Beautiful Fields ,directed by Tom McGlynn, focuses on projects that address the notion of the social as both context and subject. The resulting ground has been fertile for the exploration of the juncture where the everyday and the esoteric mix. These projects helped engender a social forum to facilitate discussions of what and where art should and could be seen. Below is a short history of collaborative projects that have led to the current curatorial organization.
The Mob collective, operating from 1989 to 1991, was founded by Tom McGlynn along with Bill Doherty and Rafael Sanchez. Their multi-disciplinary approach was born from their individual participation in the merging of genres in the downtown New York scene in the late 1970’s through the 1980’s. The Mob collective organized four formative shows during this time. These shows were the “ The Three Boys From Italy “ show at the Three Boys from Italy Pizzeria in downtown Jersey City, NJ, “The My-T-Fine Factory Show” in an abandoned shipping office in Hoboken, NJ, in 1990. “The Apartment Show” in a transitional living space in the Journal Square section of Jersey City,NJ in 1990 and “Mob At Speedway” at The Speedway gallery in Boston, MA., in 1991.
After their involvement with Mob, the members of the group worked on their own projects. McGlynn continued to work on painting, writing and social sculpture. McGlynn has also worked with such seminal arts collectives as Colab and Group Material, as well as maintaining a long association with Bullet Space Collective, NYC.
In 1998 Bill Doherty and the painter, Suzan Batu formed the curatorial team, “KOOH”. The first show “KOOH” produced was titled “Fashioned”.It was the inaugural show for White Box in the Chelsea art district in New York City then traveled to White Box in Philadelphia, PA. Doherty had brought the Mob aesthetic to these projects with Batu. The social aspect also informed their work together. In 2007 the “KOOH” team embarked on an ambitious series of shows entitled “Kuf/Mold”, (Kuf is the Turkish word for mold). The name Kuf/Mold was chosen because of their tendency towards the organic/viral coverage of whole neighborhoods and social strata in the given venues. The 2007 leg of “Kuf/Mold” was held in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey and was adopted by the Istanbul Biennial that year. Gent, Belgium was the host city in 2008 followed by Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2009. Kuf/Mold involved the local populace including the immigrant residents in an interaction with an array of international artists. McGlynn was involved as a participating artist in all of these exhibitions. An important subtext that emerged in this series of shows was that these communities represented a blend of old and new Europe. A meta-narrative emerged. The social turn of Mob had gone international.
It was after the completion of Batu and Doherty’s “KOOH” partnership that McGlynn and Doherty founded Beautiful Fields. This name was derived from a discussion of how the social is a universal imperative and that a more open title would be appropriate for any projects going forward. Bill Doherty and Tom McGlynn joined forces with two other curators from the West Coast, Anne Klint and Bachrun LoMele to organize the “East of Fresno” show at The Hatchery Art Spaces in a remote location in the Sierra Foothills region of Central California in 2011. The site of “East of Fresno” was the former Synanon compound dating from the mid 1970’s into the 1990’s. Later the site had been repurposed as a self-sufficient Muslim community that disbanded in September of 2001. The show was framed to create a temporary intentional community of artists responding to the location’s specific layered social histories of these failed utopian societies. “East of Fresno” culminated in a two-day event around painting, site-specific sculpture and installations including a temporary radio station that broadcast within the compound area. The event drew upon local contexts and resources to enrich the presentation of art and sociological themes. The curators repurposed the ruins of these former communities while actively catalyzing creative social engagement in the present one.
Beautiful Fields will bring its curatorial vision to “Memphis Social” curated by Tom McGlynn, in May, 2013. In June of 2012, the organization was awarded a grant from apexart, NYC, in order to help develop "Memphis Social" as an apexart: Franchise exhibition. For more current information on this show please go to our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/memphissocialexhibition