medium: Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun, Colorado river rock
Jonathan Ferrara is a New Orleans artist, gallery owner, community activist and arts entrepreneur. His eponymous gallery exhibits cutting edge works of art by local, national and international artists including paintings, sculpture, glass, metal works, mixed media, video and installation art. Exhibitions he has produced have been featured in The New York Times, Time magazine, NPR, the AP, Art In America, ARTPAPERS, ART News, ELLE Magazine, The Art Newspaper, and on ABC’s Good Morning America and in numerous local and regional publications.
In 1995, he co-founded and built the artist collective Positive Space on Lower Magazine Street in New Orleans where he was gallery owner, director, artist and publicist. In April 1996, he co-founded (and has produced and curated ever since) The Annual No Dead Artists International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Art that gives a voice and venue to emerging artists. In September 1996, he produced the first “Guns In The Hands Of Artists” exhibition. In June of 1999, Ferrara teamed up with Dr. Vince Morelli to found ARTDOCS (Artists Receiving Treatment Doctors Offering Crucial Services) a non-profit medical program for artists without health insurance. This program is the first of its kind in the country. Since its inception, ARTDOCS has treated over 3000 artist-patients and organized a referral network of volunteer specialists to treat artists in the New Orleans area.
Activism has always been Ferrara’s trademark, serving on the board of New Orleans’ Downtown Development District (2000 – 2007), the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans (2013 – present), the New Orleans Film Festival (2000-2004), ARTDOCS (1999 – present). He is an alumnus of the Council For A Better Louisiana’ s 2003 Leadership Louisiana program and for the past two years has been an invited participant and lead discussant at the Aspen Institute’s Action Forum.
Other initiatives he as produced include the Post-Katrina, New Orleans Artists In Exile, a travelling exhibition of artists affected by the hurricane that was showcased in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Shreveport and Wisconsin. Ferrara was also very involved in helping to raise funds, create awareness and promote Prospect New Orleans Biennial, the largest exhibition of contemporary art ever held in the U.S. In 2008, he curated the exhibition at the Hefler Welcome Center. He frequently travels the country to promote New Orleans, his gallery and his gallery artists.
He has been a voice for the arts and artists for over 18 years and is a leader in the movement to make New Orleans a national arts destination and has been honored by numerous organizations for this work. In 2006, he was awarded Louisiana’s Governor’s Art Awards for Leadership in the Arts.
Ferrara’s gallery regularly exhibits at Miami Project during Art Basel Miami Beach, Texas Contemporary Fair in Houston, Art Market San Francisco, VOLTA NY during Armory Week and VOLTA Basel during Art Basel in Switzerland.. He has placed numerous works in museums such as The Whitney Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The Frederick Weisman Collection, 21c Museum, The Birmingham Museum and New Orleans Museum of Art and prominent private collections such as New York-based collector Beth Rudin DeWoody and Berlin-based collector Thomas Rusche. In January 2016, Ferrara will produce an international cultural exchange exhibition between Berlin and New Orleans partnering with Berlin/Leipzig gallerist Jochen Hempel. Ferrara continues to challenge his audience and himself in search of the best new art and ideas.
I have never owned a gun and wasn’t sure how to go about “acquiring” one for this piece I envisioned…I thought it would be a difficult and cumbersome process. It actually took about five minutes to buy it…After finding the gun online, the seller brought it to the gallery and I gave him the money and he gave me the gun… that was it …no paperwork, no receipt, no record…totally legal….it blew my mind. Of course, I had to engage in a fifteen minute conversation about the 2nd Amendment with the seller…after that, his son gave me a bandolier of 40 shells and I was armed and ready….
Before inserting the shotgun into the rock, I knew I had to go shoot the shotgun…otherwise it would not be an authentic experience. I went to a range with a friend who had guns since age 7. After a brief “ lesson”, I started shooting and I must say it was a total rush…adrenaline flowing, heart pumping, sweat rolling down my face. The sheer power of the gun scared me and excited something within me at the same time.
The title of this piece and concept is drawn from the proverbial sword in the stone from Arthurian legend, but in this case the gun cannot be removed from the stone as if to say…”Aren't we done?”