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Abstract Utility: Buster Graybill

Fort Worth Contemporary Arts - The Art Galleries at TCU

The Art Galleries at TCU are pleased to present Abstract Utility: Buster Graybill. Featuring gallery-based sculptural works and a new mobile installation, this exhibition runs September 6 – November 23, 2019 at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts and will open with a reception for the artist on Friday, September 6th, from 6-8 p.m.

San Antonio-based artist Buster Graybill utilizes sculpture, installation, video and photography to examine and celebrate the rich cultural geography of rural America. His gaze regularly turns to mundane or overlooked objects, materials or landscapes, and he admits to harvesting memories, stories and language as creative fuel from this position.

Working as a contractor before he was an artist, Graybill had a host of blue-collar jobs over the years resulting in a wide-ranging skill-set but also the socio-political chops that enable him to tread thoughtfully in this context. As such, Graybill’s work often addresses a needs-must or can-do pragmatism, where resilience meets creative solutions. This results in a studio practice that simultaneously engages with fine art concepts and everyday utility. In addition, Graybill frequently navigates formal ideas with a sense of humor and self-deprecation, especially when encountering themes related to class and gender.

For the Art Galleries at TCU, Graybill premiers R.MUTT: Renegade Modernist Utility Travel Trailer, a response to what he perceives as an escalating cultural tension, paranoia, political anxiety, and cultural obsession with “Dooms Day Prepping” for “End of the World” situations. This Postmodern covered wagon is a 20-foot, extreme off-road camper trailer with a rugged aluminum diamond plate armored shell and 35” off-road tires. Part Dooms-Day-Prepper and part Modernist sculpture, the R.MUTT: Renegade Modernist Utility Travel Trailer is a Swiss Army knife of both form and function. Features include: sleeping quarters for 3-4 people, a slide-out field kitchen, water collection and filtration system, books on survival, bushcraft, homesteading and Postmodern art; a solar powered electrical system, and refrigerator/freezer.

Named in homage to Marcel Duchamp’s urinal, this urban escape vehicle is prepared for a variety of scenarios including economic and political failure, pandemics, deterioration in food production, natural catastrophes, nuclear fallout and biological warfare. It will function as a mobile art studio and base camp for future, nomadic, self-guided art residencies for Graybill until the world collapses. The trailer will be parked outside Fort Worth Contemporary Arts for the first few weeks of the exhibition, and will then migrate to different locations around the TCU campus throughout the run of the show.

R.MUTT: Renegade Modernist Utility Travel Trailer is a project that has been long in the making, and is now finally realized by support from The Art Galleries at TCU, the Department of Art and Art History University of Texas at San Antonio, and the Artist Foundation of San Antonio's Rick Liberto Award for Visual Arts.

Alongside the trailer, Graybill will present sculptures and lawn chair strap “paintings” from his ongoing series Recreational Modernism at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts. These works celebrate the formal nuances and conceptual potential of objects and materials often associated with outdoor leisure and hobbies, including fishing, custom cars and backyard BBQs. Graybill explores Modernist tendencies from a rural working class perspective, and as such these works challenge perceived notions of value and hierarchies imposed on objects of “high” and “low” culture. He explains: “Like a miner panning for gold, I sift through my own environment with a playful but discerning eye, finding beauty, humor, poetry and value in the sediment of everyday life.”

About the artist: Buster Graybill is an Assistant Professor at University of Texas at San Antonio in the Department of Art and Art History. He utilizes sculpture, installation, video and photography to traverse cultural boundaries and reconnect with often overlooked objects, materials and places found in the rural landscape. Graybill has exhibited widely throughout Texas, including his most recent solo exhibitions Leisurely, at Galveston Art Center (2018) and Leisure Lines, at the Southwest School of Art, San Antonio (2017). He has also participated in solo and group exhibitions in Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Guanajuato, Mexico. Graybill is an alumnus of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Residency and the Artpace International Artist-In-Residence program, as well as a recipient of grants from the San Antonio Artist Foundation and the Idea Fund, a program of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. In 2016 listed him as one of the Top 10 artists in Texas. Graybill received his BFA from the University of North Texas (2001) and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin (2008). He lives and works in San Antonio.

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