Municipal Bonds is pleased to present Austin Thomas's second exhibition with the gallery, titled Metropolis. In this homage to her hometown, Thomas's work embodies the dynamics of New York City, its architecture and energy. Featuring a selection of abstract monotypes on found paper, her solo show is both referential and reverential of quotidian moments from the city streets.
With syncopated rhythm, Thomas paints and prints geometric forms in unique color-blocks. Her process captures gesture, allows for experimentation and the emergence of imagery that at times suggests, even points to, her narrative. Distilled to impressions of light and shadow, mass and transparency—New York's buildings and bridges, bustle and bravado meet between the printing press and Thomas's paper.
Book covers and pages, ledger sheets and proofing papers are marked by craft foam and templates Thomas borrowed from a metalwork shop. These machine-age shapes are arranged with skyscraper-like verticality and the beat of her daily walks. The resulting work has an improvisational buoyancy, combining Thomas's spontaneity and precision, and referring to a range of modernist styles, including Constructivism, Minimalism and Color Field painting.
"My works are unique moments of clarity, ideas and focus. They are conversations around corners of this magnificent swirling city. These are monotypes, cranked through an etching press multiple times. The rollers are like color walking, with various intensities and subtleties of tone. Printing plates are often not re-inked between runs. This way of printing allows serendipity, improvisation and experimentation to take over.
I feel small amongst my city's mechanisms—big rectangular buildings, the subway and traffic—but I meditate a lot. I walk everywhere, photographing things, mostly buildings along my path. I have a daily sketchbook practice. Making these works is a way for me to navigate the maelstrom. This body of work speaks to what I see and feel in the experience of every day, working, commuting and looking.
A shadow appears and then fades. There are many bridges here, silhouetted black against the fading sky. I use black ink to articulate shapes and convey a sense of gravity. I love circles. Red circles might be a stoplight, and dots may be rain, or objects on the concrete sidewalk, or lights. I use a vocabulary of rectangles, triangles and trapezoids. I play with shapes on paper, working with chance encounters and repetition.
I use steel templates and handmade stencils. Vintage paper—interesting book covers, from coloring books to art books and other old papers—enables me to add richness to the reading of my work. My titles are essential, for they aid in composing and interpreting the work."
- Austin Thomas, New York City, June 2021
Austin Thomas lives in New York City. Her work has been widely exhibited, both nationally and internationally. This is her second exhibition with Municipal Bonds in San Francisco. In New York, Thomas has shown at: The Drawing Center, SculptureCenter, Art in General, White Columns, Morgan Lehman Gallery and Wave Hill. She is a graduate of NYU, and has received numerous residencies and fellowships, including: Guttenberg Arts, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Smack Mellon and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Thomas is featured in the book titled Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists, and its sequel, The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life, both edited by Sharon Louden. Thomas has been written about in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Art in America, the Brooklyn Rail, the Paris Review and Hyperallergic. Her work is in the American University Museum's permanent collection at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She is represented by Municipal Bonds.
Municipal Bonds—our name as well as our purpose—is a symbolic play on words. Municipalities form and encourage a concentration of people and ideas, where bonds are the connections and strengths between us. To that effect, Municipal Bonds was conceived in the Bay Area in 2019—a contemporary art gallery with a dedicated exhibition program, international in scope and cross-cultural by intention. Founded and directed by Emily Miller, Municipal Bonds seeks to enhance artists' support, development and exposure; and to increase the diversity of art showcased for the betterment of community, collectors and creativity.
Austin Thomas: Metropolis is on view at Municipal Bonds, 1275 Minnesota Street, San Francisco, July 10 - September 3, 2021, Thursday - Saturday, 12-5pm and by appointment. For more information, please contact Emily Miller at 917.450.0583, firstname.lastname@example.org.