Dana Hart-Stone: The Life and Times of Plaid at Brian Gross Fine Art

Review

Dana Hart-Stone: The Life and Times of Plaid at Brian Gross Fine Art

By Max Blue February 26, 2020

Textiles are laced with narrative, be it the significance given to ritual garments or visual stories literally woven into tapestries. How do fabrics create a communal thread in our society? This question forms the conceptual core of Dana Hart-Stone’s latest exhibition The Life and Times of Plaid, on view at Brian Gross Fine Art.

Hart-Stone’s personal collection of vintage snapshots from the American West form the basis of his work. While culling photos, the artist builds his compositions by identifying a recurring formal element in these vernacular images. Hart-Stone digitally collages and re-colors components from these photographs, adapting these images into motifs that repeat in bands, producing patterns that resemble Native American textiles1 from a distance, and film strips up-close. The final works, which Hart-Stone describes as paintings, are inkjet printed onto canvas with UV-treated acrylic ink.

Dana Hart-Stone, The Life and Times of Plaid, 2019; UV cured acrylic ink on canvas; 72 × 158 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco.

Two of Hart-Stone’s compositions, New Tricks and Pin Stripes (both 2019), depict familiar scenes from snapshot photography, such as dogs and their trainers, or suburban families posing with their cars. Beyond these, Hart-Stone strikes out into new territory, particularly in five circular canvases, in which bands of repeating images tessellate from the center. Distracted by Ric Rac (2019), for example, features reproductions of lace commonly found on women’s skirts from the early 20th century. Within the canvas, Hart-Stone incorporates scans of vintage rickrack, reminiscent of the American flag bunting featured prominently in the piece.

In the exhibition’s eponymous work (2019)—the largest in the show by far, at 6 x 13 feet—Hart-Stone assembles a scrapbook style grid of vintage black and white snapshots, in which each picture contains an article of plaid clothing that Hart-Stone has digitally colored into bright neon. From afar, the composition appears patchwork, but on closer inspection, individual photos spark curiosity: twin sisters in matching dresses; a sad clown at a children’s birthday party; a family snapshot of a teenaged Jerry Lewis.2

Through their play on perspective and close-observation, Hart-Stone’s paintings evoke commentary on society and history, and how our collective narratives are comprised of individual lives, which dissolve into homogeny when viewed as a bygone era from a distance.

The Life and Times of Plaid is on view at Brian Gross Fine Art in San Francisco, CA, through March 7, 2020.

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