Everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic
in its existence. – George Santayana
The past is never dead. It’s not even past. – William Faulkner
The paintings of Charles Browning offer a complex interplay of Art and History, humor and brutality, sincerity and irony, narrative and allegory. They present us with a “new” history painting, one that lays claim to a position of authority among the images of the past. Browning’s sincerely flat-footed love of an anachronistic form of painting adroitly skewers the propaganda of frontier mythology. Using the associative potential of historical imagery and narrative, the scope of Browning’s work expands to implicate us all in the goings on within.
What’s your strategy? Blow on west, shooting and drinking, and before you know it, you’ve conquered a continent. Use it or lose it! “We The People” shall decide who shall be included in “The People.” All others will serve or be destroyed, absorbed, or forgotten. We move closer to the self-evident truths and inalienable rights laid out at the founding of the nation by eliminating inconvenient claimants. And they will keep popping up!
What’s wrong with this picture? We live in funny times. We live in unfunny times. A confluence of Nationalism and Romanticism in 19th century American painting forms an image of the nation, a cultural foundation for the idea of Manifest Destiny, for Paul Bunyan, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Distract the people from real dangers with shadow play. Shoot where there are easy targets. Sound familiar? Tell us another story of our great success, a story to explain away the cruel clowns and buffoonish brutes from then till now.
This is Browning’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Recent group shows include Promised Land at Morgan Lehman Gallery, curated by Elizabeth M. Grady and Keeping it Real at Richmond Center for Visual Arts, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, curated by Jerry Kearns.
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For a great many species today, “fitness” means the ability to get along in a
world in which humankind has become the most powerful evolutionary force.
-Michael Pollan, Botany of Desire
Lynn Cazabon’s Uncultivated is a series of photographs documenting spontaneously growing plant life in urban environments. These images were taken in Baltimore, Maryland and Detroit, Michigan (where Cazabon currently lives and where she was born respectively), two cities rife with economic problems and as a result populated with abandoned buildings and large patches of open space. These urban wastelands over time become perfect environments for certain persistent and invasive species of plants commonly referred to as weeds, a word which designates any plant as ‘unwanted’. As the climate continues to shift due to human impact, invasive plant species like these will thrive while others will perish.
Recent solo exhibitions include Diluvian at Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel, MD; Marseille/Baltimore at Creative Alliance in Baltimore and Discard at the Courthouse Gallery, Anthology Film Archives, New York.