Curated by Cameron Martin
December 8, 2005– January 28, 2006
Opening Reception: Thursday, December 8, 6-8pm
Mike Childs was born and grew-up in Toronto, Ontario. He received his undergraduate degree in studio art from the University of Guelph, Ontario in 1990. Upon graduation, Mike returned to Toronto where he maintained a studio and worked as a studio assistant to several local artists.
In 1992, he was accepted to the MFA program at Florida State University in Tallahassee. With that move, he established what has become a permanent residence in the United States. Following graduation, he received the Florence Study Award from FSU and spent five months painting and studying in Italy.
After returning from Italy, Mike moved to New York, where he has been living and working since. He has participated in several group shows both in New York and in Seattle, and most recently at the ALJIRA Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, NJ as well as Artek Contemporaries in New York City. In addition to showing, he has co-curated (with other artists) three shows, one of which was a site-specific installation in a Queens skyscraper entitled Six Windows. Awards include a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and the Lower Manhattan Arts Council Award. His current studio is in Long Island City.
Cameron Martin is an artist who was born in Seattle, Washington in 1970. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received his BA from Brown University in 1994 and graduated from the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1996. His paintings and drawings have been shown extensively in the United States and internationally and are included in many public and private collections. He was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award in 2000 and the Artists at Giverny Fellowship in 2001. His work has been shown in numerous museum exhibitions, including the 2004 Whitney Biennial. In the spring of 2006, he will have a one-person exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum. He is represented by Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York.
What I remember vividly, growing up in Toronto, were my many excursions into the heart of that small city during the economic and building boom of the 1970's. To me it seemed that the city was in this kind of perpetual motion of destroying and rebuilding-forever and simultaneously. Not so unlike the feeling of present day New York. Back then, buildings perhaps just twenty years old took on the aura of ruins, ready for the wrecking ball.
I was quite young when I began submerging myself in this urban activity. Often on my own, I felt some sort of comfort in moving, unnoticed, through this beautiful, complex, active and changing architectural heart of the city. Along with the stimulation, it was comfortable for me-similar to the kind of personal shelter one can find in a great piece of music or a great film.
My interest in these places fed directly into my drawing and painting. The act of making an image really defines, as do our contemporary cities, the notion of undetermined boundaries being drawn. Each new building suggests five others being built. Each limitation of scale seems immediately surpassed by some new innovation and each new idea requires the cleared space in which to work. While creating images, I have applied this visual logic.
My work in architecturally influenced abstraction has passed through many phases, yet I have remained constant in the dedication to the spirit of renewal. My continuing challenge has been in the contradiction of a simultaneously coherent and collapsing space. This is also what television feels like to me now, absent the spirit to which I refer. Painting, abstract painting in particular, continues to hold a small and very intense place in our vast cultural landscape and allows me to investigate and I hope share, those ideas which have held sway over my work for so long.
by Cameron Martin
I don't know anyone who moves as much or as easily as Michael Childs. I have been following Mike and his work on their peripatetic path around New York for ten years now, from DUMBO to Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, the Bronx, Long Island City, and recently upstate. This perpetual movement runs contrary to the consistency of Mike's practice. While each new studio has precipitated some nuanced change in his imagery, Mike's dedication to art-making is constant. Life for Mike is structured around the development of his work. In the puritanical tradition of Agnes Martin, clocking-in at the studio is not a possibility, it is a given.
His recent, carefully crafted, more abstract works are rooted not just in countless hours of painting and drawing, but also years of serious questioning, dialogue and evolution. For me, this process began with the first time I went to his drafty studio one freezing winter night. There I saw a room full of paintings of a lonely Ferris wheel resting dormant on a barren hill, pictures of profound sadness and longing. Since then, the empty modern buildings he has painted for years in ever-evolving styles, eventually settling on the hard-edge, have permutated into the quirky, architectonic quilts of this exhibition. Having often struggled with the role of abstraction in his work, these current pictures mark a period of simultaneous maturity, rigor, and letting go. They carry all of the pathos of those earlier works, but through inference rather than depiction. Having fine-tuned his unusual understanding of the relationship between color and mood, this exhibition contains the most sophisticated articulation to date of Mike's personal sensibility and particular view of the complex space of the urban world.