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Give the Poets Time, Selected By Julia Schwartz (online exhibition)

About the exhibition

One of my favorite things about working with artists is seeing all of the reference images, notebooks, and sketches that inform the finished artworks. Each of them has taught me a bit more about the artist and his or her philosophy.

For example, Squeak Carnwath wrote a poem that appears on a few paintings in the 1990s, and it shows up in her sketchbook pages too. It reads:

if we don’t give the poets time,

leisure to speak

our empty ears

our vacant eyes

our clean hands and finger tips

will not be capable of recognizing the stain

or the sound of the seeing voices. 

the stuff in all of our heads

all of our memories.

To me, this is about artists acting as witnesses and recorders on behalf of all humans. Their words, songs, visual art, and performances reflect on universal topics through personal and idiosyncratic lenses, helping us to connect and share feelings.

This exhibition highlights artists that distill complex, dimensional subjects into poetic artworks.

The lists of Jonathan Velazquez and Sarah Malpass encourage us to slow down and read each line carefully. Vanessa Bravo, Dorrie Reid, and Breonna Turner’s sculptures act as totems to everyday objects that bring joy: kittens, lipstick, a layer cake. Carlos Fernandez, Carlota Rodriguez, Jeremy Burleson, Saul Alegria, Karen May, Peter Harris, Danny Thatch, and Christina Saavedra strip down imagery to essential lines and forms, taking special care with spatial composition and color.

About the selector

Julia Schwartz is Director of Administration and Development at the Artists’ Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit based in Oakland, CA. The Foundation stewards the work and archives of Legacy Artists, recognizes outstanding painters and sculptors through awards, and serves as an educational resource for artists. Since 2005, she has provided tailored services to artists, including artwork documentation, websites, and project management. She also administers Squeak Carnwath’s Roll Up Project, a window gallery located in Oakland’s Jack London district. Instagram: @roll_up_project