Fort Gansevoort presents “Nightshift,” an exhibition of drawings by Michelangelo Lovelace (b. 1960) premiered online on Thursday May 28, 2020. Organized by the artist and John Ahern, the solo exhibition is composed from the bedsides and common areas of nursing homes throughout Cleveland, Ohio, where he has worked for over 30 years as a nurse’s aide while pursuing his artistic practice.
The third exhibition in the gallery’s ongoing web series SEEING THOUGH YOU, “Nightshift” allows viewers to gaze into the daily lives of nursing home residents through 22 drawings that capture the vitality of spirit and depth of emotional life that persist in old age. Detailed, personal, direct, and inflected with flashes of wit, Lovelace’s portraits and observational scenes are shaped by his rare access to a swath of society too often overlooked or forgotten.
As nursing homes across the country are pillaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, America has been forced to confront its biases toward the elderly. Lovelace, largely known for his vibrant paintings of inner-city Cleveland, has never been shy about depicting communities that remain conveniently but tragically relegated to the margins. In the Nightshift drawings, viewers find the artist at his most fearless and his most tender. While his work typically paints crime and poverty-filled streets from afar, Nightshift places Lovelace in close proximity to and intimate exchange with his subjects. Illustrated with an astute quietude, his nursing home images celebrate the accumulated experience and enduring life force that define each individual as singular and substantial in spite of being deemed negligible by society at large.
Nightshift will remain on view at Fort Gansevoort’s website through July 9, 2020. http://www.fortgansevoort.com/