SOUTHFIRST 60 N6th Street Brooklyn, NY 11211  ph. 718.599.4884




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  23 FEBRUARY 2003

March 2003-April 2003                                                                                  






Southfirst gallery is proud to present Lives of the Obscure: José Lerma & Ellen Takata, an exhibition of oil paintings from March 7-April 20, 2003. The title of the exhibition refers to an essay by Virginia Woolf; both painters deal with subjects relating to anonymity and obscurity. This exhibition was co-curated by Southfirst and Amalia Culp.


José Lerma paints pictures of a cartoonish adolescent with a phallic nose, bushy hair and a baggy chin.  Against simple landscapes or in his bed, dressed only in heavy-metal bracelets and sweat-socks, our protagonist confronts what seem to be existential questions: Why am I here? Where should I go now? How did I get this way? Lumpy, awkward, ridden with indecision and halitosis, Lerma's anti-hero emotes like a teenage boy with his guts in a knot. We see him sometimes up-close and sometimes from an angle, and every time we recognize his dilemma: if only he weren't such a dick.


Mei Lan-Fang, Alfred Douglas, Gontiti, Saijo Eriko, Ernest Frederic Graham Thesiger. Even the best-known Beijing Opera artist was not so very well known. And who can  forget one of the greatest British Horror Movie actors, the man who played Dr. Pretorius in the Bride of Frankenstein? Gontiti are a Japanese guitar duo who play "the most  comfortable music on earth." These handsome, slightly gothic portraits present ancillary cult figures from early cinema, Asian theater, and the fringes of scholarship. The more you find out about the subjects of an Ellen Takata painting, the more it confirms the premise that Ellen Takata paints the lives of the obscure. 


José Lerma was born in Sevilla, Spain in 1971 and received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  He lives and works in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he teaches art at the University of Puerto Rico. 


Ellen Takata was born in Boston, MA in 1976 and lives and works in Cambridge, MA.  She received a BA from Harvard in 1998, where she studied painting with Ellen Phelan and Nancy Mitchnick. She completed a post-graduate diploma in Fine Art from Goldsmith's College, University of London in 2000.


Introducing in the VIDEO PROJECT ROOM: “Landscape Crown” a three minute DVD by David Zuckerman with Suicide Plant (Andrea Huelse, Howard Huang, Brad Lauretti, and David Zuckerman).  This is the first screening of an animated music video in which three ladybugs take a trip from Munich to Copenhagen. The music and video pose the question: Why can’t we live like the Eskimos? 


Opening reception: Saturday, March 8, 9PM-11PM in conjunction with the Williamsburg Gallery Association "After Hours" event (26 galleries in Williamsburg are open until midnight on March 8).


The gallery is located on 60 N6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Gallery hours: Fri & Sat 1-9 PM, Sun 1-7 PM and by appointment.  Subway: L train to Bedford Avenue. For more information, please contact gallery director Maika Pollack at 718 599 4884 or