Jesse Edwards “Dialogue of the Streets” at Klughaus, new gallery in Chinatown.

A small, intimate painting entitled American Psycho captures a dramatic Edward Hopper angle, while a surprisingly tranquil Tompkins Square Park landscape is reminiscent of Impressionist belle epoque Paris.

poster for Jesse Edwards “Dialogue of the Streets”

Jesse Edwards “Dialogue of the Streets”

at Klughaus Gallery
in the Lower East Side area
This event has ended - (2012-01-13 - 2012-02-01)

In Reviews by Loren DiBlasi 2012-01-25 print

Each year, the streets of New York are flooded with fresh, young blood: kids from all over America seeking a slice of NYC cool. With his new solo exhibition at the Klughaus Gallery, “Dialogue of the Streets,” Seattle based Jesse Edwards finds himself a place among them. While you may not be able to call Edwards a ‘kid’ per se, the graffitist-turned-oil painter is injecting his own brand of west coast attitude into this city and making quite the impression.

Jesse Edwards’ background (which features a life of crime) is rather storied, and “Dialogue of the Streets” certainly reflects this: there are paintings of all sizes and subject matter as well as ceramic works, all of which recall different influences. A small, intimate painting entitled American Psycho captures a dramatic Edward Hopper angle, while a surprisingly tranquil Tompkins Square Park landscape is reminiscent of Impressionist belle epoque Paris. Despite this, most of the works tend to feature similar elements: there’s marijuana, more marijuana, and yes– even more marijuana. It may not all be completely cohesive, but it is all representative of Edwards’ young, cheeky, and energetic street-smart attitude.

However, not all subject matter is so light-hearted. At the center of the exhibition is a stirring ceramic work, 9/11 Television, in which a pale pink, retro-style TV set frames a black and white image of the burning Twin Towers. The perfect blend of sadness and kitsch, the work also perfectly highlights the differences between old and new youth culture. Where their parents rebelled against traditional gender roles and nine-to-five jobs with the simple vices of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, today’s young people are haunted by the uncertainty of the more politically minded post-9/11 America, a place teeming with fears of an unknown future.

Ironically, it’s not in the details where Edwards truly shines, but in the lack thereof. His many contemporary graffiti still lifes– which mix traditional elements with anything from guns and glass pipes to pints of Ben & Jerry’s– are pretty cool, but the counterculture theme is a tad repetitive. Edwards hits his stride with his larger scale works, including some very Chuck Close-like pixelated portraits and the whimsical Garden Gnomes Cultivating Marijuana. The latter takes conventional fairy-tale characters and gives them a tongue-in-cheek spin, reminding the viewer that magic comes in all different forms. When he ventures a bit past the expected accoutrements of his bad boy lifestyle, Edwards achieves a viewing experience that is meaningful yet still playful.

“Dialogue of the Streets” may not be perfect, but it sets the stage for an impressive and edgy conversation from a young artist with a lot to say. The exhibition is on view at the Klughaus Gallery until February 1.

Loren DiBlasi

Loren DiBlasi. Loren DiBlasi is a freelance writer/art and culture aficionado. Born in NYC, she is a recent graduate of Marymount Manhattan College as a double major in English and Art History. In addition to art of all shapes and sizes, she is also passionate about music, film, and fashion-- and writes about it all. She can be contacted at lorendiblasi@gmail.com. » See other writings

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