KEITH ALLyN SPENCER thinks about being on the border a lot — the state of in between, being in limbo, and appreciating twilight. The works want to be commodifiable while not wanting to be commodifiable. They lean more towards being a problem than a product, wanting to be user friendly without being gallery ready. Their presentation shifts with each install, always in flux, balancing atop hardware ordained to crash to the floor. They hang front and center, from the ground up, and within the interstitial. At times, the objects take a back seat to their settings, to their titles, media descriptions and documentation — less self-important. Media used spans from professional fine artist grade to professional student grade, along with whatever else is abandoned, lost, or taken, with painting props eliciting something beyond just scale for the viewer. The work must do more than realizing how much time was not spent protesting for civil liberties, volunteer-coaching youth sports, or enjoying family pizza night.
Spencer was born and raised in the American Southwest. An emphasis with the middle letter of his name helps diminish the perpetual mix-ups with similar named persons. Currently, Kurt resides with his family in Bloomington, Indiana. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana University, navigating towards long-term job security, cul-de-sacs, and organic groceries. Kent received his MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design (2011) and a BFA in Painting from the University of Texas at El Paso (2003). Recent group exhibitions consist of New Galerie at Yves Klein Archives (Paris), Simon Oldfield Gallery (London), Ditch Projects (Oregon), BigMedium (Austin), and Mixed Greens (NYC). Recent solo shows include The Composing Rooms (Berlin), Welcome Screen (London), Juicys Gallery (NYC), Oliver Francis Gallery (Dallas), Target (Indiana), and Domino’s Pizza (Rhode Island).
Think about being on the border a lot — the state of in between, being in limbo, and appreciating twilight. Wanting/needing to fully identify with one or the other is impossible when the disparities of two push back. It is best to not struggle over that which is not at hand. Let it be and let it guide thee. Living the gap is less about being wishy-washy or non-partial and more about embracing the mergence of both – emerging from this or that to this and that.
Wanting and needing are two different things. The works want to be commodifiable while not wanting to be commodifiable. They lean more towards being a problem than a product. Despite appearing stable and secure, even close to gallery-ready, they are not user-friendly. Their presentation shifts with each install, always in flux, balancing atop hardware ordained to crash to the floor while collectors are present. The works are on the move and are being moved, constantly pushed and pulled by gravity. Pieces tumbling down speak more to the fluctuation and inconsistency of a space’s stability, than any projection of bad craftsmanship placed upon the works made.
A populist agenda is thwarted by elitist consumption, or vice versa. The pieces populate white cubes and Pizza Huts, institutions and retail stores, bars, blogs and CVs. Their presence is meant just as much for that fry-cook as it is for the shift-manager as it is for the regional manager as it is for the chief executive officer. They hang front and center, from the ground up, and within the interstitial. Show a spot they should not be and they shall. The paintings are wannabe sculptures, looking for a place to be while also being that place. At times they are overshadowed by their placement and locale. At times, the objects take a back seat to their settings, to their titles, media descriptions and documentation; but, it is not that the paintings are less important; it is that they are less self-important.
It is half-true that the artworks indicate a search for the authentic, the hand, material and process. Procedures are most often immediate and direct, accompanied by some sort of foil system. Media used spans from professional fine artist grade to professional student grade, along with whatever has been abandoned, lost, or taken. The presentation of these original works is balanced by the use of props: packaged granola bars, towel rods, or even ant baits. Yours or mine, these items do more than elicit scale for the viewer, of how small and strong the paintings are or how big and precious they seem to be.
In the end, the hope is to move others: physically, mentally, and emotionally, no matter how minute. There has to be more to the work than realizing how much time was not spent protesting for civil liberties, volunteer-coaching youth sports, or enjoying family pizza night. It is a must that these works uplift or outrage or even dumbfound, of which any which way is much more worthwhile than sitting back discrete and obsolete.
There is nothing here about saving children from bleating bombs in religious lands, or even about quote unquote natives screaming at quote unquote illegal kids to stop taking away veterans benefits. There is nothing here to show disdain for high capacity automatic weaponry being carried into fast-food restaurants scaring the souls of parents needing to explain to their children 2nd amendment rights written 200+ years ago. This is a political statement about political positioning – the positioning of power and privilege — being privileged way too much to truly know discomfort and discrimination. Thus and hereby, are the effects of such a position:
These works are disrupting a moment. In direct contact and in the midst of global woes, they seize a time to raise questions beckoning to be answered against that which makes them seem utterly frivolous in comparison. They appear as distractions; yet, there is an unquantifiable indirect justice for these objects to enter your space and begin making efforts of change. They are part of an unconscious collective made concrete and now exposed, shared and given, injected at times without notice or desire. Together, their potential will arise in others somehow somewhere, to help instigate eventual rise-ups and walk-outs in response to perpetual shut-ups and sit-downs.