Ward solo Break The Mold in May-July 2012 at NYMEX

Photos from Ward solo (2012 May 22 - July 13) at the art gallery in the New York Mercantile Exchange. Over security worries, the national landmark site at the World Trade Center /World Financial Center complex restricted public access and requested there be no press coverage.

^ Various Ward panels hung in all directions.

^ Ward's Series 260 in a mash-up display with Series 200. In the background, center, is Series 170.

^ Ward's Series 320 hung as a horizontal block.

^ Ward's Series 330 hung in an angular cascade.

^ A monumental columnar sculpture by the famed Martin Puryear [ wiki ] outside visible through the window at the end of the corridor.

^ Final incarnation of twice-reworked panels first seen in the "Studio Visit" video.

^ First Ward art show where the venue had velvet ropes (also four escalators, two elevators, and two ATMs connecting to the exhibit space).

^ Five of the six Series 326 panels.

^ (Left) Portion of Series 336 hung at an angle; (Right) Series 230.

These are Painting Shoes #4, not the artist's "famous" pair.

Some visitors from before Security's public-access cutoff.

^ From set-up night, this Ward snapshot shows the general area. Still under construction and lit by temporary worklights, WTC1's top is lost in a low cloud.

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The art gallery will host a solo by mixed-media abstract painter Terry Ward until July 13, 2012. Ward's art is in the collections of two Nobel Peace Prize winners –Al Gore and Jimmy Carter– and in the estate collection of famed artist Cy Twombly. Two Ward panels are in ongoing display in the selective permanent art collection of the Carter Center.

The show title, “Break The Mold”, comes in part from Ward's disavowal of certain conventional notions about art –like the expectation that paintings should have any sort of a "top" or "bottom". Ward designs (and wires) the art to hang at any angle.

Most post-2007 Ward art is made in series-groups of same-sized panels. Usually there are four similar panels –sometimes just two, sometimes up to twelve. Ward considers each panel to be a unique piece capable of being hung and sold on its own. However, Ward also considers all such paintings "equal" to and interchangeable with each other –therefore the artist approves of mixing together panels from different groups to create new meanings. Whether influenced by the YouTube era of user-generated content or by the older "Relational Aesthetics" concept (in which visitor reactions and participation are part of the art experience), Ward usually embraces the potential for staff or –at some venues– even visitors to reposition or invert some of the art in mid-exhibit. The mixes and art "mash-ups" generate new possibilities, perhaps at the hands of people other than the artist. In theory, all Ward art could mix in a 500-foot super mash-up. The modular-mash-up mixable feature of Ward's art seems to be new to painting.

Ward seldom paints pictures of recognizable subjects. Rather, in the tradition of so much modern art, the pictures are mostly "about" the paint, shapes, colors, and the viewer's reactions to them. The artist gave some series groups optional descriptive nicknames (like Chemo or There Was A Thread), but overall the intent is for viewers to form their own responses.
Collage, objects, and fragments of realistic paintings might be stuck onto the surfaces. Ward sometimes also adds pieces of edgy non-realistic imagery by other contemporary artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija or Félix González-Torres.

The artist believes that big art (each Ward panel measures six-and-a-half feet by one foot) should also reward viewers who approach closely, so occasional tiny details appear: bits of toys, snips of text, or fingernail-sized illustrations cut from origami-folding instructions. Paint-application ranges from thin washes and inky stains to heavily-textured inch-thick crusts. Some panels have unusual marbleized areas formed by repeated cycles of adding dripwork and then standing the rigid panels up on-end at various angles. Spraypaint, stencilwork, and smoke marks obscure some sections.

Ward developed a new painting technique called ExPaint in 2011. The strange effect can give the appearance of having made dripwork with some sort of special multicolored, marbleized, collaged paint. First, a surface is painted/ collaged/ written-upon or otherwise marked –Layer One. Next, dripwork of thick and slow-drying paint is applied –Layer Two. Then, the whole is covered with fast-drying paint –Layer Three. When Layer Three is dry but Layer Two is not-yet dry, Layer Two (the dripwork) is removed. The result is a surface with Layer Three as the background and with –apparently– dripwork shapes in the foreground which have the colors and effects of Layer One. Viewers see not the Layer Two dripwork, but instead the "ghost" shapes of where it had been.

The artist blogs as GrumpyVisualArtist through GrumpyVisualArtist.BlogSpot.com

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More WARD ART here.

Exhibit views.

Unusual art processes.

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