Community

Southern Exposure: ART PUBLISHING NOW

San Francisco’s where it’s at! Wish I could be at this art publishing summit at Southern Exposure. It’s a convergence of three of my passions: DIY publishing, contemporary art, and criticism.

Southern Exposure: ART PUBLISHING NOW.

Saturday, October 9, 2010, 11 am – 10 pm
Sunday, October 10, 2010, 11 am – 6 pm

Southern Exposure
3030 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
http://soex.org
http://artpublishingnow.org

Art Publishing Now is a two-day event dedicated to the investigation and showcasing of art publishing practices in the Bay Area. It includes a day of presentations and critical discussions, an after-party, an art publishers fair, library and archive.

Not to be outdone, NYC’s artist-thinkers have scheduled a meeting of the minds that same weekend…

The Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice 2

Cooper Union’s Great Hall
October 9-10

The Creative Time Summit is a two-day conference that brings more than forty cultural producers together to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. Their international projects bring to the table a vast array of practices and methodologies that engage with the canvas of everyday life. The participants range from art world luminaries to those purposefully obscure, providing a glimpse into an evolving community concerned with the political implications of socially engaged art. The Creative Time Summit is meant to be an opportunity to not only uncover the tensions that such a global form of working presents, but also to provide opportunities for new coalitions and sympathetic affinities.

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Community

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.,
USA).

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


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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 FLINC.org.

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

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Research

Post-Minimalism for All

In yesterday’s New York Times, Roberta Smith champions painting, and states a formal history of–and argument against–the idea that painting is dead (“It’s Not Dry Yet,” March 26, 2010).

This is a positive follow up to her negative opinion, “Post-Minimal to the Max,” (NYTimes.com, February 2, 2010), in which Smith takes aim at the current slate of exhibitions at NYC’s major museums. Exhibitions of the work of Gabriel Orozco, Roni Horn, Urs Fischer, and Tino Seghal

…share a visual austerity and coolness of temperature that are dispiritingly one-note. After encountering so many bare walls and open spaces, after examining so many amalgams of photography, altered objects, seductive materials and Conceptual puzzles awaiting deciphering, I started to feel as if it were all part of a big-box chain featuring only one brand.

…Instead [of individuation and difference] we’re getting example after example of squeaky-clean, well-made, intellectually decorous takes on that unruly early ’70s mix of Conceptual, Process, Performance, installation and language-based art that is most associated with the label Post-Minimalism. Either that or we’re getting exhibitions of the movement’s most revered founding fathers: since 2005, for example, the Whitney has mounted exhibitions of Robert Smithson, Lawrence Weiner, Gordon Matta-Clark and Dan Graham. I liked these shows, but that’s not the point. We cannot live by the de-materialization — or the slick re-materialization — of the art object alone.

Smith put it rather bluntly (I don’t think we could live by expressionistic painting alone, either), and I relate to feeling bored by monotony in exhibitions. At the same time, however, I take issue with her points, and my reaction is grounded in my identities and environment.

First, if the post-Minimal programming of New York’s art institutions sync up, who cares? In the end you still got to see the Tino Seghal show at the Guggenheim, and the Urs Fischer show at the New Museum. The phrase “embarrassment of riches” comes to mind.

Second, this is a generational and coastal difference, but I never really perceived any serious threat to painting. San Francisco’s unique history in conceptual and performance art is known amongst specialists, but many more know about Barry McGee, and the San Francisco Mission School of painting that he helped to popularize. I found the arguments against the death of painting fatiguing in my studies–along the same lines as eye-rollers like “So what is art?”–so I find it perplexing that Smith would take up arms for painting now.

To state the obvious, painting’s not going anywhere. The Everyman still considers “painting” and “art” synonymous, to the exasperation of non-painters everywhere. Most art museums house room after room of paintings. Most art stores feature a prominent aisle of paints and brushes. Ask people to draw the idea “art” and I guarantee that three of the top 10 responses you get will be: a palette with paints (you know, the round one with a hole for your thumb), gilt picture frame and canvas on an easel. Extending “pictorial history” is just not my priority, nor should it necessarily be curators’.

Third, I’m reminded of something the artist Paul Chan enigmatically said in his SFAI lecture, about “those who’ve been left behind by Modernism” — subcultures who are developing their own Modernisms, not to speak of tackling Post-Modernism (or Post-Minimalism, for that matter). I think that if thousands of tourists and students get to see the retrospectives by Roni Horn (the only female artist on Smith’s lists) or Gabriel Orozco (the only artist of color and person from the Global South; not splitting hairs about Gordon Matta-Clark, OK?), good for all of them.

Smithson, Matta-Clark, Graham and Weiner form like a board of directors of Post-Minimalism, and though I’d wonder what makes a Weiner show urgent or necessary, I’d guess that scores of art students and artists are grateful for the chances to see Smithson’s, Matta-Clark’s and Graham’s work in person, a small ameliorative for the feeling of being born too late to see Earth works and site-specific interventions of the 1960s and 70s. Smithson and Graham are significant influences for young contemporary artists, especially when you look at the resurgence of cheeky Romanticism in the curatorial work of Lawrence Rinder, the earthy Transcendentalism of shows like Alchemy at Southern Exposure and the emphasis on viewers in social/relational art.

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Community, Research

MDR, Balloons, Exuberance

MONSTER DRAWING RALLY PHOTOS & VIDEO. Check out this slideshow of the Monster Drawing Rally by Hanna Quevedo on SFWeekly.com! There’s also a short video on VidSF.com.

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BALLOONS. Thinking about them lately, and came across this awesome photo sequence of a sculpture made of balloons by Hans Hemmert on thepigments.com. Sweet.

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IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE. This economics term, coined by Alan Greenspan, shook markets worldwide in the 1990s. What a paradox. I’ve been thinking about pleasure and its crucial role in the formation of happiness since I started studying positive psychology last year. I’ve also been using unabashedly exuberant typefaces, especially high-contrast Didot faces, despised in their day and seen as both high-class and slightly cheap today. The idea that exuberance is irrational to be equally ludicrous as the idea of exuberance should be rational. It’s a delicious paradox.

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Art & Development

Zeitgeists, LA art, Mysteries

Frieze, January-February 2010. Source: Frieze.com.

Even critics who hate contemporary art reckon on [the zeitgeist]—it allows them to use a small handful of particularly loathed examples in order to damn an entire system.

Dan Fox, “Spirit Guide: The Many Uses o f the Zeitgeist,” Frieze, January-February 2010.

If I had a nickel for every time someone cited Damien Hirst’s diamond-covered skull as everything that’s wrong with contemporary art….

There are certain sectors of the art world that crave a useful social role for art. Other see art as an activity making important contributions to intellectual discourse. Many look to art for pleasure. And then there are those who appreciate all of this seriousness, but crave the trappings of the entertainment industry too—fame, power, money, glamour, hierarchies, cultural parochialism. One year the art world is interested in this, the next year it’s interested in that. It wants to party, it wants to be scholarly. Markets go up, markets go down. … Everything changes and nothing changes…

—Fox, cont.

Fox’s tone might be interpreted as weary, or maybe even cynical. But I like to think that this passage is the art critic’s equivalent of the maxim, This too shall pass. Chasing the next trend in contemporary art, and comiserating about contradictions in the art world’s collective behavior, isn’t worth the time. Paradox happens.

Glimpse a tiny peek at the massive (9×14′ and up) photographs in Andreas Gursky‘s new exhibition at Gagosian Beverly Hills in “Andreas Gursky makes a long-distance connection” by Suzanne Muchnic, LA Times (March 6, 2010). They’re really a sight to behold.

Gary-Ross Pastrana, rule of thumb. Source: LATimes.com

Check out another great LA Times art review—this one of Minimum Yields Maximum, a group exhibition curated by Gina Osterloh and written by Leah Ollman.

Laura Collins-Hughes inaugurates a new series on alternative arts spaces with a profile of the very artist-friendly non-profit Southern Exposure for ARTicles, the blog of the National Arts Journalism Program.

I had a great time at SoEx’s Monster Drawing Rally, and was really pleased with the result of my hour (OK, 70 minutes) of cutting and collaging. Photos are forthcoming.

Brice Bischoff, Bronson Caves, 2010

Brice Bischoff, Bronson Caves, 2010. Source: SoEx.org


Alchemy, SoEx’s next exhibition, looks like it’s gonna be killer. Curated by Sarah Smith, the artists include Ellen Babcock, Brice Bischoff, Michelle Blade, John Chiara, Randy Colosky, Adam Hathaway, Christopher Sicat, Lindsey White. I suspect there will be many nicely executed photographs about magic in the mundane, and some unabashedly transcendentalist paintings and works on paper. A few years ago, I found San Francisco’s glut of dreamy, semi-ironic, new-age-y paintings terribly insincere and pretentious in their faux-naïveté. I’m still averse to woo-woo-for-woo-woo’s-sake, and laziness regardless of how it’s stylized. Alchemy presents highly capable artists and I’m looking forward to this show. Maybe I’ve sipped the Kool-Aid and it tasted great…. Drink it all in at the opening, Friday, March 12, 7-9pm, concurrent with the opening of Alison Pebworth’s Beautiful Possibility.

Image: Michelle Blade. Source: basebasebase.com

Image: Michelle Blade. Source: basebasebase.com


…Along those same lines, Michelle Blade‘s work can exhibit an earnestness that is anachronistically un-ironic, but I really loved every minute of viewing Blow as Deep as You Want to Blow, her solo exhibition at Triple Base Gallery (through March 21). [Full disclosure: she’s a collaborator of mine; I constructed the lightbox in the show.] She’s turned her high attention to materials and craftsmanship towards transcendence, patterned rugs and metaphysical books. Deploying opalescent paints and vellum marked on both sides, she’s created physical experiences of radiance. It’s Romanticism for 2010. Go see it in person. The front room is great, and if the back room, filled with accomplished works on paper, is not enough, there’s even more works on paper spilling over in a portfolio on the flat files. Inspirational work ethic and spirit-informing content matter.

Perhaps that’s why mystery, now more than ever, has special meaning. Because it’s the anomaly, the glaring affirmation that the Age of Immediacy has a meaningful downside. Mystery demands that you stop and consider—or, at the very least, slow down and discover. It’s a challenge to get there yourself, on its terms, not yours….

The point is, we should never underestimate process. The experience of the doing really is everything. The ending should be the end of that experience, not the experience itself.

J.J. Abrams, “J.J. Abrams on the Magic of Mystery,” Wired Magazine, 17.05, April 20, 2009.

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Citizenship

Irwin, Acconci, Poundland tat, Anno

Robert Irwin‘s works at MOCA‘s Collection exhibition: Gorgeous. Incredibly well-installed and lit. His flat dot paintings appeared soft and voluminous; the rounded discs read super flat. Really stunning to see them the way they are meant to be perceived.

My interest in art has never been about abstraction; it has always been about experience… My pieces were never meant to be deal with intellectually as ideas, but to be considered experientially.

—Robert Irwin, wall text, Collection at MOCA Grand

Following Irwin’s stellar lecture at Mills College, Vito Acconci will lecture there Wednesday, March 31st, 7:30pm. If the Irwin lecture was any indication, you’d best arrive 30 minutes early.

These odd, home-made product review videos sardonically critiquing cheap goods from Poundland stops (discount stores in the UK). Clearly, you get what you pay for with pathetic, mass-manufactured tat (crap); to review them is an exercise in absurdism. A jaunty Brit attitude keeps it cheeky.

Christine Wong Yap, This Too Shall Pass, 2010, papercut/collage: found cat calendar on fluorescent colored paper


Southern Exposure’s Monster Drawing Rally. I made two collages and had a great time. The Rally is a grand tradition in which artists draw for one hot hour, and collectors and non-collectors fight over who gets to purchase the works for a mere $60, all benefiting the alternative art org. When I see multiple buyers crowd around a work, the capitalist in me thinks about how much money the non-profit organization is losing by not auctioning the works. But selling the works at the fixed price to whoever draws the lucky card is really a fair system that keeps art affordable for everyone. Yay!

I also really like this video, “Spoiling Yosemite,” by artist Kim Anno.

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Art & Development, Community

first set of referents for 2010

Lacey Jane Roberts, Building it Up to Tear it Down, Southern Exposure
Lacey Jane Roberts, Building it Up to Tear it Down, Southern Exposure

Now through February 20, see three solo shows by Genevive Quick, Lacey Jane Roberts and Andy Vogt at Southern Exposure. Quick‘s optical devices constructed from paper and foamcore are phenomenal, pretty, and pretty phenomenal. I’m also looking forward to Mike Lai‘s one-night only performance on February 26. I honestly can’t remember being this excited for Chinese New Year because of art. Lion Dancers, a dance battle, giant fists! If there’s a new year’s cake (buttery mochi baked to a golden brown), I’m gonna freak out.

There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak is on at the Contemporary Jewish Museum closes January 19. Unfortunately, I went on a weekend and could hardly see a thing. Sendak’s empathy towards children’s emotions and vulnerability, and his fantastic line, color and typography have always been dear to me. It’s a treat to see original drawings on tracing paper, quick dummy mock-ups of books, and photo-ready art — acetate line work over watercolor on paper. Overall, though, Sendak is a hugely prolific artist, and I would have liked to see much more space allotted to the exhibition, some attention to his lettering, and proper screening rooms for the videos. Three videos are online, but many more interviews with Sendak are only viewable on monitors in the gallery with single headsets.

A lot of arts presenters are creating quality interactive content, but very little of it seems to escape the gallery walls. The Tate Channel and partners working with ArtBabble.org are wonderful exceptions. Quality videos featuring artist’s projects and interviews are great resources for art students, and they help the public appreciate contemporary art.

The 75th anniversary exhibition at SFMOMA had a lot of “greatest hits.” Having visited the collection galleries before, I was familiar with many of the works on display. There were some nice surprises: a selection of very elegant modern typewriters and their wonderfully designed poster advertisements, a television show produced by the SFMOMA to help their early audiences appreciate modern art, photographs by Will Rogan documenting “public sculptures” such as a Sainsbury’s bag stuck in a fence, and the gallery on Bay Area Figuration — one of the few places you can see several of David Park’s drippy, barely figurative paintings.

Another pleasant surprise was Jennifer Sonderby’s gorgeous exhibition signage: neat columns of matte black vinyl text, set off from the gallery walls with subtle fields of Tuftesque flat cream. I often wonder why proven conventions in print design (such as columns no wider than 60 characters) are disregarded in exhibition signage. I’m starting to believe that anything less than great visual design in modern or contemporary museums is inexcusable. There’s just too much design talent and typographic sensitivity among mass audiences for graphic design to be compromised.

A less pleasant surprise was the decision to organize a few rooms to honor specific early donors. I get that many museums were founded by philanthropists whose embrace of modern art should be acknowledged, still, when I consider the 20th century, I can’t ignore that wealth and power was often consolidated with the aid of discriminatory gestalts. Art exhibitions are ideological. It may not always be explicit, but curating rooms to honor donors sure makes it apparent.

To date, only the second floor galleries were open. An exhibition of photographs is forthcoming. I’m looking forward to visiting prints by Larry Sultan.

I also had the chance to visit the ICA Boston recently. The building was stunning, so much so that the art inside sometimes paled in comparison.

Damián Ortega: Do It Yourself is a great overview of conceptual strategies: improvisational sculptures made of everyday materials, serializing and re-ordering mural-painted bricks to create chance compositions, photographic taxonomies of building materials, formal examinations of cubes. His installation of an exploded view of a VW Beetle did not disappoint. I was surprised by the striking experience of perception in three dimensions. I also adored an installation of nine looped 16-mm film projections of domino-effect bricks in various wild and semi-inhabited landscapes. But the show also illustrated the risk of making work that doesn’t seek to please: sometimes the sum is underwhelming.

ICA Collection: In the Making confounded me: I thought ICAs are ICAs because they are not museums/collecting institutions. It was also hit-or-miss: I thought a small-sized gallery neutered works by Cornelia Parker and Roni Horn, but the show redeemed itself with transcendent, ethereal installations by Tara Donovan.

I wanted to like Krzysztof Wodiczko’s …Out of Here: The Veteran’s Project, because it’s so rare for contemporary artists to address current political issues. But the installation, which simulated the experience of being in an Iraqi neighborhood that falls into a chaotic combat zone, was loud, cinematic, and manipulative. If its goal was to make me feel vulnerable, it succeeded. But the fact is, I wasn’t actually there; I was in a gallery on the Boston waterfront getting shaken up by digital animations, voice actors reading a script, and sound effect artists having a field day. It was heavy handed, and yet, no more meaningful or revelatory than a video game.

But R.H. Quaytman‘s thoughtful, cheeky exhibition of paintings blurred the lines between painting, printmaking, sculpture and installation. They called into question the narrative inherent in exhibition-making, modernist tropes, museum storage and display, optical effects, and surface treatments and materials. It might have been neurotic painting-about-painting, yet it resulted in a curious, thought-provoking experience that I didn’t wholly understand, but enjoyed nonetheless. Ironically (or perhaps predictably?) Quaytman’s exhibition is part of a series featuring emerging artists. The show gave me hope that there’s still more to explore in contemporary art.

Curious:
The Survival Annex, shop within shoppe
At the Curiosity Shoppe, 855 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Grand opening just past, not sure how long exhibition/shop is on.

Front + Center: Weather Streams
Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin Headlands
Opening Sunday, January 17, 2-5pm
Thru Feb. 28

Ellen Harvey: The Room of Sublime Wallpaper (II)
Art Production Fund LAB
Wooster Street, NYC
Jan. 16 – Feb 20, 2010
Reception: Jan. 16, 5-7pm

Super Diversity – Who Participates Now?
Discussion on the phemomenon of ‘super diversity’ in the visual arts
INIVA, Rivington Place, London
Feb. 2, 2010, 6:30pm

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