The body of work presented here represents several months of collaborative art-making between Timmy Rubeling and Ty Jang, two postulants in formation with the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the St. Augustin Province. From the basement of the Padre Pio Friary in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia, Timmy and Ty formed the street art duo, Wheat Twins, and gave themselves the street
art monikers, Br. Bee and Br. Fly. The germ of the project started when the two were paired as “Christmas Buddies,” a tradition within the Friary of spending time with a “buddy” in lieu of Christmas gift-giving. The pair settled on spending a day wheat pasting and stenciling around Philadelphia. While learning the techniques of street art and brainstorming images in preparation for this day out on the streets, the two began making “practice” pieces on scraps of cardboard, drywall, and other found objects. This activity formalized into a sustained art-practice and the Wheat Twins were born. What is exhibited here is the product of that art-practice.
By employing common street art techniques including stenciling, graffiti marker tagging, wheat pasting, and freehand spray painting onto repurposed cardboard from fruit boxes, old drywall, and scrap lumber, the work aims to utilize common, discarded materials of Frankford, Philadelphia into unique, contained art-objects. The technique of wheat pasting digital images of masterwork paintings, personal photographs, and typography that are color laser printed onto bond paper (common office-use paper) further extrapolates this same technique of stitching together reproducible objects first into symbolic and narrative pictorial imagery, and finally, into unique and singular works through manual labor.
The digital images used span a scattered array of references including Baroque masterwork paintings, icons written by Andrei Rublev, and personal photographs of the artists including many contributions by fellow postulant and photographer, Sam Roberts. The title of the exhibition, Wise Blood, is a direct reference to the 1952 novel of the same title by Flannery O’Connor. The literary themes of the novel including the ever-present grace of God, the inevitability of belief (in something), and the human desire and longing for the divine became touch points in the composition of the conceptual and symbolic underpinnings of the work. The same title, Wise Blood, is used for the entirety of this body of work.
Other influences include the life of
St. Francis of Assisi, the assemblages of Marcel Duchamp, the street art of Barry McGee, the found art of Theater Gates, collages by Matisse, and the conceptual art of Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
The Wheat Twins thank Br. Alex, the guardian of Padre Pio Friary, for his and the friary’s generous material and moral support; the brothers of Padre Pio for their encouragement, input, and patience; and lastly, Br. Matt and Br. Ross of the Port for the opportunity to share this work here in Pittsburgh through this exhibition. Many blessings to all.