of the intimacy of the pot, how we crave to reach out and touch it, hold it, bring it to our lips. That’s a big part of the allure of the medium for me, we want to explore it not just with our eyes, but our sense of touch as well. Few things make me as happy as watching viewers reach out to touch the work and encounter that odd internal speed-bump of not being allowed to because it’s art, but also having their primitive brain remember that it’s made of clay, and we touch clay, we have been handling it for as long as we have developed civilization. Just go work, work hard, and make sure the work is the best it can be at that particular time.

What contemporary ceramicists and artists influence your work?

I am embarrassed to say as an educator, but I don’t do my homework like I used to, and the most current work is often not on my radar. As a student, I can remember being enamored with the abstraction of Constantin Brancusi, that concept of diluting a subject matter down to its conceptual essence, not even based on the corporeal form any more.

The work ethic of Richard Serra stokes the inner fire and compels me to just go work, even when feeling tired, sick, or not necessarily “moved by the muse”. Any recorded dialog of his is gas in the tank. His buddy Philip Glass moves me to work, too. If I have a big run of pottery to make, that’s the golden ticket. Martin Puryear makes forms that, when I have been lucky enough to see first hand, fuse me to the spot.

I love how work seen in books, magazines or photographs that appear so clean, refined when met in person carry with them a patina and residue of the process, a record of their making, much like a Jackson Polluck is a record of the choreography between canvas and the body of the painter.

The Scottish artist David Mach shows up in my 3-D Design lectures regularly, I like his wit and inventiveness. How he can turn a recognizable subject on its ear and make it new to us. I think that can be some of the best work, something familiar that you meet again in a new way. Yoshitomo Nara is a Japanese artist who I met thanks to a children’s book given to us by family friends many years ago, his sculptural forms are exciting. 

I find it simultaneously inspiring and disheartening when I find work by someone exploring similar themes but doing a much better job of it, Kukuli Velarde is an artist like that working in clay. She weds history and contemporary more beautifully than I could ever hope to. The emotional-narrative-animal based ceramic magic (for lack of a more appropriate word) of Beth Cavener is beyond impressive.

Joe Bova, my undergrad professor’s grad professor at LSU, is someone whose work I regularly look up, my academic “grandfather” in a way. Politial narrative-figurative forms, and masterfully executed. I watched him give many a demo at Loyola as a student, and can remember those events being important moments. I think an implied narrative is something I enjoy. There’s a lot, but I need to be looking more than I do. Sometimes, it gets hard to find the time to keep up.

Many of your pieces feature recurring symbols, such as the luchador mask, and the bunny and cat-eared headpieces. How are these motifs chosen, and how do they function?

Tiny Spotted Tiger Luchador

The luchadors were chosen as contemporary renditions of Pre-Colombian warriors, Jaguar Warriors, which are among my truly favorite historic subjects. In “Mexico Before Cortez”, Ignacio Bernal describes Jaguar Warriors defending Mexico City from the surrounding jungle, these mythic super-warriors who, after killing a jaguar, would assume its traits and powers. They would seize approaching Spanish infantrymen from out of the jungle, leaving soliders behind wondering what the hell that was, that half man-giant cat that just grabbed their buddy and dragged him away screaming. In grad school, I read this book many, many times, which is funny, because my work had not yet moved in this direction. For me, the Luchador is a modern reference to these superheroes from Pre-Colonbian cultures.

Two Black Eyes & a Bloody Nose

Many of the animal forms were based on cartoon characters pulled from my childhood and thankfully returned to my world through my children when they were younger. I can remember my daughter, now 10, asking me about 3 or 4 years ago what I was going to make art about once she grew up. At the time, I was making large-scale “mash-ups” of Kathy the Bunny, loyal sidekick to Hello Kitty, and Q’in Dynasty Chinese Terra Cotta warriors. The animal forms are intended as light-hearted icons, evocative of a simple, pleasure-seeking childhood frame of mind. They function to disarm the viewer a bit, make them comfortable with the work, and hopefully to then create a stark contrast to other ideas present in the work, ideas associated with conflict, combat, warfare, fighting, death. The cute is the counter to the bitter, which I openly admit can be a heavy-handed formula. Is this getting a bit formula?

What aspects of pop culture inform your work?

Tiny BunnyCap

I grew up on comic books, so it would be silly not to admit that is where most of my image-making began. My older brother was much better at drawing, I can remember watching him spend hours drawing large blow-ups of individual panels from Sgt. Rock and X-Men comics, later I would get my ass kicked for sneaking in to his room and dropping in some colors. Exaggerated heroes and villains from comic books, villains always seemed more inventive. I also watched a lot of cartoons; Masters of the Universe, Transformers and G.I. Joe were my after school ritual for a long while. Possibly too long.

I can’t express the joy and excitement that my first trip back into a comic shop with my son brought. He’s 15 now, at the time 4 or 5. After one of the most thoughtful walk-throughs I’ve ever been a part of (lots of “What’s his name? And what can he do?”), he settled on Batman. Oh, the chance to go back through it all again, to revisit familiar stories, to explore those I chose not to when it was my first time, it was great. The door back into this world was unlocked and flung wide with the key called parenting. I certainly have gotten more out of it than I deserve. Now with the movies, my goodness. And there is so much new stuff that is so smart, so well done. The first time I watched an episode of “Adventure Time” with both of my kids about 2 years ago, I think they were scared for me.

What aspects of history inform your work?

Tigre Rojo Luchador

Some of the warrior figures I make are heavily influenced by the style of Moche work, Azec, Mixtec, there is acuity and brevity of image making there that is remarkable. Pre-Colombian clay work is in my work, there is something magical about the balance of detail and abstraction that I enjoy and seek. Japanese Haniwa figures and horses equally inspire me.  Colossal Olmec Heads are great.

Regarding clay, well before we developed the technology for fired ceramic that led to functional work, we were proto-cultural image-makers in the caves of Altamira, Lasceaux and Tuc d'Audobert in the French Pyrenees, sculpting clay bison by firelight. This is the beginning of the story that every ceramic artist is contributing to today. That’s amazing to me, knowing that I am part of that continuous narrative, a human making forms out of clay for my fellow humans to contemplate and enjoy. What is possibly better or a more species-defining practice? Got me. Then we mastered how to fire it, how to make pots, forms that are impervious to rain, to the elements. Bricks. Where would we be without bricks? Fired clay was an evolutionary step for us as a species, it is what the heat-reflective tiles on the nose of the space shuttle are made out of, and what we drink coffee out of.  It’s an exciting material that brings with it a rich history that is imbedded in us on a molecular level.

How do you see these references to contemporary pop culture functioning within the work? Are they critical, analytical, investigative, etc.?

Colima Kitty Head (in foreground)

I’m not entirely sure how these references function. I don’t think it’s critical, I don’t like preachy work, I think it’s more about reminding the viewer that we are not so far from where we began, but not in a bad way. I like the idea that ancient “pop” culture (such as Jaguar Warriors) can easily be compared to contemporary luchadors or superheroes. In that way, I guess it’s analytical, reminding us of who we are, comparing the old and new, creating a time-based hybrid. We are myth builders, storytellers, ranters all. I guess for me it’s investigative, I like seeing how I can concoct a new combination of images or sources to make something new, something I have not seen in the studio before. That’s investigation for me, that moment where the parts are coming together, and I’m not quite sure when it will be done, when it will be complete, that’s the fun.  I have colleagues who talk about the struggle, but I find it extremely fun, The struggle is usually finding the time, but once that is done, it’s just fun. Even the failures are fun, because you build on them.

John Donovan's latest exhibit New Personal Best! is on view at Zeitgeist through June 27, 2015

Guest Speaker: Elephant Behavior Scientist Caitlin O'Connell presented by The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Caitlin O'Connell

Zeitgeist is pleased to be hosting The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee as it kicks off its 20th Anniversary Celebration by welcoming one of the world’s preeminent scientists on African elephants’ communication and social dynamics, Dr Caitlin O'Connell. The event is free and open to the public. O'Connell will be doing a reading, followed by a book signing.

Parnassus Books will offer copies of Elephant Don for purchase, and donate ten percent of the book price to benefit The Elephant Sanctuary. 

Smithsonian called Dr. Caitlin O’Connell “the elephant whisperer.” After decades of research in Namibia’s Etosha National Park, she’s one of the world’s only scientists who can decipher the language of elephants, theircommunications within their social circles. 

O’Connell is a faculty member at Stanford University School of Medicine, author of the acclaimed science memoir The Elephant’s Secret Sense, and the subject of the award-winning Smithsonian documentary Elephant King. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, National Geographic, and Discover, among many others.

In the new nonfiction book Elephant Don: The Politics of a Pachyderm Posse, O’Connell looks inside the social world of African male elephants as she tracks “Greg” and his entourage of fellow bull elephants in order to understand the vicissitudes of male friendship, power struggles, and play. A portrayal of commitment, loyalty, and affection between individuals yearning for companionship, the book vividly captures a huge repertoire of elephant behavior and communication. The narrative also tells the story of Dr. O’Connell – the trials and adventure of field research in environs more hospitable to lions and snakes than scientists.

“[Elephant Don] comes at a critical time, when the slaughter of these intelligent and long-lived creatures is at an all-time high. The more people learn about them, the more they are likely to help efforts to save them.”
Jane Goodall, founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

Dr. O'Connell will also speak on the process of converting true life experiences into fiction in order to broaden the public conversation around elephant conservation, as the battle to save Africa's elephants serves as the backdrop to her debut thriller, Ivory Ghosts - dubbed "a win for any animal lover or reader with a conservationist's heart" by Jodi Picoult, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Leaving Time.

when: June 12, 6:30pm, at Zeitgeist Gallery - 516 Hagan St, #100 Nashville, TN 37203

Opening May 2 at Zeitgeist


May 2, 6:00-9:00PM

At 6pm there will be a special performance of Planes (17min), see below for more info

See the opening of:

New Personal Best! by John Donovan

John Donovan's latest body of work consists of ceramic sculptures based on pre-Columbian and Chinese Han dynasty-era ceramic figures. The idea of the figures as accessorized toys is balanced with a prevailing historical record that champions war and aggression.

John Donovan is a sculptor who moved to Nashville from the Gulf Coast eleven years ago. His primary medium of choice is clay; chosen for its accessibility and familiarity to viewers and also because of the traditional expectations associated with ceramics as a "craft medium." Images hand-built and molded from toys invoke an innocence that is juxtaposed with conflict and loss of innocence. Although there is a lot of humor in the work it also comments on the violent and complicated nature of our culture.


Turquoise Kittyskull, John Donovan


Letting Go by Jessica Wohl

Minnesota-native and Sewanee professor Jessica Wohl has recently been featured in a number of shows around the southeast and in NYC. Her work traditionally combines figurative elements with items and processes associated with domestic/suburban lifestyles. This outing finds her using fabric and sewing techniques as painting.

"Letting Go is my farewell to the sordid love affair I have with picture-perfect domestic life and the dark underbelly of suburban America. Stained scraps of old clothes and used linens reveal traces of lives lived in the home, and with the sewn line, combine in what is possibly the most formal work I have made. These colorful abstractions are the final shedding of this skin, where my conceptual inquiry and emotional confusion graciously, and subtly, give way to resolution and clarity."


Blue Bunches, Jessica Wohl


Arts/Music @ Wedgewood/Houston

Follow the link above for a  listing of all events happening as part of Arts & Music at Wedgewood/Houston on May 2 

Announcing a special performance at Zeitgeist throughout May: 

We are partnering with OZ Arts, New Dialect and Trisha Brown Dance Company to bring you Planes.

Planes, Trisha Brown's 1968 vertical dance and film collaboration with Jud Yalkut, will take place at Zeitgeist Gallery. The performance will feature three dancers chosen from Nashville-based contemporary dance collective New Dialect

There are 9 chances to see this very unique performance:

May 2-30, Saturdays, 11am and 6pm,at Zeitgeist Gallery (excluding Saturday, May 16)

May 14, 8pm,at OZ Arts Nashville presents TBDC's three-year Proscenium Works, 1979-2011

May 15, 7:30pm, at Zeitgeist Gallery, features five-year TBDC member Tara Lorenzen in collaboration with two dancers chosen from Nashville-based contemporary dance collective New Dialect. A short Q&A will follow with: New Dialect Artistic Director Banning Bouldin, Trisha Brown Dance Company Co-Artistic Director Carolyn Lucas and Zeitgeist Gallery Director Lain York, facilitated by OZ Arts Nashville Artistic Director Lauren Snelling.

May 16, 7:30pm, at OZ Arts Nashville, showcasing a selection of Brown's works, beginning outdoors with In Plain Site.

All performances taking place at Zeitgeist are free and open to the public. For more info on the performances at Oz visit ozartsnashville.org  

Interview with artist Ward Schumaker

Books by Ward Schumaker

What goes into making your book editions? What are the steps? Do you make a sample first or do make it up as you produce all of them?

First off, I’m not sure I’ll ever make another edition like these five. I began because I had enjoyed making an edition of small stenciled paintings-on-wood for Dusk Editions in Brooklyn and wanted to know if I could extend editions work into my books. I figured I’d  make one stencil for color for each page and paint ten pages with each stencil. But because I use such gloppy paint  to get the effect I want, each time I use a stencil, I destroy it. So I have to make ten stencils for each color for each page for an edition of ten books: do the math. I enjoyed it, mind you, but it took six months to prepare this group of five titles.

I begin by tearing and folding the paper into folios (8 pages per folio, 5 per book) and numbering them very lightly in pencil. Then I begin to work.

Sometimes I have a shape or color I wish to use, and most often the first few pages suggest a title or theme to follow.

Books in process

The work I need to do then appears fairly obvious to me: I want to tell a story about Golem: these colors, those shapes seem required to me. Want to talk about death: how could you not include overlays done in such-and-such a manner?

I don’t make a sample in advance, I don’t work sequentially (from front to back), I work as some voice inside my head directs.

I love most when that voice seems not my own. In the best of times, I do not feel I am the author of the work.

How does working on paper differ from working on canvas or wood?

Paper is so easily managed: pick it up to send the paint dripping downward; use a sponge to wash off everything you thought so certain of yesterday but today realize is no good; cut out words and paste them down: no big deal.

Canvas finds me more serious; I can’t throw a canvas around the room as easily as a piece of paper.

Wood makes me very serious because I have to sand instead of sponging away mistakes.

How has your experience as a graphic designer influenced your work as an artist?

I use Photoshop to set up my type before I cut them as stencils; the program does very bad letter-spacing and kerning, so that keeps me from being design-y—design is great in a brochure but a consciously designed painting is a short-lived love.

Ward Schumaker

What is it like to be an artist in San Francisco?

My wife and I don’t know many artists, our friendships aren't based on that, so living in San Francisco is most important because of the weather, which can’t be beat. And proximity to family.

Our tastes are not ruled by the taste of San Francisco; we find the work we like all over the world: on the web, or on trips, in museums. Frankly, we find a lot on Facebook.

Spending almost every hour of every day looking and creating has sharpened our likes and dislikes to such a fine point that we end up enjoying very little. Still, what we do enjoy, we enjoy very very much.

What are your main influences?

DeKooning. Kurt Weill. Bruno Schulz. Bach-Beethoven-not Brahms. Leos Janacek. Poulenc, definitely. And above all, Shostakovich. Composers have effected me as much as painters. 

Books in Process

How do ideas of play come to inform or influence your work?

Do my dreams count as ideas?  Because that’s where most of my input come from. I wake at three in the morning with instructions: write down this sentence and add it to the painting you are working on. Write down this dream because it’s to be your next book. You just dreamed you were climbing an escarpment in Mali; go make a wood sculpture that feels like that climb.

Where do the titles come from? The text inside?

Dreams, again. Almost always dreams, for both text and titles. I’ve had dreams in which I’ve taken dictation that when typed out created five pages of continuous text. I love that. I love being used.

The Carpathians work on birch featured in Geography Lessons

How do the books fit in with your larger pieces? Do you see them as potential studies for larger work?

Both feed into and onto each other. One’s not more important, one is not first or last, it’s all a continuum. For example: I make small wood sculptures and then make one the same shape but ten times larger; but the small one’s not a maquette, it’s an individual with all the rights and privileges which pertain to any of us. Know what I mean?


You can look through Schumaker's book editions on his blog: Coffin Laughter, Owl Soup, Golem Likes a Pretty Face, G.Lekeu, Libretto

Call or e-mail Zeitgeist for more info.

Planes (1968)

This Spring, New Dialect in collaboration with OZ Nashville and Zeitgeist Gallery—will present Planes, the groundbreaking 1968 installation by Trisha Brown to Nashville audiences free-of-charge.

Brown is an avant-garde and postmodernist choreographer whose more than forty-year contribution to contemporary dance has made a significant impact on the field worldwide. It has been said that her movement investigations find “the extraordinary in the everyday and challenge existing perceptions of what constitutes performance.” 

In May the Trisha Brown Dance Company will travel to Nashville to perform twice at OZ Nashville. During that month, one of the Company’s dancers will also set Brown’s renowned work Planes on the dancers of New Dialect, who will then perform the piece nine times at Zeitgeist Gallery. These performances will be free to the public. 

Installation Dates and Times:

Saturdays, May 2, 9, 23, & 30 at 11 AM and 6 PM

*Special performance featuring dancers from Trisha Brown Dance Company with New Dialect: Friday, May 15, at 7:30 PM

Interview with artist Lain York

Where does the name Scissor Bell come from?

Lain York in front of Landscape: Thompson Lane and Armory Drive (Crazy Cave)

It came from a conversation about My Little Pony (Sweetie Belle). I liked the idea of a title that alluded to a simple deconstructive process and something suggesting resonance.

How does working in vinyl change the way you express ideas? Does it limit you?

The new work is very abstracted but I still think of it as figurative. I wanted to address the figure in a new way (for me); to move away from silhouette and into a more organic way of drawing. I thought of Alberto Giacometti drawings and the way he moved from the inside out rendering a figure. The web-like imagery was looking at the figure, drawing grids, and connecting dots within the grids. I then used the finished shapes as templates to make several, layered resonating shapes. Weaving strips of color was another fun, very rhythmic process.

Portrait: BobLobertiniJackieFargo

The vinyl is fun and immediate but it is also very particular; there are rules. There are moments to break the rules and some negotiating that goes on. Whether I work with paint, graphite, correct tape or vinyl there is a particular sensitivity that I think has to be respected that’s important for successful finished pieces.  I think that through attentively addressing parameters or limitations, one sees more possibilities. 

What inspired you to make this show about Nashville? What are you trying to say about the city? How does it fit in with other recent shows about Nashville – Brady Haston’s?

The end of the year is always a very inward looking period for me. The city is progressing so quickly and as a native, I of course feel that some things are being lost. I also feel that Creative Industry in Nashville has much to do with this development. Almost all of the references are from things that are now gone but that’s the natural trade-off for moving forward and I am comfortable with it. I like the analogy of being an archaeologist and assessing a progressing landscape from looking down at what has been covered up.

Barging Session (Fairfax and 32nd Avenue), 2014

I thought Brady Haston’s document of Chronicles of the Cumberland by Paul Clemments was a brilliant example of using abstract painting to convey a very particular narrative. I don’t think mine sought to be nearly as articulate or focused. The idea of Narrative, particularly more localized accounts is incredibly timely; I see it everywhere. Story-telling in the digital age seems to be human beings beginning to scratch the surface of making sense of ridiculous amounts of data we gathered. Inevitably, this narrative has deep roots in the past.

How has your work changed since your last show? Is this more personal?

I definitely wanted to move away from anything as content driven as earlier work. Emphasizing the more formal aspects of the new series (color, texture, rhythm, etc.) was very important. The process of making the images has to be engaging and I pulled images/shapes from a lot of fairly unrelated sources. The previous body of work was very focused and it was a bit of chore this go-round to focus. There are many new avenues that I am looking forward to exploring because of this.

Stuart Davis - Report from Rockport, 1940

This latest work was indeed very personal. I am still absorbing it.

Who are your current influences?

Stuart Davis, Matisse, N Dash, 70’s skate board magazines/Glen Friedman photography, Gedi Sibony, George Condo, Jean Michel Alberola, Hurtado Segovia

Scissor Bell is on view at Zeitgeist Gallery through February 28, 2015

Interview with artist Jeremiah Ariaz

How and when did the project that became Once Upon a Time in the West start?

The project started in 2007 after a chance stop in Tucumcari, NM. I became enthralled with the town and for the next four years returned whenever I had the opportunity, usually twice a year for a few days at a time. As the project took shape I became aware of the Sergio Leone films that were made in the Almeria region of Spain, a landscape that looks like the American West. One film in particular, For A Few Dollars More, was partially set in a fictionalized Tucumcari. This provided a perfect link for me to photograph there as a companion project.  

Installation, Once Upon a Time in the West by Jeremiah Ariaz

My work often deals with the tension between reality and artifice. Therefore, the kind of conflict I try to highlight in a photograph, I could think about in a broader context over multiple projects. This opened up creative possibilities for me. 

What is your personal connection to this project?

As a boy growing up in Kansas, I felt a particular draw to the West.  Where “the West” begins has been a shifting, even contested, local. Once, to be west of the Mississippi River was to be in the West. Today, I think most people imagine a Southwestern landscape and the Pacific coast. I guess for me, the West began in Kansas. There is a romance to the West, which admittedly, I never felt, but seemed to intrigue people I met traveling, especially abroad, when they learned I was from Kansas. Maybe the work started trying to understand what they thought of as the West.

Indian on Horse, Western City (Dasing, Germany) 2013 by Jeremiah Ariaz

Where did your travels take you and what surprised you about what you saw there?

In addition to photographing in New Mexico, this project took me to southern Spain and across Germany. It was startling to see people from other cultures reenact stories I’d thought of as distinctly American. 

How has it changed how you think of American history? Of how outsiders view it?

I tend to read American history with a critical eye. Much of my artwork questions assumptions people historically had, such as the idea of Manifest Destiny.  I think by often showcasing facades in my work, one might question the American ideas at their root…. ‘if what I’m looking at isn’t real, what is?’

Who are your artistic influences?

August Sander

There are many. I’m drawn to August Sander and his ambitious attempt to create a collective portrait of German society in the twentieth century. I was thinking about him as I was trying to portray Tucumcari, and how that one place might be a window into America. I appreciate the stark realism of photographers like Dorothea Lange, most known for her images of depression era America, and writers like John Steinbeck. The characters in Steinbeck’s novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” seemed to populate the New Mexico town where my project started. I’m drawn to the colors and the melancholic sense of isolation in Edward Hopper’s paintings. Richard Prince has long been an influence for me, particularly his “re-photography” of the Marlboro Man and the questions his work raise of authorship and masculinity. When I started working on this project I had a chance to see several Sergio Leone’s films on the big screen, which was a real thrill. I would be amiss not to mention Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, a husband and wife team that also photographed German Indians (specifically the reenactors rather than the theatrical performances most of my images highlight). Alec Soth’s work always excites me; most recently the “Dispatches” he has been doing though his publishing company LBM. As a teacher, I’m influenced by my students that get excited when discovering things for the first time and those that show sincere commitment to their work.

Ariaz's show "Once Upon a Time in the West" is on view at Zeitgeist Gallery through February 28. View available works.

Vesna Pavlović in FOUND show in UK


30 January - 3 May 2015

Vesna Pavlović - Search for New Landscapes, 2011

The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK  is delighted to present a selection of works by seven international contemporary artists who work with found images, whether gleaned from the internet, flea markets and second-hand shops or mass produced printed sources such as magazine pages and postcards. The artists employ a range of processes and techniques including cuts, embellishments, erasure and interference, to transform or 're-stage' the found image, separating it from its original use, context and meaning. The exhibition explores themes of loss, memory and mass experience as well as socially-constructed hierarchies and identities concerning gender, race and religion. Drawing attention to our relentless consumption and self-projection of visual information in a digital age, the selected artworks reverberate and bring into question the feeling of being suffocated and framed by representations of other people’s lives, tastes and experiences.

FOUND features work by Paul Chiappe, Ruth Claxton, Julie Cockburn, Ellen Gallagher, Vesna Pavlović, Erik Kessels and John Stezaker, including six new works specially commissioned by The New Art Gallery Walsall.


Thursday 29 January 2015


Join us for the preview in the company of the artists.

There will be an opportunity to hear artist Vesna Pavlović introduce her work from 6-6.15pm in the exhibition.

Artist Information

Paul Chiappe www.paulchiappe.com      www.carslawstlukes.com

Ruth Claxton www.ruthclaxton.info          www.houldsworth.co.uk

Julie Cockburn www.juliecockburn.com     www.flowersgallery.com

Ellen Gallagher www.hauserwirth.com

Erik Kessels www.kesselskramerpublishing.com   www.kkoutlet.com

Vesna Pavlovic www.vesnapavlovic.com

John Stezaker www.theapproach.co.uk

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 12noon – 4pm.

Closed Mondays and Bank Holidays. Free admission. For more information visit thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk


Portfolios Group 4

For a limited time, Zeitgeist is releasing specially curated portfolios by individual Zeitgeist artists in limited quantities. If you see one you'd like to hold or order please e-mail lain@zeitgeist-art.com or call 615-256-4805 or come in. Here is a sample of the work available:

See groups one, two, and three as well.

Lars Strandh

digital print on paper (unframed), paper size: 16 ½” x 16 ½”        $1,800. Ensemble


Alicia Henry

Untitled (dress)   2014, mixed media, on fabric, 15” x 11”

Untitled (figure)  2014, mixed media on fabric, 27” x 14 ½”     $2,700. Ensemble


Ward Schumaker

Handmade Books, edition of 10, 32 pages      $650. each


Portfolios Group 3

For a limited time, Zeitgeist is releasing specially curated portfolios by individual Zeitgeist artists in limited quantities. If you see one you'd like to hold or order please e-mail lain@zeitgeist-art.com or call 615-256-4805 or come in. Here is a sample of the work available:

See groups onetwo, and four as well.

Brady Haston

Aug. 21, 2009/Apr. 2007, mixed media on paper, 9 x 12”    $1,600. ensemble                               

Karen Seapker

Untitled, 2014, mixed media on paper, 3 @ 9"x12", 1 @ 11"x15"     $850. ensemble

Lain York

One and the other

Watercolor, graphite, gouache on paper, 9” x 12”             $600. ensemble


Portfolios Group 2

For a limited time, Zeitgeist is releasing specially curated portfolios by individual Zeitgeist artists in limited quantities. If you see one you'd like to hold or order please e-mail lain@zeitgeist-art.com or call 615-256-4805 or come in. Here is a sample of the work available:

See groups one, three , and four as well.

Nancy Rhoda

black and white photography, 10" x 15 1/4", edition of 35        $1,650. ensemble


Megan Lightell

Oil on paper, 7" x 7" and 7" x 13.5"              $2,200. ensemble

Manuel Zeitlin

lithograph on Rives BFK Arches Printing paper, artist proofs; 19” x 15”     $1,950. ensemble


Portfolios Group 1

For a limited time, Zeitgeist is releasing specially curated portfolios by individual Zeitgeist artists in limited quantities. If you see one you'd like to hold or order please e-mail lain@zeitgeist-art.com or call 615-256-4805 or come in. Here is a sample of the work available:

See groups two, three , and four as well.

Patirck Deguira

Acrylic & silkscreen on Rives paper, 14 ¾” x 20”                  $3,000. ensemble



Paul Collins

Ink and watercolor on paper, 18" x 24"               $1,500. ensemble



Wayne White

Mixed media on paper, 7" x 11.5"                    $900. ensemble


Todd McDaniel on ramble, repeat


The motivation for my most recent work comes from an overall interest in landscape, and more specifically, surrounding that landscape with a fragmentary, “dumb” structural element.  Architect Paul Rudolph once wrote:  “We build isolated buildings with no regard to the space between them, monotonous and endless streets, too many gold fish bowls and too few caves.  We tend to build merely diagrams of buildings.”  Living in New York again, these words hold great meaning to me.  I am constantly searching for those “caves,” both outside and within myself. Most of my current work utilizes drawing, something I all but abandoned for years. My interest in it now is confined to an almost mechanical process, eliminating gesture for the most part.  I feel the linear element, handled in an almost naïve way, strengthens the fragmentary, allusive, and ephemeral cloud that seems to hang over the work.  And because I quickly become tired of the image at hand, my work has always been small in scale.

My paintings / drawings reference nothing other than a search to locate visual facts which I feel are buried somewhere within all of us.  My devotion to the memory of early visual stimulation in my life is increasing as I get older – I find myself using the same compositional map that I unwittingly used in drawings I made when I was a kid.  I could mention architecture (primarily ancient and antique), older films (especially “B” types and serials), and surviving examples of Roman decorative wall painting as influences, but because I don’t bring these things to the act of making the image, I don’t feel it would be entirely truthful to do so.  I employ a non-conceptual approach to the process, and I deny content as much as I possibly can.  It’s merely point/line to color to point/line…and on and on.   These small pieces (fragments) are slowly coming together to form a much-larger thing.  What that is, I cannot say.  Maybe the viewer can complete the picture. 

work on view at Zeitgeist through December 21

Best of Nashville 2014

New Work by Christopher Roberson

"My practice, while rooted in sculpture, finds its genesis in line, or more specifically, the disruption of line. I am interested in line that has been warped, distorted, liquefied, rotated, and abruptly ended. The source drawings for my sculptures are often produced digitally, which makes it possible to see an origin line manipulated in real time. This vulnerability that is applied to the drawings often produces unanticipated results and allows the injection of chance into a process that can be very methodical. Working in a vector environment also gives me the freedom to play with an economy of imagery that can be repeated and scaled infinitely.

In Full Sight/ I Think I’m Gonna Be Sick

The work shown in Cannonball Run 3 at Zeitgeist finds me picking up the scraps of these source drawings and allowing them to stand alone. Mining a lexicon of cartoons, sports, and the suburban landscape, the resulting structures, while abstract in nature, can become familiar and elemental. I feel that this recognition magnifies the irregularities and modifications of material. The subtle contrast between textures like black adhesive vinyl and black vinyl fabric, reinforce these ideas. My intention is to call up associations with youth and exterior/interior domains- aiming to in some way preserve the juvenescent spirit, while acknowledging its fading vitality. 

The series of prints called Wallop developed through a push-and-pull of creating space and then immediately jumbling the imagery. This process was repeated until I felt that the pieces snapped into place and a tense harmony existed between the gestures. Built upon a Peanuts comic, the individual elements were both reduced and camouflaged by the added imagery until the source nearly vanished. By isolating the compositions on a field of black, my hope was to create a sort of gravity and isolation in the drawings. There is a ubiquitous loneliness that I wish to acknowledge in my work."

Wallop Series

Sonnenzimmer on Round w Flat w Sound

"Round w Flat w Sound" is a kinetic sculpture that explores the discrepancies of digital representation and reality. By mirroring a static digital image with its in-the-round counterpart, we aim to subtly make aware the differences and similarities of these two very real matrices. On screen, the image never changes, but the digital interface begs for movement and audience interaction. Try to interact or wait for a change and you will be disappointed. The physical installation, on the other hand, is full of movement—the beach ball slowly deflates and the record spins and repeats, due to its imbeded sculptural qualities. The floating record player, precariously balanced, transmits sound to adjacent quilt through an FM signal and a hidden radio. In doing so, the installation engages curiosity in a similar fashion to the digital image, as sources are obscured and abstracted. “Round w Flat w Sound” is a quilt. “Round w Flat w Sound” is a house track. “Round w Flat w Sound” features a one of a kind sculptural record. “Round w Flat w Sound” deflates. “Round w Flat w Sound” is static.

“Round w Flat w Sound” is documented with a limited edition publication called “Round w Flat w Sound Collated”. The publication features a screen-printed poster that incorporates elements of the installation and its creation as well as a flexi record of the original song heard in the work.