Whitehot Magazine

Jake McCord: Full Frontal at SHRINE

Installation view. Assorted paintings presented as part of “Jake McCord: The Bold and the Beautiful”, at SHRINE Gallery (December 11, 2020 - January 16, 2021).

Jake McCord: The Bold and the Beautiful

SHRINE Gallery

December 10, 2020 through January 16, 2021

By JOHN DRURY, January 2021

The paintings of Jake McCord are a contact sport. Once fermented on the front porch of his modest shack, in his small Georgian town of less than 7,000 citizens – the characteristic nail holes, driven without concern through the face of the paintings at top, and sometimes corners, reveal that earlier hanging. This then, isn’t the first public viewing of these raucous works, as Jake would never allow his paintings to leave his premises without first exhibiting them out front of his rustic home for his city’s community to see. That porch is now permanently displayed with a few examples of his work in the town’s local history museum, the McDuffie, and while McCord was well known about Thomson (Jake cared for its green expanses as the city’s groundskeeper, for thirty-nine years), I’m sure his big-city embrace comes as some surprise to most of “the locals”. Sitting on prime real estate, the remainder of his home was bulldozed, to make way for a new county courthouse.

Jake McCord, untitled (Tall Woman in Bikini), 1989. Oil on wood, 77 x 48 inches.

In light our recent Presidential election and this past week’s contentious event at the Capital building, there is inevitably the thought of coon-skin cap wearing, conspiritualist dullards but, here there is none of the faddish, scented candle burning, essential oil bearing, big ass/too small leggings - yoga in an exotic locale on Dad’s tab bullshit. Void of group-think’s, new-agey baggage, we are left only the stripped-down - warts and all - personalities of individualism. And although each work of art, may appear to depict on initial evaluation, that harmless if oddball neighbor familiar to each of us - these appearing at first, a friendly group of folks, seeming (initially anyhow) totally disarming, in a “my kid could do that” sort of way - upon closer inspection, time reveals the baring of teeth in one and all; not exactly a smile as first presumed but, a uniform grimace of sort, in threat that they might easily nip the tips of your fingers from your hand; the sharp edge of Southern hospitality, perhaps McCord’s warning. All included seem startled by their painted predicament, momentarily stationary if not frozen in place - anxious even, in near confrontation - victims accommodation our gaze, in a sort of cracker in the “people’s house”, selfie unease; appearing as much those seditious animals, as the dog-like beasts topic two other of the painted affronts. 

Installation view. Assorted paintings presented as part of “Jake McCord: The Bold and the Beautiful”, at SHRINE Gallery (December 11, 2020 - January 16, 2021).

Each is painted on the lion’s share of a full sheet of plywood (figures nearly at true human scale) and true to the title of this exhibition of Jake’s works, each is bold – in flat fields of color – and beautiful, in often complimentary color schemes. While we do expect a back-story, as juicy as those from the televised soap opera of the same name as this presentation - Jake is not available to clarify (McCord died in 2011). Void of any real background, each composition is generally divided simply into two halves; sky and land, two sections, two colors. All attention is on the centralized characters. Ours is a one-on-one meeting; there is no escape. And what you see on your visit today, may change tomorrow (for every bird, there are two in the bush). An exhibition perpetually in flux, our proprietor Scott Ogden has promised to flip some of them, to expose equally stunning examples of Jake’s work on the backs; a two-fer’-one, those hidden on your initial stop warranting multiple visits to SHRINE. Nearly all included are double-sided. Here at least, change is good. And good, is hopeful. Y’all come back now, y’hear? WM

John Drury

John Drury is a multi-media artist, published author, independent curator and instructor. Drury holds a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the Columbus College of Art and Design (1983) and a Master of Fine Art Degree in sculpture (1985; including a minor in painting), from Ohio State University. John is the father of two teenagers, living in New York City since 1989 and has received the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Award for his work in sculpture.

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