Cox’s High Chair Takes A Seat At NY Show
With his fingers in several of the country’s visual arts pies, Baha Mar Creative Arts Director John Cox has dipped another digit in upstate New York.
The artist’s work has been featured in a show titled “Principals/Principles” at the KuBe visual arts center owned by Ethan Cohen Fine Arts.
The KuBe is one of two Ethan Cohen Fine Arts creative centers (the other being the Ethan Cohen Gallery in New York City) and is based in Beacon, N.Y. Its objective is to foster international dialogue about the arts and serve as an avenue for showcasing art forms from around the world.
Principals/Principles is its most recent exhibition and seeks to explore “formal and conceptual connections between a diverse range of artists’ principles and the principal languages invented by each”. The exhibition opened on Saturday, September 13 and presents several solo shows along with a combined group show, of which Cox’s work is a part. His “High Yellow” piece – a structural fusion of a chair and bicycle – has been holding its own among works from over 30 American and international artists.
Though Principals/Principles opened only recently, “High Yellow’s” journey to Beacon began six months
ago. Representing PopopStudios at the New York March 2014 VOLTA show, Cox exhibited his “Filler” installation – a series of bicycle tube “flowers” – and “High Yellow” – one of a series of works he deems “highchairs”. The whimsical works caught the eye of art collector Ethan Cohen, who soon after added both “Filler” and “High Yellow” to his personal collection.
“High Yellow” first took root six years ago in the fourth National Exhibition (NE4). Cox entered his “Balance Between Contemplation and Action” – an installation featuring a bicycle and chair in suspension, each balancing the other on pulleys connected to the ceiling.
“The chair kind of symbolized a more contemplative self or presence and the bicycle presented, depending on how you thought about it, an opposite or a polar type of perspective or philosophy. And I guess the idea was trying to strike a balance between the two,” explained Cox.
The concept evolved in the years following. Carrying on with the motif of striking harmony between “being experimental, being intuitive and spontaneous” and being “measured or being academic in some regard”, Cox revisited the two main elements – the chair and bicycle. Changes in his personal life inspired him to experiment with elevating the chair in 2013.
“The idea that the sitting part or the intellectual or contemplative part, was up in the air above head height kind of elevated the idea that thinking was an important part of things, or being measured or being academic in some regard was important,” he said. “But it’s a little tongue-in-cheek because for the last couple years, I’ve been negotiating having my life around small kids. The work itself was kind of inspired a little by the way a highchair looks for a child. The chair needs to be lifted up so you come to a point where you’re like, ‘OK, I can negotiate with everybody; I can eat my food and have an eye-to-eye conversation with people’. So it was kind of an elevation in saying ‘This is an aspiration, this is an homage’, but it’s also [saying] ‘Yeah, but you’re still like a child; you’re still trying to work things out, and you’re still trying to play’.”
The exhibition means more exposure for Cox and, by extension, the wider Bahamian visual arts community.
“It’s something I’m happy about. I think it’s significant whenever your work is kind of experienced and someone else gets a chance to figure out what you’re thinking, and I’m happy that it may be a springboard for some more works like that,” he said.
To see Cox’s “High Yellow” in Principals/Principles, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ethancohenkube. To find out more about The KuBe, visit its website at http://www.ecfa.com/.
The Nassau Guardian