Bowdoin alumni Cassie Jones '01 and Wade Kavanaugh '01 are painting the Big Apple red this month, boasting solo art shows in New York City.
Since graduating from Bowdoin, Kavanaugh has flexed his artistic muscle in galleries on both the East and West coasts. In his individual work, Kavanaugh uses large scale industrial materials such as bricks, plywood, and metal to create room-sized sculptures that echo the work of Bowdoin Art Lecturer John Bisbee. Kavanaugh cites his time at Bowdoin as inspiration for later work.
"Bobo helped me become professionally curious," Kavanaugh said. "All of the life skills and tools came later."
Curiosity is a key factor in much of Kavanaugh's work as a professional artist. His pieces take raw materials and humanize them. His most striking designs, however, are his collaborative projects with artist Stephen B. Nguyen. Entire rooms covered floor to ceiling with layers of parchment, two-story towers made from pressed pages, the illusion of a wave of paper are all examples of the large-scale art for which Kavanaugh has become known.
Tonight marks the opening of Kavanaugh's exhibit at the Cynthia Reeves Gallery, his first first solo show in New York City. The show includes a sheetrock installation, which fellow Bowdoin alums helped to complete.
"I have about a week this time, sometimes more, and I do have people working with me," Kavanaugh said. "One of those people is Mike Long '04 who runs his own art preparation business." Using sheetrock as a medium is an ironic twist in Kavanaugh's indoor installation. "At the moment, I'm using a lot of sheetrock and two-by-fours which are typically used to make walls and rooms [define physical space] so my work plays within that idiom."
Jones, a fellow graduate of the Class of 2001, began racking up a number of shows in the Portland and Rockport area until she attended the Rhode Island School of Design for her Masters in Fine Arts in 2008. Now graduated, Jones is presenting her first solo show at the RedFlagg Gallery, a new gallery co-owned by Bowdoin professors Mark Wethli and John Bisbee.
Jones, who dabbles in almost every medium, works primarily with felt and foam. Jones' pieces incorporate wild patterns and vibrant colors that are exciting to look at and expertly hold the eye. Playing with space, dimension, and shape, Jones has a clear aesthetic. Jones has made a departure from the traditional paper medium in her recent work with felt.
"Constructed on panels, these pieces are covered with felt, which is cut, stapled, stuffed-like quilting, and then painted," Jones said. "There are still lots of surprises along the way and the pieces always diverge from my initial imaginings, but the process of realizing the piece is very different from the spontaneity of the works on paper."
Her show at the RedFlagg Gallery, which opened last night, features pieces from both 2008 and 2009. The show was a chance to work with low-relief and experiment with new media, according to Jones.
"When John Bisbee generously offered to give me the inaugural exhibit at RedFlagg, I knew I wanted the works on paper to be in dialogue with the larger, low-relief paintings," she said. "Because while they are disparate bodies of work in some ways, they both begin with intuitive responses to my materials and hopefully arrive at a place where the contradictions in the work are posed like questions, not to be resolved, but to be explored."
Jones also cites Bowdoin as the main source of inspiration for her current career.
"I didn't take my first drawing class until junior year and it didn't take long for me to realize that I wanted to take as much art as I could before I graduated," Jones said. "One of my favorite things about being an artist is how much it incorporates very disparate ways of being in the world. Life in the studio is very private and solitary, but the community of artists and the art world is a very social one."