May 8 – June 6
Reception with the Artist: Friday May 8, 6-9 PM
John Isiah Walton, 7th Ward Hard Head, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.64 cm)
“Beaucoup Humidity portrays the past of a city I dearly miss–the New Orleans where I grew up. We see the behind-the-scenes people of my hometown who work in the service industry and live in pockets of poverty. It’s humid here from the temperature to the suffocating crime which made my mom & grandma keep me inside the house in the early 90s as a child. I thought it might be hard to capture the city as I am surrounded by so many cornball visual artists who portray the postcard tourist side of things.”
-John Isiah Walton, New Orleans, 2015
P339 Gallery is pleased to present the third in a series of 4 exhibitions of African-American contemporary and folk artists from the South, guest-curated by Diego Cortez, a free-lance curator, advisor, editor and author. Previously-curated exhibitions by Cortez include: “Jean-Michel Basquiat,” Fun Gallery, NYC (1982), “Andy Warhol’s Children’s Show,” Newport Art Museum (RI) (1985) and “Devendra Banhart: Light Aligns,” Galleria Emilio Mazzoli, Modena (2006).
Beaucoup Humidity presents eight canvas wall works (2014) by John Isiah Walton and a group of drawings left on a table (2014-15). It opens to the public on Friday, May 8 (6:00 – 9:00 pm) and closes on Saturday, June 6.
Walton was born in 1985 in New Orleans and still lives and works there. He attended St. Augustine H.S. (1999-2002) and graduated from Sarah T. Reed H.S. (2003). Walton received an AA degree in 2012 from Delgado College, New Orleans. He has had solo exhibitions at Barrister’s Gallery, New Orleans (2014) and Identity Books, Graham, NC (2014). Selected group shows include: The Front, New Orleans (2014), New Orleans Museum of Art (2014), Art Lab Akiba, Ginza, Tokyo (2014), Untitled Art Projects, L.A. (2013) and Home Space, New Orleans (2012).
Walton has been a member of both the Second Story Gallery (2012-13) and The Front, New Orleans (2014-present). He has lectured about his work to the graduate program at UNC, Chapel Hill (2014).
John Isiah Walton is an emerging artist with a strong conceptual streak who often bespeaks a stinging social commentary. His use of wit and irony addressing the constructs of race and class is irreverent yet sensitive. Walton’s scheme is to connect a politically correct discourse (Hank Willis Thomas) with politically incorrect humor (Richard Prince). Male artists who exploit sophomoric humor often mask the fact that they have difficulty in satirizing human dilemmas with depth. Walton is not of that school.
Beaucoup Humidity is a critical document of the underbelly of New Orleans conjuring an absurdist urban scape accordant to the most daunting issues of the day–racial and cultural divisiveness.
Previous series by Walton include “Pretty Women” (2013) which presented alluring groups of Muslim women while his “Zulu Portraits” (2014) masked political leaders, both black and white, in blackface. Walton created post-colonial portraiture as if Basquiat had over-painted Gilbert Stuart. His “Zulu Portraits” are a reminder that Black Studies, besides analyzing black identity, deconstructs an errant white American history.