Testimony of the Pavement: Paintings by Joel Sheesley
Opening Reception Friday February 17, 7-10 p.m. / Artist Talk at 7:15 / Free Concert at 8:00 by Ranger and Rit Black & Co
By Joel Sheesley, 2011
I share the sentiment of Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Black Rook in Rainy Weather,” which speaks about “walking wary” of the chance discovery of content or meaning in everyday life.
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content
Of sorts, …”
To me, the patching together of content suggests an arrival at a turning point; a point at which our pervasive tendency toward oblivion is dispelled by an awareness that the status quo, oblivion’s usual way of manifesting itself, is illusory. At this turning point one senses that everything is important. It is important for what it reveals about everything else. We find ourselves in an indeterminate network of relationships that keeps opening up before us.
But here our energies and intellectual powers are taxed. How much of that indeterminacy can one absorb? How soon do we, in exhaustion, begin trading upon trivialities, banal coincidences? The world offers an endless supply of facts. We are pressured to understand how they are important to us.
Which facts relate in ways that bring us insight? Which coincidental meetings are actually important? It is under the pressure to know these things that we feel the whole world groaning. Art is one such sometimes-exquisite groan. In whatever manner or voice, art calls out the relations between things, even subdividing the “thing itself” into its own sets of relationships.
Painting is one avenue in a network of roads that comprise what Art is. To be professional about painting is to know its history and technical detail, to be enmeshed in its limits; to “walk wary” with it in the world, alert to its capacities for patching together a content of sorts.
Joel Sheesley is a painter who lives in the suburbs of Chicago. He graduated with a BFA in painting and drawing from Syracuse University School of Art, and from the University of Denver School of Art, with an MFA in painting and printmaking. He teaches art at Wheaton College. His work has been exhibited regularly in Chicago, including at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2010, and in other cities across the country. Mr. Sheesley received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in 2002. In 2008 Mr. Sheesley’s painting was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University.