Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Long, long ago in an art studio far, far away...

Bummm.. Bumm....
bump... bump... bump... bahm bum.
bump... bump... bump... bahm bum.

Bump Bump Bump PAAAAA.

Un parte Trois, Tres, Tri... get ready, everyone... It's the premiere of The Musings' first ever...TRILOGY!!

Mind you, this comes very late in the game, but let's just say things have been shifting around quite a bit as of late, and I'm trying to hold onto some footing.

Either way, at the end of July I had a fabulous visit again with Johnny LeValley (at right in legendary Keith Richards mode) at his majestic 75 Greene Street studio space in Soho.

I watched him hard at work on some interesting new creations, and got the opportunity to once again look at some of my own personal faves of his that I had previously overlooked.

LeValley is also taking on an even greater role in not holding back on cultural and political commentary.

Much of his current work highlights how our nation-building destructive tendencies have overtaken the globe, with the onslaught of the good old U.S.of A. bringing globalization to each and every front door, whether invited or not.

There is no part of the studio space that is untouched by art-- even the toy soldiers take on a different meaning, given their placement on the mantelpiece to protect and destroy anything that crosses their path.

Also, this time around I took a really good hard look at Ksenia Hovden's paintings, and I must say her work is truly beautiful in its mastery of light, shadow, and in-your-face "fuck off" message.

Giving the finger never looked so good than at right.

Her hues of cold blues and purples here bring to mind a Bram Stoker nightmare, perhaps with some extra Eduardian cuffs-- that is, until you see the background of a LeValley work in the back.

It's a nice inclusion of a "piece within a piece," and highlights how Hovden and LeValley have such an ease and respect for one another in their working relationship as well as private.

Congratulations are in order for the couple, as they shortly will return to New York from their Norwegian nuptuals.

Also accompanied everywhere by Luna, the small grey gallery cat, the hour whizzed by as we discussed the meaning of art "scenes," the inspiration for his work, and his future plans for the reviving of Le Jungle.

If my mind moved literally 10% as much as LeValley's, I might have taken over the world by now, but alas, it woefully does not.

For Christ's sake-- check this pic out-- even the freakin' cat is an art lover!

(of course, canvas does hold heat in pretty well, I'm certain, so she's fairly comfy)

After this visit, I must state that the best quality about Mr. LeValley is his wide-eyed enthusiasm for art, and I keep looking, but can find no pessimism or bitter taste taking root, even if he has had some previous unfortunate experiences.

There is some serious positivity going here with him, and this is part of my fascination with him, his work, and the artists he surrounds himself with.

During our visit, this darling young lady-- Dory Disaster is her name-- came by and serenaded us with her ukelele and stunningly beautiful singing voice.

Where else in New York City, or this planet, can you go for a gallery/studio visit and also experience an impromptu concert?

10 stars for her, by far, (I loved her and her music) and am anxiously awaiting my next run-in with the young star in the making.

Sorry for the aside here, but that's what you can expect when you get to know LeValley and his traveling troupe of troubadours, court jesters, and art types of all backgrounds.

It truly is like Warhol's Factory has been recreated-- except this time the leader's not gay, far better looking and surrounds himself with down to earth beautiful people who take far less drugs.

But let's get back to the art.

Once again, as in this previous work from the past above, LeValley's strength is in layering and framework.

Take for instance, his interesting new series of works that utilizes a peacock symbol against a sunny, day-glo background with pinks and golds that seem to be a commentary on how our society trivializes serious subjects, such as war, famine, and death.

I love how LeValley frames the work with the crisscrossing lines.

It's a nice way to emphasize how there's many different viewpoints from whatever way you look at a subject-- whether it be a piece of art, or an issue of our culture at hand.

For instance, though our goverment continually says it wants peace, our actions speak much louder.

Again, the peacock shows itself as a facade for something much darker underneath the brilliant colors.

Nice job by LeValley with this series.

He's fast becoming an expert at storytelling with his pieces-- showing how pop culture takes over, and glosses over the ugly underbelly of corruption and hypocrisy with a candy-coated sheen.

Though the peacock may be a bird of visual beauty, it has a fairly violent temperament.

A Goddess of War, perhaps, as she seemingly floats over the desert, preparing for her next battle.

Next, let's look at my favorite work of Ksenia's.

I'm unsure of the titles of these works-- I'm hoping LeValley will provide them for future editing purposes.

In this piece, Hovden excels at transmitting the sheer visual power of two lovers locked in sensual embrace.

But though their bodies seem to coalesce as one, they are behind bars; a nice take on no matter how intimate our lives can seem, there's always something caging us in, whether it's self-inflicted or imposed through other means.

There's also quite a voyeuristic aspect to this work as well-- especially living in New York, where many of our bedrooms have these mechanisms to "protect" us and our belongings, or more accurately, "fence us in."

I also like to look at this piece and view it as a commentary on the beauty between two people in love.

Is modern city living making us view closeness as "trapping us in," or love as a "prison of the heart?"

Hovden is an expert at giving a nice flow to line of the bodies, totally at peace with one another, and grasping hands tightly in a moment of sheer passion.

Another nice piece of Hovden's is this little kitty work at left.

For some reason, with the exclusion of the head of the female homosapien variety, it is truly comical.

The expression on the cat's face is truly priceless as well-- "Get me out of here! Let me down!"

The only sexualizing here truly depends on your point of view.

The body here is quite muscular, and the athletic build of the thighs gives the viewer a bit of a surprise for such a suggestive image.

The shifting of the body to one side is also an aggressive stance.

Cat-calling, "Here, kitty, kitty," just might get the living crap beat out of you by this female.

Great piece.

LeValley and crew recently launched their new website for LeJungle and all the artists they have exhibited.

Check out the new site fun at http://www.loveisoriginal.com/

To view the previous trilogy posts...

(I like to call this the 'Sequel')

(The original)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Brooklyn Kaboom

It's been an admittedly slow end of August here at Da Muusings.

I apologize to anyone here for new reviews.

I certainly can promise that by September we'll be up and running as per usual.

In the meantime, I leave you with....




Last week we had the tornado move through my beautiful 'hood of Ditmas Park.

Thought I'd share with you guys some of the better photos I took.

As amazing as art installations can be, nothing can match the destructive power of Mother Nature.

Enjoy, and watch those branches overhead!

Upcoming reviews next week include Part III of my Johnny LeValley trilogy, and my take on performance artist Robert Appleton's "Midnight at the Oasis" one-man show at Dixon Place.

Talk soon!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Dirty Deeders Dash Snow and Dan Colen Not So Snow White at Deitch

Back in 2004, on a fairly regular basis, Ms. Lamgelina took part in something called the "Antagonist Art Movement," a collection of East Village neerdowells supposedly committed to "art at all costs."

At least that's what they put in their press release and "mission statement."

Needless to say, I found them in the end to be more committed to basement/bathroom/kitchen hijinks with the NY gliterrati rock scene and a certain snow white substance than to "art" by any means.

Each and every Sunday, I would take part in open mic readings, and a shadowy figure would appear in the rafters, taking up residence for the rest of the night in the kitchen.

Sometimes he would put on puppet shows through the plate pick-up window, or shout out a "Cray-zee" one-liner that would leave me in stitches.

He could always sing a good Beatles tune along with the drunken crew, and pick out some notes on the guitar.

This person was Jack Walls, (pictured above in his artist studio by Erik Foss, courtesy http://www.supertouchblog.com/) former Robert Mapplethorpe lover/model, and a true NYC institution.

Eventually I became so comfortable with my status in this boys club as to be the only female allowed in the kitchen to share a certain type of wacky tobaccy with Mr. Walls and friends.

Days later, my namby-pamby ass ended up in the e.r., losing 13 pounds in 6 days, and pretty much retired from that "art scene."

Keeping up with the Joneses is never advisable to a small town goody-goody, especially if the Joneses happen to be the Dash Snows of the world.

It was on that last trip when I remembered a certain long-blond haired scary looking young man tagging along with Mr. Walls, as well as a fellow-lanky pretty boy shaggy-haired trust funder.

Of course, what do you do when the top of the art world also suddenly starts elevating this "scene," and calls it "art."

Fast-forward 3.5 years, and I find that this trio is 2007's newest art world sensations-- Ryan McGinley, Dan Colen and Dash Snow-- who cite Walls as a "muse," or "cultural influence."
Sorry... excuse me for a second as I hold in my laughter.

Mind you, I love Jack-- He's truly awesome in every sense of the word "awesome."
Funny as all get out, intelligent, and gives it as good as it gets.

His demeanor apparently has even been spoofed through Tracy Morgan's legendary skit, "Brian Fellows' Safari Planet" on SNL. (see above stolen image, courtesy of Broadway Video, NBC)

But "artistic muse?" I don't think so.

Debauchery, treachery, and catty-comment brilliance, yes, but modern contemporary art laid claim to him?


Out of the holy trinity of artists listed above, only one of them can truly lay claim to TALENT, let alone superiority (that being the amazing photography of McGinley).

The other two are embarassingly sub-par artists of the variety of "Entourage's" Eric and Turtle.

So upon hearing of the "artistic influence" that Jack has supposedly had on Dash and Dan, I became highly suspicious.

Second bananas to McGinley no more, this week finds reviewers in a tizzy over Snow and Colen's coh... cool... KOH... COLA-BORE-NATION... (sorry, frog in my throat)... I meant "COLLABORATION."

What exactly is this "collaboration?"

Deitch Projects' "Nest" exhibition of Snow and Colen's infamous habit of "nesting," in various hotel rooms from their jet setting across the globe to high-end galleries and art fairs.

It's a fantastic concept when you think about it.

Binge drink in competition with your best buddy, do as many drugs as humanly possible, f*&* as many orifices as possible, piss all over yourself and each other, have other bodily fluids coalesce into a nasty paste, rip up phone books, bibles, or whatever paper you can get your hands on, use a magic marker to tag and trash your hotel room like the S.O.B.s you are, and become so freakin' out of it that you envision you're a "hamster."



You know what else can be deep?

Frat boys.

Because truth be told, I can find absolutely no separation between the culture Colen and Snow embody than your average University of Michigan hazing ceremony.

One of the historic separations between artists and the "regular population," (i.e., the sorority girls, the frat boys, the establishment), has been the loner, outsider quality of artists; or perhaps, sensitivity of deep thought and commitment to higher values of what art can accomplish.

This exhibit is not only debasing the value of what art is and can be, but through their coat-tailing of McGinley, eventually dragging down the value of his work as well.

Whereas McGinley shows heart and passion for his subjects, and places so much of his work in documenting those closest to him, Colen and Snow appear to be the ones who simply won the lottery in the networking department.

Since when does being the "best friends and roommates" of someone equate with being worthy of top gallery roster addition, let alone solo show?

Mr. Deitch, this is probably your worst show yet.

And I do worship Deitch-- and have long held it high in my regard, even though I know his two spaces go whichever way the youthful wind blows.

But in this case, it's a sad state of affairs.

The only thing it accomplishes is a coronation for these children of wealth and prestige, and gives them more wealth and prestige for doing the least possible work.

Mind you, it wasn't Snow or Colen who shredded 30,000 phone books-- no, it was those "30 volunteers."

The "artists" came late one night, spent their hard-earned drug money, pissed in the corner, laughed, and left.

Then they returned for a second night with more beers, more drugs, and more "creation," because of course they must have been "over budget."

Then they had top djs come in for the celebratory opening, along with a newborn baby girl arrive to Snow's cover girl model girlfriend, whose tiny belly at right on the invite at almost 8 months along says a lot about who these people really are.

This is probably the first exhibit that's really made me angry, but maybe that's what they're hoping to accomplish.

"Let's see just how much we can get away with before they put a stop to it."

Mind you, this is something truly lacking in these boys' lives, because this, after all, is what they are--permanent pre-pubescents who have never been required to grow up, and are being offered a silver platter for debasing space that could be used for much greater good.

Peter Pans out of control, and those in charge are reaping in the benefits of the collective destruction.

In closing, the final summation for these top gallery owners who keep up this charade... seriously, go to a rock show. Go see a real band. No, really.

Because you and I both know what natural milquetoasters most gallery owners, dealers and collectors truly are.

When faced with newbies such as a Snow, or Colen, or whoever, they immediately spring to mind, "This is so cutting-edge. So fashion-obsessed. So new. So ROCK and ROLL."

Spend a night with Rob Pollard of Guided By Voices, or Lee Ranaldo, or perhaps even play some soccer with James circa 1994, or share a beer with Marty Wilson Piper of The Church.

You will understand what rock and roll is really about, and understand a phenomenon called "Poseurs."

Colen and Snow are truly the Fall Out Boys of the art world.

Sadly disappointing, but definitely expected.

For more "cutting-edge" debauchery, go to http://www.deitch.com/

(All images here courtesy of Deitch Projects website, "Nest" exhibition, Dan Colen and Dash Snow, all rights reserved.)

(The opinions expressed above are those of Lamgelinaoly, and Lamgelinaoly alone.)