Friday, March 30, 2007

F Word Part Deux

Ah, yes. Where was I again?

Oh, right... "The F Word" and its many meanings and interpretations.

At right you're looking at Susan Paul Firestone's "Daphnae" work.

This is a segment of her assemblage that really caught my eye.

Firestone has laid little trinkets in a plexiglass box, and swaddled them in a glorious red fabric.

It's always interesting when you see art in miniature.
In this case, she's putting elements from her childhood into a box.

There's something about how we collect things and then put them away for "safety's sake."
The porcelain make-up of this work seems quite fragile compared to its basis, Giambologna's legendary "Rape of the Sabine." (see below)

Placing an image of such grandiosity into miniature once again removes the imposing threat.

I've commented before on how size influences interpretation, and this certainly does not lie.

The other beautiful thing about Firestone's placement is how the stark white and tiny shells brings to mind evolutionary elements-- from the sea we come-- the nakedness of the bodies forcing their way up and out, much like Venus from the seafoam.

A truly beautiful piece-- the sensual reds and whites in perfect unification.

Next up, work that really struck home, Gina Gibson.

I've done several conceptual exhibits myself before on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-- specifically "Hoarders."

The minds, in these cases, cannot control a compulsion of "collecting"; always needing more, and not being able to separate what is needed from what is not.

These examples here are much more an accumulation of "Things" or "Stuff."

The disorganization is heart-wrenching, as well as the artist's and her fiance's family members in the photos.

As opposed to Firestone's safely-encased and well-laid-out mementos, you feel so much might be damaged or lost here-- clothes and books left precariously out in the open-- soon to be beyond repair.

As a child of a hoarder, this hits home very hard, but I must say Gibson does a fantastic job at capturing the 1970's wood-panelled dark interior along with the light flooding from the windows.
Stunning work that captures familial pain and its elements of souls lost amidst endless clutter.

Next up, my first photo posted from the other day, the video piece of Janet Biggs, "Amanda on Top, Twins Below 1996."

I couldn't help but be mesmerized by her undwater takes of the twins frolicking in the pool together-- inner tubes keeping them afloat; waists turning; legs kicking back and forth in fruition.

I was reminded of so many times as a child where the kids of the neighborhood would put on their swimsuits and do handstands at the bottom of the pool and compete to see who could do the best synchronized swimming, like little Ethel Mermans cavorting about.

I feel it is a beautiful and somewhat romantic vision of tiny ladies that cloaks the dangers of what may pass.

Finally, I don't want to say that as a reviewer I bow to outside pressure, but since I got a wonderful comment from one of the many fine ladies in this show, I'd like to also include her work at right.

This is Brenda Oelbaum's "Osama's Bin Degraded," a 2004 photograph edition of 5.

I have to admit, at first glance I didn't think much of it given its political nature (I tend to roll my eyes at statement art) but upon closer look, I like it less as that and think of it much more as a homage to the tacky.

In this case, "tacky" is 9/11's 24/7 media coverage mixed with a cheap "throw" rug-- one that will be stepped upon, and the cheapening of the woman at right.

Freshly waxed legs, blood red polish-- (most likely Maybelline, judging by the bottle.)

It feeds into multiple female stereotypes and spits them back out at us in defiance.

The woman takes the place of the terrorist here-- assaulting Bin Laden's self-created God-like image.

She is a one-woman soldier bent on disobeying the Taliban's or Islamic fundamentalist view of what a woman should be.

Yet perhaps her independence is a fraud itself.

For how can a woman truly be independent when she plays into our own society's version of what a woman should be-- soft-legged, artificially enhanced or made-up?

I feel that it poses a lot more questions than answers, but this is what I like the most about this work.

Art that challenges is always the best.

For that, I give Barbara a two thumbs up and a "You Go, Girl."

Forgive me for my 1999 references, but alas, it's been a long week.

Enjoy the weekend, art lovers!

Lamgelina Over and Out

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What F Word? There's usually only one...

The "F Word." It brings many connotations to mind-- primarily that of something unspeakable.

Interestingly enough, in the art world, just as in many other "occupations" there's the glass ceiling for those lacking a certain... well... how do you say... "something."

Curated by Carol Cole Levin, "What F Word" brought together some of the top young female artists in the art world today at Cynthia Broan Gallery in Chelsea.

Broan, a gallerist I met during the Scope New York fair, struck me as a woman with a mission.
She has a liveliness about her that when she speaks of her artists and the art exhibited at her gallery, you know it's coming straight from the heart.

(Image above right, video still of Amanda Biggs "Amanda on Top, Twins Below, 1996)

Interestingly enough, earlier the same day I went through about 10 other galleries.

Only two had employees who would even DARE to acknowledge my existence.
As a former gallery assistant, I find it interesting in many ways how members of the art scene cluster around in a certain clicque, yet I find it hysterical that as soon as the wallet is opened, or the designer digs drape upon the body, those people behind the desk take notice.

Cynthia, on the other hand, is there for the art-- nothing more, nothing less.

So this exhibit had a special significance for me in several ways.

I am a woman in a man's world-- the financial world, to be precise, for my day job-- but through this blog I find myself dabbling in the art world on its outskirts, trying to make my way in through tiny increments.

I think this show could be one of those increments for the artists involved as well.

Let's start off with the quirky mixed media work of Jennifer Viola.
A 2002 MFA from School of Visual Arts, Viola takes the "F" word literally, with her works translating into universal sign language for "F WORD" spelled out.
Jennifer has a unique sense of humor about her.

I like how each of these works takes on issues of feminitiy and mixes them with cartoon-like mirth.

Viola seems to always be quick with a comeback and has a sharp eye for detail with her other work-- ceramics that literally have fingers stretching out like abandoned apendages from a Tim Burton film.

It was a nice chance for me to see some of her more illustrative work, and she definitely came out as one of the best of the entire show.

Next up, another 2002 SVA grad, video artist Kate Gilmore.

I'm never quite sure of what to expect with her work-- sometimes I relate quite easily to her subject material and can understand where she's going with it.

Her videos usually place her into situations where she finds herself either in danger of being physically hurt, or does impossible tasks that are futile in nature.

Something about them screams Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or trying to prove one's self against great odds stacked to the ceiling (literally, in some cases, where she's climbed precariously up mountains of chairs; or rollerskated up a wall dripping in chocolate to reach a cake prize).

But this video was fairly simplistic-- eating a mound of cut raw vegetables-- carrots, peppers, tomatoes-- and then spitting them out at the camera.

For the first time, I didn't really "get it."

Was Gilmore commenting on eating disorders? Bullemia? Images of women starving themselves for acceptance?

Or was it once again a task of "futility" as Cynthia mentioned?

I wasn't sure.

So for this time, I'll have to get it two thumbs sideways-- just because my brain began to hurt while trying to comprehend.

Next up, how about a little protest action, a la Che Guevarra?

Shay Nowick's "F It."

Here there is a holy book, and a transferring of a key-- perhaps a key to a safe, to someone's heart, or the key to existence?
Again, I'm on a literal sense myself here, but the thing I like about this the most is its criminal element and the power it possesses behind it.
They are the 21st Century Converse All Stars Thelma and Louise, and I like it... I do.
The only thing I would change is there must be a Mexican Wrestling Mask in there somewhere waiting to make an appearance with their next heist.

Great stuff.
Part two of my review will have to come on Friday-- since that male dominated day job is taking up a lot of time this week-- but there's still lots more to come from this group exhibit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Back and ready to roll, here comes Andrew Sendor

Every once in a while an event happens in your life that makes you take stock of everything you've ever known, experienced, or hope TO experience.

I've just gone through a personal loss in the past week with my grandmother's passing, but there's lots of art still to review in my own future.

I thought to myself, "Which should go first?"

Well, this was a no-brainer, given the artist's subject material.

At left, Andrew Sendor's brilliant foray into childhood melancholy, "Is there more to life than bread, blood & bicycles?" at Caren Golden Fine Art.

I was immeidately struck by Sendor's ability to juxtapose the commonplace sorrowful faces of turn-of-the-20th century photography with modern pop colors and design.

Each child is so precious, it actually brings to mind my own grandmother's pictures as a child.
(See image at right.)

There's such a loss of innocence throughout life.

These images capture such a moment that is fleeting.

Sendor's strength is definitely in his ability to encapsulate that moment of true purity; a quiet, wide-eyed enthusiasm for the future.

The little girl above seems all dressed up, but with nowhere to go.

Rothko-like gradiants of color beam about her, enveloping her very soul.

In this image below, Sendor again designs images of children similar in the ways the old Spanish masters would, (Think Velasquez's "Las Meninas") and makes us think of them as "lost little souls" in a dark, lonely and foreboding world.

Check out more of Sendor's work at Golden's website.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tuesday March 27th the blog returns

Until then, I leave you with this legendary photo of my grandmother in her prime.

Just to let everyone know, thank you for the kind wishes you've emailed.

Your support means everything to me.
You can check out more fun at my flickr page in the meantime...


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Death in family

Hello, readers.
Unfortunately, I am currently unable to make new postings for the forseeable future.
I am on the road for a family emergency.

Lots of reviews to come-- Saturday was a huge gallery visit day-- so please continue to check back-- most likely Sunday or Monday will have my next post.

In the meantime, please keep my grandmother in your thoughts and prayers.
She always encouraged me with my own art and writing, and had great taste in art herself.
She is the reason I am who I am today.

In Loving Memory, Conale H. Lambert, July 1, 1917- March 19, 2007
Lamgelina Oly-- aka (Olympia Lambert)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gallery opening of the week-- Christopher Tanner

Opening tonight, Christopher Tanner "How High the Moon" at Pavel Zoubok Gallery, 533 West 23rd Street.


Review to follow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

One of those "loose ends" I promised

Running short on time today, but I wanted to remember to post regarding an artist I cannot believe I left off my Pulse review.

Frank Breuer's work struck me as some of the best in terms of its images of abandonment and stark loneliness.

Visions of a post-Cold war utopia gone wrong-- but on U.S. soil.
Backs of containers, close ups of "Big Box" architecture-- all-encompassing structures that from certain angles begin to take on new dimensions.

In this case, I see a different reality--perhaps an old covered bridge in Vermont, or barn in the midst of a field.

The eye is playing tricks on you.

There's such a palpable disconnect to his work-- visions of huge lines in giant warehouses waiting for the last loaf of bread.

Perhaps his take on a heavily feared Armageddon waiting to happen.
Breuer is repped by Fiedler Contemporary from Cologne, Germany.

These photos were all taken in New England-- Massachusetts in particular-- during Breuer's tenure as a visiting lecturer on Visual and Environmental studies at Harvard University.

At left is an area of Somerville best described as desolate, towards the Charlestown and Chelsea lines.

It is best left to the imagination what goes on at night. in this parking lot.
Some troubling work that doesn't let me sleep well upon second look.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ode to the memory of Providence's Fort Thunder

It seems just like yesterday a group of 20-something Bostonians descended one late Saturday night down I-95's New England corridor in an overpacked Nissan for some scenester action in good ol' neighbor Rhody's backyard.

I like to term this the era of not just Sebadoh, but Sentridoh, and more Folk Implosion album releases than Brooklyn has 99 Cent stores.

Over the past few years, I've found bits and pieces of websites that paid tribute to one of the most interesting collaborative art spaces to ever exist--Fort Thunder.

Unfortunately, most of the links are now outdated, so here's what I've been able to piece together.

Initialized by a renegade group of RISDI students, it became known as THE place to go to see the best underground indie music and edge-scraping art.

I'll never be able to do the visuals proper justice, but imagine for a second if you will, the darkest of old brick mills-- a 200-pound steel door echoing a sonic boom upon your entry.

You are led up 5 flights of stairs-- at each stoop, groups of rail-thin youth clad in bell-bottom cords and Silver Apples t-shirts greet your entrance.

Suddenly we turn to the right-- we enter a recording studio and loft that houses no less than 1,200 overgrown plants reaching to heavens of the 20-foot tall windows.

There's a small hallway.

You walk further... you encounter a ceiling drooped low with thousands of mangled cupie dolls in various stages of undress-- wigs and hair fall at your being-- you can easily touch each tassle that brushes against your skull.

You're led into a new room... this one, the "bicycle room"-- again, hundreds of bicycles and their parts in permanent levitation awaiting your gaze.

Next, there is a small wooden platform.

You walk and walk... and suddenly you realize it is a ramp upwards to the ceiling... you crouch... you hunch over... your back hurts.

Inching along, you are the White Rabbit in a Wonderland lit with solitary lava lamps... crawling ever so slowly, you are enveloped in a mesh tunnel-- the short walls seem to close in around you.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel-- you enter a hole no bigger than 2 feet wide. You must stretch your arms out first, and push your way through.

(I'm guessing the Providence Fire Department didn't approve...)

You are now within a black light illuminated teepee with dayglo tribal masks staring back at you, scaring the living bejesus out of you.

Upon your hastened exit, you must go back through the rabbit hole, inching your way down until you have numerous tapestries and a plastic slide launch you out the exit, now back to the very beginning.

Much in the way children take their cardboard boxes or bedroom sheets and make them into hideaways, Fort Thunder seemed to grasp the excitement enjoyed by the element of hide and seek in ways we can't begin to imagine.

Eventually Fort Thunder's artist/performance/noise art/musicians formed a collaborative known as Forcefield, and stomped through the 2002 Whitney Biennial, leaving its board of directors aghast and bad boy director Maxwell Anderson without a job.

Anderson ruffled a lot of feathers during his tenure, but in my opinion he's probably the best director they ever had-- see Bitstreams link.

I personally do not think much of artists' imaginative abilities when they use baby dolls, primary colors, "junk heaps," hair, sheets and general disarray as the basis for their work, but something about Fort Thunder was able to make each of these elements gel and not feel cliched.

(Hello every album cover from 1992-1997-- Riot grrls, you're wanted in this regard-- Barbie girls in a Barbie world-- or setting fire to the like.)

Unfortunatley, I just recently missed an ode to this fantastic era at RISD, "Wunderground."

I highly recommend clicking this link and taking the slideshow tour, including the fabulous poster works of Mat Brinkman and Jim Drain.

("Ceylon Mange" by Mat Brinkman, 2001 at right)

It really captivates and is able to transport you back to an era that many of us early to mid-30 somethings look fondly upon.

Sad to reveal, but nowadays the old grounds of Fort Thunder only hear the sounds of lead-footed soccer moms instead of distortion pedals-- it's a strip mall.

Enjoy the time portal.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Artist Julian Montague and strange book titles

I couldn't help but notice in today's news a mention of my favorite purchase for all of 2006, artist Julian Montague's "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification."

It currently is in first place on 's annual competition for "oddest title of the year."
(go ahead and vote, why don't ya?)

Even though some might find it a bit disturbing to put forth so much effort into the classification of these anthropomorphic scions of Americana and post-industrialization, I found Montague's book and exhibition last fall at Chelsea's Black and White Gallery to be some of the freshest, most hilarious work I've ever seen.

Who hasn't walked by a sad and lonely damaged cart at the edge of a giant superstore's parking lot and thought, "Not much longer til he's a goner. It gave its all, and now it's to the scrapheap."

(this little guy at left has it a bit better than other leftovers-- being in Hawaii)

Interestingly enough, it seemed ingrained into much of the Boston University undergraduate community in the early 1990s-- especially those of the Allston-Brighton student slums-- to... ahem... how shall we say... "borrow" the carts of the Purity Supreme on Harvard Avenue.

Technically the Allston-Brighton contingent were crossing over into tony Brookline, Mass., taxpayer territory, but these little metal warriors would end up collecting many a love seat, good-old Mac II, or Fender bass amp and lovingly transport it to a new home.

Perhaps the student body was just too cheap to pay for vans or movers-- but many a time if a shopping cart was not involved, it would instead be the T Green Line trolley that would benefit from the September 1st move-in crowd.

(Carts were always a step up from the T.)

Either way, Montague has come up with an ingenius classification system; a Class A-- "False Strays," and a Class B- "True Strays."

Within each subclass are a multitude of possibilities ranging from-- (here's just a quick sampling):

1. complex vandalism (much higher dedication needed to pull off-- usually a far distance from the cart's original site);
(see image at top of blog-- cart is upside down in frozen residential pool)

2. naturalization (the cart is becoming one with nature-- a natural reef, for instance);

3. plow crush at source (using Buffalo, New York, as a prime example-- many carts get buried under in the winter);

4. bus stop discard (the transportee has used the cart to get to his next means of transport, and thus is left at a transit hub.)

5. personal property (the bandit has made off with the cart and now uses it for his own personal benefit.)

6. or my personal favorite, just random "simple vandalism"; Kudos to the crew who did the one below.

All in all, I hope Montague continues to track down more carts; maybe eventually moving into the "abandoned stove"; "refrigerator with no doors on random Bushwick sidewalk"; or "tire left in retention pond" uncharted realm.

I leave you with the lyrics of one of my all-time favorite songs celebrating the love of inanimate objects-- Evan Dando's "Stove."

See you soon.

The gasman came
took out our electric stove
I helped him carry her
He told me he had been a prize-fighter once
Shuffled her through and out the door
We walked back in talked about his boy at U.V.M.
And we began to put the new stove in
But I miss my stove
She's all alone
Call it love
She's been replaced
I miss my stove
She's all alone
She's right out front
And looks a mess
Unwanted guest
We lied to her
I miss my stove
Feel sad I guess

I know I shouldn't think about it anymore
What's the point?" you say
But I'm reminded each time I walk out my door
My stove is gone to stay

He walked back in talked 'bout his boy at U.V.M.
And we began to put the new stove in
But I miss my stove
She's all alone
Call it love
She's been replaced
I miss my stove
She's all alone
She's right out front
And looks a mess
Unwanted guest
We lied to her
I miss my stove
Feel sad I guess

Friday, March 9, 2007

Scope New York- Part 3 of 3

Winding down, I'm faced with the daunting challenge of finishing up this series of reviews on the New York art fair weekend.

It's been difficult given the multiple number of galleries and talent involved in this process.

Next week I vow to tie up any loose ends, but for now, let's just say I'm proud of these final three inclusions in my "Best of Scope New York" finale.

First up, from Charlie Smith London comes painter John Stark's lingering moment of terror, "The Loss of Innocence."

This piece clings to our basic instinct of fear and showcases the utter fragility of humanity against nature's penultimate power.

I'm reminded of the haunting imagery of Sir William Blake, or the perspective of Aubrey Beardsley's Dragon illustrations.

All elements of life and hope is drained from this work-- the tonalities of grays and charcoals descend upon us attached to the talons that are sinking into the victim's soul.

It is a survival of the fittest scenario gone terribly wrong.

I must say this was the darkest piece I could have dared to have found at Scope.

I feel lucky to have encountered this work before I left-- after all, my being the ultimate Goth girl-- play any Bauhaus, Siouxsie or Smith tune along to this work and you'll get this picture.

Next up, an artist I actually met at Pulse, Christian Maychack.

Maychack was working the booth for Manhattan's Jeff Bailey Gallery on 25th Street, but I'm choosing to include his work instead in my Scope review for one simple reason: Gregory Lind Gallery is Maychack's primary gallery in his home of San Francisco, AND the works that Lind displayed were far superior in quality and "scope" to that at Pulse.

The wood molding seems to cradle the modeled end piece as a mother would a child-- the angle makes it feel fleshy and earthy-- though futuristic at times with the space-age magic sculpt, it plays on finding new formations and crevices in each turn.

The tiny "arm" included at the end is a nice touch-- an arm desperately holding on to another arm.

Perhaps given the geographical emulation of Cape Cod in the above work, it also brings to mind the work of Boston artist Greg Mencoff's minimalist wooden sculptures.

(to see my comparison, click here)

But Maychack goes a bit further into the realms of Matta-Clark and construction principles.

I also find several elements of Matthew Barney thrown in as well.

This ribbon-like quality is so sensual in its makeup.

It is like the folds of a lover's skin on his side, a gentle collapse into each other intersecting as one.

The captive moon rock formations are locked in-- to never be released.

In a way, this could be the work of Rodin if he lived today-- a permanent embrace never to be escaped.

Finally, my Best of Scope 2007 award, performance artist Jason Metcalf.

Next week I plan on uploading video of this artist in action.

In the meantime, this will have to do.

Metcalf, a 2006 recipient of the Scope emerging artist grant performed in a portable "A House on Wheels."

Locked safely inside a small house the size of a child's toy car, at one side is a sort of vending maching slot where you purchase the transaction-- in this case, a limited edition of an actual piece of art created by Metcalf in process.

Just like an angry Coca-Cola mahine, sure enough your dollar bill is spit right back out.

Upon smoothing it out, over and over, it will slightly pull in, then back out... eventually clicking through.

Then, racing to the other side of the house, through a small window you can see Metcalf feverishly at work.

Down a chute comes your purchase-- a tiny piece of modeling clay sculpted into a curl locked inside a plastic container.

It felt almost like a gumball machine, but in this case, I was the collector in the process of commissioning my artist to be a kind of personal two-minute interval slave.

An exceptional idea and execution as well.

I now am the proud owner of a tiny piece of expertly-fashioned modeling clay, and I paid only $2 bucks.

Eureka!--The folks at Sotheby's and Christie's don't know what they're missing!

See you next week.

Lamgelina over and out.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Scope New York Review Part 2 of 3

Cue MC Beck Hanson's slide bass...

"In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey
Butane in my veins and I'm out to cut the junkie
With the plastic eyeballs, spray-paint the vegetables
Dog food stalls with the beefcake pantyhose
Kill the headlights and put it in neutral
Stock car flamin with a loser and the cruise control
Babys in reno with the vitamin d
Got a couple of couches, sleep on the love-seat
Someone came in sayin I'm insane to complain
About a shotgun wedding and a stain on my shirt
Don't believe everything that you breathe
You get a parking violation and a maggot on your sleeve
So shave your face with some mace in the dark
Savin' all your food stamps and burnin down the trailer park
Cut it.
Soy un perdedor
Im a loser baby,
so why dont you kill me?

It's not often that a song is able to sum up a piece of art in totality, but this would be that one occurence.
The only thing I could possibly add about Chuck Agro's fantastic simian offering is that he must be the be-all-and-end-all hero to Christopher "Chris" Cross, the truly hopeless son on Seth MacFarlane's brilliantly written "Family Guy."

Espousing absolutely no direction, and certainly no clue, Agro is able with a single brushstroke to capture the essence of culture and throw it back at us with an empty-eyed essence, leaving me satisfied and full.
Not only did Agro have the funniest piece in all of Scope, but the friendliest and most genuine dealer in Cynthia Broan.

Broan appeared to genuinely care about getting to know each of her visitors and took the time out of a very busy day to chat my friend and I about Agro and some of her other roster.

Next week I'll highlight the current show at her 29th Street Gallery, "What F Word?" but for now, let's just say meeting her was one of the biggest delights of my Scope Sunday.
Speaking of "big delights," this posting today is doing most of the work for me with my photos.
I mentioned yesterday that nothing is more pure than art through the eyes of a child.

Well... here you go.

Who says iPods are toys only for grown-ups?

This baby girl spent minutes mesmerized by dNASAb's "iPod Ecosystems" exhibit.

The setup is a hardware video synthesizer with fiberoptic components that vibrate and move to the music.

It's not necessarily music, per se, but it operates on pure energy.

Mr. or Ms.?? NasaB is able to give us a nice commentary on how technology has taken over our lives in marginal increments and is now ingrained in us as much as the telephone.
I think of an iPod forest with dragonflies fluttering about-- landing on lillypads, dancing about to the newest download.
Very innovative and certainly strange at the same time.
I wanted to almost pet the creations myself-- it definitely has a "reach out and touch" vibe to it.
A great piece of work, as well as colorful.

It also shows me how much design plays in marketing concepts-- if something can hold the attention of a baby so ingeniusly... well, it must be ingrained in us from birth to like shiny new things.

Looks like we're victims of consumerism from cradle to the grave.

Moving on to something with about as many appendages as dNASAb's creations is the work of Scope Miami's 2006 Emerging Artist Grant recipient Tomas Rivas.
Rivas' work is lovingly crafted by carving out pieces of drywall.

Here you're able to see the decorative arts mix alongside elements of Ancient Greece and Rome.

I like how each sculpted piece has a floral touch; almost hibiscus-like in its ornamentation.

It also reminds me of the works of legendary coutouriers such as Christian LaCroix, or Gianni Versace's early goddess gowns of the '90s.

Maybe I still have ingrained in memory the Annie Liebovitz photo of Nicole Kidman under the stage spotlights posing in that gorgeous white ostrich feather gown-- but there is true glamour in this work, not just odes to Corinthian, Doric and Ionic columns.
Rivas is dutifully represented by Douz and Mille Gallery from Bethesda, Maryland.

Finally, for this go around, (keeping on the multiple limb theme) comes the horrifying octopi-like work of Chakaia Booker, represented by West 57th's Street's Marlborough Gallery.

I'm usually not one to like art that is made through "recycled means."

In this case, our medium is some nice Goodyears (or maybe Firestones?)

Each appendage is a nightmarish vision-- I'm reminded of the creatures from "The Matrix," with their spiderlike arms on the attack; or perhaps the alien from "Alien" on its way to devour a new host from the inside-out.

Creepy, and very ably constructed by Booker.
It's one thing to learn how to bend metal and clay into formations representing the subconscious, but rubber tires must be a whole other ballgame.
The ladies who lunch on 57th Street must run screaming into the night (or at least Bergdorf's) at sight of this.
Fantastic work.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Scope New York Part 1 of 3 - The Art World Strikes Back

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away there lived an art fair that captured the essence of newness so deeply, so lovingly... cherished it so intensely... that all the naysayers expired and moved on to other pressing tasks at hand-- like which flight to book to the calendar's next biennial.

And so we turn our attention from Pulse to Scope New York.

I find it an arduous task to place art festivals into competition against one another, (it's very "The Most Dangerous Game-ish") but truth be told, Scope New York is a much larger three-ring-circus in terms of sheer capacity and volume than Pulse.

So on Sunday, the second to last day, I ventured forward with a newfound purpose-- to truly scrutinize what it was all about-- and I came out of Scope invigorated with a fresh new outlook on what art can mean for an individual.

(Daniel Jackson's "10000 To a Point Somewhere Blues No. 4"-- Carter Presents, London, UK)

Not only did I find the works and galleries to be quite challenging, but an emaciated tightrope was being walked by the exhibitors-- sometimes I found they fell over; aping to the left or to the right just a bit too far.

The triumph is to be celebrated by those who achieved just the right balance.

I salute Scope's spirit in its challenge to bring new thinking to the art world at large and these are some of the best of the 2007 Scope New York fair.

First up, from the above image, is London's Carter Presents Gallery and exhibiting artist Daniel Jackson.

This pulsating kaleidescopic vision is created through a series of computer code language the artist has written.

It plays upon trickery-- in fact, upon my first glance, I thought for certain there was multiple gradients of blue that kept pulling me in.

In fact, it is a monochromatic inkjet-- with each line spaced according to 1's and 0's.

The supernova effect calls to mind the special effects framework of so many science fiction films-- there is a cagelike structure to every color and texture that goes on the screen-- whether it be "Star Wars" or "Shrek."

Jackson is one of a number of artists who is whetting his proficiency in the digital realm.

After all, this being the 21st Century, isn't it refreshing to see art that will hold your interest in a format other than the traditional realm?

I give a big "cheerio" to Jackson and Carter, and to any anti-technology bollocks sayers, "That went a bit 'tits up, wouldn't you say?"

Next, a Lilliputian fantasy come true--From Seoul, Korea, Janet Oh Gallery with a fanciful presentation of miniature landscaping, through the work of Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David.

Each work is exceedingly fragile.

Upon initial inspection, it appears that the exhibit lighting is casting perfect shadows of each tiny tree.

In reality, micro-thin aluminum cutouts are put in perfect place to work alongside the lights and structure of each cutout.

These works are so dainty and special, it genuinely brings to mind how much nature is mistreated by so many.

If each and every tree were this small perhaps humanity would hold them more dear.

The human element always seems to be about triumphing over adversity-- usually something that is "bigger" than us, yet we cherish anything minute-- children, puppies, flowers.

It's interesting to think about how size perspective influences our perceptions of the commonplace.

Ben-David's upbringing in Israel has also obviously influenced his work greatly.

I cannot help but think of the Mount of Olives and so many biblical stories' inclusion of the tree in promenance.

Turning to something much different, we come across Tokyo's Take Floor 404 & 502 gallery.

We are accosted almost immediately by the colors and Tower of Babel atmosphere of Japanese pop culture.

Is it possible for a felt teddy bear to assault a viewer?

Artist Soju Tao takes elements of '70s punk culture and mixes it with objects from childhool, all the while espousing certain elements of the past.

The felt assemblages above certainly call to mind cubist structures, if not an embrace of art at its purest form-- by that of a child.

Tao's wide-eyed innocence enthralls me-- but the imagery might have the subject matter of infancy, but the expressions on the faces of the works shows a greater depth.

A striking juxtaposition.

Next up, yet another strong Korean entry into the fray-- Seoul's Brain Factory gallery.

I found myself mesmerized by the work of Tom Lee.

A graduate of the Pratt Insitute, Lee makes his home in Brooklyn.

Working with paper collage on linen, Lee crafts imaginative pieces that are geometrically at war within the confines of the perfectly square canvas.

Each color represents a precise organizational preference of the artist.

With this work, I especially found the strong purple against the light hue at the bottom right hand corner to almost represent a stage-- amidst an orchestra of the absurd playing to an audience at the left.

Once again, my Star Wars theme-- I cannot help but think of the Max Rebo band in concert for Jabba the Hut.

Part 2 of my 5 part week review will come tomorrow for more Scope.

In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the warp speed!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Pulse New York-- Part 2

When last we saw our superhero, Lamgelinaoly had been mesmerized by the works of so much talent, so much detail, so much... well... sensory overload--she could barely contain herself.

Much like an overindulgent all-u-can-eat buffet, she knew deep down she's biting off more than she can chew, but she knew she must move on, for so much more beckoned!!!

Next on the hit list, 23rd Street's Pavel Zoubok Gallery-- in particular, the work of Christopher Tanner.

Remember the feeling you'd get when you'd go through your great-grandmother's jewelry box and say to yourself, "What in God's name was she thinking when she bought all this chachkas costume jewelry?"

Christopher Tanner evokes this emotion and so much more with his masterfully crafted mixed media collages.

Like a full-scale onslaught from Liberace's closet, I'm enthralled by the many hidden messages amidst the golden trinkets and silk-spun blonde hair, glinting mirrors reflecting back unto me with messages such as "The Prince of Hearts Who Stole the Tarts That Looked Like Tits."

There's so much humor that's missing in today's art world.

I feel that the most powerful of all gifts that artists possess is the ability to take a look inside themselves and see another side; one that is clever and celebrates its own cleverness.

Looking at "Nan Kempner," I must chuckle.

It brings to mind Nietzche's own braggadoccio, "Why I am so clever," "Why I am so wise."

If Tanner doesn't see these qualities in himself, I actually hope this blog helps him realize it.

Not only does he possess cleverness, but also craftsmanship.

Each of these photos are but small details of his works-- they are immense triptychs covered top to bottom in formations that the eye must continuously rediscover what it had missed the first go-around.

Sheer brilliance.

Next on our list, the always fabulous Paul Henry Ramirez, represented by San Francisco's Rena Bransten Gallery.

The way Ramirez captivates, these images are like Takashi Murakami if he had a soul.

Each droplet is a study in perfection-- perfection of color.

I love how the rings form out, much like a rain puddle or tree trunks, never truly dissolving, but a kind of coalescing.

The phosphorescent sheens gush forth in fountain-like bursts, forming networks not unlike human capillaries.

(see work detail below)

There's great sexuality in these works-- a release, if you will, of energy and passion--color here is representing the ultimate in eroticism.

Ramirez's smaller ink-designs have an almost Carroll Dunham-feel to them in their amorphous imagery.

(see image below right)

Next up, representing the "other side of the river," Brooklyn's own Parker's Box Gallery.

One standout in particular, Samuel Rousseau's "Plastikcity."

I can't help but think of the legacy Sim City has left on our youth society-- building our own subcultures and cities within a city.

Modern architecture seems to keep doing this very thing-- a constant on-the-go, with designs now holding us hostage, yet providing everything we need all in one place.

Think of the Chelsea condo towers now being built-- retail at base, restaurants, drug stores, banks; full-service gym; cocktail lounge; conference room; apartments; roof deck with pool.

Everything under the sun, under one roof.

Rousseau's little people move to-and-fro so rapidly, you find yourself dizzy just taking it in.

I like to note in the image above how there are only 4 exits at the bottom-- no way out, if you will, from the trap inside.

Very innovative, and very different from anything else at Pulse.

Nice job, Parker's Box-- Brooklyn represents!

Next up, my "Artist Best of Show" award to Chris Larson, represented here by Berlin's Magnus Muller Gallery.

Larson, a 1992 Yale MFA is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota.

I definitely did not expect to find a resident of the twin cities with such broad range.

In my previous post I noted how I find it rare to see a multidisciplinary talent.

Larson dabbles in multiple media formats-- photography, a shotgun-blasted gray guitar, and video.

In no uncertain terms, Larson's installation was the best of Pulse New York 2007.

He expertly takes commonly held perceptions of reality and turns it on its head.

The vignettes are shockingly quiet and cold.

A photo hangs above showing a dillapidated home in the distance-- windows hollow, no door; floating precariously on a lake.

You can see a table within.

There is an African American family sitting quietly at the dinner table; saying grace to the almighty.

Immediately your thoughts go to the forgotten victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Reliant only upon God, the lake represents a totality of isolation; an abandonment of a people; the guitar is destroyed-- no more music, no celebration-- the blues is no more.

To me it represents a homage to Picasso's own blue period, as well as a statement of the blues-- and the pains an entire segment of society has been forced to endure.

No words can quite describe the imagery unless you see it in the flesh.

I believe Larson will not be a forgotten voice in the years to come-- his being far too powerful.

Finally, my Best in Show Gallery Award.

I was inundated by so much at this event, my mind was spinning.

I needed to find something that truly stood out from the rest of the crowd.
The usual boredom-inducing white walls were problematic in this regard.

Suddenly I turned the corner.
This gallery solved this problem and much more.

I am now at ground zero-- tiny Ojai, California's Nathan Larramendy Gallery.

Larramendy traveled cross-country and brought a pleasant Pacific breeze to an otherwise Atlantic dominated event by way of some Florida birds-- Pink Flamingos, to be exact.

Cassandra C. Jones' limited edition art wallpaper boggles the mind.

Upon initial inspection, it appears you've found yourself in the Queen's parlor; Prince of Wales tea is soon to be served in the conservatory.

Then, eureka-- wait... uh... are those flamingos?

Legs and necks intertwine; an embrace that will last a lifetime-- or at least until the owner redecorates with a new interior designer.

But Jones is going towards commerce here as well as art.

It always gets me riled up when I hear artists not embracing the fact that they are their own business, first and foremost.

I believe Jones' work has sold out its entire edition-- and for good reason.

Today's buyers are not only looking to have something simply to hang on their walls-- we are past that-- they are looking at something that will BE a work of art; make their dwelling, and their entire world atmosphere part of the process.

Jones does just that, and is truly ahead of her time in acknowledging this.

Finally, Larramendy Gallery also had an entry that brought out more pathos of the horrors of the American south.

Travis Somerville recreates a scene that takes Harriet Beecher Stowe quite literally-- a noose with a piece of American flag jutting out in a ramshackle cabin.

The blackface imagery is truly shocking-- one that should stay with our culture as we seem to continue on a head-on collission course with destiny; the very blindfolds and hoods we used on the hanging victims of our past are now covering the eyes of our leaders.

A never-ending ouroboros, if you will-- how can the U.S. go on to a settled future if we do not make peace with our past?

A great work, a great gallery, great exhibit, and great art show.

Pulse truly upped the ante this year after a slightly disappointing 2006.

It will be interesting to see what 2008 will bring.