Ree Morton

Curated by Colleen Grennan

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Sigfrids/Howard’s is excited to announce Atmospheres, an exhibition of paintings by Ree Morton, curated by Colleen Grennan. The show will run from August 26th to October 6th with an opening reception on August 26th from 3-6pm. Sigfrids/Howard’s is a shared initiative between Tif Sigfrids and Howard’s art galleries in Athens, Georgia. In addition to our concurrent gallery shows, Sigfrids/Howard’s will feature projects organized by guest curators at 119 North Jackson Street and will serve as a platform to expand the dialogue surrounding contemporary art in Athens, Georgia.

The introduction to Ree Morton’s work is often mentioned in tandem to the too short time she spent making art. Her active period as an artist lasted from 1968 until her early death in 1977. During this time she managed to build a substantial and deeply personal body of work. She created introspective installations that explore emotions and personal myth via narration, painting and sculpture. What is unique and special about the practice of Ree Morton is derivative of the person from which it came. The work is gentle, even when dealing with feelings of loss and love. It is crafted in honesty and dedicated to the handmade-ness. It is romantic and nostalgic and resurrects the staying power of sentimentality.

The origin of the titular painting, Atmospheres (Signs of Love), comes from Morton’s next to last large installation Signs of Love. The piece was first exhibited in the Whitney Museum’s 1977 Biennial Exhibition. It consisted of an assortment of ladders, Barochian curtains, roses, and bows connecting two portraits. One a Prince, the other a Princess. While the paintings exhibited at Sigfrids/Howard’s were not included in the first iteration - they are made from the same thought process, an ode to the romantic and fleeting aspects of love.

In an interview from 1976, Ree recounts the varied places she had lived: Georgia, Florida, Virgina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Montana, Illinois, and Colorado. She listed campsites, construction sites, roadside stands, traffic jams, horticulture schools, tidal pools, Victorian cemeteries, scenic overlooks, race tracks, and regattas. This kind of recording and mapping territories happens throughout her practice. It comes out in her drawings and in the domestic motifs, like picket fences and fields, and the arranged stones, wooden fragments and tree stumps used in her installations.

The second work exhibited at Sigfrids/Howard’s is a drawing titled Untitled (Game Drawing). This work dates 1972 - 73 and is part of a larger collection of drawings of aerial maps of parks with little ponds and hills. In the center of this drawing appears to be a watercolor doodle of a hill and perhaps an overhead view of a field. There is an arrow and an “X” indicated suggesting instructions or perhaps a map of the player’s journey. Flanked on either side are drawings of what could be haystacks and ladders. More obstacles to hurdle in the game.

Both pieces are installed in an annex in the gallery. It’s a hallway space lined with faux wood paneling that now leads nowhere but most likely served a purpose in the original layout of the overall building. It was decided to hang the work in this location because it felt close to the ephemeral, emotive nature of the artist. We hope she would agree.

Colleen Grennan is a curator based in Los Angeles. She is a director at Kayne Griffin Corcoran and a partner at Cleopatra's in New York until its 2018 closing. She received her MFA in curatorial studies from Goldsmiths College in London.