Myths and Valor
John Buron, Keith MacLelland, Bill Porter
June 15 - July 15
Reception: Saturday, June 17th, 4-6pm
John Buron, Lorraine's Impending Appliance, photo transfer with gouache on paper, 8"x10"
Keith MacLelland, Big Tom Cowboy, mixed media: recycled paper, cardboard, glitter, ink, spray paint, grommet, 38"x25", 2013
Bill Porter, Retrace, acrylic house paint and mixed media on wood, 36"x26", 2015
Myths and Valor explores components of American nostalgia through objects, icons, and stories. Through their displacement or alteration, artists John Buron, Keith MacLelland, and Bill Porter reconsider these components for a fluid contemporary era in which anything seems possible, whether for better or for worse.
One view of mid-20th century America is a golden perception; of contentment, consumerism, and conformism. It was indeed a “booming” time period, the birth of “classic” American visual culture, and a bright, naive dawn that many modes of media ask us to harken back to. In "Myths and Valor", John Buron, Keith MacLelland, and Bill Porter examine these origins, question the validity of memory, and address such romanticism with this bygone era. Photographic memorabilia, familiar household fragments, classic comics, and Hollywood icons are stable and reassuring; they remind us of home, childhood, and help us to feel protected. Exploring the nuances and sometimes dark humor behind these remnants, Buron, MacLelland and Porter gently probe us to reflect on the past critically.
A primary color palette and heroic gestures set the stage for Myths and Valor. Commenting on nuclear family roles, Buron recontextualizes or highlights the intentions, desires, and undertones of actions captured in common suburban household scenes. He comments on the tradition and pride associated with having one’s picture taken. By tampering with the evidence of family snapshots via painting and collage, Buron remarks with mild absurdity, and points out the social and political parallels between the atomic age and today.
MacLelland’s sparkly, zestful “Monster Cowboys” are inspired by the gallantry and purity of the classic 1950s singing cowboys, such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. In contrast, his contemporary superheroes supply protection to us overly-stimulated, caffeinated and hyper-informed masses. His cowboy’s bodies are decorated with our own brightly colored cast-offs, such as scratch tickets, candy wrappers, and junk mail. Their muscles and superpowers are larger than life to fend off omnipresent modern-day horrors and fears, such as terrorism and cyber-bullies.
Meanwhile, Porter invokes the American dream through physical household materials such as old wooden stepladder planks and surfaces evoking shingles, fences, and home siding. Upon these materials, Porter uses house paint to express flat, open skies and just recognizable snippets of cartoons and comics, adding fragments of text and book pages. He acknowledges the powerful influence such illustrations and other traditional modes of storytelling have on youngsters’ moral values, and remarks on escapism and mystery.
Examining patriotism and American identity, Buron, MacLelland, and Porter consider traditions and values. In reflecting on the recent past, they examine the powers of belief and authorship, and ask us to tread forth with compassion, awareness, and good humor.
John Buron grew up as a free range child in the small town Oakham Massachusetts. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art at the University of Texas at Austin, with a concentration in painting, lithography and photography. He has continued to create and exhibit his artwork, primarily in New England. He works in software development for sustenance, which frees him from having to commoditize his art, and provides him with absolute creative freedom. John and his glorious wife Nancy moved to Providence in the fall of 2015. www.johnburon.com
Keith MacLelland is the Department Chair of Illustration and Associate Professor at LUCAD, and a former artist in Residence at St. Paul's School. He has exhibited throughout the United States in cities such as NY, LA, and Boston, and has been published in the US, France and Germany. MacLelland has presented visiting artist lecturers at MICA, LCAD, NESADSU, and AIB, and some clients include, Apple, COREL, Timberland, Wacom and the Washington Post. In addition, he has received kudos from 3x3, American Illustration, Applied Arts, Creative Quarterly, HOW Design and Society of Illustrators. www.keithmaclelland.com
Bill Porter is a visual artist and educator, located in Massachusetts. The son of an immigrant from Donegal, Ireland, Porter’s childhood curiosities about life were indulged with Christian stories and anecdotes of growing up on his father’s family farm. His father labored as a painting contractor, enabling Porter’s suburban American upbringing and exposure to visual modes of storytelling propagated through cartoons, comic strips and other syndicated forms of popular culture. Porter received his MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design, (LUCAD) and his BFA from UMASS Amherst. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Animation and Motion Media at LUCAD.www.billaporter.com