This is big news: The Frye Art Museum in April, working with guest curator Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, is mounting an exhibition of the work of two brothers who grew up in Seattle and then moved to LA, Noah Davis and Kahlil Joseph.
Davis was a painter, a terrific one, who broke out into the wider art-world consciousness in the late 2000s and in 2010, showed at James Harris Gallery here in Seattle, where I was lucky enough to interview him and write about his history, his plans, and the work he was showing then. That show was just called Noah Davis. That day, he struck me as open and calm and a gentleman. He wore a hat. He had his son with him, and we all sat on the floor of the gallery. Davis was 27 years old. He'd been born June 3, 1983, in Seattle, and he remembered going to Greg Kucera Gallery, where he saw his first work of art by Kara Walker, and attending high school at O'Dea.
Two years later, in 2012, Davis showed another incredible series of paintings at James Harris, Savage Wilds, which were based on freeze-frames from Maury Povich and Jerry Springer shows. That year, Davis also, with his brother Kahlil Joseph, an equally accomplished video artist, founded the Underground Museum in LA, a contemporary art center in the Crenshaw neighborhood.
Then, this past August, Noah Davis died at age 32 of complications from a rare cancer.
When I think back on that 2010 day now, and when I look at the picture of him taken by Kelly O (above), I want to break down and weep. This man had so much in him. It seemed on that day like he would live, and make, forever.
The exhibition Young Blood: Noah Davis, Kahlil Joseph, The Underground Museum will open April 16 at the Frye. "The whole museum will be turned over to the show" except for the room where the permanent collection is required (by the will of the founder) to be on permanent display, said Frye director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker.
Davis's paintings, including the last ones he made, will be part of the exhibition, along with Joseph's equally stunning video works, which are very different but share a sort of grounded dreaminess, if that's a way to put it. There will also be a meditation on the Underground Museum, and what it has meant to LA.
And the Frye is commissioning Joseph to make a new work.
Young Blood was underway before Davis died, and everyone was hoping he would get to see it. It's not what it was supposed to be, but I'm so grateful this tribute to these two brothers from Seattle will still take place.
Here's Joseph's greatest work so far.