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  James Nelson
 Two Ton Hammer
 February 17 - March 19, 2011
 

The drawings comprising this exhibition are James Nelson's reaction to the recent loss of his friend, Tomcat Mahoney, who hosted the Blues radio program, The Other Half, on WNYE from 1990 to1995. Nelsonís title, Two Ton Hammer, refers to the first line of the Captain Beefheart song, "Hard Working Man," which Mahoney used as a theme song for his show. While digitizing an archive of over 200 hours of cassette recordings of his friendís radio show, Nelson drew the quietly mysterious but powerful charcoal-and-graphite works on paper in this exhibition. Also on view will be an installation of reproductions of Mahoney's handwritten playlists and an audio listening station of some of his broadcasts.
 
Nelson's past drawings ranged from Zen-like fields of organic abstraction to representations of wildly overflowing locks of hair, all of which simultaneously featured elements of understated tranquility and assertive abundance. His current drawings, primarily of hammers in close view or of human ears, highlight the same meditative and cumulative aspects of drawing. Nelsonís charcoal marks on handmade Japanese papers add organic warmth to the depictions of hammers without diminishing the strength of their potential energy. The hammers are shown in groups or singly, but do not appear to be wielded by human hands. When in groups, they overlap at odd angles suggesting a chaotic chorus of ringing strikes. The single hammers, in contrast, seem obdurately focused when posing or striking. The disembodied ears in Nelsonís drawings sometimes appear as single entities, but more often in groups, floating across open spaces, and drawn at different scales accentuated by touches of colored pencil. As with the hammers, there is tension between isolated individual elements and the diffusion of their multiplicity.
 
 
Two Ton Hammer #1, 2008
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 3/8 inches

Two Ton Hammer #2, 2008
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #3, 2008
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 3/8 inches
 
Two Ton Hammer #4, 2008
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #5, 2008
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #6, 2009
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 3/4 inches
 
Two Ton Hammer #7, 2009
Charcoal, graphite and colored pencil on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 3/4 inches

Two Ton Hammer #8, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
24 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #9, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
24 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches
 
Two Ton Hammer #10, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 18 5/8 inches

Two Ton Hammer #11, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 18 5/8 inches

Two Ton Hammer #12, 2010
Charcoal, graphite and colored pencil on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 20 inches
 
Two Ton Hammer #13, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 18 5/8 inches

Two Ton Hammer #14, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #15, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 1/4 x 19 1/2 inches
 
Two Ton Hammer #16, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 1/8 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #17, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #18, 2010
Charcoal and graphite on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches
 
Two Ton Hammer #19, 2010
Charcoal, graphite and colored pencil on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches

Two Ton Hammer #20, 2010
Charcoal, graphite and colored pencil on handmade Japanese paper
25 x 19 1/2 inches
 
Installation view

Installation view

Installation view
 
Installation view

Installation view

Installation view
 
Installation view

Installation view

Installation view
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