Virgins Virgining, organized by Micah Wood • Tears of A Clown: Jim Winters • Rachel Cohen at NIAD Art Center from September 1-29 //

Virgins Virgining, Organized by Micah Wood

“‘Virgins Virgining,” a group exhibition, promotes and antagonizes the notion of a “first time.” What was the feeling of trying on your first pair of high heels? What did it feel like to hold your partner for the first slow dance at prom? Of what was the first photograph you ever took? Who was the first person you loved to hate? The artists in “Virgins Virgining” cast aside authenticity to dig deeper into emotionality, pop culture, coded languages, larger than life objects, and try to signal that there might be a “first time” for everything. Included in the exhibition are Bonanza, Sara Malpass, Ben Quinn, Jonathan Velazquez, and Arthur Weiss.

Micah Wood is an artist living and working in Oakland, California. Recent solo and group exhibitions include “So What Are You Doing Before The Orgy” Hector Escandon, Mexico City; “Healthy Tears” (2016) Johansson Projects, Oakland; “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Hand” (2016) with Sarah Thibault, Egyptian Arts and Antiques, Los Angeles; and “Of Mice and Them” (2016) Fondation Des Etats-Unis, Paris. Micah was a recipient of the Harriet Hale Woolley Scholarship, a nine month long residency in Paris. Recent publications include “Looping, Vol. 4, Micah Wood” published by Yes, Snoopy, Dusseldorf, Germany. He received his Masters of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts in 2015 and his Bachelors of Arts from Earlham College in 2011. This is the first exhibition Micah Wood has organized at NIAD Art Center.

Tears of A Clown: Jim Winters

Clowns get a bad rap these days. Their image has transformed from the comic goofball into a horror icon (thanks in part to real-life serial murderer John Wayne Gacy, novelist Stephen King, and one of my favorite films Killer Klowns from Outer Space). Most people now seem to have an ingrained aversion. Clowns can definitely be disturbing, Santa Cruz artist Jim Winters will give you that, but for him, therein lies both the charm and the frisson. Winters prefers to add his own (sometimes) sinister take on a wholesome-looking clown rather than see an outright creepy horror clown. That’s too easy and obvious. He thrills at the manic happiness, the slapstick silliness and most of all, the exaggerated sadness of the classic circus clown. The frowning clown holding a broken flower with a tear streaming down his cheek moves Winters. A good friend of the artist recently noted, “There is a thin line between a clown and a drag queen.” Winters totally agrees. A clown is basically a type of masculine drag, but men wearing make-up in any context has a certain power. Source from vintage paint-by-number paintings and mid-century photographs, the clowns – on paintings, serigraphs and surfboards — in this show are intended to amuse and unsettle, not to scare.

Jim Winters is a queer California artist, a long-time Bay Area resident who now lives and works in Santa Cruz. He has spent decades making work that documents his obsessions, his friends and loved ones, and the places where he has lived and traveled. Winters’ paintings, drawings and screenprints exist in the traditional arenas of portraiture and landscapes, but have a self-conscious attitude that ultimately defies this initial categorization.

Although he is a regular donor to Win Win (NIAD’s annual benefit exhibition), this is Jim Winter’s first solo exhibition at the Art Center.

Rachel Cohen

Bringing the process to the forefront, New York artist and author Rachel Cohen’s new series of work explores her reactions to the current stress, anxiety, and fear evoked in today’s sociopolitical landscape. Here, the artist acts as initiator of the creative process and vehicle for application of materials, yet it is the variables like air quality, floor slope, canvas saturation and more that drive each piece’s final form. Making sense of this chance encounter allows the artist to reflect on resilience in the face of our own uncertainty, and invites the viewer to do the same.

Rachel Cohen is an artist, art therapist, and museum educator located in Brooklyn, NY. Primarily a painter and video artist, Cohen has exhibited her work throughout the United States. In 2014, she created sculptures given out as international humanitarian awards during the United Nations General Assembly.

Cohen is a New York State licensed and board-certified art therapist, and teaches at the Museum of Modern Art and the American Folk Art Museum. She received a BA in English from Wesleyan University, and an MPS in Art Therapy from Pratt Institute. Her first book, Outsider Art and Art Therapy, was released in 2017.

This is Rachel Cohen’s first exhibition at NIAD. At the opening we will host a book party celebrating Cohen’s first publication.

Opening reception is Saturday, September 9 from 1:00-4:00 pm with music spun by Tim Buckwalter