Tall Tales: Collaborative Projects by John Casey & Friends at Swarm Gallery

by admin on October 13, 2011

John Casey continues to explore his opaque narrative drawings and sculpture in his (somewhat) solo show, Tall Tales at Swarm Gallery in Jack London Square. Although Casey has collaborated in previous exhibitions, at Swarm Gallery Casey has expanded beyond his own visual language and integrated that of the viewer and his peers throughout the creative process. His show is comprised of two sub-projects, one for perhaps each sphere of his life: with friends and artist peers, and his personal with his wife, writer Mary Kalin-Casey.

“Call & Response” explores the tangled relationship with the written word and the image, how they can be both supportive of each other and significant in their independent attributes. Swarm Gallery writes of Casey’s work with Mary: “This … is the first time John’s work is narrated in a format other than in the viewer’s mind.” Casey and his wife, writer Mary Kalin-Casey took turns responding to each other’s work. In some cases, Casey drew an image suggested by the literary tale or poem spun by Mary, making Casey’s artwork both illustrative and investigative. Casey also began first, Mary’s passage or prose incited by Casey’s imaginative ambiguously representative drawings, effectively illustrations before the idea’s conception. So the collaboration is apparent, the “call” is displayed on the left and the “response” on the right.

Employing over 40 of John’s artist peers, “Hands and Pants” was perhaps a more light-hearted collaboration, but just as considerable in its success of execution. In this project, Casey drew hands, pants (jeans), or both by pen-and-ink on an 8”x10” piece of paper. Sent to an artist peer as an invitation to collaborate, the motifs were completed in the participating artist’s particular style. The “Hands & Pants” motif became a recognizable character moving throughout the different hands of all the artists, exacerbating not only Casey’s unique style, but also that of the artist manipulating the motif, illustrating how easily the image and its intent could be changed, and the narrative quickly modified.

“Tall Tales: Collaborative Projects by John Casey & Friends” on exhibit October 1 – November 6, 2011 at Swarm Gallery 560 Second Street Oakland, CA