Artist+ Members Jerry the Marble Faun, Joyce McDonald and Raynes Birkbeck discuss their work in Visual AIDS' summer exhibition PERSONS OF INTEREST. PERSONS OF INTEREST: SELF-TAUGHT VISIONARIES brings together these artists to consider the imaginative potential of work by self-taught, visionary and outsider artists.
Video by Sam Gordon.
Prominently featured in the cult classic documentary Grey Gardens, Jerry the Marble Faun now carves majestic sculptures out of limestone, marble, and more.
The spirit of Joyce McDonald's artwork erupts from internal visions and the range of emotions she has experienced throughout her inspiring life, as a minister, in recovery, and beyond.
Raynes Birkbeck’s idiosyncratic drawings and sculpture blend the supernatural and science fiction with the vernacular and everyday.
PERSONS OF INTEREST, curated by Sam Gordon for Visual AIDS, features a wide cross section of Visual AIDS artist members and friends. The term "person of interest" often identifies someone in an investigation that possesses characteristics that merit further attention. The investigation presented here is a collection of drawing, painting, photography, performance, video, and sculpture.
Presented by Visual AIDS at the Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, PERSONS OF INTEREST features the trained and self taught, long term survivors and the prematurely lost, and individuals who live for us very much in the present, some only in our hearts and minds.
The exhibition includes work by Raynes Birkbeck, Mark Carter, Ben Cuevas, Chloe Dzubilo, Arnold Fern, Tim Greathouse, Keith Haring, Hudson, Affrekka Jefferson, Jerry the Marble Faun, Joyce McDonald, Lucas Michael, Nicolas Moufarrege, Luna Luis Ortiz, Hugh Steers, Hunter Reynolds, Tseng Kwong Chi, Muna Tseng, and Frederick Weston.
Raynes Birkbeck was born in the Bronx, and currently lives and works in Manhattan. He is a self-taught artist, who paints, sculpts, draws, and writes poetry. Raynes says, "the significance of my work is to show the people looking at a sculpture, a painting, a drawing, a collage, or a poem the beauty, the power, the love and the need of nature or a higher power. And even in the most mundane and commonplace things that "the Force" is always present. That the existence of nature and God are evident due to the fact that all things are made up of atoms and thus are created by, maintained, destroyed, resurrected and governed by nuclear forces, states, conditions and laws."
Jerry the Marble Faun is from New York City and is a Queens based artist, primarily working in stone and earthenware. All of his sculptures are carved by hand without the use of machines. He began carving stone in his partner's apartment stairwell on 23rd Street in New York City in 1987. Since his long overdue debut exhibition (2014) with Jackie Klempay, Jerry has since exhibited artwork at Canada (New York), Andrew Edlin Gallery (New York), the Bureau of General Services Queer Division (New York), Outsider Art Fair (New York and Paris), and NADA (Miami). His work has been written about in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Vogue, Forbes, Interview Magazine, Artspace, and The Hampton's Art Hub, among other publications.
Jerry is well known for his appearances in the Maysles brothers’ 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, the 2006 follow up The Beales of Grey Gardens, and as a character in the 2007 Broadway musical Grey Gardens. While living at Grey Gardens with the Beales, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale gave Jerry the nickname “The Marble Faun" which Jerry accepted as a fated path to art-making. In addition to sculpting stone, Jerry has worked as a gardener for the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, with Wayland Flowers and his puppet “Madame” during their cabaret acts in the 70′s, and twenty years as a taxi cab driver in New York City.
Joyce McDonald is an artist in many senses of the word. She is, of course, a literal artist: a talented painter and sculptor, Joyce's works often capture in stark relief the gamut of emotions she's experienced throughout her inspiring life. Joyce is also a weaver of words: Not just as a poet or a songwriter, but also as coordinator and speaker for her church's AIDS ministry and assistant director of its children's choir. In addition to being a minister in training at her church, she is also dedicated to street ministry, and runs a group at her local women's shelter. She has had the opportunity to tell her story on television, radio and print media, as well as on TheBody.com.