It's nearly impossible for most artists not to like Jayson Musson. ARTTHOUGHTZ has rendered him into an honest and sincere artist/comedian of sorts with something funny and interesting to say. After walking through his show at Salon 94 Bowery, I decided to document just one painting, because I'm convinced that one painting is enough.
Musson states that Halycon Days is a reference for the nostalgia felt for the late 80's and early 90's. This sentimentality not only makes the show feel authentic, but enables an extra degree of believability to Musson's statements regarding the significance these Coogi sweaters have as symbols of (in his words) status, the golden age of hip-hop, and the evolving face of black culture.
If wearing a Coogi sweater facilitates its symbolic nature, what then can be revealed in removing it from the body and revealing it from the inside out? A change happens, one that moves from embodying symbolic meaning in a physical way towards examining meaning from a place of distance, the ever present distance of an art gallery. Salon 94's parenthesis likening Musson's sweaters to Warhol's Brillo Box is not needed (and feels like baiting) because it is apparent that the context of these sweaters has changed in a radical way.
An art context isolates Musson's concept; creating awareness surrounding the various historical and urban signifiers embedded within the nooks and crannies of the sweaters. There are as many nooks and crannies as there are compositional details to get lost within. Shapes and colors pull you around the "paintings" and push you into a dimension where fabric parallels a variety of painting strategies.
In the gallery, after about 10 minutes of looking, a man said in reference to the work, "It's beautiful." I agreed, but only because it immediately reminded me of Keat's, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." Whatever truth they are communicating is married with authenticity and concept: a recipe for my favorite kind of art.
I can't imagine this show will turn Musson into a painter by any means, but he's certainly utilized the conventions of painting to create works that have gotten my attention. What he'll end up doing with that attention is beyond me, but I certainly hope it is not a joke.