GARY EMRICH | DIBS
Nov 5 – Dec 31, 2021
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present five concurrent solo exhibitions featuring artists Paco Pomet (Granada, Spain), Walter Robinson (Santa Fe, NM), Tom Judd (Philadelphia, PA), Gary Emrich (Denver, CO), and Terry Maker (Louisville, CO). The painting, sculpture, mixed media and video installation works on view address a range of complex historical issues, as well as reflect the cultural relationships and challenging conditions present in the contemporary world. Alluding to a variety of weighty themes, from societal hierarchies to the environment, and handled in an uncommon, unexpected manner by the five artists on view, the exhibitions offer an engaging look at America’s past and present. Painters Pomet and Judd, along with video artist Emrich, take full artistic license with photographic or filmic references of the past, while sculptors Robinson and Maker carve and cast larger-than-life provocative narrative works. The distinctive artworks on view vary and interconnect through imagery that is intentionally potent, surreal, poetic and absurd, while respectfully inviting the viewer to interpret and fully participate in a cultural dialogue that is both personal and ever-changing.
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition featuring the debut of a new video work by artist Gary Emrich. Entitled DIBS, the installation is Emrich’s third installment of the “Apollo Trilogy,” which emphasizes the moment when astronauts first landed on the moon and the American flag was planted. Seen by Emrich as an extension of celestial Manifest Destiny, the mesmerizing three-channel video installation is an experiential immersion of elaborate image and nuanced sound provided in collaboration with artist Goran Vejvoda. The layered presentation is a thought-provoking and timely inquiry as this nation examines the far-reaching impacts of conquest, often masculine, from Westward Expansion to space exploration. Additionally, on view is a suite of the artist’s signature photographic objects utilizing vintage paintbrushes with applied imagery of the planets of the solar system.
In the video installation, Emrich’s image of the flag’s placement in the central projection of DIBS intentionally captures and is meant to convey the triumph of science, courage and can-do Americanism at its best. In a moment of well-earned national pride, Old Glory is planted on the celestial object. The exuberant astronauts bounce like children in celebration of their scientific achievement, overcome by the extraordinary experience that only a rare few have shared. As referenced in the artist’s title, to call “dibs,” offers a child-like perception of a way to make a claim over something. Likewise, this action also speaks to earthly moments over the centuries when landscapes and cultures have also been claimed with flags as symbols over the vanquished or as a marking of control by conquering or colonizing civilizations. Yet for the moon, the implication is that it belongs to no one nation and cannot be categorized as such no matter who might stake their claim. In response, the placement of the lively, animated red and white striped flag, becomes a momentous action – with its accompanying imagery dispersed into the universe to parts known and unknown. Conversely, the artist’s fabricated removal of the lunar flag at the conclusion of the video marks, as the artist sees it, the end of American exceptionalism even as conspiracy theories emerge that the moon landings were a hoax because the flag appears to be waving. In fact, the flag on the moon was designed to have a horizontal rod inserted to hold its shape, otherwise it would have hung slack in the moon’s zero gravity.
On the second small screen with a video which evolved over five years, Emrich fully engages with an unflinching view of American society as an ever-flapping flag waves over a conglomeration of potent rotating images highlighting contemporary hot-button issues. Each issue or cause: energy and industry, national monuments, Americana, political events and institutions - perhaps announce that all could benefit from a moon-shot investment of attention, time and resources of their own, as Emrich visually reminds his audience that the flag flies equally over all. Expectations amongst citizens in countries can change radically in a few short years, as such racially charged images of unforgettable faces like George Floyd’s serve as a reminder that societal circumstances erupt.
With the third video on the smallest screen, a continuous loop of high-contrast images of bronco busters display their commitment to tame the raging horses, intent on bucking them off. Utilizing repeating video loops to great effect, Emrich suggests that it’s a particular brand of perseverance that gets back on both the literal and proverbial horse after being thrown. The artist’s hand appears near the end of the video, shifting views in firm movements from one scene to the next, compelling the viewer to acknowledge and consider what it means to be an American and how power and hubris can come together. Snippets of sound from the early Bonanza television series theme song and the Marlboro cigarette commercial jingle, promote the idea of the quintessential American brand, while Emrich’s images point to the present day where social, racial and environmental issues can no longer be ignored.
Gary Emrich’s DIBS presents in the end, that humanity’s worst impulses are often tempered by the enormity of the natural world. Over it all, star fields shift in and out of view leaving Americans to contemplate varied or disparate views of the country, and of an awareness that ultimately all is dwarfed by the vastness of the cosmos and the passage of time.
Gary Emrich has an M.F.A. from the Art institute of Chicago and B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder and studied at the University of Lancaster, Lancaster, England. He has received numerous recognitions including numerous public and private commissions, a COvisions Fellowship in Media Arts, Colorado Council on the Arts, Creative Fellowship in Media Arts, Colorado Council on the Arts, Production Grant, Western States Regional Media Arts, Showcase Video Award, 14th Atlanta Film and Video Festival, Production Grant, Western States Regional Media Arts, Director’s Grant, Colorado Council on the Arts, a Collaboration Grant, Colorado Council on the Arts and Artists in Education, Colorado Council on the Arts, 1983. His work is in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, University of Colorado Art Museum, Film Arts Anthology, New York, Belger Museum, Kansas City, MO, Detroit Zoological Society, Continental Illinois National Bank of Chicago, the State of Colorado, the City and County of Denver and many notable private collections. Emrich’s work has been the subject of solo and two-person exhibitions at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Denver Art Museum, Dairy Center, Boulder, CO, Arvada Center of Arts and Humanities, Metropolitan State College, Denver and further group shows at Denver Art Museum, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, Bemis Center, Omaha, NE, SoHo Photo Gallery, NYC, Singer Gallery Mizel Arts Center, Dallas Museum of Art, and many other notable venues. Emrich’s work will be part of the opening exhibition in the photography gallery of the new Denver Art Museum’s Lanny and Sharon Martin building in October 2021.
Goran Vejvoda is a multi-media artist who studied music in Belgrade before becoming a figure of the rock scene in the former Yugoslavia. Vejvoda has developed an idiosyncratic body of work from concerts, exhibitions, installations, lectures, records, videos, photographs and radio pieces. With BackGround, he created inter-disciplinary performances at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, at the Grand Palais, the INA-GRM/Festival, Fondazione Morra in Naples IT and at the Bluecoat in Liverpool, UK. In 2004, he participated in the exhibit “Off the Record/Sound” at the Modern Art Museum in Paris. This exhibition gave access to the public, to hear compilations of contemporary music and sound creations. He diversified his work by composing for documentaries, feature films, commercials, short films, fashion shows, theater and exhibitions. Vejovoda has collaborated with various artists including Victoria Vesna, Tom Shannon, Jon Hassell, Kimiko Yosida and for DIBS, Gary Emrich. Vejvoda is currently working and pursuing various personal artistic projects from Denver and Paris.