Monday, June 30, 2008

Olafur Eliasson takes New York

Danish/ Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has taken over New York! First I saw his work at the MOMA...then at PS1...and now he has installed waterfalls along the East River of Manhattan! He must be a very busy man.

But I don't mind his unavoidable presence in New York this summer...because I really really love his work.'s SIMPLE. His works are very much about nature and the basic elements of visual perception but his installations are simultaneously artificial. He's interested in patterns, shapes, colors, and the power found in nature. (Side note: As a glacier nut, I was overly gleeful to see his collections of glacier photographs.) He plays with light, water, and geometry as easily as I play with pencils.

Since they are installations, pictures can't quite do them justice. You have to lay underneath the massive rotating reflective foil disk for yourself. Or walk into a dark room with falling mist and just enough light so you see a rainbow against the blackness. Or stand in a room made of walls that are literally lit so that you are so fully enveloped in a single saturated that you look like a tinted photograph. just have to visit them in person. But here are a few pictures!

One of his waterfalls up through the Summer along the East River...

An upside-down waterfall (the water moves up) at PS1...

Sculpture with planes of colored glass in front of a window at PS1...

His saturated yellow room and his mirror-sculpture-window-contraption at MOMA...

Rotating mirror that plays with the angles of the walls (It's hard to explain!) at MOMA...

Playing the Building by David Byrne

A couple weeks ago I visited the "Playing the building" installation by David Byrne (Yes, of Talking Heads fame) at the Battery Maritime Building...and it was so much fun! (I mean, how many times have you ever heard someone call an art installation FUN??)

The setting is the old Staten Island Ferry terminal, built in 1909 and showing its age beautifully. There sitting in the center of the room is an old church organ that has been wired to different pipes, beams, columns, and motors in the vast terminal. So with each key you press on the organ, a different metal column is hit ("Clang!") or air passes over the hole in a pipe ("Shwooo!") or a deep motor stirs behind the wall ("Whirrrr!"). (That second picture is of me and Lance trying it out)

Hence you are...playing the building! Visitors wait in line for their turn to try out the organ themselves, and I loved the fact that no one has an advantage when it comes to playing this unusual instrument. Everyone gets to experience that whimsy of simply pressing buttons and not knowing what sound it will make.

It's up through the end of August so I highly recommend playing the building yourself if you get a chance!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Poets of the Paste @ Ad Hoc Gallery

Ad Hoc is my favorite gallery in Brooklyn (Bushwick technically)...and that's only partially because they're the only folks to give my art any attention. (Some of my pieces are actually in their gallery inventory, which you can see here.) Their latest show is called Poets of the Paste and showcases four figurative street artists. A mixture of stencils, block prints, paintings and drawings...

The two artists I favored were Gaia and Elbow-Toe. First, here are a couple of Gaia's pieces. (Despite the pretty street name...Gaia's a guy.) This linocut with the wolves is actually impressively huge! His work is elegant and beautiful...simply beautiful.

And here are a couple pieces by Elbow-Toe. His prints also display amazing linework, but the figures are more distorted. His swirling lines and poses are so expressive!

Antonio Lopez Garcia @ MFA

Antonio Lopez Garcia
currently has a show at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts..which I was lucky enough to catch last weekend. He is a Spanish artist who has been called a master of hyper realism, magic realism, Spanish realism...let's just say he's realistic. He focuses his attention on familiar and humble subjects, which he lovingly captures with a sensitive hand. (Figures, domestic scenes, cityscapes, etc.) His mastery of light makes his scenes glow, and you can see the influence of fellow Spanish painter Velazquez. I dig him.

Here are a few of his pieces...including a picture of Bonnie and I with one of his giant baby heads!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Behold, the Telectroscope!

Put on your imaginations, kids. And behold...the Telectroscope! This is a device that uses giant mirrors to see across a long forgotten trans-Atlantic tunnel that stretches from London to New York. It allows folks by the Tower Bridge in London to look through and see people all the way over at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. So you see them in real time...I spent my time making funny faces back and forth with kids on the other side. Paul St. George, the creator of the Telectroscope, has an elaborate backstory he'd be happy to share with you about how he discovered his great grandfather's research and was able to finish the project on his behalf. But hurry up, kids...this is the last weekend it'll be accessible to the public. (It's located at Fulton Ferry Landing, open 24hrs.)

This is me looking into the tunnel...the reflecting glass makes it hard to see the people we're waving at!

Report from MOCCA Art Festival

Every year the Museum for Comic and Cartoon Art (MOCCA) has an art festival in the Puck Building, which is like Comic Con but way cooler and geared more towards indie small-potatoes like myself. It ranged from big publishers showcasing their latest releases to unknown artists selling their little xeroxed comics for $1. I was amused by the number of comics that were openly the result of wasting time at work--I think it's an emerging genre! And there were a lot of girl artists represented...I guess Friends of Luna is doing their job! (They're a non-profit that promotes girls in comics.) Overall it was really reaffirming to see how much stuff is really going on out there in this thriving genre. And I was thankful I didn't see anyone else working in the same style I work in...phew.
I bought a bunch of books, including the new book by Lynda Barry "What It Is." Here's an example of her style, it's jam packed with thoughts and drawings to digest. Yum!And here's a picture of the creators of the "Action Philosophers," which is another book I bought. The book is educative and hilarious!

Tomma Abts @ The New Museum

I heard various reports about The New Museum, so I was was slightly cautious when I finally paid a visit to their new building on Bowery. (A space that looks like it was modeled after stacked building blocks.) A lot of the art was just plain silly, but I did find some pleasant surprises. One artist in particular really spoke to me...Tomma Abts. She's a German artist who lives in London, and the best description I've read to describe her style is "retro-futuristic." I think I related to her hard-lined abstract works so much because as an undergrad student I threw myself whole-heartedly into abstraction. The controlled playfulness...the flat colors...oh, it was a comfortable language to speak through! In person, her works have a slight texture that's provides evidence of previous layers that she painted over. This gave them an unexpected vulnerability that I don't often find in such formalistic artworks. Here are some examples of her work...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Honey Space and Swoon

My favorite gallery in Chelsea is Honey Space.

It only started showing art earlier this year, and it's unusual because it's left open and unattended all day. It's an old warehouse space (11th Ave. btwn 21st & 22nd St.) whose owner has simply been letting artists use for free for a few years. Artist Thomas Beale was using it as his studio before he decided to start this "no-profit" gallery space. He simply opens the security gates in the morning and closes them at night, leaving it completely open to the public to walk through.

At the latest opening,
I walked in to discover no art on the walls. But...there was a hole in the floor. (Tom discovered it when he removed the bolted-down piece of wood covering it.) So you have to climb down the hole to find the art, like a secret treasure...

The secret treasure is a piece by renowned street artist Swoon. She creates these lifesize figurative wheatpaste prints and paper cutouts that you see on walls all over the city. I love how the holes in the paper show the often-decaying wall behind instead of merely sticking an artwork over a wall her work is interacting with it. It's a unique combination of edgy yet poetic. This particular piece was a tribute to a women (Silvia Elena) who was murdered in Mexico, so the crypt-like space was the perfect setting.

Here are some other examples of Swoon's work...

And finally, here's a pic of Mr. Honey Space Tom (with the accordion) with Mickey Western at a previous reception:

I can't wait to see what's in store at the next show...