Between myth and reality: Catherine Haggarty and Dan Gunn at Geary

The Lakeville Journal | June 26, 2024

By Natalia Zukerman

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Catherine Haggarty and Dan Gunn’s joint exhibition at Geary Contemporary in Millerton opened with a reception on Saturday, June 15. The work offers a compelling exploration of contemporary themes through distinctly personal and artistic lenses. Both artists, each with their unique backgrounds and approaches, create a dialogue that is both introspective and engaging.

Catherine Haggarty, born in 1984 and currently residing in Brooklyn, has had her work on the pages of Bomb Magazine, Artnet, Hyperallergic, and other beacons of cultural resonance. She is a visionary force behind NYC Crit Club and The Canopy Program where she channels her artistry into mentoring the next wave of creative voices. The NYC Crit Club is an alternative, education-based platform that offers inclusive, low-cost courses in critique, connection, and community, fostering growth without financial stress. “We built a program for people who want to be connected to the New York art world while avoiding the system that’s really difficult to gain entry to,” said Haggarty. “The program helps bridge the gap between ageist, classist opportunities for people that are interested in being artists”

Jack and Dolly Geary, the owners of Geary Contemporary, have been working with Haggarty since 2022. “We’d known about Catherine through the Crit Club and then Dolly and I both did a studio visit and we’ve been working with her ever since,” said Jack Geary.

In Haggarty’s pieces entitled “Just Drawing,” abstract and figurative elements dance together, creating narratives that blur the line between reality and dreams. Drawing is at the heart of her practice, and her playful experimentation with light, planes, and textures invites viewers into a world that is both whimsical and deeply introspective. Through the use of repetition, there is an added layer of engagement that creates an immersive experience.

“I think you have to make something for it to teach you something,” said Haggarty. “So, I draw a lot and that’s why this show was really important; to make a show just about drawing as a serious medium, not just something that often is used as a preparatory system for making larger things.” Cost was also a factor in the decision to have a show of drawings on paper. Haggarty explained, “Drawing for me is incredibly important, and philosophical, and also materially diplomatic. The whole show is just about drawing, which is enough.”

In a captivating contrast to Haggarty’s introspective drawings, Dan Gunn unveils his series “The Ungrateful Son,” (which takes its name from a Brother Grimm fairytale) where larger-than-life stoneware toads, which double as functional floor lamps, merge folk art tradition with contemporary resonance. Drawing inspiration from his suburban Kansas roots and weaving in cultural and political reflections, Gunn’s amphibious creations delve into themes of masculinity, myth, and intergenerational tales, prompting viewers to reinterpret familiar symbols through a fresh and thought-provoking lens.

Tara Foley, one of the assistants at the Geary Contemporary shared, “I like the mix of the mundane and the mystical, that pull between almost opposites.”

The show runs through July 28 at Geary Contemporary (34 Main Street, Millerton).