On Feb. 8, the Thorne-Sagenendorph Art Gallery held an exhibit highlighting an array of new artists such as Jayson Musson, Daniel Heyman, Daniel Bejar, Jane Irish, Melanie Baker, and John Willis. There were also more new pieces by Mark Hogancamp, and some of the same pieces by Hogancamp and the late Andy Warhol. Each piece of art is demonstrating how creativity flows and is shown in the artist’s minds. The exhibit also featured a hate crime survivor Mark Hogancamp, who reenacts war stories as a way to deal with his psychological trauma and tells them through dolls and photography, and artist Daniel Heyman, who carved his art into small wood tiles then painted them.
Brian Wallace, the art director of the Thorne, explained how the artists were found for the show “Two artists have been known to me for 10-12 years (Bejar and Heyman); a couple of the newer ones had (along with the two Daniels) produced artwork that helped inspire the theme of the show (Musson and Willis); the remaining two were (among a bunch) brought to my attention by colleagues with whom I’d debated the theme (Irish and Baker). If by new you mean young, I’ve known Bejar for over ten years (he’s the first guy I ever saw with an iPhone as a matter of fact – at his MFA show opening party in 2007) but he’s still pretty young. Musson’s also pretty young: his “Hennessey Youngman” YouTube videos hit about five years ago when he was still very young.”
When first walking into the art gallery, one of the first things that caught many viewer’s eyes was Jayson Musson’s piece called “World 1-1,” which uses mercerized cotton stretched over cotton, combining a mix of vibrant colored cotton pieces. Junior Maddie Clement, who was working at the event, claimed that this piece was her favorite of the night.
Towards the other side of the room was the formerly mentioned wood carving piece by Daniel Heyman named “Winter: Artist Engages.” Photographer John Willis said this piece was polarizing and eye-catching, “Dan Heyman’s [piece, ‘Winter: Artist Engages’ specifically] the middle, of the two figures where there are all these different extra body parts. There are so much detail and expressiveness, but I don’t know. I just find it very interesting.” Willis added, “[…Picking] a favorite is a hard one, there are different works I like for different reasons. I think […] I like these collage pieces [‘World 1-1’ and ‘777’] that are abstract paintings of fabric. I like them as formal stuff, but it really gets interesting to read [Jayson Musson’s] inspiration, how it’s a response to Bill Cosby’s character being Dr. Huxtable, this ‘all American father figure’ sorta deconstructing it, because he wasn’t the figure we always thought he was.”
Straight down the middle of the room was a painting done in charcoal and pastels of the back of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Neil Gorsuch. This was done by Melanie Baker and titled, “Untitled (can I be him) a.k.a. Neil Gorsuch.”
Willis took and collected photos of controversial or pivotal moments in people’s lives; capturing them standing up for themselves, and fighting back, and only named the photos after the event where they conspired, with names such as “Leading Women’s Daily Morning Water Prayer Ceremony” and “Watching Turtle Island Standoff, Thanksgiving.”
Clement described another piece that catches attention as visitors enter the gallery, “The posters, the ‘These are not ordinary times, The time is now,’ and ‘Give the presidency to the people.’” Those posters hang from the ceiling to be showcased to the room, slowly grabbing each person’s attention one by one with each of the messages. This was created by Daniel Bejar who actually provided courtesy prints (take home posters) for the public.
Willis said, “It’s amazing to me to watch what other people create, what comes out of people’s mind or their willingness to just work[…] Each one takes a lot of attention and detail. People have this practice where they just go inward into their studio and just go at something and just keep working at it and working at it.” Willis went on to say, “You say I’m an artist, but for most of the time I’ve done photography, which is a lot of years[…] if somebody asked, I’d say I’m a photographer, not an artist, because when I was learning there were so many people that thought photography wasn’t an art form cause it’s too mechanical. So I call myself a photographer, so then I wouldn’t have to worry about it.” Willis described how politics and art intertwine, “I don’t think every artist has to be politically driven, but to me, it’s a language. I do think all art is political in some way because even if you have the choice to do nothing but abstract and minimalist art that’s not about social-political stuff, that’s a political statement. It’s like deciding I’m not gonna vote because ‘I don’t wanna get involved with politics,’ that’s a political move. You’re affecting elections by choosing not to vote.”
Joseph Guzman can be contacted at