Gregorio Escalante Gallery is pleased to announce glass artist Banjo’s first solo exhibition Sacramental Vessels, with additional works from friends and fellow artists Alex and Allyson Grey, Amanda Sage, Chris Dyer, Luke Brown, and a sculpture by Ralph Steadman. Blending fine art and function, Sacramental Vessels represents a decade long search for a language that plays between fine art and spiritually aligned intentions.
Glass art has existed parallel to the art world, only recently aligning to explore avenues that have been dominated by traditional painters, printers, photographers, and sculptors. Sacramental Vessels continues the tradition of glasswork in a new vein, referencing surrealist, brutalist, and revolutionary mid-century aesthetics and concepts to create intricate functional glass sculptures. Banjo’s work combines influences from both fine art and countercultural backgrounds with each piece representing aspects of his own personal journey into the visionary and spiritual realms.
Banjo first discovered the medium of glass through the contemporary craft tradition, finding his inner artist only after years of soul searching- beginning with his time spent traveling with the Rainbow Family of Living Light, and later including a wide range of experiences as a father and spiritual seeker. He has long been at the forefront as a key player in the glass scene, garnering a tremendous following and collector base that devours each piece as it’s made. The masterpieces that he creates are amalgams of experiences, effortlessly fusing function and fine art, yet still honoring to the outlaw craft tradition that they have emerged from.
Sacramental Vessels is a new body of immaculately detailed sculptural pipes that delves deep into the realms of the collective unconscious. In lieu of fitting himself and his work into the constraints of the fine art realm, he is embracing the spirituality and composting the countercultural leftovers of the psychedelic revolution to show us a world where craft is honed into art, function meets beauty, and the ethereal meets the physical. His work alongside artists Alex and Allyson Grey, Amanda Sage, Chris Dyer, and Luke Brown takes us on a journey that reminds us that the spiritual aspects of life are intrinsically linked with art – from pre-historic cave paintings, to renaissance and post war movements, we continually draw inspiration from that which we have yet to understand.
Sacramental Vessels will be on view October 8 through November 13, 2016 with an opening reception Saturday, October 8 from 7-10pm.
Born in western Michigan, in 1976, glass artist Banjo has been shaped and influenced by a variety of diverse experiences from his years growing up between both urban and rural settings. After graduating high school, Banjo attended Siena Heights University, first focusing on art history, and then pursuing degrees in both photography, and sculpture. While at Siena Heights, Banjo was deeply influenced by his sculpture professor, from whom he would eventually learn to make banjos and guitars. After becoming disillusioned with the rigid expectations of a formal art education, he dropped out midway through his senior year, and with a handmade banjo strapped to his back, left to explore the country, setting the stage for what would essentially become his own epic, on his own terms.
A father, a teacher, and an inspirational leader throughout the functional glass community, Banjo has become known for his painstakingly intricate depictions of interdimensional biomechanical deities representing the re-emergence of sacred feminine energy within the post-modern techno-industrial matrix. His android-goddesses sit peacefully amid the Pistons and gears, the nuts and bolts of the machines they are supported by. A visionary and an optimist, Banjo has faith in a future that includes our technological and spiritual abilities existing in synchronous harmony for the benefit of our species' evolution. His work depicts this vision as he creates archetypes for a current mythos that is still unfolding.