Third Street Gallery archive: 2014 Exhibitions: Laughter in Darkness: Paintings by Seana Burden, Jeff Jordan and Jesse Wiedel


Humboldt State University First Street Gallery presents, Laughter in Darkness, a group exhibition featuring paintings by Seana Burden, Jeff Jordan and Jesse Wiedel. All three artists currently reside on California’s North Coast.

Each artist uses contrasting elements of familiarity and imagination in order to create thought-provoking, humorous experiences for the viewer. A common thread tying their work together is the mash-up approach of blending imagery drawn from direct observation, contemporary media, traditional landscape and fictional spaces. The artists often combine realistic approaches with dream-like passages that yield images that are at once familiar yet unsettling.

Seana Burden’s paintings address two subjects, sometimes blending the two: romance as portrayed in Pop Culture and the dichotomous role of women and how they are portrayed in contemporary and traditional society. Her romantic and socially conscious paintings have a folk-art quality that is enthusiastically detailed.  With the use of glitter in her paint, storybook references exemplifying our culture’s attachment to stereotypical female ideals and consumer culture, she makes paintings that project trenchant, yet whimsical social commentary. 
Jeff Jordan is widely known for his charged imagery on the album covers of numerous bands, such as Mars VoltaProtest The Hero, and Leprous. His surrealist style humorously celebrates the human condition within a broad context of politics, history and technology.  He blends everyday subject matter and absurd imagery, realistically rendered, to create a thought-provoking dialogue between the work and the viewer. Jordan’s craft incorporates a sophisticated, complex use of color and his allusions to Art History emphatically underscore his life-long devotion to painting.       
Jesse Wiedel’s paintings expose the unsettling, stranger-than-fiction feeling that can be evoked by the mundane. In using quotidian settings from California and the American West and populating them with vividly rendered depictions of people at the margins of society, living in the streets, meth addicts and the lumpenproletariat, his works arouse shock but also laughter in the viewer. Within his narrative scenes, a grotesque, often humorous, yet uncannily familiar rendition of street life resides.

Laughter in Darkness is produced by Humboldt State University students enrolled in the Museum and Gallery Practices Program. HSU First Street Gallery provides real-life opportunities for the students to develop their gallery and museum skills, which in turn provides them with the experience that will help them enter the job market. Many students who have participated in the program have gone on to pursue careers in museums and galleries throughout the nation.

Exhibition Schedule
Laughter in Darkness will run from April 1 through May 18. The opening reception for the artists coincides with Eureka’s Arts Alive program on Saturday April 5 from 6-9 p.m. An open house will be held on May 3 for the closing of the show, from 6-9 p.m. First Street Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12-5pm and is located at 422 First Street in Old Town Eureka. For more information please call (707) 443-6363.