as slow, as new, as single

3 February - 16 March 2024

Opening Reception:
Saturday, February 3, 6-9pm

Curated by Todd Stong

FJORD is pleased to present as slow, as new, as single, a two person exhibition by Alfred Rosenbluth and Jon Weary, curated by co-director Todd Stong.

In a short story titled She Unnames Them, published in the New Yorker on January 21, 1985, Ursula K. Le Guin proposes an Eve committed to rendering the creatures of Earth nameless sometime after she and Adam have been evicted from the Garden.

In Le Guin's story, the animals have agency to make their own choice on the matter. Most hardly care. The yaks think "yak" sounds apt, actually, but decide that the word can go because they never really use it amongst themselves anyway. The cats refute ever having accepted a name to begin with, and go on much as they had been, but the dogs are troubled – until they realize they can keep their individual names, Rover or Frou Frou, maybe, if they want. The insects drop their nomenclature from great whirring clouds, the fish fall deep and quiet under inky currents. And suddenly, Eve's relations to all the animals, and their relations to each other, become new.

How does naming a thing set it in stone? A wasp stings meanly; though to her, she clears rot and defends her sisters. A bat frightens and screeches. What of singing and dancing? An apple grows to be picked and sold, not to spread its seeds. A snake bites; we forget it sunbathes, too.

Artists Alfred Rosenbluth and Jon Weary take issue with the shortcuts of naming, categorization, and order, and the simplified thought that these tendencies perpetuate. Each has formed their own strategies to guide viewers into new possibilities for the form and function of their chosen imagery. Seeking something absolute, something singular, and yet universal, they convert the familiar into the unnameable.

All at once angelic, reptile, aeriform, and earthen, Alfred Rosenbluth's enigmatic plaster reliefs suggest mythologies but evade precise referents. Living at the tip of the tongue, their familiarity invites close consideration, playing on tropes of ancient sculpture, pattern, and geometry to bring viewers into a process of meditation and rediscovery. Circular, cloud-like faces – beaked and eyes bulging – call on the votive traditions of early Mesopotamia. Objects that might stand in for a devotee, they appear as if attendant upon otherworldly beings, hoping to glimpse a god, or simply a truth, passing momentarily through our physical dimension. Amidst these wide-eyed figures, serpentine coils animate the sculptures with organic line and layered scales, intimating living, connective energy.

Directly working with clay molds, Rosenbluth uses various stamping tools and methods to press a spatial negative into clay which he fills with plaster to create the hanging sculptures. The results are richly textured and deeply singular, with varying thicknesses that imply a process of intense physicality. At the same time, the sculptures are built from a system of simple iterative mark-making meant to ablate the artist's hand through irreducible gestures. It is a practice that oscillates between fullness and emptiness, hinting at an experience that foregrounds a physical apprehending of the world in order to see beyond its surface.

Jon Weary's systematic and elaborately constructed paintings of bushel crates, apples, and radial geometry question human impositions of order on an experience of landscape and ecology. Carefully scaled drawings and methodically layered color produce muted grounds over which Weary amalgamates pattern and entropy.

The slight nudge of a boot might have pushed this crate slightly out of line; a tumbling apple becomes lodged haphazardly, taking more space than efficiency would call for. Studied tiling patterns divide into the fruits. Through these, more patterns of color cascade to form bright, chance geometries – a visual meditation on "inter-being", a term coined by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh to describe the deeper current of connection that runs through all living things.

Smaller works separate the human structures of counting – the bushel – from the irregular and  uncountable living fruit. A tablet-like painting of an empty crate aches to be folded away, cold without its contents. Small circular paintings reminiscent of hex signs might be apples spilled from their boxes; removed from their context, they are color and pure potential.

Together, these artists adopt familiar biblical and mythological tropes, then turn them on their head, asking viewers to take the same caution that Le Guin’s Eve heeds for herself in the last sentence of her story: My words now must be as slow, as new, as single, as tentative as the steps I took going down the path away from the house, between the dark-branched, tall dancers motionless against the winter shining.

About the Artists:

Alfred Rosenbluth (b. 1987, Wynnewood, PA) is an artist and writer based between Philadelphia and NYC. Inspired by various traditions of antiquity, Alfred attempts to activate sculpture as a votive technology capable of catalyzing an authentic transpersonal experience, realized through the process of reverse relief making. Alfred holds a BA with Honors in Slavic Studies from Connecticut College and an MFA in Figurative Sculpture from New York Academy of Art where he was a finalist for the 3rd year Chubb Fellowship, and an MA in Slavic Cultures. His work has been exhibited throughout the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas including at Sotheby’s, Field Projects, The School of Visual Art, The Store, and SPRING//BREAK NYC.

Jon Weary (b. 1987, Carlisle, PA) is an artist based in Philadelphia, PA. His representational images are sensitive to scale and proportion, and are injected with conceptual games and systematic applications of color to suggest new ways of thinking. He is particularly interested in how man made social constructs conflict with natural rhythms and harmonies that exist all around us. Weary attended Temple Rome in 2009 and graduated from the Tyler School of Art with a BFA in 2011. Most recently he has been included in a group exhibition at Tyler School of Art in Dona Nelson’s collection of work by Tyler graduates titled “I Really Like That”, a two person show at Ejecta Projects in Carlisle, PA titled “A Tune, Subtle and Vast”, a group show in Hudson House, Hudson, NY titled “Where the Echo Rebounds”, and a solo show at Pressure Club Press and Gallery in Philadelphia titled “Recompose”. His work is in many private collections of artists and patrons throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey and Delaware. Currently he is participating in an Honors Alumni Virtual Artist Residency through the Arquetopia Foundation based in Puebla City, Mexico.

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