What anchors Chuck Webster’s work is drawing; he is not afraid to reveal himself through this age-old practice, using whatever means are at his disposal.
I have been following Chuck Webster’s work since his first show at Zieher Smith in 2003, where he employed different mediums on different kinds of antique and found paper. It was obvious to me that Webster loved to draw in both dry and liquid mediums, anything capable of making a line.
The exhibitions that rippled through our cultural fabric over the past year, at least those occurring in and around New York, have registered the predictable number of highs and lows, though 2014 did manage to plumb one nadir unlikely to be matched for a good long time.
The Age of Small Things, a group show organized by the painter Chuck Webster, fills the ground floor of the Lower East Side’s Dodge Gallery, where the singular touch of the artist-curator has recast a parade of diminutive objects into an unpredictable unfolding of processes and ideas.
The recent resurgence of interest in contemporary painting has posited the unique object — especially the handcrafted, the slapped-together, and the aggressively tactile — as yin to neo-conceptualism’s yang, a raggedy-edged refutation of the factory-finished, the reproducible, and the overly cerebral.
Chuck Webster is in his early 40s. He has been showing regularly in New York for nearly a decade. This is his sixth show at ZieherSmith since 2003.
Let us start with two addresses just a few blocks from each other in San Francisco, and what was happening there in the early and mid-1950s. On Halloween, 1954, the Six Gallery opened at 3119 Fillmore Street in San Francisco. The six founders were Wally Hedrick, Deborah Remington, Hayward King, David Simpson, John Ryan and Jack Spicer. Their shared interest was to have a place to exhibit art and host literary events, to put art and poetry on the walls, side by side. At the debut exhibition, Spicer’s poems were in fact on the wall, just like the paintings and drawings of the other co-founders.