Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gilbert & George @ Brooklyn Museum

Gilbert and George are one of those art-dynamic-duos that I'd heard of but didn't know anything about. So I went to their current show at the Brooklyn Museum of art...and, it was weird. They met in art school in London in 1967 and have been collaborating ever since. They're so outspoken and quirky (and lovers) that I think they were simply made for each other. They always include themselves in their large scale photo collages...wearing suits (well, sometimes nude) and looking strangely serious. Many of their pieces include bodily fluids (Oh, there's Gilbert's poo!) blown up on a grand scale.

This was the piece I liked in the show, because I did like their stained glass style. (Whoever designed the Red Hot Chili Peppers album cover for Blood Sugar Sex Magik must have liked it, too.)

But a lot of their work was either way too creepy and aggressive for me...

...or too "we like young boys" pornographic for me.

Um, yeah. No thanks.

MUTO by Blu

This posting is uncharacteristically not about an art show I saw here in New's a video of an animation by an Italian street artist named Blu. Why is it unique? Because he does animations on public walls. I can't imagine how time consuming this was for him to pull off! I especially love how you can see the ghosts of the previous drawings as the animation progresses. This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time, so JUST WATCH IT!

Calder's Circus @ Whitney

I fell in love with Alexander Calder in high school when I saw his work in Washington. Most artists seem like they wouldn't be fun people to hang out with (You know, they're depressed or overly intense or egotistical...) but Calder must have been a delight to be around. He was always creating and playing throughout his life. He's renowned for his mobiles, but the Whitney's current Calder show features work from the time he lived in Paris (1926-1933).

There are scads of wire sculptures depicting faces and figures. With a single wire he eloquently captures a form and personality of a person. (To me they look like living pencil drawings) He makes it look so effortless that it made me want to come home and start playing with my wire coat hangers! Here is one of the numerous Josephine Baker inspired figures...

The centerpieces of the show is his famous circus! All the little figures and animals are manipulated by hand and made of simple materials like wire, pipe cleaners, and bits of fabric. Each element is so simple but so clever! I am partial to the trapeze act, the knife thrower, and the lion.

This video shows Calder performing just some of the acts in his circus...

William Eggleston @ Whitney

William Eggleston has a show up at the Whitney, and it was such a large collection of his work that I didn't even get a chance to see it all! Which is a shame, because I enjoyed his work. He's an American photographer, known for his masterful use of color through his distinct dye-transfer printing method. He shoots everydayness in the South, specifically the Mississippi Delta region.

My favorite image was this one here, because the reds were so vibrant and juicy. It looks so blah here, but that's because his color processing simply doesn't translate in reproductions. The photos simply glow.

My friend Jesse and I loved this photo in particular, with its identical poses but contrasting colors. Who are these men? What was going on?

His photos feel casual because they're mostly taken from eye level, like he just decided to take a picture in the moment of something that caught his eye. The point of view of this one makes me feel like I'm sitting in the booth of that diner waiting for my lunch.

PS--Jesse and I saw Billy Baldwin at this show. A security guard asked us, "So what movies has that guy been in?" We both drew blank expressions.

Street Art Street Life @ Bronx Museum

I ventured all the way up to the Bronx Museum earlier this week to see a show called "Street Art Street Life"'s about street as subject matter. It is mostly photography depicting street life, performances in the street, and artwork presented in the street. I found each image to be rich with narrative!

I particularly loved the photography of Jamel Shabazz from the 80's...

...and the photography of George Maciunas from the 60's.

But this here was my favorite thing: a short film called Ear to the Ground by David Van Tiegham. It reminded me of David Byne's Playing the Building (which I wrote about in July) because here Tiegham is drumming on the sides of buildings streets themselves. Check it out, it's worth a view!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election 2008: The Square Foot Show

Election 2008: The Square Foot Show @ Art Gotham

This was a very interesting show indeed...over 200 artists painted more than 300 square-foot-size canvases on the subject of politics. Simply, politics. The resulting artworks were as diverse and outspoken as the artists that were represented. Sarcastic caricatures, ambiguous abstractions, relief sculptures, text driven collages, timidly optimistic, painfully serious, etc. If you can see this show I'd highly recommend it! With hundreds of political points of view on display, you're bound to agree with one of them.

I was especially amused by all the different versions of Obama...everything from Robin Hood to George Washington, Jesus to Buddha. (It was not a McCain loving crowd of course) Here are come pictures...

I found this an interesting juxtaposition. Obama looking serious and to The Real Plumbers of Ohio.

My dear friend Nancy had a piece in the show! It's in the top center, with the puppet on the stage. You'll have to ask her to explain it all, because I can never wrap my head around conspiracy theories!

Art Gotham: 192 Ave of Americas (6th Ave btwn Spring & Prince)...Up through November 8th

Mary Henderson

Mary Henderson @ Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery

When I first passed by the gallery (it's on the first floor of my building) I thought these images were photographs. Shrug. But then I looked closer and discovered they were insanely photo-realistic paintings of photographs! Incredible. (I dare you to find a brushstroke!) The artist Mary Henderson found these pictures on a website that's used by soldiers and their families to exchange photos back and forth. She wanted to show us the faces of these men and women behind the politics and the headlines...the results are candid and vibrantly youthful. Impressive and poignant!

Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery: 175 Seventh Ave @ 20th Street...Up through November 8th

Blek Le Rat

Blek Le Rat @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery

I've been mentioning Banksy here a bunch lately, so let me introduce you to the man who influenced him the most: Blek Le Rat. (aka: Xavier Prou) He's a French graffiti artist who was using stencils to create street art 20 years before Banksy. He basically invented the life size stencil that you see everywhere today. He became well known for stenciling rats all over around Paris...hence his rodent inspired title.

Although I find his historical references and tongue-in-cheek social commentary interesting, I found the gallery too sterile an environment for his work. It belongs outside. I was far more interested in the video showing his graffiti work out on the streets, because that's what completes it. Transplanting his stencils into the a simply didn't translate for me.

Jonathan LeVine Gallery: 529 W 20th Street, 9th Floor...Up through November 15th

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Swoon @ Deitch Projects

This weekend my friend Bishop took me to an AMAZING exhibit by Swoon at Deitch Projects in LIC. I find it truly unique how her work appeases both the gritty urban crowd (since she earned her stripes as a street artist and uses found objects) and the high-brow crowd (since her work is technically stunning and is rooted in influences such as German Expressionist woodcuts). Her work is so intricate that simply thinking about the number of man hours put into the creation of these grand pieces made me feel like a lazy sloth of an artist! (I had to remind myself that she had 75 collaborators) I was impressed and inspired.

As though this installation wasn't enough, outside the open doors of the gallery right there on the East River were her seven handmade boats. They were like little floating cities, that were sailed them down the Hudson!

Bishop and I adored this piece in particular...

A close up of her elaborately cut paper designs that covered the walls...

This fan behind the figure is made of pieces of painted cool is that!

Banksy Strikes Again

The same Banksy who put on the pet store installation I wrote about last week also left behind a few other artworks (rat themed murals) while he was in New York. I passed by this one a couple days ago (Canal & West Broadway I believe) and found it so delightful I had to share! From far away I really did think, "Who is painting over that Banksy mural?!!" Then closer up I saw it was a joke. He had me...

YOUNITY: Urban Women Artists

This weekend I got to check out a show by YOUNITY, which is an art collective for urban women artists. There was a regular exhibition inside featuring 60 international artists (celebrating the release of a book), but the more interesting part was the courtyard...

My friend Diva was one of the 12 women to cover the courtyard with beautifully painted murals, graffiti, and stenciled pieces. (She always covers her face...) Such a great group of ladies!

It's up at Alphabeta in Greenpoint (70 Greenpoint Avenue) through November 17th!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Banksy Pet Store

Earlier this week I came across this bizarre pet store (and charcoal grill) down in the West Village with my friend Laura. An aged tweety bird swinging in a cage? A rabbit filing her nails at a vanity?! We were both highly entertained and highly baffled. The next day I heard that famous British street-artist Banksy set up an installation of a pet shop...ah-ha! I returned to check it out in more detail...

As a carnivore, I never wanted to acknowledge where my processed foods came from...and as a vegetarian, I finds ethics in meat production lacking and factory farming icky. So needless to say, this installation struck a chord for me. And struck my funny bone at the same time. (Isn't that the best way to convey a message?) There are animatronic chicken nuggets...

And hotdogs and sausages squirming around in their cages...

Fish sticks swimming eerily in a giant fish bowl...

Monkey watching monkey porn...

...and a bunch of other amusing creatures! (There are even actors hired to play the clerks.) It's only up through the end of the month, so check it out while you can: 89 7th avenue just north of Bleeker Street. Oh, how I love that Banksy...

Musical Robots @ LEMUR

Earlier this week I checked out a cool show at LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots) over in Brooklyn. They're a group of artists who develop robotic musical instruments. (They make robots that are instruments, not robots that play existing instruments.) There were electronic string instruments, cymbals and drums with different mallets attached to them, this xylophone looking bell instrument, etc.

This guy was beat-boxing out a pattern which the computer translated and then had the robots play. How wild is that! Music and art and technology all welded together...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Andres Serrano @ Yvon Lambert Gallery

Andres Serrano is a controversial Latino photographer best known for this image:

If you're not familiar with it, it's called Piss Christ. (You can see why he stirs things up) He's interested in the universal themes found in bodily fluids, death, and sex...

His latest interest is in shit (it's at the Yvon Lambert Gallery in Chelsea). Yes, it's a show of 8 foot tall close-up photos of different types of SHIT. The backgrounds are cheerfully colorful, the excrement becomes abstracted, and the titles are highly amusing. He sees images in the shit like when I look at clouds. There's Bull Shit, Freudian Shit, Hieronymus Bosch shit, holy shit, etc. Once you get past over the gross factor, it becomes rather interesting and borderline beautiful.

I looked everywhere online for pictures I could copy and post here, but had no luck. (I knew I should have taken my camera!) So if you'd like to see a slideshow of all the beautiful shit that the Village Voice put together, CLICK HERE.

Midori Harima @ Honey Space

I mentioned Honey Space a while's a gallery that I dig over on the West Side Highway (btwn 21st & 22nd) that's left open unattended during the day.

Anyway, right now they feature this cool installation by Japanese artist Midori Harima. The room is super dark, with this bright white sculpture of a carousel greeting you as you enter. The details of the carousel itself are projected onto the white sculpture, so it looks rather surreal in person! Flat yet three-dimensional, like an old photograph that's come to life. (I've seen this technique before...but for the life of me couldn't remember which contemporary artist it was! It was a feminist artist...that's gonna drive me crazy)

Dali @ MOMA

MOMA had an exhibit that ended recently on Dali and his work in film, which was so interesting and bizarre (of course). Here are links to two of his more interesting collaborations...

Dali and Disney might sound like an odd pairing to work together, but remember how experimental Fantasia was? They worked on a creating a short animated film called Destino but the project was eventually dropped. More recently the film was finally completed based on all Dali's original storyboards. It looks strikingly modern but it VERY authentically Dali.

Another really interesting collaboration was with Alfred Hitchcock, where Dali designed the dream sequences for the film Spellbound. Hitchcock didn't like how dreams were usually shot in films as being fuzzy or unclear, because dreams are vivid and strong. I think their two visons worked together quite harmoniously...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Buckminster Fuller

Our contemporary world is very concerned with energy-efficiency. Sustainability. Affordable housing. So I found the Buckminster Fuller exhibit at the Whitney especially timely! I didn't know anything about him beforehand, except that he had something to do with that "geodesic dome thing." As an individual raised in an environmentally conscious generation, I found that by reading his theories for the first time from my 2008 perspective was rather refreshing and poignant.

He was an American visionary who was determined to find sustainable solutions that would be as economically and materially efficient as possible. He reimagined how houses could be built and how cities could be designed in such a truly inventive and humanitarian manner. He based many of his structures on the tetrahedron, which he claimed was the the essential building block of nature.

Here is one of his famous geodesic domes. His greatest done was built for the US Pavilion in the Montreal Expo in 1967...

This is a model of his innovative Dymaxion House, which was designed to actually be shipped and assembled. Wonderfully thought out, but it never took off...

He even delved in cartography, striving to create a world map free of distortion...

Here's his three-wheeled energy-efficient Dymaxion Car that could hold 11 people...

Sex Lives of Animals

I secretly have been wanting a good excuse to visit the Museum of Sex, and their current exhibit on the Sex Lives of Animals was a perfect reason! It was a wildly interesting exhibit. Who knew that animals engage in oral sex, some creatures have multiple genders, or that there are necrophiliac birds! Here are some pictures of some of the sculptures in the exhibit...

There is something mildly disturbing about watching two fuzzy-cutesy panda bears going at it on video...and even stranger to learn the pandas are actually shown panda porn in order to help get them into the copulatin' mood.

My friends Nick and Peter took the exhibit very seriously.

These female chimps are engaged in the common practice of "gigi rubbing," a term which made us all giggle. (I never heard about homosexuality in the animal kingdom really before this exhibit...)

Behold...two smiling male dolphins! They look so innocent, but male is penetrating the blowhole of the other male! I'll never look at dolphins the same way again...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kehinde Wiley @ Studio Museum Harlem

Oh, that Kehinde Wiley.

Not only is he technically flawless as a painter of portraits, but he's inventive, culturally conscious, timely, wields a diverse visual vocabulary, is widely acclaimed...AND he's only 31! The nerve. He's making the rest of us artists look bad! But I gotta hand it to the guy, I really respect what he does and I think his pieces have a lot of substance to them.

He's done this sort or portraiture in China previously, but for this show at the Studio Museum he moved to West Africa for his inspiration. He portrays his young black models in traditionally heroic poses in these large scale paintings. The colorful patterns interact with the figures beautifully, by reflecting in their skin tones or overlapping with the models themselves. This show made me all nostalgic for the bold colors and patterns of Ghana...and the beauty of the people who I got to know there. It all looked so familiar! Sigh...

This last piece here wasn't isn't in this particular show, but it's from a more famous series of his that you might find familiar...

Ewelina Ferruso @ Ad Hoc

When I was checking out the show 5 Identities 5 Destinations at Ad Hoc there was one artist who really stood out to me...Ewelina Ferruso. I was surprised to learn that she's new to the gallery world (like myself), this being her first real show. And she's a sweetie to boot! I found myself visually digesting each one of her paintings slowwwly, like I was working my way to the middle of a tootsie pop but in no rush to get there.

Her paintings are visually yummy, with complex textures and elaborate compulsive patterns...which ALWAYS appeal to me. Her imagery is about her childhood, imagination, and escape from the harsher aspects of reality. The polka dot giraffe inspired by an actual toy she still keeps in her studio, and the little girl in her paintings is a self portrait of herself as a child. Here are a couple pics I took at her show!