Friday, May 16, 2008

Stretch Marks

I left Jay-Tard trying on a pair of my shorts

and headed for the opening of Young Blood's new space.

Ran into Jenn Brown, who is one half of the team responsible for the design of the new boutique space, which looks really great.

It was packed, the space is incredible, not so much a step up from the Grant Park location as an effing leap. This shop could be the Helix Athens transplants have been missing.

The art wasn't quite as exciting.

Jessica Gonacha "Moving Mountains"

Jessica Gonacha had a series of paintings claiming to explore the relationships between people and the environment and themselves. But more accurately they reflected her stated motto "life is not to be taken seriously." Going further, Gonacha recommends you "tenaciously fill your days with satisfaction."
Sometimes it's better not to have an artist statement...

Valerie Taylor Pensworth "Magnified Moments Series: Winter Woes"

Gonacha was shown with the prolific Valerie Taylor Pensworth, whose series "Magnified Moments" paired ink illustrations representing connected memories or contrasting views of arguments within the artist.

Valerie Taylor Pensworth "Magnified Moments Series: S.P."

Valerie Taylor Pensworth "Magnified Moments Series: Love Seat"

This piece made nice use of the format.

Valerie Taylor Pensworth "Biding Time"

Other works were more cursory. The title Biding Time seemed an appropriate name for a show celebrating the frivolity of light hearted paintings

Valerie Taylor Pensworth "Live Wire"

and unfunny jokes.

The gallery began to feel a bit like a continuation of the boutique. Maybe its a telling change that the boutique is now the first room entered in the Highland space whereas it flanked the exhibition space in Grant Park. Marketing ploy perhaps but it sets a tone.

Valerie Taylor Pensworth "Sentimental Secrets"

Pensworth's blue lady pieces were pleasing to the eye

Valerie Taylor Pensworth "Greatest Expectations"

especially this one.

Jessica Gonacha and Valerie Pensworth "In Between the Rain"

The artists collaborated on two larger sculptural pieces cut from mat board and paper.

Tracy trying to focus despite the heat

this gizmo seems to have gone largely neglected...

The pieces were highly detailed and ambitious in craft but remained aloof.

Then again, nestled in the Highlands, this is going to look rad on the nursery wall of some cute blond kid named Dakota.
Go check out the new space and shop in the artist stocked boutique. The show "In Between the Rain" up until May 31st 2008.


cinque said...

Hey yo, I'm in L.A. Be back soon, but thanks for the photos. By the way, you couldn't be more wrong about this: "The pieces were highly detailed and ambitious in craft but remained aloof." Just wrong. That piece was the epitome of generosity!! see ya soon.

Ben Grad said...

Hey Cinque, what do you mean by generosity?

And Jonathan, what do you mean by "aloof?"

You're using those terms to describe some aspect of the viewer's interaction with/interpretation of the piece, right?

Jonathan said...

I used "aloof" to describe the pieces because the two artists stubbornly avoided addressing anything beyond their own amusement with making the work. The two large cloud sculptures were the epitome of this. The sculptures take no conceptual responsibility - they are in essence simply decorative, or aloof, to any of the more serious responsibilities of art presented in galleries (i.e. to provoke, to question, etc) and the artists justify this by claiming a heightened sense of universal understanding in seeing, in their old, wise age, that life should not be taken so seriously.

Which is fine, people are free to make what they wish, but it reflects poorly on a gallery to champion this when their aim is to represent the DIY art of the young artists; though the sales were high indeed.

cinque said...

In this case, I'm using generosity as opposed to aloofness, by which I mean I see a work in which the artists have made themselves available, they are not hiding behind some sort of highly polished conceptual screen--the work shows their hands and puts right on the surface the markers of how engaged they were with the making of it. It's a little silly and craftsy, which is a vulnerable place to be.

But jonathan is using "aloof" in a different way, to mean something more like "removed from social engagement" (?) Which maybe changes things.

Myself, I no longer demand that sort of rigor in all instances. I don't think this work is making claims big enough to hold it to that standard. It's just a beautiful, aesthetic object whose conceptual territory may lie completely in the realm of aesthetics. That's a legitimate project for artists, even if it's not the one that you or I may be most interested in.

By the same token, that's a privileged position, right?--this position to say, "Oh just chill out and take it easy and everything's cool, and we're cool, and it's all just so cool." It's privileged because only certain kinds of artists can afford that space. Other artists have to stay socially engaged. They speak for ideas or for people whose lives literally depend on it.

Jonathan said...

To the contrary Mr Hicks, wrestling with conceptual issues in such a public way as through art places the artist in a very vulnerable position - while creating purely decorative/craft work is possibly the safest and easiest way to entertain oneself.

Without the artist owning up to any intended purpose it is impossible to fail and I would argue these artists are wholly unavailable - whether their hand can be seen in the rough edges of the cut matboard or not. It is necessary to hold artists to a standard of intellectual engagement (for example, why are there rabbit silhouettes cut into the clouds instead of, say, carrots?) if they show their art publicly, regardless of stated intentions.

It would be impossible to critique any art if the artists set the terms for which the work is considered (and set that bar extremely low).

cinque said...

All true, but there have to be levels. An artist's claim is not just in the artist statemtent; it's in the artist's career trajectory, the venue the work is being shown in, and a hundred other variables. I'm going to hold a Tony Oursler at the Guggenheim to a much higher standard than a 10th grader's first portrait at a church talent show. Obviously, the work we're talking about is somewhere between those two extremes. The question is where?

Jonathan said...

I agree, I think I have said as much before, but my expectations for YB are set above those of Radial Cafe or Aurora Coffee - that is to say, I have higher expectations for a gallery which represents Ryan Liccione or closed their last space with a show dealing with the Red Light District.

I'll be interested to see where the gallery goes from here.

Brian Hits. said...

On another note, that dog in those shorts is adorable.