At the Galveston Arts Center, Jasmyne Graybill’s solo exhibition “Cultivate” is upstairs, in a small gallery that has an immediate emptiness about it. You can barely see the tiny objects lining the walls. You’ll need to stand close to see the extreme detail of Jasmyne’s work. And when you do, the layers of complexity and texture come alive.
Small spoons, line the walls individually ornate in their original forms, each found object is adorned with a tiny sculptural interventions of brightly colored polymer clay excruciatingly beautiful detail. Skillfully, Jasmyne imbues each object with new life, or converts it into something new altogether, or perhaps both.
Jasmyne and her husband Buster Graybill have concurrent solo shows at the Arts Center. The duo could not have exhibitions on view that are more individually unique, completely opposite in many ways, yet carry a visual conversation so completely as a pair.
Jasmyne’s work does not require space — rather the opposite— it requires intimacy. I wanted to see every single minutiae of detail in the teeny tiny objects she had inverted upon and into. Jasmyne’s miniature sculptures are stunningly meticulous. Her metaphorical canvases are household and domestic items like the spoons and also the handle of an axe, or the head of a shovel that had fallen off its shaft. Then with dental tools, she painstakingly builds minute organic sculptures of colorful polymer clay into and onto the objects. The work is Jasmyne’s reminder of the resilience of nature, and particularly when confronted with the man-made obstacles it regularly faces. Her faux-fungus is calculatedly beautiful, and elicits a sensation of wonder for living things that are traditionally defined as unnecessary or grotesque.
While the work is physically tiny, it fills the gallery with a massiveness that seems to collapse the space. The viewer feels large and imposing, much like the natural global context when one stops to take stock the massiveness of the planet.
The couple truly works in extremes. Buster’s exhibition “Leisurely” occupies the Art Center’s main gallery. Large site specific sculptural drawings dominate the space, and illicit an Alice in Wonderland-esque feeling as the body moves from Jasmyne’s show where the objects make the body feel enormous in the space, into a space where the opposite affect occurs, and the body is dwarfed by the objects in the space.
Massive pipes are affixed to the wall, extending horizontally. Their clean form and technical nature make a smooth gesture, a large and imposing line that is a fundamental element of art.
In contrast Buster’s other objects suggest a setting more prosaic: a backyard barbecue. Buster re-appropriates quotidian objects of the working class — pull straps, egg crates, and car jacks — as metaphorical tools to explore the relationships between and misunderstandings of high- and low-brow culture. Buster gives the objects a different life challenging the viewer to question the significance of mundane things in the pristine white cube of a gallery. Pulled from their original contexts and given a new significance, these objects that define the working class make the audience reconsider their value.
Buster’s play with the language of art history is seen in the direct references such as St. Sebastian and an Artforum magazine hiding in an egg crate. Endless Hierarchy, 2016, is a tower of car jacks a reference to the high modernist Brancusi sculpture “Endless Column.” Buster’s tower acts differently. The bright red is in stark contrast with the sleek design of anything Brancusi. The feet of each of the car jacks in competition with the smoothness of the modernists design, but the modernist form lives in its direct reference, and the small, hidden touch of an Artforum Magazine with Damien Hirst’s bejeweled skull gives “Endless Hierarchy” its referential foundation while allowing it to live as a beautiful object composed from the tools used to make hard labor easier.
It is refreshing to see a couple maintain their own artistic practices and voices while working in such close proximity. While Jasmyne plays with the organic growth in nature and Buster with hierarchies and class, both respond to the ways in which nature can be seen as grotesque, Buster through capitalism and class structure, Jasmyne through the unwanted remnants of nature’s reaction to man-made systems attempting to expel it.