Community, News, Travelogue

In Other Words, in a few pictures

Grateful for few days of art, sunshine, and friendly faces in California.

Thanks to everyone who came out to check out In Other Words at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. I really appreciate the interest and support! I think the show looks fantastic—all respect due to Kevin Chen, gallery director; Intersection staff, and the other artists for their thoughtful contributions.

The show continues through March 24, with many public events—most are free or sliding scale.

Here are a few snapshots, with better photos to follow on my site….

Positive Signs at In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Positive Signs greets viewers at In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Positive Signs at In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Closer view of Positive Signs. In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Another set of Positive Signs at In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Detail: Positive Sign #16 at In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Detail: Positive Sign #16 at In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Detail: Positive Sign #16 at In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Intersection Gallery Director Kevin Chen (center) delivered thoughtful comments, connecting the show's linguistic theme with the gallery's location in the San Francisco Chronicle building.

Intersection Gallery Director Kevin Chen (center) delivered thoughtful comments, connecting the show's linguistic theme with the gallery's location in the San Francisco Chronicle building.

Susan O'Malley's sandwich boards. In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Susan O'Malley's sandwich boards. In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Another project by Susan O'Malley involved semi-hidden placards. In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Another project by Susan O'Malley involved semi-hidden placards. In Other Words, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Meryl Pataky had a nice pair of installed wire works, whose shadows spelled positive and negative words phonetically.

Meryl Pataky had a nice pair of installed wire works, whose shadows spelled positive and negative words phonetically.

More photos, including the infamous pinkie cam treatment, on Alan Bamberger’s ArtBusiness.com site.

Snapshots of other exhibitions I enjoyed…

Kinetic media installation by Mario Ancalmo, SECA 2010, SFMOMA.

Kinetic media installation by Mario Ancalmo, SECA 2010 exhibition, SFMOMA.

See also Ancalmo’s show at Eli Ridgeway Gallery; don’t miss the lower level installations.

Deflated balloon dog by Jeffrey Songco, Steven Wolf Fine Arts.

Deflated balloon dog by Jeffrey Songco, Steven Wolf Fine Arts.

No photos, but worth checking out: Gina Osterloh’s solo show of studio photos and a documentary about blind massuers, connected by her interest in dysfunctions of the body of  and Richard T. Walker’s video at ybca.

…as well as inspiring studio visits…

Studio visit with Stephanie Syjuco.

Studio visit with Stephanie Syjuco.

Spool holders, hooray!

Spool holders, hooray!

Studio visit with Michael Arcega. Baby, the artist-designed and -made collapsible, outrigger canoe, under a pinata-disco ball-hybrid. Not to mention an envy-inspiring woodshop in the studio.

Studio visit with Michael Arcega. Baby, the artist-designed and -made collapsible, outrigger canoe, under a pinata-disco ball-hybrid. Not to mention an envy-inspiring woodshop in the studio.

Mini disco ball, wood glue, and the story of a sailing expedition at Michael Arcega's studio.

Mini disco ball, wood glue, and the story of a sailing expedition at Michael Arcega's studio.

Free crate + casters + door + sawhorses = two tables that fold into one. Genius.

Free crate + casters + door + sawhorses = two tables that fold into one. Genius!

Plus, (aerial) Geometry vs Abstraction.

Geometry

Geometry.

Geometry detail.

Geometry detail.

Abstraction.

Abstraction.

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Community, Travelogue

Travelogue: Portland, OR and San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Just came back from a trip to the West Coast to see family, friends, and art. Here are my cultural highlights…

Portland, OR

My old college buddy Victor Maldonado, who’s now a professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and seems to know everybody in the PDX art scene, was kind enough to take me around to galleries in the Pearl District. The scene is small but some spaces, like Elizabeth Leach Gallery, are clearly top-notch. The gallery owners were friendly and their storefront spaces seemed welcoming. Good times.

Jenny Holzer's tough-talking texts at the Printed Matter show at the Pacific Northwest College of Art's Feldman Gallery.

Jenny Holzer's tough-talking texts at the Printed Matter show at the Pacific Northwest College of Art's Feldman Gallery.

Gorgeous exhibition space in Weiden+Kennedy's foyer.

Gorgeous exhibition space in Weiden+Kennedy's foyer. Neat show examining work, including a publication with a prose poem by Victor Maldonado, an old college buddy.

I liked these photo-based color abstractions by Thomas Campbell in the Pearl Room at Powell's Books.

I liked these photo-based color abstractions by Thomas Campbell in the Pearl Room at Powell's Books.

Nice painted-out photos by John Beech at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. A beautiful space to boot; so happy for Ryan Pierce, who's represented by them.

Nice painted-out photos by John Beech at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. A beautiful space to boot; so happy for Ryan Pierce, who's represented by them.

James Minden's etched/scribed black plexiglas works; three perspectives on the same work.

James Minden's etched/scribed black plexiglas works; three perspectives on the same work. At Augen Gallery.

Hall of video portraits. Susie Lee. Portland Art Museum.

Hall of video portraits. Susie Lee. Portland Art Museum.

Video portrait by Susie Lee.

Video portrait by Susie Lee.

Erotic Victorian figurines by Chris Anteman, also in the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards show.

Erotic Victorian figurines by Chris Anteman, also in the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards show.

This work reminded me very much of the work of Bay Area ceramicist Erik Scollon.

This work reminded me very much of the work of Bay Area ceramicist Erik Scollon.

No photos but worth mentioning… The Museum of Contemporary Craft has at least two CCA connections, currently exhibiting an audio-weaving project by alumna Christy Matson and hosting a talk by faculty Deborah Valoma on July 9. Nice exhibition signage and web design to boot…. I also enjoyed my visit to Blue Sky Gallery, the home for the Oregon Center for Photographic Arts, and would encourage my photography friends to look them up.

I would have liked to check out some of the artist-run spaces in Central Eastside and the galleries at the surrounding colleges, but those will have to wait until a future visit.

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

I got to see lots of art, friends, and art by friends in San Francisco. Staying in the West Bay, I wasn’t able to make it to the East Bay enough. But I got to see ambitious projects by friends at familiar spaces (Stephanie Syjuco at Catherine Clark Gallery), new spaces for familiar galleries (such as Frey Norris Modern and Contemporary in the SOMA or Steven Wolf Fine Arts in the exciting destination arts district emerging around Southern Exposure), edgier galleries that may not be around forever, and spaces I just never made it to before (Di Rosa Preserve in Napa, CA, and SFMOMA’s top floor).

Casteneda/Reiman's landscape illusions and installations at Baer/Ridgeway, San Francisco.

Casteneda/Reiman's landscape illusions and installations at Baer/Ridgeway, San Francisco.

Steven Barich's meticulous graphite and charcoal works at Branch Gallery, Oakland.

Steven Barich's meticulous graphite and charcoal works at Branch Gallery, Oakland. Branch is a cool little space in that part of downtown that seems cooler than ever.

An aquatint with hand painting by Barich. Priced very affordably, as are all the works in the show. In my correspondence with the artist, I considered doing another information graphic comparing Bay Area art prices to those of other cities (haven't got the time or resources at the moment to take this on, sorry!)..

An aquatint with hand painting by Barich. Priced very affordably, as are all the works in the show. In my correspondence with the artist, I considered doing another information graphic comparing Bay Area art prices to those of other cities (haven't got the time or resources at the moment to take this on, sorry!).

Stephanie is super meticulous about the presentation of her work. I love the open backs of these crates and the industrial feel of the lasercut stands. The blurred out postcards are especially wily.

Stephanie is super meticulous about the presentation of her work. I love the open backs of these crates and the industrial feel of the lasercut stands. The blurred out postcards are especially wily. Knowing that the artist once worked at the Asian Art Museum, not far from Catherine Clark Gallery, makes the show quite cheeky.

Stephanie Syjuco's very finely tuned solo exhibition at Catherine Clark Gallery stages downloaded books and houseplants (!) in the back room.

Stephanie Syjuco's very finely tuned solo exhibition at Catherine Clark Gallery stages downloaded books and houseplants (!) in the back room.

Di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA.

Di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA.

Usually you can find an art opening when hipsters are lounging out front. Here, they're accompanied by Discenza's sign.

Usually you can find an art opening when hipsters are lounging out front. Here, they're accompanied by Discenza's sign.

Front of Inka Hoots' plane/shanty. Funny after building a shanty for Art in General just a week an a half ago.

Front of Inka Hoots' plane/shanty. Funny after building a shanty for Art in General just a week an a half ago.

Wall vinyl by Anthony Discenza. I like this writing-based practice; there's something distant and cynical while also engaged and a somewhat enraged.

Wall vinyl by Anthony Discenza. I like this writing-based practice; there's something distant and cynical while also engaged and a somewhat enraged.

Video installation by HalfLifers (Torsten Z. Burns and Anthony Discenza) at Zombie-Proof House at di Rosa Preserve. Short scenes where the artists portray zombies engaged in mundane tasks are interspersed with behind-the-scenes-like shots. Very appealing.

Video installation by HalfLifers (Torsten Z. Burns and Anthony Discenza) at Zombie-Proof House at di Rosa Preserve. Short scenes where the artists portray zombies engaged in mundane tasks are interspersed with behind-the-scenes-like shots. Very appealing.

Masterful photos, beautiful prints, nicely installed, very sad show. If the models' eyes are shown, they are downcast; expressions are grim; all but one are women, often nude, all very pale and probably underweight. This is going to seem like a very facile critique, but why do men still make work photographing nude, disempowered women? Is it because photography's connection to advertising allows for greater moral latitude or complicity with exploitative images?

Masterful photos, beautiful prints, nicely installed, very sad show. If the models' eyes are shown, they are downcast; expressions are grim; all but one are women, often nude, all very pale and probably underweight. This is going to seem like a very facile critique, but why do men still make work photographing nude, disempowered women? Is it because photography's inherent connection to advertising allows for greater moral latitude or complicity with exploitative images? Fraenkel, by the way, usually has great shows, and this fall's line-up is really exciting.

At Stephen Wirtz Gallery, Doug Rickard's photos pulled from Google Street View, primarily featuring dark-skinned people in dilapidated environs, made me a little sick too. I am all for art projects that appropriate Google Street View, but something about the selection of these images, and their presentation as nice, re-photographed photos, seems exploitative. I saw the Google van when it came down my street. I felt curious and powerless to escape its cameras. In these moments, the subjects are no more or less powerless in their relationship to the Google camera, but putting a magnifying glass to them for further inspection, and grouping them among other scenes of impoverishment, seems further, and unnecessarily, disempowering.

At Stephen Wirtz Gallery, Doug Rickard's photos pulled from Google Street View, primarily featuring dark-skinned people in dilapidated environs, made me a little sick too. I am all for art projects that appropriate Google Street View, but something about the selection of these images, and their presentation as nice, re-photographed photos, seems exploitative. I saw the Google van when it came down my street. I felt curious and powerless to escape its cameras. In these moments, the subjects are no more or less powerless in their relationship to the Google camera, but putting a magnifying glass to them for further inspection, and grouping them among other scenes of impoverishment, seems further, and unnecessarily, disempowering.

I liked a few different works in the group show at Haines Gallery in San Francisco. I'd loved an image of a camera obscura installation by Abelardo Morell, so it was nice to see this photo, though I'd rather experience the installation still.

I liked a few different works in the group show at Haines Gallery in San Francisco. I'd loved an image of a camera obscura installation by Abelardo Morell, so it was nice to see this photo, though I'd rather experience the installation still.

Small signs of protest against Ai Weiwei's detainment.

Small signs of protest against Ai Weiwei's detainment. Anytime people use Chinese take-out boxes, I cringe a little, but I appreciate the sentiment. This project appeared next to Christian L. Frock's Seed the Embassy materials..

Binh Danh's super cool daguerrotypes were also on view, for you to examine closely, at Haines.

Binh Danh's super cool daguerrotypes were also on view, for you to examine closely, at Haines.

These photograms by Wendy Small are quite nice. I overheard another visitor dismiss them as "decorative." Yes, they'd fit in as a cheeky Victorian element in someone's otherwise modern home, but still, the images are pretty neat.

These photograms by Wendy Small are quite nice. I overheard another visitor dismiss them as "decorative." Yes, they'd fit in as a cheeky Victorian element in someone's otherwise modern home, but still, the images are pretty neat.

Painting by James Chronister in Chromanticism at NOMA Gallery, curated by Liz Wing.

Painting by James Chronister in Chromanticism at NOMA Gallery, curated by Liz Wing.

Chronister detail.

Chronister detail.

These abstract geometric drawings on newsprint by Richard Kent Howie are sort of childish, but it was neat to see work that's ostensibly about color in such a limited palette. Also at NOMA Gallery.

These abstract geometric drawings on newsprint by Richard Kent Howie are sort of childish, but it was neat to see work that's ostensibly about color in such a limited palette. Also at NOMA Gallery.

Richard Kent Howie detail.

Richard Kent Howie detail.

Great video by David Claerbout at SFMOMA. Comprised of multiple shots of the same scene in an Asian high-rise apartment courtyard. The number and fineness of the images transition from believable to surreally plasticine. The video is called, Sections of a Happy Moment.

Great video by David Claerbout at SFMOMA. Comprised of multiple shots of the same scene in an Asian high-rise apartment courtyard. The number and fineness of the images transition from believable to surreally plasticine. The video is called, Sections of a Happy Moment.

Eija Liisa-Ahtila's message to viewers of her video installation at SFMOMA.

Eija Liisa-Ahtila's message to viewers of her video installation at SFMOMA.

2009 mica mural by Rosana Castrillo Diaz. That's a material I should work with.

2009 mica mural by Rosana Castrillo Diaz. That's a material I should work with.

Who can resist a Thiebaud cake? SFMOMA's Blue Bottle Cafe.

Who can resist a Thiebaud cake? SFMOMA's Blue Bottle Cafe. That means it's probably baked by painter/sculptor/cake-maker Leah Rosenberg.

Tobias Wong's mirrored puzzle. SFMOMA.

Tobias Wong's mirrored puzzle. SFMOMA.

A few moments after suppressing a few goodbye tears at SFO, I re-encountered this mosaic tile by Mike Mandell and Larry Sultan. Based on photographs of people awaiting arrivals, the faces are expectant. Reunifications are impending, and there's something very sweet about that joy counterbalancing the sorrow of goodbyes in equal measure at the airport.

A few moments after suppressing a few goodbye tears at SFO, I re-encountered this mosaic tile by Mike Mandell and Larry Sultan. Based on photographs of people awaiting arrivals, the faces are expectant. Reunifications are impending, and there's something very sweet about that joy counterbalancing the sorrow of goodbyes in equal measure at the airport.

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Community, News, Sights

Opening 6/16: Re-Covering @ Untitled Gallery (MCR), 6/17: AUDiNT @ Art in General (NYC)

OPENING THIS WEEK…

Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2011, glitter, neon and gel pen on vellum and paper, glitter foil on board, acetate, paper, ribbon, wood, 4.25 x 7 x 0.75 in / 11 x 18 x 2 cm

Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2011, glitter, neon and gel pen on vellum and paper, glitter foil on board, acetate, paper, ribbon, wood, 4.25 x 7 x 0.75 in / 11 x 18 x 2 cm

6/16: Preview for Re-Covering at Untitled Gallery, Manchester, UK
June 17–July 31
Preview: Thursday, June 16, 6-9pm

I re-designed the cover of Mihaly Csizkzentmihalyi’s Creativity—the form doubles as a creativity test—for this group show in Manchester, UK.

Curated by Mike Chavez-Dawson, Re-Covering is an exhibition of works by 40 local and international artists who redesign the cover of an influential book onto a reclaimed piece of oak from school libraries. Displayed on an installation of shelves, the works are standard paperback size (110mm x 178mm x 15mm).

Artists: David Shrigley, Billy Childish, Harry Hill, Magda Archer, Robert Casselton Clark, Laurence Lane, Mike Chavez-Dawson, Jane Chavez-Dawson, Monica Biagioli, Brian Reed, Lisa Slominski, Mr&Mrs, Andrew Bracey, Lee Machell, Paul Cordwell, Richard Healy, Nick Jordan, John Hyatt, Naomi Kashiwagi, Bren O’Callaghan & Mandy Tolley, Paul Stanley, Kai-Oi Jay Yung, David Alker, Ben Cove, Stratton Barrett & Peter Wankowicz, Cecilia Wee, Jake Geczy, Roisin Byrne, Christine Wong Yap, Ludovica Gioscia, Julie Hammonds & Kit Hammonds, Jason Minsky, Mark Haig & Sarah Perks, Ed Barton, Daniel Staincliffe, Margaret Cahill, Contents May Vary, Elizabeth Leeke, The Centre of Attention, Steve Hawley, Lee Campbell, The Confraternity of Neoflagellants & BABEL Working Group, Nicola Dale.

Concurrent programming includes The Reading, a multiple writers’ residency that will be projected live across multiple screens in Manchester including Cornerhouse, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, CUBE, Chinese Arts Centre, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery, and The Reading Room Collection, MMU Library.

Opening 6/17: AUDiNT’s Dead Record Office @ Art in General, NYC
June 17–July 23

I helped out with the build in this immersive audio installation. Unfortunately I won’t be there for the opening (which is probably going to be Friday night, 6-8pm; double-check first!), but it is shaping up to be a really neat show. If you haven’t been to Art in General, go check them out! I think they have a great space and do really interesting shows, and it’s actually really easy to get there, just off Canal Street.

AUDiNT, short for “Audio Intelligence” is a collaborative, research team comprised of artists and scholars Steve Goodman, Toby Heys and Jon Cohrs. Their upcoming exhibition, Dead Record Office, explores the historical and fictitious relationship between sound and warfare.

CLOSING TODAY, 6/12…
Procedural
MacArthur B Arthur, 4030 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA

LOOKING FORWARD TO…

San Francisco

Through July 16
Stephanie Syjuco: Raiders!
Catherine Clark Gallery

Through July 30
Ranu Mukherjee: Absorption into the Nomadic and Luminous
Frey Norris Modern & Contemporary

Through June 26
Metric: Dana Hemenway and Anthony Ryan; Curated by Jessica Brier
Park Life Gallery

June 17–July 23
Opening Friday, June 17, 6-8pm
Chromaticism: Elijah Burgher, James Chronister, Richard Kent Howie, Cybele Lyle; Curated by Liz Wing
NOMA Gallery
[Super bummed to miss the last day of Ryan Thayer‘s gadget photograms]


Bay Area

June 18 to September 17
Zombie-Proof House
Anthony Discenza, HalfLifers (Torsten Z. Burns and Anthony Discenza), Suzanne Husky, Inka Hoots (Joshua Short and Joel Dean Stockdill), Packard Jennings, Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao, Whitney Lynn, Julio Cesar Morales, Lucy Puls, and Carol Selter.
di Rosa, Napa, CA

Through July 1
Steven Barich: Zen with a Kickstand
bayVAN/Branch Gallery
, 455 17th St. Suite 301, Oakland, CA

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Meta-Practice, Projects, Research

Should I Stay or Should I Go? on Art Practical

Art Practical, Should I Stay or Should I Go? Christine Wong Yap

My feature on artists staying or leaving the Bay Area is finally out in the current issue of Art Practical. Thanks to the interviewed artists—Michael Arcega, Pablo Guardiola, Stephanie Syjuco, Emma Spertus, and Jenifer Wofford—for their time and insight. And a deep bow to Editor-in-Chief Patricia Maloney, Copy Editor Victoria Gannon and the rest of the Art Practical team for their support and guidance!

“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Feature story published on
Art Practical, Issue 2.10

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Art & Development

Shadowshop is now open for business!

I’m a proud participant in Shadowshop:

a temporary and alternative store/distribution point embedded within the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s fifth floor galleries, Shadowshop will stock hundreds of artists’ multiples, small works, tchotchkes, catalogs, books, zines, media works, and other distributive creative output.

While operating as an actual mom-and-pop style store, Shadowshop is also a platform for exploring the ways in which artists are navigating the production, consumption, and dissemination of their work. Four themes (1. artwork-as-commodity, 2. cultural souvenirs, 3. bootlegs and counterfeits, and 4. alternative distribution systems) will contextualize selected projects that are both complicit with and also critical of capitalist circulation. Special projects will be commissioned by Packard Jennings, Juan Luna-Avin, and Imin Yeh.

For almost six months (November 20, 2010—May 1, 2011) Shadowshop will feature only local Bay Area works, give museum visitors access to a wide variety of affordable wares, and provide a snapshot of a vibrant and energetic art scene.

Support your local artists! 100% of pre-tax sales from Shadowshop go directly to the artists.

A project by Stephanie Syjuco in conjunction with the SFMOMA exhibition “The More Things Change” and supported by the Live Art program.

Along with multiples I’ve made by hand, I contributed a new work…
u&me, me&u pillows

With alternating texts on each side, u&me/me&u acknowledges the give and take in relationships between lovers, friends, and artists and viewers, and the validity of diverse perspectives. It is inspired by a pillow embroidered by activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.

u&me/me&u are sewn by the artist in small editions. The open edition will primiere at Shadowshop, a temporary and alternative store/distribution point by Stephanie Syjuco for the exhibition The More Things Change at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

100% of profits from u&me/me&u at Shadowshop will be donated to Marriage Equality USA, an all-volunteer, national non-profit organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the federal and state level, without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation.

shadowshop, local art for mass distribution

To purchase the pillows ($75 each) and support marriage equality, visit Shadowshop, on the fifth floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, from November 20, 2010–May 1, 2011. If you are unable to visit SFMOMA, email me to reserve a pillow from a forthcoming batch, to be produced in the coming months.
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Art & Development

Installation/text/light artists

Recently I stumbled upon a trove of online installation art. Many of the works were curious and conceptually-leaning. It was quite a surprise to find so many works that appealed to my sensibilities and interests in contemporary art.

This started a few days ago, when a photo of my installation, Dark into Light, was featured on ArtSlant Amsterdam, in a monthly section called ArtShow. Curiously, my work was in the Established/Blue Chip category, alongside work by artists like Nancy Spero and Marcel Broodthaers. I’m not being modest to say that I don’t belong in this classification, but I’m grateful for the inclusion for the simple fact that it drove me to poke around the site, and be introduced and re-familiarized with some really fantastic artists.

Below is a list of artists whose work resonated with me. I drew connections between these works, my past and future projects, and projects by my colleagues.

TEXTS & TYPEFACES

Allen Ruppersberg, Wallpaper from The New Five Foot Shelf, Dia Projects. Image source Dia Art Foundation Artists Web Projects
Allen Ruppersberg, Wallpaper from The New Five Foot Shelf, Dia Projects. Image source: Dia Art Foundation Artists Web Projects.

It can take me a while to warm to the work of certain text-based artists. Allen Ruppersberg is one example, though he is certifiably Blue Chip. I didn’t have a way (or maybe, a reason) to engage his work more fully, until I came recently across his Dia Art Foundation Artist’s Web Project (2004). There’s a lot to appeal to me:
–the exuberant typography and effervescent cheer of vintage musical scores (which relates to my Cheap & Cheerful explorations, but really, what hungry graphic designer wouldn’t love these?),
–interwoven found texts (see: Jonathan Lethem’s “The Ecstacy of Influence” in Harper’s Magazine for a great example of this form of conceptual writing),
–the instantly-recognizable Duchamp catalog I poured over in graduate school, and
–this sentence from the Introduction:

For an artist whose practice is centered around reading, to make available these texts is metaphorically equivalent to handing viewers the painter’s brush and palette and letting them loose in his studio

I love this for two reasons. First, my reading time — an essential part of my studio practice — seems perpetually vulnerable. To make it a central — rather than a desirable — aspect of one’s practice sounds brilliant. Second, I think it’s brave and interesting when artists allow the viewers a greater engagement.

The photos of Rupperberg’s office (available as downloadable wallpapers) are pretty great too — dense photographs that reward snooping, and it makes for a cheeky conceptual “desktop.”

Now I’m kicking myself for missing his recent show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

COMMODITY INFLUENCES

Damian Ortega, Cosmic Thing, 2002. Image Source: ICABoston.org
Damian Ortega, Cosmic Thing, 2002
Image Source: ICABoston.org

I’ve admired Damián Ortega‘s work for some time now, so I’d love the chance to see “Damián Ortega: Do It Yourself,” a mid-career exhibition at the Boston ICA. On display is his famous exploded-view of a VW Beetle installation, “Cosmic Thing” (2002).

I’m also appreciating his Artist’s Page on White Cube’s website. The bio is really well-written. I find these passages especially concise and informative (as well as related to my current interest in consumer culture):

Damián Ortega’s work explores specific economic, aesthetic and cultural situations and in particular how regional culture affects commodity consumption.

He creates sculptures, installations, videos and actions inspired by a wide range of mundane objects, from golf balls and pick-axes to bricks, rubbish bins and even tortillas, all subjected to what has been described as Ortega’s characteristically “mischievous process of transformation and dysfunction”.

Germane facts about an idiosyncratic practice.

I’d better understand NYC-based Samara Golden‘s maximalist installations of found imagery, found objects and video if I could see them in person. In lieu of that, you can visit her webpage. The assemblages are so densely packed I don’t know where to start looking at them; it’s a sensation that some of my upcoming projects might create, and I’m ambivalent about it. Her use of found digital imagery mounted on foamcore recalls Stephanie Syjuco’s Greymarket project, and some of her stage/altar-like installations exhibit an unbridled psychedelia and desire to be living that remind me of Donna Huanca’s work. These are pretty feeble comparisons, I know, and if anything it drives home a point for me: found materials in large quantities are transformed in different ways than traditional art materials, which lend the idea of autonomy, and perhaps a more easily-attainable formal coherence.


Pittsburg- and NY-based Kim Beck’s Everything Must Go project utilizes cheap, ubiquitous fluorescent shop signs that have inspired many artists, myself included. I like how Beck describes their visual appeal:

these signs announce an amazing, momentous, but also catastrophic, clearance event.

LIGHT & COLOR


Pipilloti Rist, Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters), 2008 Multichannel audio-video installation Installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Frederick Charles, fcharles.com. Image Source: Hauser & Wirth.com

I haven’t had the chance to experience Pipilotti Rist‘s immersive environments first-hand, so I examined the images of her work at Hauser & Wirth’s website. I noted the application of theatrical light sources (LED PAR cans!), the combination of massive projections or images and spaces with human-scaled furnishings or home interior elements, and an appealing sense of humanity/universalism. While her videos sometimes depict herself, the viewer experience seems central in her work; she seems to create environments for interaction and shared experience. The results are trippy, chill, of-the-moment, maybe a bit P.L.U.R., and very generous.

Martin Durazo, STOR, 04, Acuna Hansen Gallery. Image source: ArtSlant.com
Martin Durazo, STOR, 04, Acuna Hansen Gallery. Image source: ArtSlant.com

Kimberlee Koym-Murteira, Pulsation, Interactive Installation Video, Dimensions Vary, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, CA. Image Source: KimberleeKoym-Murteira.com
Kimberlee Koym-Murteira, Pulsation, Interactive Installation Video, Dimensions Vary, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, CA. Image Source: KimberleeKoym-Murteira.com

These works by LA-based Martin Durazo are pretty great too. Assemblages of recognizable mundane materials, color, light, making sculptures that are not static, and avoid that implacable sense of permanence. Only because they both make installations using light and colored water, I thought it would be neat to also look at Kimberlee Koym-Murteira’s work.

Jeremy Earhart, The Thin Ice of Modern Life, Installation Shot, 2008, acrylic sheeting, automotive paint, string, blacklights, dimensions variable. Image Source: thewhiskeydregs.com
Jeremy Earhart, The Thin Ice of Modern Life, Installation Shot, 2008, acrylic sheeting, automotive paint, string, blacklights, dimensions variable. Image Source: thewhiskeydregs.com

NYC-based Jeremy Earhart makes Plexiglas sculptures. He cuts, buffs and assembles tinted acrylic sheets, and exhibits them under full-spectrum or UV lights. He employs pop imagery and design strategies. The results are fitting for Vegas. Earhart is “a decorative painter” in the medium of Plexiglas.

I do like the medium of Plexiglas, and I think its kitsch value can be intelligently explored, however, Earhart takes the ambiguous stance (which many artists enjoy) of muddling the presence of content with significance of concept.

Beat Zoderer, installation at Art Basel Unlimited 2009. Image Source: dominikmerschgallery.com
Beat Zoderer, installation at Art Basel Unlimited 2009. Image Source: dominikmerschgallery.com


Beat Zoderer, Installation Art Basel Unlimited 2009 – Flying carpet. Image Source: dominikmerschgallery.com

The Swiss sculptor and installation artist Beat Zoderer expresses color and form. I have a love-hate relationship with pure formalism, but in investigating optimism, I began thinking about making works that declare unwarranted exuberance. Zoderer’s installation at Art Basel Unlimited (2009) is breathlessly exuberant, and yet very formal. He placed a charmingly oversized ball of strips of color in a white cube. It’s whimsical, surprising and sweet. My visceral reaction to it is a sense of play; it is not unlike a play structure for children. I also enjoy the cheekiness of upsetting the viewing paradigm; like Tetsuo in the final scenes of Akira, the sculpture threatens to steamroll or absorb viewers and architecture indiscriminately. My critical reaction to Flying Carpet, however, is a sense of repulsion; it looks like inoffensive public art fitting for corporate business parks. When art selection committees believe that the role of public art is to beautify, you end up with public art like this. Civic landscape rick-rack.

LO-FI HUMOR

I’d seen the work of Swiss interdisciplinary artist Olaf Breuning in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, but the experience did not stand out to me. At the time, I jotted in my notes, “self-indulgent.” Lo-fi drawing styles like his can be read as a slackness in craft that is hard to distinguish from laziness.

But I visited his website, which is loaded with Easter eggs, and his work and site are utterly charming. The insistent humor, the obsession with cartoonish figures/toys and a very cute, accessible aesthetic make for work that is not afraid to look “dumb.”

Olaf Breuning, The Apple, 2006. Image Source: OlafBreuning.com
Olaf Breuning, The Apple, 2006. Image Source: OlafBreuning.com

Olaf Breuning, Bread Vs Potato, 2006. Image source: OlafBreuning.com
Olaf Breuning, Bread Vs Potato, 2006. Image source: OlafBreuning.com

Bread vs Potato is a brilliant example of this. You take the visual similarity between rolls and potatoes, add scary red eyes and a marching formation and voilá, contemporary art. It’s so dumb and hilarious and interesting to look at you wish you thought if it yourself. Like so many mutterings in museums of modern art, I look at that and think I could make that.

But the fact is, I didn’t. I could put eyes on potatoes, but I didn’t think of it. I don’t have the brain that comes up with things like that, nor do I have the nerve to install a marching army of rolls and call it an example of my life’s work.

I think Toni Morrison wrote something about the inability to distinguish between courage and simply being tough. Similarly, I think to take creative risks, artists have to summon courage, resilience, persistence and recklessness, though viewers may only sense the latter.

You can see a large slide show of Olaf Breuning’s works on Beck’s Colorspace webzine. I especially like his Clouds (2008) piece consisting of rows of multi-colored smoke bombs, especially after my recent contribution to Color&Color, a new artist’s publication.

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Art & Development

Here’s to women and risk-taking

Housewarming. The ribbons are embroidered with SoEx Rules.

Housewarming. The ribbons are embroidered with SoEx Rules.

CHEERS to the female-staffed SoEx, for successfully pulling off the grand opening of a beautiful permanent home.

and

CHEERS to Stephanie Syjuco, for successfully bridging her interest in black markets with a commercial art fair, to critical acclaim. It’s a dicey proposition to put other artists and galleries’ livelihood (and by extension, one’s own popularity and career if there’s a bad fallout) at stake but Stephanie forged (ahem!) ahead with a great idea, and it’s proven to be a timely commentary on the art market and the economic climate. Read about Copystand, her project at the Frieze Art Fair on NYTimes.com and Guardian.co.uk.

These feats are admirable. It’s pretty extraordinary to be so committed to a vision and a practice. You could say that being an artist is like being a small business owner — the fact is, most people don’t have the stomach for the financial ups and downs, much less the creative ones.

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious.

Calvin Tompkin’s recent profile of contemporary artist Urs Fishcher in the New Yorker left me with two major takeaways. Curiously, they had nothing to do with art practice — Fischer seems too mercurial to extract much substance in that area. Rather, I was quite impressed with Urs Fischer as an organization.

Tompkins described a visit to Fischer’s studio, where the staff ate lunch — loaves of french bread and cheese — communally in the studio kitchen. I loved this. If I ever have staff, I’d like it to be the kind of work environment where a convivial meal is part of the day. (I’d add tea, fruit and chutney to the pantry.)

Second, Fischer employed close friends whose honesty and judgment he could rely on. Only very successful international artists can command fees that allow for full-time staff, yet I find the idea of paying people who I love and trust, and treating them well as colleagues, to be really beautiful and inspiring.

It’s wildly ambitious for me to imagine myself in Fischer’s shoes. Yet these mental notes form a welcome alternative to the model of the lone artist toiling away in isolation and struggle.

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