Here at OSKY, some of us hold other jobs as well as the ones within the OSKY Brand. Bryan Coons for example works for the Gallery of Art at the University of Northern Iowa. For the past 3 years he has held every position within the gallery and this past year was given an opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to curate an entire show for the gallery. (to curate is to plan the show from start to finish, coming up with a theme, artists, specific works, ext) The opportunity arose last Spring semester when Director Darrell Taylor approached Bryan and Stephanie Gonzalez and asked if this was something they would be interested in, easily, they said yes and took the reigns from there. They began making a list of artists they would like to bring to UNI and rounded the list down to 30 artists. From there came the idea of what theme they could use to wrap up a hand full of these artists together into one composite show. They had decided on Modern Motives: Influences in Today’s Art. The show is easily based around that title as each artist is an up and coming artist that uses objects or influences from today’s world, monopoly, shoes, dead presidents, and more. The artist include west coast-based emerging artists Kiel Johnson, Mike Leavitt, and Skinner as well as nationally known ceramic artists Tom Bartel and UNI alumnus Thaddeus Erdahl.
Tom Bartel received his M.F.A. in ceramics from Indiana University, Bloomington and has exhibited extensively in this country as well as China, Korea, Japan, and the Czech Republic. Bartel’s work is inspired by the human form and manifests in humorous, sometimes macabre ways.
Thaddeus Erdahl received his M.FA. from the University of Florida, Gainesville and recently completed an artist residency followed by a six-month program manager position at the prestigious Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Erdahls’s work is also figural, but as he states his sculptural surfaces are “metaphors for an emotional state.”
Kiel Johnson is an L.A.-based artist working primarily in cardboard, chipboard, and glue to make complex and whimsical representations of mechanical objects. Johnson is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach and is widely exhibited. In 2008 he received a Pollock-Krasner grant.

According to Seattle-based Mike Leavitt, his company Intuition Kitchen Productions is a “one-man company of fine craft, sculpture, portraiture, performance, education, architecture, and animation.” Leavitt has exhibited his cardboard Hip Hop shoes, pop culture action figures, and ‘Vita Vera’ game boards worldwide.

Self-taught artist Skinner maintains a studio in Sacramento, Calif. where he creates paintings, murals, and sculptures influenced by 80s pop culture, heavy metal bands, and Dungeons and Dragons. His work is shown nationally and internationally and has been published in Juxtapoz and Hi Fructose magazines. Check out this video, the work in the video is in the show, Modern Motives:

The exhibition and receptions are free and open to the public. Opening reception for Modern Motives is January 18th at 7 PM.  Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday; and noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The gallery is located at the northeast corner of Hudson Road and West 27th Street, Cedar Falls, on the main floor of the Kamerick Art Building.



Here at Osky we do more than just print shirts in our free time, some of us are students, some of us create other works of art and some times we just lounge. One of our team members, Bryan Coons, is still enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa. His focus, ceramic arts. He works figuratively and animalistic at times. With this passion however, comes more influence, like the work of Thaddeus Erdahl.

TJ received his BFA in 2004 from the University of Northern Iowa and than his MFA from the University of Florida in 2009. He has had numerous teaching, demo, and workshop gigs throughout the years and next semester will actually be teaching here at the University of Northern Iowa. TJ works in figurative ceramic sculpture. To get a better sense of TJ’s work his artist statement is as follows: Our personal identities are a kaleidoscope of first person narratives influenced by the experiences and interactions with the world around us. As humans we are compelled to tell stories that illustrate analogies; blending together archetypes, shared experiences, and personal mythology. Who we are is an ongoing process of reinterpretations, observations, and personal connections.

Ceramic sculpture and portraiture, in particular, are forms of a visual narration that I use to satisfy my urge for documenting what I see in human nature. Evocative of well-loved toys and obsolete artifacts, I use the implied history of these objects to encourage the viewer to disconnect from the present situation and conjure their own individual narratives from a number of my sculptures.

One of the most attractive qualities of human behavior, a coveted characteristic belonging to successful communicators in any field, is a sense of humor. Humor is the great lubricator that ultimately allows us all to move on, let go, and laugh at ourselves. I use humor as a veneer to cover certain autobiographical components of my life. Some things in life are so serious, you have to laugh at them. Working with concepts that are personal and sometimes narcissistic perceptions of the gloomy side of life, humor is my buffer. Dry or irreverent, it is humor that mystifies those tragedies. Sometimes in my work it confronts the viewer, creating an uncomfortable situation that simultaneously conceals and lays bare, guides and misdirects their sense of social standards and manners. I seek to convey not just the outward appearance of people, but also the intimate concept of self.

His well crafted works of art will be shown at the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art January 9-Feb. 1 within the show Modern Motives: Influences in Today’s Art. He will also be speaking at a reception for the show on January 18th at 7:00 PM at the Kammerick Art Building Rm 111. To check out TJ’s blog and more of his work visit:


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