For Joel Hilgenberg and Garen Shrader, a two-man show seemed almost inevitable. “We’ve paralleled each other in the Memphis art market for years now,” says Garen, “and he’s a good friend of mine as well.” The two are both MCA grads and have both been on the Memphis art scene for 16 or 17 years. Last spring, their agent was pushing their individual work when he came up with the idea of a joint exhibition.
Thus the two-part series of Six Kinds of Liars was born. You can catch the first part of the show starting August 1 and running through August 31 at Mona Lisa Gallery.
The first segment focuses on the drawings, or studies, for Garen and Joel’s large-scale paintings. “You’re seeing the process we go through to do these bigger scale pieces,” explains Garen. “We’re just maybe taking it a little bit further, and finishing these out to where they are like completed works.” The second part of the exhibit will feature the masterpiece paintings. Garen isn’t sure when those will be ready, but it could be as soon as next spring or as late as next fall.
The two have very complementary techniques, perfect for the alternating layout of the exhibit. Once they determined they could do a show together, Joel decided that Six Kinds of Liars would work well for both of their styles. "[Joel and I] use association a lot in our work, with symbols and icons and different heroic figures of American history,” says Garen. “But there are always two sides to the coin, and not everything is what it appears to be. We’re using our same motifs, just in a different way.” He continues, "We judge everything way too quickly based on not enough information. [Joel and I] both use that as a tool in our work to get the piece to unfold to the viewer: You suck them in and they try to figure out the story.”
The opening reception for Six Kinds of Liars goes on August 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. Mona Lisa Gallery is open from 10 to 5, Monday through Friday or by appointment.
Mona Lisa Gallery, 16746 Hwy 64, Somerville, 482-0246