“’We refuse to flee poetry for reality,’ he said, ’But we refuse to flee reality for poetry.’ The men and women blinked at him. ’No one should say our actions are superfluous,’ Thibaut recited. 'If they do, we’ll say the superfluous supposes the necessary.’” – The Last Days of New Paris (China Miéville)
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The Dollar Art House is a DIY project, based in St. Louis, Missouri, of Red Wedge editors and artists Craig E. Ross and Adam Turl. Dollar Art House aims to provide a modest platform for a popular avant-garde; experimental art that is connected to popular concerns and audiences. We take inspiration from art that is oppositional in nature while also shaped by the material and inner lives of the exploited and oppressed – strands of early Punk and Hip Hop, Epic Theater, Surrealism, critical irrealism, Arte Povera, etc.
We are part of the “art world” (such as it is) but we are aware of the limitations it presently places on the economy and content of contemporary art. As global cities are progressively taken away from working-class people through gentrification we feel that we must create the platforms for a new art wherever the currents of neoliberalism have deposited us. While we wish to engage in the discussions of that art world we are just as concerned with being part and parcel of the debates within the working-class, in the new social movements, and among the revolutionary left (socialists and anarchists alike).
Part of the struggle for a socialist world lies in the dreams of this one. But we are also aware that time is running out. The existential catastrophes that face the working-class and oppressed will soon be joined by the planetary disaster of climate change. We call ourselves Dollar Art House because that is where we are stranded; hustling at the margins of a corrupt and inhumane system.
The “Hard Times Art Show” is the first group exhibit (and first exhibit period) at the Dollar Art House – featuring artwork and performances by Husni Ashiku, Jesa Dior Brooks, Jon Cornell, Holly McGraw, Craig E. Ross, Anna Maria Tucker, Adam Turl, VHS Girl and Jason Wonnell.
We decided to call it the “Hard Times Art Show” for obvious reasons. But we don’t merely decry the myriad of hardships and oppressions facing the majority of people today. We also aim to valorize the unique subjectivities of the human beings caught in this moment. We reject the notion of “faking it until you make it.” Instead we embrace what we actually are in defiance; as working-class punk and hip-hop artists did in the 1970s, as the Queer pioneers once did, as many 20th century art movements did.
We want the work of this show to highlight the unique contribution of each artist. But we also want each artist’s work to be in conversation with the rest of the exhibit. The exhibition space is not a traditional cube, but a series of rooms designed as living spaces. The Dollar Art House is not a rarefied hermeneutic space. We want to be a space where work is in contact with the rest of the world; as Bertolt Brecht argued, where art is in contact with the present, both the “good” and “bad new things.”
Artists in The Hard Times Art Show
- Husni Ashiku is a filmmaker and video artist in Chicago, Illinois.
- Jesa Dior Brooks is a musician, writer and printmaker based out of St. Louis.
- Jonathan Cornell is an artist and printmaker from Tampa, Florida.
- Holly McGraw is an artist based in St. Louis. In their interdisciplinary practice, McGraw exposes the performance of gender fluidity as a deviant act.
- Craig E. Ross, an editor at Red Wedge, is a printmaker and cartoonist in St. Louis.
- Anna Maria Tucker is an artist whose work includes painting, installation and performance; confronting stereotypes and trauma.
- Adam Turl is an artist and writer in St. Louis and an editor at Red Wedge Magazine.
- VHS Girl is a nerd from Carbondale, Illinois who enjoys watching, painting, and relentlessly talking about tapes.
- Jason Wonnell's work utilizes the viewer’s familiarity with consumer culture to deconstruct the social systems that shape our perceived self-image.