Leggett’s new mixed-media paintings wrestle with
complicated feelings towards his two obsessions, painting and
hip-hop, as he confronts race, sexuality, fame and class in
humorous and ambiguous situations.
show in Gallery 1 at Western Exhibitions opens on Friday,
January 27th, 2012 with a free public reception from 5 to
8pm and will run through March 10, 2012. Gallery hours are Wednesday
through Saturday, 11am to 6pm and by appointment.
Leggett’s ultra-vivid canvases mash-up a love-hate fascination
with both machismo in hip-hop culture and the unyielding influence
of 1980s German painters in current contemporary painting. No
one is sacred in Leggett’s work – from Precious
to Rick Ross to Gerhard Richter to the artist himself –
his satirical images are often punctuated by barbed comedic
one-liners, a strategy influenced by the stand-up comedians
he listens to in the studio. Leggett his manipulation of cartoon
imagery and caricature reveals the influence of Chicago Imagists
like Karl Wirsum and Jim Nutt. His use of craft materials, however,
complicates his relationship to painting as googly eyes, rhinestones,
pom-poms, felt, glitter, gold and silver leaf add a layer of
absurdity to Leggett’s reverence for his painting heroes.
In the past year, Leggett’s studio suffered a devastating
flood, destroying some 50 finished paintings. States Leggett:
“When I saw all my paintings damaged from the leak I couldn't
help but notice how small the paintings were. I felt I wasn't
challenging myself. It felt like what I was doing wasn't important.”
This show, post-flood, will feature Leggett’s largest
canvases to date.
Burr opens the show with a graphic
depiction of a white woman performing a sex act on a black man
contrasted with an image of Theo Huxtable, the lovable son from
“The Cosby Show” (the 1980s are a recurring theme
in this show). The title of the painting, “Burr”
is swiped from rapper Gucci Mane to describe how much jewelry
(ice) he sports. In this painting, Leggett uses the word to
signify his attraction/repulsion to the gangsta culture that’s
been prevalent in hip-hop for the past twenty years. As for
“The Cosby Show” reference, Leggett states that
he’s “curious why people aren’t putting the
Theo Huxtable experience in paintings”.
Chicago Dog pays homage to Sigmar Polke, the ‘80s
German painter whom Leggett feels is slighted by current contemporary
painters in favor of the cool machinations of Gerhard Richter.
In this work, Leggett haphazardly stretches a large sheet of
crumpled paper over an already-stretched canvas and on top,
collages drawings of three white blondes (reminiscent of R.
Crumb’s bawdy females), while sausage links tumble down
the canvas across the women’s faces, a classic ‘80s
and Stank is a salmon pink field punctuated by
candy-red dots (a la Polke’s appropriated Ben-Day dots)
with the title phrase scrawled faintly at the top. “Dead
and Stank” is a phrase that means tired and old (coined
by Leggett’s older sisters) and he utilizes it here to
describe his uneasy relationship to both hip-hop and canonized
were they made me at might take its color scheme
from late ‘80s rap videos such as TLC’s “What
About Your Friends” or DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s
“Parents Just Don’t Understand”. Like the
text scrawled atop the garish pinks and blues, a line from a
Jay-Z tune “Niggaz tryin’ to bring the ‘80s
back”, Leggett is trying to combine 1980’s painting
techniques, from both the street and the white cube, on top
of stained raw canvas, that Greenberg-ian ideal.
A Natural Death, the word “Jackson”
is sweepingly splayed across a dark canvas splashed with white
and pink splotches – again mashing graff-style with AbEx
technique and combining the myths of Jackson Pollock and Michael
Jackson. The twist here, however, as denoted by the black glittery
fake skull that is perched on top of the painting, is that Leggett
finds himself more interested in the after-lifes of these artists
- how their fame, after death, is now more intoxicating.
The show at Western Exhibitions focuses on recent paintings;
his concurrent show at the Hyde Park Art Center
15 to April 29, 2012) highlights his drawing practice. For
the past year, Leggett has created an artwork a day for his
blog project Coco River Fudge Street, named after a fictitious
location invented by the artist “to sound funny, dirty
and tasty at the same time.” HPAC will present over 150
of these hilariously ribald drawings.
This is David Leggett’s first solo show
at Western Exhibitions. Leggett’s work has been included
in group shows at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New
York, Fecal Face Dot Gallery in San Francisco, 65 Grand in Chicago
and in “Disinhibition: Black Art Blue Humor” at
the Hyde Park Art Center. He was a recipient of the 3Arts Visual
Artist Award in 2009. Leggett received his BFA from Savannah
College of Art and Design and his MFA from The School of the
Art Institute of Chicago in 2007. He currently lives and works
Melissa Steckbauer’s new photo-based
collages are the visual remainder following a personal study
in communication and intimate contact, a deviation from the
overt sexuality seen in her paintings. Weaved, fringed, puckered,
and diced Steckbauer diffuses the status and familiarity of
her pictures by manipulating them with naive decoration. Pictures
become images and objects; they leave the scope of family albums
and are updated within a loose semiotics.
Steckbauer’s show in Gallery 2 at Western Exhibitions
opens on Friday, January 27th, 2012 with a free public
reception from 5 to 8pm and will run through March 10, 2012.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm and
Why did you get to choose collage as your form of expression?
I was looking hard for a way out of painting. I needed something
that offers a strong range of physical possibilities but that
can also be completely upended by its material structure. I like
that I can manage collage in layers; usually photography holds
all of the juicy content and the collage is a layer of fixed ornamentation
– I want the collage to work harder, to be flatter but better
than the photography. I appreciate the sing-song of their interruption
and realignment and interruption and realignment.
Which relationship does exist between you painting and
They share a material tenderness with a foundation in craft. I
appreciate the need to train my hand in order to learn a skill;
that it’s possible over time to become sincerely precise
and relate to a language of forms with confidence and care. What’s
nice is that you don’t have to be a genius to work in this
way; I think sheer desire and repetition can lead to successful
What are your sources? Do you usually keep an archive of the pictures
you’ll be using in your collages?
In 2006 I worked on a my first B&W analog project and I keep
and recycle those images. In the last two years I’ve been
creating source material with people from my current social circle
and I mix that with old family photos. I am not much for archiving
but what I have, I milk.
How did the digital media influence your artistic production?
Right now that has more to do with printing than producing and
I’m still in research mode. I’m currently a low-fi
maker but I’m flexible. The next time we talk I might be
making holograms of avatars.
What if you end up being uninspired? Any tips or tricks?
The library, the train, metaphysics, meditation, body work, my
bicycle (it’s like flying), green spaces, new people, more
honesty, and better communication. Anything to do with the visual
realm: lately I am interested in minimal patterns in textiles
and elementary geometry. It could just as easily come from the
grids in my tax returns or the walls of the Underground or from
being with someone who rarely cries when they suddenly pull over
the car of the relationship, get out, stretch, aerate, and cry.
and Grow: Melissa Steckbauer”
from The Way of Women website
This is Melissa Steckbauer's first show at
Western Exhibitions. She has had solo shows in Berlin, Paris,
Italy and Japan, been included in group shows in Tokyo, Brussels
and Belgrade and is represented by Van der Stegen Gallery in
Paris. Steckbauer has upcoming shows in 2012 in Rotterdam, Berlin
and Livorno. She studied Art History at Utrecht University and
fine arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received
her BFA. Steckbauer lives and works in Berlin.
opening reception is sponsored in part by the Brenner
Brewing Company, a brewery-in-planning in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. Founder, Mike Brenner, was recently awarded the title
Master Brewer after completing a rigorous international training
program at the Siebel Institute of Technology, America's oldest
and most respected brewing school, and the Doemens Akademie