In the current issue of Art Practical, I review Elaine Buckholtz’ exhibition at Triple Base. There’s also a thoughtful review of We have as much time as it takes by Jessica Brier.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
…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.
A random round-up of things I’ve seen or are looking forward to:
Robert Irwin‘s rambling, 50-MPH monologue at Mills College. I couldn’t sum up what he said — comparing Modernism to a cup of Coke, and proposing an array of realms of art rather than a hierarchical pyramid — but I’m pretty sure it was brilliant. I should probably re-visit Lawrence Weschler’s biography of Robert Irwin, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees after all the other books I’m reading, or intending to read (Ranciere’s The Future of The Image and Beyond Visual Perspective by Gaetano Curreri-Alibrand. Yikes!). Cheers to Mills for bringing such an influential and erudite artist to the East Bay.
Valentine’s Day Celebration at Glide Memorial Church.
I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life, but I am taking time to appreciate quintessentially San Franciscan experiences like visiting Glide, a Unitarian church whose openness, political activism and community service is a prime example of powerful faith-based progressive work. M and I attended the service on the suggestion of a friend, who was performing an excerpt of The Erica Chong Shuch Performance Projects‘ Love Everywhere, a beautiful, tender dance/theater/music performance on love and marriage equality—the civil rights struggle of our time. It was really profound to have the time and space to celebrate love in all of its manifestations—unconditional love, the love of one’s community, to love fiercely and courageously—on Valentine’s Day. (How many red teddy bears does anyone need anyway?) More often, what’s needed is a reminder to look beyond your immediate situation towards community, and to be in spaces where you are accepted as you are. To love and be beloved.
Collaborative installation by Chris Bell, Elaine Buckholtz, and Floor Van Herreweghe at SF Arts Commission Window Space, 155 Grove Street, San Francisco
For Chain Reaction 11, artists were invited to nominate other artists to exhibit at SFAC. One chain went beyond the call and developed a collaborative installation that fills the window site with a sculpture, video and light work, and spills onto Grove with a moody, Sam Shepard-esque musical component. It’s wonderfully unexpected and surreal, and it’s one of my favorite art things that I’ve seen of late. I urge you to visit it, especially at nighttime. It’s on view 24/7 at 155 Grove Street through May 16.
Friday, February 19, 7-10pm: Opening Reception
Blow As Deep As You Want to Blow: New Work by Michelle Blade
Triple Base, 3041 — 24th Street, San Francisco
Exhibition: February 19 – March 21, 2010
Weird bad paintings; don’t come to this if you leave your sense of humor at home.
Denim on Ice: paintings by Keith Boadwee / Erin Allen / Isaac Gray
Steven Wolf Fine Arts, 49 Geary St., Suite 411, San Francisco
Exhibition: February 19 – Mar 20, 2010
A few more days to catch Involved, Socially, a group show to which I’ve contributed a mail art swap featuring 32 international artists and a new iteration of the text/light installation, Unlimited Promise. You can see it today (Thursday) through Sunday, September 6, noon to 5pm.
Curated by Michelle Blade
Amanda Curreri, David Horvitz, Mark McKnight, Jessica Williams and Christine Wong Yap
August 7–September 6, 2009
Opening Reception: August 7, 7–10pm
Triple Base Gallery
3041 24th Street, San Francisco, CA
gallery hours: Thu-Sun 12-5pm
Hiya Swanhuyser valiantly connected This & That and astronomical phenomena in a write-up on SFWeekly.com (Cheers to Joshua Churchill, whose transit-specific project garnered Swanhuyer’s appreciation)
Involved, Socially is reviewed here:
Thanks to Dina and Joyce at Triple Base, Michelle Blade for having me in the show and compelling me to go one step beyond only exhibiting a work, M for love and support despite my week-long installation myopia, and the countless friends, supporters and mentors who attended, the opening reception for Involved, Socially seemed like a success.
It was well-attended, with a constant flow of people, and lots of time spent looking at art, reading texts and having good conversations.
I feel like both projects that I contributed, This & That International Mail Art Swap (a curatorial project in the back room featuring 32 artists) and Unlimited Promise (an installation in the basement) were strong, so I’m content.
Thanks to all the artists in This & That for being such interesting artists and exhibiting professionalism, generosity and flexibility. Big thanks to Chris Bell, Joshua Churchill, Taro Hattori, Ali Naschke-Messing, Anthony Ryan, and Scott Oliver (who helped tremendously by installing his multi-part work) for coming to the opening. Thanks also to Susan Chen, who dispatched patience and editorial advice.
Involved, Socially runs through September 6th. Gallery hours are Thurs-Sun 12-5pm. For more info visit basebasebase.com. To learn more about This & That International Mail Art Swap, visit mailartswap.christinewongyap.com.
I’m pleased to announce a new curatorial project, This & That, an invitational mail art swap among international artists. Initiated in July 2009, This & That is a grassroots exchange by artists for artists.
32 artists/collaboratives are from 7 countries are participating:
Poklong Anading (Manila)
Chris Bell (Austrailia/San Francisco)
Simon Blackmore (Manchester)
Simon & Tom Bloor (Birmingham/London)
Jon Brumit (Chicago)
Michelle Carollo (NYC)
Mike Chavez-Dawson (Manchester)
Susan Chen (San Francisco)
Joshua Churchill (San Francisco)
Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson (Berlin/Manchester)
N. Sean Glover (Pittsburg, Penn., USA)
Mary Griffiths (Manchester)
Antony Hall (Manchester)
Taro Hattori (Oakland, Calif., USA)
Eric Hongisto (San Francisco)
Sarah Kabot (Ohio, USA)
Scot Kaplan (Ohio, USA)
Verity-Jane Keefe (London)
Yuen Fong Ling (Manchester)
Ivy Ma (Hong Kong)
David Moises (Vienna)
Ali Naschke-Messing (San Francisco)
Scott Oliver (Oakland, Calif., USA)
Susan O’Malley (San Francisco)
Laurence Payot (Liverpool)
Pest (Rebecca Chesney, Robina Llewellyn & Elaine Speight) (Preston, Lancs, UK)
Anthony Ryan (San Francisco)
David Sherry (Glasgow)
Daniel Staincliffe (Manchester)
Tattfoo Tan (NYC)
Jenifer K. Wofford (Oakland/Prague)
MM Yu (Manila)
See the entries at exhibition, or at the opening reception — Friday, August 7, 7-10 pm — or check mailartswap.christinewongyap.com.