Opening Saturday, September 18, 2010
On September 18, 2010, HCG Gallery will open the N.R.G. exhibition featuring new works from artists Mark S Nelson, Richard Ross and Sergio Garcia. The concept of N.R.G. was born in New York City in 2008 at an Irish pub, amidst the endless flow of beer, laughter and three dudes from Dallas participating in the Affordable Art Fair. I had the pleasure of being invited to Mark Nelson’s studio this past Saturday to get a sneak peek at the upcoming N.R.G. new works, and chat with all three of the artists.
Nelson, Ross and Garcia are not what you typically find in today’s world of artists, where attitude is king and b.s. prevails. These guys are real. They possess a welcoming attitude and create a playful atmosphere around them.
First and foremost, these guys are friends and have a real admiration for each other. The fact that these three best friends have an opportunity to show their art together in an exclusive Dragon Street gallery is evidence of their combined awesomeness. In the world of art and friendship, you can’t get any cooler than that. This trio also participated in the Deep Ellum Mural Project together, and their work can be found on the walls across the street from the new Good Latimer DART Station.
I kicked off the visit talking with Mark Nelson. Mark began drawing in grade school. The first work he remembers taking beyond the sketchpad was an illustration for a skateboard. He began painting and showing art in Dallas in 2003. Mark’s detailed paintings are full of symbolism, lush landscapes, and offer your imagination a playground where it can get lost endlessly with vibrant color and provocative themes.
Mark’s current series for the NRG show examines the separation from the natural world. In one very large painting, the human body transforms into an inner body with the provocation of a bow saw to sever it. Philosophy books and stick figures give a nod to times of the past and realities of the present.
Another smaller painting is a sparse landscape with a lake in the middle, and a tiny bridge that may have you asking the question, “should I jump?” His work illustrates thoughts on self-perception, time, morality, spirituality and the complexities of human relationships. I want to take a leap and jump off Mark’s short bridge into the rich palette of his paintings, if only in theory.
Richard Ross and I chatted in the corner of the studio. Richard has been in the Dallas art scene since the 1990’s. We were standing in front of Richards’s new work, a linocut collage called, ‘The Argument’. This new work continues to delve into Richard’s elaborate world of, “The Road to the Store”. Richard’s work is what he calls, ‘the grand narrative’, illustrated from his perspective. On your road to the store, you will meet other people, have experiences, see sights and basically live your life.
The simple linear figures from his work represent us as a culture, often manic, served in multiples, and drawn very simply. At first glance, you are struck by the purity of Richard’s work and his almost childlike ability to simplify his complex ideas. It appears he is not pandering to anyone, and his art comes from a pure place many artists find hard to reach because of the business of art. His new richly colored linocut work for the upcoming NRG show will add to his grand narrative with symbolism and icons we all experience in life: arrows, cookie cutter houses, and Richards’s everyman stick figures.
To me, this is a real social commentary on how today we are blaming everyone but ourselves for our own saturated lives in our cookie cutter homes disconnected from each other. Richard is a breath of fresh air and is an excellent hugger.
I took it outside for a hand rolled smoke with Sergio Garcia. Sergio began his interest in art as a graffiti artist tagging under the radar of the law, claiming his own piece of the street. This was before graffiti was cool, when it was still underground and you found yourself running from the cops, which is pretty amazing. His ability to distinguish himself from other artists was learned back in the days when he was a graffiti street artist.
“Your main goal in tagging is to be as original as possible and not copy anyone’s style,” says Garcia.
It was a chance meeting with Frank Campagna of Kettle Art that brought Sergio into the fold of showing his art legally. He went from doing murals in Deep Ellum to paintings and then to working with large pieces and various materials. While working at a local motorcycle shop doing custom painting, Sergio began to think about the process of his work with tricycles. Through a process of trimming down his initial ideas, he was able to land on a very original yet simple sculptural method. Simple is complicated. I admire his ability to get to that simple beauty in a way that clears out the noise.
A question lingers in the air and has been with me since I learned that Elisa of the famed Ruby Revue burlesque troop was this man’s lovely lady, “Is it because you are a talented artist that you are were able to get such a smoking hot girlfriend like Elisa?”
Sergio laughs and says, “What ever it is, I am just glad it worked.”
In his artist statement, Sergio writes, “We, as humans, are naturally drawn to the unorthodox. I have always enjoyed the use of the unconventional as a base for my artwork.” You will find this and more at the NRG show from Sergio including his re-imagined tricycles and big lettered paintings with their street commentary on society today.
I featured one of those pieces in an article: article One Hundred and Ten Degrees Opens at TractorBeam Gallery.
Warner Brothers Television recently contacted Garcia about acquiring this piece for their show, Gossip Girl. They were on the hunt for a Warhol piece and came across Garcia’s edgy typography painting. Their search ended and you can find this piece being featured on upcoming episodes.
September kicks off the gallery season in Dallas and the choices are plentiful. However, you won’t find the magic of friendship born out of art like this very often. These three artists are not affected by the world of art, which is typically filled with agendas, egos, and competition. They are approachable, friendly, and easy to be around. This is only an aside to the individual talent each one of them possesses. The artwork stands on its own; the artists creating it are the frosting. And the frosting is delicious!
N.R.G. opening reception at the HCG Gallery is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 18, 2010. HCG Gallery is located at 1130 Dragon Street, Ste. 190, Dallas, Texas.