Make Things (Happen)

Make Things (Happen) Now Open!

Impressions from the Social In Practice opening, plus news from contributing artists who are Making Things Happen.

Activity sheets freely available in Make Things (Happen) at Social in Practice at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, NYC.

Activity sheets freely available in Make Things (Happen) at Social in Practice at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, NYC.

Thanks to everyone who made it to the Nathan Cummings Foundation for the opening of Social in Practice on Thursday.

The breadth of the artists in the show is impressive. Curated by Deb Willis and Hank Willis Thomas, the exhibition includes diverse, socially-engaged photographers. There’s a lot of work, and it’s beautifully installed in NCF’s spacious offices. I’m going to return—there’s much to take in!

I’m so happy with the positive responses to Make Things (Happen). Many viewers took activity sheets home—can’t wait to see their results at #mkthngs and #mkthngshppn.

Social in Practice is on view at the Nathan Cummings Foundation at 475 Tenth Avenue, between W. 36th & 37th Streets (in the same building that used to house Exit Art), 14th floor. Viewable by appointment Mondays through Fridays now until October; email

Make Things (Happen) allows me to share the work of compelling artists and their practices. I’ll post occasional digests of their current goings-on, to help contextualize their activity sheets for your participation.

Still from Julie Perini’s video “The White Lady Diaries” (2013) (Source: via

Still from Julie Perini’s video “The White Lady Diaries” (2013)// Source: via

In addition to experimental video work, Portland, OR-based Julie Perini examines whiteness. Safe and Sound?, a documentary on the race and police brutality developed by Perini and others, and her White Lady Diaries short videos were recently featured in “Seeing Past Portland’s Whiteness” by Alicia Eler on Hyperallergic (March 24, 2014).

I have met white people who feel like it would be politically incorrect for them to speak about race whatsoever. But that’s not true—as Julie exemplefies with her activity sheet, Instructions for White People Fighting White Supremacy in the United States #1.

Maurice Carlin, Performance Publishing: Regent Trading Estate. Photo Gwen Jones. Source:

Maurice Carlin, Performance Publishing: Regent Trading Estate. // Photo Gwen Jones. Source:

It’s the last weekend to see Salford, UK-based Maurice Carlin’s epic site-specific printmaking project, Performance Publishing: Regent Trading Estate. The estate is situated behind Islington Mill, the massive mill-turned-artist-studios/alternative-art-school/music venue/alternative-art-experiment Carlin co-runs. Viewing hours are Sunday and Monday 12-6pm; or see the lovely photos on

Fittingly for a founder of an alternative art school, Carlin’s activity sheet, Primary Sources, describes experimental procedures for developing artworks. Give it a try!


Question Bridge: Black Males opening in Sundance, Brooklyn, Oakland, Salt Lake City & Atlanta

Via Hank Willis Thomas, I’ve been helping out with this project for the past several weeks, though it’s been much longer in the making. Congratulations to the Question Bridge artists, producers and partners for their efforts finally coming to fruition.

question bridge black malesphoto gridjoin the conversation
Sundance Film Festival 12 New Frontier January 20–28 Park City, UTumoca January 20–May 19 Salt Lake City, UT
Brooklyn Museum January 13–June 3 Brooklyn, NYOMCA
City Gallery at Chastain January 27–March 10 Atlanta, GA

Community Engagement Events

Question Bridge Blueprint Roundtables
A series of intergenerational community engagement events,
in partnership with various organizations:
Oakland · Saturday, February 11, 2012 · 1 – 3 pm
Brooklyn · Saturday, May 19, 2012 · gallery tour : 1 pm · community discussion & performance : 2 pm

Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum
Saturday, February 4, 2012 · 5 – 11 pm · Free

Free First Sundays at the Oakland Museum
Sunday, March 4, 2012 · 11 am – 5 pm · Free

Evening for Educators
Explore the exhibition and discover new ways to engage your students with art.
Brooklyn · Thursday, April 26, 2012 · 4–6:30 pm
more info:

Question Bridge: Black Males was created by Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas, in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair. The Executive Producers are Delroy Lindo, Deborah Willis, and Jesse Williams. Transmedia production by Innovent.


June 1–5: Commercial Break, Venice

The Venice Biennale is just around the corner. If you’re going, look out for this interesting public intervention. Hank Willis Thomas has a new video piece in it. The list of artists looks especially promising.

Garage Projects, 54th Venice Biennale
June 1 – 5, 2011

For Garage Projects’ second project in Venice, we are presenting Commercial Break from 1 to 5 June 2011 as part of the opening week of the 54th Venice Biennale.

Commercial Break is a conspicuous intervention into the historic city of Venice, featuring over one hundred artists, each engaging with the relationship between advertising and culture. Short digital works by globally recognized and emerging artists from around the world will bring the form and language of advertising to Venice. The project is curated by Neville Wakefield and powered by POST magazine. Commercial Break is both an intervention with the architecture of the city and an iPad application created by POST, the world’s first magazine created specifically for the iPad. The special art issue will allow readers to explore individual artists and films for the 5 months of the Biennale as well as on location in Venice.


The Laundromat Project Fall Auction is on Wednesday

SOAPBOX II – 2nd Annual Art Auction
Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 6-9 PM
Collette Blanchard Gallery, 26 Clinton Street, NYC

I’m helping out with this auction to benefit an awesome community art initiative that brings contemporary artists into laudromats to lead free workshops in diverse neighborhoods across NYC. The cause is good, and so is the selection of art. Have a look!

Join the Laundromat Project and its many friends on Wednesday, October 27th for a silent auction and celebration to support its programs in New York City’s most vibrant communities. Tickets begin at $25 online($30 at the doors) and include drinks, nibbles, and music by DJ Khary! This year, artist and LP Create Change alumni Shinique Smith and artist Jayson Keeling are donating special edition prints to $1000 and $250 ticket buyers, respectively.

Donating Artists:
Derrick Adams • Golnar Adili • Joell Baxter • Petrushka Bazin • Aisha Bell • Karlos Carcamo • Brendan Carroll • Talia Chetrit • Sandra Chi • Samantha Contis • Pradeep Dalal • Hope Dector • Matthew Deleget • Stephanie Diamond • Erin Diebboll • Sarah Eichner • Rico Gatson • Deborah Grant • Christopher K. Ho • Wayne Hodge • Sheree Hovsepian • Kathleena Howie-Garcia aka LadyKFever • Joseph Laurro • Shaun El C. Leonardo • Yeni Mao • Dean Monogenis • Erika Neola • Glexis Novoa • Kambui Olujimi • Dawit Petros • Rob Pruitt • Ronny Quevedo • Kenya (Robinson) • Bayeté Ross SmithDread Scott • Paul Mpagi Sepuya • Rudy Shepherd • Shinique Smith • Yasmin Spiro • Anna Stein • Hank Willis Thomas • Mickalene Thomas • Zefrey Throwell • Cody Trepte • Jiny Ung • Mary Valverde • Kim Venable • Saya Woolfalk • and more!

Community, Research

Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Open Studios

Open Studios is a chance to talk to artists, peek at studios and works in progress, and think about methods and materials. I enjoyed this very much in my visit to the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Open Studios last night. The EFA Open Studios continues today and Saturday.

The EFA has a building in midtown Manhattan with six floors of studios rented by established and emerging artists. There’s also a project space, as well as a print shop. The whole building was a hive of activity for Open Studios; it reminded me of being an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA, where I opened my studio to the public many times (Visit the Headlands’ Fall Open House this Sunday, October 17). EFA had a similar cross-section: a few big names; many interesting, under-recognized artists; and a cadre of East Asian artists with crafty or pop/anime sensibilities. There were lots of painters and few video artists; meticulous, feminine papercuts (by Amina Amed and Jaq Belcher); and a few very commercial enterprises balanced by a few wacky conceptualists and performance artists. I was surprised to see that some artists had large etching presses or Vandercook letterpresses in their studios. (You see how important elevators become when your studio is 5 or 6 or 9 floors up.) I was most excited about these artists:

Saya Woolfalk, Cartography of No Place, Gouache on paper, 30" x 40", 2008

Saya Woolfalk, 2008, Cartography of No Place, Gouache on paper, 30" x 40". Image source: Artist’s website.

Saya Wookfalk makes paintings, installations, performances and videos in Hello Kitty hues. She works with cognitive scientists and dancers, and teaches herself theater lighting. Need I say more?

Kristian Kozul makes kinda bad-ass sculpture. In his studio, he’s working on fantastic militaristic busts dripping in rosettes and covered in a glossly black resin.

David Greg Harth[/caption]

David Greg Harth, World News Tonight, 2010. Image source:

David Greg Harth’s immensity can’t be captured here, but I’ll try: weird, painful, simple, public interventions, like collecting autographs in a Bible, tumbling down public steps, and opening a kiosk that only sells newspapers with horrible, 300-pt. headlines. Provocative, hilarious and wince-worthy. I liked that the artist was complicit in his projects about human folly: his willingness to humiliate and hurt himself was in plentiful evidence.

Dane Patterson, The Wedding, Graphite on Paper, 22 x 30 in, 2009

Dane Patterson, 2009, The Wedding, Graphite on Paper, 22 x 30". Image source:

Dane Patterson can draw like crazy; but many steps—performance, sculpture, and photography—lead up to it.

Of the painters, I was attracted to Patty Catuera’s and Gary Petersen‘s work. Both make hard-edge, brightly colored, super flat abstractions. If you said that these paintings appeal to my design sensibilities, you’d probably be right, and I see nothing wrong with that. Patty’s work seems especially vibrant and sweet in its simplicity. The imagery originates in landscapes, and with the large expanses of flat, abstract space, there is room to push and pull the volumes and imagine a narrative unfolding.

I also liked David Storey’s mildly figurative mid-mod abstractions. They’re cheeky. They make me think of Mad Men interiors and knowing smiles.

Hong Seon Jang, Forest, tape on black chalkboard, 2010, 25x19 inches

Hong Seon Jang, 2010, Forest, tape on black chalkboard, 25×19 inches. Image source:

Hong Seon Jang, Geographic wave (in process) National Geographic magazines, binder clips, push pins, 2009, 140x80 inches (variable)

Hong Seon Jang, 2009, Geographic wave (in process) National Geographic magazines, binder clips, push pins, 140×80 inches (variable). Image source:

Hong Seon Jang had some terrific lichens cut from National Geographics, and forest scenes made out of cellophane tape. Nice!

Noah Kersfield

Still from a video by Noah Kersfield. Image source:

Noah Klersfeld’s videos were weirdly mesmerizing, partly from the sheer technical prowess, like stained glass come to life from pedestrian, single-camera shots.

Jihyun Park‘s large punched-paper and burned-paper works are really beautiful. I’m not especially compelled by the imagery, but the craftsmanship and perceptual experience are fantastic.

I admired Yuken Teruya’s paper sculptures in graduate school. I also love the graphic quality of batik, so it was a special treat to visit Teruya’s studio and see his most recent dye-resist paintings.

Hank Willis Thomas’ work is clean and super provocative; if, like me, you were most familiar with his advertisement-based work, he’s been busy with lots of text-based signs and lenticulars as well. I’ll leave it at that, since I’ve been helping out my fellow CCA alum.

Brian Whitney set up four mirrors to successfully merge two images into a 3D image; he’s also figured out a way to print photographic images on mylar. Jealous!

I also really enjoyed talking to Jimbo Blachy and his guest, who I assume to be his collaborator, Lytle Shaw. They had the skeleton of a boat set up in their studio, a whole lot of boating and Brit-ish ephemera, and they were wearing matching striped sailor shirts. That is, until you looked closer and realized that one of the shirts was actually a white t-shirt with stripes painted on it. That kind of geniality and jokiness immediately appealed to me. Later, I passed by their studio again, and saw the two of them alone, busy cracking each other up.



Like these works from these nice bros (the name of their collective is BroLab; they just finished a project for Art in Odd Places, a public art festival which continues through tomorrow, Sunday, October 10).

Ryan Roa, Interactions with Public Sculpture

Shaving in Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror = Brilliant!
(Source:; Image by Kfir Ziv.)

Adam Brent, I'm OK with It, 2010

Adam Brent, I'm OK with It, 2010

Houseplants and doilies making domestic references in architectural sculptures.

Detouched series, Study for an Aggregate, Travis LeRoy Southworth

detail: Detouched series, Study for an Aggregate, Travis LeRoy Southworth

Digital photo re-touch-er’s “de-touched” photographs, with only re-touching marks visible.

Southworth’s weird, entrancing Wrestle Nebula and Body of Work, Tears are worth checking out too.

More photos at’s Studio Survey.

Pipolotti Rist’s show at Luhring Augustine Gallery is as good as Peter Schjeldahl says. Gorgeous photos here.

This looks neat!
Ellen Harvey’s Nudist Museum project at Bass Museum of Art in Florida.

Lots of worthy events to look forward to. Maybe too many….

David Mamet speaks, 10/13. No way!

Hiroshi Sugimoto in conversation with Melissa Chiu at the Asia Society, 10/14.

Open Studios at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. Artists include Hank Willis Thomas and Dan Levenson… 10/14-16.

Oliver Herring at Meulensteen Gallery, Chelsea*
Herring and volunteers enact daily performances in the gallery, then post photos and videos nightly. It’s really neat! Stop in.
[*Disclaimer: I’m helping out.]

Art & Development

Gallery Jaunt: New Museum, Brooklyn Museum, ICP, John Jay

I’m trying to take advantage of the access to art afforded by living in New York. But there are so many art spaces here, even now when many institutions are closed in preparation for Fall shows, it’s still overwhelming. I’ve been here 2 weeks and visited a few spaces, with not nearly enough time at most of them.

Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other
New Museum
Thru Sept. 19

I really like the contemporary Brazilian artist’s videos; this is a chance to see new and prior works in installation, participatory/social practices, works on paper, paintings and actions. I think the most coherent is the fourth floor, where the central focus is an installation of buckets hung at head-height which slowly drip water into buckets on the floor. On the walls are dilapidated maps of New York counties painted and mounted in design-y hues. A video of an egg clattering in a spoon, shot as if the spoon were tucked into the viewer’s mouth, and the viewer were rambling through a wooded forest, runs in a corner. Flip clocks whose numbers have been replaced with zeros (recalling a flip-clock project by San Francisco artist Chris Bell) are placed throughout the museum, but the chance that you’d be looking at the clock when its zeroes flip is infinitesimal, so the clocks appear static and unchanging; in effect, it’s a largely conceptual piece. Perhaps it was the discreteness and completeness of the projects that appealed to me; the third floor, dominated by a space in which narrow swathes of carpet were ripped up, and sectors of a gridded wallpaper were stripped from the walls—not so much. The demolition was the result of a site-specific project involving the artist finding microphones hidden by the museum staff at the artist’s request. Is it viable to complain that the chance operation seemed a bit preconceived? Other projects in the space captivated: a 10-minute video of a single bubble traveling around a house (at the same time that it frustrated any sense of resolution); a calendar made of punched circles of text scattered across a black ground, creating constellations on a night sky; portraits of first loves described by public participants and drawn by courtroom artists.

On the first floor, in the odd, narrow glass-enclosed space, Neuenschwander’s I Wish Your Wish project continues.

Strangely, I left the show rather disappointed that I experienced no major revelation. But in retrospect, perhaps my expectation to be surprised or enchanted was misinformed. To displace the work—to find it in social exchanges and participatory actions, as her Tropicália predecessors did—seems to embrace an experimental approach to the practice of art. The results need not be revelatory. I experienced this same unapologetic unevenness in Damián Ortega’s work at the Boston ICA, where the works were pervaded with a sense of generosity and experimentation, and between stunning perceptual experiences were lackluster results that didn’t add up to more than their component parts.

Kiki Smith: Sojourn
Brooklyn Museum
Thru Sept. 12

There’s an unimpeded quality to this new work by the irrepressibly prolific symbolist printmaker and sculptor. Dozens of large drawings and prints of female figures on very light, wispy paper appear in the show, as do large silver figurative sculptures, installations with light bulbs and birds, and a simple coffin with a breathtaking surprise inside. Because many of the images were prints, more or less with the same figure, and set of materials, there was a sense of iterative generation. Clearly she’s interested in, and quite faithful to, the authenticity of the expressive line.

A suite of dozens of Photoshopped advertisements by Hank Willis Thomas is a joy to see if you’ve seen some, but not all as a collection.

For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights
International Center of Photography
Thru Sept. 12

A historical show concerning the photographic and filmic image and its impact on the Civil Rights movement. Don’t expect a photography exhibition; it is rich with reproductions—including some shockingly retrograde attitudes exposed in the captions in Life magazine—and artifacts.

Also at ICP:
Perspectives 2010: Carol Bove, Lena Herzog, Matthew Porter, Ed Templeton, Hong-An Truong
Thru Sept. 12

The lighting in Lena Herzog’s room was brilliant. Black walls, black-and-white photographs, the illumination of each photo extending only to the four edges of the frame. Very fitting for the spine-chilling, Wunderkammer-inspired content.

Nyeema Morgan: Like It is
John Jay College, third floor art gallery
Thru Sept. 17

My friend and CCA cohort Nyeema modestly described her show as “four drawings and a video.” The drawings, however, were impressive 38×50″ photo-realist graphite renderings of photocopies of title pages. They brought to mind Washington DC-based Molly Springfield‘s drawings of theory readers, replete with the black bars that are photocopiers’ perceptions of depth. While Ny’s practice often involves text, it isn’t solely concerned the drawn reproduction of it. Nyeema was attracted towards books with the word “extraordinary” in them, and her obsession also manifested in a video comprised of clippings of people saying that word. I thought the show was accomplished and tight, and I left feeling quite proud of my friend.