ArtNewsThe SouthSider

Text-focused art show opens at Cherokee Street Gallery

BENTON PARK WEST – Saturday marked the opening of “TEXT CON TEXT,” a new art show at the Cherokee Street Gallery that is, fittingly, all about text.

The show featured four artists: Robert Longyear, L.A. Marler, Bryan Walsh, and Benjamin Lowder. Each artist’s work utilized text in some way in all of their showcased pieces, though, of course, no two uses of text were the same.

Lowder, who opened the Cherokee Street Gallery a mere year ago and gathered together the artists for TEXT CON TEXT, described his contribution to the show as a very “personal catharsis.”

“I’ve been an artist my entire life, as long as I can possibly remember, and I started out in commercial art, illustration and advertising,” explained Lowder.

He said that building a sustainable home from reclaimed lumber changed his perspective on his work. While building the new home, he found several vintage metal signs he thought he might hang on the walls of the sustainable house but found he didn’t identify with any of the brands on the signs.

Instead, he cut and reshaped the signs in a “triangulation pattern,” modeled off of the work of Buckminster Fuller, an architect of the 20th century who developed the geodesic dome. Having cut ties with much of the advertising world, Lowder now uses his advertising background to exclusively promote non-profits that honor the life and work of Buckminster Fuller.

Speaking about his work in TEXT CON TEXT, Lowder described his process in three steps.

“Go on a treasure hunt to find these materials. Break the spell cast by the advertising through the literal spelling and usage of symbols and language to manipulate people to feel insecure and promote consumerism… And then I recast it on…the ideas of sacred geometry,” he explained.

Other artists had different processes and inspirations, of course. Robert Longyear said he drew inspiration by mixing the modern digital world with the handwritten.

Robert Longyear’s piece “E H,” featured in TEXT CON TEXT

“So much of what we do is a digital matrix and text messages and Tinder and stuff, which is really amazing to me,” he said. “I think there’s no other place where you can go meet people from seriously all walks of life.”

But he also said with these works he “started to want to chase the feeling of what it felt like to drop a locker note in somebody’s locker in high school or middle school.”

That’s especially evident in the piece “Want to be my girlfriend?”. Styled after a note school kids might send to one another, that text is displayed above two check boxes that read “yes” and “no” respectively.

“There’s a really funny thing that happens when you hold your breath and you take a leap, and you meet somebody that you only know digitally, like a real person in real time,” said Longyear.

TEXT CON TEXT opened on Saturday and will run at Cherokee Street Gallery through June 7.

Samantha Auch

Sam Auch graduated from Knox College, where she studied Theater and Gender Studies. Outside her work with The Northsider, she works as an actor, playwright, and artist. You can found out more about her at her website

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