The RIDDLE Effect
June 2, 2019 — September 8, 2019
John T. Riddle Jr. (1933-2002) was a sculptor, painter, printmaker, teacher, and curator. His aesthetics focused on chronicling the history, struggles, and triumphs of black life through figurative paintings and prints, small and large-scale abstract ceramic sculptures, assemblage, and iron works constructed from found objects. He was deeply moved by the 1965 Watts Rebellion, and began incorporating found material that he would collect in the streets, often with his friends and peers Dale Davis, John Outterbridge, and Noah Purifoy. Riddle’s aesthetic responses to the Rebellion made him part of a movement that had a lasting, significant impact on art in Los Angeles.
The exhibition brings together many of Riddle’s powerful three-dimensional works, some never before exhibited and held for decades in private collections. These objects best exemplify his expertise in merging material and narrative aesthetics, allowing him to tell important stories about his life, his community, and his hope for the future born out of a firm understanding of the past.
Always driven by a passion to extend himself and his art practice into the community, Riddle served as a high school teacher of ceramics and a leader of the Tudor Arts youth program, founded by Charles White and sponsored by Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company and its curator William Pajaud. Riddle shared his love of making with his students, including Mark Steven Greenfield, Bret Price, and Joe Sims, whose practices reveal the enduring legacy of Riddle’s commitment to art and arts education.
Along with Davis, Outterbridge, Purifoy, Greenfield, Price, and Sims, works by Dan Concholar, Charles Dickson, and Timothy Washington are included to demonstrate the density of Riddle’s network and influence, as well as his love of black male makers, particularly at a time when they were under threat and undervalued.
Riddle relished the textural considerations of making, the evidence of the hand, and the visual language it creates. He was compelled to interpret and comment on the social order or disorder in which he found himself, and this focus revealed innate complexities of art making that have only recently been embraced by large institutions.
Exhibition Artists: John T. Riddle Jr., Dan Concholar, Dale Davis, Charles Dickson, Mark Steven Greenfield, John Outterbridge, Bret Price, Noah Purifoy, Joe Sims, and Timothy Washington.
Curator: jill moniz
This exhibition is supported by the Antonia and Vladimer Kulaev Cultural Heritage Fund.
Exhibition Photography: Ryan Miller
Lead Image: John T. Riddle Jr., Crossing the Ocean (Middle Passage series) [detail], 1995. Mixed media, Courtesy of Diallo Riddle.