Dennis McNett Artist Talk
McNett’s artistic practice focuses on storytelling through mythopoetic images, sculptures, and public events/performances. His vocabulary of images borrows freely from Greek and Norse myths, Mexican muertos, and the animal kingdom, all synthesized into an idiosyncratic style that is deeply heartfelt. Often inspired by the spirits of close friends and admired figures, McNett has evolved these characters into a unique and personal mythology. Chief among these is the “Wolfbat,” a flying creature with bat wings and the head of a wolf. Inspired by the misunderstood Fenris of Norse myth, the Wolfbat “wakes up the sleeping spirit” and was featured in the 2007 Deitch Projects Art Parade in the form of masks worn by participants. Other characters and creatures include eagles, wolves, and skeletons, some of which have been developed into live, impromptu performances in the public sphere. The artist deploys these characters across a range of mediums and forms, including woodcut prints on paper applied to wall installations, papier mâché masks, costumes, and sculptural figures. Sometimes taking the form of Viking ships, McNett’s memorial sculptures are emblazoned with wheatpasted images of deceased friends and heroes among myriad contributions by other artists, and then paraded through the streets drawing participants from the surrounding community. These public events are intended not only as memorials but also as celebrations of community energy and collective spirit. Future memorial events will be dedicated to beloved figures from McNett’s life, including the late Andy Kessler, New York City skateboard pioneer, and Richard Mock, the celebrated painter and linocut printmaker regularly featured by the New York Times. Identifying overarching themes in his work, McNett states that he views his characters as “strong, beautiful misfits shunned and punished for being different, alive, strong. They are a reminder of our short time on earth, the awestruck sensations inspired by nature, or simply characters very alive and expressive in their gesture. Participating in a Viking parade inspires camaraderie and displays the power of working as a unit. And resurrecting a giant serves as a reminder that you cannot bind a strong spirit. I envision all of these things battling against the sleeping, tuned-out, and lost translations of digital communication, loss of community/tribe, fictional news media, corporate ownership, and money-before-spirit attitudes.” Born in 1972 in Virginia Beach, VA, Dennis McNett received a BFA from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, and an MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. He lives and works in Ridgewood, NY. Solo exhibitions of his work include the upcoming New Works at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2011); Year of the Wolfbat, Fecal Face Dot Gallery, San Francisco (2009); and Driving Through, The Life Art Gallery, Portland, OR (2008). His work has been featured in the following selected group exhibitions: Barnstormers, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2010); Outlaws and Wild Animals, Rebus Works, Raleigh, NC (2009); From the Streets of Brooklyn, Thinkspace Gallery, Los Angeles (2009); Titanium Exposed, Fecal Face Gallery, San Francisco (2008); INprint, SCA Contemporary Art, Albuquerque, NM (2008); and Inky and Stinky, Lombardi Gallery, Austin, TX (2008).
Join us as we welcome famed New York artist Dennis McNett to Houston!
On Wednesday, May 9th, at 6:30pm he will be giving a fantastic, FREE lecture at the Art Car Museum to discuss his work, and what he will be doing in Houston for the Art Car Parade. This is a great chance to meet one of the country's leading printmakers, and celebrate the beginning of the 25th Annual Houston Art Car Parade weekend!
A little bit about Dennis McNett and his work:
McNett and his Wolfbats continue their migration across North America to Houston’s Art Car Parade on Saturday, May 12. Known for his mythical, larger-than-life creations, McNett has taken his love of printmaking and turned it into mobile, 3-D art pieces, which have included viking ships in both Philadelphia and Venice, Italy, as well as his Wolfbat Railway in both Omaha and New Orleans.
Each piece was printed and built in its respective city, making it a unique piece for each event. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Houston’ Art Car Parade will mark McNett's first venture into an official art car, as his previous mobile pieces were all man-powered. While in Houston, McNett will be assisted by printmakers at Burning Bones Press, where the car will be assembled.
Check out this fantastic video showing one of McNett's recent works: