It’s a common perception that the creation and exhibition of art is a solitary endeavor. An individual, with their materials of their chosen medium, works to create and fulfill their personal vision.
Yet there are times that groups of artists with similar styles and aesthetic will band together. Art history shows that the Surrealists and the Dadaists assembled in such groups to challenge and inspire one another.
Another type of group, an artist collective, is a group of artists working together, usually under their own management, toward shared aims with shared resources, such as a workspace or gallery.
In this spirit, local artists Sean Arce and Ted Walke began working in tandem to celebrate their appreciation of the contemporary art styles of Pop Surrealism and Lowbrow Art.
Pop Surrealism is a populist art movement with cultural roots in comics, tattoo art, graffiti and cartoons. Lowbrow Art has a sense of humor; sometimes gleeful and impish and often containing sarcastic commentary.
Together the duo have co-founded the “Nothing Pretty Art” collective, with the common goal of bringing the fresh and vibrant style to art venues and provide the viewer with a look into an imaginative state of mind.
The first exhibitions of “Nothing Pretty Art” opened in local galleries in September. Arce and Walke shared exhibition spaces, with their own interpretation of the style. Their original drawings and paintings complemented by additional products, such as prints, story books, stickers and even coloring books for sale.
It is that incorporation of commerce that “Nothing Pretty Art” wishes to include in its presentations; making Nothing Pretty Art accessible and affordable to any viewer. To them, such strategic merchandising is not exploitative but inclusive of all types of collectors.
Currently on display at 3rd Street Studio-Fine Arts Gallery in Harrisburg, Arce and Walke share the walls for “Nothing Pretty Art,” each demonstrating their own versions of Pop Surrealism/Lowbrow Art.
Arce’s works focus upon portraits of his “characters,” both in vibrant color and black and white. And despite being merely figments of Arce’s vivid imagination, they portray the spectrum of human emotion; from joy to fear, and even sorrow.
Walke’s approach is more of a storyteller, using his group of a few characters in multiple pieces to illustrate the story, “Love is the Bomb.” A tale of the cycle of love, hate, reconciliation and rebirth is told through 10 panels exploding with imaginative scenes all tied together within a similar color palette of reds and blues.
Now that the first “Nothing Pretty Art” shows have been presented to the public, Arce and Walke have begun to gather like-minded artists to join them in their mission to celebrate and expand the Pop Surrealism/Lowbrow Art movement in the Midstate, and beyond. The co-founders have sought out artists within whom they see, according to Arce, a “hunger and similar sense of ambition.”
That is not to say the style of new members mirror that of the co-founders. Instead, Walke seeks “diversity within the realm” and encourages each member to retain and refine their own artistic identity. It will be this mixture of artists that Arce and Walke have identified that will attain a creative balance.
Future exhibitions will include new members Tina Berrier, Tristan Bond, Aron Kylene Rook and Rance Shepstone. Walke explains that, the members will be encouraged to “promote their own brand under the umbrella of Nothing Pretty.”
Another unique aspect of the “Nothing Pretty Art” collective is that the exhibitions are not themed. Unlike many group exhibits that respond or unify around a theme, it is the artistic style that will be the underlying theme to the shows.
Nor will the shows be the same from gallery to gallery. “Nothing Pretty Art” is not a travelling exhibit, but instead new art by the artists will be shown at each show. It is the hope of Arce and Walke that the unique nature of their shows, as well as the synergy of the group, will propel “Nothing Pretty Art” and that the artists themselves will challenge and push each other to evolve artistically.
The group of artists that make up “Nothing Pretty Art” are in effect creating an art brand that is new and unique to the area. Sharing their talents and devotion to an emerging artistic style that is underrepresented in the local art community is an exciting and potentially ground-breaking endeavor. “Nothing Pretty Art” is sure to be a brand to look for to find an unforgettable experience at each outing.
“Nothing Pretty Art” is currently on display at 3rd Street Studio-Fine Arts Gallery until Dec. 2. The closing reception will be held Friday, Nov. 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. as part of Harrisburg’s Third in the Burg gallery walk. The gallery is located at 1725 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg.
Subsequent exhibitions of “Nothing Pretty Art” will be hosted by Gallery@Second, in Harrisburg from Jan. 18 to Feb. 10, 2018 and Brain Vessel Gallery, in Mechanicsburg from Feb. 16 to March 30, 2018.
For more information about “Nothing Pretty Art,” visit Facebook.com/NothingPrettyArt or on Instagram @nothing.pretty