An invitation to “be with me” suggests the immediacy of the present moment in shared space and time. Be With Me: A Small Exhibition of Large Paintings is an exhibition of abstract paintings by three contemporary artists Nick Aguayo, Harmony Hammond, and John Zurier. The engulfing scale of these works create a situation where one can approach the painting as you might approach the landscape – surveying with your eyes while feeling its presence in relationship to your body.
All three artists draw attention to the act of painting yet all approach the medium in a different manner. Marble dust incorporated into Nick Aguayo’s paint creates a dense flat surface for his bold, but loosely rendered geometric forms. Harmony Hammond thickly covers the canvas, embedding straps and grommets to give physical dimension to the rich and undulating surface. Brief moments of John Zurier’s linen are left bare in subtle difference to the luminous surface he creates with thin layers of distemper and oil paint.
Aguayo builds his compositions around dualistic constructs, drawing from an awareness that spans a cumulative and reductive process of painting. Aguayo achieves a particularly tactile, matte surface by mixing marble dust into the paint. His compellingly abstract works emphasize performative aspects of moving paint onto canvas.
Aguayo received an MFA from the University of California Irvine in 2012 and a BFA from UCLA in 2007. His work has been featured in exhibitions at Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; the Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; Post Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; LAXART, Los Angeles, CA; Autonomie, Los Angeles, CA; and the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA.
Hammond’s earliest feminist work combined gender politics with post-minimal concerns of materials and process, frequently occupying a space between painting and sculpture. In her art, Hammond asserts that traditionally gendered qualities are worthwhile artistic subjects and means for artistic creation. Swathes of fabric have been incorporated in her work since the 70’s as symbolic explorations of the feminine.
Harmony Hammond (b.1944) was a leading figure in the development of the feminist art movement in New York in the early 1970s. She was a co-founder of A.I.R., the first women’s cooperative art gallery in New York (1972) and Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art & Politics (1976). Hammond’s work is represented in the permanent collections of many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Brooklyn Museum; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Phoenix Art Museum; the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe. In 2013, the College Art Association honored her with the Distinguished Feminist Award and the Women’s Caucus for Art has selected her for a 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.
John Zurier is concerned with capturing the phenomena of light and the effects it has on place and seasons over the passage of time. Zurier uses a range of brushstrokes and surface treatments, at times exposing the texture of the canvas, or obscuring it with thick densely painted layers. Zurier’s work is fundamentally about color and form. He develops atmospheric compositions that manage to capture an emotional awareness of transient experience.
Zurier was born in Santa Monica, CA, in 1956 and lives in Berkeley, CA. He received his MFA in painting from the University of California, Berkeley. He has exhibited at the 30th São Paulo Biennial, Brazil, Orange County Museum of Art, Berkeley Art Museum, CA, 7th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea, and the Whitney Biennial, NY. In 2010 he was awarded the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.