Saturday, October 27, 2007


Jason Bryant: Fleshpot
November 16th – December 14th 2007
Opening Friday November 16th 6:30-10:00pm

“I won’t be happy till I’m as famous as God.”

Stop, drop and roll, baby, ‘cause you are on fire! Just for you, Like the Spice presents an exhibition of new works by Jason Bryant. Now you’ll have a chance to stare. Jason’s unique approach to popular culture and his lavishly detailed, pristinely finished canvasses and drawings make this show a must-see.

Mirrors are so shiny that you can’t see them; you can only see yourself reflected back. Jason Bryant’s paintings are a half-silvered mirror, reflecting and clandestinely observing consumer culture and it’s effects simultaneously. Vigorously cropped, these pieces narrow our focus to cultural and emotional markers. (Who are you wearing tonight? Don’t you just love it?) We’re never quite sure if the subject is a celebrity or just the kid down the block, but the smiles seem like they might be faked and the clothes look like costumes. Each persona is a mask made for public presentation. Sometimes fake smiles are a natural reaction to an uncomfortable situation. Sometimes they are simply the default mode.

Bryant’s paintings restage cultural performances like headshots and advertisements but reinvest their stars with a bit of privacy, a bit of agency. Ironically, by cropping out the eyes and other foci, the faces seem more truthfully expressive; they express the importance of the mask. Fake is the new real. What if you called a press conference but all you could do was smile? What if that made you indestructible?

Jason Bryant (b. 1976) grew up in rural North Carolina. Encouraged by his mentor, Paul Hartley of East Carolina University, Jason's fascination with drawing was replaced by a love for painting. After receiving his BFA, Jason moved to Baltimore, where his internship for the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Art and Culture introduced him to many of the contemporaries with which he works today.

His relationship with this community of artists was furthered when he was accepted to the Maryland Institute College of Art, and he received his MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art graduate program in 2004. He moved to Brooklyn in 2005 and began work as an assistant to artist Kehinde Wiley.

Jason’s work has broad appeal, and has appeared in multiple shows, from Nebraska, North Carolina and Maryland to New York, L.A. and London. In the past four years, Jason's paintings have been chosen for such publications as The Baltimore City Paper, Link Magazine, Direct art Magazine volumes 5 and 7, and New Art International. Jason believes his art attempts to reflect our world back at us, and tries to better illuminate people's understanding.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Perfect For Tiny Climbers

On October 21st Like The Spice held our monthly dinner! This time the theme was Asian Landscapes, featuring wonderful food and only slightly more wonderful art.

Our first speaker was bonsai expert Martin Haber (on the far left, slightly hidden by a bonsai). Unscheduled, but still just as important, was his wife, Ruth Haber (owner of the hand beside Martin). The pair spoke about bonsai with the sort of hilarious interaction you only find in two people with a deep love for both their subject and each other. Those tiny trees are in good hands.

Next was curator Eric LoPresti. Eric spoke on the role of curation and his decisions in making our current show, The Variegated Landscape, as well as his passion for landscapes themselves. It was a valuable insight into the "behind the scenes" of art.

Following Eric was Mary Mattingly, whose work "Advanced Forestry" is a arresting sculpture made from a variety of media, including sound, that represents the way nature and technology are coming to blows, specifically around the wild honeybee. As more bees vanish from the landscape each month, theories fly as to what is causing them to die. Mary forces us to confront one of the most popular, that it is our cell phone towers causing the damage to one of the most important parts of our food chain. It is a sobering issue and well worth the attention.

Finally Melissa Dubbin showed us a presentation about her art, from laser etching techniques to the use of video. She included a preview of her upcoming "Songs For Psychos" which left the whole dinner amused and excited.

We thank Zen Palate for catering the fantastic meal. It was a great night for every one of our guests, ranging from gallery owners to artists to bonsai fans, and we look forward to next month. You should join us then! Keep an eye on our home page for upcoming details.