Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hydrangeas: the Vegan variety

Made my way out to Avondale Estates

to pay a visit to my friend Janna and her studio.

which might be the quirkiest alterations shop I've had the pleasure of visiting.

If you happen to be a bride-to-be who needs a complicated wedding dress altered, completely taken apart and put back together, or simply one designed from scratch

this is the lady to see about it.

And her one-woman workshop is always turning out cool detailed pieces (even I think so and I don't like weddings).

Janna is currently making flower girl dresses for a fancy wedding Oprah is rumored to be attending

that are covered in handmade fabric flowers

that are really detailed and too small for my camera to actually focus on.

like these Hydrangeas. Everything is made from vegan friendly materials like Peace Silks (no harm done to the silk worm) and some type of Brazilian nut that is used as a replacement for ivory so the elephants live and the money earning trees aren't torn down in Brazil to make way for more McD's cattle pastures.

Very good things are happening here. Makes me feel slightly better about the world.... I hear Janna is even toying now with organic fabric dyes.

Check out more of Janna Dudley's work here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wrastlin this Weekend

If you're around this weekend stop by Eyedrum Small Gallery this Saturday between 6-9pm! I'll be showing a new installation piece and test running a new way of presenting images. See you there.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Road Kill

Eyedrum is full of unexpected surprises at the moment.

With Ruth Stanford's solo show of sculpture "Cryptoecology."

"Indicator Species: Hellbender (Cryptobranchus Alleganiensis"

It's not your typical ecologically-minded sculpture, but it is cryptic indeed. I left the show still trying to wrap my mind around the complex ideas Standford tackled in the show. Interesting to see, especially being in the south, the use of wall-mounted taxidermied animals as the bearers of dire environmental warnings. (Although I am guessing they were fabricated completely by hand?)

Is "Hellbender" meant to be a foreboding as I interpreted it? The skeletal plaque-mounted chicken head hold in its mouth what appear to be deflated tombstones made of a synthetic rubber material to appear like animal skin.

"Bomb Fish"

Fish heads emerge from abstracted landscape paintings that bring to mind the cheesy paintings of ducks in mid-flight usually found hanging between a couple of stuffed mallards on a hunter's den wall.

"Lily Fish"

Each mouth contains a miniature scene of a horrific event unfolding. People in space suits cleaning up a nuclear waste site or a graveyard of tombstones, or bodies on stretchers like the remains of the plague.

"Green Fish"

The fish seem to hold the future in their belly, opening their mouths as if to speak a prophecy, a warning. Ironically these fish are reduced to stuffed heads, caught, killed, and made trophies; Victims of man's growing impact on the planet.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Aquatics"

But just as this show tips towards becoming too preachy, too obviously dire, Stanford gives us the "Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology" series of cement and dumptrucks spilling grey masses of food all over the ground.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Aquatics" - detail

These are brilliant. The monotone color stark and gloomy but rendering them monumental despite their actual sizes, as if food production on a horrifying large scale is being memorialized.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Terrestrial Harvest"

The sculptures are simple and abstract enough, slick in their delivery that they are as beguiling as disturbing, capturing in essence the complexity of food production in today's society.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Terrestrial Harvest"

Citrus fruits. Where is the artist statement for this anyway? I never came across one but you can read Cinque's Loaf-worthy thoughts on the show here.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Output"

In "Output" Stanford replaces the grey with the bright artificial colors of the processed pastries and doughnuts, making them stand out as disgustingly unnatural and glossy against the stark background.

The center piece of the show is a road Stanford laid down in the middle of the gallery space, covering it with brightly colored small prairie dogs which seems to be innocently sun bathing and playing around, unaware of the impending arrival of the automobile.

Is that a whippet?

While all of the work in the show contemplates a grim outlook, as with the brightly neon colored animals, Standford continuously adds into the mix an element of humor. It doesn't seem Stanford intends to hit anyone over the head with threats but instead invites the viewer in for a party, allowing them to connect the warnings.

Prairie Dog Congo line or praying to the gods?

"Cryptoecology" up at Eyedrum through October 4th 2008. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

White Diamonds

And the second show of the night...

"Smoke & Mirror" -detail

"Snakes Eyes." Jody Fausett's new show of photography at Whitespace gallery. I had seen snipits of proof prints and digital images here and there as the body of work was shaping up, making me increasingly excited as to what Fausett had up under his sleeve.

"Smoke & Mirror" - detail - 2008

The new show does not disappoint - pushing the content of his photography one step further, Fausset delves deeper into his version of neverland. Using low-fi tricks and his grandmother's as models, the work comes across as something unpretentiously pure, something as real as the imagined gets.

Each time I see Fausett's work I am reminded of what art can be without the artifice, without the MFA manufactured artist's stabs at originality and importance through formulated statements and hollow work. Fausett's images assume nothing and would exist whether or not there was a gallery to show it or a critic to praise it. Fausett is simply creating images he wants to make, which is a surprisingly unusual endeavor.

The large print sizes and placement of the works were well thought out, each relating to the next and adding up to a very focused exploration by Fausett into his unique visual language and sense of fictional reality.

"Peacock" Giclee Print - 2008

Ran into Kirsten Mitchell, aka Kiki Blood, at the opening who leaves in a week for Italy to present a further developed rendition of her Pyramid piece and I may have convinced her to pass along pictures from the show after she returns.

"Bear" Giclee Print - 2008

And in thinking about the show I managed to get hold of Fausett long enough for a short interview about his new work. Here goes:

Jonathan: Jody, hey, your show looked awesome!

Jody: Thanks, I was bummed we didn't get to talk but I didn't really talk to many friends. That's how the night goes I guess.

"Mink & Leather" Giclee Print - 2008

Jonathan: yeah, it's really hard to focus at an opening, too many people coming from every direction. But in thinking about your show I had a couple of questions… For me "Snake Eyes" is a logical evolution from your previous show "Smoke From Another Fire." I feel like the work has grown more complex and personal, which is due in part to the inclusion of more people in the photographs instead of focusing on taxidermied animals. While there is a good deal of posing involved either way, including another person makes it a more collaborative process and by using family members I imagine the photographic process must become much more intimate? What has it been like for you to photograph your grandmothers?

"Mink & Leather" - detail

Jody: I thought the show was going to be heavier on the figurative side and less of the animals, but when I finished it seemed to be about half and half. A lot of changes have occurred since I did that last show so I wanted to do strong and bad ass shots of my grandmothers. It seemed like a good time for the images to be made. Posing is important to me, I can't help it that is how I have always shot. They usually start the position and I come in and tweak it some. The props are there, I use them. My grandmother had the baseball bat by the door and I asked her "well, have you actually held it and felt the weight of it?" I think it is a good experience on both sides.

"Bless This Mess" Giclee Print - 2008

Jonathan: Do you think you work any differently when photographing your family versus unrelated models?

"Contradiction" Giclee Print - 2008

Jody: I tend to be the same in both situations. When you are working with family you talk about personal things. With other people I wouldn’t. As for planning and working in the shoot I am the same. Working on a personal project the flow is a little slower for me. I am by myself.

"Wake Up Alive" Giclee Print - 2008

Jonathan: I think the theatrical posing of your work is part of what makes it so fascinating – it’s a glimpse into your imagination, an alternate universe in a small North Georgia mountain town. And while they are posed, they stay true to the subject by incorporating objects already in the house. Is it disconcerting for you to show these photographs in public? I imagine they result from very intimate moments with your family, a sort of “playing dress-up with grandma” time in their private spheres.

"Open Door" Giclee Print - 2008

Jody: Sometimes it is a little stressful to show people, I leave a lot of room for interpretation of a scenario so that can go in any direction in someone’s mind. I know that all the ideas I shoot with come from a positive place, especially this show. It can be a little dark I guess in appearance and then involving my family added to that can look a certain way, but in general people I have spoken with veer to the positive side.

"Ceiling" Giclee Print - 2008

Jonathan: I definitely see your work as being very positive though I may be biased by knowing you and from what is sounds like your grandmothers get very into the shoot as well. Ok, so last question, what is it do you think that drives you to create these images? What keeps you returning to your hometown to photograph?

"Horse Landing" Giclee Print - 2008

Jody: I have been going home to photograph for quite a while. When I was in New York I would come home for a stint and shoot all week and return with the film and be super excited. Out of everything I did this was the favorite. I enjoy working alone a lot and in these spaces. After the last show and the book I just felt like I wasn’t finished yet. I guess the fleetingness of time had me return and shoot more. I feel like it may be gone at some point, I went past one house I shot a lot in and it was gone, so I wondered if I got what I needed. Hope so.

Also ran into Alex who as sporting a hat doodled by his lovely lady Shana.

"Carport" Giclee Print - 2008

I had difficulty resisting the urge to document every single photograph in the show and give it all way (!), but "Carport" above proved impossible to photograph and considering it was one of my favorites, I guess you'll still have to make your way over to Whitespace to check it out.

Show up until October 11th 2008. Go see the show!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fine Lines and the Invisible World

Friday night was a very good night for openings. In fact, two shows opened that I had been waiting in high anticipation all year to see.

Solomon Projects managed to deliver yet another incredibly difficult-to-photo-document show. What's that you ask? A microscopic view of red blood cells? No. Acid-free adhesive red dots? Yes.

"All Things Considered (March 2007)" 2007-2008

Why it's the United States of America in little dots to herald the passing of town, city, state, country, mountain, lake, and ocean names over the lips of Steve, Renee, and Mee-chele.

It's the new work of Kathryn Refi entitled "All Things Considered" in which Refi listened to the Public Radio broadcast everyday in 2007, marking with red dots the location of places mentioned in the first hour of the news show. Refi's data is broken down by month, with each of the twelve charts lining the gallery walls.

"All Things Considered (March 2007) - 2007-2008

After having seen Refi's painting series "Color Recordings" in which she translates her daily observations into brilliant color fields of abstracted information, I was eager to see her latest technology-based translations of life into art. But I must admit I found myself a bit disappointed.

"All Things Considered (June 2007) - 2007-2008

Where's South America? The moral of the story is as much what isn't marked as what is though it's not surprising that Washington DC and Iraq were both mentioned a LOT in 2007 while a good chunk of penguin populated Argentina was never mentioned once.

A critique of NPR? Of Western culture/interest? I doubt Refi was seeking to critique anything necessarily as her work tends to be run more like scientific experiments in which the data, always displayed in a beautifully minimal aesthetic, is provided for the viewer to draw their own conclusions.

"All Things Considered (June 2007) - 2007-2008

New York New York, DC, stacked high.

Hot topics in June.

As my date shrugged off the show saying it seemed more like a sociology experiment than art, I found myself unable to argue much in Refi's defense. Is this art? Had a sociologist conducted this experiment the data would have no doubt been presented in a much less attractive way, but does the aesthetic of the visual information presented automatically qualify it as art?

For me, what elevates this work above a pie chart and what makes it truly interesting was Refi's decision to omit an outline of the continents. The result is that the less a country was mentioned on NPR, the more difficult it is to locate or identify on Refi's maps. It's as if each piece of paper represents the geographical awareness of Americans, areas of South America, Africa, and Asia reduced to isolated red dots or altogether disappearing.

More interesting for some was Steve Aishman's "Silly Putty Rorshach #5" (2008) which reminded me of Hannah Wilke's chewing gum poon at the Contemporary last October.

If that was All Things Considered then this must be Morning Edition. In another of Refi's studies called "African Violet Drawings" from 2001 Refi drew a house plant each day for a month as it grew and shriveled. This is another series that needs to be seen its entirety of 28 drawings to grasp the fascinations of the artist which makes me think these may have been more successful had they been done on a much smaller scale so that the entire series could be framed as one piece.

Show up at Solomon Projects through October 11th 2008. Go see it! My pictures are almost completely useless.

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