Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Season: Art in the City; the City as Art

So much art, so little time!
And I don't even get out that much, really, spending most of my time
either in exotic climes, like Scotland, or sitting in front of that
time-destroying screen-of-light, my computer.

Nevertheless, I pry myself out of my tiny comfort zone every so often to go abroad
 to say, Chelsea, or Long Island City, or to the West Village.
The fall season in New York reveals to me many wonders -
I include something of a hodgepodge of them here.

...trudging through deep drifts
like a drunken hand slapping at disorder...

Well, not really.  This is actually a quote from 
Debra Jenks's engaging artwork, where she takes old books, in this case 
 renames is The Strange Woman and Seven Diamond Miners, and
makes the story even stranger via the addition of strategic blue paint.

Her work is at Westbeth Gallery's RE-FORMED exhibition
of NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) artists who have   
used the WIX program to make websites.
I haven't used WIX, but if Debra's site is any example, it's a great website builder.

On the way to Westbeth, I spy some street art - can't really tell if it's accidental art, or "real."

Here are some Manhattan reflections; accidental and transient art; 
light turning ordinary objects into vehicles for imagery.

This wine glass is in the Oyster Bar, nestled in the busy bowels of Grand Central Station.

I visit the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) Arts Festival,
for their annual fall weekend of art.

The following images are part of "Fabrika 7," an installation group show in an abandoned
factory, one of the last to still be in its "native" condition, not all gussied up, condo-ed
and gentrified.

It's interesting to try to pick through what's "real" art and what's just there.
Sometimes it's easy to tell, sometimes not.

Here's some art with me in the middle:

This video installation, The Crossing, by Ginger Ando and Chuck Glicksman
transforms its lowly corner into a shimmering realm of wonder. 

created the above, and I like his take on these old places that are part of the going, going, gone.

"When I enter those spaces, I feel a rush of creative energy. Ideas start racing in my mind and a childish feeling of being in a magical place fills my heart. The strange colors and texture of decay of old industrial buildings, large open spaces along with unusual artifacts left behind  all get recorded in my memmory and become a constant stimulus for ideas of installations for days and weeks to come."

Margot Spindelman takes a small room and places her work, "Rain" inside its decaying beauty.

Her forms with their crisp edges resonate against and within the organic processes of age and ruin.
This series depicts things that disappear -
"places or moments that vanish" - making this imagery work both visually and conceptually
for this space.

As I travel homeward, I can't help but see art in this arrangement of
forms on the subway floor, the randomized objects contrasting with the muted,
 geometric field of compressed, aging wads of gum.

Also on the way home, I see this:
"...tall and tan and young and lovely,
the girl from D-U-M-BO goes walkin'...
...and when she passes, each one she passes sighs...



I can't help but think of the art history lecture
that I just completed, which included these two Egyptian royals, 
Menkaure and Khamerernebty.

These two women span the centuries in the similar manner of dress!

Another image I recently discussed in class is the famous
"Woman of Willendorf" shown here in rear view.

(internet photo)

And once again, while many centuries come between these two images, one from over 20,000 years ago, one from the subway platform in Brighton Beach in September, 2013, some things are eternal.

(Okay, okay, I know this photo is overexposed, but my iPhone camera didn't have time to adjust
in my hurry to catch the instant!)

Lest you think that I'm obsessed with the rear views of women,
which, well, maybe I am?...
...but let me expand upon the theme.

Here's someone of the male persuasion who has great rear view style.
The top of his jeans are sewed to the khaki pants, which creates a variation of this trendy look...

(internet photo)
...without the worry of pants actually falling down!
Or awkwardly tripping up the wearer!
Could this idea be adapted?  Or would it no longer be cool if it were so deliberate?
These are the big questions of the day.

(internet photo)

Oh, boy, right back to the girl-view.

Allen Jones, Table 1969, mixed media

Pop art, so ripe with cliches!
So much like, uh, life!

(Foreground) Edward Wicklander, Little Richard, 1984-87. Mixed media, 67 x 50 x 24 in. 
(Background) Ben Weiner, The Crimes of Paris, 2007-8. Oil on canvas, 64 x 195 in.

Yoram Wolberger, Indian 2 (Bowman)  2006, Fiberlass with pigmented resin coating.
Alison Van Pelt, Spotted Jack-Rabbit (Hot Pink Background), 2005. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 in.

Jim Dine Kindergarten Robes, 1983

And what about Jim Dine?  He was a top banana a while back, with his hearts and robes,
but he seems a bit eclipsed now by Andy Warhol with his Marilyns and Elvises.

A green exclamation point is always fun:

Richard Artschwager,  Exclamation Point,  1997, green plastic, bristles and wood.

Nam June Paik, Michelin Man Laser Robot, 1996, Mixed media.

And here's Nam June Paik with his ground-breaking video work.

Video, we hardly knew ye.

I have complex feelings about pop art.  The first time I saw an Andy Warhol show,
in Minneapolis in the late sixties, its shallowness struck me deeply.
I wasn't that into art at the time, but I had a visceral reaction to this work that 
seemed so bitterly passive aggressive,
an emotion I was quite familiar with, having grown up in the Midwest.

I wanted to just slap him, Andy, and say, come on, get a life!  God!
Not that we said "get a life" back then.
But the 1969 equivalent.  Maybe "snap out of it"?
Like when everyone thought his peel-off banana in the
Lou Reed/Velvet Underground album was so cool,
but I peeled it off and there was just a lame pink banana-inside image under the yellow peel.
Anti-climactic!  Especially while stoned.  Not that I was.

Now that Andy is dead and gone and his work has been put on the Gagosian assembly line,
it seems, hmm, what's the word, trivialized?
How ironic is that?  It certainly doesn't make me angry anymore, just mildly bored.
Like, nice colors. 

Pop art will never float my particular boat,
but this is a fun show, and Claes Oldenburg never fails to please.

Claes Oldenbburg Profiterole, 1989, Painted cast aluminum

Yum!  The most mouth watering painted cast aluminum I've ever seen!

But the work at Mana that I find the most amazing was the following:

Very hard to get a true feel for this work via pictures.  It involves large paintings on canvas
that have imagery (apparently the same imagery as in the painting) projected on them 
so it appears that the forms are rippling, waving, moving, morphing.  
The magic of light, indeed!

You can get an idea of the effect in this short video.

On another fine fall day I walk through Prospect Park to visit...

...Five Myles Gallery, which lies beyond the Brooklyn Museum and is showing a group exhibition

...where I run into my friend Cyrilla Mozenter, (right, above) an artist of great sensitivity and subtlety.
She's not in the show, but here is one of her recent works:

"Monument (North Pole) 2013, multi-media, 8.5 inches tall.
Cyrilla uses ordinary materials, here a popsicle stick, felt and cardboard
to create items that may appear at first glance playful, until their metaphorical 
associations begin seep into your mind.

She is speaking here to one of the artists in the show, Kimberly Mayhorn,
whose installation presents objects that have been taken out of 
their worlds, abandoned to time and decay, but here join together to create an enclosure,
a space that encompasses nothing but can contain anything.

Emily Berger's work is elegant and abstract.

Some of her inspiration comes from the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn where her studio is,
its energy absorbed and expressed in her work - in a way the "real" environment seems to be purified down to an essence of form, pattern, repetition and movement.

Here are a few images from that region taken recently from the F-train overpass.

Another city neighborhood, that of Long Island City in Queens, 
is the home of a thriving art community.
Or it will be until they're priced out by real estate developers.

I visit the studio of William Eckhart Kohler, recently of Chicago,
an artist and writer whose involvement with and understanding of art is
seriously rich and deep. 

We engage in intense conversation...

...also with Susan Luss, who joins us in William's studio.

His work is a fluid, moving drama of shape, line and color, much of it inspired by his
ubiquitous drawings of the life around him.

The Forest, 2003, o/c, 22 x 20 inches

In the past, his work has been more realistic, more controlled,
but one senses in this work that the tumult of life is too much to be contained within
the commonly agreed-upon structure that we call reality.
In the recent, more abstract, work, there is a cubistic sense of order that is shattered 
and put together in a constant flux.
I get the sense of Shiva at work, dancing the world into being, then non-being, then being again.

Packed, 2013, o/c, 36 x 24 inches

In Susan Luss's studio, it appears that her work is ready to take over the world.

Gathering materials from here, there, and everywhere, she
makes worlds within worlds, whose disparate elements merge into energized wholes.

I am drawn in, wishing to explore this new land.
I'm a little big, but I think maybe the Painted People would really get along well here.

Unfortunately, I am unable to force my fear-of-falling self to climb the vertiginous stairs to the roof...

                                          I miss out on Susan's installation up there.

Next time, I will overcome my fears, for the sake of art!

And now, more of the city!

The 21st St. F train in Queens is the most dramatic subway station I've seen in New York!

Speaking of dramatic settings,
here is a midtown Manhattan show of the work of Mark Weiner in the lobby galleries
of 1133 and 1155 Avenue of the Americas, near 45th Street.

Mark has been in these pages before:

He was one of the artists in last year's "Video By Night" who,
 shockingly and sadly, died not long before the event in October.
A year later, this "Double Retrospective" show has been mounted in these amazing spaces.
In 1133 one can see a number of his pieces using color, such as
the one below, which if I were rich and didn't already have art coming out of my ears, I would buy!
I almost never feel that way about art, but something about this piece got me.

This exhibition, presented by the Durst Organization and chashama, curated by Janusz Jaworksi
with the assistance of Linda diGusta, Mark's life partner, is a joy to behold.

Mark was the master of micro/macro relationships,
and his late, monochromal melding of pop with AbEx was genius.

A lot of artwork would be overwhelmed by a space like this, but Mark's imagery seems made for 
these dramatic environs.

The energy in this show is a lot like the energy of the city itself.
It will be up until November 20th, 2013 - 
for more info click here.

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