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Sean Barton

Dirty Laundry

Our lives are built on experience and memory. How we navigate identity, intimacy, and imagination is a function of what we choose to hold onto and, in turn, what we choose to let go of. Sean Barton’s Dirty Laundry is a memorial to the past, a record of the now, and a blueprint for the future.

Sean Barton. I sit alone in a 4 cornered room staring at paintings, 2017. Oil on canvas. 60 x 60 inches.
  • July 5 - August 6, 2018
  • Opening: Thursday, July 5

Closing: Thursday, August 2, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

The complex and cyclical nature of Sean Barton’s lived experience informs his new body of work, Dirty Laundry, which unfolds in the gallery as a narrative installation intended to evoke the continuous flow of time. Significant objects and events from his life are cataloged in paintings, mixed media constructions, and sculptures.

Barton’s materials and methods—born of sign painting, his chosen trade—represent a diversity of styles and impulses that give voice to the shifting landscape of his identity, values, and beliefs. The works recall his daily grind, past relationships, family, love and loss, and abuses and traumas, all while exploring the financial and spiritual costs of being an artist alongside the rewards: hard-earned wisdom, acceptance, growth, and connectivity.

A sense of reflection and nostalgia unify the collection: a blown-up facsimile of a favorite Pink Floyd album cover; graphic oils on raw canvas; and transcribed stories, to-do lists, old photos, and other memory-box ephemera memorialized in painted steel. All together, they survey the path of his evolution with an honest eye and penetrating wit.

While it is a deeply personal investigation, Barton’s story is also one of universal truths. In his own words, “When you think you’ve arrived, you find you are just beginning. Throughout life’s twists and turns we accumulate baggage, fine tune our skills, meet and leave people behind. Sometimes our dirty laundry sits there, staring us in the face. It is a constant reminder of what we have done, what we still need to do, where we failed and where we have succeeded. There are other times that, having lain dormant and discarded for years, the long-forgotten past comes into the present with a focus and clarity that shapes who we are and where we want to go.”

About the Artist

Sean Barton spent the first eight years of his life in the Santa Cruz Mountains and credits this time, the beginning of his journey, as the root of his creative growth and quiet awareness. Traditional education was not an emphasis in his family and, at 16, he chose to drop out of school and live on his own. After moving around the country and working odd jobs, Barton eventually found sign painting and taught himself the trade.

Both the vernacular and materials of his commercial practice now inform his work as a fine artist. It is a fluid relationship. With glass, gold leaf, paint, foam, canvas, and printed materials, he creates work through a process of bricolage.

Barton has exhibited his work nationally and internationally, including at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, NY; Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles, CA; and Laforet Harajuku in Tokyo, Japan.