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Jean Lowe Bottom Shelf Self: Trending Titles in the Civic Imaginary

Organized by Katie Herzog


February 4 - February 27

Opening Reception: 

February 4

7 - 10 PM


Actual Size is pleased to present the exhibition of a new series of prints on metal by San Diego based artist Jean Lowe.  Mining the deep absurdity of language and indexical hierarchies, ideas of economy, the economy of ideas, and what it means to be a human, Lowe's handcrafted wit and painterly ruminations on capitalism occupy a dedicated position at the intersection of art and politics. Bottom Shelf Self: Trending Titles in the Civic Imaginary exemplifies a new mode of production for Lowe, in which she couples photography and digital imaging with her sculptural, painterly, self-titled papier-mâché books. Lowe superimposes photographs of her sculptures onto digitally constructed shelves. Lowe envisages the aesthetic opportunity of the book display style provided by the digital marketplace. Whereas libraries and bookstores normally display book spines, digital platforms show covers. Lowe's humor lies in the invented book titles, their relationship to category, and their integration with cover images. The series shines a much needed light on the loss of hilarious contradictions and dated ideas one might encounter in a corner of a public library somewhere but maybe not in the online apple store. The covers are hilarious  masterpieces unto themselves. Each piece in the series (divided into categories including Lifestyle, Men's Interest, Motivation and Self Help, Nonfiction and Reference, Food and Wine; and Women's Health and Wellness) is like a self-contained exhibition of smaller paintings organized around a common theme. This is an artist's version of an algorithm based in folly, meta-narrative, and the changing social sphere.


Jean Lowe received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1983 and her M.F.A. from UC San Diego in 1988. From 1992 to 2008 she was a lecturer at UC San Diego and in 2001 at San Diego State University. She was also a member of the visiting faculty at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2003. She has received numerous awards and grants including 2 WESTAF/NEA Regional Fellowships; a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant; a California Art Council grant; the Alberta duPont Bonsal Foundation Purchase Award; CalArts/Alpert Ucross Residency Prize; and The SD Art Prize cash grant presented by San Diego Visual Arts Network. Her works have also been seen in numerous museums such as Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Madison Center for the Arts Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI; List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge; Whitney Museum, NY; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and McNay Art Museum, San Antonio. Jean Lowe has been showing at Rosamund Felsen Gallery since 2003. She lives in Encinitas, CA.


Katie Herzog received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, San Diego in 2005. In 2011 she cycled from Copenhagen to Berlin in the inaugural Cycling For Libraries, and she currently serves as a Board Director for the Foundation for Monterey County Free Libraries.  She has participated in a number of artist residencies including Skowhegan, The Banff Centre, Bblackboxx, Ox-Bow, and Program Initiative for Art and Architecture Collaborations in Berlin, and her work is in the collections of numerous public institutions including The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut, The Rhode Island School of Design, and the Tom of Finland Foundation, among others. Katie Herzog is represented by Klowden Mann Gallery in Culver City, CA.

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