Jury’s Still In: Vox Pop Readies for 7th Annual Juried Show

By Katherine Rochester
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 5 | Posted Jul. 6, 2011

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Blind faith: Adam Jacono's "Praise" captures all forms of religious devotion.

In a perverse swing of the historical pendulum, juried shows have gone from a high-falutin’ French club of conservative taste to an expo of democratically accumulated and thoughtfully considered art. Vox VII, Vox Populi’s seventh annual juried show, is a good example of the latter.

“Juried shows are a chance for the artist—any artist—to put his or her work out there to be seen, if only by a few interested professionals,” says Vox VII juror Melissa Ho, an “interested professional” who’s assistant curator at the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington D.C. She’s joined by juror Hennessy Youngman, perennial YouTube favorite and alter-ego character of Philly-based performance artist Jayson Musson. Together, Ho and Youngman have waded through the mayhem of an open-submissions process and emerged on the other side with an exhibition that finds cohesion among its varied parts.

The pieces in Vox VII gel loosely around themes of the urban experience and the relationship between time and movement. Appropriately vague for a juried show of randomly submitted work, these themes are secondary to the singular visions that fall beneath their canopy. Indifferent to trends, Ho says she responded to work “when there was a strong individual voice coming through.” This voice, as it turns out, often speaks with a familiar mid-Atlantic rumble. While the call for artists was circulated internationally, the local ties in the show run deep. Eight selected artists are graduates of Penn’s MFA program (including Youngman), while Ho was a Vox member artist herself at one time.

The standard practice of inviting high-profile guests to jury can sometimes feel like a phoned-in celebrity appearance, but at Vox, guest jurors lend exciting twists to the content of the show. Known for his arrestingly honest and uproariously funny informational broadcasts on the practical uses of art-world lingo, Musson—acting as “Hennessy Youngman”—is likely to spice up the jurying process with his antics. Vox Executive Director Andrew Suggs is hopeful that Youngman will opt for “rewarding content and purpose over pretension”; aka “cutting through the bullshit.” Youngman’s direct approach rings true for artist Adam Jacono, who says, “Vox VII did it right with the jurors, and I think Hennessy speaks for a lot of the younger generation artists included here.”

Like Youngman, Jacono also plies subcultures with a critical eye; his black-and-white pigment print, “Praise,” captures the devoted in different states of worship—many of whom were no doubt surprised when the forecasted Rapture called in a rain check this past May. As in much of his work, the photo collage is laced with the idea of being sick of consumer culture, hinted at here by the Megachurch mantra that faith returns in riches. Jacono’s image is a patchwork of snapshots sutured together to form a pulsing sea of raised arms and upturned faces that bear more than a passing resemblance to brokers on the floor of the stock exchange.

In contrast, any movement in Ashlee Ferlito’s large-scale painting is frozen and painted over. With its suggestive title, the fringe of color that peaks out the top of “Beautiful Letdown” breeds fantasies of an aborted Morris Louis, the signature veils of color blunted with Ferlito’s no less expressive white. Like much of the work in the show, her painting also flirts with other mediums. Like a printed proof, Ferlito’s vivid strip recalls the color tabs that edge a designer’s mock-up. Her painting reads like the spectral index for an image we will never fully see, an apt metaphor for a show whose many voices converge momentarily at Vox before returning to the logic of their separate conversations.

Selected artists:

Milana Braslavsky, Andrea Brown, Chris Domenick, Hilary L Doyle, Leigh van Duzer, Kristina Estell, Ashlee Ferlito, Erik Geschke, Scott Giblin, Ben Goddard, Bobby Gonzales, Jordan Graw, James Grilli, Adam Jacono, Tara Kelton, Nichola Kinch, Matthew Krawcheck, Jennifer Lingford, Kevin McCullough, Bud McNichol, Dustin Metz, A. Bill Miller, Jonathan Monaghan, Benjamin Pederson, Daniel Petraitis, Lauren Rice, Peter Schenck, John Schlesinger, Run Shayo, Jaime Treadwell, Jessica Vaughn, Sarah Weber, Nathan T. Wilson & Dante Blackstone, Lindsay Wraga.

Opening reception Fri., July 8, 6-11pm; Exhibition through July 31. Vox Populi, 319 N. 11th St., third floor. voxpopuli.org

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Comments 1 - 5 of 5
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1. pete said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 03:29PM

“I don't get it...I have a degree in fine arts and
I never understood what you are talking about.

Is any piece in any gallery worth showing?”

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2. Katherine Rochester said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 04:37PM

“Pete: now it's my turn to say that I don't understand what you're talking about. What did you find confusing? Here's what I found confusing in your comment: You ask: "is any piece in any gallery worth showing?" If you mean, "is any of the work we see on gallery walls worth showing" then I obviously think the answer is yes. So do the jurors and so does Vox. If you mean, "is anything at all worthy of being shown in a gallery?" then I think the answer is no. In Vox's case, that's why there's a jury. Of course, I recommend going to Vox to really "understand" the show.”

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3. pete said... on Jul 7, 2011 at 04:18PM

“I forgot to mention that despite my degree I am
not only a miserable failure at "art" but a loser
in terms of "life". So I hate people that succeed
and or enjoy something, finding happiness or
a basic level of satisfaction. Jealousy and a
healthy does of bitterness give me the fuel to
get up in the morning and amuse myself in
the daytime with a series of ongoing arguments
with phantoms.

90 percent of all cultural artifacts in human
history are garbage, including what has been
put on our collective plate as, " modern art".

I look forward to all gallery's and museums
being banned and/or demolished so that a
bunch of beautiful nature sanctuaries can be

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4. Anonymous said... on Jul 8, 2011 at 09:59PM

“I love Youngman's vids and think he's great choice for a judge. Though sometimes I wish art orgs would try and cast a wider net in selecting judges. I think it would make for fresher voices displayed (if indeed it is to be an international call for entries). Seems like these judges may be too locked into the Philly scene---but that doesn't mean the show will be bad by any means. Just a little on the insular side.
And the article didn't mention...was there an entry fee for this exhibition? And if so how much was paid? In my experience the entry fees for most open calls can range from nominal to ridiculous. But I understand all orgs are hurting and I think it's fair if a modest entry fee is charged.”

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5. J. said... on Jul 11, 2011 at 05:48PM

“From what I understand, Vox never charges an entry fee. There certainly wasn't an entry fee at Friday's opening.

As Katherine recommended, go & see the show, everybody. That's the only way to really have an informed dialogue about it.”


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