Artist Jonathan Rockford swears that the entry-level jobs he’s held are just as essential to his worldview as his two master’s degrees. “I have been lucky enough,” he says, “to work in a wide range of jobs, [including] making pizzas, stocking superstore shelves, testing fire prevention systems… as well as nighttime custodial work… For me, a crocheted replica of the dust mop I pushed every weeknight for three years is just as interesting and meaningful as the cosmological theories informing a sculpture comprised of two gutted television sets.”
Rockford is one of several artists chosen to serve as artist-in-residence at Pompano Beach’s Bailey Contemporary Arts Center (41 NE First St., Pompano Beach), a former historic hotel that sat unused for years until the city redeveloped it as an arts hub in 2014.
Rockford, along with his wife Lisa, is organizing a new exhibit at Bailey called “Swimming With Narcissus” that runs through August 13. It’s curated by Lisa and features works created by Jonathan and 20 other artists.
Many of the pieces, Rockford explains, take their cue from sculpture. He incorporates an unusual scope of materials such as crochet, video imaging, and computer codes, also adding found objects, drawings, light projections — and a savvy sense of humor.
Rockford’s artistic path has led him to numerous prestigious grants and exhibitions, including projects at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and Vermont Studio Center. He met Lisa while working at North Central College in Chicago, and they’ve been eager collaborators ever since. Both currently teach at Broward College North Campus.
Lisa is known for works that explore gender and sexual issues, have a pop sensibility, and betray a cheeky sense of humor. “I created a series of acrylic and enamel paintings called ‘Barbie Magic Reveal,’ which were based on hacked manipulations of Barbie coloring books,” she says. Her work has appeared in a solo show at the Art & Culture Center of Hollywood.
Sarah M. Benichou, director of Bailey Contemporary Arts, crows about Lisa’s curatorial skills. “Traditional self-portraits can be banal, but what Lisa curates opens a dynamic conversation, especially in today’s selfie culture… This exhibit will… put a totally different spin on the self-portrait.”
For the opening reception of “Swimming With Narcissus” (6 to 9 p.m. on July 21 , $7), visitors can create their own unique self-portraits and then take them home. There will also be a performance by Kikimora, with electronic and acoustic music by Amir Sultan Roth.