Keith Mayerson: My American Dream

June 2, 2017September 17, 2017

In My American Dream, his first solo museum exhibition, artist Keith Mayerson offers a distinctive view of the American Dream at a critical moment in our sociopolitical landscape. Presenting more than 100 paintings from a twenty-year body of work, My American Dream weaves together famous figures, iconic events, inspiring landscapes, and personal experiences into a vibrant cosmology. Peppered with images of the artist’s family, including his husband Andrew, Mayerson creates an earnest and progressive portrait of American values and prosperity.

The exhibition will be presented in a tight, salon-style hang, positioning works in close proximity to one another in order to encourage viewers to suture together stories and create meaning. While some subjects have clear historical relationships (Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull, for example), other combinations suggest the non-linear nature of a dream that disrupts notions of past, present, and future. Comprehensively, My American Dream is both an elegiac and hopeful commentary, a narrative tapestry about the times in which we live, and the issues and values that inform and construct our individual and collective perspectives.

Mayerson is noted for his expressive, representational paintings based mostly on photographs, magazines, books, newspapers, films, and his own archive. The work ranges from paintings that celebrate the sublime beauty of America’s landscape to those reflecting traumatic moments that redefined American culture. Through a meticulous process of first abstracting and then reunifying the image, Mayerson immerses himself in both the formal and metaphorical aspects of his subjects. He translates the familiar into the spirited using a gestural style and vibrant palette, capturing the intangible essence of diverse places and people.

Mayerson explores concepts of power, strength, and authority through portraits of diverse figures ranging from superheroes to politicians. At the same time, he mines his own history, representing both the prosaic and special moments that ground life. He interrogates bigotry and persecution through works that honor the oppressed. As the artist states, his paintings “serve as both a personal homage to those people and experiences that have shaped [my] own individual identity and beliefs, and a reminder of their broader social and historical impact.”

My American Dream will feature a series of new paintings made in relation to Cleveland, such as The Block (2016), which depicts the epic moment in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals when LeBron James leapt into the air to block a shot by Golden State Warriors forward, Andre Iguodala. This iconic play helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win the series and title, realizing an “American Dream” for thousands.

Generous support for Keith Mayerson: My American Dream is provided by MOCA LGBTQ + Allies and Marlborough Contemporary, with additional support provided by Doreen and Dick Cahoon, and Great Lakes Brewing Company.

In kind support for the production of My American Dream is provided by SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art.

All 2017 exhibitions are funded by Leadership Circle gifts from an anonymous donor, Yuval Brisker, Joanne Cohen and Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, Becky Dunn, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Michelle Shan-Jeschelnig and Richard Jeschelnig, Donna and Stewart Kohl, Toby Devan Lewis, and Scott Mueller.
 
All MOCA Cleveland exhibitions are supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and the continuing support of the Museum’s Board of Directors, patrons, and members.