The Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave., has gained a reputation through the years as a catalyst in the evolution of the local art scene. Programs such as its Artist-In-Residency program have solidified this reputation for the brick-walled, court-yarded enclave of visual creativity in Williamsport.
Now comes news that renowned New York artist Luke D. Yocum has become its latest tenant. Yocum's move into the Pajama Factory marks a return to the building where he first exhibited in Williamsport. Last year, he was part of the Graphic Hive's "Collaborative Tandem" and "The Art of Wheels Show." When the Graphic Hive's Casey Gleghorn and John Yogodzinski opened up the Grey Art Gallery,140 W. Fourth St., Yocum's art was featured prominently in their grand opening "Water" show.
"Luke's story really attracted us," Grey Art Gallery co-owner Yogodzinski said. "The first show we ever did with him, he pumped out about 12 to 14 pieces based on the "Art of Wheels." Luke always has been supportive about what we do and we gave back to him this past month by letting him do a residency to work on some huge canvases for his 'Champagne Hipster' show at the 19 Karen gallery in Australia. He'll be helping curate our December 'From Life' show and will debut a large canvas created in the gallery while he was busy producing work for Australia."
Artist Luke Yocum is seen in his new studio at the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave. Yocum’s move into the Pajama Factory marks a return to the building where he first exhibited in Williamsport. For more information on Luke Yocum, visit his Facebook page or www.lukeyocum.com.
"I can't say enough about how much Casey and John have supported me and my art," Yocum said. "They've been instrumental in the acceptance my work has received from the community. I'm from Lewistown, which is a stone's throw from Penn State so my roots are in Central Pennsylvania. This move into Studio 12 allows me to become a more permanent part of the art scene in the area."
Yocum has wasted no time in making his mark at his new digs. Days after moving in, he was asked by Factory tenant Barbara Andreassen to be part of December's installation in the commons area at the Pajama Factory.
"I like to have a good representation of our artists here," Andreassen said. "We're having an opening on First Friday and some of the artists featured include Veera Plaffli, Luke, Jeremiah Johnson, Lori Crossley, Chad Andrews, Dave Stabley, Dave Ashby, Alleshia Funk and Alida Frey. Being able to have an international artist like Luke as part of this strong line-up is really exciting."
In addition to having his art featured in the Pajama Factory, Yocum is also going to give back to the artistic community by displaying art from two up-and-coming area female artists.
"Some friends of mine wanted to curate a show," Yocum said. "They've never done it before and since I have this space now, I wanted to help them out. It's exciting because one of the artists is a really talent young girl from the Danville area. She's only 9 but her work is wonderful. The other artist, she's from the State College area. She's an impressionist and her work is pretty far out and they're going to show here in studio 12."
Yocum's work evokes the era of Surrealism's heyday. Much his work has the aspect of fevered dreams combining bright colors with skewed and hinged images of people and animals that recall Picasso or Dali, yet there is a gritty, New York City alleyway vibe to the work that gives it an edge and attitude.
The world he reflects takes the grotesque and makes it absurd, turning the horrifying into the sublime. He then uses choice words or phrases to emphasize his intent on works like "Ubonics," "When In Rome" or "The End of Baseball."
For this latest project, he's teaming up with Todd Lim, a respected and popular artist in his own right.
"I've just begun working on this Misfits backdrop for the show taking place here at Synergy downtown on December 9th," Yocum said. "I'm collaborating with Todd. Todd's a great artist. I recently saw him at the Samuel Owens Gallery in Greenwich, Conn. He happens to be my neighbor here, as well. I approached him after my publicist took me down to Synergy and introduced me to the staff there. We talked to the owners and they thought it would be a great idea to do a backdrop."
"Right now one of the walls is covered with that," Yocum said. "I also brought a lot of pieces from other studios I've worked in over here. They're just kind of occupying space right now. Nothing is really hung. I just got furniture in and the studio is functional now. My primary focus was to get the studio up and running to go into production here."
In addition to his national shows in New York, Yocum's art has shown in galleries in Paris, Barcelona and Australia. Part of his plan in coming here also is to prepare for a return trip to Australia in February for his first solo show there, "Champagne Hipster" at the 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace.
"I needed a big space, couldn't do that in New York even if I could afford the big space, it's just not readily available. PJ Factory is a great community. There are a lot of opportunities here."
For more information about Luke Yocum, visit his Facebook page or www.lukeyocum.com.