Circuitous Succession: An Interview with Jason Miller

by - July 17, 2013

Jason Miller has organized a sixteen-part exhibition at Gasoline on Broad Avenue called Circuitous Succession featuring work by: Brian Anderson, Mike Coulson, Saj Crone, Beth Edwards, Jan Hankins, Bienvenedo Howard, Jed Jackson, Lawrence Jasud, Ross McLean, Valia Oliver, Robin Salant, Wayne Simpkins, Mari Trevelyan, Jeane Umbreit and Mary K VanGieson. Each solo show will feature a unique title with didactic content describing the work on view. The exhibition series will occur July through November. Each exhibition opens on a Friday with a reception from 6-9pm and remains on view by appointment until the Wednesday after the opening. Gasoline is located at 2493 Broad Avenue.

The inaugural exhibition entitled La Grande Paradoxical Vigil will feature paintings and photography by Jed Jackson. The opening reception and gallery talk is Friday, July 19, 6-9pm.

The Facebook event page describes the conceptual thesis of Circuitous Succession:

The title for the entire series of exhibitions is Circuitous Succession, meaning that the mental and visual route obtained through the ever-changing course of works of the artists featured in this series forms a unique path wherein each show stands on its own while simultaneously drawing off the quiet left by the previous in a domino effect array of diverse imagery that ranges from oil paint to acrylic paint to print work to photography, from objects collected by an artist in his studio to films that helped form his vision, and yet further into forms of the mind that take on actual shape in sculpture...This series of divers shows becomes a collective. However, within the collective is a place where each artist's work may be focused upon by the viewer without the distractions of a shared space as within a group exhibition.

Jason was nice enough to take some time to discuss the upcoming exhibition series with Visual Memphis:

VM: You mention that the title of this series, Circuitous Succession, references a unique path forged by individual artists working in disparate media, yet these solo exhibitions come together to form a collective through connections and arrangements you have personally considered. Can you elaborate on these connections?

JM: Circuitous Succession has an ambiguity to its referral in regards to a collection of solo exhibitions that appealed to my sense of style in presenting artworks that are arranged in ways that they have never been arranged before. The mystery I find embedded within the intuitive process of the way I work, both as artist and curator, align into the most fundamental regiment of my practice. I am painting, so to phrase the term openly, with the artworks of my contemporaries, all of whom I admire and respect. I take liberty in bringing my own thoughts and strategic chess moves into the process. However, my utmost goal is to present the artworks of each artist in ways in which they have not previously been shown. This series is a fresh and new way to revisit the work of some of Memphis' most vital and important artists.

VM: Do you anticipate that viewers will be able to make these connections on their own, week to week, throughout the run of this exhibition series? Will the didactic material facilitate this goal?

JM: Viewers will bring what they will to the table of their viewing experience. Some viewers will have an abundance of previous experience viewing the art of many of these well known Memphis' artists, yet the experience of viewing the rarely viewed, entirely new, or never exhibited artworks as arranged through my vision as curator will add a significant dynamic into the viewing experience that will not be seen in any other context preceding or post this viewing experience. That is my role as curator, to arrange, represent, and shed new light on the extraordinary artists that I showcase in this sixteen-part exhibition series.

 VM: I imagine it is difficult to maintain a cohesive, overarching concept all while not diluting the strong individual voices in the series. Can you share an anecdote with us about working through this, perhaps involving your curatorial process or with an individual artist?
JM: As curator, I play the role of artist by arranging the works of other artists. Anticipation of the viewer's experience is an open abyss, which is limited only by the experiences and mental baggage brought by each individual viewer. I enjoy the superfluity of thoughts generated by the views and opinions of a plethora of diverse human beings brought together under the roof of a singular gallery space. I create and use my imagination and experiences when I make my own art, and I extend this practice to my curatorial practices. I make and generate commentary and the uttermost thread connecting this span of sixteen exhibitions is that I am the one curating the series. The decisions I make as an individual develop into a pattern, my pattern is that of the free radical, and so anarchy and chaos will still ultimately honor some form of a unifying nature. Certain components will connect because I am the thread weaving together the works of these amazingly unique artists. There is room for verity and free radicals to roam, and yet the artworks remain that of the artists represented. I arrange the layout of the shows, the titles, the labeling, the publicity, the sound and video if applicable for the artist, I select the objects and collectibles from the artist's studio to make connections to their art, and I devote considerations to the didactic information and titles of works provided by the artists-from the information I draft statements for the shows in addition to titles.
JM: I am familiar with a large expanse of the work produced by all of the artists with whom I work, and yet always am thrilled to rediscover or initially discover something I never quite saw before in their artwork. I have a specific reason why I chose each of the sixteen artists for this series. I performed studio visits with each artist with forewarning that I was investigating in order to arrange artworks that they never showed, rarely showed, or to be created new based on the feedback given by me in collaboration with the artist during my visit.

VM: Do any artists plan on making new work specifically in response to this exhibition series or do you choose existing work you feel aligns with your vision?

JM: I am curating from non-shown work, rarely shown work, and in some cases invoking the artist to make entirely new work solely for each exhibition. Ultimately, the inclusion of any previously shown work is limited by the stipulation, which I impose, demanding that the artworks unified within the singular body of a solo exhibition have never been previously united into a cohesive show before. I am building these exhibitions by arranging the work of each artist in a way that has not been precisely arranged before, and that is among the utmost height of my curatorial standards.
Objects from each artist's studio will play roles in some of the exhibitions and in certain cases, even full image collections that extend past the works hanging on the gallery walls will be accessible to the viewer. I shall provide two examples: With Brian Anderson, I found it necessary to invite the viewer to peer into the complex range of his photographic practice. With Beth Edwards I saw an urgent connection to her playful American and European toy collection from which she draws inspiration as subjects for many of her oil and watercolor paintings.
VM: Jason also wished to include a disclaimer regarding the series:
Art is sacred and should be viewed as so. Art is an extension of a living person and it is revered by me.
I would like to state that this is a non-commercial venture. This series is intended to share the art of these extraordinary individual artists as presented through my curation of their work. All events are free and open to the public. No money is involved and the space is freely provided by me as the venue for this event through an arrangement with Gasoline (a gallery on Broad Avenue). Some of the artists are represented by commercial galleries and some have no representation. All purchase inquiries will be referred to the gallery representing the artist.

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