Critics’ Picks

Jennie C. Jones, Red, Black, Blue—Woofers, Wires, and Such (detail), 2007, collage and ink on paper, 11 x 15".


Jennie C. Jones

Atlanta Contemporary
535 Means Street NW
June 26–August 16

“Red, Bird, Blue” is a wonderful fusion of the various passions of Brooklyn-based artist Jennie C. Jones, intelligently installed across two galleries at this museum. The first space introduces Jones’s passion for jazz and geometric abstraction. As Diz, Not Bird, 2004, is a humorous photograph of the artist in three-quarter view, with cheeks puffed, imitating the famous portrait of Dizzy Gillespie blowing his trumpet. Another of her heroes, Ellsworth Kelly, is represented by his print Dark Blue, 2001, borrowed specifically for the show. Between these are two groupings of works on paper in which Jones weaves the pair of influences together. “Red, Black, Blue—Woofers, Wires, and Such,” 2007, is a series of ten collages that combine flat planes of red, black, and blue in abstract, geometric compositions to which the artist has added thin black lines humorously anchored by hand-drawn microphones, ear buds, and audio jacks. The other series comprises works that combine these same basic colors tucked into and around folded 45-rpm record sleeves.

These pieces on view are an insightful prelude to the minimally installed second gallery, in which Jones combines sound, sculpture, and painting in a single multisensory environment titled Bird’s House, 2009. Two wall-mounted speakers emit separate tracks that Jones has digitally mastered: an audio collage of jazz performers Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Paul Horn, and the melodic song of the northern oriole. On the speakerless walls, she has painted flat, monochromatic wall paintings that intimate the square and rectangular dimensions of single and double record albums. Purposefully adorning the paintings, empty walls, and even the modernist bench in the center of the gallery are vinyl rubbings of the Blue Note logo, a reference to the world-famous record label and the canonical jazz recordings it has published. Jones even activates the large window in the gallery by positioning a bright red birdhouse outside it. “Red, Bird, Blue” is an elegant installation that, for all its nonrepresentational components, provides a telling self-portrait of this accomplished artist.