Idiom II at Pierogi

February 14 – March 16, 2014
Opening Reception:
Friday 14 February (7-9pm)

Justin Amrhein
Beth Campbell
Jonathan Herder
Mark Lombardi
William Powhida
Ward Shelley

Press Release


Id•i•om (noun) \?i-d?-?m\
•an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words but that has a separate meaning of its own
•a form of language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations
•a style or form of expression that is characteristic of a particular person, type of art, etc.

Pierogi is pleased to present Idiom II, the second of two consecutive exhibitions, each including work having a related visual language. “Idiom” typically refers to the written word, meaning either, a characteristic vocabulary or usage of a particular group or, an expression whose meaning as a whole is not inferred by the typical meanings of the individual words making up the phrase. In other words, when combined the individual parts create something unexpected, such as “the devil’s in the details” or “waste not want not.“ In this case it is a visual language and transformance which is referenced.

Idiom II includes the work of Justin Amrhein, Beth Campbell, Jonathan Herder, Mark Lombardi, William Powhida, and Ward Shelley. Each of these artists incorporates a vernacular that depicts as well as translates information thereby developing a linear narrative. Mark Lombardi, perhaps the most well known, referred to his information based work as “narrative structures.” His concise body of work — dated from 1996 through 2000 – was developed around events that were international in scope and based on connections of power, politics, and the transfer of money. Lombardi used the corporate vernacular of the flow chart. His drawings fill the paper with the lyrical nature of the line connecting points and, upon closer inspection, the interconnected relationships of the powers that be, such as Reagan-Bush-Thatcher and the Arming of Iraq, World Finance Corporation, Lansky Banks, among others.

Ward Shelly employs a similar chart-like visual format but develops his own unique, almost cardiovascular connectivity. He creates historical as well as personal diagrammatic information systems, from his Fluxus Diagram, Addendum to Alfred Barr, People of the Book, to Frank Zappa. This graphical epistemology emerges naturally from the way Shelley creates time lines which are incorporated in most of these drawings.

William Powhida is known, among other things, for exposing underlying facets of the art world that he’s so closely associated with. He lays bare this sometimes esoteric information and allusion in charts and diagrams; the ways of acting that some assume to be beyond reproach or inexplicable. Powhida develops the whimsical possibilities of life experiences through his shrewd subjective perspective. Recently he has expanded his work into the fields of sculpture and painting by creating unique variations on some of the dominant trends in contemporary art, albeit with an acute sense of irony.

Beth Campbell has worked in multiple mediums for much of her career, from full-scale mirror-image room installations, and distorted inexplicable objects, to her flow chart drawings based on multiple, potential personal futures. This is the most subjective work included in Idiom II, where everything is developed through her personal experience and is drawn in sequence, where each event creates two new events and continues to grow exponentially in this way, resembling the butterfly effect where the flapping of a butterfly wing affects one thing, and that affects something else, ad infinitum. Also included will be a sculpture suspended from the ceiling that resembles her drawings in the form of an expanding mobile.

Jonathan Herder’s intricate collages utilize the elegant detail of everyday postage stamps with a wit and pathos unique to him. Herder’s carefully composed images are infused with seemingly illogical associations that only become more endearing and plausible with more attention. Of all of the works included in Idiom II these are the most compulsive but also the most sensitive.

Justin Amrhein develops information-based works utilizing a schematic format. In many of his drawings on mylar and paper he depicts seemingly real and complex objects and machinery, illustrated and sometimes splayed out in multiple, interconnected parts which are described in compelling labeling systems that allow for commentary on a variety of subjects as complex as the drawings, including Political Engine, Mantis Machine, and Replacement Tree.