Happening group exhibition

Nayland Blake, Anne Collier, Lecia Dole-Recio, Eve Fowler, Daniel Marcellus Givens, Matthew Higgs, Ray Johnson, Elizabeth Karp-Evans, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Devin N. Morris, Lorraine O'Grady, LJ Roberts, Sur Rodney (Sur), Tabboo!, Andre Walker, Shyvette Williams

Apr. 28–June 16, 2019

New York

Gordon Robichaux is pleased to present Frederick Weston: Happening, a solo exhibition of multimedia collage works and an installation of related archival binders, created over the past thirty years by artist and poet Frederick Weston.

In conjunction with Happening, Gordon Robichaux has curated a group show of artwork by sixteen artists in the smaller room of the gallery: Nayland Blake, Anne Collier, Lecia Dole-Recio, Eve Fowler, Daniel Marcellus Givens, Matthew Higgs, Ray Johnson, Elizabeth Karp-Evans, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Devin N. Morris, Lorraine O’Grady, LJ Roberts, Sur Rodney (Sur), Tabboo!, Andre Walker, and Shyvette Williams. This eclectic group of artists and works engage many of the concerns and ideas central to Weston’s practice—his use of appropriated images and objects; collage strategies; and exploration of representations of identity, desire, and the human body.

A selection of well-worn binders with handwritten headings on their spines—FEELINGS, BODIES, COLORS, KICKS, POLICE, BEDROOMS, GUNS, CARTOONIST, FRISBEE, FRUIT, PRISON—winds a path along the floor of the gallery. The collection is a small sampling of the archive of binders and file boxes that crowd Weston’s apartment, which is also his studio: “I make all my work in bed,” he says. Before moving into his current apartment in Chelsea, Weston lived in SROs and hotels all over the city—the Esquire, the Senton, the Roger Williams, and the Breslin—where a series of financial and emotional upheavals would lead him to “lose everything three times.”

From a very young age, Weston began articulating his own subjectivity by collecting and organizing a seemingly infinite breadth of visual materials with personal and cultural significance: images from magazines and newspapers of money, food, skin, holiday and religious imagery; toiletry and pharmaceutical packaging; photographs; fabric swatches; as well as duplicates made with Xerox machines. Weston utilizes his idiosyncratic, encyclopedic system to process, destabilize, and cope with a hierarchal, category-obsessed material world. This particular iteration of binders dates back to 1995, when Weston was diagnosed with AIDS, an event that would launch him on a path of radical self-love and anoint his commitment to himself as an artist.

A panorama of collages on foamcore boards reminiscent of those used for didactic presentations and elementary school projects encircle the gallery, expressing a range of ideas, rubrics, colors, vernaculars, histories, and ethics. Having trained in menswear design and marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Weston looks to fashion—“the only true democracy that exists [since] everybody has to get up in the morning and put on an outfit that represents them”—as a pleasurable, expressive place of liberation where signifiers of race, gender, and class mix and match like paper dolls. A primary genre for Weston is the mood board, which he releases from the constraints of functionality into a staging ground for his multi-versal art. His use of quotidian materials and garbage, too, reflects his insistence on accessibility and artmaking as a democratic process: “I like using materials kids have access to, like when I saw Matisse’s Swimming Pool, I thought: Oh, he just cut paper; I can do that.”

Weston embraces collage for its immediacy as a fluid form of tactile poetry. Through his use of visual and textual alliteration, images and categories collide, cohere, rhyme, and fracture around a single color or cultural symbol, resisting synthesis or literal interpretation. Divorce from My Cowardice is a study in yellow of city walking, the passing of time, the pleasure of memory and loss: a Metrocard, caution tape, a condom, cut logos from old Gristedes and Virgin Records bags—“stores that don’t exist anymore.” Another board starts with green as an entry point for a reckoning with autobiography: swatches of camouflage, a favorite plaid shirt, Freddie the Frog (“I don’t like amphibians but I’ve been referred to as a frog”), Xeroxed photos of Weston as a young man, ginger ale packaging, pictures of Nina Simone and Miles Davis, foremost geniuses who were seen as “ugly black.” The Blue Bedroom Ballads/Blue Bathroom Blues series plays with the quiet velocity of blue: serene and cool oceanic images, cleaning products, medicine bottles, muscular bodies on the beach à la Tom of Finland, Yves Klein blue, “God is the color of water / God is the color of air.” The Sambo series probes the iconography of The Story of Little Black Sambo, which Weston loved as a child: images of blackface, tigers, Krishna, Indian children, black children, and the Morton Salt Girl all coalesce into a complex and startling strategy for liberation.

Weston’s Body Map collages on irregular cut paper are silhouettes of life-size human forms traced from his and his friends’ bodies. The ongoing series of figurative works are populated with an array of images—faces, consumer products, flesh, and skin tones—that fill, exceed, and animate each form. The works refer to pattern making but stop in the phase of imagining, taking up similar themes as the other work in the show: the absurdity of labels, critique of racial categories and hierarchies, ecstasy of multiplicity, and the pleasure of being a person gifted with the language to celebrate, assess, and play within the world(s) we inhabit.

—Svetlana Kitto

Install (6)


Frederick Weston, Merman Diver

Mixed media collage on paper

77 x 30 inches


Lecia Dole-Recio, Untitled (2x4 curves, indigo and cardboard)

Acrylic, graphite, oak gall ink, tape, and wood

24.375 x 9.375 inches


Daniel Marcellus Givens, #whatremains@lostboys/inpieces

Pencil and marker on paper

13.5 x 11 inches


Frederick Weston, Blue Bathroom Series: Medication

Mixed media on paper

11 x 8.5 inches


Anne Collier, French Still Life #1 (Postcard)


28 x 22.6 inches


Frederick Weston, Self-Portrait

Mixed media on paper

11 x 8.5 inches


Sur Rodney (Sur), Chateau

Mixed media

Dimensions variable
Two parts: 6 x 3.25 x 1 inch (box), 3 x 1.5 inches


Lorraine O’Grady, Art Is. . . (Girl Pointing)


20 x 16 inches


Andre Walker, Tears: Voice of the Body

Watercolor on paper

12.5 x 15 inches (framed)


Ray Johnson, Untitled (Postcard)

Collage on illustration board

17.31 x 13.06 inches


Ray Johnson, Untitled (I Leave All My Lapins to Elaine de Kooning)

Collage on cardboard panel

15 x 12.5 inches


Devin N. Morris, Window Sill

Suede, leather, oil pastel, and peacock feather

7 x 5 inches


Lynn Hershman Leeson, Water Woman Evaporating x 3

Vellum, mirror, ink, celluloid, and Mylar

13.5 x 17.5 inches


LJ Roberts, Frederick Weston at NYC Pride

Embroidery on cotton

6 x 4 inches


Elisabeth Karp-Evans, Mirrors and Windows 5

Inkjet print on Mylar, mounted on mirror

10 x 8 inches


Shyvette Williams, Untitled

Watercolor on cardstock

4 x 5 inches


Sur Rodney (Sur), Micro Accessories

Mixed media

Two parts: 8.25 x 6 x 2 inches (box); 14 x 8 x 8 inches (dumbbell)


Eve Fowler, Untitled (Hustler)


14 x 11 inches


Eve Fowler, Untitled (Hustler)


14 x 11 inches


Eve Fowler, Untitled (Hustler)


14 x 11 inches


Frederick Weston, Tommie’s Smile

Colored pencil on dot matrix print

14 x 8.5 inches


Matthew Higgs, WRONG

Framed book page

20.75 x 17.75 inches (framed)


Tabboo!, Untitled (Stephanie Crawford)


11 x 8.5 inches

c. 1984/1988

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Gordon Robichaux