KB Jones: Betty

6 April - 1 June 2024

KB Jones explores place, mind, and memory in “Betty,” with techniques ranging from photorealistic to flat and graphic. Oil paintings with meticulous detail are hung alongside tapestries painted with house paint reminiscent of early animation. The artist focuses on basic painting and drawing techniques, and how these visual languages confront the ways that cultural identity and meaning are produced. Drawing inspiration from family photographs and iconic Texan imagery found in movies and magazines, the collection weaves together both personal and shared memories.

 


Opening reception Saturday, April 6th, 2024, from 6-9 pm.

KB Jones explores place, mind, and memory in “Betty,” with techniques ranging from photorealistic to flat and graphic. Oil paintings with meticulous detail are hung alongside tapestries painted with house paint reminiscent of early animation. The artist focuses on basic painting and drawing techniques, and how these visual languages confront the ways that cultural identity and meaning are produced. Drawing inspiration from family photographs and iconic Texan imagery found in movies and magazines, the collection weaves together both personal and shared memories.


“Three paintings of garbage in the show are based on photographs sourced from my interest in the subject. The Budweiser cans in Recycling III are inspired by my father, as it is the beer that he drinks. Dr. Pepper is particularly Texan, too; I remember my little cousin ordering it at the mall in Amarillo. I look at everyday artifacts, and the way that they shape our understanding of place and identity, because they are often overlooked in traditional narratives. I chose to hang Recycling IV, which depicts a stack of packaging and cardboard horizontally, in order to mimic layers of land, stone, and rock, asking the question: what does a person (or a culture) leave behind?


Dad’s Arm is based on a photograph that I took of my father while we were driving around our family’s ranch outside of Lubbock. While the blurry highway outside the window was initially the subject of the painting, I ultimately focused on the inside of the vehicle. Growing up outside of the US - due to my father’s career in the foreign service - Texas’ vast landscape, big skies, and dusty horizons were very far away from my own experience. I painted the inside of the truck with sharpness and precision, to stress the difference between my life in the interior of the cab and the exterior world of rural West Texas. My dad was the lens through which I experienced West Texas as a child.


How do you know a place if you only see it occasionally? Through stories, books, magazines, and movies. Growing up, we always had a stack of Texas Monthly magazines sitting on our living room table. The advertisements were sometimes as compelling as the articles. I imagine Dallas as a culture that values youth and beauty: football players and cheerleaders. Cybil Shepard as Jacy in Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show seems to embody the ideal, and I am still enamored by the glamor, the beautiful women, and the big hair.


My Grandmother was named Betty, and it is my middle name (I was named after her). The term “Betty” is sometimes used to refer to an attractive girl. I never had the chance to meet my grandmother, as she died in a car crash when my father and his siblings were still young. But in one of the few pictures that I have seen of her, she is young and beautiful. It is a complicated image, though. Her husband (my grandfather) was cut out of the image by my Great Grandmother. In some ways I long to identify with my Grandmother Betty. She was a teacher, and she established the high school dance team, the Sandie Steppers, which encouraged and supported young women for generations to come. Interestingly, or contrastingly, though, in my art practice, I identify with my Great Grandmother - when she made that decisive and powerful gesture of removing my Grandfather from the image.


The act of cutting and collaging is a basic part of painting: how one puts images together and takes them apart. Cutting, erasing, and combining are just as important as making a mark or drawing a line. A cut can signify its own material properties, an elegant curve for example, as well as something violent and expressive. In the example of my Grandmother Betty, the cut becomes both a halo around her figure, isolating and emphasizing her beauty, as well as an emphasis on what is missing: her husband, my grandfather. Power, anger, and emotion lie behind the gesture. Art denies our desire to define one sole and rational interpretation, indeed interpretation is emotional. We inherit images, though borders shift, meanings change, and memory is quite fluid. “Betty” blurs the lines between past and present, reality and myth, personal and collective history.”


– KB Jones

 

Katharine Betty Jones is an emerging artist born in Huntsville, Texas. She attended Columbia University and The University of New Mexico. She was an artist in residence at The Chinati Foundation in 2020. Her work has been exhibited at MOCA Tucson and The Armory Center for Arts in Pasadena. Her recent solo show in September at Rachel Uffner was highlighted as one of five shows to see by women in New York by Cultured Magazine. Reviews include Glasstire, NYTimes, Hyperallergic, and SW Contemporary. "Betty" marks a significant chapter in Jones’ artistic exploration, showcasing her personal perspective on the Lone Star State. She currently lives, works, and teaches in New York City.

 

Opening reception Saturday, April 6th, 2024, from 6-9 pm.