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.
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.
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.