Justin holding pigeon

(Photo by Debbie Townsend, circa 2000.)

 

BIOGRAPHY:

(NOTE: THE FOLLOWING BIO WAS WRITTEN BY ROBERT BULLOCK OF COALITION INGENU, A FORMERLY PHILADELPHIA BASED NON-PROFIT  REPRESENTING SELF-TAUGHT ARTISTS, AFTER TALKING AND EMAILING WITH ME IN 2012. I'VE ADDED  MY OWN UPDATES/ MORE RECENT INFORMATION AT THE BOTTOM.)


Justin Duerr was born in 1976, and grew up in rural Pennsylvania. As a child he studied ancient Egyptian mythology and art, oddities of pop-culture, religion, and anything odd he could find hiding in the woods or in the local library.

In the early 1990s, Justin dropped out of high school and moved to Philadelphia, PA. He spent several years living in various squats while continuing to refine his creative vision, and also recording music and sound with hand held tape recorders.


In 1995, an intense vision revealed, all at once, a vast sweeping story-line upon which a lifetime of artistic labor could be hung. This loosely defined story would also serve as a way of illuminating and amplifying an invisible inner-voice that seemed to be able to modify the world for the betterment of all beings.

In 1997 Justin left Philadelphia to work in the Bering Sea on fishing boats, and spent over one year of his life in total at sea, working 16 hour days and without a days rest for three months at a time. This intense physical and psychological labor also served to deepen the vistas of inner-vision, and seemed to open avenues of communication with disincarnate entities of an undefined nature. During the seasonal lulls in the work, he would return to Philadelphia, where the work of piecing together these visions consumed his days.

Several years later, after many independent visual art and music projects, Justin, together with a friend, founded the CHURCH OF DEVINE ENERGY, an independent religion dedicated to self-awareness through creative expression. The meetings of C.O.D.E. were held in a former gas station, and included many musical performances and below-the-radar art events.

Justin -- and his fascination with and research into the mysterious “Toynbee Tiles”, which are embedded in the asphalt of streets across the country -- were the subject of a documentary called “Resurrect Dead” which received an award at the 2011 Sundance film festival for best director. The film has gone on to be seen by over a million people across the world.


In 2016 Justin completed researching and compiling a biography and art book of obscure cartoonist/set-designer/sculptor/musician Herbert E. Crowley, a project which he began in the summer of 2010. The resulting book, "The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Works and Worlds of Herbert Crowley" will be published by Philadelphia's Beehive Books in November 2017. The book's publishing was financed via crowdfunding, and exceeded its $50,000 goal, raising over $96,000 from 740 backers in one month. 

* As of 2016, Justin continues to investigate several 'art mysteries', pursue visual art at a fevered pitch, and play in at least three Philly-based music ensembles - Northern Liberties, The Invasive Species, and Geb The Great Cackler. An ongoing artwork of interconnecting panels, began in 2000, now unfurls at over 80 ft. in length and averages 5 ft. in height. This work is ongoing.


(2013 - ONWARD: In 2013 Coalition Ingenu re-located to Florida, so I am now "self-represented" as an artist. If you're interested in setting up an art show or purchasing artwork, please email me - eulogycontact@hotmail.com)

                                 ARTIST'S STATEMENT  

The majority of my work for the past 17 - 20 years has revolved around an ongoing story-line, the plot of which is very abstracted, but deals with the big issues facing life-forms, dualities, and the seeking of transcendent states of non-being even while alive. The work itself serves purposes aside from the decorative or ego functions of art, although those aspects are also present as a side-effect of the process. An interconnecting series of scroll drawings, which, when connected, form one vast drawing, now contains over 30 installments and spans over 100 feet in length. Near the time of my death (should I know of it in advance in time to implement this plan) I intend to complete this drawing by creating a final scroll which will connect to the first one, to make a huge cycloramic image. If I'm afforded enough time to work on it, I may be able to finish hundreds of feet of this work, and the story arc and characters should be able to prevent many actual real-world disasters in the future by subtle/strange influence. In the meantime, the discipline of the art-activity is creating and shaping me into someone fit to serve the forces I am delineating.

CURRICULUM VITAE

• On-screen and behind-the-scenes researcher for the 2011 film Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. This documentary film chronicles my research into the origin and meaning of a cryptic form of street art known as the “Toynbee tiles,” mosaic tiles embedded in the asphalt of public streets bearing a hitherto mysterious message. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2011, winning the award for best director in its category, and went on to garner positive reviews from Roger Ebert, the New York Times, and most other major media outlets. Since 2011 the film has been viewed by more than a million people, through film festivals, online streaming (via Netflix and Amazon), and other formats.

 

Author and researcher of the book Herbert Crowley: The Temple of Silence (ISBN 0997372990, 9780997372991, Beehive Books, 2018)

This lavish coffee-table art book was crowdfunded by the publisher, raising $122,411 toward pre-sales of an initial limited edition of 2,500 copies. It received broadly positive reviews and was made available in retail outlets in 2019 as a trade edition. The book was pre-ordered by many libraries and institutions, and was awarded a Communication Arts award in design, one of only six books in 2018 to receive this award. In 2019 The Temple of Silence was published in a French language edition by Urban Books. (ISBN 979-1026819066)

 

Solo Exhibitions:

2019

Justin Duerr: Surrender to Survival – Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago IL.

2017

Time’s Funeral: Drawings & Poems by Justin Duerr – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South Street, Philadelphia PA.

2012 

Panoptic Story Scroll (unfinished cycloramic mind diagram) - Traction Company, 4100 Haverford Ave. Philadelphia PA. Featured as part of the Philadelphia Open Studio Tour (POST).

Stranger Things Have Never Happened - Gallery 309, 309 Cherry St. in Philadelphia PA. This exhibit also featured two exclusive screenings of the film Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.

2011

Crystallized Chaos Distilled - Ocean County Public Library, Tom's River, NJ. A homemade hand-bound book was donated to the library and included in their permanent collection of rare books.

2009

Song-Story Images in Black and White - St. Asaph's Church Gallery, Bala Cynwyd PA.

The Omniversal Chorus (in pen and paint) - Dock St. Bar, 50th. & Baltimore Ave., Philadelphia PA.

2008

Maps To Everywhere, Keys To Everything - Satellite Cafe, 701 S. 50th. St., Philadelphia PA.

2004

Opening the Eye of the Seance - C.O.D.E. Space, 48th. and Woodland Ave., Philadelphia PA.

1997

The Secret Art - 224 Camac Gallery, 224 Camac St., Philadelphia PA.

1996

Inside Down - Borders Books, 1805 Walnut St., Philadelphia PA.

1995

Presences - A-Space Gallery, 4722 Baltimore Ave  Philadelphia PA.

Group Exhibitions:

2015

Raw and Ardor June 26 -  July 28,  Mount Dora Center for the Arts, 138 E. Fifth Ave., Mount Dora Florida – A Coalition Ingenu group show.

2014

Uncommon Copies Church of Templehead Gallery, 1901 S. Allport St., Chicago, IL. – A group show of photocopied artwork and zines.

Friends and Neighbors AIRspace Gallery, 4007 Chestut St., Philadelphia PA.

2013

Candles in the Light: International Folk and Self-Taught Art – Material Culture, 4700 Wissahickon Ave., Philadelphia PA.

Autodidactic IngenuismPhiladelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South St., Philadelphia PA.

Idiosynchronicity - A Seed on Diamond Gallery, 124 Diamond St., Philadelphia PA.

downSIZED - Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham PA.

2012

Coalition Ingenu Self Taught Artists' Collective - Outsiders Art and Collectibles, Durham NC.

Heart and Soul - An outdoor installation project coordinated by the Philadelphia University City District. Local artists were selected to hand-decorate pianos which were then placed in public. Mine was one of two selected to remain in prominent locations for the duration of the summer of 2012.

70 Rupees to Paradise Road - Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild - on board a tall ship docked on the Delaware River, Philadelphia PA.

Another Story - St. Asaphs Church Gallery, Bala Cynwyd PA.

2011

The Visionaires - Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, 1020 South St. , Philadelphia PA.

2010

Jim Bloom and Justin Duerr: The Ironic and the Sublime - Bahdeebahdu Gallery, 1522 American St., Philadelphia PA.

Iron Lines - Piranha Betty's, 2472 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia PA.

Outsider Art: Survey 2010 - Outsider Art from Community Galleries - HAI Gallery, 548 Broadway, New York NY.

2009

In Your Dreams - Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia PA.

2008

The World ApART  - Widener University Art Gallery, Chester PA.

2005

Wish You Were Here - A.I.R. Gallery, 111 Front St., Brooklyn NY.

 

Print Publications:

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 9, 2019 – Lost Art Finds a New Home, a feature article focused on the research process and publication of The Temple of Silence.

Orlando Weekly, July 8, 2015 – An article about a Coalition Ingenu group show in Florida. Featured a full-page reproduction of one of my drawings.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 5, 2012 - Mention of my opening and installation at Traction Company as part of Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST).

Philadelphia Weekly, April 11 - 17 2012 - In-depth preview of Gallery 309 show, including full page reproduction of artwork.

34th. St. Magazine, Nov. 10, 2011 - Positive review of my zine Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect in a section about the annual Philadelphia Zine Fest.

Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 11, 2011 - Positive review of the film Resurrect Dead by noted film critic Roger Ebert.

New York Times, Sept. 1, 2011 - Positive review of the film Resurrect Dead.

The Village Voice, August 31st., 2011 - Positive review of the film Resurrect Dead.

Philadelphia Weekly, Jan. 16 - 22, 2011 - Cover story about the film Resurrect Dead, including lengthy interview segments from me.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 27, 2011 - Positive review of the film Resurrect Dead, including an interview with me.

Philadelphia Weekly, July 28 - Aug. 4, 2009 - Positive review of my work in the Art in City Hall show, including a photograph of my piece in the show.

Lula Magazine, Issue Four, 2007 - Short interview excerpt about one of my music projects, The Vivian Girls Experience.

Tric Zine, Fall issue, 2003 - Published a lengthy article I wrote about the Toynbee tile phenomenon. A later issue featured cover art from me, and also another article contribution about pigeons.

The Maxx, issue # 35, Feb. 1998 - Published my "fan art" on their letters page.

Sabrina The Teenage Witch, issue # 4, Aug. 1997 - Published my "fan art" on their letters page.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 22. 1991 - My artwork featured as the cover image as well as inside a supplemental section dedicated to the 1991 Scholastic Writing Awards.

 

Non-Print Press:

Hyperallergic. Dec. 13 2019 – Positive review of The Temple of Silence included in Best of 2019: Our Top 25 Books  (https://hyperallergic.com/531363/best-of-2019-our-top-25-books/)

 The Comics Journal. May 2, 2018 – Lengthy interview about The Temple of Silence by author, artist, and comics scholar Mark Newgarden. (http://www.tcj.com/profound-frightening-childlike-and-ancient-a-conversation-with-justin-duerr/) (Retrieved Nov. 2018)

The Comics Journal. April 2,  2018 – A positive review of The Temple of Silence by author and comics scholar Dan Nadel. (http://www.tcj.com/reviews/herbert-crowley-the-temple-of-silence/) (Retrieved Nov. 2018)

The Key (WXPN blog). Sept. 24 2017 – In depth interview about musical projects, an upcoming art show, and other topics. (http://thekey.xpn.org/2017/09/14/justin-duerr/) (Retrieved Nov. 2018)

Knight Arts Blog, Oct. 2, 2012 - Lengthy preview of a showing/installation of the Panoptic Story-Scroll in Philadelphia (http://www.knightarts.org/community/philadelphia/justin-duerr-traction-company) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

WQHS Radio blog, April 2012 - Very in-depth article about covering my artwork, music, and life. (http://wqhsradio.tumblr.com/post/20372424439/justin-duerr-pigeon-punk-pulling-through) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

Artblog.org, April 25, 2012 - Write-up about solo show at Gallery 309 in Philadelphia. (http://www.theartblog.org/2012/04/justin-duerrs-haunting-visual-epic-at-gallery-309/) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

WHYY Television, March 2012 - Segment about the film Resurrect Dead, with additional footage of me talking about my art and life.(http://www.whyy.org/tv12/fridayarts/art201203.html) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

Last Call with Carson Daly, Nov. 8, 2011, Season 11, Episode 25 - I was a guest on this late-night talk show, speaking about the film Resurrect Dead. (http://www.nbc.com/last-call-with-carson-daly/video/resurrect-dead/n4336/) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

Circle Into the Square blog, Nov. 2011 - Very in-depth interview with me about Resurrect Dead, my art, music projects, and other topics. (http://www.circleintosquare.com/blog/not-quite-20-questions-with-justin-duerr) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

WXPN FM Radio, March 2007 - I was a guest on a radio show featuring local zine-creators reading from their zines. This was in conjunction with that year's annual Philadelphia Zine Fest. (http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/calendar/0307.html#26) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

National Public Radio, Sept. 23, 2006 - I was interviewed by Joel Rose for a radio feature about Toynbee tiles. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6112129) (Retrieved Feb. 2013)

 

Additional Artistic Activities:

* Musician and producer of dozens of self-released musical and quasi-musical sound projects/bands. An active member of at least four bands, and countless others in the past, I have toured around the US playing music and selling my zines/photocopied art since the late 1990's. I have designed many show flyers for self-promotion.

* Currently (as of 2020) at work on a vast art-historical biography/ art book centering on Herbert Crowley’s associate Mary Mowbray-Clarke. Was awarded a 2019 – 2020 research fellowship from the Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin in connection with research for this project. Participated in a panel discussion and presented a power-point lecture about Mary Mowbray-Clarke’s life and context in February 2020 at the Rockland Center for the Arts in Rockland County, New York, as part of the exhibit American Modernism: 20th Century Influencers in Rockland.

* Self-publisher of the zine Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect since 1995. I have participated in the annual Philadelphia Zine Fest since its inception in 2002. I helped organize the 2004 Fest.

* Collaborator, along with artist Mandy Katz, on over 80 small watercolor/ink drawings illustrating Leonora Carrington's short story 'As They Rode Along the Edge.' A no-budget film version of these paintings seen flip-book style and narrated by poet Ish Klein was our finished project.

* Ordained minister in the Church of Divine Energy (C.O.D.E.), an independent church dedicated to the cultivation/celebration of creative energy. This organization hosted several music and art events every week in Philadelphia from 2004 - 2006, and also performed several wedding ceremonies.

 

Education: 

G.E.D., 2003