recently had the chance to meet with the painter Josh Reames—a
graduate of North Texas who went on to receive his Masters at
the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012. SAIC has
arguably become the nation`s most influential graduate program—
challenging the supremacy which Cal Arts and Yale once enjoyed—
with faculty members such as Gaylen Gerber, Michelle Grabner,
José Lerma, Tony Tasset, and Scott and Tyson Reeder as well as
recent graduates Paula Crown, Rom Ewert, and Tony Lewis.
Reames and his wife, Amber Renaye—also a graduate of SAIC—
decided to leave Chicago this summer, initially planning on moving
to Los Angeles. But since his family lives just north of Dallas, they
decided to settle here for a few months. During their drive from
Chicago, they were in touch with Kevin Jacobs, the owner of the
Oliver Francis Gallery, and learned that the space would be available
to use as a studio during their stay in Dallas. Josh immediately began
to work on large-scale canvases in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.
In a conversation we had this past month, the artist said, “We
anticipated a relaxing few months here, but it’s been totally insane!
Dallas has changed so much in the last five or six years, it’s far more
metropolitan, very exciting for the city.” They will be relocating to
New York later this year.
While at school, Reames admired and identified with the work
of his advisors such as Adam Scott, Katy Siegel, and Andrew
Falkowski, as well as the aforementioned Reeder brothers and José
For Reames, these artists provided inspiration because “humor
and spectacle were important parts of the work, making it more
exciting and more democratic.” (Gaylen Gerber—one of Reames’
professors—even highlighted the disarming advantage comedians
have over typical public speakers or politicians in communicating
It was also during graduate school that Reames founded and ran
a gallery in his basement called Manifest Exhibitions. During these
two years, he displayed the work of Brett Cody Rogers, Sam Falls,
Paul Cowan, Ruby Sky Stiler, Stephen Collier, and Josh Mannis. He
also made improv recordings at Club Nutz, playing a few live shows
in artist-bands with Scott and Tyson.
Josh describes his own development as going “through a ton
of phases, pure abstraction/messy abstraction/figurative painting,”
with the desire and intent to “try everything.” His one reservation
was directed toward the popularity of so-called “Provisional
Painting,” first introduced in an article written by the art historian
Raphael Rubenstein for the May 2009 issue of Art in America.
Rubenstein states, “I first noticed it pervading the canvases
of Raoul De Keyser, Albert Oehlen, Christopher Wool, Mary
Heilmann, and Michael Krebber, artists who have long made works
that look casual, dashed-off, tentative, unfinished, or self-canceling.
In different ways, they all deliberately turn away from ‘strong’
painting for something that seems to constantly risk inconsequence
Reames notes: “Provisional painting was huge when I was in
grad school,” which he opposed as “lazy, insular, and academic.”
For me, his paintings recall and smartly allude to Abstract
Illusionism—a now-disparaged and maligned movement from the
late 1970’s and early 80’s, which became known as a go-to example
of a short-lived, pre-fab art fad. Until recently, it existed as a sort
of short-hand reference for all such moments that—as much as
they feature half-baked painting and ill-digested concepts—also
simultaneously point to the art market’s insatiable hunger for and
instant assimilation of novelty and gimmicky objects. Of course that
only makes it all the more ripe for its current revival.
Reames has recently exhibited with 356 Mission in Los Angeles
and Chicago’s Carrie Secrist Gallery. He will be included in two-person shows scheduled at Luis de Jesus in Los Angeles and
Johannes Vogt in New York City. He will also be creating a special
project with Milan’s Brand New Gallery. P
Josh Reames in his artist’s residency
THE VISITING RESIDENT
ARTIST JOSH REAMES MAKES DALLAS HOME FOR A WHILE.
BY CHRIS BYRNE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM BICHARA