Artist Spotlight: Tony "Pronzy" Perez

Tony Perez’s artwork incorporates imagery, poetry and sound, meant to overwhelm and enthrall the viewer’s senses. Perez was born in Boston, MA and spent many of his formative years in Brockton, MA. The oldest of 14, Perez draws from his life experiences growing up as Afro-Latino. 

Pronzy_Perez

While receiving his BFA in Illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Tony felt restricted within the confines of traditional mediums. Focusing on his artist statement as a way to push the boundaries of agency, his ideas soon formed into contextual poems. Perez then began collaborating with his brother to create soundscapes to further influence the viewer's experience.

Starting each work with a poem that captivates the human experience, Perez matches the essence of the poem with that of a person in his life. By creating the poem first, he is focusing on substance of the story rather than the physical outcome. Perez makes it known, “I am really process oriented so I live a very, ‘process before aesthetic’ lifestyle.” For Perez, it feels more authentic that way.

After completing the poem, Perez writes an abstract composition for what eventually becomes the soundscape, which he and his brother fine tune throughout the artistic process. He then begins creating the imagery for the portrait. First, Perez creates mass values by using graphite powder and sponge brushes on paper. He then brings out highlights and darken shadows using electric erasers and ebony pencils. The final outcome of his drawings remains true to his model, he places heavy emphasis on capturing their energy.

Tony "Pronzy" Perez, "Rebecca," 32 x 23.5 in. Graphite on paper

Tony "Pronzy" Perez, "Rebecca," 32 x 23.5 in. Graphite on paper

His artwork seeks to offer opportunities for the viewers to explore and converse on the complex relationships between the African, Indigenous, and European diasporas. Placing the viewer in an immersive artistic experience, Perez strives to create an environment that starts conversation about complexities within issues. His work acts as a catalyst for discussions around police brutality, rape culture, racism both internal and institutional, the importance of present parenthood and various forms of systemic oppression.

The people in Perez’s life play a major role in his motivations, influence, and his ability to work as an artist. Some of his favorite artistic inspirations come more in the form of movements rather than specific people, for this reason Hip-hop, Jazz, and Blues are key informers to his work. When asked to pick his top five individual artists to credit with inspiration, he cites Kanye West for vision innovation and craft, Kendrick Lamar for lyrical potency, Stephen Hamilton for cultural and social reflection, his brother Joshua Jackson (AKA Leo the Kind) for his collaborative nature and willingness for self-exploration and improvement, the fifth place he keeps reserved for future inspiration.

Tony Perez’s artwork, Rasheed, will be on view during The Salon Show through January 28, 2018.

Artist Spotlight: Holly Harrison

This February, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery looks forward to presenting a solo show by Holly Harrison, The Language of Lines. Harrison will present a collection of mixed-media pieces that focus on the interplay between the organic shapes and fluidity of birds, and the geometry of repeated horizontal lines—painted, collaged and contained in imagery of human structures.

Murmuration
mixed media on wood panel
48 x 72 in. diptych

Harrison began working with bird imagery about seven years ago, inspired by the poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens. She began with a series of collages, each one dedicated to a different stanza of the poem. Since then, she continues to compose her collages with the essence of poetry in the rhythms and melody of her work.

A master’s degree in literature and creative writing, and many years spent as a professional writer, reveal themselves in the poetic sensibilities engrained in her Strata series, several of which will be included in the show. Comprised of multiple bands of imagery and collage, the layers work like stanzas of modern verse, with bits of meaning half-hidden underneath like symbolism and subtext. The words she uses to describe this work are reminiscent of how writers describe literature. “There’s a resonance that happens between each piece to create a whole experience,” she says. “I wanted to create a dialogue between all the different elements.”

Bird Watching
Mixed media on wood panel
40 x 30 in.

Over time, the highly banded Strata paintings began to open up as Harrison moved from juxtaposing imagery to build a narrative, to forming a single image or a pair of blended images. What remained constant was the horizon line, which she carries over from collage to painted elements. “When I moved into The Language of Lines series,” she says, “I became interested in transparency—the idea of what is underneath, what is hidden, and what you don’t see.”

Harrison's Concord studio

Harrison's Concord studio

Harrison’s pieces begin with a colorful underpainting, which she masks and unmasks with layers of paint. At completion, the underlying hues still peek through, muted by whites and grays as though coated in mist. Black-and-white photographic imagery blends seamlessly into the painted background, creating a discourse between the repeated geometry of the lines and the more organic shapes of birds, tree branches, and the curves and wires of utility poles. The birds always find their way in, sometimes at the very beginning, as she pulls colors and textures from their image, and sometimes after everything else has fallen into place.

Harrison often works on several canvases at once, creating a base that leaves the final product open to possibility. Choosing from hundreds of photographs she takes while chasing down flocks in pursuit of the right moment, she is particular about which birds ultimately make it into her artwork. “Sometimes a shot is too complete,” she says. “It can stand alone without alteration.” She searches through her photos for striking images that would be complemented by the lines and textures added by her collages.

Her finished pieces, like her process, show the way nature and order cohabit the spaces we navigate, just as birds flit in and out of human domain. “People build in the world, they change their environment to suit themselves, and nature just keeps adapting,” she explains. “Birds and human dwellings intersect where they share an environment. They are these wild creatures but they're so integrated into our lives.”

Harrison’s favorite materials include samples of drawings made by her daughter, old paintings on canvas paper by her husband, and strips of semi-transparent screen mesh. She weaves them together in the slow build up of layers that ultimately become a cohesive image.

The Language of Lines is a lyrical arrangement of the organic and the constructed, tied together by the lines of the horizon.

Family Tree
Mixed media on wood panel
48 x 24 in.

Holly Harrison's work will be exhibiting at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery from February 5 - 28, 2016. Check out her work on Artsy, and don't miss the opening during next month's SoWa First Friday, on February 5 from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m..

 

Wednesday, January 26, 2016: Puloma Ghosh

5 College Art Exhibits to Check Out This Semester

Boston is known for its abundance of higher education institutions. As the many local universities reopen in 2016, so do their galleries. Here are five current and upcoming college exhibitions to visit this winter:

1.     ConTexts at UMass Dartmouth’s University Art Gallery

            November 24, 2015 - February 14, 2016

Wendy Wahl: ConTexts
Photo Courtesy of UMass Dartmouth Art Gallery

The University Art Gallery at UMass Dartmouth is currently featuring ConTexts, a series of work by Wendy Wahl made entirely from repurposed encyclopedias. The pages are folded, rolled up, cut, and glued to form landscapes and creatures of shifting textures. Each piece transforms at every angle as the light plays through the thin paper. Catch Wahl’s work before the exhibit ends mid-February.

2. Free Air 4 You at Montserrat College of Art's Carol Schlosberg Gallery

        January 12 - February 7, 2016
        
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 21, 2016; 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Free Air 4 You
Remi Thornton
Digital C-Print, 2015
Image Courtesy of Montserrat College of Art

Opening late January at Carol Schlosberg Gallery, Free Air 4 You features the latest work of Massachusetts-based photographer Remi Thornton. Shot exclusively at night, Thornton’s photographs capture moments of poetic tension suspended in the glow of streetlights. Each image illuminates a small piece of the secrets hidden behind the cloak of night.

3.     Remnants at Boston University’s 808 Gallery

            January 29 - March 20, 2016
            Opening Reception: January 28, 2016; 6 p.m.

Image courtesy of Boston University

In late January, Boston University’s 808 Gallery will present work related to the French installation of South African artist Paul Emmanuel’s evocative series, Lost Men. Lost Men France was a public installation of five large silk banners depicting the artist’s body with the names of French, German, South African, and Allied servicemen imprinted on them. The banners flew in Somme for a summer, and the images of their wear, as well as the drawings, prints, and videos that appear alongside them, explore concepts of loss, remembrance, and male identity.

                                                            

4.     Rosalyn Drexler: Who Does She Think She Is? at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum           

          February 12 – June 5, 2016

The Defenders
Rosalyn Drexler, 1963
Image Courtesy or Rosalyn Drexler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York & Garth Greenan Gallery, New York, NY
Image Source Courtesy of The Rose Art Museum

The Rose Art Museum presents a retrospective exhibit of Rosalyn Drexler, iconic Pop artist and writer. Drexler has been a prominent figure in the New York art scene for many decades, and her work ranges from collages and large format paintings, to novels and screenplays. Every piece contains commentary of the social climate of the time, touching on weighty issues such as race, gender, and abuse. Opening Valentine’s Day weekend, Who Does She Think She Is? features multidisciplinary pieces that showcase Drexler’s career as an accomplished artist and cultural critic.

5.     I Must First Apologize… at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center

            February 19, 2016 - April 17, 2016
           Opening Reception: February 18, 2016; 6 p.m.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige,
The Rumor of the World, 2014
Video installation, 23 screens, 100 loudspeakers, 38 HD films variable lengths
Photo courtesy of Villa Arson, Nice, France
Image Courtesy of MIT List Visual Arts Center

Opening this weekend, I Must First Apologize is an installation in the Hayden and Reference Galleries of MIT’s List Visual Arts Center by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige that examine the history of online spam and scamming. The Beirut and Paris based artists have been collecting materials for this project since 1999, and this exhibition creates a visual narrative that explores the psychological techniques and complex relationships engrained within this cultural phenomenon.

Artist Spotlight: Keenan Derby

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is open!

Keenan Derby photographed with his work.

Today we are highlighting Atlanta native, Keenan Derby, one of the three emerging artists currently on view. Derby received his BFA in 2009 at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  He went on to get his MFA from Boston University College of Fine Arts, where we first discovered his work. He specializes in painting with acrylic, sand, and oil, made on both large and small scale. According to an interview with BU Today, Derby described his paintings as “…moments that hold a specific emotional filter processed through my own interior world.”

Keenan creates highly textured pieces that invite contemplation and thought. His larger works take up to four months to complete, he uses a variety of techniques to apply the mixed-media to the surface. The under layers are often bright and vibrant, but are masked by later layers that only allow small amounts of the original color to show through. Each viewer interprets Keenan's work differently, inviting a broad audience to decipher and translate the paintings from their own point of view. 

Derby currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he continues to paint. 

Zoomed in views from left to right: Perturbed Orbit (2015), Atmospheric River (2014), Magnetic Meridian II (2015) 

 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015: Lacy Tell