Folk Like Us: Group exhibition opens at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

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Folk Like Us: Group exhibition opens at Jonathan LeVine Gallery
Dennis McNett, Black Witch Moth (detail).

NEW YORK, NY.- Jonathan LeVine Gallery presents Folk Like Us, a group exhibition featuring work by Ben Venom, Dennis McNett, Jim Houser and Souther Salazar.

The diverse pairing of artists in Folk Like Us use a wide range of traditional craft materials, such as fabric, wood and paper, resulting in works that share a variety of commonalities with folk and outsider art. This exhibition is exemplary of how Venom, Mcnett, Houser and Salazar allow their unconventional ideas to depict new realms of modern day folklore.

San Francisco based artist Ben Venom juxtaposes the tradition of quilt making with extreme elements found on the fringes of society. Using repurposed materials, such as vintage t-shirts, bandanas and canvas, he creates textile-based works featuring countercultural iconography, such as imagery associated with tattoo culture, the occult, heavy metal music and motorcycle gangs.

Dennis McNett carves into large pieces of wood by hand and transforms their surfaces. Residing between New York and Texas, his graphic works depict creatures from Nordic mythology that are aesthetically influenced by the skateboarding and punk rock scene of the 1980s. Often combining species, such as his well-known wolfbat, the final result is fierce characters with impeccable detail.

Philadelphia based artist Jim Houser layers acrylic on wood, fabric and found objects in compositions that include stylized figures, hand-drawn typography and geometric shapes. Often blurring the line between collage and sculpture, this self-taught artist catalogues his experiences and feelings through a unique pictorial language, creating a signature style of visual poetry and his own brand of curative iconography.

Souther Salazar utilizes mixed media, found objects and collaged layers of assemblage in his paintings, drawings and sculptures. Currently based in Portland, Oregon, he transports viewers into a vibrant and endless world of overlapping narratives and dreamscapes. Half remembered and half imagined, Salazar’s work evokes the wonder and imagination that is typically lost in adulthood.

Ben Venom received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Georgia State University, a Post Baccalaureate Certificate with an emphasis in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. His unique artistic practice combines the traditional process of quilting with the robust graphics of heavy metal and punk bands. In 2006 the De Young Museum exhibited the Quilts of Gees Bend and Venom was inspired. Venom cuts the graphics out of t-shirts from bands like the Misfits, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Poison and others, and then weaves them into intricate patterns onto quilts. Venom’s pillows, quilts and embroidery simultaneously mock and pay tribute to the encounter between two seemingly opposing forces.
Dennis McNett

Dennis McNett (b. 1972) grew up in Virginia Beach, VA. He has been carving surly block prints for over 18 years. His encouragement as a kid came from his blind grandfather, who told him over and over again that his drawings were good. Later influences came from the raw high-energy imagery pouring out of the early 80's skateboard and punk rock scene. Participating in both the fine art and design worlds, Dennis has been fortunate enough to create series’ for Anti-Hero skateboards, design shoes for Vans, have work fill the windows of Barneys, NY, and participate in the Deitch Artparade. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Juxtapoz magazine, Thrasher and Complex Magazine.

Jim Houser (b. 1973) currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a self-taught artist and an honorary member of the Philly-based artist collective Space1026. In 2005, Gingko Press released a monograph entitled Babel: Jim Houser. In 2010, Houser released a vinyl record of instrumental music composed to accompany his installations; the songs are currently available on iTunes. Houser’s collages, paintings and installations have been exhibited in institutions such as the Laguna Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Milan, Paris, Sydney and São Paulo. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Souther Salazar

Souther Salazar (b. 1978) is currently based in Portland, Oregon. In 2003, he received a BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He utilizes mixed media, found objects and collaged layers of assemblage in his paintings, drawings and sculptures. Salazar’s work transports the viewer into an imaginative world full of flying spacecrafts and lost cities inhabited by a variety of creatures. His whimsical installations encourage exploration and discovery. Salazar’s work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Basel, Tokyo and São Paulo and included at exhibitions in institutions such as the Riverside Art Museum and the Japanese American National Museum, both in California.

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