By Peter Frank

Paintings don’t talk, they speak. As such, they employ their own languages, contributing – certainly these days – to a Babel of visual possibilities. JonMarc Edwards has long investigated the liminal realm(s) where paintings (not to mention other visual devices) struggle to speak in given language(s), in already-available notational structures. At that, given the central role the alphabet – indeed, the process of alphabetization (and the inferred hybridizing between, for instance, Latin and Chinese scripts) – has played in Edwards’ work, his art has approached the condition(s) of concrete poetry. But, as such, does Edwards embrace language, or writing? Discourse or inscription?

Edwards favors inscription, but through writing he explores rather than exploits the lingual. In this, he shares with his fellow painters a troubled relationship with the written word, a passion at its deepest to reconcile the conceptual with the visual, the apparent with the indicated, left brain with right.  Indeed, Edwards ultimately diverges from the practice(s) of concrete poetry by addressing not the complexities of verbal meaning but the rudiments of meaning, examining what happens to verbal expression before it congeals into communication – and, arguably at the same time, vice versa, examining what happens to visual communication before it focuses into expression. Edwards’ work conveys not so much a message as a method. Even so, it has an urgency.

Edwards’ art has thus examined the heart of human intellect for decades. But his newest paintings take one large step away from and one equally large one into where he has been previously. They step back into the universe of the painterly – not just becoming textured and gestural and reasoned according to compositional considerations, but surrendering their very identities to the objecthood of the painted canvas or panel. At the same time, their basic unit – not their basic imagery, as before, but their basic formal ingredient – is the letter. Letters, not brushstrokes, comprise the gist of each painting; Edwards does not simply apply them to painted surfaces, he builds those surfaces around them. The letters are integral ingredients in – you might even say the triggers for – the physical warp as well as conceptual weft of each painting. This is no alphabet soup; however much the letters suspend in the puree, they contribute inextricably and vitally to each entirety, each self-contained universe. (No wonder so many of them look like nebulae.)

These works loom behind language. JonMarc Edwards’ Babel has become ever more glorious in its babble. There is something atavistic about these tumultuous galaxies of broken ciphers and inferred utterances, something that doesn’t just holler up from the gut but bespeaks the origin of language, the original impulse to connect mouth-sound with that-thing. As such, you wonder whether the dawn of the digital age has itself let loose such paleolithography or has made it necessary for an artist like Edwards to re-liberate it from its interment. These new paintings find Edwards no longer trekking verbal cities but lingual jungles – and wanting increasingly to return the entangled growth of language and image to a “cultured” context, to let our wild mind, conflating picture with talk, return to the core of human consciousness.

Los Angeles                                                                                                                   November 2013

Arctic noise 1

Arctic Noise, mixed media, canvas on panel 47 x 69 inches

Press Release for Pulse Miami


Pulse Miami Contemporary Art Fair

December 5 – 8, 2013
Arts and Media District


COAGULA CURATORIAL is pleased to announce its participation in Pulse Miami

Booth C-201
December 5 – 8, 2013
The Ice Palace
1400 North Miami Avenue at 14th St.
Miami, Fl 33136

Featuring new work by Jonmarc Edwards
as well as works by Mark Dutcher, Richard Edson and Tim Youd

Fair Hours:

Thursday, Dec. 5th Pulse MiamiPreview 9am – 1pm (invite only)
Thursday, Dec. 5th   1 – 7pm
Friday, Dec 6th            10 – 7pm
Saturday, Dec 7th     10 – 7pm
Sunday, Dec 8th           5 – 7pm

Jonmarc Edwards: The Language of Abstraction

You Are The Figure
You Are The Figure… Acrylic on Canvas, 45 x 60 inches 1991

Jonmarc Edwards: The Language of Abstraction
“And the external never remains outside. What’s at stake here is a decision about the frame, about what separates the internal from the external, with a border which is itself double in its trait, and joins together what it splits. At stake are all the interests caught up in the trial of this split.”
–Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting
There is a Japanese concept called ma which refers both to the value of negative space in constructing architecture, an image or object, as well as to the deliberate pauses in speech which emphasize aspects of the language. It can be roughly translated as interval, pause, or in-between, but is best described as an articulated sense of space, a quality of place. Jonmarc Edwards applies this concept not only to the composing of images, but to a range of semiotically charged shapes created by recognizing and privileging the in-betweens in both their design and their meanings. Edwards has been inspired by the power of these “negative spaces” as both a visual and a verbal matter — specifically by how Asian alphabets are comprised of composite pictographs instead of letters, such that a given word inherently depicts within itself an entire narrative.
Edwards’ early text-based paintings employed exacting hand-drawing, such as the monosyllabic labyrinth that resolves into “You Are the Figure in Landscape Viewing Still Life Pictures Abstractly.” He has also made sculptures based on rendering the ma as a scheme or blueprint for a solid object. That was entertaining and engaging, especially when he gave the stacking treatment to the English alphabet and watched people try to read the words anyway. But he grew to miss the painterliness, color washes and evidence of the hand of the artist in the work, and after 20 years of rigid discipline he embraced his splashier impulses. Now a few years into making these paintings, he’s come to a new strategy for incorporation of deracinated physical elements of text and shape — reconceived as a means by which to achieve his painter’s goals for beckoning surface, rich texture, refractive space, and gestural impasto.
One of the most affecting examples of this high-octane painterliness is “It Had to Be You”, with its yellow under-aura, dramatically gravitational violet drips and rivulets, and the structural variety that blooms within its borders. When it comes to the I-Ching-like tossing of acrylic cut-aways into the mix of pigment, liquid, motion, and gravity… well there’s control and then there’s control. Working this way requires that there are no accidents; the artist sets up the experiment and accepts the results. It’s the difference between organic and naturalistic, between pure chance and the laws of chaos. Edwards used the physical word as a brush/palette knife instrument in the dynamic “Truth Painting,” and as it invokes Derrida, indeed deconstruction is a useful analytical framework for all this work. Derrida would relish unpacking Edwards’ relationship to language, asking what truth, or rather whose, and in what context? Is it a quest or a response or a challenge; an achievement or an illusion? And is there only one?
“The Celebrated Ruins” resembles a whitehot supernova in a sea of black space; an explosive spectacle of the macro-ma. The laser-cut plexi pieces Edwards used here are called “fallout” because they literally are what falls out of the machinery as the main design is executed. These pieces hold onto the stories of their making as they create poetically broken surfaces by integrating into the pigment, echoing with what has been left behind. In “Zing” the contours of the plastic bits do the work of dense line-drawing, slicing up the pure luminosity of the yellow ground that gives the whole a feeling of x-ray vision, like a scan of an unopened tomb. The pulsing red color field of “Fox Force Five” is confrontational in its beauty, aggressive, and luscious in its use of pure color and tactile surface in creating depth. “Counter Space” portrays the alphabet within a joyful drenching of the color-wheel rainbow, and acts as kind of Rosetta Stone for the series, its letters left legible as a guide to the complications that would follow.
The sculptural edition “Simple Truth” also refers back to earlier sculptural iterations of the pictographic obsession, turning a word into an object as well as an element of composition. This aspect of physical space from the other, non-linguistic part of ma finds expression in works like “Arctic Circle,” whose melting ice island is legible as a landscape and an allegory of entropy. Its pronounced spatial pockets act like tiny architectures so that the surface is both disrupted and configured in the same moment, radically altering the concept of “pictorial space.” The expansive, rhythmic, and cartographic “Atlas” relates the almost literal story of nature being overwhelmed by civilization’s layers laid over it. As though whipping up a map of the world, this whirlwind of sharp industrial squares and reserved geological palette combine to form both a picture and a metaphor of our times. The haunting, fragmented “Aloysius” is an homage to James Joyce (it’s his middle name), and there’s surely much about Joyce’s abstract, one might say sculptural relationship to the flow of language that can be gleaned for a more complete understanding of what Edwards is up to. Consider these lines from Ulysses: “I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppled masonry, and time one livid final flame… Where there is a reconciliation, there must have been first a sundering.”
–Shana Nys Dambrot
Los Angeles, November 2013

The Celebrated Ruins

The Celebrated Ruins, Mixed media on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

Billboard Architecture

Ad-U-Tecture LA

Has the electronic billboard crisis overshadowed the exploding “Billboard Architecture” style of Los Angeles? The two may be linked.

Have you noticed how many new buildings in Los Angeles are incorporating billboards, supergraphics and other advertising schemes into their architecture? At first this may have seemed like a novel idea, finding ways to recess and indent into the façade of a modern high-rises to accommodate those advertising dollars, while at the same time eliminating those unsightly erector set structures that support the aforementioned billboard and digital signs.

But with the near-recent demise of the electronic billboard in Los Angeles that have been “turned-off” since April 15, 2013 and may never become eyeball real estate *again, the proliferation of buildings that incorporate billboards into their design plans is increasing in an alarming rate. I am not talking just the medium size two level strip mall variety but large corporate glass and steel types that stand on their own merits, stylistically, functionally and with the corporate clients approval, who may know a few things about good design.

The problem with billboards and the ensuing sign pollution is that it is not going away by just shutting down one source of eyesore (even though it has been called a safety and annoyance issue). Obviously loads of capital is to be made incorporating advertising dollars into any local cityscape. Los Angeles is one of the most congested and mobile centric cities in the USA, therefore L.A. needs to make money while we sit idle in our cars or (god forbid) wait at a bus or train stop. What better way to capture and seduce an audience than by building into the very structures that support our sense of civic pride? Ad-u-tecture subliminally exchanges our sense of place for our sense of placement. Always being regarded as a potential consumer rather than simply a citizen who appreciate interesting building design.

As the battle continues over electronic billboards I think some consideration should be made over the next generation of building construction in Los Angeles. Let us encourage the clients, city counsels and the architects to strive for important, unique structures benefitting and representing the people of this great city rather than eliminating one annoyance and embracing another.

*A proviso is being considered that some of the dormant electronic billboards may be earmarked for conventional billboard use.



In Advance: Pulse Miami Preview / New Work by Jonmarc Edwards

For Immediate Release:                                                                    October 11, 2013

In Advance: Pulse Miami Preview/ New Work by Jonmarc Edwards

Sunday November 3, 11AM – 3PM

Atlas 6x4Jonmarc Edwards ATLAS, 2013. Mixed media on canvas, 88 x 99 inches.

Photo credit: Avesha Michael.

Coagula Curatorial is pleased to feature Jonmarc Edwards at Pulse Miami 2013. You are cordially invited to a private preview at the artist’s studio to view the entire body of work before select pieces ship to Miami.

In his new work, JonMarc’s boundary pushing use of graphic text in painting transcends literal interpretation. Suspended in paint, indecipherable constructed layers whisper in every language at once; unifying and defining us.

In Advance: Pulse Miami Preview is a private, one day preview, specifically for collectors and press before new work ships to Pulse, Miami. This event will be held at the studio of Jonmarc Edwards on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 from 11AM – 3PM. Light refreshments will be served. The studio of Jonmarc Edwards is located in Culver City at 5574 West Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016, 2 blocks east of the 10 freeway at Clyde Avenue. RSVP to For additional information please call 213.880.4520 or visit

 Jonmarc Edwards

Born to a nomadic family of retail hustlers and small town shopkeepers Jonmarc grew up making produce signs and wrapping gifts for his father’s 5 & 10 stores. Jonmarc’s art began to grow out of this mixture of ink and block printing and his careful attention to gift presentation. As his father’s job evolved into managing stores, art became the only constant in Jonmarc’s life as his education became a revolving door of public schools throughout the Midwest. Eventually Jonmarc would travel all over the U.S. and Japan gathering influences as diverse as calligraphy, punk art and short story writing.

Since 1990, Jonmarc has lived in Los Angeles, finding fertile ground for these interests. He is best known for work that transforms composed writings into concise, legible pictographic landscapes. His work has been individually exhibited in the United States and abroad at galleries that include Apex Art Gallery, NYC , Newspace Gallery and Carl Berg Gallery in Los Angeles, Art Affairs, Amsterdam, Netherlands and the Deborah Colton Gallery in Houston, Texas. Edwards has received numerous grants, awards and commissions including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation in New York City, the Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship in Minneapolis, MN, the Jerome Foundation in St. Paul, MN and the Neiman-Marcus Memorial Commission in Dallas, Texas.

Edwards diverse interests have led him to create a line of jewelry, costumes and set pieces for the performances of “Looming Bias” performed at Art Center, Pasadena and a billboard series “My Work Is Here,” located at major intersections of Los Angeles. Jonmarc has recently finished “The Truth Collection,” an edition of fifty-leaded crystal sculptures completed in September 2013. The Truth Collection, under the direction of Mark Litwin M.D., MPH. Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is awarded to graduating residents that exhibit a gift for the sensitive and nurturing practice of patients’ rights advocacy.


Coagula Curatorial-

To celebrate twenty years of publishing Coagula Art Journal, acclaimed editor, art critic and curator Mat Gleason opened Coagula Curatorial as a premiere exhibition space of contemporary art. COAGULA CURATORIAL is located in the historic Chung King Road of contemporary art galleries in Downtown L.A.’s Chinatown, the gallery affirms Downtown as a viable location for the creative industries that drive the Los Angeles economy.

Coagula Art Journal was first published in April, 1992, brainchild of Los Angeles writer Mat Gleason. The bimonthly print journal quickly gained notoriety as a no-holds critique of contemporary art and the art world. Championing Los Angeles and mocking New York when the notion of the Big Apple playing second fiddle to “LaLa Land” was considered delusional, the art world as it exists now was envisioned as obvious on the pages of Coagula a generation ago. With over 100 published issues, it is the autonomous companion to the rise of the Los Angeles art scene. The publication continues now as a regular catalogue of Coagula Curatorial shows with Gleason helming publisher and curator duties. Coagula Curatorial is dedicated to the gallery’s exhibition and events calendar.


Pulse Miami–

PULSE Contemporary Art Fair is the leading US art fair dedicated solely to contemporary art. Through its annual editions in Miami and New York, PULSE provides a unique platform for diverse galleries to present a progressive blend of renowned and pioneering contemporary artists, alongside an evolving series of original programming. The fair’s distinctive commitment to the art community and visitor experience makes PULSE unique among art fairs and creates an art market experience that is both dynamic and inviting.

Counter Space

Counter Space

Art is


Art is Language

Language is Abstraction

Abstraction is Essence

The essence of abstraction is to embody through language the meaning of art as a mode to express or communicate the ineffable.

The ineffable is represented in language by the counter space, the space around the subject, the illegible form and the in-between silence that gives language meaning.

Meaning becomes a tangible agreement constructed in abstraction.

I create private languages to personify the abstraction.

These private languages become models of interaction further embodying the abstraction.

These models expose an important contradiction in language, fragility and elasticity. Ultimately, revealing the importance of the “counter space,” the abstract component in language.

The abstract in language is physical and concrete in nature. The individual letter, the rules that quantify the behavior of letters, the systematic codification of behavior to communicate is the tangible relationship between art and language.

Whereas the arbitrary agreement-based attributes of language create a contained sense of reality and provide the infinite realm of possibilities, the Counter Space, indistinct, amorphous, silent, is the abstract entity of language, the formidable integration of essences, the true meaning of Art.


John Barrymore, First Abstract Expressionist

The snapshot below from the movie “Twentieth Century” shows actor John Barrymore throwing a bucket of paint onto the advertising flat of his wife played by Carole Lombard. Premiering in 1934 at the Broadhurst theatre in Manhattan and directed by Howard Hawks (who was considered a “macho” director despite this movie’s screwball comedy tone) the movie was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.

In this scene “Oscar” is obliterating all references to his famous wife “Lily,” who left him because he’d been spying on her and tapping her phone. Later in the scene he is brushing out her likeness and name by using a fat brush and black paint, very passionately and abstractly! Maybe Jackson Pollock who moved to New York City from Los Angeles in 1929  caught this flick along with his other artistic brethren; an early example of the art world imitating Hollywood?

john barrymore oscar

Crystal TRUTH Edition Completed!

Jonmarc has recently finished “The Truth Collection,” an edition of fifty-leaded crystal sculptures completed in September 2013. The Truth Collection, under the direction of Mark Litwin M.D., MPH. Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is awarded to graduating residents that exhibit a gift for the sensitive and nurturing practice of patients’ rights advocacy.


The Morrison Hotel & Hard Rock Cafe now

Working on a painting project downtown I have been driving past the site of the iconic rock group The Doors old photo shoot location for the album “Morrison Hotel.” I decided to take a few pics of the site (1246 S. Hope Street) and the location from the flip side of the Morrison Hotel album, Hard Rock Cafe, located at 300 Fifth Street in the skid row section of downtown Los Angeles. The original cover photo of The Doors was taken on December 17, 1969 by photographer Henry Diltz and later that same day the band was photographed at the Hard Rock Cafe. (Related only by name to the corporate restaurant chain) Not many memories are left at these locations from the heady days of Mojo Risin’ and the “City of Night,” c’mon!

album jacket

Above, CD cover from the Album, Morrison Hotel. Photo by Henry Diltz. 1969morrison hotel 2

Tight shot of old Morrison Hotel window

Hard Rock Green Apple 2

The old Hard Rock Cafe which is now the Green Apple market…




INCOGNITO—SMMoA’s legendary exhibition and art sale—will return for its ninth year. Seasoned art patrons and first-time collectors must trust their instincts as they select affordable artworks by hundreds of luminary and emerging artists. Past artists have included John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Mark Bradford, Mickalene Thomas, Marco Brambilla, Judy Chicago, Kim McCarty, Raymond Pettibon, Yoko Ono, Betye Saar, William Wegman, and many more. All work is the same size 8” x 10” and the same price, $350. Each piece is signed on the back; the artist’s identity is revealed only after purchase.

Add treasures to your collection and support free arts programming for more than 45,000 individuals, families, and students. SMMoA nourishes the eye, the mind, and the spirit—your generous spirit will help the Museum stay free and accessible for all.

“INCOGNITO, A place to see and be seen” 
— Los Angeles Times


Boys In A Band w/ Boots, Photograph- JME 2013