John Emison

Central Park Artist Award, 2019

Development funds for John B Emerson were generated from the proceeds of Central Park’s 3rd Annual Art Auction held on December 14, 2018.

Only artists who contributed work to the auction were eligible to apply for the grant. John Emison’s proposal John B. Emerson received the highest marks for merit from a committee of arts professionals nominated by the gallery. The project will receive $1,000 in development funds and will be exhibited at in our upcoming program cycle.

John Emison
Who’s Afriad of Black, Red Yellow, Red White and Blue, 2016
Acrylic on wall
96 x 216 x 210”


Seth Adelsberger is an artist and curator based in Baltimore, MD. His work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions across the country. Adelsberger is the proprietor of New Standard Frames, specializing in hand-crafted painting stretchers, exhibition furniture and gallery frames. He is the co-founder and director of Nudashank and Resort Gallery in Baltimore.

Alex Ebstein is an artist and curator based in Baltimore. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, FastCo, Self Magazine, Baltimore Beat, City Paper, Beautiful Decay and ArtFCity. She is the co-founder and director of Nudashank, Phoebe Projects and Resort Gallery in Baltimore. Ebstein is adjunct faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art and Director of Exhibitions and Curator at Goucher College.

Meghan Gordon is a Los Angeles-based artist, writer, and facilitator who creates exhibition frameworks that invite collaborative practice. Gordon’s site-conscious practice often considers how politics and sensuality intersect in the formation of personal relationships. She is currently Associate Director at Luis De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles.

Katherine Harvath is an arts administrator and artist based in Los Angeles. Her interests include painting and sculpture made across generations and experiences, and finding meaning in material and form. She has curated exhibitions at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, at Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago as Artist Liaison and Curator, and as the Associate Director at the Landing Gallery in Los Angeles.

Jonathan Velardi is a consultant and editor working between Los Angeles, New York and London. He advises on visual and digital communication strategy for institutions, museums and festivals, and manages content for influential contemporary art and lifestyle publications. Velardi works with Curate LA, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA), The Glass House, CT, and he sits on the board of Dirty Looks Inc.

John Emison received the award based on his proposal for a new project titled John B. Emerson. The funds will be used to produce a new work based on the wall painting Who’s Afraid of Black, Red, Yellow; Red, White, and Blue I from his 2016 Central Park exhibition Drawings / Suite 615. In an otherwise empty gallery space, the cement posts and beams of the gallery's building were hand painted black, red, yellow, and blue, each color corresponding to a directional face of the cement forms. Clustered as they were in the title, “black, red, yellow” and “red, white, and blue”, the title recalls the colors of the German and American flags. The title also references the large-scale Barnett Newman paintings Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue I-IV. Newman's own title for the paintings referred to the Edward Albee play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962), which in turn was a reference to the song Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?, featured in the 1933 Disney cartoon Three Little Pigs. Furthermore, John B. Emerson is the former United States Ambassador to Germany, having served from 2013 to 2017.
Emison uses forms of production in which referentiality is a circuitous pathway of abstraction – in this case, both a history of abstract image-making and as a referential form of meaning-making. At the core of his work are questions concerning the attempt to understand ourselves individually and collectively.

John Emison (b. 1987, New Orleans, LA)  studied art and anthropology at Colgate University (BA), Brandeis University, and Tyler School of Art (MFA). Recent solo exhibitions include SPRING/BREAK, Los Angeles (2019); Ms Barbers (with Jamie Felton), Los Angeles (2016); and Central Park, Los Angeles (2016). His video work has been presented in exhibitions and screenings including Monte Vista Projects and Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Los Angeles (2017), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2014), and 808 Gallery, Boston University (2010). He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, where he is director of the Landing.

John Emison North Wall Painting, 2014  Oil on aluminum  22 x 22 x 1”

    T: John Emison
                                                                                         South Wall Painting, 2014
                                                                  Oil on aluminum
                                                                                   22 x 22 x 1”

                                                                                                B: John Emison
                                                                                           North Wall Painting, 2014
                                                            Oil on aluminum
                                                                                     22 x 22 x 1”