Front Line, Back Nine examines golf, race, and assemblage in Boca Raton April 21–July 3

03/18/16
Boca Raton Museum of Art

Boca Raton Museum of Art premiers major museum exhibition of works by Charles McGill

BOCA RATON, FL – A city with more golf courses than post offices seems the most appropriate place for the first major museum exhibition of works by artist Charles McGill. A golfer himself, McGill’s assemblage works are made predominantly with golf bags and equipment crafted to artfully and critically explore the relationship between the sport, race, and equality. Charles McGill: Front Line, Back Nine opens to the public at the Boca Raton Museum of Art April 21 and will remain on view through July 3, 2016.

Charles McGill’s vibrant collages employ discarded golf equipment to create provocative work that addresses the politics of race and class. As a black artist and serious golfer, McGill is fully aware that he is very much in the minority on the greens despite the fame of Tiger Woods. As an employee of the Westchester Country Club he came up with a line of tongue-in-cheek gold equipment aimed at a new generation of black activists he considers a little too comfortable with the status quo. The gear’s slogan was “why be on the front line when you can be on the back nine.”

“I find the golf bag to be a very political object due to its historical associations with class in equality and racial injustice,” says McGill. “It resonates with me on increasingly deeper levels. It is both an object and subject that lends itself well to found object abstractions and assemblages that address these well-chronicled complexities.”

McGill’s training as a painter is evident in the formal punch of colors and composition that recalls those of Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. In addition to collages, the exhibition features a video documenting McGill’s Harlem neighborhood “play through” including putts in front of Harlem landmarks such as the Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club. Also included is a life-size self-portrait sculpture dressed in argyles and plus-fours.

“[McGill’s works] usurp the didactic tropes of image/text, the figure, race, and commodification, embracing purity and immensity – the sweeping expanse of abstraction,” says critic and University of California, Irvine art professor Joe Lewis in the exhibition catalog. “It’s difficult to fathom how one finds beauty through the lens of exclusion, but McGill gives both original and meaningful life in spite of their metaphysical opposition.”

The Boca Raton Museum of Art is surrounded by no less than 76 golf courses within a 10-mile radius, most of which form the centerpieces of gated, mostly white and upper-income communities. Meanwhile, in walking distance to the Museum, is Boca Raton’s pioneering African American neighborhood of Pearl City.

“With the generous support of the Schmidt Family Foundation, we will conduct an artist-in-residence with Charles McGill that will include an artist’s talk, a play through of Boca Raton’s historic black neighborhood, Pearl City, and a free Community Day at the Museum. Through these activities we aim to bring together Boca Raton’s diverse demographic to share experiences inspired by a game that is central to our community’s identity,” says Museum Director Irvin Lippman. “Boca Raton is the perfect place for the first major Charles McGill exhibition.”

This exhibition has been organized by the Boca Raton Museum of Art and curated by Kathleen Goncharov, the Museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art.

Support for these exhibitions is generously provided by Jennifer & Marc Bell, Beatrice Cummings Mayer, and Christine & Peter Raimondi. Support for Artist-in-Residence activities with Charles McGill is generously provided by the Schmidt Family Foundation. Additional support is provided in part by the City of Boca Raton; the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Additional support is generously provided by our Members and Donors.

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Please contact Kelsey Johnson for interviews with Charles McGill or Kathy Goncharov, Curator of Contemporary Art. High-res images and captions available via Dropbox: https://goo.gl/KzcYaZ. More images available on request.