Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I usually stay away from the big guys, but in this instance....

Okay, truth be told, I don't think I've ever NOT liked a work by painter Ross Bleckner.

Scout's honor!

There's just something so perfectly linear, eternally graceful, organically significant, masterfully executed and luxuriously layered to all of his work.

I honestly dare you to find something truly negative to say about these pieces.

They're BEAUTIFUL.
BEAUTIFUL.
BEAUTIFUL!!!

When art takes on a sense of calm, of peaceful tranquility juxtaposed amongst all the hustle and bustle of "society" at large and avoids the "urgency" and pitfalls of the commonplace, and just "is," this is the definition of your standard, "run of the mill" pieces of Ross Bleckner.

His eye is brilliant in terms of color theory, of exploration into the subconscious, and the designs and formations that a "drifting off" accomplishes.

Close your eyes.

Relax your body, your mind, your soul.

What do you see?

I bet you see a bubbling out of reds, and lighter oranges from a dark-hued center, most often navy blue, or dark in nature.

I bet you might happen to see images of the still lifes of the 1800s come alive in a 21st Century motif, modernized, but not forgotten.

Each petal, each leaf of the botanicals takes on a new meaning.

The fresh dewdrops falling upon the petals is just the same as it were hundreds of years ago.

In much the same way Bleckner has taken these Rorschack-type creations and made them his own.

These pieces would be so at home in an evironment unakin to the everyday or commonplace art collector-- perhaps as a backdrop to a botany course in a freshman student's college courseload or a five-star lodge in the outskirts of the northernmost reaches of Saskatchewan.

I can't help but keep staring at these pieces.

In fact, when I saw them in person, I just stood there-- absorbing; their monumentality serving as almost an altar-like deity for me, taking it all in.

I wished my body could literally open a door to the visions of light; to the creations of new organisms, and absorb them into myself.

The floral arrangements take on an almost human-like quality to each of the pieces.

I did my best to imagine them in my own home, but alas, my checkbook is far too small and ceilings much too low.

I hope these works go down in Bleckner's encyclopedia entry as what they are-- new developments heavily researched and accomplished in an already full career.

Mary Boone should take it upon herself to stop focusing so much on her uptown space, and not forget the people who made her "Mary f'ing Boone."

Ross Bleckner is one of them.

A true modern living legend worth his weight in the gold standard.

This exhibit is NOT to be missed.

It is up until December 22nd and honestly will transport you into a new dimension.

Stay awhile in front of each piece.

It's well worth the break.

In honor of Xmastime, I've made up a song to sing along to...

"You're a bad-ass,
Mary Boone

You're the top of
every list

You're as charming
as a Prada heel

You're a hot mess mama
with delicious deals

You're a triple decker
delectible dish

You're the pride of
every collectors' dream

Mary Boone
it's Christmas, Javier Bardem is calling,

You've paid your dues
and you're no grinch"

(okay, so I'm not a lyricist, but I can direct you to the main site to check out more details, and that's no stealing XMas joke!!)

http://www.maryboonegallery.com/


Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Nakeds and the Nudes-- the art of Francien Krieg

Take a good long look at the image on the right by Dutch artist Francien Krieg.

Many of you will be instantly reminded of the famed Leigh Bowery portrait by Lucien Freud.

But while the Freud piece captured Bowery's persona non grata, the woman at right has much more to lose in her fully exposed form.

Nudity is at its base form the very definition of exposed vulnerability.

The model's largesse is literally starting to hide what defines her feminity; the genitalia fully hidden by the abdomen's rolls of skin.

But while previous generations may have viewed her as a "fertility goddess," or been termed "voluptuous," modern society frowns upon her, and hides her from view.

We are in a new era of shunning.

In fact, few artists today cover the human form in this manner, unless it's in the endless "snapshot aesthetic" of contemporary photography.

(Thank you, Nan Goldin for sending us down that dark and dreary path.)




But truthfully, I myself have never been one much for the full monty.

In fact, my first memories of being confronted with nudity were usually of my family-- and I didn't think twice about what it all really meant, nor did I care to.

Then, at about age 8, my mother took me into a B. Dalton bookstore.

For some reason I think my little mind hadn't yet grasped that not only was my family naked under their clothes, but also-- (drumroll)... OTHER PEOPLE as well.

And boy, did I get the crash course.

While mother thumbed her way through some Patti Boyd biography, my tiny hands picked up a copy of a John Lennon tome right next to it.

Then, opening the paperback to the center, I got my first real taste of NUDITY.

Not just nude, but NEKKID.

Not just NEKKID, but ARTISTIC NAKED-- i.e., John and Yoko, in all their flaccid, hairy, pasty glory, together, with little air separating their bodies.

My little mind felt immediately unclean.

But now I find myself, years later, typing reviews on a regular basis of artists that focus on highly-charged sexual content, or the dreaded "nude" word.

And truth be told, rarely do I bat an eyelash at the imagery.

I've seen just about every orifice in close-up form in some way or another.

From the Polaroid cock-sucking self-portraits of Terry Richardson, to David LaChapelle's plasticized shrines to well-endowed shemale Amanda Lepore, nothing seems to phase me; "Bores me," yes.

But for some reason, I've continued to have a disrespect for artists who ONLY choose to cover the human form.

But now that I've been doing some intense research of artists' web pages, I'm beginning to truly appreciate a finely-crafted and different type of nude.

Krieg's work is quite different than anything I've seen.

Her stunning use of foreshortening and manipulation of perspective truly makes these individuals come alive--flaws and all.

Maybe it's that hand shake I got when I happened upon Terry Richardson himself a few weeks ago that's made me rethink my opinion of blatant in-your-face sexuality.

He's didn't seem that bad of a guy, in fact.

But with Krieg, these are not necessarily sexual in nature.

Hailing from The Hague, Krieg's subjects are not your standard Vogue cover models.

Many are extremely obese, or at least can call cellulite as a dear friend.

They are real in every way-- you can see the veins lying close to the skin.

The bodies appear to be well-worn and lived in.

Stretch marks appear throughout the bodies.

You can tell that there's stories behind each face through the direct confrontation of the viewer, but while nudity again represents vulnerability-- you cannot pierce through their emotional shields.

In the image directly below, I especially love how the skin of the elbow is so rough and red.

Here is a woman who has experienced some hard times, and her eyes seem to challenge as if to say, "Yeah? So what? What are you going to do about it?"



Krieg is not represented by a gallery yet here in New York, but I bet it won't be long before someone takes notice of her seriously amazing work.


All art doesn't have to be beautiful, after all-- but there is a beauty in raw humanity.


For more information on Francien Krieg check out her web site at:


http://www.francienkrieg.com/

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Richard Eagan's trip back in time

Recently I had the pleasure of gaining the acquaintance of Richard Eagan, a Brooklyn-based artist whose topical work really struck home.

One of the reasons I chose to move to New York City was because of its rich and layered history.

The neighborhoods were a marketing major's wet dream in "branding"-- Little Italy, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Brighton Beach, and of course, Coney Island.

I remember as a freshman at B.U. how excited I'd get when I'd look across Commonwealth Avenue and see our very own short-lived franchise of weiner prestige, Nathan's Famous.



Now my own knowledge of Coney Island was not very well-versed, but I did have those legendary postcards of pop culture floating in my head-- rickety ferris wheels with cars swinging to and fro; bathing beauties and Vaudevillian sideshows; leopard-leotard burlesque girls with the Betty Page bangs; tatooed muscle men bench-pressing iron with their well-oiled bulging biceps heaving in the salty air.

Fast-forward to 2007. Things are quite different.

Mega-developer Thor Equities' stunning purchase of Astroland Amusement Park has given us an endless drawn-out saga "Was this past season the last hurrah, or will there be one more? Stay tuned."

With all the back and forth, it's as if we're being held hostage by these land-grabbers.

The only survivors-- the Parachute Jump (in some incarnation), and if spared the executioner, the Cyclone.

In the meantime, while the city, local community groups and business owners try to hammer out incorporation of the logistics of all this, Richard Eagan's work is a truly excellent way to reconnect to what once was.

I found it to be a true delight in its sentimental journey back in time.

Eagan has a rich and storied history himself.

A long-time Brooklyn resident himself, in the late 1970s he suddenly found himself having repetitive dreams of Coney Island and his childhood.

For years Eagan had crafted meticulous cabinetry and woodworks in his cabinet shop.

But suddenly things began to take on a new look.

A studio was emerging, as well as an artist.

Eagan delved into creating sculptural-like assemblage pieces which blended elements of the everyday along with the fantastic.

At the same time, along with artist Philomena Marano, in 1981 Eagan formed the Coney Island Hysterical Society-- a collaborative that worked to spotlight the ever-forgotten landscape of yesteryear.

Multiple artist projects were undertaken, including a mural, carousel and an actual haunted house/by-way-of-art-gallery carnival ride, the "Spookhouse. "


Looking at some of Eagan's earlier works, you can almost hear those echoes of "Step right up! Step right up!"

At left is "Fred's House," a piece done in 1982.

In the background is the haunting image of the dearly missed "Thunderbolt", a Coney Island staple for 75 years.

I really found this piece to be quite moving-- the soft-lit crescent moon in the distance.

After all, where else can you go to see the sky so well at night in the 5 boroughs, other than the Coney Island boardwalk?

It leaves me silent-- for I can find no words to express the sadness at never having been able to witness it in its heyday.

After the passing of his wife, Eagan took time away to regroup.

Once again, the boardwalk came calling.

But this time, Eagan also began to express himself with an alter-ego, Kay Sera-- a proper lady, if I ever did meet one, with style and elegance to boot.

She has had an immensely positive influence on Eagan.



Much in the way the chrysallis serves the butterfly, her creation has allowed Eagan to emerge from his cocoon, with wings outspread.

In fact, many of Eagan's pieces involve a starburst-like central creature, exploding from within.

The wooden shards, though they can appear quite dangerous, exist only underneath in a cage-like structure.

In some ways, it is guarded-- a protection mechanism, if you will.

But just who is Eagan protecting: the viewer, or the self?

I also am enthralled by the minute details of the work at right.

In this-- a wooden mock-up of the haunted-house ride previously mentioned-- you can see the tiny wooden planks of a boardwalk.

The saloon doors are perfect in their detail and weather-beaten quality.

The salt-laden air erodes the latex, leaving its mark.

Even the slight spaces between the boards are brilliant in their disalignment.

For Coney Island currently DOES lie in a state of disrepair.

The boardwalk's tens of thousands of wooden planks are deteriorating by the day.

But this fine city is more interested in the amount of funds that it will receive from the monolithic Thor rather than put new wooden planks in for people to enjoy the walk.



Below are images of "Kister's Hotel" and "Open All Year Round."

Again, there is a quiet to these works that I have a hard time describing.

In each, Eagan again reaches out-- windows into another world-- but it is to our detriment that they might not be there for much longer.

For more information on Richard Eagan, go to the link below.

http://www.440gallery.com/

Monday, November 5, 2007

Is there room at the inn for Kara Walker?

This isn't a review of Kara Walker's retrospective at the Whitney, nor her new solo show at Sikkema Jenkins & co.

No.

This is a post where I'm going to bring up something that the art world continually ignores.

No, it's not the "feminist artist" mystique, or whatnot.

And truth be told, if I hear of one more gathering, conference, or "artist talk" put on by priviledged WASPY MFA-educated, gallery repped mid-20s to late 40-something women screaming and complaining of how they're "underrepresented" in the art world, I just may take up arms.

In this case, no, what bothers me MUCH more than any "under-representation" of the female is those of color.

I just got back from a trip to West Virginia, and truth be told, I witnessed more faces of color there than I ever do at a Chelsea gallery opening.

That is UNLESS those of color happen to be like Ms. Walker-- doing work that questions issues of "identity."

Let me say this, if Ms. Walker, perhaps, were doing work more along the lines of the Elizabeth Peytons, Karen Kilimniks, Dana Schutzs or Cecily Browns of the world-- would she have ever gotten to the status where she is now? (I.E., a Whitney retrospective?)

Would Walker have ever been giving the carte-blanche acceptance that Ms. Emin was graced with after "All the men I've ever slept with?"

Highly doubtful.

She would have been crucified.

Because Walker continues to crank out pieces that address what the Caucasian-dominated art glitteratti feels a "black artist" SHOULD be concentrating on, she's been elevated to something not unlike that of a modern minstrel herself, sans tap shoes.

I find it a hell of a lot more disgusting that the few top-publicized artists of color that I can name on my fingers-- Ofilli, Odita, Walker, and Pope L.--are only accepted because their work addresses "being black."

Pardon me while my blood pressure rises just a bit more, but it's not like MFA programs are asking the Schutz's of the world: "Can you have your work address what it's like to be young, white and immediately well-off financially?"

I dare the art world to elevate one artist of color to the forefront whose work might concentrate on color, line, form; political upheaval and protest; optical illusion; or experimental installation.

This is not to say Ms. Walker is not one of the more talented individuals continually making controversial and well-received work; as well as all those artists I've previously named.

I'm thinking of the recent beautifully painted show by artist Julie Heffernan.

I looked at each of her pieces and noted the skill and precision it took to paint those-- as well as the alabaster skin of each of the "self-portraits."

Could a black female artist have been given that type of reception as well?

I have a wish for the art world's eye of the needle to expand just a little beyond the tragic historical past of a people and perhaps more on the triumph of living in the today, as well as opening up the rosters to more of the least expected rather than "Here we go again."

Over and out.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ryan McGinness IS an art movement

His button below may directly disagree with my assessment, but in the battle of the similarly named Ryans of "art star" calibre, McGinness beats McGinley hands-down.




Of course the two simply cannot be compared due to their vastly different mediums, lifestyles and genres, but with these works, McGinness has proved to me once again he's worth the hype surrounding him.
Maybe I'm truly going out on a limb here, but I must say he just may be the second coming of Aubrey Beardsley at his recent inauguration of the new Pace Prints space in Chelsea.

See my example of "compare and contrast" below of one of Beardsley's intricate and luxuriously printed Art Nouveau children's book illustration work next to the sinuously flowing eroticism of McGinness' engraved skateboards that strongly utilize the color wheel.
















This exhibit just closed at Pace Prints' new Chelsea headquarters truly blew my mind in terms of the artist's use of color play and decorative pattern work.

But truth be told, McGinness' strongest suit yet was his collection of humorous pins.


It brought back to mind my own youthful days as a merch girl for many of Boston's indie rock bands in the early-to-mid-'90s.
It also is a nice nod to being a child of the 1980s.
Certainly the subject matter is a bit mature, but our friendship pins, bracelets and sticker collections were like our generational equivalent to the Summer of Love crowd's medallions.
Here, McGinness deftly combines the two, taking a glance backwards towards the Decorative Arts movement, all the while combining it with psychedelia at its finest, with a final mix of Atari Generation and skater punk thrown in for good measure.
Fun stuff.



Enjoy.

http://www.paceprints.com/exhibitions/exhibitions-H.asp?XS=C

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dear Nicholas Fraser

Dateline:
Thursday, October 24, 2007
Brooklyn, New York


Dear Mr. Fraser,

Greetings and salutations!

How nice to meet your acquaintance.

Upon Googling myself this evening-- (because this is what one does when one navel-gazes to check on one's blogging successes and failures)-- I found out that I recently did a review on your artwork last month.

Thank you kindly for the memory jog-- sometimes... in fact, many times, the names of who I choose to review slip my mind.

In fact, I just wanted to let you know I truly enjoyed reviewing your work on September 4, 2007, here at the Musings.

I found your work to be provocative, insightful, and well-thought out.

I find it fantastic that you've been able to attain solo shows at John Connelly Presents, Moti Hasson and Yossi Milo Gallery all in 2007 alone.

That is no small undertaking.

But in all seriousness-- dude, seriously, I can't remember who the hell you are, nor can I remember reviewing you.

I do like that your work delves into plageurism and the problem facing current artists today in regards to getting attention for one's work.

**WAVES!!!!***

I certainly like the DIY punk rock nature of you placing yourself into multiple galleries' press releases and saying it's your own.

But silly man, (or woman, whoever you be)... like, seriously, I did this trick back in 2003 when I first moved to NYC, mass-mailing everyone "news story clips" from WNBC, NY1, etc., where I'd replace names, towns, accidents, etc., with false info for whatever prank victim who would fall for it.

So kudos for sharing the brilliance of being able to Control A, Control C, Control V, and then typing to replace words.

Keep on keeping on.

Oh, and PS-- Next time you want me to write a review of your "work," why don't you just ask?
I might just bite.

Cough...

And if you're cute, who knows what else?

Your friend in guerilla art and blatant self-promotion,

Olympia Lambert
author of Oly's Musings

For more information to see if you, your gallery or art review blog is a victim of Mr. Fraser's deceptive ploys, go to:

http://nicholasfraser.com/index.html

TOUCHE!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Oh when the penguins.. oh when the penguins... go marchin' in... go marchin' in... oh when the penguins go marchin in...

Oh, yeah, baby!

It's time for the march of the penguins, those lovable little tuxedoed tricksters whose favorite song certainly must be Five For Fighting's "Superman."

But barring their similarity to bowling pins, and our ever growing fascination with them-- "Happy Feet," "Wallace and Gromit," "March of the Penguins," Opus, etc., they're good little soldiers.

Follow the leader is not a game to them, but a way of life.

They also take care of their own, huddling together for warmth and protection.

And this is just what artist Nicolas Touron uses them for in his fantastic exhibition, "Circus," at Virgil de Voldere Gallery.

Setting their obedient little bodies against a backdrop of jetliners crashing into military helicopters, Mr. Touron obviously has taken the cute factor out of the equation; note THEY HAVE NO EYES.

Much in the way of our current administration-- from BOTH parties-- and the complacency that is 2007 Americana, we are definitely marching together as one, but have no clue as to where we're going.

I couldn't help but think of this exhibit once more upon the beginning of my work week, as the L train's staircase at 8th Avenue deviates into two-- one portion going left, one right.

Both staircases end up in the same location on the next platform up.

But interestingly enough (it never fails) the crowd always continues to the left, as I take the road less traveled to the right.

Perhaps group mentality is impossible to overcome, but I find it humorous how the blind just follow so succinctly.

Throughout Touron's exhibit, the theme of his "circus" comes into play-- a three ring one, mind you-- with the exhibit split into three separate "rooms," if you will.

With all the animals locked into warplay here at left-- ("moose-uzi" anyone?)-- you have to wonder just what the artist was thinking when these subjects were grouped together.

I also like the visual monstrosity of the intestinal-like ribbons that run throughout his works, to say nothing of the captive audience of penguins, once again taking center stage.

There is a sculptural centerpiece that is quite eye-catching-- two deers, with antlers permanently interlocked, top-to-bottom, and never to have one triumph over the other.



In much the way we realize the current war we find ourselves in to be unwinnable, with media circuses left and right to provide our poor little soggy brains with feel-good distractions.

"Quick!!! Click on Andy Samberg's newest digital short once again!!! Shit man, it will totally make you forget your wife leaving you, your dad dying, that slipped disc in your herniated back, your third cousin twice removed getting his brains blown to bits on a Ramallah highway, your dog just dying, or the fact the earth is probably going to end in 20 years' time."

After all, this is what America is now currently all about-- a muddled mess of intersecting highways, brought about by "technology."

I love how Touron's so subtle in his references, but it really makes you think.

The exhibit is up until October 20th.

For more information, go to:

http://www.virgilgallery.com/v2/

or

http://artcal.net/event/view/1/5547

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Martha Walker at 440 Gallery

All right, now, class; first lecture of the fall season: New York art scene 101-- Chelsea, Soho, Williamsburg.

Now let's follow that close behind by Dumbo, South Bronx, Red Hook, Park Slope...

SCREECH!
Apply the brakes.

Wait-- Park Slope?

Everyone sing along now... "One of these things is not like the other..."

The quaint little neighborhood that is the cradle of all that is held dear by the stroller mom community?

But yes, indeed.

Recently I found a heretofore undiscovered gem located on a quiet block of Sixth Avenue, the artist-run collective 440 Gallery.

In its current show, "Undercurrents," sculptor Martha Walker takes leaps and bounds over the "sculpture community," creating amorphous formations that seem to take on a new life of their own.

There is a power to Walker's work that is immediate.

The structures she creates certainly display elements of the natural realm, (such as the giant conch shell, as above) but there is more at play here other than three-dimensional representation.

There is a true gothic sensibility to these works.

Walker is making work that expresses herself and her vision through a means that I feel currently is woefully under-represented in the gallery scene-- steel sculpture.

With the current focus on installation and the newfound "rediscovery" of painting, I find it seldom where I can find a show that brings back a genre that throughout history has helped to define art and the next pathways it will choose to go.

Unless we're commiserating on giving a retrospective to Serra and his mass-scale, I can't imagine in today's market where a sculptor like Rodin would go to be displayed.

Walker's works bring to mind an otherworldly realm-- much as if the kelp or octopi from the seabed uprooted itself; primordial ooze once again retaking the land.

Walker elegantly captures the motions of these structures in each steel loop and bend.

In the work at right, there certainly is ancient tribal art on display.

It brings to mind a ceremonial offering, if you will, or a tribute to the fertility goddess.

I found myself analyzing each and every curve and the dramatic texture of her works.

Painstakingly creating each steel droplet from above, dripping freshly from the blowtorch not unlike a candle making a wax seal, it forms a rudimentary surface similar to that of a freshly erupted volcano.

In this case, the hot lava bubbles up and out, leaving behind a rich and storied texture.




In the central piece of the show, Passion Unfurled, many will certainly see a central vulva, as well as a tongue-like nature to this work with its many bends and loops.

In some ways, Walker's dark and gothic sci-fi oeuvre is at war with the blatant sexuality of this piece.

I like how Walker highlights feminity, not necessarily using it for exploit, but instead creating a new creature with undulating motion.

Even the creature's feet have a whimsical notion-- looking not unlike something straight out of "Lord of the Rings."

In contrast to the more controversial Passion Unfurled, in her work at left, Pearl, the cherished treasure contains an almost fetal-like element which can be removed from the central structure and stand alone.

When docked in its "mother ship," if you will, it is caressed and cared for not unlike a small child in its mother's arms.

There's something about the craftsmanship of this piece that makes you almost fear for its safety as it goes out into the new world-- will it survive?

Only time will tell.

I also cannot help but also be reminded of the dominance of male artists in the New York art world, and how that little "pearl," if you will, could also represent the obstacles that female artists face when getting their work on display.

Great piece.

In the case of Walker's art, you certainly could classify it as one of the more dangerous undertakings of the different art mediums, for working with steel certainly is not one for the faint of heart.

The heavy structures are certainly not a simple duty in their formative stages.

Lifting and manipulating several hundred pounds of molten metal as it is super-heated to thousands of degrees is a painstaking task that requires sheer determination and will of heart.

What I liked the most about Walker was her true passion for her subject matter and dedication to the task at hand.

She actually records and keeps track of the hours spent on each piece-- some taking months to construct.

It is extremely time consuming, especially given the highly intricate detailing of her structures.

Take a look at this close-up of Passion Unfurled.

Each and every droplet and branch has been formed by the piece being on its back.

Walker's blowtorch superheats the steel from behind, and the liquified droplets with the assistance of gravity make a new formation-- not unlike the volcanic lava formations of the South Pacific.

In the case of Passion Unfurled, the piece weighs over 700 pounds and only came about in its current structure after originally meaning to be a river bed.

Walker realized when the piece cleaved in two, it transformed into a formation of rollicking sensuality at play.

Even though Walker's work certainly has a gothic undertone, given its "all black all the time" quality, (something we here at the Musings have been a bit obsessed with as of late) it is truly embracing the organic realm.

In some ways her work reminded me of my recent review of the fantastic painter Janaina Tschape, who concentrates on embryonic structures.

It's almost as if Tschaipe's structures have leaped off the canvas into sculpture formations.

Much of Walker's structures as well take on a honeycombing effect, or that of seed pods.

The open loops appear to be so delicate, you can barely imagine that they started off as steel bars.

I enjoyed examining how each branch connects seemlessly with the next.

There is such a unique flow to her work.

In her own words, Walker states how the process of creating these works is "meditative" for her.

I think the viewer will find this as well.

Walker's work will be up through Sunday, October 14th.

440 Gallery is located at 440 Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn, just a few blocks from the F train stop at 7th Avenue.

For more information, go to: http://www.440gallery.com/

or you can check out more of Walker's work at: http://www.marthawalker.net

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Let's wrap up the loose ends, shall we?


Here at the Musings, I must say, I've been a tad bit busy as of late.

In just the past 3 weeks, I believe I've been to 19 openings and visited somewhere around 30 galleries and completed one one-on-one artist studio visit.

I'm accumulating so many art cards, press releases and gallery photos on my Cannon Powershot Digital Elph, that maybe I should call in a professional organizer-- maybe one like the creator of my fave piece of the entire past year-- found entirely by accident while walking the streets of Williamsburg.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Emcee C.M., (AKA Colin McMullan) and his interactive "Neighborhood Junk Drawer," a part of the just recently completed Conflux Festival.

I laughed my ass off with this one.

Truly, deeply, I love it.

And apparently the neighborhood does as well.

Buried inconspicuously into the plywood fence around yet another "abandoned lot," the drawer fits perfectly and can be slid in and out quite easily.

The items in the drawer are finding nice new homes throughout Williamsburg.

People give and take-- a nice yin and yang.

Let's check out a few of the current contents:


Lifesavers, anyone?
Need an extra spoon?
Here's your opportunity.

If anyone knows Michele, you might want to tell her where her I.D. has ended up.

For more info on Colin's hilarious undertakings, I implore you to check out his website.

He's got to be one of the best things I've ever seen in art today in terms of humor and true creativity.

http://www.emceecm.com/

Check out his "moving" movies and "corner library" pieces as well.

Anyway, so, though I'm finding it a bit difficult as of late to keep up with regular highlights on the blog, I wanted to share with my readers as best I could some of the top Billyburg choices for viewing over the next week.

First up, a group show I mentioned a few posts back, "The Fall Season," at Jack the Pelican Presents.


I'm including for my readers what I consider to be the two best works in the show.

This work at left created by Chinese artist Li Wei is a photo that is so immersed in peril, I can barely describe or look at, given its subject material.

There's such panic and rapidity of motion through this work.

In many ways this classic horor movie staged piece reminded me of artist Charlie White's prefabricated alternative realities shot in an almost documentary format.

But instead of a pitifyingly tragic creature like "Joshua," Mr. Wei inserts this figure that's eternally between a rock and true impossibility into each of his pieces.

Fatalistic, and definitely nightmarish.

It's not often that a piece brings such a lack of control into focus-- something I think more artists should focus on, rather than trying to FORCE viewers into a fairly unhealthy lectured-to environment.

This just needs no explanation, and is what it is.

Moving to the next piece, and this just took my breath away.

Artist Graham Guerra here does a nice dissection of the modern human-- in terms of the realities of sexual "freedom," modern technology, brutal physicality and looming skies of doom all around us.

A show with a very nice take on where we currently find ourselves.

I believe the press release stated just that-- how the burgeoning gentrification of Williamsburg/Greenpoint puts it all into play, of how "the walls are literally crumbling around them."

It says a lot about the times of excess that we find ourselves in.

We are now in a retro Gordon Gecko-Dynasty laden reality on one side; "Mean Streets" redeveloping on the other.

Who will win out in the end?

Falling can be literal-- and certainly is at the forefront in each of these works-- but can also be figurative as well.

For the rapid rate of condo-ization mixed with abandoned lots around Roebling and Driggs, we are failing to keep development in check, yet with each new construction, we lose a piece of history and ourselves.

The back and forth of luxury condos being built directly next to public housing is truly maniacal-- and seems so forced.

I like that Jack the Pelican is trying its own version of a commentary on the situation it now finds itself in.

By the way, I also felt that the syringe and champagne glass are a great juxtaposition to include.

The exhibit runs until October 7th.

For more information, go to:http://www.jackthepelicanpresents.com/

****
Changing gears here, how about we get ourselves a nice cup of tea?

After all, it was 4pm on a Sunday afternoon from whence this visit came.

(again, hint to readers, Williamsburg galleries are open on Sundays. You CAN sleep in and still get up to see some great work)

Above, "Park Seed Mystery," acrylic on canvas

Take a look at this beautiful, glorious light infused piece by Wanda Taylor Remington at Ch'i Gallery on Grand Street.

Her stunningly beautiful exhibit, "Tall Tales and Love Songs," achieves so much in terms of bringing the viewer into her pieces, letting you experience such tranquility and lush detail.

Gorgeous flow and color here-- it brings to mind the most detailed tapestries of the orient, and/or a floral arrangement that I could find in the sunniest of sun rooms.

I liked this work because it was so simple and decorative, almost like a late summer's garden in England.

When did art stop being about beauty, anyway?

This is a nice throwback.
Great piece.

I believe Ms. Remington's pieces also have such a calm nature to them, and she reflects that her grandchildren have been a great inspiration to her as well.

Though the art at Ch'i certainly tends towards the conservative, and my own personal tastes usually do not, I just loved every bit of this show.

Take a look at this closeup of the intricacies and patterns at play...





For more information, go to:

http://www.chicontemporaryfineart.com/

The exhibit is up through October 8th.

***

Next, let's go to the Hogar Collection gallery, and some nice paper sculptures with unique color combinations.

This is artist Michelle Forsyth's first solo exhibition in New York.

In many ways, almost an origami-like abstraction; in others, I feel like this could be a trophy on a pedestal, or more aptly, the Golden Snitch that flies through Quiddich games, tempting the persuer onwards, always onwards.

Victory certainly awaits Ms. Forsyth, and rightfully so.

Her pattern making and earth tone combinations are a great team here-- and in many ways, the dimpling of the piece reminds me of a soccer ball.

Perhaps the World Cup is still on my memory's surface, but I really liked the angles achieved here.

I also loved the mosaic tile inlay patterns in the wall prints.

Fantastic detail here.

Once again, let's just say I enjoyed this exhibit as well, because-- lo and behold-- it brought beauty back into art.

Now, don't yell at me just yet for stating that art "should be about beauty," because I know it serves a much greater place in today's world and rightfully so.... but truthfully, well-made "statement" art is getting harder and harder to come by.




And I also have noticed how many of the pieces I've reviewed over the past 10 months have been primarily "statement" based.

But honest to god, what is wrong with art that is well-made, requires great trade skill, is colorful, sensual, lovely, quaint, eye-catching and there's that word again-- beautiful?

I say, NOTHING.

So there.

None of these works addressed societal ills, abandonment, protest, complacency, or the far-reaches of iced over hearts, but man, did my face light up when I saw them.



For more information, please visit:
http://www.hogarcollection.com/

The exhibit will be up until October 15th.

I found Hogar to be quite a charming little space, very off the beaten path, but well worth the venture.

A day in Williamsburg can certainly be life-affirming, in terms of getting one back into what art is all about-- seeing as much as possible, and learning as much as possible from your experieces.

**

On a much different note is artist Mark Stillwell's takeover of Front Room.

Now, I won't say much here-- because I've seen exhibits similar to this before, but any man who can make a living, breathing, darling robot out of a box of KOTEX has truly won my heart.

Maybe I've lowered my standards, (I always vow to not like "garbarge art") given that this has about as much to do with my previous choices as liver and strawberries, but hey, diversity is the spice of life.

As much as the previous artists I've mentioned in this post have been about letting go of control, intricacies of pattern and a sheer forray into beauty, this exhibit is all about fun.

Take a look at just a few of the whimsical creatures and world of miniatures that Stilwell has created.

Even his name (Stilwell, like the main Beach Road) conjures up imagery of fantastic weekends spent at Astroland amusement park at Coney Island.

If you go, check out the water bottle centipede-- it's truly creepy.

Now, if only little American boys grew up with Excellence, by L'Oreal, army tanks of mass destruction, the world just might be a better place.

After all-- how much harm can it do?

Make your hair have extra shine, body, and brilliance?

I say sign me up for this brigade pronto!

And who wouldn't want to go for one more ride on the Wonder Wheel before Thor Equities changes the Coney Island we've all loved through the ages for good?

For more information, go to:
http://www.frontroom.org/