Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chris Silva + Lauren Feece, Rubber Swords, Lovers & Fighters, Taller Pr, Philadelphia

This One Will Hold You In Her Arm, These in Their Mouths

Taller Puertorriqueño
Dec. 10 to February 26, 2011
Multi media artists Chris Silva and Lauren Feece in their show “Rubber Swords, Lovers & Fighters,” at Taller Peurtorriqueño through their work channel the spirit of discovery, humor and collaboration.  The young artists Christopher Tavares Siva, who is from Puerto Rico and his partner Lauren Elizabeth Feece, from the United States, have brought to the Lorenzo Homar Gallery installation, paintings, photographs and assemblages with drawings.   The work in the gallery was all done in the last four years from their stay in Puerto Rico.    The title of the show “Rubber Swords, Lovers & Fighters,” is both a nod to Mary Hirsch’s well known quote, “Humor is a rubber sword, it allows you to make a point without drawing blood,” and their collaboration and activism together.  

The installation in the front of the gallery, “This One Will Hold You in Her Arm, These in Their Mouths,” is a combination of found wood discovered on the beach, painted in the bright colors of the Caribbean and cartoon drawings.   It is a sprawling fort like work with drawn blue hands set apart at either end and somber faces staring back at you from walls.  It’s parts seem not to be fastened together but set near each other to create a whole.  Due to its flatness, and the somber simply drawn faces, it has a childlike quality that is both surprising and mysterious.  It could be part of a theater set or a remnant to some youthful fantasy.  Confronting it for the first time I can imagine allowing myself to be lost in its off-handed charm.
The Little Mermaid Realizes the Prince was a Douchebag

In keeping to the tone of the show but in contrast in its scale is the assemblage “The Little Mermaid Realizes the Prince was a Douchebag.”   It is a small work in the form of a flintlock pistol with a dour blue faced woman drawn on scraps of wood.  The painted and worn scraps of wood form the body, a torn sign with the word “agua”(water) in blue block letters form the barrel, and a fin forms the handle with a nail sticking out where the hammer should be.   The object is not large but hangs on the wall like an exclamation point signaling the punchline.

Sour Outlook Briefly Disarmed By Oh Holy Shit Life is Beautiful Moment
To look at their work is to think of the time they are from. They are children of the age of Takashi Murakami.  They are children of assemblages that mix history with artifacts, that cross cultures with abandon.  Where high art meets Estsy.  Where differences may be irrelevant, and function will always succumb to style.  To reflect on their scale and use of medium is to explore a certain mindset.  On the walls are individually painted skateboards.  Next to them is an assemblage that seems almost to be a toy truck.  Not far from it is a square work constructed of found wood and paper that would seem tame if not for its title,  Sour Outlook Briefly Disarmed By Oh Holy Shit Life Is Beautiful Moment."  To take in the show as whole and accounting for their collaboration is to see the formation of a life style, a point of view, a melding that tries to be hopeful while being both playful and somber at the same time.  The found materials in the installation are from the beaches of Peurto Rico, far from individually painted skateboards taken from an urban landscape.  The cartoon imagery is from the rectangular TV screen that seemingly unites it all.    The show starts from the installation and spreads itself out, and we are forced either to laugh or cry at its easygoing disjunction.

The Reception for show is Friday, December 10th, from 5 to 8PM

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Prayer William S Burroughs

A little late but still apt!  Thank you William S. Burroughs

Laura Battle, through Dec 23rd

Lohin Geduld Gallery, 531 West 25th street

First, I should probably disclose the fact that Laura Battle was a professor of mine when I was an undergraduate, and was something of an inspiration to me as an artist. That said, her paintings have changed a great deal since I was her student, as any good artists work should. They do still have the same intricate, complex formal sensibilities that I remember. She also still exhibits the same intense fascination with geometry, and continues to make use of the grid, but in a very different way than was once the case .
Battle's current work employs a vocabulary of marks and forms that clearly reference old maps, graphs, and star charts. Not just in structure, but in their stained and distressed surfaces. I'm calling her a painter, but paint makes up only a small part of her media. She uses a variety of pencils and markers, as well as water and oil based pigment. While her use of color is very evocative, even the work on canvas could much more accurately be called drawing. In fact there seems to be many drawings within each individual work, usually superimposed on top of one another. Transparent lines criss cross and disappear into more opaque forms, referencing architectural blueprints, scientific charts, celestial maps, Aboriginal dream imagery, and occult diagrams. Each work is loaded with sprawling, and complex abstract imagery both scientific and spiritual. It's actually kind of confusing, and makes you wonder what all these sources of inspiration have to do with one another. The one thing that ties them together is that they're all forms of exploration into unknown or uncharted territory. Battle seems to be making an analogy between non objective abstract painting (drawing) and exploration into unknown worlds and lost civilizations. Or rather that she sees art is a form of both science and mystical exploration, and that the same spirit of intuitive wonder that fuels one also infuses the other.
The work is very beautiful, and Battle has developed an undeniably elegant mastery of mixing wet and dry medium. It's also quite remarkable that as dense and intricate as these paintings are, and as mechanical as most of the drawing is, they never seem tedious or labored in execution.  Sometimes though, there does seems to be a somewhat self consciously weathered beauty to these pieces.  Also, some of the forms that make up her vocabulary seem to be derived more for formal or aesthetic reasons than for symbolic associations.  But, as simply visual experiences they're quite stunning, and if you believe (as I do) that good art should allow you to see more the longer you look then you should really take a look at this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

James Cohan Gallery, Roxy Paine: Distillation, Through Dec 11

Roxy Paine is a sculptor with installationist sensibilities. Some would call him (that's right "him") an installation artist with sculptural sensibilities, but they would be wrong, and if they have a problem with that, they can talk to me about it. A lot of people know him from the piece he had on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum about a year ago. I, unfortunately missed that, but this is in the same "Dendroid" series as the Met piece. "Distillation" is one continuous, sprawling, stainless steel sculpture, branching from the front door of the gallery all the way into the back storage room. It starts by the front desk with a large tank that looks like a water heater, which then connects to a big glass beaker in the next room, filled with some powdery yellow substance. From there it grows into a wild twisting metal form that in some places literally runs right through the walls and floor of the gallery. In some ways it looks like a giant water pressure or ventilation system, with all the valves and tanks, and meters placed at various points.  In another way it looks kind of like an enlarged metal cast of some creatures circulatory system, with what appear to be hearts placed in various thick tangled sections. It also looks like a tree lying on its side with gnarled serpentine branches and twigs reaching across the room. In one case a group of mushroom heads sprout from an extension. But, in other areas it's hard to tell if we're looking at branches or veins, or synapses. Is this monstrosity animal, vegetable, or mechanical?
In an adjacent room a wall is covered with very delicate mushrooms, and other strange wormy fungal forms, laid out in kind of a loose spiral shape. They appear to be actually growing out of the wall. It's paradoxically repellant and quite beautiful in a tactile sort of way. I'm assuming this is a separate piece, and it would be pretty interesting on its own. It's soft porous material compliments the hard steel surface of "Distilation", but it pales in comparison to the giant piece that takes up about 80% of the gallery.
The first association I made from this huge steel structure was to John Chamberlain, I guess I was responding to the twisted metal and the organic/mechanical highbred aesthetic. But, the more I thought about it I realized that , at least aesthetically the art historical president for this kind of twisting mass of a work that reaches from one room to the next dates back to the high Renaissance and the Sistine Chapel. I know that sounds like a stretch, but indulge me on this. The roots, and soul of this kind of work can be found directly starting with the era of Michelangelo, leading up through the Baroque, and culminating in late Rococo sculpture and tapestries much more so than with anything post minimalist. It's just the materials that point to late, and post modernism. Frank Stella has shown similar sensibilities in his recent work, but that's a different story. The reason I'm focusing on this aesthetic is that it's a direct reflection of the content of the work (as any good art is). What looks at first like organic machinery transforms into a kind of industrial alchemy. Paine is identifying with the long tradition of the artists role as sorcerer or magician. The title of the piece is "Distillation", and you start to wonder what it is that's being distilled, and where can I get some.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tom Nozkowski, at the Pace Gallery, Through December 4th

I'm not sure when the Pace Gallery took over this location, but thank god they did. It's a big beautiful space in a prime area, and the previous owners (I don't remember their name) put on some of the crappiest shows I've seen in Chelsea. It was frustrating to see what a waste of good resources that was. I don't know what they were thinking, or how they could afford such a great space when they were so clearly unqualified, but I guess it's just proof that you can't buy taste or talent, try as they did. Anyway, I guess their gone, so on to the show.
Tom Nozkowski is an unusual nonrepresentational painter, and a veteran of the genre. When I say unusual, I don't mean that his style of painting is without precedent. It's not. In fact he's obviously very aware of the tradition he's taking part in. It's just that the tradition is usually more closely aligned with representational than nonrepresentational painting. There is a school of early 20th century American abstract painting that he seems to be referencing. It's the school that artists like Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, and Patrick Henry Bruce were members of. But, he's taking that tradition in a different direction. The reasons his work is unusual when compared to more modern abstract painting are several. For one, his scale is modest (all paintings in the show are 22"x28"), not tiny or precious in size, but pretty much standard easel painting dimensions. This runs contrary to the traditions of monumental, arena like painting established by the abstract expressionists 60 some years ago. Also, unlike most nonrepresentational painting Nozkowski doesn't make the physicality or the application of the paint an issue. There are some shifts in transparency and opacity of the pigment, but it's subtle. Equally subtle are the shifts between symmetry and asymmetry, and soft and hard edge forms. The work also varies from quite beautiful to downright ugly. But, I don't think aesthetics are high on his list of priorities. More interestingly though, there's something about the way he paints that looks like he's working representational, or maybe metaphorically (if that makes any sense). He has a certain vocabulary of forms, and while he's clearly working intuitively, or non objectively, there's something about them that feels rendered, as opposed to being the product of some spontaneous painterly event. Part of that may come from the way that the forms are cropped, or the fairly clear cut figure ground relationship that seem to also reference the use of composition with figurative images. other figurative characteristics are the occasional horizon lines, or shadow like shapes that rest at an angle below brighter more pronounced forms. It's all a way of embracing certain traditions in order to react against others.
What makes this different from other Nozkowski shows is that next to each painting is a smaller, framed drawing (all 8"x 10") that are all clearly related to the painting beside them. The presumption is then that they are preparatory studies for the paintings. This would be incorrect. In fact they are made after the painting is finished, and are used, as Nozkowski puts it, as "cool down exercises". Nozkowski, in the tradition of most nonobjective abstract painters, never believed in preparatory drawing, fearing that it would limit or stifle the progress of the painting. To the best of my knowledge, the tradition of artists making drawings from their own completed paintings is small, but not unheard of.   I know Corot did it, and so did Van Gogh. There may be others I'm not aware of, but I've never before heard of the practice used as a "cool down exercise".  It's very challenging to tradition, and it makes me think about the role, identity and possibilities of drawing as related to painting. These are pretty bold, and heady objectives for such seemingly humble work.   Clearly brains and balls work well together.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What is new with me October 8th, 2010

View of the MoMA
From the Newsletter:
It has a been while since I have wrote or sent my news letter, but a lot has changed in my life. Now I am living in Philadelphia, PA so I am no longer working in New York. Arthouse28,, and the loft is still there under the complete guidance of Peter with the help of Edit and Natty who is now working out of Virginia. My partner in this venture, Matt Jacobs, aka Gomaar, is still in New York and writing on art and whatever catches his eye. So you should still read his reviews. My role though will be a little different. I will still tell you about what grabs my attention but now it will include Philadelphia, if you are interested, as well as what interests me in New York. Hence, we have taken "New York" from the title and left it Ubihaus. In this sense I have become my audience, so my perspective will be similar to yours. When we started the blog we began with the idea of maintaining the connection with each other that was formed through the loft at 28 street. Now our perspective is a little bigger. Let us know too about you. Cheers! -- Rafael Damast

Other News
Just completed: Apple of His Eye Installation Video that I did for Kukuli Velarde's exhibition at the Barry Friedman Gallery. This video I did for her in order order to document her installation that took her 80 hours to do and was then, at the end of the exhibition painted over. It now in memory and in works like that video I did. It took a lot of work and would not have been finished without Kukuli's input.

I had started Arepa Digital Publishing, LLC.  Now that I have been moving back in video producing, shooting, editing and doing business.  The company focuses on art and education.  Two videos I have worked on for Arepa DP our with Lisa Mackie,  the Art of Printing from a Xerox Copy and Non Toxic Printmaking in Action.

Peter Mackie has partnered with John Stookey to start the Castleton Project Event Space in Castleton New York.  This space is prime 9000 square feet of raw creative space.  More information is here. Contact John if you need further information. Joanne Mattera wrote a great piece on the opening exhibition of the Castleton Twelve and on CPESpace. You can find it here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

MOMA, 11 west 53rd street Abstract Expressionist New York: Through April 25th

MoMA: Abstract Expressionist New York

To use the term "New York abstract expressionist" is a little like saying "southern NASCAR driver", or "tall NBA player."  Virtually all Ab Ex's were New Yorkers at one time or another. The only one I can think of that wasn't was Richard Diebenkorn, who painted out of the California Bay Area.  There might be others, but their names don't exactly jump to mind.   Anyway, it's considered a New York movement, and it's historically what made New York the center of the art world. It's been over 60 years since these artists came to prominence, but I think they're still a little touchy about the whole thing in Europe. The show is all work that's already in MOMA's permanent collection, so if you're a frequent visitor to the museum you've undoubtedly seen a lot of it before, but a lot of the work isn't usually on display, so some at the very least should be new to you. I know there's a lot that I hadn't seen before, and I go there all the time.
It's a big show that covers a big subject and while the bulk of it is on the 4th floor of the museum, it extends down onto the 3rd, and 2nd floors. While Abstract Expressionism is known primarily as a movement of painters, there is a lot of sculpture in the show by artists such as Isamu Noguchi, David Smith, and Herbert Ferber. Refreshingly, there are also a lot of women in the show, like Lee Krasner (of course), Grace Hartigan, the always underrated Joan Mitchell, and the always overrated Helen Frankenthaler. Louise Nevelson and Louise Bourgeois both have great pieces in the show. They are also both sculptors and women, so by including them the curators manage to kill two birds with one stone.
The show starts with some of the early, surrealist inspired, quasi-figurative work that kind of got the ball rolling on the movement by artists like Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and the under appreciated Richard Pousette-Dart. Also, there are a few beautiful pieces by Ad Reinhardt, who's paintings are frequently mistaken as a minimalist. Pollocks "She Wolf"(1943) is the most famous painting in this section, and probably the truest to the surrealist technique of using automatism as a tool to unleashing images from the collective unconscious. Those images would later famously dissolve into pure automatism.   Actually, Pollock was more committed to the ideals of surrealism than most of the surrealists were. He also had the tenacity to take it a lot further than they did. But, they were French and he was a New Yorker, so what do you expect.
Art historical convention breaks the Ab Ex's into two groups; action painters, and color field painters (ignoring the sculptors completely). This show draws attention to how the surrealist roots of this movement created in the artists a fascination with, and an intense search for the sublime. So, I think you could just as easily divide them into two other categories; Ab Ex's that focused on totemic, mythic forms and images, and those that focused on intuitive, painterly abstraction.
In the first category Rothko has to be seen as the leading figure. He's represented by some powerful work in this show, and I have to say that people who can't appreciate him must just lead sad, empty, pathetic lives. Clifford Still is another great "totemic" abstractionist, but is less accessible than Rothko. Barnett Newman painted a couple of iconic images, but to me his paintings are far too self consciously important. Usually when I look at his work I want to say "relax, it's just a painting". Other artists that fit into this category would be Robert Motherwell who I have to admit I never really understood, Adolph Gottlieb, and Bradley Walker Tomlin. Both of whom I also don't really get.
Some of those who would fit into the "painterly intuition" category would be Pollock (obviously), deKooning, Mitchell, Krasner, and Hans Hoffman. Personally I prefer this second group, but some of these artists seem to have pursued more lyrical goals than tragic, or sublime ones. Pollock seemed to be able to do both, keeping a foot in each world. In some ways the same could be said for Philip Guston, who after becoming one of the leading abstract expressionists turned his back on the movement, and in some ways helped to destroy it. If Charles Burchfield is Americas Van Gogh, Guston is our Picasso.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In New York Week October 5th.

Patrons of the 27 de Febrero restaurant come to hear the city's best in live bachata and merengue. (Courtesy of JL Aronson)

This week in New York , some of what I found interesting.

1. LATIN MUSIC: Live Domincan Bachata music in Washington Hieghts. This looked really interesting. I really liked the song they have posted on WNYC. You can listen to it and get more information here.
2. MUSIC: Dave Crawford at the Jazz Standard. What a sound. Listen for yourself here.
3. MUSIC: !!! "AM/FM" This looks like a lot of fun. Dance music in Brooklyn. Check it out here first and go to Brooklyn to see them live.
4. ART: Roy Lichtenstein around the city. Roberta Smith write about these amazing shows of Roy Lichtenstein all around New York. You can read her review here.
5. ART: Joanne Mattera has a review on two shows in Manhattan that look interesting. You can read more about it here.
7. ART: Matisse: Radical Invention at MoMA Looks good. It has been getting a lot of positive press and the show will come down on October 11. So don't miss it!
8. ART: 50 Year anniversary of Pace. Here is some interesting video and it may be worth a visit.

These are just a few of the things that I liked online

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Phantom Limb (Jay Rosenblatt, 2005) - 8: Advice

Jay Rosenblat at MOMA.  This looks like a very interesting film series.  He is considered a master of the found film format.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Apple of His Eye Installation by Kululi Velarde at Barry Friedman 2010

This a video I just did for Kukuli Velarde documenting her installation "Apple of His Eye" at the Barry Friedman Gallery in March 2010. It was a really good show and I am proud of the job I did for her.  If you have a chance, take a look and let me know what you think.  Cheers!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Heat Waves In a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, through Oct 17

Charles Burchfield is one of these artists I feel like I could go on about forever. I always thought of him as an American Vincent Van Gogh. That is, if Van Gogh were born in America 30 some years later, and didn't self distruct in his mid thirties he might have painted like Charles Burchfield. They both had the same kind of simplified emotionally expressive way of rendering imagery, and they both had the same enthusiastically spontaneous handling of the medium. They also both shared a near religious attraction to, and interpretation of nature. In fact, if Burchfield wasn't so schooled and sophisticated in his technique he would probably be considered an outsider, or visionary artist. There is something about Burchfield though that does seem distinctly American, and unmistakably tied to a specifically American kind of landscape painting. He had both the hands-on intimacy of a Marsden Hartley and an Arthur Dove, but the theatrical grandeur of the Hudson River School. This is one of the things that makes him such an interesting figure, that he can fit into many schools and movements , but maintained a very individual vision. Also, the fact that he managed to be both very accessible and fiercely ambitious. While he chose to work primarily with the unforgiving medium of watercolor for most of his life there are a couple of wonderful oil paintings in the show.
Oddly enough the show is curated by Robert Gober, who's known as a rather eccentric conceptual artist, and who's work deals mainly with psychological and emotional issues. This seemingly unlikely pairing makes much more sense as you learn more about Burchfield. Throughout most of his life he was plagued by a great deal of underlying fears and anxieties that seemed to fuel his work. In fact, I think it's safe to say that the content of his art is really the relationship between his inner and outer worlds, and his attempt to reconcile the two. This is evidenced in the first gallery where we see his semiabstract pencil drawings that are based on forms found in nature. They're the kind of thing Georgia O'Keefe would have done if she had his talent and vision.
Burchfield went through an extremely prolific period between 1916-1918, where he created a huge number of watercolors that I can only describe as explosively spontaneous. They display sincere emotional attempts to connect childhood memories to images in the natural world. In these watercolors you can see the influence of eastern art with his use of black calligraphic brushstrokes; something that you can find continuing throughout his later work. The thing that impressed me most about this body of work is that his technical virtuosity does not compromise the expressionism of the subject matter, and the expressionism does not compromise the abstract integrity of the image. Not an easy trick.
In the 20s Burchfield got married and had a bunch of kids, so he didn't paint as much, but worked as a designer, primarily of wallpaper. One of his wallpaper designs covers the walls of one of the galleries. As wallpaper goes it seems a little too aggressive to me, but maybe that's because he was a better painter than a designer. Then again what do I know about wall paper. Next there's a room filled with small spontaneous drawings or "doodles" that are so wildly imaginative that they look like they could have been done by Arshile Gorky.
Later, in the 1930's and 40s Burchfield achieved a great deal of commercial success, mainly with his images of factories, houses, and small towns. They were used for a great number of magazine covers, and greeting cards. Yet, in spite of this recognition he continued to be haunted by doubts and personal demons that I think helped infuse the work with certain urgency and anxiety. You can see this in the character of the buildings and trees depicted. It also saved the work from ever settling into charm or complacency. Also, while the images of streets and buildings that he was most known for have a Hopper-meets-Van Gogh quality to them, in the way that they capture the personality of the subject matter, it's when he walks into the forest that his true passion comes out. This ambition also led him to some radical technical innovations. With his expansion drawings he would attach sheets of paper to the sides of a previously existing watercolor and branch the image out , making the painting larger and further complicating the composition. This very effective means can first be seen in his nearly hallucinogenic "The Sphinx and The Milky Way" (1946).
His last work from the 1950s and 60s is his best, which is unusual in most artists. Apparently his health was lousy, but you'd never know it from the paintings. They're his largest and boldest, and are painted with a near religious fervor. They seem to be a culmination of everything he'd done up to that point and were driven by a mystical kind of confidence and urgency. Burchfield kept a journal throughout his life, and the curator has placed quotes from it next to most of the paintings in the show. Some of them apply specifically to the paintings they're next to and some don't, but they all refer to the natural world, and his relationship to it. To me they sound like they could have been written by Thoreau or Emerson for that matter, which is very revealing. Burchfield is already considered one of the great American landscape painters, but he would best be defined as a transcendentalist.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Datebook: Aug. 5, 2010 - WNYC Culture

Copied from Gallerina at WNYC. She is always worth reading.   ( Carolina A. Miranda is Gallerina . She writes the culture section at WNYC and and the C-Monster blog.   She does great job of finding interesting things around NYC.)
She is always worth reading.

Artsy books sales, Brooklyn art walks, and a Spanish-language film festival.
Here's your guide to what's happening now.
The David Zwirner Pop-Up Bookstore, at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea. An excellent opportunity to fill your creaking shelves with rare and out-of-print art books, as well as signed artist catalogues. Opens Monday and runs through next Friday, in Manhattan.
First Thursday Dumbo Gallery Walk, in Brooklyn. A bevy of neighborhood galleries and art spaces are participating in Dumbo’s monthly arts walk, including the artsy bookshop PowerHouse Arena, the Henry Gregg Gallery and the Dumbo Arts Center. Be sure to pop into Mighty Tanaka, on Jay Street, to check out a photographic group show devoted to all things New York City. You can find a downloadable map with all of the participating galleries right here. This evening, from 5:30-8:30pm, in Dumbo.
Sharon Butler, Joy Curtis and Cathy Nan Quinlan, On Display, at Storefront, in Bushwick. At this relatively new Bushwick art space, blogger and critic Hrag Vartanian (of Hyperallergic) has organized a show that examines abstraction in myriad ways. Butler’s paintings are pre-occupied with color and form, Curtis’s sculptures reconfigure the shapes of found objects like battered picture frames and Quinlan’s paintings give ordinary items a surreal flicker. Should be an excellent opportunity for some contemplative gazing. Opens Friday at 6pm, in Brooklyn.
Beth Livensperger, Visible Storage, at the Abrons Arts Center. Precious items sheathed in glass are the current obsession of this New York-based artist, known for her painterly renditions of institutional interiors. This series of paintings — which depicts the visible storage rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — seem to smirk at the way in which humans hold objects in high esteem, by rendering them ordinary, piled high in clear vitrines like objects for sale at a common sidewalk shop. Opens this evening at 6pm, in downtown Manhattan.
Hector Canonge, Epistolar, at 58 Gallery in Jersey City. At the intersection of nostalgia and tech-savvy interactivity lies Epistolar, a 2009 installation crafted by the New York-based Canonge. In this piece, a series of albums contain photographs and other images, as well as barcodes, which viewers swipe with a common price scanner (of the sort used at department stores). The result: the myriad stories behind the image reveal themselves on an overhead screen. Opens this evening, in Jersey City, N.J.
Verano Tropical, a film festival at the Instituto Cervantes. Once a week throughout the rest of the summer, this institute, dedicated to all things Spanish-language, will be holding weekly screenings of Latin American movies, including features and documentaries from Peru, Cuba, Argentina and Mexico. Screenings – which are free – are held on Wednesday evenings. Up next is Sisters, an Argentinean feature film chronicling the lives of two siblings who come together many years after the country’s brutal dictatorship has driven them apart. Through Aug. 25, in Manhattan.
Datebook: Aug. 5, 2010 - WNYC Culture

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NOF: Conan's now so new white Guitar from Finland

Life is full of funny surprises.  And here is one, Antti J Kallio who stayed with us some years back emails me this video of him bringing the Eero Aarnio gutitar to Conan O'brien.  I remember it now when he was here.  Very nice guitar!  The interview was done by another friend of ours, Raija Kantomaa.   It is mainly in Finish but one gets the gist.  It was funny and it is good to see our friends do well.  It is a good omen.  How come Conan gets to go to Finland!   Cheers!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lee Bontecou & Bruce Nauman @ MoMA through Aug. 23 & 30

Bontecou is an artist whose work caught my eye a few times while wandering through MOMA's permanent collection. I think I may have also seen her work in some other museums modern collections, but I can't remember where. Anyway, the work I saw, and that registered in my mind were the large, imposing canvas and metal wall sculptures that she is most known for. She made most of these pieces between 1959 and 1967. I liked them because they seem to fit into that late modernist school of painting that Frank Stella and Elizabeth Murray are part of, where the flatness of the canvas/picture plane literally morphs, and changes shape, so that the sheer physicality of the work causes it to subtly enter the realm of sculpture, but not quite. Unlike Stella and Murray though Bontecou's work seemed somewhat threatening, and ominous. Some look like giant mouths, or post apocalyptic vortexes. I'd only seen a few of her pieces though, and was intrigued to see what else she'd done.
I was more than a little disappointed to see that the whole show fit into one gallery. Apparently she moved to rural Pennsylvania in 1971, and the work she's made since hasn't gotten her much attention. There are a number of drawings and lithographs in the show that seem to be very surrealist or futurist inspired, at least in form. Some of the more interesting ones are made with the soot that was expelled from her blowtorch. But, those are really only interesting because the medium is so unusual. The drawings made from more conventional means are not so interesting, and look like studies for three dimensional work that's no where to be seen. In the middle of the gallery is a very dynamic spinning mobile that apparently she's been working on for 18 years. It's very beautiful, but I would have liked to have seen more of the big cavernous wall sculptures. Unfortunately there were only 2 in the show. I guess I was expecting more of a retrospective of sorts. Technically I suppose this is one, but I would have liked to have seen more work, and learned more about this artist. What I walked away with was that some 45 years ago she made some pretty arresting and important work, and everything since has been kind of a let down.

Bruce Nauman: Days, through Aug 23
This is a very impressive sound installation by one of Americas great living conceptual artists. As a rule I'm not a huge fan of conceptual art, but I am a fan of Nauman. It's kind of hard not to be. If you've ever seen his work, you remember it. This show consists of about a dozen thin white square speakers suspended by wire cables that reach from the floor to the ceiling. Coming out of the speakers are the recorded voices of children and adults reciting the days of the week on a loop. Some of the voices are men, and some are women. Some are old, and some young. Some recite the days in the correct order, and some don't. The speakers face one another from about 12 or 15 feet away, creating a path that the visitor is encouraged to walk through. There's also plenty of room to walk around or behind them. Nothing's hidden, or disguised as anything it isn't. Like most of Naumans work I don't know what the hell it's about, but it's a very elegant and hypnotic installation. If you get a chance you should get your ass over there. Good stuff!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

August 7 Castleton Twelve Group Exhibit

This is from Lisa Mackie and Peter Mackie.  

 Announcing the Opening Group Exhibit of
 Castleton Project and Event Space

Castleton Twelve

Exhibit continues through September 17, 2010


CPESPACE is a 9,000 sq, ft, artist owned and operated building located on the Hudson River seven miles south of Albany N.Y.
The space can accommodate up to ten creative artists with short-term residential and studio work spaces.  In addition, the second floor, and old silent movie theater, is an event space that seats 75
people and is ideal for dance, theater and mixed media productions.