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Interview with Gary Batty

By Melanie Bernier and Gary Batty. Photography by Gary Batty. 

The artwork of Gateway’s young and emerging artists reflects their attempt to understand the complex world around them in Gateway’s current exhibition, The Young and the Restless.

The exhibition, which runs through February 22 at the Gateway Gallery, was co-curated by Gary Batty, an artist and Gateway facilitator. Working closely with several of the exhibiting artists in a studio setting, Batty has unique insight to draw from when describing the collection.

Jeffrey Crockett
What is the general concept behind the show? Being more of a survey exhibition, there is not much of a concept behind it. One day I was talking with Stephen [De Fronzo, Gateway’s art director] about the work Jeffrey, JB and Neri were producing in Studio A, and he suggested a show around some of the younger and newer artists at Gateway. I thought it was a good idea.

Several of these artists make up the core of the exhibit. Others were included who we feel have similar interests or outlooks.

When gathering work for the exhibit, I was conscious to void work that seemed more about what or who the image was; rather, I was interested in emphasizing the artist’s craft and personal connection. A viewer from outside the closed walls of Gateway seeing a pop culture image placed upon a canvas against a solid colored background – essentially a pedestal – 

might be led to interpret the piece on some ironic, “Arty”, “it-is-enough” level, and I have no interest in that. I think it takes away from what I find beautiful in the work here. 
Neri Avraham

What do you see in the work? I see two ends that balance the exhibition, much like how the head-strong manner of youth is balanced with doubt.

On one end there is the physicality of work like that of Jeffrey Crockett and Neri Avraham, where source material is pushed out by the psychical force coming from medium and hand. It’s interesting to see a drawing by Crockett next to his paintings. Like the drawing, the paintings start out fairly structured, but images are soon taken over by colors which have specific meaning to him (purples, reds, black), creating an atmosphere of his subject. While hanging the work, Stephen observed that the pieces are an abstraction of his original intent, and I agree. Along the same lines and equally interesting is Avraham’s work, where the image hangs on but hangs on through a body and texture of paint that allow it to show through like a crinkled photograph someone has been carrying around for years in their pocket. Any sort of doubt in these two artists’ work is overcome in what may seem like stubbornness and raw emotion.

On the other end is the controlled and quiet approach by

Emmanuel Preston and Betty Antoine.

Betty Antoine

Both have great ability to depict the world as through their eyes and each has such a beautiful and loving hand to their craft. This combination fills the work with the beliefs and values, concerns and respect akin to those of the artist. The women in Antoine’s pieces seem a blend of Victorian and Contemporary culture. Her care in the handling of materials seems to touch on the complexity of this combination to her. The double signature in the bottom of the floating woman piece is a great addition. Preston’s pieces present themes of Magic and sexuality without sensation or ego through an admirably humble hand. Perhaps both artists work with the doubt that any one person can have an impact on the world; by accepting this, they are able to create their own terms.

The work in the rest of the exhibition seems to fall somewhere close to a happy meeting between these two ends.

Are you connected to any of the work as a facilitator? I work directly with Neri, Jeffrey, JB, and Emmanuel. I have worked with Josie and check in with some of the other artists on a regular basis.

Can you talk about your approach to facilitation with young adults or spectrum adults? My aim is to encourage individuals to wander, avoid routine and to make, then consider mistakes. How this goes about changes from individual to individual.

View more images from The Young and the Restless on our website. 

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