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Rocket Summer

May 3 - 24, 2019

The Neon Heater, Findlay, OH


Featuring work by:

David Willburn

Erin Wiersma

William Fillmore

download THE CONCLUSION .pdf

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The narrative of The Temperature, to me, has been about how the ideas of an individual can connect with the ideas of others, and through that connection create hope and change. And how, for the longest time, it might seem that things will go your way...only to wake up one day and find that the world is on fire.

Rocket Summer is based on the first chapter of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, in which rockets carrying travellers leaving Earth happen to melt the snows of Winter, revealing green grass beneath and ultimately changing the season. The likelihood of a Rocket Summer being a hopeful event is less and less in our current time. It is now more likely that the rockets will actually be missiles, and the grasses, along with everything else, will be turned to ash.


But as much as this exhibition seems to be about the end of the world (which it is), The Temperature needed to end in a blank slate. It wasn’t my intention to leave at the end of this year, it was a possibility, but it’s been a possibility every year when have I reached the end of a curatorial schedule. There has always been something that kept me going on, kept me pushing the Heater. And this year I think I finally reached a conclusion. This year we worked with 140 artists and did 25 shows in 9 months. I’ve visited 70 different spaces and met countless more people running them, putting almost 50,000 miles on my car in between. And it has been AMAZING. But it has also been all-consuming.


The blank slate of Rocket Summer is as much about Renewal as it is about destruction.  The works included in the exhibition are not very subtle in their depictions of destruction.  Erin Wiersma's drawings and video work, show the landscape awash in fire...the world is literally burning.  William Fillmore's torched temples and sacred objects show our highest pursuits and aspirations destroyed by fire.  David Willburn's collage works show a world of pink and orange hues and barren landscapes, a sunset of nuclear radiation.  But all of the works contain subtleties to guide us back towards hope.  The landscape of Wiersma's video, and of which the drawings were made, requires this burning for regrowth and renewal. The temples and objects of Fillmore's sculpture hint at the Buddhist shedding of all the trappings that keep them from enlightenment.  And Willburn's collage works also feature structures cobbled together from whatever could be found, titled Our Architects Rely on the Things We are Able to Carry.  


The Conclusion is not the end of the world, just the end of the story.  And there will be many more stories to come.  



The Temperature was a curatorial project of The Neon Heater, an artist-run space in Findlay, OH. As part of their seventh year of exhibitions, The Neon Heater curated a series of 25 exhibitions across the United States between September 2018 and May of 2019.  A loose conceptual narrative connected the exhibitions via a monthly framework that unfolded throughout the course of the year. The narrative is a critique of the Art world and capitalist art market, American nationalism and exceptionalism, and universalized Hollywood blockbusters.

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