There is a kind of alchemy at work in Adam Fuss’s cameraless photographs and daguerreotypes, currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. One thing becomes another, and the simplest of subjects - concentric circles of light, drops of water, the silhouette of an infant, a delicate christening gown - are transformed into rich universal symbols. Bring a quiet mind - these images demand a certain amount of contemplation. Through January 12.
Among the best installations in all of Chelsea must be the last room of the George Condo show at Luhring Augustine: just two portraits on adjacent walls. Like one of Hockney’s double portraits, these two figures suddenly have a relationship, like it or not. In this case, Lord Gorilla laughs last. Through December 21.
At Rena Bransten Gallery, Rachael Neubauer displays wonderfully fun and elegant new sculptures and drawings, Chip Lord explores make believe with his images of SF’s movie theaters and a group show reinvigorates abstraction—all through January 4, 2003. At Linc Real Art, Evelyne Koeppel’s bubbling videos and thoughtful diaristic drawings shine, through December 17, 2002.
Sol Lewitt did his first wall drawing at Paula Cooper in New York in 1968. His current show of large gouache drawings there (now in Chelsea) likewise hits the mark—loose undulating waves in purple, maroon and blue that make you wish the world was a bit more like this. While I was there, a spontaneous conversation among strangers erupted about how good they make you feel, like music that sways your hips. On view until November 30th.
Rumor has it that the boards of the California College of Arts and Crafts and the San Francisco Art Institute announced today that they will meet to explore the possibility of merging the two institutions. Similar talks in the mid-1980s foundered; new leaders at both schools are raising the possibility again.
When searching the web for information on a new favorite band, the French Kicks, I stumbled upon www.nemu.net. The editor of the site describes it as “an experiment - that comes from a belief that there are smart people in the world who appreciate smart, challenging art, and music, and words.” The site delivers. The interface is pleasing and well designed and I found a thoughtful, well-written article on the Kicks. It’s a resource that you might appreciate.
Asphalt has never taken such a poetic turn as it does in the current exhibition at Elias Fine Art in the Allston section of Boston. Imagine Charles and Ray Eames’ 1952 film Blacktop, tracing the flow of soapy water across pavement set to a score of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Or random tar drippings transformed by Aaron Siskind’s photographs into animated calligraphic forms. The exhibition, simply titled Asphalt and curated by Joseph Carroll, is spare and elegant, elevating the ubiquitous material to a surprising new level. The selected work ranges from Todd Hido’s image of a lonely stretch of road at night, to Doug Hall’s expansive landscape of a glistening western highway, to the conceptually taut photograph by Oscar Palacio of new sod arranged rather perversely over a driveway. Definitely worth the drive over. Through December 21.
This past spring, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art placed tantalizing ads in Art in America, ArtNews, and The New York Times, calling for entries from artists addressing genetics in film-based media. More than 200 artists responded; the SBMA’s new exhibition Photogenesis includes more than forty of them. Among the intriguing results, the unusually democratic approach turned up a number of artists who are also educated as scientists. “Scientific” photography plays a pivotal role in the discourse of genetics; these photographs take the discussion another dimension. On view through February 9, 2003 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
From commercial gallery to back alley, from off-the-beaten-art-track alternative space to MOCA and the Getty, LA Freewaves’ “TV or Not TV” is everywhere. This 8th biennial month-long celebration of experimental media arts is taking place at over 60 venues throughout Los Angeles and includes the work of 350 international artists working with video, computer-generated, and according to the organization, under-represented and under-appreciated media in every imaginable combination. A battery of panel discussions (and even some karaoke sessions) led by both participating artists and curators play an equally important role in the month long program. The impressive scope of and ambition behind the event are dramatically revealed in the manifesto-like tone of the LA Freewaves Web site, whose programming also includes the new media art presence in television broadcasts and on billboards. LA Freewaves, the organization behind the festival, “is dedicated to the creative exhibition of the most innovative and culturally relevant independent new media from around the world” and “facilitates cross-cultural dialogues by inventing dynamic new media forms” Having just scratched the surface of the festival’s offerings myself, (as an Iturralde Gallery staffer I viewed a large portion of the extensive Latin American programming) I look forward to diving into the “TV or Not TV” smorgasbord. The festival, which began November 1st, runs through November 30th. For more information, visit www.freewaves.org.
Lyndal Jefferies’ installation amoebase makes the world’s subtle energies visible by transmitting low frequency electrical resistance randomly through pools of fluid, creating intricate patterns, wave forms and crystallisations. Jefferies’ work is on view at the Physics Room, Christchurch, New Zealand (Aotearoa) through December 20, 2002.
Nothing nice happens to the shapes in Chris Finley’s new paintings at Jack Tilton Gallery. They crash, crunch, and crumple into each other - the transitions remind me of hitting the “tween” button when you’re working in Flash. Their size, just slightly larger than computer screens and shape, with the same aspect ratio as a monitor, underlines the impression. The look is digital, sterile, and clean - but the material is sign enamel, which gives the surfaces that matte skin look. Highly recommended.
Remember “Roger and Me,” the dark comedy (1989) in which an insistent Michael Moore (writer/director) dogs Roger Smith, head of General Motors, arriving camera crew in tow at all Smith’s private haunts only to be turned away time after time by corporate office and private country club security and p.r. reps? Well, Moore is at it again with “Bowling for Columbine,” an even darker, more complex expose of the malpractices of American corporations en masse. In “Columbine,” Moore singles out one theme from his earlier work—guns and their NRA supporters—as the main focus of his barbed video. The opening sequence emphasizing the ease with which guns are accessible here is priceless. In two well-paced hours Moore persuasively interlaces connections between Americans’ unique violence against one another (the video makes the point, via images and statistics, that we are by far Number One—at least in this), government-induced anxiety disorder on a national scale, and our continuing, pervasive penchant for racism. Perhaps the most pathetic testimony to that last is a revealing interview with NRA Chair, aged superstar Charlton Heston. In addition to damned good ballsy reportage, “Bowling for Columbine” features a not-to-be-missed artwork within the artwork. Part way through Moore’s story we take a needed pause that refreshes. We are treated to an animated mini-history of the U.S. that is an hilarious South Park-style send up of the Puritan myth. Some of you may recall that Moore began these efforts to inform us as founder/editor/writer of the Michigan Voice. His investigative press roots bare their grit nicely via the newer video media. As “auteur” in some ways as any French independent film, Moore lets aesthetics be damned and effectiveness take the reins. He knows how to inform and stir emotions. Lefties and righties alike will come out fired up. And the demand for public debate is exactly the point of this kind of art.
Congress just passed legislation that would allow small internet broadcasters to pay a percentage of their revenue, rather than a fee per hour/per listener. Maybe there’s hope for internet radio yet…
Stretcher wants to know: What’s the best show you’ve seen in 2002?
Erica Olsen, writer: The skull show at the California Academy of Sciences. There was an amazing wall of sea lion skulls, installed in a wave pattern. It reminded me of Aztec skull racks, except brightly lit and friendly.
Glenn Kurtz, writer: The coolest thing I saw was a show sponsored by Culture Lounge, a floating organization run by Barbara Schulte. My favorite work was by Bloum Cardenas, who makes layered compositions with plastic bags that her friends had given her—she only uses bags people have given her. They were somewhere between collage and abstract improvisations.
Althea, Illustration major at CCAC: I liked the Gerhard Richter show, because he goes from abstract to realistic works and has such a variety of techniques. It’s nice to see somebody play with more than one technique.
Cassandra, illustration major at CCAC: The Rex Ray show next door. I enjoyed the use of common magazine pages and his color choices. The mixed media use of faux finishes in the shellac pieces gives more dimensionality to the work. He gets down to the simple shapes.
Elaine Wander, artist: The Eva Hesse show was my favorite of the past year, because of the way she paints with materials. I just eat it up.
John Roloff, artist: Thomas Hirschhorn’s piece at Barbara Gladstone in New York—he turned the gallery on its ear, he made it into Lascaux.
In case we needed more proof that all the fun stuff happened in the swinging ‘70s, here comes Back in the Day: Plug-in 1972-2002. This exhibition digs up the punk-rockin’ roots of Winnipeg’s most important artist-run centre and first ICA in Canada. Plug-in founders Suzanne Gillies and Michael Klein promise superstars, court dates, art scandals, riveting (and occasionally revolting) cultural breakthroughs. Through January 26 at Plug-in Annex.
After the Beginning and Before the End is not your typical drawing show. The MIT List Visual Arts Center is serving up the creative process in its purist form. This exhibition features some 220 instruction drawings, surveying over forty years of artists’ improvisations, personal musings, early conceptualizations, and directions for completion. It’s a little like looking over the shoulder of John Cage, Robert Smithson, Carolee Schneemann, or Chris Burden as they work out their ideas. Through January 5, 2003.
Thomas Hirschhorn’s exhibition at Barbara Gladstone, New York, is called “Cavemanman.” I have to admit that at first I got into the experience of the total environment that he created (he must have gone through thousands of rolls of packing tape). I had heard so much about this artist, had never seen anything he had done in person, was definitely seduced by it… Then, a friend raised a very good question - what do the books of theory taped up everywhere have to do with it? If someone smarter than me and my friend can let me know, I would appreciate it.
Aptly titled “Connections,” Dave Muller’s amazing survey at UCLA Hammer Museum made me remember what it is I love about art and, yes, even the art world. Muller’s field of vision is apparently limitless and this show has helped me remember that the trigger of inspiration can be found everywhere, in all things, in all occurrences in life. The happy feeling I left with must have something to do with being enlivened by the sense that all this interest I have in looking at art, working with artists, being involved, is maybe not so silly after all. It is not that Dave has legitimized my interest in art; it is more like his practice, his immersion and investment in what is going on around him, gets through to me. I know I am being a bit zealous but, really, do try to see this show.
For the same reason we delight in Edward Gorey’s macabre drawings, we are drawn to the exquisite lines and playful forms of Anne Wilson’s sculptural textiles. For one more day, viewers can experience her work firsthand in Ann Wilson: Unfoldings, on view at the Bakalar Gallery of the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. The exhibition features work from the past decade, including the Topologies installation - a monumental work constructed entirely of black thread and repurposed lace - that was shown in an abbreviated form at the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Here, the textile artist is given ample room to install her provocative and slightly unnerving objects. Wilson alters and embellishes traditional linens with human hair, painstakingly sewing strands into the weave of fine napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases, and remnants of clothing. One expansive work, A Chronicle of Days, assembles 100 fragments of period damask, each piece individually altered with interwoven hair. The luminous white fragments read like journal entries, chronicling variations in mood and temperament: some pieces display hair that is knotted into a dark, tangled frenzy, some present long strands splayed across the fabric like an underwater creature, some bristle with a coarse weave of hair, and others are delicately knotted like a necklace. The handling and mingling of such sensuous materials is mesmerizing, lending a strong emotional component to otherwise ordinary household items. Wilson’s deft fusion of textiles and hair offers a wry exploration of domestic rituals and decorum, physical labor, sexuality and death. Through November 16.
in conjunction with the exhibition Bay Area Now 3 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, featured talks and perfomative readings by superachieving curators, artists and writers Renny Pritikin, Michelle Grabner, Mathew Higgs, Lars Bang Larsen and Fred Wilson. Curatorial themes discussed included scholarship vs. imagination; gaps between perception and reception; transformation without condescension, and the ability to solve rather than create problems.
As if being an artist wasn’t hard enough, a newly published study suggests a link between art careers and poor self image.
Repurpose, this year’s version of SoEx’s annual fee-free juried exhibition was focused, humorous fun. Tightly curated by theorist/curator Nicholas Bourriaud, a scant twenty seven works made it onto the walls (as compared to the usual hundred or so.) Highlights: the Carolee Schneeman action figure and a reprise of the witty Josh Callaghan film collage that showed earlier this year in Gen Art’s annual Emerge exhibition. Up until December 14th.