No Time for Crying with Devan Shimoyama

Video produced by Maria Brito. Camera: Peter Koloff. Editing Maria Brito and Peter Koloff.

How does the simple activity of getting a haircut becomes so charged with memories that are entangled with identity, personality and the assertion of one’s own agency? While it isn’t the first time I have heard about horror stories of little boys on their first experience and subsequent visits to barbershops, it is the first time I've seen an artist changing the narrative of his personal history in a black barbershop by rendering figures in a multicolor, fantasy extravaganza with richly layered paintings complete with materials like sequins, feathers and rhinestones -- turning what once was a super-macho rite-of-passage into dream-like alternative moments that inject optimism and trigger a different outlook in the viewer. 

Philadelphia-born, Devan Shimoyama piques the spectator’s curiosity and invites them to reconcile the beauty and freedom of his paintings against the regimented and inflexible format of the barbershop. His first solo museum show, “Cry, Baby,” curated by Jessica Beck, The Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, also weaves a connection to Warhol’s 1974 “Ladies and Gentlemen” series by adding to that installation one of Shimoyama’s saturated and poignant paintings of Miami drag queen, Ms. Toto, presiding and looking at the “Ladies and Gentlemen” from every angle, a reminder that it is the uniqueness within the ordinary what becomes extraordinary in art.