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Land and Sea Overview

I just got my edition of Land and Sea’s 21st project, Overview: a box set that features 79 risograph prints by various artists. It was conceived, organized, and printed by artist Chris Duncan.

How neat to make cross-country connections: I picked up the box set from contributing artist Laura Splan, during an opening at Dose Project Space [great mission!] for Lauren Davies’ show. It was a great mishmash of connections spanning the Bay Area (Chris, Lauren, plus contributing peers like Sarah Hotchkiss, Genevieve Quick, Kelly Lynn Jones, Aaron Harbour, Val Imus, and many more).

Risograph prints have a beautiful tonal quality. Chris picked out a nice, toothy, heavyweight paper to print on. Each piece has heft to it, and could easily (literally) stand on its own on a tilted shelf. In other words, they feel like prints, not posters.

Many of the artists created abstractions in black ink, and others explored riso’s odd, saturated palette of Sunkist orange, cobalt, and vibrant green. A very light greenish parchment-grey is fascinating. The back of each print is flooded with a repeated text, adding a cohesive element.

I love how my piece came out:

Irrational Exuberance flags, two color risograph; mini flags to be cut out and displayed.

Irrational Exuberance flags, two color risograph.

These are designs based on the Irrational Exuberance Flags series, but miniaturized, so you can cut them out and make a set of mini flags of your own.

And here are a few of my favorites:

Luke Fischbeck, two color risograph print, various renderings of possibly happy/sad faces.

Luke Fischbeck, two color risograph print, various renderings of possibly happy/sad faces, made all the more fractured and interesting with slight offsetting.

Luke Fischbeck, two color risograph print, various renderings of possibly happy/sad faces.

Tucker Nichols’ pink and blue risograph print. I think it’s a trophy and some flowers. So exuberant! I love it.

Lee Hunter, one-color riso. We walk together.

Lee Hunter, one-color riso. I’ve been thinking a lot about collective action lately.

Michael Milano's operational two-color print, in which a single triangular design is rotated and overprinted.

Michael Milano’s operational two-color print, in which a single triangular design is rotated and overprinted. It’s an ingenius exploration of the medium.

Sarah Berkeley, great reminder, and already up in my studio. Turn your phone OFF. Data Blackout in progress.

Sarah Berkeley. Great reminder, and already up in my studio.

View the full portfolio, and support this independent, artist-run venture, here.

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Meta-Practice, Values

How to be everywhere at once, or not

Inspired by a walk around Chelsea and CAA, here are a few thoughts about how artists of a certain level are able to sustain multiple galleries and fairs…

Variations and editions

At Doug Aitken’s show at 303 Gallery, the list of works stated that all artworks, except for the site-specific installation, were multiples. Text works that could have been fabricated by sign shops were editions of four, plus two artist’s proofs. Other text works that might involve more chance, such as a piece with broken mirrors and another foam piece that was partly carved by hand, were variations, plus artist’s proofs.

The way Aiken and many contemporary other artists edition sculptures seems  pragmatic—there is so much research and development that goes into each work, and so many venues for international artists, that being able to exhibit and sell the same work is advantageous. Yet, these editioned sculptures would never be displayed next to each other, or heavens forbid, in the same fair at different booths—like the earliest fine art print editions, the whole concept of an edition is to create scarcity and value. I’m curious if collectors feel like they’re buying originals, are concerned with the fidelity to exhibition copies, or are simply less concerned with purchasing copies, especially of industrially-fabricated works.

(The show itself was dazzling in the video as well as in person, but not especially affective. I believe a critic for the New Yorker found the show to be resemble window displays, and I got the same feeling. There were intimations of destruction, but no danger. In the large hole drilled out of the concrete gallery floor, the milky water was lit from beneath, as if a hot tub. One text work was set behind a faux wall with a cartoonish circular hole cut away; the drywall was filled with pebbly rubble painted white as if on a theatrical set made of Plasticine.)

A few rules make disparate drawings a series

Of particular interest at Mark Dion at Tanya Bonokdar:

1. The vitrines with marine encrustations that were on view in International Orange in San Francisco are now highly salable objects in a Chelsea gallery. (Also, I believe  those were clearly indicated as collaborations in San Francisco, a fact not obvious in NYC.) The settings are so different I found it humorously ironic. Fort Point was bitterly cold, practically in the Pacific Ocean than abutting it. The vitrines were lit in a theatrically dim light, which minimized Fort Point’s peeling walls. At Bonokdar, the pristine gallery housed a number of vitrines and installations, all of which were perfectly installed and maintained. The change of context from the edge of the continent to the center of a commercial art world demonstrates a fluidity that contrasts greatly with so many artists I know who exhibit in odd places in the Bay Area.

2. Dion makes preliminary sketches for his various public projects and commissions—from the UK to San Francisco’s Balboa Park—in red and blue colored pencil. Who knows why, but the effect is that a room with dozens of such drawings hung salon-style looks fantastic. A simple set of rules increases the volume of exhibition-ready work.

Conflicts of Interest Vs. Conflicts of Self-Interest

At the College Art Association conference a few weeks ago, I attended a session called “The Future of Art Magazines” (see GalleristNY.com’s write-up). A comment that has stuck with me is that people play so many roles in the art strata, that it can pose dilemmas to critics. For example, critics who are also curators may worry that they can’t negatively review certain institutions that they might work with, or risk offending artists that they might curate or be asked to curate. I wondered if this was an actual conflict of interest, when the potential of a partnership is merely a potential. Perhaps it would better be phrased as a conflict of self-interest?

Of course people do this all the time. Yet the frequency of self-interested behavior doesn’t make it right—call it Darwinian, hustlin’, or playing the game, it’s also selfish, opportunistic, and small.

To be big, one must imagine that other people are big, too. That artists or administrators won’t be offended if you write a negative review with honesty and integrity. Whether others are in a position of power or not relative to yourself, people should be able to handle direct, open communication with judiciousness and discretion. In my recent correspondence with commenters on Temporary Art Review, I have been trying to encourage artists to give feedback directly to residency administrators. It seems a reasonable thing to do, except for a fear of retaliation that is not a part of the art world that I would like to participate in.

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