Stars Above / Valley Below: Jess Holzworth, Wes Lang, Michael Phelan & Aaron Spangler

12 September - 10 October 2010
Installation Views
Press release

The gallery is pleased to announce Stars Above / Valley Below , a group show featuring Jess Holzworth, Wes Lang, Michael Phelan and Aaron Spangler.


Your loyalty is not to me

But to the stars above.

One more cup of coffee for the road,

One more cup of coffee 'fore I go

To the valley below.

– Bob Dylan


Jess Holzworth’s work might best be described as “Folk Metal” - it is a visual study on rebellion. With a mythical punk aesthetic and a magical vision, Holzworth's collages evoke the innocent optimism of free love and high times. Freedom, censorship, and humor exist outside of convention and float freely through lines, dots, and squares of day-glow fluorescent colors.


Jess Holzworth (b. 1973, Morgantown, WV) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ. Her visual art, experimental music, and fashion have been performed and displayed widely throughout the United States and Japan. As the founder of Angelblood, the artist recorded three experimental albums, two released by Captain Trip Records in Japan and one by Thurston Moore’s label Ecstatic Peace. In 2000, the artist collaborated with Lizzi Bougatsos on an eclectic series of video, photography and collage in an installation entitled "Boug & Worth, Fuck All Our Art Heroes/Assholes" and "Boug & Worth II", both exhibited at Colin DeLand's legendary American Fine Arts, Co. in Soho. Most recently, the artist has directed music videos for Beck's “Gamma Ray”, Basement Jaxx's, "Raindrops", Imaad Wasif's, "Redeemer", and The Slits, "Lazy Slam.”


Wes Lang professes a sometimes veiled reverence for life through his tattoo-inspired imagery. Combining the same deft maneuvers of brush as he has long-employed with the skin-artist’s needle, Lang translates masculine tattoo templates and works from within the confines of stylized graphics of flash art. With the keenest eye toward our ephemeral fringe — Lang champions human faults, celebrating the patterns in our rapaciousness — a familiar vernacular comfort becomes the voice of longing for a world without anchor. Dancing through the bone-yard of America’s tattered narrative, Lang embraces both the darkness visible in gallows humor and the risky taunting of viewers in the face of their own taboos.


Wes Lang (b. 1972, Chatham, NJ) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He is represented by Zieher-Smith, New York. His work has been seen in exhibitions at Alexander and Bonin, New York; Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York; Dealim Museum, Seoul; Peres Projects, Berlin, and V1 Gallery, Copenhagen; Galleri Loyal, Stockholm; and Museo de la Cuidad de Mexico, Mexico City; among others. He was named one of 2009’s top fifteen young artists by Interview Magazine. His works are in the collections of the Deste Foundation, Greece and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.


Concerned with the contemporary American landscape and the role "language" plays, explicit and implicit, within this contextual framework, Michael Phelan's work critically investigates how historically specific models and cultural traditions have been absorbed, co-opted, and repurposed to fit the needs of the popular (Western and Global) commercial marketplace. Employing art historical and mass media references, his work re-contextualizes/positions mundane and disparate icons of consumer culture with an eye towards both art history and the legacy of Middle America "life-styling" within a postmodern aestheticized landscape. Re-positioned and repurposed, these historical/cultural models call into question how "history", once unhinged from its original contexts, can be reconstituted, redistributed and reabsorbed into the American landscape.


Michael Phelan (b. 1968, Beaumont, TX) lives and works in New York City. His work has been featured in exhibitions at Mary Boone, D'Amelio Terras, Andrew Kreps, John Connelly, Daniel Reich, Elizabeth Dee, Leo Koenig, Eleven Rivington, P.S. 1/MoMA, The Kitchen, and Artist’s Space, New York; Kantor/ Feuer, QED Gallery, and Champion Fine Art, Los Angeles; Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX; Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami, FL; Nice & Fit Gallery, Berlin; Gallerie Edward Mitterrand, Geneva, and Mitterrand + Sanz / Contemporary Art, Zurich. Most recently, several large-scale works were commissioned for Portugal Arte '10, Lisbon. Upcoming exhibitions include Abstract America 2: New Paintings from the US, Saatchi Gallery, London. His work was recently acquired by Il Giardino dei Lauri, Italy.


Aaron Spangler's carved wood bas-relief sculpture “To The Valley Below” celebrates the peace, beauty, idealism, and magic of the undomesticated life “off the grid”, which has often become the destination of many in the hippie movement following wartime. A prominent Barn Owl, which is known to actively hunt for prey only under the cover of darkness, seems to beckon the viewer back to the land and its groves in search of a simpler way of living.


Aaron Spangler (b. 1971, Minneapolis, MN) lives and works in Park Rapids, MN. He received a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin and Zach Feuer Gallery, New York. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; and the New York Academy of Art, New York. He is in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Artforum, Flash Art, and Time Out New York, among others.


This exhibition coincides with the artist's inclusion in "Works from the Private Collection of Takashi Murakami" at Kaikai Kiki Co. gallery in Taipei. “To The Valley Below” will be included in the upcoming exhibitions "Spectacular Vernacular" (alongside Louise Bourgeois, William Christenberry, Shannon Ebner, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Rachel Harrison, Matthew Day Jackson, Butt Johnson, William E. Jones, Mike Kelley, Chris Larson, Kerry James Marshall, Laura Owens, Jack Pierson, Lari Pittman, Jim Shaw, Lorna Simpson, Mark Swanson, Dario Robleto, and Kara Walker) at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN. His work will also be included in "American Gothic" With Alison Elizabeth Taylor at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC.