With my 1,000-balloon project and interest in happiness, I enjoyed learning about this UK artist’s project. It’s cool, ambitious, and experimental. And it’s about challenging fears. Welcome, 2017.

Noëmi Lakmaier, Cherophobia, 2016, a 48-­hour durational living installation with 20,000 helium party balloons.

Noëmi Lakmaier, Cherophobia, 2016. Photo: Grace Gelder // Source: East End Review.

“Cherophobia is a durational 48-hour live installation. It is an attempt to lift the artist’s tied and immobilised body off the ground using the force of 20,000 helium-filled multi-coloured balloons. Cherophobia is a performance and a gathering, a one-off event that intertwines people in their shared suspense and anticipation. It takes its title from a psychiatric condition, defined as ‘an exaggerated or irrational fear of gaiety or happiness.’”

“Commissioned by Unlimited, a festival celebrating extraordinary new works by disabled and Deaf artists, in September 2016.”

Checkout a sweet video. More project info at noemilakmaier.co.uk.

Sights

See: Noëmi Lakmaier’s Cherophobia

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Sights

See: Denim @ the Museum at FIT

Three garment exhibitions.

Lately, as part of a larger project, I’ve been researching garments, especially workwear. The more I learn about sewing, the more I realize what I don’t know and can’t yet do. Though I’ve sewn flags and banners, I’m thinking about more complicated items and garments. I have a long way to go, but it’s nice that even my modest experiences help me appreciate construction better.

Front: Reproduction of Claire McCardell's "Popover" dress, circa 1942, blue denim and red cotton. Also: denim jumpsuit, as women joined manufacturing for WWII.

Front: Reproduction of Claire McCardell’s “Popover” dress, complete with a matching oven mitt, circa 1942, blue denim and red cotton. Also: denim jumpsuit from when women joined manufacturing for WWII.

Denim: Fashion’s Frontier @ the Museum at FIT
Through May 7, 2016

Though it’s less than two blocks from the Center for Book Arts (where I’m a current resident; learn more about the AIR program at the 2015 AIRs’ exhibition, which opens tonight), I first visited this museum yesterday. They have good spaces, quality shows, and strong exhibition design; I look forward to seeing more shows there. I went for their exhibition on denim—one of the workwear fabrics I’ve been printing on. Here are a few thoughts:

  • The show is composed of garments from the museum’s collection arranged in chronological order. I was most intrigued by the earliest garments. The curatorial statements insisted that denim has been used for workwear for men and women since its earliest days, exemplified by a women’s skirt-set for work from 1912-15.
  • There’s a great video (though the audio is too quiet) about a pair of cotton pants with denim patches. A conservator explains the clues in the garment’s construction that helped her deduce that they were probably made in the 1840s. I love it when invisible museum work is made visible in this way.
  • Chambray became an official union shirt in the 1940s. The blue in “blue collar” probably comes from that. (Growing up as the daughter of a car mechanic, I’d associated work with stain-resistant synthetic blends that were dyed blue.)

The rest of the exhibition reviews how jeans became symbols of rebellion, and emerged as leisure, popular, and luxury goods. The connection to work became symbolic at best. Cheers to MFIT for providing an online exhibition.

Fairy Tale Fashion @ the Museum at FIT
Through April 16, 2016

Coming from the denim exhibition, with its theme of women’s labor, I couldn’t help but see this show’s content in an unfavorable way. The fairy tales here are Eurocentric (maidens with fair skin, gold hair as symbols of gold) and hetero-orthodox. (It’s 2016. I want heroines who kick ass like Ronda Rousey or Rey, who change the game like Missy Elliot and Awkwafina. Also, what’s up with the ageism of fairy tales? Why aren’t there ever evil maidens and heroic middle-aged women?) This show is not for me.

  • If you want to see beautiful gowns, dramatic capes, and nice beadwork, have a look.
  • I was impressed by the exhibition design. The space is underground, with very high ceilings. The exhibition designers did a great job using scrims and dramatic lighting to set a slightly menacing tone.
  • I noticed the use of the word, “sculptural,” to describe functionless elements that diverged from the silhouette or body. Coming from an art/sculpture point of view, it’s interesting to think that a three-dimensional object is not inherently sculptural, but becomes so after adding superfluous parts.

"Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro," at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center,  Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery. // Source: http://www.newschool.edu/

“Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro,” at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery. // Source: newschool.edu

Workwear/Abiti da Lavoro @ The New School/Parsons
Through April 18, 2016

This was also my first visit to the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center’s Kellen Gallery. While the FIT museum had carefully calibrated the lighting to preserve the garments, this space is an airy white cube with dramatic windows and plentiful natural light. I will visit again, as they’re clearly interested in pushing boundaries (check out the concurrent exhibition on mass incarceration).

  • I was intrigued by this exhibition of “garments for hypothetical, invented, coveted, imaginary jobs.” Unfortunately I felt underwhelmed by how little creativity was on display, how the speculation sometimes only made small leaps from present reality. These garments evinced whimsy, not reinvention. I am not sure that this is a valid critique—I think it comes out of an expectation that designers are technologists, and thus futurists. But sometimes designers are just designers. (I love the name of AIGA NY’s “monthly series of provocations where practitioners and critics discuss the changing nature of design and visual culture.” It’s “We used to ____, now we ____.” It’s a worthy prompt for designers and artists to consider.)
  • I was struck by how many garments were simply garments in recognizable silhouettes and forms—size o dresses, suit-shirt-slacks-tie—that were embellished to fit a theme—’girl who picks carrots,’ ‘girl who picks strawberries,’ for example. (Maybe I shouldn’t expect fashion to be less gender-binary, but I can’t help but feel disappointed.)
  • There was an outfit for a “Post-Fordist,” comprising of ready-made vacation separates, a laptop, and a Blackberry in a vitrine. I get that the banality of immaterial labor is what makes it so insidious, but that doesn’t mean creative work about it can’t be more interesting artistically.
  • Men’s ties suggest an outfit of rags under a shabby jacket—a garment for “a migrant”—in a particularly fraught misstep.
  • OK, I liked the exhibition design. An aluminum I-beam was suspended from the ceiling at an angle. Clamps on the beam held up monofilament, which allowed the garment to spin. It signaled the work theme and avoided a static display well.

Other observations:

The Garment District

One of my favorite things about living in NYC is access to all the garment district shops. The district near Hell’s Kitchen is so vital that shops can specialize in selling only one type of thing: linen, spandex, notions, textiles for men’s wear, textiles for quilting, etc. On occasion, I’ll stumble into a building full of garment industry services. Earlier in the week, I got to peek inside a huge embroidery studio. I felt so grateful that so much industry still happens in Manhattan. I hope these small businesses—and the workers doing such skilled labor—keep going strong.

 

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Impressions, Sights

See: Ebony Patterson, Gina Osterloh, Houseplants

Two shows I like, and one I’d like to see.

Through April 3, 2016
Ebony G. Patterson: DEAD TREEZ
Museum of Arts and Design, NYC

Ebony G. Patterson, Swag Swag Krew-From the Out and Bad Series // Source:  madmuseum.org

Ebony G. Patterson, Swag Swag Krew-From the Out and Bad Series // Source: madmuseum.org

A visually dense show of custom Jacquard tapestries embellished with glitter and toys, and an installation inspired by Jamaican dancehall dandies, shown in floral print-wallpapered galleries. There’s also a terrarium-like installation of the museum’s jewelry collection. [Full disclosure: I freelance here and helped install the show. And you know what? I really enjoyed meeting and working with Patterson—she was engaged, down-to-earth, and hardworking. Big points for learning the crew’s names and feeding us patties from Jamaica.] I’m excited about this show for MAD; I hope future programming reflects similar youthfulness, urgency, and color.

[This winter’s a promising time to visit. There are some amazing pots and insanely intricate minatures in the Japanese contemporary ceramics show. Takuro Kuwata’s pots are knock-outs.]

Through December 19, 2015
Gina Osterloh
Higher Pictures, NYC

Gina Osterloh, Press and Outline (still), 2014, b/w 16mm positive film, TRT 5:30 loop // Source: higherpictures.com

Gina Osterloh, Press and Outline (still), 2014, b/w 16mm positive film, TRT 5:30 loop // Source: higherpictures.com

[The solo show of a super talented and skilled friend from LA. She’s good; you don’t have to take my word for it.] Quiet, meticulously-crafted photos of paper-crafted sets exploring the body. A triptych of photos of hand-painted lines forming warped grids conjures an industrial bathroom floor or the subway; the queasiness of the distortion in the leftmost image seems to offer relief of the more rationally ordered grid in the right image. There’s a mesmerizing film of the artist tracing her own shadow on the wall—she’s framed at a distance, and the gestures are controlled, yet the experience is oddly intimate.

[Also, while you’re in the foyer at 980 Madision, take a minute to enjoy the large Ed Ruscha painting of three masted ships, courtesy of Gagosian.]

Through November 21, 2015
Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening
Sector 2337, Chicago

Sri Chowdhury, "Affected Painting," site specific installation, 2015. Wood, linen, oil paint, concrete, plants, light gels, shadows, ceramics, dimensions variable. Photo by Clare Britt. // Source: cocopicard.com.

Sri Chowdhury, “Affected Painting,” site specific installation, 2015. Wood, linen, oil paint, concrete, plants, light gels, shadows, ceramics, dimensions variable. Photo by Clare Britt. // Source: cocopicard.com.

If I were in Chicago I’d check out this show about how plants “trouble human structures.” It looks like a brainy show with a diverse array of approaches to this subject matter. While there, I’d also get to know Sector 2337, an artist-run gallery, bookstore, and press, as well as a modest studio residency program.

 

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​Susan O’Malley, Advice From My 80 Year-Old Self, 2015 // Source: Kala Art Institute.

​Susan O’Malley, Advice From My 80 Year-Old Self, 2015 // Source: Kala Art Institute.

Print Public
May 7 – June 27, 2015

Opening Reception: Thurs, May 7, 6-9pm
Open House: Sat, May 16, 12-5pm
Kala Art Institute, 2990 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA
Plus various events at Kala and the neighborhood

Taro Hattori
Taraneh Hemami
Susan O’Malley
Sue Mark
Swell
Imin Yeh

This is the exhibition and final phase of Print Public, a two-year place-making project along the San Pablo Avenue Corridor in Kala’s West Berkeley neighborhood.

Sights

See: Print Public @ Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA

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Sights

See: Art Season again

Though it feels like the dead of winter, there are lots of art shows and events on the horizon, on both coasts. 

Ortega y Gasset, the artist’s collective I am in, will have a new home at the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus! Exciting exhibitions are lined up for this Spring. Don’t miss them; sign up for updates!

3/13–4/12: Thinking & Touching Time, curated by Zahar Vaks, Ortega y Gasset Projects @ Old American Can Factory, Gowanus, Brooklyn

2015: Land and Sea’s project space, Oakland, CA:

AS A SPACE, LAND AND SEA WILL TAKE A STANCE TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD, BY USING OUR LITTLE PLATFORM TO PRIMARILY PRESENT WOMEN, LGBTQ AND FOLKS OF COLOR. ITS OAKLAND. ITS 2015. LETS SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

 

Little Syria Parade, in  Lower Manhattan’s first Arab-American neighborhood, envisioning an early-20th century Manhattan skyline.

Little Syria Parade, in Lower Manhattan’s first Arab-American neighborhood, envisioning an early-20th century Manhattan skyline.

2/25: Edge of Arabia presents Brian Zegeer’Little Syria Parade, Lower Manhattan
2/27–3/27: Michelle Blade: If the Spirit Moves You @ ‘Pataphysical Society, Portland, OR

2/28: Art + Process + Ideas (A+P+I) residency Open House at Mills College, Oakland, CA

 

Works on paper by Anthony Ryan (left) and Annie Vought (right).

Works on paper by Anthony Ryan (left) and Annie Vought (right).

3/6–28: Annie Vought & Anthony Ryan @ Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, San Francisco

Through 3/8: Trajectory @ Van Der Plas Gallery, LES, NYC

Through 3/19: Hydrarchy: Power, Globalization, and the Sea @ SF State Fine Arts Gallery, organized by Mike Arcega

 

WhoWeBe_Superpanel_flyer

4/4: Who We Be: Superpanel on Art, Protest and Racial Justice, with Jeff Chang, Alicia Garza, Ben Davis, Steven W. Thrasher, and Christian L. Frock, moderated by Elizabeth Travelslight, Bay Area Society for Art and Activism @ San Francisco Main Library

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Lots of strong works on view in (Im)Material, a smart exhibition exploring the visible and the invisible. Curated by Kevin B. Chen, it is on view at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Fort Barry, Marin through February 22. I loved seeing new developments by Bay Area artists alongside many artists new to me.

Soyoung Shin, Byron Au Yong, Susie J. Lee.,  Piano Concerto – Houston. Source: soyoungshin.com.

Silent, captivating video portraits of musicians mimicking a performance. Perhaps the closest I’ll experience to synesthesia. Soyoung Shin, Byron Au Yong, Susie J. Lee., Piano Concerto – Houston. Source: soyoungshin.com.

Randy Colosky, Ghost in the Machine, 2012, steel frame with 1" aluminum tubes, courtesy the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary.

Love this super simple form with interesting optical effects. It isn’t any more elaborate than it needs to be, yet offers much room for perceptual discovery. Randy Colosky, Ghost in the Machine, 2012, steel frame with 1″ aluminum tubes, courtesy the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary.

Detail. Randy Colosky, Ghost in the Machine, 2012, steel frame with 1" aluminum tubes, courtesy the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary.

Detail. Randy Colosky, Ghost in the Machine, 2012, steel frame with 1″ aluminum tubes, courtesy the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary.

Jennifer Brandon, Cast VIII, 2014, archival pigment print. Source: jenniferbrandon.com

Again, simple idea, nice execution. Strangely formal drapery images that appear solid, but are in fact pieces of plastic sheet that hang in the air for a millisecond. Jennifer Brandon, Cast VIII, 2014, archival pigment print. Source: jenniferbrandon.com

A densely layered papercut photo print using an image recovered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Amazing craftsmanship around a very powerful history. Mayumi Hamanaka, from the Invisible Lands series. Source: mayumihamanaka.com

A densely layered papercut photo print using an image recovered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Amazing craftsmanship around a very powerful history. Mayumi Hamanaka, from the Invisible Lands series. Source: mayumihamanaka.com

Anyone who has lost a loved one will recognize these collections of possessions as memorials to people. The futility of capturing one's loss and grief is only underscored by the objects that remain present. Kija Lucas, Objects to Remember You By: Collections from Sundown, 2014, archival pigment print. Source: kijalucas.com.

Anyone who has lost a loved one will recognize these collections of possessions as memorials to people. The futility of capturing one’s loss and grief is only underscored by the objects that remain present. Kija Lucas, Objects to Remember You By: Collections from Sundown, 2014, archival pigment print. Source: kijalucas.com.

Sights

Sights: (Im)Material @ Headlands Center for the Arts

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Sights

Sarah Hotchkiss reports on 15 new(ish) projects and spaces in the Bay Area on KQED Arts. I’m excited about the Congratulations Pine Tree podcast, and love the installation photo of José León Cerrillo’s work from Kiria Koula, an interesting new gallery.

Patricia Maloney/Art Practical suggests 15(ish) art galleries on SFist. Many of these are more established galleries, and some have recently expanded.

Good signs all around for the vitality of art in the Bay Area.

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