Editor’s Note: Ivar Zeile of the PLUS Gallery, 2501 Larimer, is a close friend (and neighbor, when we are in our Denver home). Years ago, Ivar told about two promising young artists, advising us to collect the work of Riva Sweetrocket and Jenny Morgan. Jenny had just graduated from the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design and was on her way to the prestigious School of Visual Arts in New York. Masters degree in hand, she was asked to become a studio assistant to the iconic artist Marilyn Minter. In short order, Jenny was picked up by a New York Gallery and commissioned by “The New York Times” to do a portrait of Wikileaks honcho Julian Assange. The painting we bought, a riff on Goya’s ‘Disasters of War” was a self -portrait: Jenny as Hope, a choice that proved to be prescient – although Jenny no longer needs hope. Her abundant gifts as a portrait artist and observer of human nature have put her on a trajectory that will, we believe, land her in a gallery of luminaries in the genre. Move over Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, and Alex Katz. Make room for the lady.
“Having been interested in painting the figure for most of my artistic life, I hope to create an emotional response in each piece. Inventing new ways of looking at our oldest and most classic subject matter is always a goal, but most of all making paintings that visually examine the complexity of human relationships,” Jenny Morgan, 2002
Jenny Morgan’s career objective has held fast and true since finishing her studies at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in 2003, inspiring numerous fans and collectors along the way. Plus Gallery is extremely proud to present the artist’s latest solo exhibition “Kith and Kin,” a collection of eight new paintings fearless in their execution and carrying a potent emotional charge. That Morgan continues her long-term relationship with the gallery is notable for an artist now ingrained in the New York scene, but it is certainly not without cause. Jenny’s thoughtful sense of purpose has deep roots and it’s own strong emotional connection to the Denver market that first embraced her. “Kith and Kin” delves even more deeply into the artist’s past, pursuing a personal agenda that is now the artist’s trademark and a veritable revolution in contemporary portraiture today.
“Kith and Kin” was built on the foundation of collecting a group of people who are from my roots. The subjects in these portraits are individuals who grew up in my home of the Salt Lake Valley, Utah. In particular I focused on members of the Rapp family – a household where I spent much of my childhood and consider a second home. Two additional portraits are friends I connected with in New York and later learned we had been raised only miles away from one another. I was thinking of that bond we all share – experiencing the same landscape and culture, yet developing immensely different lives. We connect in a way that others who enter our lives from a different background may never full relate to or understand. Jenny Morgan, 2012
The paintings in the exhibition explode with vibrancy, Morgan having greatly broadened her usage of color since her last solo exhibition at Plus Gallery in 2009. She continues to work with bold techniques that purposefully “mess-up” the realist compositions she painstakingly creates, serving to explore altered states of realism that ultimately speak greatly towards the human condition. There is no denying that Morgan’s work carries a signature style, one that fully grips the viewer…..and in the case of the Denver audience, has left us enthralled and engaged for almost a decade. The exhibition is a gem and one of the most notable of the year for the gallery and for the Denver community as well. The exhibition comes on month prior to the artist’s 30th birthday, and one week before opening half the works are already sold, the first time for that status in the gallery history.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Plus Gallery will release the new book, We are all Setting Suns, our second hard-cover publication to capture the artist’s output in it’s entirety, this edition covering from 2010 through the present. The book features new essays by Plus Gallery owner Ivar Zeile, arts writer Nancy Hightower and major art collector Wayne F. Yakes, as well as the complete interviews with Morgan from her 2011 video profile, “Jenny Morgan – Self Portrait,” and for the first time select photographs taken by Morgan as source material for her paintings. The book is a testament to the uncommon excellence and picture-perfect career that Morgan has maintained to date, serving as a gift and companion for fans of her work. The gallery will have limited copies available for $100 at the opening on a first-come basis, all printed on high-quality paper through Blurb.com
Watch this video profile of the artist shot last year: