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

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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 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.
  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

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 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!!!

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

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

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Fractal Echo by Nancy Lovendahl

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

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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