The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs presents Slightly Askew at City Gallery, featuring the work of artists Rebecca Davenport and Cabell Heyward, March 25 through May 7, 2017. The exhibition will open with a reception Friday, March 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. An artist’s talk with Rebecca Davenport will be held on Sunday, April 2 at 2 p.m. A talk with Cabell Heyward will be held on Sunday, April 30 at 2 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.
Slightly Askew presents the work of two artists whose perspectives on reality are slightly askew from consensus views. Rebecca Davenport’s large scale mixed media works, evocative of sideshow banners, explore the world of the carnival and sideshow, complete with its games of chance and over-the-top bluster. Cabell Heyward’s dreamlike abstract paintings present a version of contemporary surrealism, with imagery evoking a dreamlike state where reality and fantasy seamlessly meld.
For more than a decade, Davenport has been creating works inspired by the evaporating culture of the American sideshow. She is steeped in the lore, and finds that the charlatans and purveyors of bunkum are still very much on the scene today. Taken as metaphor, Davenport’s work offers a cautionary tale about American society at this moment. In a reality where exaggeration and false truths are spouted with unchallenged authority, and the ultimate goal is fleecing the masses, the sideshow barker begins to look like a quaint relic of yore. Davenport’s work is rich with narrative threads and trenchant observations of the human condition.
Cabell Heyward’s dreamscapes contain bits of the familiar, but they are juxtaposed in unfamiliar ways. There is a rightness to the completed images, as if they could be no other way, yet there is also something off-kilter and unsettling. Heyward’s works evince a kind of shock to the system, and an invitation to unravel the narrative threads presented. There is a puzzle-like aspect to the series, with each new piece adding clues as to the interpretation of others in the grouping. Figures both float and anchor many of the compositions, emphasizing the fact that humans are surrounded by a landscape of images and impressions brought together by imagination.
This show is curated and organized by Mark Sloan, Director and Chief Curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.