Benjamin Jose Distance, one person show

June 12 – July 18, 2010
Opening reception: Saturday, June 12th 4-6pm

The Woodstock Artists Association & Museum/WAAM presents a one-person show by Benjamin Jose entitled Distance, June 12 – July 18.  An opening reception will be held on Saturday, June 12 from 4 to 6 pm.

Like many artists, Benjamin Jose is not entirely comfortable talking about his work. Though articulate, he is loath to box-in the possibilities of feeling and thought his work evokes. Though he owns up to dealing with “gender role stereotyping, memory and (other) issues of modern culture,” Jose does not really want to be thought of as a conceptual artist, another box. Even with the seriousness he brings to his art, Jose avoids the trap of illustrating ideas, which would relegate visual language to a secondary role. You see his work, you feel its presence, then you think about it.

Jose grew up in the “Mill Town” of Mechanicville, NY and worked on a farm in his early teens.  Many of his works are segmented by lines of stitching, a reference to the art of sewing he learned from his mother in childhood. One can see the stitching as a leitmotif in his work, embodying the process of bringing together seemingly disparate images, emotions and thoughts into one rich yet open-ended experience.

One piece in his upcoming show at the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum is entitled Qualifier. The top half of the work is occupied by a paint-by-number painting of a motorcycle racer in a gold museum frame. The bottom half consists of the actual tire track of a motorcycle burned into dark grey material. All the elements are mounted on a rawhide background. The overall effect of the piece is striking, it’s a stopper, with the physical presence of a sculpture and the color, design and textural interest of a painting. What does it mean?

A better question might be, “How does it mean?” The title provides a clue. The most obvious meaning refers to the motorcycle painting, the rider in the painting has qualified, he can move on to the next race. You could also think of a qualifier as an image that limits or modifies the meaning of another image. For instance, the gold frame and the real tire track qualify the painting. The frame, a vestige of an old idea of high culture, emphasizes the “low” culture of the prosaic paint by number painting, while the visceral black tire track echos the painting’s dynamic composition evoking power and speed, modern values. Though seemingly in opposition neither set of qualifications cancels the other. The same can be said of the play the artist makes on the idea of mark making. A motorcycle tire and a paint brush have been used to make marks, both of which evoke not only a motorcycle itself but also the experience of riding one. Both images qualify the experience, the paint by number referencing adolescent fantasy life and the tire track providing a direct record of a real event while also bringing the trained aesthetic perspective of a thoughtful adult into the picture.

Visitors to the WAAM in June will find multiple works by Jose, all of which will qualify each other and all of which are worthy of careful consideration.

Benjamin Jose has exhibited his work in New York, Georgia, and Minnesota and internationally at venues such as The Triangle Artists Workshop (KM0 Workshop) in Warnes, Bolivia and The International Sound Sculpture Invitational (Pulgar #11) in Mexico City, Mexico. Benjamin Jose works as a fine arts fabricator and assistant. He received a Master of Fine Art degree from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Art from SUNY Plattsburgh.

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