The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature

Valerie MacEwan: Matthew Rose and “The Letters”

BlogEssaysInterviews / Books / Music

Casey Cleghorn at Converge Gallery located at 140 West Fourth St., Williamsport, PA, serves up some mighty tasty art this month. One of the exhibitions is also close to my heart because it comes from the originator of the most beloved Mail Artists’ projects: The A Book About Death series.


My friend Matthew Rose, if I may be so bold since we are online acquaintances and not in the flesh glad-handed people, has created an extraordinary exhibition “The Letters”. I may be a writer and everyone knows I have no problem with words, but I am not trained in writing about, or developing critiques of, art or gallery exhibitions. Then again, I don’t believe Matthew is a guy who needs the official art language of catalogs and kings to give his work legitimacy although it’s got to be pretty sweet to be an artist and hear the eloquent-official-taught-in-MFA-programs type of speech the pro’s apply to art. If you want to write a critique, btw, click here for the Pixmaven Art Critique Phrase Generator (it’s real fun, try it. It’s exactly the way I wrote essay answers in grad school. For the Pixmaven,  I typed in “11305” and got this With regard to the issue of content, the sublime beauty of the spatial relationships verges on codifying the distinctive formal juxtapositions. )

Hopefully he knows many of us appreciate his work in the simplest of terms: It pleases us to view his art. It also greatly pleases us to participate in his art. *see the aforementioned A Book About Death.

Getting back to the Gallery installation at hand. In real-time gallery speak, it’s obvious Rose’s The Letters transcends dialog and jargon and moves into the emotional surreality of viewer attention and approval.

The exhibition online dialog:

Recasting the throw-aways and detritus, the overheard and misspelled, the artist has fashioned a large expository drama that serves as fragmented window into our collective Zeitgeist. Sex, love, death, politics, aesthetics and the muddled semiotics of our age all find a place in this body of work and beckon the viewer to read, decipher and unravel. The pieces in The Letters resonate with an enigmatic poetic presence. The result is a significant body of work by an important American artist…

Casey Cleghorn, in a recent Facebook discussion, revealed this to me about The Letters (featuring Matthew Rose)

“[the exhibition] was by far the most challenging show that we here at Converge Gallery have hung to date. The show takes you on a nostalgic journey from the moment you enter the front door of that gallery. We would encourage anyone who is a fan of DADA or Collage to have a peak at our interactive PDF book or take a 360 tour of the gallery exhibition.”

I urge you to check out The Letters online. I’ve provided you with enough links to send you merrily on your cyber-way. Hell, I encourage you to take a road trip and go see the exhibition in person, for real, non-virtual reality. And buy some of Matthew’s work (of course one would urge that.)

To see The Letters, click here for Converge Gallery.

The see the work online, click here for Converge Gallery Tumblr series.
To participate in the exhibition, click here to send the artist a love letter (go ahead, click it, it’s not an email link.)

and now I’m laughing my mule off with this video of Viv Maudlin going to A Book About Death at the Emily Harvey Foundation in NYC. Oh Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph, you got to watch this: