Good PR

The first gallery that ever represented me back in 1998 was called Cruz L.A. It was a lovely space in Venice, California and I had my first real solo exhibition with them. And in the process, I became good friends with James Ferrera, partner in the gallery as well as their PR writer. All these years later, I have collaborated with that dear friend to come up with a press release for my upcoming show at Galleri Urbane:

Exhibition Dates: May 13 – June 17, 2017

Opening Reception: May 13, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, artist talk at 4:30 PM
Gallery 2

Marion Wesson

Cluster Fail

This May, Galleri Urbane will host esteemed multimedia artist Marion Wesson for her first solo exhibition with the gallery. Cluster Fail debuts in response to Wesson’s deeply personal experience over 2016. Navigating stages of collusion, panic, rationalization, isolation and retaliation, her new work transcribes a miasma of feeling into a piercing visual narrative of collapse and sustenance.

Wesson’s Cluster series involves work created in the aftermath of a tumultuous relationship, during a time of difficult but positive change. Each piece tells a unique story of abuse and self-awareness. “I came to the conclusion that the paintings had to work in concert with the sculpture,” Wesson says, “and that a cohesive collection that told a story was paramount.” Her Cluster work urges conversation through a simple diorama of chairs, chosen by the subject, meant to represent both support and dialogue.  They are upholstered in fabric designed by Wesson that incorporates mundane objects as powerful symbols of oppression.  Each conversation area is intricately tied to a Cluster series painting that hangs above, imploring the viewer to participate rather than just observe. The artist will host an artist talk to begin the conversation as a prelude to the reception.

Marion Wesson received her BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design.  Her work has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Spain, where she was Artist in Residence at Sporting Club Russafa in Valencia.  She was awarded the prestigious James D. Phelan Award in Printmaking by the San Francisco Foundation.  Wesson’s work has been highlighted in Art Hound, Artweek, Buzz Weekly, L.A. Weekly and Venice Magazine and is included in the Fidelity, Tailwater and Twitter Corporate Collections.  Marion Wesson is a fifth generation Californian.  She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her two children.

Another requirement for presenting work in a gallery is crafting an artist statement. I combed through all my writings as I have laid them out over months of blog posts, thoughts, and ideas. The rich but sad content of the last almost two years of my life has been distilled into a short paragraph summing up this body of work:

My recent paintings are messages of my own pain rendered it in a composition most resembling the repetition and patterns of the fabrics I’m designing for the chair installation, Cluster Collapse. The Cluster Compendium paintings are deeply personal and frank renderings of all the times I had to submit to having to do things against my wishes, with or for my ex-husband. Each shape I paint I take back my identity and reclaim the helplessness and unhappiness I endured for many years. It was easier to keep the peace and give in to his demands than to fight against him. I was, after all, his wife and he made it a point to remind me of that when he wasn’t getting his way. It is not easy for me to admit any of this. I feel embarrassed and degraded. Forcing a dialogue about domestic violence, this body of work is about my failure to keep a healthy weight, my failure to protect my children from trauma, and the failure of the system to protect all three of us. But the power of my story and the stories from the women I’m collaborating with have guided my new work with a forceful purpose. It is a compendium or record of days and weeks and months and years of unhappiness. By exploring failures I hope to render my best efforts to keep it together and hold my life intact. But the explosion of events out of my control do not denote failure, they are and were the reality. I must wake up and endure. It is the truth among lies, the pain extracted from life, and my attempt to make beautiful the ugly ways of bullies.

The best part about preparing for this show is the friends who have rallied support behind me including noted photographer, Ted Thornton. Ted was the creative mind behind my studio portrait and photographed all the work for the exhibition. Here he is hard at work:

I have felt very alone for the last two years and having friends like James and Ted have helped guide me through the muck.

I guess it is fitting that my show opens the very month two years ago that I summoned the courage to leave my husband. When my gallery offered me the show in the midst of my divorce, I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it together. But mostly, how was I supposed to pull myself together while in and out of court, simultaneously take care of my girls, work side jobs, and make work for the show? All this while trying not to go broke under the weight of the legal bills my ex has forced me to incur. I have spent the equivalent of a college fund for one of my daughters. Because of this I’ve had to explain to my girls that we may have to sell our house instead of move back in as they wish. I’ve had to talk up our great UC public college system as an alternative to a private university out of state I will not be able to afford. These enormous life decisions should not be on the shoulders of children. But I’ve had to explain to them, well, prepare them, for the realities of the future. I don’t want to instill worry and fear in my children but rather resilience and self-reliance. These lessons will carry them through to young adulthood. They know that I am with them, support them, and will always be there for them in every way.

This month’s music: José James


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