"Everything calls out to us, clamoring to be totally transformed, but everyone pretends not to notice" -- and here it is, the clamor.
[New Orleans, LA ::: b. 1968 – New York, NY]
SKYLAR FEIN was born in Greenwich Village and raised in the Bronx. He has had many careers including teaching nonviolent resistance under the umbrella of the Quakers, working for a gay film festival in Seattle, stringing for The New York Times and as pre-med student at University of New Orleans where he moved one week before Hurricane Katrina hit.
In the wreckage of New Orleans, Fein found his new calling as an artist, experimenting with color and composition of the detritus of Katrina. His work soon became known for its pop sensibility as well as its hard-nosed politics. After a few starring roles in group shows, he had his first solo show in May 2008 at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans.
In the fall of 2008, his Prospect.1: Biennial installation, "Remember the Upstairs Lounge," shined a spotlight on an overlooked piece of New Orleans history: a fire that swept through a French Quarter bar in 1973, killing everyone inside. The worst fire in New Orleans history has never been solved. His installation walked visitors right through the swinging bar doors, and offered visual riffs on politics and sexuality circa 1973. The piece was praised in Artforum, Art In America, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker, among others. In late 2009, Fein had his first solo museum show, "Youth Manifesto," at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The exhibition was an ode to punk rock as a force for social and cultural upheaval. True to form, the opening reception was shut down by police responding to the look of the unlikely art-going crowd.
In March 2010, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery presented Fein's solo installation, “Skylar Fein: Rise of the Youth Front" at VOLTA Art Fair in New York during Armory Week. This installation drew thousands of people and delved into revolutionary politics past and present, a continuing theme in Fein's work. In May 2010,Fein was invited by the New York curatorial project No Longer Empty to recreate his "Remember the Upstairs Lounge" installation in a vacant Chelsea space. The exhibition, once again, drew thousands of visitors and sparked renewed interest in this piece of history. In September 2011, Fein exhibited over eighty new works in his solo exhibition Junk Shot at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans. This exhibition embodied this artist’s turn towards formalism and art historical reference while maintaining Fein’s iconic sensibilities and aesthetic. Fein's solo exhibition "Beckett at War" in September 2012 at C24 Gallery in Chelsea was praised as one of the top ten exhibitions of the year in New York, in The Village Voice. He followed that up with his November 2013 installation of "The Lincoln Bedroom" which received wide media attention. Fein unveiled his “Giant Metal Matchbook” series in his 2014 solo exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery. Since then, the series has been exhibited nationally at art fairs including a solo presentation at VOLTA NY, as well as, Miami Project for Art Basel Miami Beach, Texas Contemporary, artMRKT San Francisco, and the Seattle Art Fair - and has continued to gain momentum in rave reviews and collector acquisitions.
Skylar Fein was the recipient of a 2009 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award and his work is in several prominent collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, The Louisiana State Museum, The Birmingham Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, curators Dan Cameron and Bill Arning, and collectors Beth Rudin DeWoody, Lance Armstrong, Lawrence Benenson, Brooke Garber-Neidich, Stephanie Ingrassia and Thomas Coleman.
2018 #UNLOAD: Guns in the Hands of Artists, Fairfield University Art Museum, CT
The Color of Love, My Friend (pop-up gallery), Paris, TX
Changing Course: Reflections on New Orleans Histories, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
School’s Out Forever, Caroll Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
2016 Guns in the Hands of Artists, New America Foundation, Washington, DC
2015 Strike Anywhere, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2014 Giant Metal Matchbooks, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Guns in the Hands of Artists, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2013 The Lincoln Bedroom, C24 Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY
2012 Beckett at War, C24 Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY
2011 Skylar Fein: Junk Shot, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
The World According to New Orleans, Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX.
Curated by Dan Cameron
Skylar Fein: Black Lincoln, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Skylar Fein: Black Flag, Western Project, Los Angeles, CA
2010 Remember the UpStairs Lounge, No Longer Empty, New York, NY.
Curated by Dan Cameron
2009 Skylar Fein: Youth Manifesto, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
Just What Are They Saying?, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody
2008 Remember the UpStairs Lounge, Prospect.1 New Orleans Biennial, New Orleans, LA
The Skylar Fein Show, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2007 Lost Landmarks, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
The Lost Art of Henkin’s Adonis, The Phoenix, New Orleans, LA
Skylar Fein, Sound Café, New Orleans, LA
2006 Skylar Fein, Gnome, New Orleans, LA
Whitney Museum of American Art
New Orleans Museum of Art
Louisiana State Museum
Viginia Speed (Speed Museum)
Birmingham Museum of Art
Frederick Weisman Foundation
Lawrence Benenson (Museum of Modern Art, MoMA)
Beth DeWoody (Whitney Museum)
Stephanie Ingrassia (Brooklyn Museum)
Dan Cameron (Orange County Museum)
Bill Arning (Contemporary Art Museum Houston)
Brooke Garber Neidich (Whitney Museum)