There is no conceptual conceit underlying the selection of these artists. The title, a lyric from the song “These Days” track two of R.E.M.’s 1986 Lifes Rich Pageant, was the impetus for grouping a selection of visual voices known and unknown, local and faraway, to indicate both an optimism in their own collective ambitions and our belief in the state of contemporary art. Despite the art world’s record breaking prices and the prevailing, monstrous bloat, we’re confident that there is great reward in the jubilant straightforwardness of the 8 artists presented. Bradford, Hauser, Miler, Mrozowski and Petras live and work in Brooklyn. Minov was in residence in Manhattan at LMCC’s Worskpace 2013 program and was born and continues to work in Sofia, Bulgaria. Matt Stokes is represented by ZieherSmith and lives and works in Blaydon on Tyne, England. Crawford remains a mystery.

Anthony Miler’s strident figuration and frenetic draftsmanship assaults the viewer, apparently poisonous but stemming from the simplest impulse. As he writes: although my mother and I had very little money, she enrolled me in a special drawing class and my grandmother would give me sheets of writing paper made especially for machines at the factory where she worked. This paper had one side that was completely blank and white, and the other side was lined with thick, light green lines. Those drawings represent an early drive to hold onto the primacy of visual language and a loose framework in which to experiment with ruin, a place to preference child-like states of discovery.

Miná Minov makes performance based videos and props which function simultaneously as hindrance, fulcrum and McGuffin. Conceptually astute references to Bruce Nauman and Hollis Frampton aside, most concisely the artist writes that he is interested in the process and the habits of consuming art. Looking for different equivalents—metaphors of how such consumptions occur. And I suppose when these metaphors are working, they become also relevant to some basic existential conditions. In my videos I try to achieve “concentrated observations”, where what appears as simple or minimal could be loaded with meaning. I think about the body as undefined core for the accumulation of prostheses.

William Crawford’s drawings were found in Oakland, California and date from the 1990’s. Some drawings were made on the verso of computerized prison rosters. Whether the comic fantasies of a precocious high school student or the desperate longings of a man incarcerated, their careworn precision indicate more dream than perversion. Occasionally his drawings include text such as: You sure know how to conversate well. You say I possess a rare beauty that only I can see, plus you’re always look {sic} at my legs— like you’re doing now, stroking my inner thighs.

Meghan Petras works fluently between media, often working on paper, making paintings, ceramics, cutting and weaving rugs. As regards her practice she’s said It’s hard to describe or pin down because I don’t have a system that stays consistent between paintings or bodies of work. My painting process is very active and I rely on free associations in the moment, it’s difficult to plan. Every body of work is approached in a different way…. I’d rather let the viewer have that debate.

Ryan Mrozowski also shifts between styles and approaches, whether sophisticated light box collage constructions, spray painted works on paper or paintings (here by way of wood inlay). His comments belie a concentrated effort to get to the heart of the matter: I am less interested in the technicalities of painting than I am considering in how I can paint on, with, or about things… I’m always trying to take silly things and treat them very seriously, and the other way around. There is an effort to be willfully contradictory for most artists—certainly in my work… (This) comes from an earnest attempt to make something specific, and inevitably falling short of that attempt.

Katherine Bradford’s 2013 Bowdoin College Museum was lauded by poet John Yau, signaling Bradford as “an important figure in an alternative history that has yet to receive the attention (she) deserves.” She has said of her approach: The tone I'm most drawn to is one of vulnerability and searching which seems to also reflect the way I paint, my touch, and also the way I proceed through a painting which is to try and find the forms in the process of putting the paint on. However, once a painting is finished it's always very interesting to reflect on how it communicates to the viewer.

EJ Hauser’s drawings from her Summer Lab series, are an experiment in spontaneity and repetition. She is a 2013 Rema Hort Mann Foundation award winner and is currently Artist in residence at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She writes of her practice: All these formal strategies allude to questions about what makes up identity as it relates to painting and art making. Mark-making and image-making being uniquely human inventions of expression and communication, and painting being an especially economic means for me to embed my personal and/or cultural details into my formal and material interests.

Matt Stokes seeks the undercurrents of subculture. His investigations of Northern Soul, Austin (TX) punk, hardcore, metal and other musical genres, coupled with a cinematographer’s eye and an archivist’s heart, heralds the arcane and brings to light worthy threads of past traditions. His silent film is a series of recognizable dance styles freed from the constraints of the music, the film depicts an anonymous cartoon character modeled on a hybrid of styles associated with distinctive modern music and dance cultures, dating from the early 1900s to the present day. The animated character energetically goes through a cycle of moves that epitomizes the represented dance styles, subtly highlighting threads between each. The film is silent, and it is through the dancer’s shifts in movement and focus that evoke the escapism and enjoyment of his actions.