Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA), the not-for-profit organization founded in 1963 by Jasper Johns and John Cage (1912-1992) that provides grants to artists, is pleased to announce its sixteenth benefit exhibition, Adam McEwen Selects: Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, opening November 29, 2018 at Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea.
In the spirit of FCA’s “artists for artists” history, FCA invited artist Adam McEwen to curate the exhibition. London-born McEwen lives and works in New York and is known for work that resides somewhere between the celebratory and the funereal. McEwen has been a generous supporter of FCA for many years, and donated works to four past benefits.
McEwen asked FCA co-founder Jasper Johns and FCA Board member Glenn Ligon for works that each serve as reference points for the exhibition, which will include a range of established, mid-career, and emerging artists. McEwen writes:
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, which Jasper Johns started in 1963, was the first arts organization that set out to encourage artists to offer their work in the cause of helping other artists. When I invited the artists in this show to donate works, it seemed impossible, given the size of the space, to attempt any kind of curatorial theme, and also pointless. But I wanted some point of departure, if only to make it easier, for myself, to think about it. Jasper Johns’s work seemed a logical place to look. I remembered a painting by him that I’d seen several years earlier called Montez Singing. The painting is light and airy, pale yellow and pink, two eyes, a nose and mouth, a small sign hanging in the center with a diagram of a sailboat. I think there’s sand in the paint. I remembered it as being an optimistic painting, although that may have been a misreading on my part; it seemed at least resolute, while also giving nothing away. I asked Jasper Johns if he had anything relating to this painting, and he said he had a slight sketch for it that he was willing to show and donate.
As a counterpoint to that, I asked Glenn Ligon about a neon work of his called One Black Day, which reads Nov. 6, 2012 (the neon glass painted black), referring to election day in 2012. It was made before the election. The neon was only lit on that one day. I was struck by the way this work – on the surface, punning – is simultaneously optimistic and melancholy. Also by the way its resonance has deepened in the time since it was made. I asked Glenn Ligon if he might have a drawn version of the neon, which he did.
I thought of these works as two poles casting out a spectrum of response to the world around us today. They might provide two radiating attitudes, with an intersecting area between them, into which or against which many other kinds of work could be placed.
The mission of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts is to encourage, sponsor, and promote innovative work in the arts created and presented by individuals, groups, and organizations. FCA depends on artists to fulfill its mission; to date, over 1,000 artists have contributed paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs to help fund grant programs that directly support individual artists working in dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts. Thus, FCA remains the only institution of its kind: created and sustained by artists to benefit other artists.
The current Directors of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts are: Cecily Brown, Anne Collier, Anthony B. Creamer III, Anne Dias, Agnes Gund, Jasper Johns, Jennie C. Jones, Julian Lethbridge, Glenn Ligon, Dean Moss, James Welling, and T.J. Wilcox. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.