enthusiasms: art books and sporting sentiments

I’m feeling very grateful to be in New York right now. Today was 48º and brisk; my hands were numb but the sun was shining, and among the spirited events I attended today were the NYC marathon and the NY Art Book Fair at PS1. This morning, I took a commemorative run (my own personal best, yet far less than 26 miles) and headed out to Long Island City to see how the pros do it.

The ING New York City Marathon

NYC Marathon, November 7, 2010

NYC Marathon, November 7, 2010, from Queensboro Station

NYC Marathon, November 7, 2010

NYC Marathon, November 7, 2010. Runners heading up Queensboro Bridge.

Stepping out of the Queensboro Station, I heard cheering and turned to see a huge mass of humanity running up the incline of the lower deck of the Queensboro Bridge. The marathon. I felt like I could see thousands of runners, and something about the cheering, for strangers, fellow New Yorkers, and marathon guests—”Good work, runners!” “Go Alli!”—got me all teary eyed. There were no losing teams, no dirty tricks. Just running through all five boroughs of NYC. It was exhilarating to see runners of all ages pounding the pavement. They were on mile 15 or so, and their faces transparently conveyed their exhaustion, determination, pain, and heart. I found it wonderfully compelling. You really wanted each and every one of them to make it, to push through, and finish.

Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair at PS1 in Long Island City, Queens

Heading towards the Chase tower—the lighthouse of Queens—I made my way to PS1, where the marathon crowds’ ear muffs and signs gave way to creative make-up and pegged pants. Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair was housed in all of PS1’s galleries; there were too many vendors to count, and plenty of visitors. It was a madhouse, and it looked like many vendors were doing brisk business.

I failed to browse wares of all of the vendors; there were just too many. From what I did see, here are some of my favorites sights.

I also started to lose track of what vendors’ booths I was at. Too overstimulated to browse many books, I just let things catch my eye.

artist unknown

Artist & vendor unknown.

Some designer had a stroke of genius with these green edges.

Paper Placemats

Here’s a neat idea for a printed book-like thing with art that’s not an art book, from J&L Books.

David Batchelor, Found Monochromes
David Batchelor, Found Monochromes

A neat book of “found monochromes” around London by David Batchelor at the RAM Publications booth.


The display and vast scholarship at E-flux, like their email list and magazine, were great all around. I missed editor Boris Groy’s talk, so I picked up “Going Public,” a book of his essays on the same subject.

Werkplaats Typografie (Arnhem) will set up an alternative economic system in which services will be exchanged instead of bought.

Werkplaats Typografie offered funny multiples in exchange for must-read art and design books. In the distance are the books that visitors contributed. In the foreground, on this side of the monstrous Ping Pong table, are the goods to trade for, sort of like the goodie counter at an arcade. The red-shirted negotiators were busy wheeling and dealing.

werkplaatstypografie box of bread

Werkplaats Typografie left a lot of room for interpretation, encouraging interaction. This pyramid of boxes of bread is positively curious.

Joseph Grigely, Information Economy photo

Here’s an interesting project: artist Joseph Grigely is interested in ‘exhibition prosthetics,’ the collateral involved in making and marketing exhibitions. Here, he presented a photograph of a bulletin board. (Teaser: It’s not unlike a sight you might see in Shadowshop, Stephanie Syjuco’s emporium of artists’ wares at SFMOMA, to which I’ve contributed multiples.)

Simon and Tom Bloor

I was so excited to see Eastside Projects at PS1. I loved Simon and Tom Bloorsexhibition at the gallery in Birmhingham, UK. There were great drawings and sculptures about the intersection of modernism and children’s play structures.

What is sculpture, book by Simon and Tom Bloor

I couldn’t resist Simon and Tom Bloor’s activity book for children, which posed complex art questions as fun, accomplishable drawing assignments.

There were some spectacular names of projects too:

Lines and Shapes

Lines and Shapes wins the award for best name of a publication. The magazine also scores high in the feminine and beautiful metric. It’s the kind of art book you could get for your mom.

The Most Beautiful Swiss Books

Running in a very close second in the name contest is The Most Beautiful Swiss Books. If you think it sounds self-aggrandizing, look at the wares!

Motto goods

Naming your distribution company “Motto” makes for killer tote bags.

I also appreciated novel display strategies. (Again, maybe it’s because the next show my work is in is Shadowshop.)

DAP browser window display

DAP‘s cheeky meatspace browser window. The text is all painted by hand.

Cream and black display

Check out the cream and black palette, extending to the shopgirl, and the circle of books on the wall echoed by the hair clip.

Display frame box

This vendor’s room-in-a-picture/box idea reminded me of a work of art I saw at the Walker Art Center (I can’t look up the name because I managed to lose that notebook somewhere in the gallery). Still, must the shop girl be on display like merchandise too? (Although the visitor with the party jacket probably wouldn’t have minded?)

Also, you gotta love fun graphic design:

Idea Books poster

Poster for Amsterdam-based Idea Books.

Lubok poster

Lubok‘s woodcuts, books and posters were adorable!

giant posters

Gigantic posters (5′ tall?) in the Dutch Pavilion.

And how about fashion?

fashionable lady

I liked this lady’s outfit: a menswear dress shirt under a grey cardigan made of sweatshirt material, with a string of “pearls” in glossy silver. Plus bold glasses. New York is good for learning how ladies mature with aplomb.

fruit jacket

This blasted photo was meant to share with you an awesome puffer jacket, printed with photos of fruit (on chair)!

art metropole mr cool

What’s more exciting: Toronto’s awesome Art Metropole in NYC, or this guy’s Le Tigre shirt’s tiger’s friends?

Lubek fashion

Lubok‘s sellers of woodcut prints and books wearing graphic stripes and red-black-and-white patterns? Coincidence? Methinks not.

After browsing several rooms full of rare books—too expensive for me to buy, and too fragile for me to browse as I juggled coat and camera—I realized that I love reading books, but I don’t have to collect them. Maybe it’s because my recent cross-country-move has instilled a phobia of accumulation, or maybe I’d rather make use of the city’s libraries. More likely, I’m a cheapskate, and I’m plagued with guilt about the stack of unread books sitting on the shelf above my desk.

Whatever the reason, I found myself most attracted to prints and multiples. (Am I so transparent, to only like the things I like to make?)

Lubok wares
Lubok book inside

Wares from the German company, Lubok Books.

NYArtBookFair exhibition of prints on photocopies

DISPATCH, “a New York-based curatorial partnership between Howie Chen and Gabrielle Giattino,” had some really fantastic screenprints. I love how they exhibited them: framed, over a crazy photocopy-like montage.


Among my favorites was this screen print on acetate (2008) by Jose Leon Cerrillo.

Screenprint by Matthew Brannon

“Where were we” (2008), a screenprint by Matthew Brannon. These prints by Brannon are so cool, I try to resist liking them, but it’s not easy.

So when I rounded a corner and saw Jonn Herschend at his booth of The Thing Quarterly, subscription-based multiples, I knew I would fail to control my impulse buys.

Jonn Herschend

Artist Jonn Herschend at The Thing Quarterly’s booth.

I realized, a few years ago, that I need to put my money where my mouth is. If I think more people should buy, own, and enjoy art, I need to do the same. Bartering with other artists is great, but it’s also nice to show that you really support and believe in an artist with your wallet too. My budget is small, which means that my taste for multiples (which are generally more affordable) is perfect, and so I finally accepted that there were plenty of rationales for subscribing:
1. The Thing is an awesome idea.
2. The artists involved in The Thing are uniformly interesting and exciting.
3. I’m lucky to know one-half of the duo behind The Thing.
4. I’m proud of the fact that The Thing is from San Francisco, CA.

If that weren’t enough:
5. The Thing is super affordable: $200 for 4 limited edition multiples; that’s only $50/multiple. You could spend that on pints (!) in Manhattan.
6. The upcoming artists blow my mind!

The Thing Quarterly subscription information

Matthew Higgs + Martin Creed (LOVE Martin Creed’s work!); James Franco (Sometimes his stony delivery makes me think that he’s new Keanu, but then I read about his fine art hijinx and suspect that he’s a performance art polymath. Also, M approves of his next movie.); Shannon Ebner (whose text-based work is great); and MacFadden & Thorpe (SF graphic designers who are so good, seeing their projects makes me raise my fists in mock-envy to the sky).
Art & Development

As Is transcript, Great Balloon Giveaway photos posted!

as is audience and panel

In case you were wondering:

What’s the role of pleasure in art?
How do you gauge sincerity?
Can Pop art transcend radical negative consumerist critique?

You might like to have a gander at the transcript of As Is: Pop & Complicity, the closing dialogue of my solo show, Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) at Sight School, featuring Glen Helfand, Patricia Maloney, and Ginger Wolfe-Suarez.

Some highlights:

The show is like an experiment; it’s a sincere embrace of different things that are supposed to make you happy. She’s taken a lot of objects that supposedly exude a lot of optimism to see what sort of effect they may have. I don’t think the sentiment in the objects is sincere, but the sentiment in her embrace of that possibility is. (Victoria Gannon)

The term that comes to mind in regards to Christine’s work is ‘added value.’ For example, learning what the Banner photographs are made of makes them more exciting to me. They’re cheesy gift bags that have been transformed. Even though they’re working in the language that the materials are intended to be about—the notion of the gift—they become something ghostly. There’s an added layer of what the artist can bring to the materials. (Glen Helfand)

Also, I’ve just posted some beautiful photographs of The Great Balloon Giveaway shot by Paul Kuroda. Here are some sneak peeks:

The site-specific public project and social sculpture took place at the Camron-Stanford House on Lake Merritt in Oakland a few weekends ago. It was part of a series of projects sited in historic Oakland architecture called Here and Now. A closing reception for Here and Now is scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, June 26, 8-10pm at Mills Hall, which is also the last chance to see Elaine Buckholtz’ light installation! Prior to that, catch Floor Vahn’s audio installation at Pardee Home Museum.

Full details available at Mills Art Museum or Invisible Venue.

Art & Development

First Friday Openings

Lots of art-fun on Friday to look forward to! Just a matter of picking sides of the Bay; or being super ambitious and light of foot.


Groundswell opening at Kala Gallery
2990 San Pablo, Berkeley, CA
6-8 pm
A juried exhibition featuring Elliot Anderson, Mitra Fabian, Nathan Hodges, Suzanne Husky, Joan Margolies-Kiernan, Rebecca Najdowski, Jennifer Parker and Barney Haynes, and Emily Payne

Oakland Art Murmur
Various Galleries in and around downtown Oakland
6-9 pm
Krowswork is usually pretty interesting.

Junk Pirate at the Compound Gallery
1167 65th Street, Oakland, CA
7-10 pm
A solo show of reconfigured junk store items by Oakland artist, art impresario and zinester Pete Glover.

(Shameless self-promotion alert!)
Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) at Sight School
5651 San Pablo (at Stanford), Oakland, CA
My solo show of new installation, sculpture and works on paper inspired by discount stores, the decorative impulse and positive psychology.

Here and Now kicks off with the first night of Elaine Buckholtz’ Out of the Blue (Mills Hall Reconsidered)
Mills Hall (c.1871), Mills College, Oakland, CA
Sunset to 10:00 pm
Admittedly, I’m presenting a project on June 5th in this series as well, but I think Elaine’s work is killer too.

The Oakland Museum of California is also open til 8pm. But it is every Friday and Saturday, would you believe?

The Residents perform at the Berkeley Art Museum
2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA
The galleries will also be open til 9pm.


Now and When opening reception at SFAC Gallery
Main Gallery and Grove Street, SF
6-8 pm
Newly-commissioned projects along the theme of time capsules by The Bureau of Urban Secrets, Joseph del Pesco, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Packard Jennings, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ken Lo, Gay Outlaw & Bob Schmitz, Paul Schiek and Margaret Tedesco & Matt Borruso and Taro Hattori. Curated by Meg Shiffler.

Rehistoricizing Abstract Expressionism in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1950s-1960s, opening at the Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market Street, San Francisco, CA
This show sounds killer. I love it when programming is ambitious. Villa, venerable SF artist and teacher, aims nothing less than to set the record straight on the presence of women and people of color in AbEx, largely seen as a field for macho cowboys.

Curated by CARLOS VILLA. This large scale exhibition creates and contextualizes an archive of women artists and artists of color who were undervalued because of the public and personal hegemonic social and aesthetic scrutiny at that time. Featuring 33 artists.


Press Junket: 5/6 at Wattis, 5/8 SoEx Auction, 5/14 at Sight School

If you can’t get enough art at the MFA shows, I’ve also got a mini program of art events happening nearly every week this month. Join me on a short tour of ICAs, alternative non-profits and artist-run spaces.

Opening Thursday, May 6: We have as much time as it takes
Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Thesis Exhibition

I’m looking forward to exhibiting the light and text installation Unlimited Promise at the Wattis. Participating artists: Nina Beier and Marie Lund (Berlin/London), David Horvitz (USA), Jason Mena (Puerto Rico), Sandra Nakamura (Lima), Roman Ondák (Slovakia), Red76 (Portland, Ore., USA), Zachary Royer Scholz (San Francisco, Calif., USA), Tercerunquinto (Mexico), Lawrence Weiner (New York/Amsterdam), and Christine Wong Yap (Oakland, Calif.,

May 6–July 31, 2010; Hours: Tues. & Thurs., 11 am–7 pm; Wed., Fri., & Sat., 11 am–6 pm
Reception: Thursday, May 6, 2010, 6–9 pm

Wattis Institute, 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco, CA

Design by Dan McKinley

Cloud No. 3, 2006, collagraphic monoprint, 22 x 30 inches / 56 x 76 cm

Saturday, May 8: Space Odyssey: Southern Exposure’s Annual Fundraiser + Art Auction

I’ve donated a large framed print to support this art organization committed to contemporary art by emerging artists.

Saturday, May 8; 6–10:30 pm [see the schedule]
Preview Exhibition: May 3–6, 2010, noon–6 pm

Southern Exposure, 3030 20th Street, San Francisco

Opening Friday, May 14: Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors): Solo Show

New installation, sculpture and work on paper inspired by discount culture and popular psychology.

Exhibition: May 14 – June 12; Gallery hours: Wed.-Sat., noon – 5 pm
Opening Reception: Friday, May 14, 7–10 pm

“As Is: Pop Art & Stuffhood” Closing Reception and Dialogue with special guests including critic and curator Glen Helfand and artist, writer and theorist Ginger Wolfe-Suarez: Saturday, June 12, 2–4 pm

Sight School, 5651 San Pablo (at Stanford), Oakland, CA

Opening May 28: Lending Library at Adobe Books

Lending Library is a group exhibition curated by Dena Beard featuring tools, materials, and resources from artists Amy Franceschini, Colter Jacobsen,
Kevin Killian, Tom Marioni, Emily Prince, Stephanie Syjuco, and Christine Wong Yap. [Can I just say what an honor it is to be included with this group, which includes a newly-minted Guggenheim Fellow?]

May 28–July 2, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday, May 28, 2010, 7-10 pm

Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, 3166 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Then, during the first weekend in June, come to Lake Merritt, where 20 third graders from the City of Oakland’s Lincoln Square Recreation Center will be giving away 1,000 balloons in my largest public project/social sculpture to date.

June 5: The Great Balloon Giveaway: Here and Now

One-day event: Saturday, June 5, 12-4 pm
A site-specific installation and social sculpture at Camron-Stanford House (c.1876), Lake Merritt, 1418 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, CA 94612. T-shirts sponsored by Oakland-based retailer

Invisible Venue and Mills College Art Museum present
Here and Now
Curated by Christian L. Frock

Also: Elaine Buckholtz, “Out of the Blue (Mills Hall Reconsidered),” 2010. A site-specific light installation at Mills Hall (c.1871), Mills College.
Floor Vahn, “Sonic Pardee Home (Reconstituting Memories of Pardee Past),” 2010. A site-specific sound installation at Pardee Home Museum (c.1868), 672 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

June 10
Various locations, Oakland, CA
Closing Reception: Saturday, June 26, 8-10 pm, Mills Hall

Community, Research

Art Practical

My review of Primero la Caja, Pablo Guardiola’s solo show at Galería de la Raza, has been published on The current issue, Work(er), includes an interview with David Ireland, a review of the triennial exhibition at the Int’l Center for Photography, and reviews of local shows.

Art Practical is a much-needed site for Bay Area art criticism. It is forged from three grassroots, artist-led initiatives — Shotgun Review, Happenstand, and Talking Cure quarterly — that emerged as direct responses to the Bay Area’s narrow art reportage. Especially after the folding of Artweek magazine, I think Art Practical’s energy, vision and commitment to excellence will be a meaningful presence in the Bay Area art community.

Art Practical welcomes sponsorships and individual donations.

Art & Development

Hello Manchester

Yarright mates,

Should you find yourself at home on 20 October, fancying a bit of contemporary art, perhaps you might like to direct the telly to Channel M at 15:00 for Zeitgeist, in which I try to convince the general public that coloring with pound shop glitter pens is in fact legitimate contemporary art. The projects that resulted from my residency at Chinese Arts CentrePounds of Happiness, Unlimited Promise, the Cheap and Cheerful drawings and Sorted — may appear in the programme as well.


PS. The student-producers from a university in Salford were quite taken with my Californian accent, and clearly, the fascination was mutual.


wanted: machine to clone and transport

First Stop: London

I’d love to skip back over the pond to attend the Frieze Art Fair next week in London. Yes, it is a marriage of art and commerce, but it’s also more than that — newly commissioned art projects, featuring the fabulous Stephanie Syjuco, the delightfully perplexing Ryan Gander, and a fellow named Mike Bouchet, whose project involves hiring a motivational speaker to address an audience at the Frieze Talkslove it! There’s also a programme of killer talks, including a Q&A with John Baldessari, a lecture by James Elkins (the esteemed author from Art Institute of Chicago, who I’ve posted about before) as well as a timely talk on the role of state funding for the arts in a recession.

I’d leave my Clone in San Francisco

Of course, I’d have to clone myself first, so I could also be here in San Francisco for Southern Exposure‘s Grand Opening and the opening of the exhibition, Bellwether. The exhibition is shaping up really nicely, with a huge site-specific balsa wood installation by Reneé Gertler, a DIY survivalist’s shed by Whitney Lynn, an outpost for Lordy Rodriguez’ First Colony, among others. I’m also really looking forward to Liz Glynn‘s Banner Year project, which sweetly reminds me of Jeremy Deller’s Procession in Manchester this summer. Don’t miss the festivities October 16 and 17, at 20th and Alabama Streets.

Next Stop: New York

Then, after that, I’d attend Three Pieces, a one-night multidisciplinary event at PPOW Gallery in Chelsea, where Color&Color, a new publication by Amanda Curreri and Erik Scollon, will be unveiled (along with a work of sound and a work of language/performance. I submitted two images to the inaugural publication — can’t wait to see it.

I’d stick around in NYC for another night to attend The Creative Time Summit at the NY Public Library, which is kind of like a TED Talk for contemporary art. There are so many huge names on the roster, like Alfredo Jaar, Mel Chin, Liam Gillick, Julieta Aranda, the list goes on and on…

A recommended virtual stop: Los Angeles Times art review


Of course, if I had a transporter, I could save myself a lot of staring at the I-5. Since we haven’t got one — yet! — we could have a look at Leah Ollman’s L.A. Times review of Palimpsests, a three-person exhibition I’m in at Tarryn Teresa Gallery through October 29th.