Gallery of Art | University of Northern Iowa

"Jack Balas: Against the Grain – Men, Maps, and Other Incorrections"

August 19, 2019 to October 5, 2019

IPR interview with Jacqueline Halbloom, 8/23/2019

The artist Jack Balas will present a lecture titled "Bro-sure: A Brief Look at the Art of Jack Balas" on Wednesday, August 28, at 7 p.m. in KAB 111. An opening reception will follow.

Balas is a Colorado-based artist specializing in figurative paintings and drawings in oil and watercolor. For the last 15 years, he has focused on depictions of the male figure, and is keen to present them in a variety of personal and societal scenarios that project them far beyond the traditional role of portraiture. Employing painted language in the form of titles, phrases, and paragraph-stories, the works take on the strategies of annotated documents, maps and calendars, and yet by their very depiction the men found in them also take on the politics of visibility – queer visibility and male visibility in general.

In his 2015 "Guy’d Book" publication Balas states, "I want my guys to go beyond objects of desire, to straddle the brawn vs. brains divide and do some heavy lifting… I put them out there as as a fait accompli, denizens of a post-gay world who take everyone’s gaze in stride, male or female, straight or otherwise. Ultimately, thus, the work is political."

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, largely credited with starting the gay civil rights movement. According to gallery director Darrell Taylor, this exhibition "is a celebration of LGBTQ+ culture, which is summoned up and activated so powerfully in the art of Jack Balas. These paintings, drawings, and mixed media works straddle worlds, iconographic ones and socio-political ones alike, and as such they chart a path through seemingly entrenched territories. It is the rare artist who can accomplish this so beguilingly, so beautifully."

All events are free and open to the public. Please note, the Gallery will be closed Monday, September 2 for Labor Day.