Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Overly Optimistic Presumption of Ukuleles to be Funny

this was on the ceiling

and in the trashcan

must be the summertime.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Poor Little Eunuch

Why the long face little lamb?

It won't be so bad.

You'll hardly miss 'em... really.

Once there were two little acorns

and now there are none.

Poor Junior.

Turns out "Elizabethan Collars" are completely useless when used on the oddly elongated whippet, within a day it became a chew toy and caused a bit of indigestion.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Grafittied Monuments and B-Rated Ladies

"Psych-rock explosionist" All the Saints playing at Beep Beep.

Arriagada "Death Stencil #1" Single Use stencil on wood, stain, dyes, aerosol, lacquer

I feel your pain girl. Band best heard standing outside on the street.

It was the closing party for the show "Double Feature."

"Death Stencil #2"

Paintings by Rene Arriagada

"Planes I" & "Guardian"

and Blink.

"Death Stencil #8"

Arriagada's stencil-on-wood screaming heroines are mounted on wood stained backgrounds, everything recalling the climactic scream of a B-rated movie as The Oooze, or the Blood Sucking Snail, or the Vampire Ventriloquist Doll goes in for the kill.

"Death Stencil #3"

This one was especially nice, the woman's facial features falling somewhere between panic and pleasure. The stencils themselves were very well executed and left me wishing the artist had spent a little more time, and included more of his sharp graphics, in the backgrounds.

Speaking of stencils, I heard more than one person say they wanted to buy these and frame them. The minute detail of the stencils were impressive.

Blink and Arriagada both use stencils, albeit in very different ways and concerning different subject matter, which made their pairing interesting. Both artists are dealing with extremely recognizable subject matter, though Blink is depicting a three-dimensional object which is often the target of stencil-crafted graffiti, while Arrigada is emulating the style of cult B-rated horror films, both artists are isolating their subject matter, reducing the detail into shapes of color, and turning them into monumental icons.

Blink "Guardian"

While the show may down, there are additional pictures and video interviews with the artists up on Beep Beep's website. Check it out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

From Wall to Skin

Went to see the great Nancy Vandevender's excellent solo show at Emory's Visual Arts Gallery. The show, "Pink...Beyond Black and White" is part of a larger body of work called "Picking Cotton...Mississippi to Detroit," and is the result of Vandevender's thesis project while at Cranbrook.

The show is incredibly ambitious, mixing large color photographs with video, furniture, and digitally created wall paper of complex patterns (which covers much of the enormous space). Conceptually, the show is even more ambitious.

Part of the show statement, "This installation is the culmination of research that began as a look into the role of cotton and slavery in the historical and decorative evolution of the ruffle. Looking at how Victorian and European influences filtered into the Harlem Renaissance and how that era paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement, the artist is focusing on rearranging and recreating relationships through character development and set construction."

Say that three times fast.

VanDevender's aesthetic interest lay in the lacy delicacy of fabric and tattoos, drawing interesting comparisons between the two with the female body serving both as the canvas and also as the timeless subject. The female portraits could be viewed simply as the documentation of tattoos (whether real, unfinished, or created by VanDevender), but more than that, the figures seem to speak of the clash of past and present in their sagacious solitude, shouldering a burden of understanding. (yes, that's right, despite much talking out of my ass, I just managed to use the word "sagacious" in a sentence. Don't hate.)

This was one of the pinnacles of the show, all of VanDevender's interests and research clashing together into something spectacular. (take note of the photograph*) For me, this grouping of objects, in VanDevender's obscure style, best outlined her quest for the linking of the ruffle, the Civil Rights Moment, and "how [the] image is transferred culturally through both fiction and history."

The wall paper needs to be seen in person, though even then its difficult to absorb the detail of it.

The exhibition space is divided into four areas: "Dressing Parlour," "Parlour Games," "Parlour Performance," and "Tattoo Parlour" (which had the most layered and complicated wall paper which VanDevender extended onto the back of one of the models).

In the "Tattoo Parlour" the woman photographed had unfinished tattoos to which VanDevender added her own designs.

Another great culmination of elements, this must be what it all looks like in VanDevender's mind.

A detail of the wall paper, which also involves images from her portraits. *Remember this image?

Point is, go see the show, and since no one can talk about it like VanDevender herself (I'm floundering like a fish out of water) plan on attending the artist talk Wednesday, July 23rd 2008 at 7pm at the Emory Visual Arts Gallery. (and don't make my mistake, it's no where near the Carlos Museum.)

Show up until July 31st 2008.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Top of Their Game

Went over to Solomon Projects to hear NYC video artist Janet Biggs give a talk about her current solo show, "Tracking Up." (Previous post here)

I was interested to hear her perspective as I found the subject matter of the work somewhat obvious while the pieces themselves obscure in meaning. Each of the 6 single channel video pieces seemed to offer a simple enough answer on the surface while holding their secrets tight.

Biggs did answer a few lingering questions. Notes from the talk:

-Biggs does not label herself a video artist, she considers herself someone who simply "makes images" regardless of what medium is required to do so. Biggs joked that she "had never a medium that [she] did not like." This made me laugh, one look at my studio and it's clear I have a similar problem.

-Biggs sees single channel video art as being "passive aggressive with the viewer"; there is no climactic moment or structure like those found in Hollywood films. These video pieces make a different demand on the viewer and Biggs was interested in whether or not these works hold the attention of the viewer.

-In her work, and these pieces in particular, Biggs is interested in "how people make decisions, the huge amount of effort required to make something look effortless." Biggs is fascinated by athletes and people seek perfection in a very specific field, such as military cadets, synchronized swimmers, etc. Biggs is interested in the "willingness to strip away in the process to get [to perfection]. " She seeks to understand the "individuals willingness to give themselves over to very confining roles" in a way she herself would not be able.

-On the question of gender roles in her work, Biggs says she looks at the uniformed subjects more as drag than stereotypical roles of gender; Judith Butler's idea of gender as masquerade."

-In regard to the piece "Solipsism Syndrome" (a psychological condition common to people in the arctic), Biggs said people suffering from this begin to "question everything, to wonder if anything else exist."

-Speaking of "Enemy of Good," Biggs filmed a world famous Spanish pianist walking through, and playing for an empty audience, at Calatrava's "City of Arts and Sciences" in Valencia, Spain. Biggs was interested in Calatrava's city because she saw it as a "failed utopia" of brilliant, sci-fi design which is always empty, void of people. Biggs wanted to place this pianist in the space because, like Calatrava, he quests for perfection. The empty auditorium alludes to the pianist actually imaging this performance, it is a mental practice, illustrating his drive, his struggle.

Show extended at Solomon until July 26th 2008.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Friendly Ghost

Photographs by Lori Waselchuk at Kiang Gallery.

THIS is worth reading.

The Louisiana State Penitentiary, a hospice program was established with prison volunteers, to look after terminally ill prisoners, along with 24-hour vigils, memorial services, and hand crafted caskets and a hearse made by the prisoners.

"Hospice Volunteers Walk George's Coffin to the Hearse" 2007 Pigment Print

Interesting to see this show as the follow up exhibition to McCallum and Tarry's "Another Country". While these images are in the same genre of documentary, black and white figurative photography, dealing with racially charged imagery, McCallum/Tarry's work was very much about their own interpretation of the historical images, the artists touch on display in the layering the imagery, while Waselchuk is a return to straight photography, to the creation of new documents in which the artist gives herself over to the documentation of a current phenomena. And what's more, while McCallum/Tarry exhibited a personal struggle with the past, Waselchuk is giving us a new hope for the future.

"Terry, a Hospice Patient, Remains in Lockdown" 2007 Pigment Print

What is most striking about this work, is that despite the heavy subject matter and the grim conditions, these photographs come across as endearing, hopeful, and heart warming.

"George is Lifted" 2007 Pigment Print

Waselchuk forgoes the easy shots of suffering for the obscure moments of compassion, each image tinged with, however faint, a silver lining.

"Morning Prison Walk" 2007 Pigment Print

All images are actually black and white, my attempt at taking photos of photos turned them all a bit sepia.

The photograph "Bones Drives the Funeral Hearse" (2007) is incredible. Reminds me of something out of a New Orleans funeral march, or the world of Tim Burton.

The ornate carriage (and driver) seem more out of the underworld than a State Penitentiary. The level of commitment and ceremony is beautiful, and surprising. I still can't get beyond the fact that the carriage is hand-made by the prisoners. Waselchuk ended her statement with the line "Prison officials say that the program has helped to transform one of the most violent prisons in the South into one of the most peaceful maximum security institutions in the United States." After looking at this image, I can see why.

This one is titled "George's Things are Marked with His Nickname (Casper the Friendly Ghost)."

Oh man.

"Calvin Helps Turn George in Bed" 2007 Pigment Print
Those eyes will haunt you.

Show is up until July 12th 2008. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Taking the Wheel

JK Rowling Commencement Speech at Harvard June 5th 2008

She's incredible.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dip it in Ranch

Here are a few shots of the Summer Open Studios night at The Contemporary.

I spent too much time talking and not enough time taking pictures. But I did manage to check out Michele Schuff's new space

which looks incredible considering she only just moved in a week prior.

And Nancy VanDevender is new this year as well.

Her mural sized wallpaper works are patterned scans of hand drawn tattoos

and will be shown at Emory University as part of VanDevender's solo show "Picking Cotton...Mississippi to Detroit" opening this Friday.

The show is going to be excellent and so worth the confusion of trying to find the gallery on the Emory campus.

Also made it into the studio of Angela West, who just situated herself into a new spot,

that is now covered in enough photographic proofs and interesting furniture to make it impossible to take it all in at once.

Is that the same cake from the Dead Flowers show? It's moldy and great.

Beth saved my neck by helping me move into my studio, I owe her many a cocktail.

Stole these shots off Erin's camera. We were all in need of some liqueur induced relaxation. Tried something called an Aperol Fizz, it smelled a bit fishy, apparently it was the raw egg.

Things get a bit hazier somewhere between 3 and 4.

Sweet potatoes become very entertaining.

And the ridiculous flash on my camera never ceases to amaze. It's worth taking a picture just to see how much is blown out.

Best imitation of a sweet potato I've seen.