Jayson Musson at Salon 94 Bowery: Halcyon Days
Halcyon Days, from the Greek myth of Alcyone, are the seven days in winter (either side of the shortest day of the year) when storms never occur. Halcyon Days recall an earlier time remembered as idyllic, a time when the winds were restrained and the waves were calmed in favor of peace. Bill Cosby times.
Jayson Musson’s sweater “paintings” at Salon 94 Bowery are made from mercerized cotton Coogi sweaters that are disassembled and stitched back together in abstract designs and then stretched across a canvas. To certain American consumers, sweaters by Coogi, an Australian clothing company, are immediately synonymous with popular culture icon Bill Cosby, who, as Dr. Huxtable on the Cosby Show, embodied the funnyman Jell-O pudding-eating, sandwich-birthing dad that everyone wished they had. And for twenty minutes each week (and during the re-run years, for twenty minutes each day), we did. A Cosby-esque sitcom allowed Americans to lose themselves in a world that introduced a small crisis, solved it, and wrapped it all up with an oversized bow in twenty minutes with just a few commercials.
Removed from the context of a human body, the sweaters function beautifully as painterly abstractions. In one, I saw an aerial view of a riverbank with shades of woven crimson and orange snaking through horizontal bands of green. Another deconstructed sweater painting conjured images of ribosomes and vacuoles seen in biology textbooks and videos. Another one made me think of a dandelion seedhead in summer — swaying in the wind and releasing its tiny airborne seeds. Musson managed to disassemble a marketable product and put it back together in an organic and accessible way that honored the movement and rhythm of the originals.
Jayson Musson also works in photography, illustration, and video where he performs as alter ego Hennessey Youngman. Although the show has come down, you can still keep up with Musson and Youngman through his web videos and his newest project, a petition demanding a feature length film about the SNL character, Toonces the Driving Cat. I’ll keep the sweater paintings, but feel free to join the charge.