Hennessy, XOXO

An announcement for the exhibition. (Courtesy the artist)

Last Friday afternoon as he prepared for his show at Family Business gallery, Jayson Musson, a k a  Hennessy Youngman, took a painting from a young man in glasses, who, as he gave over the work, reverently prattled on about politics, politics-news websites, art-news websites and politics podcasts. Mr. Musson actually followed him on Twitter, the novitiate informed him. Perhaps he recognized the handle?

Mr. Musson, who is very tall and wore a brown jumpsuit, pushed his Spider-Man baseball cap back in a way that didn’t discourage the prattling and apologized that he didn’t. “I don’t really read Twitter that much, actually,” he added. “It just gets really daunting if you don’t keep up with it.”

Neither men seemed to be aware of the fact that they were standing in a rather apt metaphor for that situation. Family Business isn’t much bigger than a rich person’s closet and Mr. Musson’s open-call show “Clusterfuck” isn’t so much curated as it is hoarded. Mr. Musson, via his alias, invited all inclined to deposit works at the gallery, hence the creeping piles, and the line behind the prattling man. Plywood statues were stacked next to framed portraits, along with a variety of other objects that might be called mixed media, like a jewelry mannequin wearing a necklace of maraschino cherries (You’d have been surprised how many people incorporated the coins from their pockets into their works. One girl wrapped hers in cheesecloth and pondered a title. “Can’t go wrong with Untitled!” joked an intern helping Mr. Musson. “No, I feel like the right title could really tie this together,” she said. She settled on Everything in My Pocket, then as she handed it over changed her mind to rechristen it All That I Could Give. She left, then came back 10 minutes later to change it again: Yours Truly.)

“Yeah, I like penis art,” Mr. Musson told a blonde MFA student who handed him a photo composite of every dick on Craigslist. “I did some penis stuff back in college.”

“It’s a chance to be a part of art history,” said Evita Cortez, a 27-year-old artist who’d flown in from Dallas to hand over her laser-cut drawing. She is a fan of Mr. Musson’s alias, who aims YouTube zingers in thug diction at the parts of the art world where head and ass are not distant. She also likes Family Business co-owner Maurizio Cattelan. “We just studied him in school!”

Mr. Cattelan zipped up to the gallery on a bike just after she left. He propped the kickstand and took it all in arms akimbo, the bike chain wrapped around his waist like a belt. He admired a pineapple made out of Japanese soup spoons and had a recommendation regarding the sign that depicted a hand holding a sign that read, “THIS IS A PUBLIC SPACE.”

“You should have someone take this and perform it in the street!” Mr. Cattelan said. “At the opening!”

“Yeah, yeah, he’s going to,” said Mr. Musson, like obviously.

That afternoon Mr. Musson personally received four single roses, the standard gift for a curator, two still-warm cookies and a green bottle of Presidente beer. One artist who contributed three long fluorescent light bulbs to the show wanted a picture. Mr. Musson held them in his arms at a diagonal, Flavinesque angle.

“I feel like this is one of those ‘I just killed this big fuckin’ fish’ photos,” he said, smiling.


Image from jaysonmusson.com

Hennessy, XOXO