John Fleischer: ALLMOST
3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series
May 14 – July 31, 2011
John Fleischer’s research focuses on the convergence of notions of death, regeneration, the symbolic center, and the fluidity of meaning. Disciplines such as ikebana, Byzantine iconography, and the Japanese tea ceremony inform the structure of his practice, which, when paired with an appropriated elemental visual vocabulary, guides the development of works. The result is a formal position that reflects and embraces the layered, shifting, transient nature of phenomena and the balanced fragility of being. Ongoing investigations into drawing, painting, sculpture, sound, and video culminate in hybrid forms that are arranged (and rearranged) into larger, installation-like compositions. These compositions utilize the grid to establish a hierarchy of relationships between objects, gestures, and the processes that support their development. The temporary existence of each composition calls into question the “edges” of the work; context and meaning continuously shift as forms enter and exit the composition and are used/reused over time. A work generally unfolds as follows: a few objects develop along independent lines of investigation, based on their own set of rules and limits, and begin to represent key positions in a larger work; two or more objects are tentatively placed in a relationship; additional objects are developed to complicate or unify the composition, and to locate the hypothetical limits of the work. The final stages of the work develop as it is positioned within a specific space. Materials are chosen for qualities the artist thinks of as casual and modest. They range from the natural (wood, cotton, wool, walnut oil) to the artificial (plastic sheeting, tarpaper, motor oil), and together generate a kind of chordal dissonance. Strategies such as layering, bleeding, containment, and illumination highlight a primary focus on impermanence and regeneration. We, as human beings, tend to vacillate between images of what-we-are and images of what-we-hope-to-become. Instead of allowing this relationship to devolve into a dichotomy, Fleischer posits a third, empowered position - a mode of being in which effort and appreciation exist without hope of gain or preservation, where contradictions are not resolved, but occupy the same space simultaneously.
Fleischer has understood the Rochester Art Center Atrium Gallery as highly directional—that is, it facilitates the movement of people between spaces such as offices, restrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, etc. His examination of the concepts of impermanence and movement are uniquely tied to the attributes and original function of this space. Consequently, aspects of temporary or transitory positions (literal and metaphorical and/or architectural and personal) are explored more deeply. Literal movement as it is tied to the architecture of the building occurs in a number of ways. By placing colored vinyl circles in specific points—in the RAC freight elevator and in gallery/public spaces, Fleischer creates a physical line of connectivity at two points—on the third floor, and the first. This effectively turns the building into a participant in the exhibition, becoming something akin to a ready-made or a large kinetic sculpture. As pertaining to the personal or social, the weekly movement of a jar from one point to another after it is filled to its midpoint with green tea (made in the RAC conference room by the curator) and the replenishment of water in a silver bowl located in the elevator bay require the participation of others (RAC staff), and also serve to illustrate cyclical aspects that are of concern to the artist. In a similar fashion, the branch included in the exhibition is divided into segments using 12 braided lengths of rope, with the knots rotating a quarter turn as they progress downwards. Notions of lifecycles are taken up in the installation with the inclusion of a peeled and unpeeled orange, while the silver sculpture hints at ideas surrounding male and female—with this concept being repeated in the formal compositions executed in colored vinyl on the back of the restroom doors. These overlapping concepts, exploring the many facets of our physical and spiritual existence, provide a unique and thoughtful proposition to understanding our world in a new way.
Zen and the Art of Impermanence
A Discussion on Contemporary Art and Japanese Philosophy
Tuesday, July 26 |7 pm
Free admission, light refreshments provided
Join 3rd Floor Emerging Artist John Fleischer and Rochester author/philosopher Steve Bein for a unique discussion about the correlation between themes in Fleischer's current exhibition ALLMOST and Bein's latest publication Purifying Zen. Topics will include impermanence, the role of responsibility and social relationships. Audience members are invited to join in the conversation. Signed copies of Purifying Zen will be available for purchase at the event.
John Fleischer studied art and educational psychology at the University of Minnesota. Recent exhibitions include: A Theory of Values, The Soap Factory (Minneapolis, MN); Latent Pattern, Dog + Pony Projects (Buffalo, NY); Ghost Story, Art of This (Minneapolis, MN); Loved and Unloved, Rasmussen Gallery, Grand View University (Des Moines, IA); Nature's Way, Unit B Gallery (San Antonio, TX), and The Beijing International Short Film Festival (beijing, China). Earlier this year, he collaborated with artist Jennifer Danos on Location Volume IV, a limited edition publication from Location Books. John lives and works in Minneapolis, MN.
Rochester Art Center 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series
The Rochester Art Center continually strives to engage the community members of all ages in the creation, contemplation, and appreciation of the visual arts. As a non-collecting institution, the Art Center focuses its efforts on presenting temporary exhibitions throughout the year featuring established local, national, and international artists, as well as emerging artists from diverse backgrounds working in a variety of media.
In the fall of 2004, the Rochester Art Center initiated an ongoing exhibition series devoted to emerging artists working in Minnesota - the 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series. Founded on the principle of critical engagement with new practices in contemporary art, the Rochester Art Center has since presented 20 exhibitions, all reflecting the broad spectrum of concepts and working methodologies of young artists in the state. By fostering experimentation and utilizing the flexible conditions inherent in the Rochester Art Center’s Atrium Gallery, the exhibitions have provided unique opportunities for the artist, the institution and the viewer, allowing for innovative and expanded possibilities for the presentation, discussion, and understanding of contemporary art. The 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series has been instrumental in introducing the work of young artists to Minnesota audiences, and has helped to foster the early careers of underrepresented and under recognized artists.
The 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series is made possible through funding by The Jerome Foundation.