Two new exhibitions open July 31 at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

Two new exhibitions open July 31 at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston:

Boston-based painter Steve Locke featured in first solo museum exhibition

Recent videos by Mary Reid Kelley subject of artist’s first solo museum show


Lockec090d4On July 31, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) opens the first solo museum exhibition of Boston-based artist Steve Locke, titled there is no one left to blame. For several years Steve Locke has been making images of male heads with their tongues sticking out—a curious expression that suggests disgust or dislike as much as it does teasing or flirting. Lushly painted, in a wide-ranging palette, they are alternately disturbing, comical, vulnerable, and sensual. Locke’s works challenge the historical tendency in portraiture to depict men as authoritative and powerful by suggesting a more ambivalent array of ideas and emotions regarding masculinity. The exhibition features twelve all new works by Locke—including a “constellation” of paintings, paintings affixed to sculptural supports, and a neon work bearing the show’s title, there is no one left to blame. Organized by Helen Molesworth, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, Steve Locke: there is no one left to blame is on view at the ICA from July 31 through October 27, 2013.

The male faces in Locke’s portraits float disembodied within the canvas, evoking a range of references—from the myth of Medusa to historical traumas such as the French Revolution or the lynching of African-Americans to current anxieties about terrorism, war and torture. In addition to this layered and nuanced field of associations, Locke is also experimenting with a variety of display strategies for paintings. Whether embedding them in the wall of the museum, or propping them onto sculptural supports, Locke’s treatment of oil paintings––traditionally simply hung on the wall––is commensurate with his complication of our conventional images of men. In both instances, Locke’s work pushes boundaries and suggests subtle hopes for new ideas and expanded freedoms.

Steve Locke is an Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His work has been exhibited in several solo and group shows, and he has served as Artist-in-Residence at Savannah College of Art and Design and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Locke has received numerous awards including the LEF Foundation Contemporary Work Fund Grant and the Art Matters Foundation Award. He lives and works in Boston.

Support for Steve Locke: there is no one left to blame provided by Samsøn.



MRKc5eabcOpening July 31 at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) Mary Reid Kelley is the first solo museum exhibition of the New York artist’s work, featuring four key videos dating from 2008 to the present. Best known for her highly stylized black-and-white films inspired by historical and myth-based iconography, Mary Reid Kelley’s work is a close examination of political frictions affecting the lives of women, the discourse of war, and other pivotal historical events as seen through the eyes of fictitious characters such as nurses, soldiers, and prostitutes. Reid Kelley’s videos are composed of elaborate period costumes replete with dramatic makeup, dynamic theatrical sets and a layered narrative script punctuated by punning wordplay. With this scripted, poetic narrative, Reid Kelley depicts the imbalance of power through pivotal moments in which women’s roles were transformed. Organized by Jenelle Porter, Mannion Family Senior Curator, Mary Reid Kelley is on view at the ICA through October 27, 2013.

A trained painter, Mary Reid Kelley’s costumes, sets and props are designed to appear as a sort of three-dimensional drawing, relying heavily on a stark black-and-white color palette. At the center of each video is a protagonist played by Reid Kelley herself, accompanied by several auxiliary characters often played by members of Reid Kelley’s family. Her key work,The Syphilis of Sisyphus, is an eleven-minute video in which Reid Kelley plays a 19th-century Parisian prostitute who ponders the fate of woman through a poetic monologue. Both melodramatic and disturbing, her work addresses issues of gender and artifice in 1852 Paris.

Reid Kelley’s most recent work, Priapus Agonistes (2013), is an adaptation of the Greek Minotaur myth that recasts Priapus—a god of fertility and protector of livestock known for his large, enduring erection—as a volleyball player. Pitting religion against myth, Priapus represents a shift for Reid Kelley, although as in all of her works to date, humankind’s perennial desire to escape the roles assigned by nature and culture remains at the heart of the work. Reid Kelley’s work makes this plight palpable through history, and palatable through comedy.

Mary Reid Kelley earned her BA from St. Olaf College, Minnesota, and her MFA from Yale University. She has exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, and received numerous honors and awards including the Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant. Mary Reid Kelley lives and works in upstate New York.

Support for Mary Reid Kelly provided by Nine Zero, A Kimpton Hotel.


Images: Steve Locke, the rising up, 2013. Oil on panel with japan color and acrylic on verso, 65 x 60 x 3 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Samsøn, Boston. Mary Reid Kelley with Patrick Kelley, The Syphilis of Sisyphus, 2011 (still), HD video, sound. Courtesy of the artist, Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, and Pilar Corrias, London.


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