Abattoir Gallery Breathes Life Into the Mundane Featuring the Latest Works by Shawn Powell and Lauren Yeager

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SHAWN POWELL, “BEACH TOWEL, SCARF, TOOTH”
  • Shawn Powell, “Beach Towel, Scarf, Tooth”

“I used to think it would be hard to find somewhere outside of the two coastal poles of New York or L.A. with such a strong infrastructure for a thriving arts community, but it seems to be more and more common in places like Cleveland, Detroit, and Kansas City…” — Shawn Powell

Abattoir gallery, the newest addition to the Hildebrandt Building located at 3619 Walton Ave., will be hosting an exhibition featuring the latest works from Ohio-based artists Shawn Powell and Lauren Yeager opening Friday July 31st.



Abattoir is a noun borrowed from the French language meaning, “a place where animals are butchered,” which is no doubt some sort of twisted homage to the fact that the Hildebrandt building was a meat packing plant at one time. With curatorial giant, Lisa Kurzner and Rose Burlingham coming out of the gate ‘full force’ with this, their second exhibition, there is no doubt that this duo are indeed, if you'll forgive the pun, killing it.

“From the very first studio visit I had with them it was clear that they were the real deal," Shawn Powell says of his first impressions of the gallery. "They asked smart and poignant questions and picked up on a lot of the influences and concepts I was working with in my paintings. They were so engaged and passionate, which isn’t always the case during studio visits. Their knowledge and professionalism rivals any New York gallery I’ve worked with. The new gallery space is beautiful and I’m really excited to be included in the roster of local and national artists that they are showing there.”



According to the description of this exhibition on Abattoir’s website, Shawn Powell and Lauren Yeager’s works breathe new life into the seemingly “…overlooked quotidian objects in their work, each adopting a philosophical tangent consistent with their commentary and interests.”

Powell, a Professor of Painting at Kent State University, takes the simplicity of objects and deconstructs them into their mere shape and color before arranging them in a way which offers the viewer a new perspective on what responses these items can elicit when juxtaposed with one another.

He configures them in order to highlight their intrinsic color, form and texture while forcing the viewer to ‘fill in the blanks’ as to how these objects come together in time and space. An impressive example of this can be observed in this current exhibition with the work entitled plainly, “Beach Towel, Scarf, Tooth” the stripes from which Powell admits are derived directly from Daniel Buren. The objects alone as concepts might not raise the brow, but when arranged in a symphony of line and color they meld into something otherworldly while manifesting a somewhat cinematic quality.

“Works by filmmaker David Lynch, the writing style of Alain Robbe-Grillet, and good abstract painting in general leave the viewer with experiences that lead to more questions than answers, and I feel that that kind of critical dialogue between the work and the viewer is the baseline of what I can ask them to take away from the work. I’m not interested in giving an audience a traditional narrative structure that has a solid culmination. For me, the journey is more important than the destination, leaving a viewer with questions like “Why was there a missing tooth next to a scarf?”

Lauren Yeager in her bio states, “The relevance of my work does not depend on a specific geographic location, but a more common, contemporary experience of everyday urban and suburban life. Placing familiar objects into unfamiliar configurations and contexts frees them of their assimilated functions, and promotes a free-form engagement with our everyday surroundings.”

The obvious congruency here between these artists’ visions and the fact that these two were ‘put in the same room together’ speaks to the ‘avoir bon goût’ of Burlingham and Kurzner as curators and to their clarity in conceptualizing a show. Kurzner has been a long-time supporter of Yeager and has been working with her since 2016.

Yeager’s work in this exhibition showcases a selection of photographic pieces and found-object sculptures that embody her keen eye for finding ways to reconfigure every-day and sometimes seemingly mundane items and allow them to exist in space together in order to offer another and maybe more intrinsic narrative about how they speak to one another.

Yeager, who has an impressive exhibiting history, keeps track of the trash schedules for Cleveland and surrounding suburbs in order to recycle these found objects and familiar forms. “I choose objects that are familiar and identifiable, and I choose to leave the objects unaltered to preserve their integrity as objects as they enter into the context of sculpture. The direct presentation allows viewers to approach the works with their own experiences and personal histories, while the objects shift back and forth between their original contexts and the context of art.”

The exhibition will be up from 7/31 to 9/5.

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