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. 

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

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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