Wednesday, March 20, 2013
This past weekend for Third Friday was the last public viewing of “The Joe and Jan Show” at 335 Commons, curated by Robrt Pela and hosted at the pop-up gallery by Ashley Harder of Harder Development. The exhibition has been the focus of a considerable amount of media attention after it was unexpectedly cancelled in January by Kristin Shears, owner of Willo North Gallery, where it was originally to be held. The cancellation prompted accusations of censorship, largely perpetuated by a Huffington Post article.
Barry Graham, an author based out of Portland, OR, documented the strange sequence of events that resulted after the cancellation on his website. Shears’ reasons for canceling the show only days before the opening was that Pela, whose resignation was due to go into affect after the opening, left her unprepared and unable to continue as scheduled. However, as Graham shows on his website, Pela had given notice of his leaving weeks before and eventually released his resignation letter, which revealed Shears’ mismanagement of Willo North to be the cause.
In his letter, Pela writes,
“Perhaps some of the interns will stay, and the work I’ve done to create an audience for Willo North is one you can continue to build on, for sure. But I’m tired of showing up to find my work undone, or re-done, and I’m embarrassed to have to keep asking that you communicate with me about what’s going on, when clearly you don’t wish to.”
Despite the controversy that proceeded it, 335 Commons provided a wonderful space for the humorous depictions Arizona’s two most recognized politicians of modern day. A complete list of artists involved include: Kristin Bauer, Peter Bugg, Chary Castro-Maria, Eric Cox, Jeff Falk, Todd Daniel Grossman, Vincent LaRue, Annie Lopez, Melissa McGurgen, Annette Sexton Ruiz, Irma Sanchez, Chris Swanberg and Paul Wilson.