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Now on view through September 6 at The Double Diamond House in Westhampton Beach is “Lovers and Friends”—a collaborative exhibition by Brooklyn-based artists and friends, Jason Bard Yarmosky and Crash 20/20. The exhibition includes new large-scale works by Yarmosky accompanied by a sound installation by Crash 20/20, which interact with Andrew Geller’s structure from 1958 to create an immersive experience of connectedness that represents the body, mind, and soul.
For the exhibition, Yarmosky created a series of oil paintings in his distinctive “unfinished” style that feature a diverse group of people from his life, which he uses to illustrate a touching narrative on relationships. By rendering subjects like his grandparents next to people of different ages, backgrounds, and cultures, Yarmosky also evokes a thoughtful narrative on tribalism.
To learn more about the works on view, the show’s collaborative aspects, and how the artist’s creations challenge our tribal society, Whitewall spoke to Yarmosky.
WHITEWALL: What was the starting point for “Lovers and Friends”?
JASON BARD YARMOSKY: I had been painting my grandparents pretty exclusively for about 8 years. They were two of the closest people to me in my life, and quickly became my artistic muses.
In my later work with my grandmother, as she was experiencing dementia, I became overly aware of the impermanence of life and relationships. I remember thinking of an analogy involving riding on a train—it doesn’t matter if the people in your life are there from the beginning of your journey to the final stop, or if they ride along with you only briefly. What matters are the connections we make and what we learn from those relationships.
Sebastian—Crash 20/20—is an example of those relationships. He has been a best friend for a decade now.
I remember driving somewhere and having a similar conversation about this with him, and he encouraged me to begin painting the various people who I have personal relationships with in my life—lovers and friends. That became the starting point for this exhibition.
WW: Some of the subjects in these works have never even met. How did you choose which subjects to paint together? What was the outcome?
JBY: I wanted to paint a variety of the people who influence and inspire me in my life. These people reflect my personal relationships individually while simultaneously creating a new narrative on the canvas.
I discovered that the paintings began to come together for me as self-portraits.
WW: What role does Crash 20/20 play in the show?
JBY: Crash’s sound installation draws some direct inspiration from my paintings, as well as from his own archive of musical inspiration—an expansive array of sounds and instrumentation that he strings together in this Lovers and Friends composition.
The rough textures, layers, and some unfinished areas complement my paintings and speak to the constant evolution and perpetual growth we experience within relationships in all their forms.
WW: How does the exhibition challenge tribalism?
JBY: I have surrounded myself with a pretty eclectic group of friends, from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Many friends are contemporaries of mine, but some are up to 60 years older than me.
However, I recognize how common tribalism is within our society and throughout history—even when you walk through museums and look at portrait paintings from a range of historical periods, you rarely see people of different ages and races together.
We’re also living in a political climate where tribalism is tearing the fabric of society apart. So, by painting my “Lovers and Friends” together, these works create diverse groupings that challenge the idea of tribalism.
WW: How does the exhibition interact with the space?
JBY: Several years ago, a new addition was added to the Double Diamond House, and it’s designed like a box with sliding doors at its center. When they’re open, it’s possible to see right through the structure, preserving the house’s connection to the ocean. When they’re closed, the main house provides a neutral background for Geller’s angular design, presenting it as a sculpture.
My paintings will be presented in the beach house addition and Crash’s sound installation will reside in the Two Diamonds, bringing the exhibition together in the form of body, mind, and soul.
The paintings in the beach house represent the body, and they draw you in. Once the viewer stands in front of the canvases, the works pose questions pertaining to relationships and connections.
The sound installation in the diamonds represents the mind, and the viewers will be stepping inside of Crash’s thoughts, shelled by the diamonds. These thoughts reflect concepts of relationships and connections, while simultaneously responding to my paintings.
And, finally, the ocean represents the soul—the energy that connects us all.