Eridanus Supervoid

This was my piece that was included in the Terra Incognita exhibition at Curious Matter.

Eridanus Supervoid:
8 3/4 “w x 6” h x 3 1/4” d
paper, rubber, glass, steel wire, archival mat board , acrylic paint, wood

Eridanus Supervoid

During the 2nd century AD, Ptolemy rearranged the skies. He plotted and named many new constellations from stars that were ignored or unseen by the ancients. One such constellation that Ptolemy observed and named was Eridanus.
Eridanus is a meandering line of stars beginning at Orion and winding past Cetus in the southern hemisphere. It is best seen in the winter. Its name transliterates from the Greek as “early burnt,” or “early river.” It is most associated with the myth of Phaeton (the Shining One), the son of Helios. The boy had pleaded with his father to allow him to drive the chariot of the sun. With trepidation Helios relented and the father’s fears proved true. Phaeton was unable to control the solar horses. The team veered wildly from their arced course; sometimes so close to the Earth that it became scorched, sometimes so far away that the land froze. To save mankind from destruction, Zeus hurled a bolt of lightening at the hapless boy and shot Phaeton from the sky. The body of the youth landed in the Eridanus River. There have been many attempts to determine which river is meant by the Eridanus, with the Po in northern Italy as a main contender. However, Eridanus is a river of myth and its location resides in the stories of our past. 
In 2007, modern astronomers began mapping the cosmic microwave background radiation, which is residual energy remaining from the Big Bang. In the direction of the Eridanus constellation was found a huge area, of 50 million to one billion light years across that was significantly cooler than the surrounding area. Immediately, theories abounded about what could be causing this anomaly. One particular theory that had the scientific community excited was that it represented a place where our universe was in contact (or had been in contact) with another parallel universe. Further investigation and research has led astronomers to believe that instead of being an exotic place of two universes touching, the cold spot in question was a massive supervoid in space. That is, a place in the distribution of intergalactic material where there is no matter – not even dark matter. 
On Earth we cannot point to the river that caught the doomed Phaeton. Yet, an immense hole in the fabric of space lies where it is told that Phaeton was knocked out of the sky by the might of Zeus. The Phaeton myth can be interpreted as an ancient explanation for a meteor that exploded before impact with the ground, but an actual hole in space brings new meaning to the story. There are many voids in the universe, each attributable to the uneven distribution of the stars in the universe as determined by the laws of physics. But, once in a while natural forces will interact with supernatural forces to form a new reality. Perhaps this void is a remnant not of a place not yet filled with star matter, but a place where the hands of the gods show their power.


Terra Incognita exhibition

I am exhibiting in this show.

Terra Incognita

MAY 18 – JUNE 22, 2014

TRAVELING TODAY is easy. We plan and we tour. We insist that our destination be picturesque, somewhat exotic, yet still offer familiar food and comforting amenities. We shake our fists in frustration at globalization while expecting it when we travel. We delight in finding the familiar comforts of home in far-flung ports –– as if we’re all just a Coke bottle away from global harmony.Travel in the past was arduous, dangerous, and mainly for the daring or desperate. Stories abounded of distant lands with strange animals and mysterious people. These fantastic stories were corroborated by bestiaries and literature going back to Alexander the Great, inspiring adventurers to hie out and find the truth. What was beyond the horizon to the west, and Cape de Não to the south? It was thought the edge of the Earth lay to the west, and monsters ready to devour the foolish lurked in the southern waters. Those who tried to see for themselves never came back. Still, commerce and curiosity proved too beguiling. The Age of Discovery was born when Columbus braved the western route to find China and the Spice Islands. Instead, it wasn’t an edge to fall off, but the Caribbean Islands and a New World which lay in the way.
The phrase terra incognita was first used by Ptolemy in C. 150 AD in hisGeography to indicate what may exist beyond the known territory. It found popular use with cartographers during the proceeding centuries to indicate, as Ptolemy did, land that was imagined to be in that particular place in the world. To Curious Matter, the notion of exploring uncharted territory of whatever topography seems the very essence of what artists do. Artists often grapple to visually articulate something unseen, unknown, murky or subconscious. Odilon Redon described his exploration of the interior landscape as an attempt to “place the visible at the service of the invisible”. The working of the brain and psyche continues to offer fertile ground for exploration into the unknown. Laurie Anderson, during her NASA artist-in-residency, was inspired by our ongoing fascination with space and its mysteries. She also recognized the link between research and beauty. Contemporary artists are making discoveries and documenting terrain in areas closer to home as well. Matthew Jensen, for example, through site-specific walking projects reveals unknown aspects of the landscape sometimes without leaving Manhattan.

Curious Matter presents the exhibition Terra Incognita, as an exploration of how artists traverse the unknown territory of their ideas; whether that be a physical place, a psychic state or the physical application of media.
Robin Sherin (Building Silhouette #2 and Building Silhouette/Horizontal #10), Lance Morris (Local Positioning System: Los Angeles Roundabout), and Emmy Mikelson (Threshold Composition B.), are all exploring the physical space of the world. Sherin and Morris find a sense of wonder in their well-used urban surroundings. They take their cues from street signs and architectural landmarks and search for adventure in the mundane. Mikelson, filtering her vision through Piranesi, reimagines her neighborhood by turning it back upon itself and 
plotting out that terrain.
Christopher Gideon (Eye) and Robert Gould (Ring of Rust) are time travelers. Gideon revisits his childhood obsession with baseball cards and reinvents them into graceful geometric collages. Gould, incorporating the very soil of an historic site, imbues his work with the essence and energy of the place he is depicting.
Ben Pranger (Countless Rings) finds visual inspiration from what can’t be discerned with the eye. His textual wood sculptures incorporate Braille, spelling out a text for those who have the understanding. Countless Rings conveys a text of Emerson, but the simple form and lush texture invites touching even for those who can’t interpret the projecting dowels.Peter Matthews (A Volume of Ocean Knowledge) infuses his work with the mystical by binding together books that share the subject matter of the ocean. He then soaks them in the sea, hoping that the wisdom the books contain will also absorb the knowledge of the elemental water.Lauren Orchowski (As Seen By A Free Falling Observer), Sarah Michalik (Complex Relations), and Claudine Metrick (Fire Flies) all take us on a voyage beyond this Earth. Both Orchowski and Metrick compose imagery that embraces the mystery and grandeur of the planets, the stars in outer space, and the forces of the universe. Michalik devises an entire swirling galaxy or perhaps a single atom with swirling electrons with her circling glass orbs. Atom or galaxy, the forces that hold the cosmos together seem to converge at the very spot of her work.
Each of us is on our own journey, and often several at once. We follow a physical path, where our footsteps lead us from one place to another, experiencing the world through our senses. We also follow a psychic path, where we are led by our inner selves, sometime consciously, sometimes not, tethered to some invisible pull, always arriving where we need to be. Artists have a further journey, to follow their inspiration and drive to create. For them, this is the true terra incognita, and the most exhilarating voyage of discovery of all.
Essay by Arthur Bruso and Raymond E. Mingst

Arthur Bruso
Elaine Su-Hui Chew
Patricia Dahlman
Brian Edgerton
Johanna Evans-Colley
Christopher Gideon
Margot E. Glass
Robert Gould
Bo Kim
Joshua Liebowitz
Peter Matthews
Marianne McCarthy
Julie McHargue
Claudine Metrick
Sarah Michalik
Emmy Mikelson
Alexandra Momin
Lance Morris
Kirsten Nash
Lauren Orchowski
Gilda Pervin
Ben Pranger
Reparative History (The Dept. of)
Robin Sherin
Allison Spence
Amanda Thackray
Linda Tharp
James Wechsler


Angels & Minimalists

Brochure for Angels & Minimalists

The Angel of Albany, painted plaster, aprox. 20 X 40 inches.
The Angel of Albany, painted plaster, approx. 20 X 40 inches.

Angels & Minimalists

DECEMBER 23, 2013 – JANUARY 31, 2014
THE ANGEL OF ALBANY came to us unexpectedly. Angels are usually a surprise when they appear and this one was no different. We first saw him lying in the back of a red pickup truck. We noticed he held a shield depicting a crown of thorns and 2 spears. There are nine celestial orders of Angels and those who hold shields are of the second order. They draw from God’s power to work miracles on earth. Among their tasks, they help those who struggle with their faith. We don’t know if the Angel of Albany came to us with that particular purpose, but he has inspired this years holiday installation nonetheless.
The annual Curious Matter holiday installation incorporates Catholic traditions and icons. We do this not as an articulation of faith in church doctrine per se, but rather in celebration of the communal goodwill we all, regardless of faith, call upon during these long, cold nights of winter. For us, goodwill is irrevocably linked to the teaching, ritual, and aesthetic of the Catholic Church. While our adult opinions of the institutional church may have gained some critical aspect, the understanding and acceptance of the purity of intention learned in childhood remains.
Our past installations have included hand-stitched embroidery Sacred Hearts (Petite Voie), mass-produced lithographs from the 1800s depicting the Ten Commandments and scenes from the life of Christ (Our Father and the Tiny Guardian), also found objects engaged as symbols of the season (The Relic of 41st Street). All of these were small, intimately scaled devotions. What makes this year’s installation unique is how large it is.
The Angel of Albany is cast in plaster and stands nearly 4 feet tall. It was a gift to Curious Matter from co-founder Arthur Bruso’s family and delivered unannounced by his brother Michael. Like most of the religious castoffs we’ve collected its provenance is unknown. The Bruso’s had gotten it from a contractor who claimed no knowledge of its original home. We suspect it resided in a church in or around Albany, New York. Our current best guess is that it is a Gothic Revival, or Arts and Crafts piece (this would date it c. 1900) from a church whose congregation dwindled and departed; the house of worship deconsecrated, its ornament dismantled and disbursed. The angel was probably one among many in its original setting. (Arthur’s brother George has a matching one.) Still, hanging solo in our gallery, it exudes a particular grandeur.
We sometimes ponder why, with such a passion for the ornament found in churches and cathedrals, we don’t work within that tradition. That’s a fleeting thought. The appreciation of medieval art through to the Renaissance isn’t erased with the thrust of our own or any contemporary artwork. Traditional Christian iconography and the minimalist or post-minimalist vocabulary might seem visually disparate, but we don’t see them as lacking common ground. With that, we’re presenting the Angel of Albany alongside a work by Raymond E. Mingst. His is a charcoal on paper drawing that measures approximately 4 feet square, a simple mandala. The installation brings these works together as an opportunity to read them with an eye towards retaining spiritual possibilities as a valid interpretation of contemporary artwork.
Installation view: left, Untitled, (Mandala, remnant), 1999, by Raymond E. Mingst, 42 X 42 inches, right, The Angel of Albany, c. 1900, painted plaster, approx. 20 X 53 inches.
Installation view: left, Untitled, (Mandala, remnant), 2003, by Raymond E. Mingst, 42 X 42 inches, right, The Angel of Albany, c. 1900, painted plaster, approx. 20 X 53 inches.

Both the angel and the mandala are objects of contemplation and meditation. The angel is a messenger, a guardian; he brings us the word of the spirit and guides us towards the righteous path. The mandala is an opening to the voice of the spirit. The angel stands at the throne of the divine and guards the spirit from evil. He is the light that surrounds the holy and as such, a nimbus personified. The mandala may be used to generate a protective space. It is a symbol of positive, surrounding light. Both angel and mandala offer a visual pathway to the divine.
We return to Christian icons in part because the mythology is reassuringly identifiable while transformatively spiritual. Anne Truitt, Mark Rothko and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, to name just a few artists working with a minimalist vocabulary, produce contemplative artworks that also evoke spirituality. Whether we’re sitting in Rothko Chapel or considering the geometry of Piero della Francesca, there are aspects to these works beyond our ability to name. We use the term spiritual to signify that unknowable, unnameable quality which we find so transcendent.
In celebration of the holidays we offer the Angel of Albany and R. E. Mingst’s mandala as points of contemplation and symbols of the light of the season. Regardless of the vocabulary we call upon to articulate that which we find most significant and worthy, during this time of year, we invite you to join us and embrace the divine in all of it.
Warmest good wishes.
Essay written by Arthur Bruso and Raymond E. Mingst.


Additional Narrative Possibilities

My October 2013 solo exhibition at Curious Matter.

Additional Narrative Possibilities


Wet Floor

Wet Floor, 8 X 10 inches, silver gelatin print


ARTHUR BRUSO dodges narrative at one turn and embraces it the next. He begins this dance by using every photograph he has ever taken as the raw material for his work. For example, he may reprint an image he captured at the age of seven or seventeen and juxtapose it with something he photographed last week. He may do this in response to the visual structure of the images––an interest in how the diagonal bands of light captured in one image are a variation on the shadows in another. However, history, and specifically Bruso’s own history of looking and examining is a considerable aspect of the work. His photographic practice is built upon a perpetual state of review, reassessment, and reprinting. Perhaps constant looking is the task of every visual artist. In the case of Bruso, that accumulation of looking manifests not just in the refinement of his vision, but also in a rich layering––a photographic pentimento.
Fair Midway
Fair Midway, 8 X 10 inches, color photograph.
Bruso doesn’t share the documentarian’s interest in the story behind the events, people, and buildings he shoots. He favors explorations in tone, color, composition and texture. In spite of this, we’re still confronted with a curiosity about the who, what, where. The question of whether Bruso is attempting to use his imagery as purely “abstract” becomes complicated by his occasional use of narrative accompaniment. In his 8 part series, “Association Sublimation,” over one hundred photographic works are presented along with essays that are remembrances and meditations. The images of “Association Sublimation” are sometimes unidentifiable blurs and streaks of light, yet they evoke a portrait and a sense of the artist’s journey. He essentially presents a self-portrait of the artist as a young man.

Construction Wires
Construction Wires, 8 X 10 inches, silver gelatin print.
Additional Narrative Possibilities is comprised of 26 photographs. Among images of shattered glass, boarded doorways, chain link fencing, and light glinting off wet asphalt is a single portrait. The head of a woman is clearly visible against a snowy backdrop while her body disappears into a triangle of shadow. Is the collection of images meant to evoke a life story, a psychological portrait, or a formal examination of color, tone, texture and shape? Additional Narrative Possibilities is an invitation to look with shifting perspectives and intention in mind. What questions are we compelled to ask ourselves as we view the images? What questions are we being nudged to consider by the artist?
East River Pilings, 8 X 10 inches, silver gelatin print.
East River Pilings, 8 X 10 inches, silver gelatin print.
The urge to construct a story from Bruso’s images may simply be the result of a sort of tarot-like symbolism that is an undercurrent in his work. One of the first exhibitions of Bruso’s photographs that I had curated began with my selecting a group of 20 or so images from his huge archive. The theme of portals emerged. I was captivated by the many variations on the theme––a gate, the iron door of a crypt, the front entrance to an abandoned building. However, Bruso balked at the grouping––and rightly so. The collection was too constrained. We rethought the selections and varied the subject matter. The new collection revealed surprising relationships among the individual works. Ultimately, it made for a richer, more intriguing exhibition.

Glass On The Ground
Glass On The Ground, 8 X 10 inches, color photograph.
We can certainly respond to the formal qualities of Bruso’s work. Alongside that appreciation we can’t seem to leave behind an impulse to decipher and assign meaning. His visual language includes images that lend themselves to symbolic interpretation. Describing this exhibition, in fact, might sound like a psychic’s reading: we see a broken rock, we see a path, we see a woman on the path engulfed in shadow, and then we see a shaft of light. How far do we take our interpretations of the narrative possibilities? Like a psychic reading we might find some satisfaction, an easing of anxiety about a particular nagging question by shaping some sort of story. But questions persist. And so, we return for more information. The enigmatic photographic explorations of Arthur Bruso also inspire repeated visits, and endless interpretation.
––Raymond E. Mingst, curator


There’s a Moon in the Sky, It’s Called the Moon

Selene, Artemis, Hecate, 4" sphere, oil on wood: 

this was my contibution to There’s a Moon in the Sky, It’s Called the Moon!

There’s a Moon in the Sky, It’s Called the Moon!

Space 19 (bootprints in the lunarstuff 2), by Joey Parlett,  2010, ink on paper, 12 X 12 inches.
Space 19 (bootprints in the lunarstuff 2), by Joey Parlett, 2010, ink on paper, 12 X 12 inches.
Twin Peaks, by Joey Parlett, 2012, ink on paper, 12 X 12 inches.
Twin Peaks, by Joey Parlett, 2012, ink on paper, 12 X 12 inches.

CURIOUS MATTER is pleased to present “There’s a Moon in the Sky, It’s Called the Moon,” featuring works by Joey Parlett from his Space Drawing series. The exhibition also includes images and objects culled from the Curious Matter archives. To complement the exhibition, our friends at the Jersey City Free Public Library currently have on view in the New Jersey Room a volume from 1652,Cosmographie, a “chorographie and historie of the whole world” by Peter Heylin. According to the card catalogue, it includes a “particularly charming feature… an appendix…describing undiscovered areas as fairyland, the cities of the moon, the New Atlantis and Utopia.” Our exhibition offers a glimpse at how we depict and relate to the brightest object in the night sky. “There’s a Moon in the Sky, It’s Called the Moon” takes its title from The B-52s song. The show will be up for the rest of the summer.
The Moon is our closest and most obvious celestial neighbor. It’s brightness, and the fact that it seems to change shape has inspired myth and speculation throughout the centuries. As science usurped mythology, the Moon became the object of closer study–its movement examined, its phases explained. We began to imagine traveling there. Debate erupted whether there was life on the moon. In 1835, Richard Adams Locke created a sensation when he published that indeed, the Moon was inhabited by strange, flying creatures. Exposed as a hoax a few weeks later, the story inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” and later Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon”.
Joey Parlett takes inspiration from NASA radiophotographs of the Moon’s surface and astronaut’s photographs captured while standing on the surface. His reimaging of the joy of exploration and discovery perfectly matches the general elation of expanding horizons and travel many of us share during this time of summer vacations. For us, we’re remaining indoors. The sun has been too hot and too bright. You won’t see us at all, except at night. Evening is the only time we feel relief from a sort of heat-induced delirium. We’re not going to do anything either. Our sole activity will be to stare at the moon – it calms and relaxes us. Should you like to join us for a spell, please visit Sundays noon to 3pm. Or, drop a line and make an appointment to visit during the cooler evening hours.By the mid 20th century, science had determined that the Moon was little more than barren rock circling our planet. Still, space travel had captured the public imagination. By the 1950’s there were countless popular depictions in all media of what our future in space would be like. In 1969 we had finally set foot on the silver disc of Selene, yet the grandiose plans made by scientists and engineers of mid-century continue to be elusive.
Joey Parlett lives and works in Brooklyn. He was born and raised in north-eastern Ohio. His drawing work explores the synthesis of popular culture with art history and personal narratives.