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December 11
January 9, 2021
12:00 pm
5:00 pm

The Waiter's Lament

Springsteen is pleased to present, The Waiter’s Lament, by Joe Speier. The exhibition opens Saturday, December 5th from 12-7pm and is on view through January 9th, 2021. Appointments are strongly encouraged and can be made at

In The Waiter’s Lament, Joe Speier mines different roles of the overworked artist. To make a living, like many artists, Speier waits tables. He most recently worked at a restaurant in a major museum, The Baltimore Museum of Art. In this new series, developed during the 2020 pandemic, Speier uses, in bulk, Bic ballpoint pens on canvas, the same he hands to diners to sign checks at restaurants. He also utilizes flatware and napkins, found in fine dining establishments. Such materials, intrinsically tied to the exchange between diner and server, turn the canvas into a table-setting, forcing the viewer to reconsider the painting’s indexical relationship to consumption, labor, and distribution. For Speier, artists and servers cater to the same milieu: patrons seeking hospitality and entertainment. In his practice, Speier blurs the lines between these seemingly disparate modes of labor.

Intrinsic to Speier’s art is affordable craft-associated materials such as store-bought canvases, beads, glitter, and acrylic medium. These material choices speak to a common vernacular, which he phrases as “a shared economy of artistic and therapeutic gestures,” seen in You-Tube painting tutorials or the doodles of a bored co-worker. This alchemical material play results in the stylistic imitation of the Abstract Expressionists. A tongue in cheek jab to those artists of the ‘50s and ’60s, Speier is interested in the performance of modernist cliches to deconstruct the myth of the artist. In 2020, how does the artist eat? As the rift grows between emerging artists and the blue-chip market, Speier asks critical questions related to class, value, and taste.

Joe Speier (b. 1992, Cincinnati, Ohio) is a Brooklyn-based artist and curator. Speier directs the roving fence-based curatorial platform Sinkhole Project. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at King’s Leap (New York) and is presenting Sinkhole Project at Pik Deutz (Cologne, Germany). He will be included in the upcoming Early Works, an anthology featuring 30 influential artists under the age of 30, to be published by Taschen at the beginning of 2021.


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