There is a naivete as well as technical sophistication — and sometimes an indirect political subtext — to be found in a show of prints by Curtis Jones at the Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery.
Most abstract are six 24-by-24-inch inkjet prints on pale green paper, which appear to depict circles within circles of vibratory squiggles, bringing to mind the effect on the eye of looking briefly at the sun. Providing a preliminary context for these are 16 smaller, 16-by-16-inch ink source drawings by Jones that are somewhat more loosely executed and lyrical.
Jones said the “Drawing or Nothing” series is based on a collaboration in which he provided pattern and texture-based work for the graphic foreground imagery of his fellow printmaker, Joseph Velasquez.
“Of course, everyone ... readily identified Joseph's imagery and assumed the entirety of the work was his,” Jones said, noting he wanted to make viewers “aware of the emptiness (or lack of subject matter) in the middle.”
Jones added that “when layered, these images evoke ideas of organic structure or explosive phenomena,” but cautioned that “any subjective reading along these lines is entirely applied by the viewer.”
Making the metaphor more explicit is a large installation on a movable gallery wall and the floor in which a circle of cutout, orange and red, repetitive vinyl tape shapes suggest the sun's daily “Rise and Set.”
On the back of the same wall, which moves on wheels, Jones creates the outline of the front half of a “Big Pig” in motion, using a great many blue-green, star-like shapes, screen-printed, hand-cut and pinned up.
This makes a good segue to the more recognizable and folksy but politically charged images found in 35 12-by-12-inch watercolor and screen-printed works from Jones' “Ol' McDonnell Douglass” series. Jones said the series tries to explore the underpinnings of his political beliefs concerning military and agriculture issues without revealing the ideologies they manifest.