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”
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
- 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.
- Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery This gallery was a treat: the series of rooms were filled with landscape paintings from regional and national artists.
- 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.
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:
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.
- Ad Reinhardt @ David Zwirner – I was in love with these black paintings; they immediately reminded me of Rothko Chapel ( see https://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.
- Kaws @ Mary Boone Chelsea – the 2-story “Companion” sculptures dominate the sky-lit gallery
- 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.
- Brice Marden: Graphite Drawings @ Matthew Marks – 22 of his early works on paper.
- Nicola Hicks@ Flowers – Her sculptures of animals are amazingly expressive. They are generally made from plaster & straw and then cast into bronze.
- 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.
- Peter Saul @ Mary Boone – These paintings from the 60’s & 70’s mix pop with absurdist humor.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!”
- 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!
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- I am drawn to curated exhibits that have something specific to say and then go onto to lay it out for me.
- I like those shows that create singular “wow” moments.
- 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, https://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.”
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.
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 typewriter 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 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!!!
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/ )
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.
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!
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:
- Early 20th Century European Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
- The Contemporary Art Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
- Metapsychosis by Jessie Mann, Sally Mann, Liz Liguori and the Mountain Lake Workshop at Reynolds Gallery
- Courtney Johnson: Light Lure at Candela Books + Gallery
- Frankie Slaughter: Unravel at Glave Kocen Gallery
- Sarah Bednarek : Geometron at ADA Gallery
- Captiva Works: Sounds and Photographs by Steven Vitiello and Taylor Deupree at Reynolds Gallery
- William Wylie’s This Heavy Veil: Recent Photographs from Naples at Page Bond Gallery
- Barb Bondy: Suspension at Staniar Gallery (in Lexington, VA)
- Kendra Dawn Wadsworth: Murmurations at Quirk Gallery
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.