Blind Alley projects

Press Release

reading the stars: a group exhibition

Ryan Humphrey, Michael Li, Jody Rhone

May 7 – June 9, 2023

Location: 3317 West 4th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Hours: daylight

Opening day gathering in the garden, Sunday, May 7, 2023, from 3 to 5pm

Reading the stars: a group exhibition, Ryan Humphrey, Michael Li, Jody Rhone

Blind Alley projects presents reading the stars: a group exhibition, featuring three works by artists Ryan Humphrey, Michael Li and Jody Rhone. Without directing the discourse, this exhibition offers up these three alluring and varied representations of the U.S. and Texas flags for consideration individually, and in this installation, collectively.

Humphrey’s Cowboy’s From Hell, 2010 is object-like. Constructed from black riveted car panels, the slight distinctions between the subtle color differences in the metal hints at the colors of the Texas flag that the piece references. As the story goes, while working at TCU as a sabbatical replacement in Sculpture for Cam, Humphrey conceived of this work with his morning and late-night commutes in the dark between Dallas and Fort Worth, of course passing through Arlington and perhaps listening to Pantera. “They say bad guys wear black. We're tagged and can't turn back.”

Li’s Melting Pot, 2022 is a textile collage of 2000 merchandise and clothing tags ranging from the 1940s to the 2000s representing diversity, individuality and freedom. Suggesting the structure and comfort of a quilt or perhaps the protection of a packing blanket, Melting Pot reminds us of our relationship to commerce and how what we own or wear/wrap ourselves in, becomes the skin we present to others. Black and white are the base color of this “flag”, giving continuity to the multichromatic labels that create a convincing while slightly undulating grid.

Rhone’s UNTITLED, 1998 is an editioned, beautifully austere monochromatic U.S. flag hanging vertically in this context, with the star field to the left as viewed. It’s all-white palette and sheer quality makes it somewhat ghost-like behind the highly reflective window of Blind Alley, perhaps just another reflection before being fully realized as the larger of the three pieces in this group exhibition. As a body of work that grew out of an interest initially in signal flags, Rhone explains that the white flag’s mystery persists, even for him as its maker, stating, “Twenty-five years later I still don’t know what to make of this piece of mine. It has been exhibited more than anything else I’ve done, but I still have great ambivalence about it and how it fits into my larger art making project. I made it purely out of a visual curiosity about what an all-white flag would look like …. I understand that all manner of political ideas can be projected onto the work, but none were part of the making of it. Like Jasper Johns I just wanted to see the flag as a series of patterns and shapes.”

Artists’ bios:

Ryan Humphrey received a BFA in Sculpture from Ohio University and a MFA from Hunter College after which he was accepted into the prestigious Whitney Independent Study Program. For many years he made lived and worked in New York, but is now making a life in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Michael Li was born in Beijing, China. He briefly attended NYU as a studio major before coming  to TCU to run track. After track did not work out, he returned to his interests in art, pursuing ideas through making. Li graduates this spring and will continue on the path he has set as he moves on to graduate school.

Jody Rhone has a BA from Austin College in Sherman, Texas and an MFA from RISD. As an artist and landscape designer, Rhone co-ownes Madderlake Design, an Architecture and Landscape design firm with his husband Tom Pritchard. Prichard and Rhone currently call the Hudson Valley home after years in New York City and traveling between there Colorado and Marfa, Texas.