July 17, 2019
Todd Arsenault and Kristopher Benedict: Surly Puppet
July 17, 2019


Todd Arsenault and Kristopher Benedict: Surly Puppet
David Richard Gallery
New York

Tue 16 Jul 2019 to Fri 9 Aug 2019
Wed-Sat 10am-6pm

David Richard Gallery presents Surly Puppet, an exhibition of new collaborative paintings by Todd Arsenault and Kristopher Benedict.

Their process of collaboration is similar in spirit to how improvisational musicians take cues from each other, melding creative impulses that may lead to divergent combinations of familiar rhythms and chords and resulting in a new melody. Extending that same logic to painting, the two artists have created over 50 collaborative works that go beyond a mere hybridization of their respective painting styles to create aesthetically distinct imagery with a unique evolutionary development. The resulting body of work encompasses a range of styles, attitudes, and approaches, as the two artists create in dialogue toward the development of a singular new image.

For the past three years, Todd Arsenault and Kristopher Benedict have been collaborating on a group of paintings in their shared Philadelphia studio space. The two artists are rarely in the studio at the same time and seldom discuss the work in progress other than intermittently leaving Post-It® notes for each other relaying terse messages such as: “might be finished” or “your turn.” Familiarity with non-verbal communication, and the intuitive awareness to leave space in the emerging image for the other painter to operate, comes from their decade long history of musical collaboration.

Since 2008, Arsenault and Benedict, along with visual artist Ward Davenny, have been involved in Fake Your Death, a music project based around the idea of long form improvisation with both traditional rock instrumentation and digital sound. In both the collaborative paintings and the music, there is a desire to cultivate work that adopts a roughness and occasional sense of amateurism as a “de-skilling” strategy to avoid creative tendencies that have grown too comfortable over time. The paintings and music also share a sense of spontaneity, a play between humor and tension, and an interest in abrupt contextual changes and competing foci.

Todd Arsenault and Kristopher Benedict’s collaborative efforts in painting can be seen as a practice that questions the concept and definition of the “artist’s voice”. If a certain understanding of painting tells us that a work of art’s content, or the artist’s “vision”, is distilled through style, what results from two distinct approaches operating in the same image? What is the result when these distinct voices become united to the point of being indistinguishable, or fracture into something visually multifarious? More than the idea of challenging conventional ideas of style and originality, Arsenault and Benedict are engaged in finding out how these experiments with voice and image-making allow for the development of new patterns of looking, and challenge visual perception through unexpected juxtapositions of aesthetic and visual language.

About Todd Arsenault:

Todd Arsenault (b. 1977 Milford, Connecticut) is a painter and musician who also uses digital media to bring together his creative endeavors into visual and audio experiences. His paintings are abstractions that combine figuration with non-objective episodes to create vignettes and situational statements, generally working with saturated hues and often incorporating text. Arsenault received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2003 and a BA from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1999. Selected exhibitions include Play it First at Site 57, New York, NY (2017); The Vortex is Obscene at Galería Fúcares in Madrid, Spain (2010); New York Style at Angell Gallery in Toronto (2006); and Todd Arsenault at Massimo Audiello Gallery in New York (2005). He lives in Pennsylvania where he is Associate Professor of Studio Art at Dickinson College.

About Kristopher Benedict:

Kristopher Benedict (b. 1978 Middletown, NY) has a unique approach to his painting practice. He begins with figurative elements, landscapes and a concept, then works the figure, palette and non-objective ground and adjacent passages in parallel—adding, covering and repeating the process to realize the final abstract compositions. While distinct representational elements often remain from his process, many become obfuscated or incorporated into the abstract milieu. Benedict has exhibited his work in solo shows at David Richard Gallery, Sue Scott Gallery, and Tibor de Nagy in New York, Gallery Diet (now Nina Johnson) in Miami, Paris London Hong Kong in Chicago, Volta NY, and the Goodyear Gallery at Dickinson College among other venues. Group exhibitions include those at the David Petersen Gallery in Minneapolis, CTRL gallery in Houston, the University of Florida, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, and the Orlando Museum of Art. His work is in the public collections of the RISD Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, and The Orlando Museum of Art. He holds a BFA from The Cooper Union, and an MFA from Columbia University. His studio is in Philadelphia, he lives in the suburbs, and teaches painting at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Artwork copyright © Todd Arsenault and Kristopher Benedict. Courtesy of David Richard Gallery. Photo by Yao Zu Lu

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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