Art in NYC – December 2013

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Last week I got back from a week-long trip to  New York; I went to check out the exhibits, visit friends and enjoy spending time in the city during the holidays.There is nothing quite like the hustle and bustle of Manhattan in December: the displays on 5th Avenue, the lights in Columbus Circle, the tree at Rockefeller Center, the ice skating in Central Park, the shoppers on Madison and down in SoHo. I fell in love with the tagliatelle Bolognese at Cibo e Vino on the Upper West Side and enjoyed the moules frites at MARKT down in Chelsea. An afternoon trek over to Murray Hill yielded a variety of cinnamons for me and a look at some 4,000 different spices at Kalustyan’s.

I practically ran myself ragged rushing through the museums and galleries to see as much as I could – this time at break-neck speed I went to 8 museums and about 50 galleries.  Of course, the must-see for anyone who is going to be in NYC over the next few weeks are the Vermeers; 5 of them are on view in one room at the Met and 4 of them are at the Frick, including “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

Other shows that really stood out for me were:

MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS

Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim – this is the artist I would want to be if I were not the artist I am.  I loved his photographic documentation, his obsession with patterns, his judicious use of color and his obliterative erasures.

Chris Burden: Extreme Measures at The New Museum – This was the one show during my trip that made me really slow down to take it in. I guess I knew he was the guy who shot at airplanes and I vaguely remember hearing about when he crucified himself onto the Volkswagen beetle back in the 70’s. Beyond that, everything else was basically new to me.   I am so, so glad I saw this because seeing his work really is like taking primers in performance art, installation art and modern sculpture.

Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital at Museum of Arts & Design – This exhibit is worth a look. It focuses on the rapidly developing area of digital fabrication and showcases best examples of printing, cutting and knitting.

Robert Indiana: Beyond Love at the Whitney – Most of us are familiar the iconic “LOVE” sculpture. This exhibit takes a look into Indiana’s career-long fascination with American identity and how that relates to justice and equality. I was particularly interested in his use of words and numbers to develop paintings that are symbolically complex.

Isa Genzken: Retrospective at MoMA – I am always interested in taking a look at artists that are better known outside the US than they are here in the States.  This exhibit offers a chance to explore the work of one of the most influential female (German) artists of the past few decades. I was fascinated by her assemblages, but ultimately more in love with her sculpture.

GALLERY SHOWS

  1. Ad Reinhardt @ David Zwirner – I was in love with these black paintings; they immediately reminded me of Rothko Chapel ( see http://myartlook.com/2013/01/08/the-menil-collection-art-in-context/), although I guess it is the other way around since he did these back in the 60’s.
  2. Kaws @ Mary Boone Chelsea – the 2-story “Companion” sculptures dominate the sky-lit gallery
  3. Thomas Demand: Dailies @ Matthew Marks – these images were sourced from Demand’s cell phone images. These photographs were all printed using a dye-transfer process that provides a richness to the colors and luminosity that is absolutely gorgeous.
  4. Brice Marden: Graphite Drawings @ Matthew Marks – 22 of his early works on paper.
  5. Nicola Hicks@ Flowers – Her sculptures of animals are amazingly expressive. They are generally made from plaster & straw and then cast into bronze.
  6. Michael Leavitt – Empire Speaks @Jonathan Levine Gallery – Imagine Hillary Clinton as a stormtrooper.  This exhibit imagines many of today’s figureheads as characters from Star Wars.
  7. Peter Saul @ Mary Boone – These paintings from the 60’s & 70’s mix pop with absurdist humor.
  8. Willem de Kooning:Ten Paintings 1983-1985 @ Gagosian; I love the loose brushstrokes of the paintings – some of the telltale colors are there, but overall compositions are light and airy.
  9. Tony Feher @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co – I missed his retrospective at the Bronx Museum, so I was thrilled to get to see this show. A post-minimalist, his sculptures show his fascination with the aesthetic qualities of cheaply made, mundane objects like plastic patio tables, and pressed glass candy bowls.
  10. Cyprien Gaillard @ Gladstone – His fascination with progression/regression; evolution/decay; construction/destruction makes for one of the more compelling exhibits. Gaillard’s massive sculptures made of excavation machinery and carved calcite & onyx stand as giant fossils giving clues to the birth of a dystopian society.
  11. Simon Hantai @  Paul Rodgers/ 9W – this abstract painter was a contemporary of Pollock; he devoted himself to automating painterly gestures.  By folding his canvases, he was able to achieve repetitive patterns that reminded me of cutouts.
  12. Christian Marclay @ Paula Cooper – this was a bit of a surprise for me. Marclay is known for his work with music & video, so I wasn’t expecting to see these vibrant screenprints.  The splashes of color are emblazoned with sound bubbles (think comic strips that read “Wham!” or “Pow!”) which are actually onomatopoeias of paint being applied to the canvas: “Plop”, “Whoomph!”, “Splat!”
  13. Kelly Reemtsen @ De Buck Gallery there is something slightly sinister about these brightly painted women in vintage skirts. Firstly, they are all anonymous (we don’t see faces, or even their heads) and then they are all carrying axes and chainsaws and garden hoses. They are so cheerfully creepy!
  14. Richard Serra @ Gagosian Chelsea – only Gagosian could pull off installing these giant sculptures inside the gallery.  I’ve seen them at LACMA and outside (the tuileries I nParis), but I have to say their scale takes on different significance inside the gallery.
Along the Way by Kaws at Mary Boone Chelsea

Along the Way by Kaws at Mary Boone Chelsea

Christopher Wool - The Harder You Look

Christopher Wool – The Harder You Look

Christopher Wool at Guggenheim

Christopher Wool at Guggenheim

David Smith at Gagosian (Madison Ave)

David Smith at Gagosian (Madison Ave)

Envy by Barry X Ball at Museum oh Arts & Design

Envy by Barry X Ball at Museum of Arts & Design

Gabriel Orozco at Marian Goodman

Gabriel Orozco at Marian Goodman

Isa Genzken at MoMA

Isa Genzken at MoMA

Richard Serra at Gagosian Chelsea

Richard Serra at Gagosian Chelsea

Tale of Two Cities by Chris Burden at New Museum

Tale of Two Cities by Chris Burden at New Museum

Thomas Demand Dailies at Matthew Marks

Thomas Demand Dailies at Matthew Marks

Tony Feher at Sikkema Jenkins & Co

Tony Feher at Sikkema Jenkins & Co

Twisted Dump Truck by Wim Delveye at Museum of Arts & Design

Twisted Dump Truck by Wim Delveye at Museum of Arts & Design

All the Submarines, 1987 by Chris Burden at New Museum

All the Submarines, 1987 by Chris Burden at New Museum

Bura II, 2001-2005 by Susana Solano at Jack Shainman

Bura II, 2001-2005 by Susana Solano at Jack Shainman

Liam Gillick with Louise Lawler at Casey Kaplan

Liam Gillick with Louise Lawler at Casey Kaplan

Rotary Demisphere, 1925 by Marcel Duchamp at MoMA

Rotary Demisphere, 1925 by Marcel Duchamp at MoMA

Willem de Kooning at Gagosian

Willem de Kooning at Gagosian

Rembrandt's Night Watch, 1974 by Peter Saul at Mary Boone

Rembrandt’s Night Watch, 1974 by Peter Saul at Mary Boone

Thumbs Up; Thumbs Down in DC

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I have written about shows a number of times and indicated “this” is my kind of show or “that” my kind of show.  It’s funny because sometimes I question if everything is my kind of show. The fact is I do have a voracious appetite for all things visual and, yes a lot of different exhibits interest me. The reality is I tend to favor four kinds of shows:

  1. I love retrospectives that showcase the development of an artist AND places their work in context of what is happening, both in the world and in the art scene at the time.
  2. I am drawn to curated exhibits that have something specific to say and then go onto to lay it out for me.
  3. I like those shows that create singular “wow” moments.
  4. I am always ready to see the latest works of individual artists and typically enjoy those exhibits if I actually like the artwork.

I saw two  very different exhibits in DC last week – the first one was a thoughtful primer on the development of videography: Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image at SAAM – Just off the 3rd floor elevators on the North side of the building are two spaces dedicated to the exploration of media arts.

On one side of the hallway is the huge Nam June Paik installation of “Electronic Superhighway” (see my April write-up, http://myartlook.com/2013/04/18/nam-june-paik-at-the-smithsonian/) and then on the other side is a gallery with rotating installations.

Currently on view is the 3rd installment of “Watch This!” with 4 videos worth seeing:  John Baldessari, “Six Colorful Inside Jobs” (1977); Bruce Nauman, “Walk with Contrapposto” (1968); Charlemagne Palestine, “Running Outburst” (1975); and Bill Viola, “The Fall into Paradise” (2005).

Created some 37 years apart, all four videos explore time and space: Nauman walks with exaggerated purpose (swinging his hips from side to side) up and down and up and down a narrow, short hallway –the repetitious activity emphasizes the parameters of the space. The Baldessari video shows him painting the inside of a room (walls and floor) six different times; was fascinated with the overhead perspectives that made the room flatten at times – when the perimeter walls and corners were complete, it would look eerily like a vacuous Rothko painting.  Viola’s slow-motion video seemed to toy with space in a different way.  The couple starts out so far away in the video that I almost walked away thinking the computer was rebooting.  As they ascended (or is it descended?) they eventually break the surface of the water. Lastly, Palestine runs from object to object in a largely empty warehouse of a room – the viewer sees what he sees, speeding up and slowing down as he goes.

_______

The second show also tackled the historical context of art – this time as an exploration in responding to an age of destruction: Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 at the Hirshhorn  – I was pretty excited to see this show: I mean it sounds like the kind of exhibit that is ready to make a hypothesis, gather supporting evidence and then really make a closing argument.  A show like that would have to be well-curated, right? Probably provocative, don’t you think?

At the beginning of the exhibit, the curator’s notes start out okay; they postulate that destruction has historically held significant interest to artists. They go on to describe a heightened reactivity in a nuclear age and then focus on the role that destruction plays in art since the 1950s.

For me, the show begins to break down with the actual exhibit – I sometimes wonder if I think too linearly, but based on the notes, I would have loved to start the exhibit with some historical reference pieces that demonstrated art of destruction throughout the ages. That minor quibble aside, I found it hard to keep focus – some of the artwork was in response to destruction (Harold Edgerton’s “Photography of Nuclear Detonations”), some artwork was destructive in a more semantic way (Ai Weiwei dropping the Han Dynasty urn and Ortiz unmaking a piano) and some was apparently included just for star power (Warhol’s images of an electric chair) The show has a lot of powerful pieces by well-known artists: John Baldessari, Juan Muñoz, Yoko Ono, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Christopher Wool – some 40 different artists.

Some of the pieces that I especially liked were Raphael Montañez Ortiz piano destruction;  Ori Gerst’s “Big Bang 1”, a video of a vase of flowers exploding;  Yoshitomo Nara’s “No Nukes in a Floating World; and Pipilotto Rist’s video “Ever is Over All.”

John Baldessari, still from Colorful Inside Job, blue to violet, at Hirshhorn

John Baldessari, still from Colorful Inside Job, blue to violet, at Hirshhorn

Bruce Nauman Walk with Contrapposto at Hirshhorn

Bruce Nauman Walk with Contrapposto at Hirshhorn

Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room at Hirshhorn

Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room at Hirshhorn

Noshitomo Nara, Delivery Service at Hirshhorn

Noshitomo Nara, Delivery Service at Hirshhorn

Ori Gerst-still image from The Big Bang at the Hirshhorn.jpg

Ori Gerst-still image from The Big Bang at the Hirshhorn.jpg

Pipilotti Rist, still image from The Ever is Over All at the Hirshhorn

Pipilotti Rist, still image from The Ever is Over All at the Hirshhorn

During Denver’s Coldest Week, the Art Shows are Hot!

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Arghhhh! I got back from Washington, DC the other night to arrive in Denver on the coldest night of some 40 years…brrrr! I was tempted to stay in wait for it to warm up (like maybe another week), but then I ultimately felt the pull toward the galleries…so like a moth to the flame, I went in search of the light.

Luckily, the galleries are mostly warm – a couple of them have space heaters going, but for the most part, they provide a great opportunity to get in from the cold and enjoy some of the very best Denver has to offer.

They are all very different shows and so I have to point out that I am not listing these in any particular order because I thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

  • “Dimension & Symmetry” by Clark Rickert at Gildar Gallery  – Clark has long been one of the art stars of Denver art scene and yet his work always seems of the moment. I am enamored with the vibrant colors that he applies to advanced mathematic equations and theories.
  • “Structural Leanings” featuring Haze Diedrich & Lewis McInnis at Space Gallery – the strong architectural underpinnings of both of these artists’ works is very compelling. I have been a fan of both of these artists for years and am in love with these new works.
  • “Flos” by Mia Mulvey at Goodwin Fine Art – I love these sculptures based on Dutch still life imagery and conceived with the very latest technologies.  The juxtaposition of ceramic, felt and 3-D printing connects historical reference to current media.
  • “Altitude” by David Kimball Anderson at Robischon Gallery – I was blown away by these installed pieces that use cast bronze work alongside scrap materials to convey a story of journey and a profound sense of mindfulness.
  • From the “Mandala” and “Buddha” series by Bill Armstrong at Robischon Gallery – these photos are gorgeous! They complement the other shows in the gallery, but are worth a look on their own.  I find them to be contemplative and joyful. They strike me as a bit of a riddle – there is a sense of paradox with the vivid colors presented through a lense that is out of focus.
  • “Cosmic Ebb & Flow” featuring Barbara Groh at Sandra Phillips Gallery – Barbara’s abstractions convey a sense of space, evoking different locations: ranging from Sweden to India to the coast of Maine. This show strikes me as new and different, and yet obviously Groh’s.  The forceful, deliberate brushwork combines with delicate almost whimsical mark making – and the underpinning of vibrant colors restrained by material surface treatments are all signature elements.
  • “Mond:See” featuring Sabin Aell and Jonathan Hils at Walker Fine Art – I fell in love with Hils’ work about 10 years ago and have been a convert ever since. He continues his sculptural explorations of fractal elements and aggregation, in this show with new materials and the use of new technologies.  Sabin’s multi-layered imagery reaches new levels of sophistication – they are delicate and beautiful and the installation on the front wall is stunning.
  • Don Stinson at David B. Smith Gallery – this show about over, but if you get the chance to go down and check out the show, it is totally worth it to see his latest landscapes. Make sure you call ahead because the gallery will only be open by appointment during the holidays.
  • “Refashioned Fables: Icons and Tribes of the Disbanded West” featuring Bale Creek Allen & Tracy Stuckey at Visions West Gallery – another show that is about over; rush over and take a look. The bronze sculptures are really amazing – cast from tumbleweeds. The paintings are take a satirical look at the already re-imagined ideals of western culture.
  • “Fluid” by Frank Martinez at Plus Gallery – I am in love with the level of skill displayed in these predominately black and gray abstracts. The liquidity of the paints captured on panel belies their 2-dimensional restrictions. Looking at these, I get the sense that I can feel the viscosity of the liquids and dip into the visualized space.
  • Jeff Aeling, featuring John Davis and introducing Jivan Lee at William Havu Gallery – I went to check out Aeling’s atmospheric landscapes and wound up really taken with Davis’ sculptures. The three artists present well together.
Barbara Groh at Sandra Phillips Gallery

Barbara Groh at Sandra Phillips Gallery

BUDDHA 714 1of10, by Bill Armstrong at Robischon Gallery

BUDDHA 714 1of10, by Bill Armstrong at Robischon Gallery

Frank Martinez at Plus Gallery

Frank Martinez at Plus Gallery

Furrow by John Davis at William Havu Gallery

Furrow by John Davis at William Havu Gallery

David Kimball Anderson at Robischon Gallery

David Kimball Anderson at Robischon Gallery

Haze Diedrich at Space Gallery

Haze Diedrich at Space Gallery

Lewis McInnis at Space Gallery

Lewis McInnis at Space Gallery

Red Rocker Rider by Tracy Stuckey at Visions West Gallery

Red Rocker Rider by Tracy Stuckey at Visions West Gallery

Looked Back, Not Knowing by John Davis at William Havu Gallery

Looked Back, Not Knowing by John Davis at William Havu Gallery

Mia Mulvey at Goodwin Fine Art

Mia Mulvey at Goodwin Fine Art

Quantum Zone 2013 by Clark Richert at Gildar Gallery

Quantum Zone 2013 by Clark Richert at Gildar Gallery

The Spud Redux, 2013 by Don Stinson at David B. Smith Gallery

The Spud Redux, 2013 by Don Stinson at David B. Smith Gallery

Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties

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The week before last, I got to check out the Claes Oldenburg exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.  I have seen the iconic “Spoonbridge & Cherry” a few times in the sculpture park outside the museum – it has become a symbol of the city’s contemporary art culture. When I think about it, I guess I have seen a fair number of his oversized, highly-polished sculptures of everyday objects. I have been amused by the large typewrites erasers, umbrellas, the bow & arrow in San Francisco’s Embarcadero, a broom & dust pan, shuttlecock, etc. Most of those public works have been created since the 70s.

The focus of the show at The Walker is on the art he produced right after he moved to NYC that was created in the 60s. While I guess I understood he was part of the movement from AbEx to Pop, I really have never known that much about his earlier works.

Pieces from his first show, “The Street” depict the urban grit of the city and were made from bits of cardboard and materials that he would have actually picked up from the street.

The second show was “The Store.” These sculptures are bright and shiny – the colors are exciting.  While the objects are based on items that might typically be found in the store, he intent was not necessarily literal.  I remember something he said once about sculptures being “form that puts color into space.”

About this same time he was experimenting with live performances and participatory art “happenings.” These interactive art performances were kind of a combination of performance art, flash mob and improv.  These performances called for soft sculptures that he and other participants could interact with.. handle, move and even wear. When his show ” The Store” was re-designed for a larger gallery, he adjusted the size of the sculptures to fit into the space. This was key to all of the subsequent work – his fascination with common, everyday objects, unexpected materials and scale have lasted throughout his career as an artist spanning more than 50 years.  The show includes key pieces from “the Home”: light switches, toilets, electrical sockets, etc.  The geometric mouse is shown in a number of iterations – both as sketches and sculpture.

Of course, Oldenburg is known for his Pop Art sculptures, but he has always maintained an active drawing practice and so the show does dedicate a lot of space to showing his sketches and watercolors – for him that is the begining of all art.  I was particularly interested in his proposed architecture and monuments  – the MetLife building as a giant Good Humor bar and giant banana for 42nd Street.

The show brings together nearly 300 pieces from around the world – it’s a so well put together and thoughful; really I think it is the perfect primer for anyone that has ever wondered about  the guy whose made his career making those giant sculptures that seem to always make us smile.  I LOVE IT!!!

Claes Oldenburg, The Street, 1960

Claes Oldenburg, The Street, 1960

Claes Oldenburg, The Store

Claes Oldenburg, The Store

Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT, 1963

Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT, 1963

Claes Odenburg - Profile Study of Toilet Base - Compared to a Map of Detroit & Mt. Sainte Victoire by Cezanne, 1966

Claes Odenburg – Profile Study of Toilet Base – Compared to a Map of Detroit & Mt. Sainte Victoire by Cezanne, 1966

Claes Oldenburg - Geometric Mouse, Scale A, 1969

Claes Oldenburg – Geometric Mouse, Scale A, 1969

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen,  Bat Column Chicago, 1977

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Bat Column Chicago, 1977

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Big Sweep 2006 Denver Art Museum

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Big Sweep 2006 Denver Art Museum

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Cupid's Span 2006, San Francisco

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Cupid’s Span 2006, San Francisco

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Typewriter-eraser Scale X 1999 Washington DC

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Typewriter-eraser Scale X 1999 Washington DC

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Spoonbridge & Cherry, 1988

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, Spoonbridge & Cherry, 1988

Nabil Nahas at Lawrie Shabibi

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Nabil Nahas is showing in Dubai right now – I received a notice of his show in my email today and thought I’d share these images because I personally love them.

(to learn more about the artists and his show, visit the Lawrie Shabibi website: http://www.lawrieshabibi.com/exhibitions/32/overview/ )

Untitled, 2009 (fractal) at Lawrie Shabibi

Untitled, 2009 (fractal) at Lawrie Shabibi

Kind of Blue, 2013 at Lawrie Shabibi

Kind of Blue, 2013 at Lawrie Shabibi

Mashallah, 2013

Mashallah, 2013 at Lawrie Shabibi

Midnight Sun, 2013 at Lawrie Shabibi

Midnight Sun, 2013 at Lawrie Shabibi

Serendipity, 2013 at Lawrie Shabibi

Serendipity, 2013 at Lawrie Shabibi

I see a lot of art…more than most. In the past 10 years, I have seen roughly 1000 museum exhibitions and 3000 gallery exhibitions all over the world; that coupled with books, magazines, websites, television, restaurants, offices, and homes…well, it adds up to a LOT of artwork.  I am happy to assist buyers with finding the perfect piece or pieces to add to their collections. Whether it is to find that specific piece to go into your space or to develop a plan for you to build upon over time, I can help you define your goals and then do the legwork – researching options for you. I will introduce you to artists, dealers, galleries so that you can feel confident in your choices. 

Wil Twerk 4 Food by Shawn Huckins

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Boatmen on the Missouri: Will Twerk for Food by

Shawn Huckins’ new artwork at Goodwin Fine Art in Denver. Wil Twerk 4 Food, painting based on Boatmen on the Missouri by George Caleb Bingham. Contact me if you want this one; it will go quickly!

Checking out Art in Richmond, VA

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Richmond, VA is an old city – first settled in 1609. It is tucked amidst rolling farmlands along the James River, about 100 miles south of Washington, DC.  Richmond has a little something for everyone: there are the blue-blooded aristocrats of America’s first families and then the young urban hipsters. It’s a college town, so there are plenty of students; there is the grunge set (my brother calls them the pin cushions and comic books, in reference to their piercings and tattoos.) The restaurant scene is decidedly southern – plenty of chickens, hams, and turkeys, but it trending toward farm-to-table, small batch liquors, gastropubs and based on the number of food trucks popping up around town, it is experimenting with variety like never before.

Last week I took some time to check out the local art scene. There is a vibrant artist community with a bevy of studios and galleries, and it boasts one of the best state-level art museums in the country.  Thanks to major benefactors, the museum’s collection of antiquities and European impressionist paintings surpasses most other museums in this class and it has an impressive collection of contemporary work as well.

The galleries I checked out were clustered downtown and in uptown – mostly on Broad and Main Streets, respectively, each in about a 3-4 block span. A couple of them seemed to focus on gifts and crafts and then a few were either co-ops or run as nonprofits while others were commercial galleries. Unfortunately, only one out of a dozen gallerists actually engaged me to talk about art, their artists and their business. For that, I am grateful to Jennifer Glave Kocen of Glave Kocen Gallery – her space is terrific, the inventory of contemporary artists seems solid and the support, both for the gallery artists and the community seems genuine…it will be the first place I go to when I am back in town.

Additionally, I did make a daytrip over to Lexington, VA to check out my Alma Mater and see a couple old friends (not exactly old, but it has been 25 years, so I guess we are getting there.) Much of the campus remains the same with the beautiful red brick colonnade. The town seems to be a bit of a time capsule from a lost era, but there were some major differences including W&L’s new arts center.  It was funny because I was momentarily lost, trying to place it in the context of my old landlords – the renowned photographer Sally Mann & her husband Larry.  Turns out the new complex sits on the land where they used to live. The state of the art facility houses a 450-seat theater, classrooms, studios and a gorgeous gallery, showing work by Barb Bondy. I managed to poke my head into a couple of galleries in town, with Studio Eleven being the one that drew me in the most. The gallery had two very different bodies of work being presented by Barbara Crawford; I wasn’t certain that I would have shown them together, but I did like hearing about the artist: she is a professor at a nearby school and, as I understand it, Crawford’s interests are primarily focused on art of the Italian Renaissance.

For this trip, my top 10 were:

  1. Early 20th Century European Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  2. The Contemporary Art Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  3. Metapsychosis by Jessie Mann, Sally Mann, Liz Liguori and the Mountain Lake Workshop at Reynolds Gallery
  4. Courtney Johnson: Light Lure at Candela Books + Gallery
  5. Frankie Slaughter: Unravel at Glave Kocen Gallery
  6. Sarah Bednarek : Geometron at ADA Gallery
  7. Captiva Works: Sounds and Photographs by Steven Vitiello and Taylor Deupree at Reynolds Gallery
  8. William Wylie’s This Heavy Veil: Recent Photographs from Naples at Page Bond Gallery
  9. Barb Bondy: Suspension at Staniar Gallery (in Lexington, VA)
  10. Kendra Dawn Wadsworth: Murmurations at Quirk Gallery
Chihuly at VFMA

Chihuly at VFMA

Barb Bondy at Staniar Gallery - drawing suit with charcoal nubs attached

Barb Bondy at Staniar Gallery – drawing suit with charcoal nubs attached

Degas sculptures at VFMA

Degas sculptures at VFMA

LeWitt Variation #6 by William Wylie at Page Bond

LeWitt Variation #6 by William Wylie at Page Bond

Frankie Slaughter at Glave Kocen Gallery

Frankie Slaughter at Glave Kocen Gallery

Sarah Bednarek at ADA Gallery

Sarah Bednarek at ADA Gallery

Electric Football at ADA

Electric Football at ADA

Six Dancers By Ernst Ludwig Kirchner at VMFA

Six Dancers By Ernst Ludwig Kirchner at VMFA

Matapsychosis by Jessie Mann, Sally Mann, Liz Liguori and the Mountain Lake Workshop at Reynolds Gallery

Metapsychosis by Jessie Mann, Sally Mann, Liz Liguori and the Mountain Lake Workshop at Reynolds Gallery

Ryan McGuinness at VFMA

Ryan McGuinness at VFMA

William Christenberry at W&L

William Christenberry at W&L

Murals in Richmond

Murals in Richmond

FX Harsono: Transitions

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Usually I write about the art I have seen pretty close to the time that I see it – it’s my way of making notes and really thinking about what I have seen.

Well it has been a while, but I have been reflecting on a visit I made to the Singapore Art Museum back in 2010. There were a couple of new acquisitions that caught my eye (like “Status” by Jane Lee and the “Farmers & Helicopters” by Dinh Q. Lê.)  I vaguely remember an exhibit, Realism in Asian Art, that showcased works by 20th Century artists from 8 Asian countries and was arranged into five themes: Realism as form of representation, The rural as an attitude and metaphor, ‘Hail the Worker!’, The Impact of War, and Social Commentary.

The exhibit that I just can’t stop thinking about – FX Harsono:Transitions was a survey of works by FX Harsono.

Harsono is widely known for playing a pivotal role in the development of contemporary art in Indonesia during the New Art Movement of the 1970s. The works in the exhibit ranged from politically charged critiques of oppression, examinations of the disenfranchised to explorations of his own family history, and the haunting loss of his cultural heritage when the Japanese all but removed traces of Chinese identity amongst the immigrant populations in Java. As I recall, there were a cluster of about half a dozen rooms in two galleries that lead viewers through the works representing pivotal stages in Harsono’s career.

When I walked into the gallery, the first piece I saw was a framed toy gun – not my favorite work in the exhibit, but certainly a smart curatorial choice because it demonstrated the use of ready-made objects to compose art. In Indonesia, when artists began challenging the notion that art had to be created at the hands of the artist (be it painting or sculpture) – suggesting that it could be created with the use of everyday objects – it was unique for a country that had no real exposure to the contemporary art movements around the globe.

After the entrance, I passed the wall and immediately was overwhelmed with a powerful installation of burned wooden torsos hovering just above the floor. The lighting cast manipulated shadows that recalled the anguish of more than 100 people who died as they burned in a shopping mall during the riots of 1998.

On the wall there were a series of screen-printed hands that together spell out “demokrasi” (democracy), while the last screenprint is of a bound hand reflecting a sense of helplessness of the people.

Around the corner I saw a mattress bound in chains. I was taken with the hard/soft  construction and understood it to be a question – if oppression becomes the norm, can we begin to accept it or even take comfort in it because it’s familiar?  Do we begin to become ignorant of our own confinement?

One of the most powerful installations for me was The Voices are Controlled by the Powers” (1994); it consisted of 100 traditional masks. It takes a moment to realize that all of the faces have been severed, their mouths cast into the center of the room – representing the voices that are not allowed to be heard in a country with tight controls on free speech.

“Bon Appetit” was a table setting, replete with fine china and stemware.  The course appeared to be a number of beautifully arrange butterflies. The beautiful, fragile creatures were pinned to the aristocratic finery. I didn’t exactly follow the metaphor, but it was clear – the butterflies were not going to get away.

Perhaps the most significant piece for me was an installation of a chair, a desk and countless sheets of paper all bearing his name written in an abandoned Chinese script. This work was one of the clearest depictions of Harsono’s ongoing struggle to understand his heritage as a Chinese Indonesian. When he was a child his parents were forced to take Indonesian names, leaving their Chinese culture behind.

Paling Top, Harsono at SAM

Paling Top, Harsono at SAM

Rewriting the Erased

Rewriting the Erased, Harsono at SAM

The Voices Controlled by the Powers, Harsono

The Voices Controlled by the Powers, Harsono at SAM

Burned Victims , Harsono at SAM

Burned Victims , Harsono at SAM

Rantai-yang-Santai-The-Relaxed-Chain1, Harsono at SAM

Rantai-yang-Santai-The-Relaxed-Chain1, Harsono at SAM

Bon Appetit -- FX Harsono

Bon Appetit — FX Harsono

Voice Without Voice/Sign, HArsono at SAM

Voice Without Voice/Sign, HArsono at SAM

Peter Coffin – Art to think about

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Last week I went to about a dozen exhibits and, while I liked some of them, the one show that really got me thinking was Peter Coffin: Here & There at the Hirshhorn.

Coffin’s art covers a lot of ground, both literally and figuratively. Outside is a never-ending spiral staircase that just loops into itself; downstairs is an oversized dog sculpture that takes up an entire gallery; running the length of 2nd floor landing are framed 3-color fade combinations (they were used as poster backgrounds by Colby Poster Printing Co); one room is dedicated to his photos and assemblages and then a separate room offers a cleverly-animated light show projected onto 12 paintings from the museum’s collection.

The installations are scattered throughout the museum and while they don’t seem to relate to each other, the overall effect (on me anyway) was to slow down and think.

My first inclination was to dismiss the work as referential, my second was to think it mundane and then (albeit fun) a bit gimmicky.  After leaving the show though, I can’t help but think that was all by design. When I looked at his work it was easy to draw connections to other artists, but I think that missed the point.

Physical works and materiality are key to an artist’s way of exploring concepts and ideas. I find myself thinking back to each of the installations and about the artist. It’s funny because I am an artist also, and I often joke that I have a million ideas, but unfortunately ideas don’t sell themselves. It’s that execution thing that holds most of us back -well, not Peter Coffin.

When it comes to his larger body of work, it is easy to see that he is prolific. He is smart too – he uses art to engage the senses: sight, sound, feel…believe me, I got to thinking about and so I looked it up, he even uses taste & smell.  Coffin’s work explores art history, social media, and interaction with the environment to challenge perceptions. Colorist, earth artist, performance artist, photographer, sculptor, videographer – he is an artist that uses a full bag of tricks.

I will definitely watch out for what he does next.

Peter Coffin, 2007 (designs for Colby Poster Co) at Hirshhorn

Peter Coffin, 2007 (designs for Colby Poster Co) at Hirshhorn

Peter Coffin at Hirshhorn (rainbow)

Peter Coffin at Hirshhorn (rainbow)

Peter Coffin, 2007 (Spiral Staircase) at Hirshhorn

Peter Coffin, 2007 (Spiral Staircase) at Hirshhorn

Peter Coffin (Dog)

Peter Coffin, 2012 (Dog) at Hirshhorn

Peter Coffin (Unfinished Hand)

Peter Coffin (Unfinished Hand)

Peter Coffin (Orange Pyramid)

Peter Coffin (Orange Pyramid)

Peter Coffin (Koons)

Peter Coffin (Koons)

Peter Coffin (Love)

Peter Coffin (Love)

Peter Coffin (David)

Peter Coffin (David)

Peter Coffin (Pink Cloud)

Peter Coffin (Pink Cloud)

Sunny Southern California

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Last weekend we headed to San Diego for a few days; it wound up being one of the nicest weekends I can remember.

We flew into L.A.’s Orange County Airport instead of San Diego because we could take advantage of less expensive airfares. It was ideal because it gave us the opportunity to check out some of the beach towns between the two cities.

Our first stop was Laguna Beach where we toured Gallery Row on Coast Highway. If you haven’t been to this stretch, it is worth the visit – of course, the beach is gorgeous and there are tons of restaurants there, but also the art scene is pretty impressive.  There is an art museum, and a couple dozen galleries lining the road. Of course, there were the typical seascape paintings, but also quite a few contemporary galleries with international artist rosters. My three favorite were the Peter Blake Gallery, Joanne Artman Gallery and The George Gallery.

We lucked out when we called a couple friends who live up in Los Angeles and found out they were spending a few days on the beach. We joined them in San Clemente and caught up over a nice dinner before driving down to San Diego.

The rest of our visit was a treat – we stayed in La Jolla and the weather was perfect, the food was good and, best of all, we got to visit good friends who live there. We spent time on the beach and walked around the shops and restaurants. We went to Mission Beach and to Balboa Park; we saw the Museum of Contemporary Art and the San Diego Art Museum.

Sunday, we drove back up to Newport and spent some time on the beach. We had dinner in Irvine before flying home. The problem with short trips – they end all too quickly; still it was a pretty perfect weekend.

My top picks for this visit:

1. JoAnne Artman Gallery – it was funny after I saw James Verbicky’s glossy collages there, I started noticing his work all over the place. I saw his artwork again down in La Jolla and then once I got home I opened The Week and there he was again.  I also really liked Alberto Murillo’s colorful acrylic abstractions and Anja Van Herle’s expressive portraits.

2. Peter Blake Gallery – I love the cool white walls with minimalist works. Currently, they are celebrating the gallery’s 20th anniversary with a group show going on right now. My favorites were Jan Maarten Voskuil’s monochromes.

3. Arnold Newman: Masterclass at the San Diego Museum of Art. This exhibit takes a comprehensive look at how some of the photographer’s most iconic portraits were composed. On display are 200 black and white images along with sheets revealing his crop marks and his notes on how to compose the best images.

4. The George Gallery – I was excited to see Lisa Stefanelli’s effortless tangles of color on display. The gallery focuses on contemporary art by women.

5. Approximately Infinite Universe - The exhibit focuses on artwork inspired by science fiction writing. While the show was not my favorite, it did have a few works in it that I really liked. I enjoyed Luke Butler’s “Star Trek” paintings and to Andrea Bowers’ drawings of Patti Smith and Yoko Ono.

6) Murals of La Jolla – We wound up parking next to a 108ft. mural “53 women” by Ryan McGuinness. It turns out that over the past few years, the La Jolla Community Foundation has put up 11 public works, all temporarily-installed murals by well-known artists throughout the community…others I saw were by Julian Opie, Roy McMakin, Kim MacConnel, John Baldessari, and Fred Tomaselli.

7) “Pleasure Point” by Nancy Rubins – I have seen this mass of boats and surfboards catilevered over the edge of the museum a few times now and I get a kick out of it each time.

8) Joan, Joan, Joan: One Subject, Many Artists at Orange County Airport. I like checking out the art exhibits at airports. Many of them have rotating shows – this one was a surprise: it includes 190 portraits of Joan Quinn (she was the West Coast Editor of Interview Magazine) by many different artists including Shepherd Fairey, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, and Ed Ruscha.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

James Verbicky at Joanne Artman Gallery

James Verbicky at Joanne Artman Gallery

Star Trek Series by Luke Butler

Star Trek Series by Luke Butler

Ryan McGuinness UCSD La Jolla

Ryan McGuinness UCSD La Jolla

Pleasure Point by Nancy Rubins at MCASD La Jolla

Pleasure Point by Nancy Rubins at MCASD La Jolla

Joan Quinn at Orange County Airport

Joan Quinn at Orange County Airport

Jan Maarten Voskuil at Peter Blake

Jan Maarten Voskuil at Peter Blake

Murals in La Jolla "53 Women" by Ryan McGuinness

Murals in La Jolla “53 Women” by Ryan McGuinness

10 Shows to See in Denver Right Now – August 2013

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Nick Cave: Sojourn at the Denver Art Museum is far and away my favorite show in Denver right now so I am setting it apart from my list of 10.

I have seen his work in museums in LA and Seattle and at the Jack Shainman Gallery in NY a couple times over the past 10 years. I always find myself struck by how his art which seems all-at-once to express carefree, optimistic creativity while hinting at an intense personal narrative filled with caution and perhaps melancholia.

His fancifully embellished soundsuits have taken the world by storm and this show dazzles viewers with the latest and greatest – there are 20 new ones strutting the runway. In this exhibit, I am in love with the 16ft. tondo; it’s an enormous round canvas made out of shimmering beaded black cocktail dresses. I guess the depiction of the night sky is more expression than actual representation; it deftly conveys the artist’s nostalgia for simpler times – just looking at it transported me back to those summer nights when I’d lay back and stare up at the night sky.

I have been back to the museum to see this show a few times and find myself  really drawn to two new series – his “Rescues” and his paintings. In the former, he takes porcelain dogs and props them up, comforting them in cocoons crafted of other flea market finds: grandma’s birds, flowers and beads.  The latter are somewhat 3-dimensional bas-relief compositions of birds, flowers, fruit, beads, beads, and more beads and offer an opportunity for Cave to explore new directions.

There are so many great shows going on in the area; here are 10 of my favorites:

  1. Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940s at Denver Art Museum – For anyone who is familiar with Rothko’s color-field paintings, this is a must-see.  It really is helpful to look at works that bridge the figurative to abstract.  I was surprised I hadn’t seen more of the them since they mostly come from the collection of the National Gallery and I have been dozens, if not hundreds of times.
  2. Guillermo Kuitca: Diarios at MCA – I was struck by his retrospective exhibit the Smithsonian did with the Albright-Knox a few years back, so it was a treat to see some of these records and how they reveal his ongoing practice.
  3. Catalyst: Colorado Sculpture at Denver Botanic Gardens -it is fun to check out what some of Colorado’s most accomplished sculptors are doing in the public works arena – highlights include Fleming, Lovendahl, Marold, Saito and Surls .  Ana Maria Hernando’s large-scale paintings inside the Boetcher Center are stunning.
  4. Jeanette Pasin Sloan & Kevin Sloan at William Havu Gallery – Wow! You really won’t find two more accomplished painters anywhere. Every single work is stunning!
  5. Victor Vasarely and Yaacov Agam, selections from the David Goodman Collection at the Arvada Center. Op-art is hot this year and this exhibit focuses on two leaders in the genre.
  6. Playground by Margaret Kasahara & Ashley Benton at Sandra Phillips Gallery – Margaret is not only one of the nicest people around, her artwork is among the most compelling in the state. I love her work  – the contradiction of art so colorful and playful that at the same time tackles such difficult issues of xenophobia, race and gender bias. Everytime I look at her work it pulls me into her conversation and confronts me to think about my own prejudice.
  7. Art Abstracted by Sally Stockhold & Virginia Maitland at Museum of Outdoor Arts – two of my favorites!
  8. Corpus Exuberis by Pangloss Gravitron at Emmanuel Gallery – this collective group of artists put together one of the most cohesive shows in the city; I like the steampunk appeal of the work juxtaposed with the old Episcopalian Chapel.
  9. Influence  at Mai Wyn Fine Art. The re-conceived Sandra Phillips space on Santa Fe Drive (SP is now in Golden Triangle) is part studio and part gallery.  This inaugural exhibit showcases some of the many talented artists that have influenced Mai Wyn as an artist.  It is a beautiful, well-curated show.
  10. Urbanism - artwork by Paul Ching-Bor & Sharon Feder at Goodwin Fine Art. Another great show in a beautiful gallery.  The show focuses on the urban, industrial lines of the city. While the two artists have decidedly different styles, I am drawn to their painterly approach.
Nick Cave Sojourn at Denver Art Museum

Nick Cave Sojourn at Denver Art Museum

"Influence" at Mai Wyn Fine Art

“Influence” at Mai Wyn Fine Art

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Guillermo Kuitca: Diarios at MCA

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Someone Like You by Margaret Kasahara at The Sandra Phillips Gallery.

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Linda Fleming at the Denver Botanic Gardens

ArtLook, LLC

Fractal Echo by Nancy Lovendahl

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Birds of America Migration Interrupted by Kevin Sloan at William Havu Gallery

ArtLook, LLC

Virginia Maitland at Museum of Outdoor Arts

Personal Histories Influencing Art – June 2013

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I was in Ohio this past week for a family emergency and while I spent most of my time with family, I did take a few breaks to clear my head. I wound up driving to nowhere in particular, I spent a couple of hours rolling through green landscapes of elms, maples and sycamores; seeing horses and cows and hay bales dotting the hillsides. It all reminded me of my childhood – that time before life really sped up…back when my cousin, who is long-since passed, and I would catch crawfish in the stream and make lanterns out of lightning bugs; when we would see how many of us could pile into the back of a car to go to the drive-in and we’d watch the nightly amusement-park fireworks from the back yard. I remember sitting on the porch to watch the tornadoes go by and going to my brothers’ Friday night football games. I thought of my old tree house and of eating the pork chops, green beans and mashed potatoes that sustained me 40 years back.

During the week I saw two exhibits that reminded me that we are all influenced, not by one artist or one experience, but by the cumulative layers that build to create our personal histories. The first one was Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs, A Fifteen Year Survey at 21c down in Louisville and the second one was  Patti Smith: The Coral Sea at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.

I guess it was because I was in an area that I once called home that I was feeling especially nostalgic, but I really enjoyed Michael Combs’ show. Combs’ exploration of societal norms connects with viewers because it examines those personal memories that we each carry. His story might be exactly the same as yours or mine, but he confronts us to recall those rites of passage that shape our ideas of gender, race and class. 

At the CAC, I checked out Patti Smith’s The Coral Sea. The museum provides a somber setting for this site-specific installation which showcases her reflections on art, on death and rebirth. The centerpiece is a veiled room-within-a-room, resembling the Kaaba; inside the trance-like recording of poetry read by Smith and Kevin Shields set a spiritual tone for the exhibit. The museum’s concrete walls stand as stark backdrops for the hospital beds and silverprints that pay tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe.

______________________

21C is an exciting hotel concept that displays art, not only throughout the hotel and restaurant spaces, but also incorporates gallery space to make each hotel a contemporary art museum. I’ve been to the ones in Louisville and Cincinnati; there is also one in Bentonville, AK that I know I will see eventually. I understand ones in Lexington, KY and Durham, NC are now in the works.

The Contemporary Arts Center is one of the nation’s oldest contemporary art institutions. It is a non-collecting museum devoted to presenting contemporary art from around the world. Coincidentally, 21c (Cincinnati) is located just next door.

Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs

Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs

Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs

Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs

Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs

21c Louisville

21c Louisville

21c Louisville

21c Louisville

21c Louisville

21c Louisville

Patti Smith at CAC

Patti Smith at CAC

CAC staircase, building by Zaha Hadid

CAC staircase, building by Zaha Hadid

Chuck Close, Kara 2008 at 21c Cincinnati

Chuck Close, Kara(Walker) 2008 at 21c Cincinnati

Vee Speers, From the Birthday Party Series 2007

Vee Speers, From the Birthday Party Series 2007

Vic Muniz, Marlene Dietrich 2005

Vic Muniz, Marlene Dietrich 2005

Roland Bernier – Lifetime Artist

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“Man is no longer an artist, he has become a work of art.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Who’s to say that a circle is more significant than a square or a triangle…shapes are shapes.  Letters are shapes too – if you can divorce the symbolic connotations from letters grouped together to form words and just begin to admire the individual letters for their shapes, you can begin to understand the world of Roland Bernier.  For Roland, words are compositions of form, worthy of admiration.

There are many text-based artists whose works are really focused on the meaning of words or phrases – I immediately think of Barbara Kruger, Glenn Ligon, and Lawrence Weiner. Not all of Bernier’s work is devoid of reference, but that is not the main focus of his work.

It’s so rare to see anything truly new, but Bernier has been a pioneer; he started working with text-as-form some 50+ years ago. Since then, any number of artists have followed suit – consider Nancy Holt’s photograph “Concrete Poem” and Mel Bochner’s “Blah Blah Blah” paintings and even more recently of Thomas Müller’s ceramic forms in his show “Nothing Rhymes with Orange”, Fionna Banner’s “Concrete Poetry” and Jaume Plensa’s “Figurative Sculptures.”

I have visited Bernier’s studio a number of times to check out his archives (some is missing, but he has inventory dating back to 1965) and have seen eight or so shows at the Denver Art Museum, Spark Gallery and Walker Fine Art; I love his stacked words, the words on wheels, the cross words, his hysterical “What a Dump” series, “Talking in Circles” and his hands series.

My all-time favorite pieces are his more recent signature series.  After seeing some of his other shows, I went to see this body several years ago and initially tried to dismiss them. I found myself going back – the second time I saw his empty frames with nothing more than his signature, I recognized he was onto something. The third time I visited that show I understood: so much of art is about the signature – people rush up to look for the name.

Roland is now in his 80’s and for the past 5-6 years he has been acutely aware of his own mortality. His introspection leads him to explore the merger of art with artist. He now prefers the use of his own name in favor of more randomly selected text, covering literally anything and everything with his signature over and over and over …and over again, the latest pieces only with his last name. He is not morose, “This might be my last show, so I am only using my last name,” Roland says smiling, happy with his clever use of words.

Roland Bernier is represented by Walker Fine Art where “The Last Picture Show” is on view June 7-July 12. www.walkerfineart.com

Roland Bernier, "The Last Picture Show" at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier, “The Last Picture Show” at Walker Fine Art

Bernier at Denver Art Museum, 2007

Bernier at Denver Art Museum, 2007

Roland Bernier "Talking in Circles" at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier “Talking in Circles” at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier's Signature Series at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier’s Signature Series at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier Signature Series at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier Signature Series at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier, "What  A Dump" at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier, “What A Dump” at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier "HI" at Walker Fine Art

Roland Bernier “HI” at Walker Fine Art

Some other artists using text as compositional form:

Nancy Holt Concrete Poem at CAG

Nancy Holt Concrete Poem at CAG

Mel Blochner Blah, Blah, Blah

Mel Bochner Blah, Blah, Blah

thomas-muller-at-project-4

thomas-muller-at-project-4

Fiona Banner at Frith Street Gallery

Fiona Banner at Frith Street Gallery

Some artists using messaging in text-based artwork:

Barbara Kruger at the Hirshhorn

Barbara Kruger at the Hirshhorn

Glenn Ligon at the Whitney

Glenn Ligon at the Whitney

Lawrence Weiner at the Guggenheim

Lawrence Weiner at the Guggenheim

Color/Pattern Studies

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

I am excited to share these two new series I began this the past year. They are hand-painted pyrographs on wood; the images on the longer strips are based on patterns I have created over the past 12 years and … Continue reading

Rita Blitt

Gallery

This gallery contains 20 photos.

Rita has been painting for over 70 years and has been making sculpture for nearly 50 years. When I look at her work, I can hear the music and feel the dance. It is a real treat to get to know … Continue reading

The MUST-SEE Show in Denver.

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If you only get to see one show in Denver, you really should check out the David B. Smith Gallery.

Michael Theodore fills the main gallery with an installation called “endo/exo.” At first glance (and I think probably in most of the image shots) it looks like industrial scaffolding; the lighting effects on the complex web of fibrous knots hint at stage design. It takes up the entire space and ultimately, he’d like to make it even bigger – like hundreds of feet bigger!

Take your time with it because it has so much to offer.  I got the chance to chat with Michael the other day and he explained a bit about his fascination with rhythms – both organic and mechanic (this makes total sense – he is a music professor); he envisions an increased interdependency…a symbiosis of man and machine.  It’s more than just man and machine, but really an exploration of the increased layering of complex systems and how they interact.

It’s easy to infer an influence of other artists who are working with light – Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell, Leo Villareal, and perhaps that’s right, but the work is more than that. It actually reminds me a bit of the installation in the Fuse Box at the Denver Art Museum; coincidentally, Annica Cuppetelli and Cristobal Mendoza have installed an interactive light display on rope. Their imagery responds with movements and sounds that draw the viewer’s attention away from the actual rope and into the digitized realm of human/computer interaction.

Micheal’s ropes never leave his story, they are held captive by the confines of the machine – there is a human/computer interaction here too:  lights change, the tick, tick, ticking of the clocks (okay, not actual clocks, but motorized ticking rods that could be clocks) speeds up and slows down, pausing for effect.  I find the narrative to be compelling – spellbinding, a bit sinister, and absolutely of the moment.

The rest of the show includes gorgeous generative loops on paper, delicately engraved scratchboards, and a series of video works and printed stills on view in the loft space.

There are a lot of shows in Denver right now that I have already written about – many of which are closing soon, but this one is up for a couple more weeks (June 15th). If you haven’t seen it already it is the one to rush out and see.

www.davidbsmithgallery.com

"endo/exo" by Michael Theodore, Courtesy the artist and David B. Smith Gallery; Photo: Melinda Kern

“endo/exo” by Michael Theodore, Courtesy the artist and David B. Smith Gallery; Photo: Melinda Kern

"endo/exo" by Michael Theodore, Courtesy the artist and David B. Smith Gallery; Photo: Brian Birlauf

“endo/exo” by Michael Theodore, Courtesy the artist and David B. Smith Gallery; Photo: Brian Birlauf

Vancouver 2013

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We just got back from Vancouver; it really was a perfect week.  My partner was running the Marathon and I was up there to offer support and to enjoy spending time in one of our favorite cities. It was our fourth visit up there and we find ourselves loving it more each time.  This time we made our first visit to Victoria, which was a treat.  In Vancouver, we spent almost all of our time downtown managing to check out Mount Pleasant, Granville Island, Kits Beach, English Bay, Davie Street, Stanley Park, Yaletown, Gas Town and a little bit of China Town. Outside the city it makes sense to have a car, but downtown it is easy to use public transit and mostly to walk to just about anywhere.  Although the city is very cosmopolitan, it is compact: a population similar to Denver is crammed into less than a third of the space.

My sense is that there is real energy around the growing art scene – it was just announced that the museum just brokered a deal to build a new facility from the ground up, the area’s art schools are strong, nascent art districts are becoming more defined with galleries and studios and more & more public works dot the city.

I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery and saw a fun retrospective of Art Spiegelman’s comics, and to the Contemporary Art Gallery and saw a great Nancy Holt photo exhibit. I checked out the totem poles at the Royal BC Museum; there were more in Stanley Park (one of the most spectacular things we saw were the nests of the great blue herons). I found a lot of craft stores and design/home-furnishing stores were practically everywhere. There were not so many great galleries for contemporary art, but I found a few of them, with Jennifer Kostuik, Trench Gallery and Madrona (Victoria) being my favorites.

The tribal art of the Northwest really peaked my interest. Of course, The Bill Reid Gallery (check out his massive relief “Mythic Messengers”) is at the top of the heap; Coastal Peoples had “Haida Masterworks II” which showcased generational continuance of aboriginal art; the Douglas Reynolds Gallery has a gorgeous array of works including prints, masks, totem poles, bronze and stone sculptures, bentwood boxes and jewelry.  It was a treat to meet Elaine Monds over at the Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria; she was happy to talk me through some of history of First Nations art and basics of formline design and the significance of different spirit animals.

Public works are easy to find in Vancouver, thanks in large part to Vancouver Bienniale – it has established a unique program of installing works throughout the city every two years. Because the works stay up for 11-18 months or so, millions of people get to enjoy them. The foundation typically acquires a couple of the sculptures from each Bienniale, increasing the city’s inventory of public works.

My Top 10:

  1. “Traces of Time” by David Burdeny at Jennifer Kostuik Gallery
  2. “Stenten: The Resilience of Line, Locale and Intuition” at Trench Gallery
  3. “Selected Photo and Film Works” by Nancy Holt at Contemporary Art Gallery
  4. Galleries on South Granville, esp. Bau-Xi, Ian Tan & Marion Scott
  5. “Amazing Laughter” by Yue Minjun
  6. “The Drop” by Inges Idee
  7. Totem Poles at Thunderbird Park in Victoria
  8. “Walking Figures” by Magdalena Abakanowicz
  9. Norval Morriseau at Eagle Spirit Gallery
  10.  “Pictures” by Erin Shirreff at Contemporary Art Gallery
Gabriel Dubois at Trench

Gabriel Dubois at Trench

November Sky - David Burdeny at Jennifer Kostuik

November Sky – David Burdeny at Jennifer Kostuik

Warren - running the Vancouver Marathon

Warren – running the Vancouver Marathon

Parliament in Victoria

Parliament in Victoria

Walking Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz

Walking Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz

Spring - Alan Chung Hung

Spring – Alan Chung Hung

White Raven (articulated dance mask) at Eagle Spirit Gallery

White Raven (articulated dance mask) at Eagle Spirit Gallery

Primary #9 - Mike Banwell

Primary #9 – Mike Banwell

The Drop - Inges Idee

The Drop – Inges Idee

Norval Morrisseau

Norval Morrisseau

Komagata Maru Monument

Komagata Maru Monument

Grand Hotel at Vancouver Art Gallery

Grand Hotel at Vancouver Art Gallery

Amazing Laughter  - Yue Minjun

Amazing Laughter – Yue Minjun

Vancouver - BC Stadium

Vancouver – BC Stadium

Top 10 in DC – Spring 2013

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I had the opportunity to go DC twice this Spring, and as a result my “Top 10″ list is a little long this time around. It was great to get to go on back-to-back trips because some of the museums and galleries were installing shows during one trip or the other. I know I still missed a lot, but saw enough that my head is still spinning.  I tried to check out different parts of the city – Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Kalaroma, the H Street Corridor, Logan Circle, U Street, and of course the National Mall. It was a special treat to get to meet with Christine Neptune, who showed me about 2 dozen gorgeous Wolf Kahn monotypes; with Robert Brown, who showed me a portfolio of Per Kirkeby’s; and with  Andrea Marinkovich, who had a wonderful David Hockney.

Some of my favorites at the Museums:

  1. “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” at Smithsonian American Art Museum
  2. “Ellsworth Kelly: Colored Paper Images” at the National Gallery
  3. “Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina” at the National Gallery
  4. “Nordic Cool” at the Kennedy Center
  5. “Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio & Dubuffet” at the Phillips Collection
  6. “Vanitas!” Jeanne Silverthorne at the Phillips Collection
  7. “Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge” at The National Portrait Gallery
  8. “Pump Me Up: DC Subculture of the 1980s” at the Corcoran
  9. “On Common Ground: Dominican Republic & Haiti” at American Museum of the Americas
  10. “Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848–1900″ at National Gallery of Art

And at the Galleries:

  1. “Nothing Rhymes with Orange” at Project 4
  2. “Gordon Parks: An American Lens” at Adamson Gallery
  3. Robert Longo at Adamson Gallery
  4. Mel Bochner at Robert Brown Gallery
  5. “Gathering Space” by Timothy Thompson at Hamiltonian Gallery
  6. “Concrete Abstract” at Heiner Contemporary
  7. William Whitaker at DCAC
  8. “Narciso Maisterra – Recent Work” at Hillyer Art Space
  9. New Paintings by Kevin H. Adams at Gallery Plan B
  10. “Trash Talk” at the Torpedo Factory
Thomas Muller at Project 4

Thomas Muller at Project 4

Thinker on Rock 1997 Barry Flanagan

Thinker on Rock 1997 Barry Flanagan

Trashtalk by Alex Lockwood

Trashtalk by Alex Lockwood

Ellsworth Kelly colored paper

Ellsworth Kelly colored paper

Timothy Thompson Gathering Space

Timothy Thompson Gathering Space

El Maiz - Edgar Negret, 1996 at Organization of American States
El Maiz – Edgar Negret, 1996 at Organization of American States
Juha Pykäläinen - Elk Towers

Juha Pykäläinen – Elk Towers

She Who Must Be Obeyed - Tony Smith

She Who Must Be Obeyed – Tony Smith

Ai Wei Wei - Packing up the zodiac sculptures

Ai Wei Wei – Packing up the zodiac sculptures

Cool Disco Dan at Corcoran

Cool Disco Dan at Corcoran

Jeanne Silverthorne at Phillips Collection

Jeanne Silverthorne at Phillips Collection

David Hockney - An Imaginary Landscape 1967

David Hockney – An Imaginary Landscape 1967

Mel Bochner - From Floating World, 1990

Mel Bochner – From Floating World, 1990

10 Shows to See in Denver Right Now – April 2013

Featured

There are so many great shows going on right now – I think that even though it’s still snowing outside, the exhibits are heating up:

  1. The shows at Robischon are an odd mix of Arcimboldo and vanitas  mixed in with woodland adventures and carnivals. As you’d expect at this gallery, the shows flow seemlessly – I think I love everything about it.
  2. “The Art Bucket” by Colin Livingston at Plus Gallery – Perhaps the most provocative show in the city right now. At first glance these highly-energetic swatches of color seem banal. Viewers have the option of leaving it at that or to delve deeper into a confrontational look at commoditization, consumerism, and consumption.
  3. “Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land” at the Denver Art Museum  – go see it now, it’s closing soon!
  4. “Bemsha Swing in Denver” Installation by Yoshitomo Saito at Ironton Studios – He is my kind of artist; his bronze sculptures capture the sacred in the everyday.
  5. “Heidi Jung: Black & White” at the Arvada Center – I especially like the charcoal-on-paper pieces, created in situ.
  6. “Long Lost” by Ryan Everson at Gildar Gallery –  For me, each peace would stand alone better than with the distraction of the others. That said, this Portland artist is clever and thoughtful and he offers up the chance for viewers to feel like they are clever and thoughful too.
  7. “Gather & Gentle Motion” at Walker Fine Art – While Roger Hubbard’s kinetic sculptures seem to be an audience favorite, I am obsessed with Brigan Gresh’s smooth, waxy abstract surfaces that reveal constance evolution of narrative.
  8. “Mind over Matter” at Space Gallery – Some of my favorite paintings out there right now; don’t forget to check out the back gallery where the show continues with Pat Aaron’s “Key West” encaustics and Ian McLaughlin’s “botanical science fiction.”
  9. “Moving Paint 2012-2013″ by Ania Gola-Kumor at The Sandra Phillips Gallery – The new gallery space gives her complex paintings the natural light they require; I think they look better than ever.
  10. “Grey Towers” by Monque Crine at Goodwin Fine Art – These black and white paintings document JFK just months before his assassination and sit in dialog with her grandfather’s photographic archives of the same.
Colin Livingston at Plus Gallery

Colin Livingston at Plus Gallery

Ryan Everson at Gildar Gallery

Ryan Everson at Gildar Gallery

Brigan Gresh at Walker FIne Art

Brigan Gresh at Walker Fine Art

Yoshitomo Saito at Ironton Studios

Yoshitomo Saito at Ironton Studios

Los Angeles – February 2014

A couple weeks ago I got to go to Los Angeles and check out the art scene.

It really was a great trip. I did manage to get a little business done while I was there but mostly it was a chance to enjoy visits with friends, walk along the beach and watch the dolphins, check out the restaurants and shopping, and see a lot of artwork.

Everyone knows that L.A. is a big city and it is really spread out – well, that carries over to the art scene. It seemed like everything I wanted to see was 45 minutes away from wherever I happened to be. I didn’t always make a game plan and, as a consequence, found myself sitting on the freeway & showing up at places on the day that they were closed. I didn’t mind though because it was sunny and 75° with a nice breeze coming in from over the water (it’s been a great ski season in Colorado, but still it’s nice to take a break from the cold.)

There is so much to see at The Getty Museum and at LACMA that I wound up visiting each of them twice. I also managed to get to The Hammer Museum, The Santa Monica Museum of Art and The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown L.A near the Disney Concert Hall and the new Broad Museum, still under construction. For galleries, this time I checked out downtown, Culver City, Wilshire Boulevard and then Bergamot Station over in Santa Monica.

Museums

“Past Tense” works by Hiroshi Sugimoto at The Getty – this exhibit brings together three series: habitat dioramas, wax portraits, and early photographic negatives. I especially liked the portraits: Sugimoto places wax figures of Queen Victoria and then of King Henry VIII and his wives.  This clever series brings portraiture full circle: Madame Tussaud’s figures are created using old master portrait paintings. Sugimoto then places the statues in front of black backdrops and photographs them in order to create “historical” portraits.  He employs a 9-minute exposure to capture all the life-like details of the statues and costumes.

A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography at The Getty – Queen Victoria was the first of the monarchs to have her reign documented by camera. She was an avid collector and had a passion for photography that resulted in a collection of some 20,000 images.

Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic at LACMA – This is a retrospective that shows work from 4 decades of this iconic artist’s work.

Keltie Ferris: Doomsday Boogie at Santa Monica Museum of Art – Her work combines perspective with contemporary geometric color and graffiti.

Galleries

  1. Edge & Surface by Claudia Meyer at Fresh Paint Art Gallery
  2. Hydrographics by R. Dean Larson at DNJ Gallery
  3. Unexplored Territory by Kevin Cooley and Phillip Andrew Lewis at Kopeiken Gallery
  4. Michael Kenna at Peter Fetterman
  5. Marcia Roberts: From the Beginning at Rosamund Felson
  6. Beverly Semmes 1992-1994 at Shoshana Wayne
  7. Dustin Yellin at Richard Heller
  8. Los Gigantes at Frank Lloyd – this included works from 5 of the galleries longstanding artists: Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman, John Mason, Ed Moses, and Peter Voulkos
  9. Group show at 1301PE – included Fiona Banner, Fiona Connor, Kirsten Everberg, Ann Veroinca Janssens, Jorge Pardo, Blake Rayne, Jessica Stockholder, Diana Thater, Rirkrit Tiravanija
  10. Robert Reynolds Studio
Barbara Kruger at Hammer Museum

Barbara Kruger at Hammer Museum

Nancy Rubins at MOCA

Nancy Rubins at MOCA

Charles Ray "Boy with Frog" at Getty Museum

Charles Ray “Boy with Frog” at Getty Museum

Dustin Yellin at Richard Heller

Dustin Yellin at Richard Heller

Keltie Harris at SMMOA

Keltie Harris at SMMOA

Diane von Furstenberg at LACMA

Diane von Furstenberg at LACMA

Calder at LACMA

Calder at LACMA

Hiroshi Sugimoto at The Getty

Hiroshi Sugimoto at The Getty

Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer

Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer

Richard Serra

Richard Serra

Metropolis II by Chris Burden

Metropolis II by Chris Burden

Art to Buy Now – A Look at the Past Year

Over the past year I have written about art I have seen during my travels across the country. I created the following postcards to serve as my visual “notes”

Art to Buy Now – A Look at the Past Year:

Picture1 Picture7 Picture8 Picture6 Picture5 Picture4 Picture3 Picture2

Telluride – January 2014

Last week my partner & I took a few days off to go explore Telluride and do some skiing.  It wound up being the perfect time to go because we were between weather systems –  there was snow on the ground, but the skies were sunny and the temperatures warm.

Telluride was settled with miners back in the mid-1800s and it still has much of it’s old town charm. While the mountain village overflows with tourists, I got the sense that the actual town itself is a community of locals. There are plenty of restaurants, shops and galleries to appeal to visitors and residents alike.

Of course, I took a few breaks from the slopes to check out the local art scene, a half-dozen galleries and a handful of studios.

The three that really caught my eye were

  1. Gallery 81435  I am still not sure who was manning the store – I went in twice and never did see anyone else there.  The show was beautifully minimal, with black and white sculpture, woodblock prints and photographs.  I fell in love with Antonio Marra’s sculpture and Meredith Nemirov’s drawing series of tree details.
  2. Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery  This gallery was a treat: the series of rooms were filled with landscape paintings from regional and national artists.
  3. Telluride Gallery of Fine Art  Probably the most commercial of the galleries, they focus on contemporary photography, painting, sculpture and jewelry.  I caught the tail end of their winter “White” show and especially liked the ceramic works by Marc Leuthold and the encaustic panels by Shawna Moore.
Oh Be Joyful Art Gallery

Oh Be Joyful Art Gallery

Marc Leuthold at Gallery 81435

Marc Leuthold at Gallery 81435

Shawna Moore at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

Shawna Moore at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

Marshall Noice at Lustre Gallery

Marshall Noice at Lustre Gallery

Telluride

Telluride

Views everywhere we turn in Telluride

Views everywhere we turn in Telluride

Skiing in Telluride

Skiing in Telluride