Try a Little Tenderness as Painful as it Seems

Running from March 4th to April 8th at SE Washington DC’s Honfleur Gallery, the exhibition Try a Little Tenderness as Painful as It Seems features work by Ben Skinner, a Canadian artist who believes in “the phonetics of materials and the grammar of space”. Blending fine craftsmanship and a contemporary aesthetic, Skinner excels at recognizing social and urban phenomena – or, as he puts it, I like very much to point at things directing the viewer’s attention to something they may normally miss.

Ben SkinnerFor this exhibition, Ben Skinner has focused his creative eye on the distinctive character of Anacostia.  Skinner sheds a positive light on an area that has frequently been the subject of controversy regarding perceptions and realities of its social and economic issues. Skinner uses a dramatic combination of conceptual, textual, and sculptural forms.  “My goal is to create a body of work which will engage the community of Anacostia and instigate reflection and dialogue in the community, while maintaining my own artistic voice.”

The exhibition is comprised of new artworks which will be shown on both the first and second floors of Honfleur Gallery. Using his experience in the visual display trade, Skinner uses contemporary sign-making materials and techniques usually in combination with an unconventional canvas or traditional art-making techniques.  In one piece, the artist created an oversized set of Venetian blinds to span the height of the gallery walls with text applied to each slat.  The artist sees words and language as an effective tool in his work. “Text is an essential part of my art practice…It’s a reflection of my own query into new territory, and a voice that speaks directly to the community.”

Try a Little Tenderness as Painful as It Seems has been curated by anonymous blogger TheJealous Curator, who provides a much needed fresh and optimistic voice in contemporary art discourse.  About the exhibition, The Jealous Curators says, “[his work] is a fine blend of tongue-in-cheek humor, with just the right dose of social tension. His open-ended phrases seem familiar, yet you know they’ve been altered… somehow. There are so many amazing phrases in this show, not to mention the fantastically long list of materials used to create them – wood panels, aluminum panels, backpainted plexiglass, lighting tubes, window blinds, gold leaf, glitter, and even a few thousand candy sprinkles. Yes. Candy sprinkles.”