Wishful Drinking is the title of Gary Simmons' exhibition of new sculpture and drawings that use the imagery and language surrounding the hillbilly moonshine trade of the prohibition era. A single large sculpture of a ghostly stark-white fiberglass contraption of barrels, tubes and pipes is a reconstruction of an abandoned homemade still. The sculpture presents a vaguely familiar image collected over time from an array of fictional, filmic and journalistic encounters.
The wall drawing that occupies the entire rear wall of the gallery is of a wishing well in a state of disrepair. The erasure drawing is executed in Simmons' signature method: the wall is painted a chalkboard black; chalk is then wiped across the surface using erasers; the image is drawn in chalk and then smeared by hand until partially obscured, becoming a diffused and illusive picture.
Gary Simmons, who lived in New York for the past ten years, is currently in Los Angeles where he teaches at U.S.C. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received an M.F.A. from CalArts. A survey show of his work, organized by Thelma Golden and Elizabeth Smith, will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in February 2002 and travel to the Studio Museum in Harlem and Site Santa Fe. Simmons recently completed "Ghost House," using the interior of an abandoned New Mexico ranch house as backdrop for a series of erasure drawings of romantic and mysterious ballrooms, chandeliers and shooting stars. "Ghost House" was sponsored by Site Santa Fe, who will publish a book on the project this year. Simmons has had one-person exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles, the St. Louis Art Museum and the Kunsthaus Zurich; and a web project titled "Wake" for the DIA Center in New York.
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