The Boys Are Back in Town
Billy Schenck. Greg Miller.
Showing: Fall/Winter 2023
Opening: Thursday, September 7th, 2023
Location: 511A West 22nd St., New York, NY 10011
Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven’t changed, had much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy
JoAnne Artman Gallery is pleased to present The Boys Are Back in Town, an exhibition of new works by Billy Schenck and Greg Miller. The exhibition serves as an investigative tale told by wanderers, as they roam country roads to discover both self and national identity. Returning to JoAnne Artman Gallery’s New York space in style, the boys are back in town to present their visions of America.
Schenck and Miller hone imagery that is specific to each of their practices – the Western genre and the Golden Age of advertising respectively. Known for cheekily playful compositions, common motifs across both bodies of works include cowboys, femme fatales, and heroic vigilantes. Sourcing imagery from personal references, historical print, and Spaghetti Western films, each tie their compositional narratives to past eras. Exploring similar subject matter, the artists diverge into distinct styles- Schenck with his trademark Pop Western fusion, and Miller, combining the revered rebellion of the Wild West with his love for mixed media and California surf culture. Through skillful integration of recognizable and sentimental images, Schenck and Miller capture a mirror of the real world through the merging of collective memory and pop phenomena.
Resonating visually and linguistically, their works are dynamic narrative forces that lay bare the dualities of perception. Integrating text, Schenck and Miller use language to add allegorical depth and social commentary. Utilizing the front, sides, and backs of his works, Greg Miller’s works are pieces of poetry. Examining the underlying foundations of imagery and text associated with American pop and consumerism, Miller combines collaged text with emblazed words across his compositions, reminiscent of magazine covers. Cutting words and phrases from ads and books, the meticulous placement reveals a deeper, hidden meaning. In a graphic, comic book style, Schenck uses speech bubbles and dialogues to converse with his viewers. Satirically examining the tropes, stereotypes, and machismo associated with the Old West, his comical and exaggerated text coyly undermine Western clichés, unexpectedly turning them on their head. Equal parts statement and observation, Schenck and Miller present wry, yet idealized, versions of a vintage past that is an amalgamation of personal nostalgia, folklore, and mythology.
Schenck and Miller’s work will inspire, provoke, engage and mesmerize. With visual perceptions always changing, peek behind the stories told and you’re sure to find the right artistic expression.