Ellsworth Gallery Events

Full Circle / Doug Coffin, from Far East to Southwest

July 12
Opening from 5-7PM

Doug Coffin (Potowatomi and Creek)
“For me, the spiritual in artwork is essential. Spiritual art – especially power objects from Native peoples – are my main inspiration. An authentic power object inspires and mystifies me. I don’t pretend to fully understand the power – I am only able to sense the power."

Ellsworth Gallery has taken the Eastern inspiration behind Doug Coffin's work as the impetus to present "Full Circle: Doug Coffin, from Far East to Southwest," an exhibition that integrates our previously divided areas of concentration. The exhibition title, "Full Circle," refers as much to the graphic forms present throughout Coffin’s work as it does to the sense of “coming full circle,” to reconsidering the relation between Western artists and Eastern aesthetics.

Western art has taken inspiration from the East, particularly since the opening of China and Japan to colonial interests and initiatives around the end of the 19th century. Doug Coffin’s inaugural exhibition with Ellsworth Gallery highlights this deep inspiration, and at times appropriation, that artists located in the West have in relation to Eastern sources — from Van Gogh’s composition and Symbolist sensibilities, to American abstraction and its relation to Zen philosophies.

Coffin’s work harnesses the power of symbols common to both Eastern and Western visual regimes. Suns, moons, and other cyclical features of indigenous systems of knowledge draw formal parallels with the essential elements of symbolism present in many suits of Samurai armor on display. The elegant and angular shapes in the maedate, or frontal decoration on many helmets, echo the curved and horned elements of Coffin’s sculptures. "Ceremonial Zen Sun (Eclipse)," a circular canvas by Coffin, mirrors the forms of rounded Samurai helmets known as jingasa. The rich red of Coffin’s "Abiquiu Zen #2" echoes that of the jinbaori. The red cloth displayed in the jinbaori, or “camp coats,” was originally imported by the Dutch and English, further emphasizing the exchange, material and cultural, between East and West.

We invite you to contemplate the many correspondences between different aesthetics and cultures, East and West, during the opening reception on Friday, July 12th.


Rez Dogs II

Opening  August 9

Join Ellsworth Gallery, 215 East Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM, for the opening of "Rez Dogs II" on Friday, August 9th. From the beginning of his 2018 artist’s residency with Ellsworth Gallery until now, Chaz John’s work has consistently toyed with the upending of established hierarchies – whether animal or material – to arrive at a place in which the rez dog reigns supreme, placed on a marble pedestal.

"Rez Dogs II" is Ellsworth’s second front-of-house exhibition for artist Chaz John – and, like any sequel, it presents a rich and dynamic development in plot and theme. In addition to shifts in tonality and technique, John has increased the wide array of traditional media and approaches he employs. John’s work co-opts tropes of Western culture, often seen as empty symbols of class consumption, repurposing them in order to honor the rez dog. From the chiaroscuro and dynamism of his palette to the addition of gilded Rococo frames and ceramic figurines, John’s inspirations from the Western canon range from Caravaggio and through the Baroque, to the interior decoration of the landed gentry of British aristocracy.

Chaz John’s work breaks through this mere play with hierarchy and form to raise bigger questions, such as that of hyper-domestication. The wild, free-roaming rex dogs have been adopted ‘in to the family’ to such a degree that they are ensconced in the most bucolic and genteel of settings. Yet the rez dogs in John’s largest canvases remain defiant, wild at heart. Neither wild nor pets, they are somewhere in-between. There is a push-and-pull of domestication at play that mirrors questions surrounding the dynamics of assimilation. John notes that many of the compositions have an oddly post-apocalyptic air to them -- there are no people present in his work. Have the rez dogs assimilated to, and perhaps surpassed, the human? What might the landscape of a "Rez Dogs III" look like?


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