Linebacker turned art curator Keith Rivers opens New York show –


Right now, as soon as the elevator doors open into the Flag Art Foundation’s ninth-floor space in the Chelsea Arts Tower, you’re confronted with what at first glance appears to be an unusual pairing: an abstraction hard-edged 2019 in green, blue, and orange by Carmen Herrera next to an undated wall sculpture by Sonia Gomes. In many ways, the two artists’ approach to creating art couldn’t be further apart, but when seen side-by-side, the affinities become clear.

This pairing is telling, and it’s one of many to note in an exhibit curated by former NFL player Keith Rivers, who is a collector himself. Titled “Courage Before Expectation,” the show kicked off last Friday. While the show doesn’t rely on the former linebacker’s own holdings, it does speak to his values, in life and in art.

“The title of the show, ‘Courage Before Expectation,’ is about taking a chance,” Rivers said in an interview with ARTnews at Flag. “It’s not necessarily about the accolades they’ve earned, but more about what they become in the process of doing this work that just has to come out of them: just go to work and let go. chips where they can. There is always an opportunity to change course and do what you are passionate about.

The show grew out of a series of conversations with Flag founder Glenn Fuhrman that began in 2020, when the Baer-Fax put the two in touch after an article about Rivers’ collection at Fuhrman’s request. However, a number of inspirational quotes Rivers said he keeps in mind were equally important, ranging from those told to him by coaches to mantras printed on the walls of athletic training centers. “I always have a saying or an -ism handy,” Rivers said, “so when I was thinking about the show, what I needed was a little motivation, and the stories of these artists, which I find inspiring, kept popping up in my mind.”

In terms of the art on display, Rivers is particularly linked to the materiality of the works, whether it is the intricately stitched textiles of Gomes, the intimate pastel hatchings of Etel Adnan’s works on paper or the smooth wood of a sculpture. . by Thaddeus Mosley. What ties the exhibit together, Rivers said, is the biographical nature of some of the artist’s lives: Gomes and Mosely who had previously had careers as a lawyer and postman, respectively, before engaging in art .

Rivers also contrasted the stories of artists like Herrera and Adnan, who gained recognition by the mainstream art world late in life, with how the press might frame the story of a “quarter backup fullback who rises from obscurity to become the starting quarterback for a major championship. ,” he said. This canned bow, he continued, is “microwaved” – it doesn’t describe the fact that these artists diligently honed their craft throughout their careers, not only in the later stages of their careers. He wanted “to celebrate those artists who have worked so hard to bring beautiful objects into the world and create intellectual conversations through their art that don’t exist”. these artists’ careers reflect his own arc, he said the people included on the show “embodied everything I believe in”.

The exhibition, which runs until June 4, also includes two works on paper by Philip Guston, one from 1963 done in abstraction and one from 1972 done in figurative mode. The latter features Guston’s controversial renderings of the Klan’s hooded characters. Rivers sees Guston’s shift to figuration from abstraction in the 1970s as an inspiring example for “when have you ever tried to attempt something you couldn’t do. He had already mastered abstraction and when he moved on to figuration, it felt like a betrayal.

Other works on display, such as those by Laura Owens and Kerry James Marshall, are on loan from their respective studios. Owens responded to the curatorial concept of the exhibition by sending a modestly sized Flashe on linen from 2014. It shows a boy and a dog on a rope next to text that reads “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and wait.” Marshall contributed three inkjet photographs – of an artist in his studio, of a woman showing the inside of her jacket, and of a man in front of a neon-lit motorcycle – in which the blue and black tones merge from 2002, 2018 and 2021, respectively.

Still other works are borrowed directly from the artists’ estates or come from Fuhrman’s private collection, earning him a place on ART news‘s Top 200 Collectors list every year since 2010. Among the works owned by Fuhrman are the Herrera and an On Kawara painting from his “Today Series”.

Rivers has been collecting since 2010; he began to engage more seriously in this practice from 2017 after watching a documentary on Albert C. Barnes, the collector who founded the Barnes Foundation. The works in the Flag exhibition are not from Rivers’ personal collection, although he collected other works by Gomes after a trip to the SP-Arte fair in 2018. Voracious reader of texts on contemporary art , Rivers only recently discovered the work. by Mosley, whose work he discovered while browsing a 2020 issue of Apartment magazine which also included an article on Adnan.

“The lovely thing about a group show like this is that none of these pieces will ever be seen together again, so for three months you have an epic 25-foot piece by Mark Bradford that has such a great conversation with two Gustons,” Jonathan said. Rider, artistic director of Flag. “We’ve never shown Carmen, Sonia or Thaddeus, so we get to know different artists through the process and see mutual affinities in their work.”

Rivers’ exhibition is accompanied by two other exhibitions at Flag. The former shares space with “Courage” and is a one-off release by Brooklyn-based painter Shara Hughes, launching the foundation’s new rotating “Spotlight” series, showcasing works fresh from artists’ studios that will change around every month. Upstairs is a solo exhibition by Cologne-based artist Peter Uka, marking his first solo exhibition in New York.

“Each exhibit is really its own universe,” Rider said. “Keith has a certain sensitivity when it comes to the art he loves. From this conversation of all these people who share similar biographical stories, they also share overlaps in their practices.

Rivers agreed, saying he sees the works as having a literal dialogue with each other. “I think these artists, at night when the lights are out and everyone’s gone, they talk to each other about their journey to artistic stardom.”


Comments are closed.