William Paterson University Galleries Present Multimedia Exhibition by Renowned Artists Jane Dickson and Charlie Ahearn

"LV75 (Wheel of Fortune 2)" by Jane Dickson

“Whose World Is This? Jane Dickson & Charlie Ahearn,” a multimedia exhibition created in the spirit of a “call and response” artistic dialogue between painter Jane Dickson and filmmaker Charlie Ahearn, will be on view in the William Paterson University Galleries from September 10 through October 19, 2012. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on September 16 and 30 and October 7 and 14 from noon to 4 p.m.. Admission is free. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Sunday, September 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. An artist talk will be held on Wednesday, October 3 at 2 p.m.

The exhibition, curated by Deborah Frizzell, an adjunct professor of art history at William Paterson, will feature more than two dozen of Jane Dickson’s vibrant and haunting paintings, spanning her 30-year career, integrated with four flat-screen monitors continuously showing a thematically synchronized selection of Charlie Ahearn’s groundbreaking hip-hop videos and new musical shorts. The installation will reveal both artists’ urban subjects, the energy of the city, and the confluence of music and art over the past three decades. In addition, the artists will collaborate on-site to create a visualization of their artistic “call and response” dialogue by assembling a chronological flow of their photographs and prints as process-related catalysts that became scenes in Ahearn’s videos and images in Dickson’s paintings.

The renowned artist couple were key members of New York City’s Colab (Collaborative Projects, 1978-86), a radical artists’ collective known for its ad hoc experimental art exhibitions that pushed the limits of artistic categories and launched graffiti and street art. In 1980, Dickson and Ahearn made their mark in Colab’s exhibition in an abandoned massage parlor, The Times Square Show, now considered a cultural landmark for its do-it-yourself multimedia mix of film, painting, dance, slide shows, music, three-dimensional works, prints, cartoons, and graffiti.

Dickson and Ahearn contributed work to many Colab shows including the Real Estate Show, the Dog Show, and the Two-Suitcase Show, all of which broke the narrow confines defining high and low art.  Dickson’s nocturnal views of a seedy Times Square, garish Las Vegas casinos, local carnivals, and commercial strip malls often share common themes with Ahearn’s films documenting the evolution of graffiti art, hip-hop culture, and life in the subway and on the streets.  Dickson deploys a variety of color pigments on Astroturf, sandpaper, felt, and other unusual support materials, while Ahearn, director of the now-classic film Wild Style (1982) and co-author of Yes Yes Y'All (2002), synchronizes visualization and musical expression. Most recently, both artists were featured at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition, “Art in the Streets,” which included Dickson’s portraits of hip-hop and graffiti stars and Ahearn’s video clips from Wild Style.

Dickson, an artist-in-residence at Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, studied art at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Harvard University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1976. Her work has appeared in numerous one-person exhibitions, almost 200 group exhibitions internationally, and has been reproduced in more than 100 periodicals and books. Dickson has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and The American Academy of Art, among others, and her works are owned by 25 museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Library of Congress, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Ahearn arrived in New York City in 1973 as a fellow in the Whitney Museum of American Art Studio Program. After directing Wild Style (1982), Fear of Fiction (1999), and artist documentaries, Ahearn co-authored the book Yes Yes Y’all (2002), an oral and photographic history of the first decade of hip hop. His book Wild Style: The Sampler was published in 2007 on the 25th anniversary of that movie. Ahearn has been producing documentaries such as Richard Hunt Sculptor (2010), Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer (2011), and music shorts such as All City Take It To The Bridge (2010). Ahearn is an adjunct professor at Pace University and at New York’s School of Visual Arts.

The exhibition is one of two on view concurrently in the University Galleries. On view in the Court Gallery is the annual exhibition by members of the William Paterson University art faculty.

This exhibition is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The William Paterson University Galleries are wheelchair-accessible.  Large-print handouts are available. For additional information, please call the Galleries at William Paterson University at 973-720-2654.