Pensacola, Florida
Thursday October 17th 2019


The Company We Keep

By Shelby Smithey

With no restrictions to what one can show, or how it is shown, the exhibit “Bad Company” brings the possibility of thought-provoking art and proposes a temporary takeover of the First City Art Center (FCAC) space to voice concerns and boiling thoughts.

During a year like 2016, an art show of this caliber seems very fitting, and curator and FCAC resident artist Felipe Muñoz was excited for the opportunity to showcase it.

“To some, it may be seen as a collection of offensive, outrageous thoughts, and performances, to others it is a way of release and relief,” he said.

Muñoz said that the theme of “Bad Company” was chosen as a challenge.

“Fellow FCAC resident artist Karin Gudmundson came to me and asked me to propose a short show, with some outrageous and provocative outline, that would make a different statement about the gallery,” he said. “I agreed with it because I love challenges. So I thought about inviting guest artists to give their vision on what is provocative, intriguing and instigating.”

Muñoz said that none of the artists performing are connected with FCAC or the gallery so that the show would also bring a new look and new work to the walls of the gallery.

“Bad Company was a name that came to me since people tend to see everyone that is different from the normal as bad company or bad influence,” he said. “This show is a way of showing that art can be pushy, and that’s a good thing.”

The exhibition will feature underground artists, scholars, students, and the opening reception will feature spoken word performances and a punk show with local band, Dick From Mars.

Sculptor Valerie George is submitting a multimedia installation titled “I Wish.” George is the Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of West Florida and Art Editor of Panhandler Magazine: A Journal of Art and Literature.

“I Wish” is comprised of several fluorescent Buddha statues arranged on Plexiglas stands lit with ultraviolet light, and a video projection accompanied with sound. The sound is a remix of Miley Cyrus’s “Pablow” by Brooklyn-based collaborator Smhoak Mosheein.

“The work is a conceptual exploration of American commercial enterprise strategies and its willingness to seductively exploit anything in anyway, including commodification of ‘sacred’ images, ideas, and objects, particularly as it panders to popular youth culture,” George said. “Aesthetically and conceptually, the piece also contemplates the age-old postmodern artistic practice of appropriating found objects and manipulating them to derive new meanings.  While artists have used this approach for over 100 years, some audiences still question the authenticity of such work, deeming there to be more value in handmade objects, drawings, and paintings.”

George said that the call to artists for “Bad Company” asked for work inspired by difficult topics that weigh on the minds of participating artists.

“I understood that the curator was interested in providing a free and safe space for artists to challenge themselves in the creation of potentially volatile subject matter,” George said. “It is an opportunity for both a conversation with our community and an avenue for personal release.”

George said that she often makes work surrounding topics regarding our culture and how it is created, perpetuated, and disseminated.

“I made ‘I Wish’ in 2015, and it has been exhibited only once,” she said. “This felt like a fitting occasion to share it again, and given the context of the show, hopefully, it will be experienced through the critical lens necessary to get beyond the seductive aesthetics of the work, to the understanding of the subject matter which lies quietly beneath.

Artist Deyane Moses is submitting two series of images. The first is a diptych called: “Black Stigmata” and the other is a triptych called: “Vin Diagram”. The diptych shows a bloody black power fist being penetrated by an afro pic parallel and a black man behind a fence. The triptych is a series of three pictures depicting the versatility of a black woman.

“The topic of racism in America towards blacks by law enforcement is a hot button for some and an uncomfortable subject for others,” Moses said. “Either way, it needs to be discussed intelligently and respectfully. The Black Lives Matter movement is one most people do not truly understand. No one ever uttered ‘Blue Lives Matter’ or ‘All Lives Matter’ until now. Why? Because they want to dismiss the movement and hide behind the lie that America is colorblind. For some that may be true, but not all have had that luxury.”

“As a group, black women in America face significant challenges–from being portrayed as mad weave wearing broke hoes to unmarriable baby-making machines,” she said. “In ‘Vin Diagram’ the black woman makes a comeback portraying all facets of sexuality—masculine, feminine, and unisexual. We are beyond typecasts.”

Moses said that she often deals with African American issues in her art, but that she always keeps the theme of a show in mind when brainstorming.

“It keeps me limited honestly, but it also challenges me,” she said. “It’s not often you get invited to participate in a show to talk about issues or subject matter that is important to you without restrictions.”

Moses, a U.S. Army veteran, will graduate in December from Pensacola State College with an A.S. in Photographic Technologies. She hopes to continue her education at MICA in Baltimore next year.

“People may not like what I have to say or my work, but it’s too late they’ve already seen it and they’ll never forget it,” she said.

Moses said that she spent many years of her life staying silent and worrying about what others thought of her and her ideas all the while accepting others.

“I may not have liked or believed in whatever they had to say, but I will always respect someone else’s opinion,” she said. “Because of art and shows like ‘Bad Company,’ I have a platform to bring awareness to Black issues and express myself.”

WHEN: Opening reception 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19; On view through Aug. 28
WHERE: First City Art Center, 1060 N. Guillemard St.
COST: Free