Tracing Trajectories: Selections from the Hoggard/Wagner Collection

Tracing Trajectories install shot feat. Carlos Motta (left), Hunter Reynolds (center), Joe Ovelman (right)

Tracing Trajectories install shot feat. Carlos Motta (left), Hunter Reynolds (center), Joe Ovelman (right)

Main Gallery ft.
Jeffrey Hargrave, Esperanza Mayobre, Carlos Motta,
Joe Ovelman, Hunter Reynolds, and Heidi Schlatter

Tracing Trajectories is a celebratory exhibition that champions the collection and sensibilities of art patrons Barry Hoggard and James Wagner. The pair have been collecting together for over two decades, starting in the 90s, and have assembled a collection of over 1,000 works from recognized, outsider, and emerging artists. Barry and James are not typical collectors: James is an artist and was actively involved in theatrical zaps during the AIDS Crisis; Barry has worked for tech startups for a number of years, and is currently employed at Artsy. Their personal lives are emblematic of how, as patrons, their gaze is not from the outside but rather embraces the humbler and more personal, social aspects of the art world. A significant number of works in their collection are gifts from artists and reflect a mutual affection. While many collectors view art as an investment, Barry and James surround themselves with artists they love, and work they love to learn from.

This exhibition looks at six artists, from a collection of over 500 artists, including Jeffrey Hargrave, Esperanza Mayobre, Carlos Motta, Joe Ovelman, Hunter Reynolds, and Heidi Schlatter. These artists represent the essence of the collection and their work tackles a range of difficult subjects including chronic illness and life after death, or offer poignant criticisms of media culture, nationalism, racism, and religion. While this exhibition expresses their choices over 25 years, it is also important to show that James and Barry's collecting does not exist in isolation; thus recent works by the selected artists are exhibited alongside works from the collection. These pairings trace a trajectory of each artist's thinking over time, as well as changes in the collective consciousness, and simultaneously offer insight into James and Barry's keen sensibilities by showing where these artists are now.

 

1. Esperanza Mayobre / Antena de Golindano (left) The act of vanishing (right)
silkscreen (left), digital print (right)
courtesy of the artist 

Esperanza Mayobre’s work looks to uncover unequal systems through immigrant experiences. Mayobre is Venezuelan but lives in Brooklyn and her life has undoubtedly informed her practice. The silkscreen on the left is produced from a photograph of homemade satellites, made from fans and other discarded electronics, commonly found in poorer areas of Venezuela. The photograph to the right is of a NASA rocket launch made during her residency at the space center. By leveling the two images, Mayobre teases out their similarities, noting that both are gestures aimed at increasing communication and reaching beyond immediate physical limits; however, as their similarities resonate, their differences become obvious. These works question a value system based on access to capital and ultimately echo geopolitical failures that have allowed for such disparities both between nations and peoples within the same society. 


2. Heidi Schlatter / Osama Nightlight
digital print, night light
courtesy of the artist 

Heidi Schlatter’s practice involves repurposing images to shift their context and reveal aspects that might otherwise be lost. Osama Nightlight is a limited edition, functional artwork that uses the nightlight, a device typically used to give children peice of mind at night or simply illuminate dark areas, as a tool for critical reflection. While Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11, is certainly an enemy of the Unite States, Schlatter questions the USA’s response to 9/11. By place an image of Osama on a nightlight, Schlatter implies that the USA’s numerous proxy wars, including the War On Terror, and other extreme military responses are used as justification to keep us safe at night.


3. Carlos Motta / Inverted World #4
inkjet print
courtesy of PPOW Gallery

Carlos Motta’s work confronts history with a critical eye to illuminate suppressed histories and bring forth alternative readings. Inverted World, inspired by Caravaggio’s “Crucifixion of Saint Peter,” is a 7mn video where the artist is bound, tied, and suspended in front of a cross during an inversion session at a 16th Century chapel. The video feels like soft-core, bondage porn and as the camera hones in on the physical connections between rope and body, as well as the musculature of both Motta and the bondage artists, Motta creates an erotic gaze that is easily overlooked in religious imagery. This gaze is further enhanced by the sound of Motta’s distressed and sensual breath that increases as the ropes are pulled tighter and he is suspended higher. Inverted World #4 is a photographic still taken from the video before Motta is bound, and in turn, holds the viewer in suspense. Ultimately, by juxtaposing references to sexual fetishes with Christian iconography, Motta questions the concepts of taboos by teasing out the potential homoerticism inherent in Christianity and images of Christ.


4. Hunter Reynolds / To: Felix Gonzalez Torres
mixed media
courtesy of Hoggard/Wagner

Hunter Reynolds is a veteran queer artist whose work plays with gender, politics, intimacy, and health. This work, and its contents, were made specifically for Visual AIDS’ annual benefit, Postcards from the Edge. The work is an intimate ode to Reynolds’ dear friend and artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. All of the contents of the letter are on display here and include a photo-weaving made from photographs of Torres’ work, a letter, and a poem alongside other related ephemera. Together, these keepsakes reflect a loving friendship between two artists that was ended too soon by AIDS and the subsequent systematic failure of the government to handle the crises.


5. Jeffrey Hargrave / 3 Ball’s 50 Cent Tank (Spalding Dr. JK Silver Series) (After Jeff Koons)
oil on canvas
courtesy of Ethan Cohen Fine Art

Jeffrey Hargrave’s paintings often question the absence of black artists in history and the ways in which African and Black American culture is appropriated by non-people of color. This painting riffs off Jeff Koons’ floating basketball sculptures, Total Equilibrium Tank. In The United States, basketball has become ubiquitous with Black American culture. Hargrave has replaced Koons’ basketballs with caricature-esque images of black heads, referencing the histories of racist imagery in media while simultaneously referencing the proliferation of appropriation in contemporary culture.


6. Joe Ovelman/ #Absurd
ink drawings, color prints
courtesy of the artist and Connersmith Gallery

Joe Ovelman recently began posting his work on social media, allowing it to exist as an endless stream of information. For this series, Ovelman combined drawings of famous women athletes with screenshots of “tranny porn” from his instagram. By combining these two seemingly unrelated groups, Ovelman touches on how the internet can collide and level all subjects and bodies. However, these groups are not completely unrelated as female athletes are often slandered for looking like men and in turn, Ovelman questions our perception of gender and aesthetics. According to the artist, this work is ultimately a both celebration and a sincere meditation on two groups negatively affected by Trump’s presidency, as evidenced by a leniency on enforcing Title IX and the recent discriminatory ban on transgender citizens serving in the military. 


7. Hunter Reynolds / Shaman Ulaambaatar Totem Collage
acrylic paint, thread
courtesy of PPOW Gallery

Hunter Reynolds recent work has explored living with chronic illness. After a series of AIDS related strokes, Reynolds was unable to make art in the same capacity. However, few things can stop the artist’s spirit and so, Reynolds took to making symmetrical paintings inspired by Shamanic visions. These works were an integral part of his recovery and also reflect his attempts to transcend a sick body. Reynolds’ collage is suspended from the ceiling and looms like a spectre, referencing the delicate balance between life and death that we all contend with. 


8. Esperanza Mayobre / Virgin of Esperanza Mother of the Immigrants
digital image, candle
courtesy of Hoggard/Wagner
The work is a part of the artist’s “Servicios Migratorios (Immigration Services)”, a presentation of devotion to the Virgin of Esperanza (Hope), Mother of Immigrants, as an aid for illegal immigrants in obtaining the papers which would allow them to remain in the United States with legal status. The piece shown here is a devotional candle with the image of the Virgin on the front (here with the features of the artist herself). It includes the saint’s attributes: passport, green card, and money in hand.
The reverse side of the candle includes a prayer to the Virgin of Esperanza: "I come here to implore you help with confidence, that because of your divine motherhood you will hear the prayers of this poor immigrant. Intercede for me, so that your divine son the United States of America will grant the Citizenship for which I now pray. Hail Mary full of grace, etc.” 
- Hoggard/Wagner

9. Joe Ovelman / (Study for) Marine Corps Uniform - c1970
23 color photographs
courtesy of Hoggard/Wagner

Joe Ovelman’s work often exists as series that imbue queerness into typically heteronormative constructs as a way to subvert and critique what is deemed acceptable or standard. For this artwork, Ovelman photographed twentythree gay men in South Beach all wearing his father’s Marine Corp Uniform. These photographs are at once an intimate meditation on his familial relationship with his father, but also allude to discriminatory legislation like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.


10. Carlos Motta / A Brief History of US Interventions in Latin America Since 1946
inkjet wallpaper
courtesy of Hoggard/Wagner
Throughout his research based practice, Motta seeks to use art as a way to shed light on political injustices. A Brief History of US Interventions in Latin America Since 1946 details the ways in which the United States Government has been directly involved in regime changes, terrorism, and military coups in Latin America. For example, The School of Americas in Panama conditioned soldiers on a range of offensive tactics. Graduates include the murderers of Archbishop Oscar Romero and General Efrain Rios Montt who seized control of Guatemala with US support. While originally printed as a broadsheet resembling newspapers, Motta’s work has been installed as wallpaper and conceptually stresses the ongoing nature of these interventions while allowing viewers to see both sides of the work without the risk of damage to the original. 

11. Jeffrey Hargrave / Dat Bitch Got Eye’s On Da’ Side of Her Head
oil on paper
courtesy of Hoggard/Wagner

Jeffrey Hargrave uses a range of mediums including painting, drawing, and sculpture as tools to unpack the troubling depictions of African American culture in media throughout history. However, some of his works, like this one, use humor and jest as a critical weapon to celebrate blackness. The titles of Hargrave’s works often supplement the ideas in his paintings by illuminating hierarchical failures of language. By using slang and “improper” grammar in the title of this work, Hargrave deliberately ruptures ideas about dominant language and culture by stressing the legitimacy of other dialects within English.

12. Heidi Schlatter / Hearth #3 (Last House On The Left) 
digital print on aluminum
courtesy of the artist

Heidi Schlatter is an image based artist making installations, sculpture, and ephemera that critique visual culture at large. Hearth #3 (Last House On The Left) is made from a photograph of a TV displaying Wes Craven’s “Last House On The Left”. Schlatter is particularly interested Craven’s film, and other horror movies, because of how female protagonists are used as sites of extreme, sensual violence and in turn reflect the misogyny inherent in the male gaze. By shooting the TV, Schlatter is able to isolate a specific scene and reframe the film with her critical eye. As evidenced by the title, Schlatter uses the fireplace to compare how Television, until the last decade, has held a similar function to a hearth as a gathering space. When thinking about the male gaze, however, the television takes on a sinister role as a tool to disseminate coded media that, more often than not, reinforces patriarchal constructs like the gender binary through the male gaze. 


Many thanks to Barry & James, PPOW Gallery, Connersmith Gallery, Deric Carner, John Elemar, and all the artists!