Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Whitney Biennial ... Sol Approved.

The only art truly featured in the video announcement for the 2010 Whitney Biennial participants is a wall drawing by Sol Lewitt. You have to wait until the end, but the wait is well worth it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pat & Julia's Excellent Street Safari.

Just like Animal Planet, (crazy shots, daring angles, extreme risk) only far more subtle . . .

And then we saw the others behind us ...

This one was snaking through the grass too quickly for me to get a clean focus on him!

Luckily we were able to step back a bit for some fly-over social interaction shots.
We think these two may be about to negotiate ...

And here is a rarely seen gem showing a mother with her young!

The film on our highly-advanced super camera comes on very short digital rolls, so here is the last photo: a get-away picture of one of the herd's young males!

Woah. I hope that fella knows to stear clear of the same fate met by so many of his mates ... the squished carcasses everywhere were almost too much for us while capturing the herd members still happily moving around the grey corridor.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


A few weeks ago, a friend and I settled into a lucky of evening contextualized by a warm apartment, plenty of art supplies, and the task of participating in the Fundred project. Please visit their site to learn more about the allusive objects below.

by Julia Wagner

by Sarah Jensen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Massazona: Part One

Post Run Art Autonomy Thoughts

Topic: Collaboration.

I was just discussing the concept of collaboration in current art culture with my running buddy. The conversation started when I described the good lecture presented by coordinator, curator, & theorist Nato Thompson last night at MIT. Afterwards, a group of us attendees went for drinks to continue the discourse of the night. While sitting on a local bar’s tuffet, I overheard a conversation stating the transition from a triangular art concept (artist, art theorist/ critic, art historian) to today’s rising standard of art concept autonomy in which artists are self publishing both theory and history, theorists are writing history, and historians are trying their hands more at art creation.

While listening in to that conversation, some associations came to mind:

1) That kind of autonomy is good because it encourages a level of intellectual engagement in the greater art world from individual artists.

2) That kind of autonomy can be dangerous because, instead of bunking down and really developing an idea in focused isolation, the creative time is divided among more attention-requiring tasks.

Which is how we get to collaboration. When the artists et.al. form teams and collaborate, than it is more possible to develop a strong idea while still participating in an autonomous process of presented object, idea, and context. Ideally that process of participation enriches the work and progress is made.

Another benefit to what I think is the modern concept of collaboration is that the name who produces the work is becoming less egotistical thus creating a team out of a hopefully less-aggressively hierarchal assistant structure.

So my buddy, a software programmer, pointed out that programmers are trained early and often in utilizing team structures to accomplish a greater goal. Less ego, more output. Each programmer has a skill set, and each knows that much less can be achieved alone than can be achieved collaboratively. I wonder whether this is ever taught in art programs. I wonder how that idea could work for artists. I wonder if other programmers have had similar positive experiences.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SHOW: Empty the Fridge

In the nearly-epic summer of 2007, I lived in Portland, Maine and ALMOST went to an open life-model session at Alex Rheault's Drawing Room. Almost. But I ...
1) DID get on the mailing list,
2) DO receive the calls-for-art, and
3) HAVE two small drawings in the current un-juried show,

EMPTY THE FRIDGE @ Art House, Portland ME
November 6th - November 30th

The drawings are from a 2006 undergrad semester. They are in acrylic ink, and sad as I am to see them go, I am pleased that they are part of the Portland collective. Thanks Alex Rheault.

NOVEMBER: Looking Forward.

Although it is officially NOvember, I'd like to be more positive about this month of mind-warming events (think, YESvember)(mm-hmm - I went there), and advertise some thoughtful fieldtrip destinations:

Krzysztof Wodiczko: Porous City @ MIT VAP
November 16th
(see also his show at the ICA)

Riders on the Train @ Axiom Gallery, Jamaica Plain.
November 10 - December 19th
(see also the artist talk on November 20th at 7:00 PM)

Bicycle Film Festival @ The Brattle Theater, Cambridge.
November 21st!

More to be announced as the events come in!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Colorful Thoughts.

1: Why does the emergency text need to be in two orientations?

2. Color Friend! (Thanks, D.Joy.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

TONIGHT: Lecture @ MIT

MIT Visual Arts Program presents another lecture in the series, "City as Stage, City as Process."
Tonight's speakers are Ana Miljacki and Nomeda Urbonas. Their topic will be,
"Protest City " (see description from the emailing below):

Protest City
Ana Miljacki speaks about her project Classes, Masses, Crowds. This project was presented in Making Things Public, a 2005 exhibition curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany. Nomeda Urbonas talks about the concept, process, and outcome of the project Pro-test Lab, a multi-dimensional project to save a historical cinema in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Joan Jonas Performance Hall, MIT Visual Arts Program, Bldg N51-337, 3FL
265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
(see directions below). Free and open to the public.

For more information:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

B(ack)LOG: Joan Jonas @ MIT

MIT VAP October 05, 2009
City as Stage, City as Process

I attended Joan Jonas' lecture without previous knowledge ... so, rather than hearing a contemporary explication on cities and performance from Jonas, I experienced a sort of personal history as illustrated by a few videos from her earlier public-space performance.

The first film even felt more like a documentation than a statement. The intensity of daylight combined with the personal drama to create an almost macabre circus-like feeling - which grabbed me more as abstract presentation than as commentary. One of the women performing tasks, like banging wood together, was smiling the whole time. Her personality coming through the performance emphasized the collaborative nature of choreographed performance. Even though at times the performers were cogs of a living, kinetic sculpture, they were not trying to be faceless; each person was more than some illustrative stooge.

Her next film emphasized the impromptu nature of performance. The film began with herself, another performer, and a videographer. Jonas had brought along some props to experiment with in the space of the street. The two women were joined by a playful passer-by, and then left just as easily. I think I had a hard time taking the performances seriously because I perceived no specific narrative or goal; I felt like more of an omniscient jocular bystander than a seriously minded, affected critic. Monty Python definitely came to mind during both screenings.

The Q&A after Jonas’ presentation revealed some critical elements of public performance.

One topic touched on by different questions was that of community. The audience was made up and collected by Jonas. She pointed out that the artist needs to build up excitement; those watching were usually friends of friends and friends of the performers. Putting out physical media to advertise is important, though not more so than creating a receptive body with actual warm bodies. Jonas also asserted several times her feeling of collective ownership over the city, “it was our city and we could do what we wanted to there.” The concept of the city as OURS and not THEIRS becomes important perhaps because that situational ownership and familiarity provides the safe space for such performances. I felt afterwards both re-inspired to work collaboratively and reminded of the importance of allowing myself to feel possession over a place Sand-Lot style.

Another topic Jonas addressed was how she chose the spaces. While my notes are slightly incoherent regarding who said what ... it seems she was interested in empty spaces that specifically did not have many people walking through. It’s as though cities, due to the proclivity of structural growth and the undulation between heavy or decreased traffic, have holes with unusual, empty spaces. Those holes, they function as spaces for artists to fill. Are these unintentional holes necessary? What happens when they are institutionally created? And are they a context necessary for good art? Is there a necessary amount of felt neglect for a “hole” to draw her in as a space for performance? The un-intentional artist spaces of Jonas’ lecture are certainly different from Christoph Schäfer’s carefully (and sort of institutionalized) latte-zones of creative context. What would Jonas do if a large space were provided to her by way of an arts initiative? Or by a for-profit company? And to what degree do these things matter?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men.

Last night, Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men gave a surprisingly impassioned presentation at MIT's B.Auditorium. Surprising, because he was admittedly unprepared; surprising, because I hadn't realized the social motivation and impact of his group's work; impassioned, because he clearly cares greatly about the efforts and actions he and his many collaborators are making towards global awareness for environment and ethics. Thanks VAP for another great evening.

(More reflections and notes from the lecture to be posted at a later date.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Yet another reminder for MIT's VAP Monday Night Lecture Series - Get Stoked!

This Monday, October 26th IS:
Propaganda City
presented by Mike Bonnano of The YES MEN!!!
(note the different location for the Oct.26th lecture!)

Current Event: The Leadership Campaign

This evening members and supporters of the Leadership Campaign are holding their first sleep-out in front of the State House. Tomorrow morning, they will lobby the legislature and Governor Patrick to support a bill that would engage the state on the road to 100% clean energy in 10 years.

For more information, visit their site (http://theleadershipcampaign.org/), read up about climate action at the 350 site (http://www.350.org/), and/or participate in The Leadership Campaign's rallies by looking for sleep-out information on their Participate page.

Go Team Go.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bikes & Riders: New Work in Progress

(The above was posted earlier, but has been reworked and will continue to be re-worked until the focus is clarified.)

The most recent portraits, pictured above, are my new angle into this project. In painting the first two images, I realized that what makes the character of the bike really has to do with the rider. I am still interested in the intimacy between person and inanimate object ... but for now, I am looking at overall companion presentation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MONDAY NIGHT: Antoni Muntadas at MIT

The next two listings for MIT's VAP Monday Night Lecture Series look pretty exciting:

Monday, October 19th: Public City presented by Antoni Muntadas
Monday, October 26th: Propaganda City presented by Mike Bonnano of The YES MEN!!!
(note the different location for the Oct.26th lecture!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TONIGHT: Screening in Providence, RI

Tonight in Providence is another free event coordinated by Pixilerations (in conjunction with the First Works 2009 Festival) and hosted by Magic Lantern Cinema at the Cable Car Cinema. The screening of various new videos from around the world begins at 9:30 PM. WOOT!

For more information about the event, including bios about the participating artists, visit the following Pixilerations site:

Monday, October 5, 2009

TONIGHT: Lecture @ MIT

This evening at 7:00 there is a lecture at MIT entitled, "Performative City." The lecture is part of MIT's Visual Arts Program Monday Night series, "City as Stage, City as Process." Check out the following site for more info:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

MIT VAP Lectures: Factory City / Christoph Schäfer

Here some of my notes from Christoph Schäfer’s lecture on Monday, September 28th. The lecture was part of the Monday Night Lecture Series held by MIT's VAP. Learn more at their site:


Before the show began, I saw the open spiral-bound, cream-paper 18x11” sketchbook covered in consistently scrawled handwriting. I’m not sure why that image gave me good premonitions, but I settled into my chair and merrily awaited the talk.

That good vibe was rewarded when the Liev Schreiber-esc man in dark-rimmed glasses with carefully wet-coiffed hair and camel-colored suite sat down in front of me and a fellow attendee ... and shook my hand in introduction. Why not, I thought. I introduced myself. He knew my neighbor; interestingly, he assumed that I was the man’s wife. Already the night was off to an engaged and community-oriented start.

Schäfer began his presentation by commenting on Die Stadt (als) unsere Fabrik, and read aloud from his mighty sketchbook. The initial topic was coffee culture in urban spaces. He showed us slides of his sketchbook pages, one after another, which combined with his narrating to became an informed sort of visual associative ramble. His idea: coffee shops invite people to participate in and do specific kinds of creative and intellectual work. Eventually, after using coffee culture as an example in that way of creating a context into which one can bring one’s creativity, he asserted that the city is a factory for ideas.

He then commented on the city also as an accumulation of differences. He detailed a sort of drawn social history of urbanization via illustrated metaphor and rudimentary diagrams. Schäfer wondered why people like to take walks in complicated urban designs; he illuminated the relationship between the German words for thickness and poetry; he brought up many other questions and linguistic relationships in order to describe and address the history of urban cultures.

Schäfer also spent a good deal of time describing a recent collaborative project in Hamburg entitled, “Park Fiction.” The short version is, in note-form: Good-spirit-desires -> networking -> lectures/ public informing about social issues and not just tree-hugging -> screenings -> public tours “self-learning process”, which is bringing more attention and people to the area LEAD TO actualization of the original goal. Not only is there now a park, but there is an empowered community. You can learn more about this project at: http://www.parkfiction.org/

Here are some TAKE HOME POINTS & QUESTIONS from the evening:
1) Importance of playfulness
2) Importance of idea diagramming/ visual thinking
3) Importance of community engagement.
4) Does engagement as a citizen require an investment or long-term commitment to any specific area?
5) How long do you have to live somewhere in order to engage?
6) Should more artists view engaging NOT as asking permission to provide a public artwork, but rather as putting his or her creative powers to use as an initiator of public projects (I can’t remember now if this was my idea or his. ...)

Here are some extra-credit STYLE POINTS as an avid lover of presentations:

1) His drawing style reminded me of both of Ralph Steadman and of several New Yorker artists.

2) Schäfer’s presentation style was informative, educated, and not least of all, witty. A favorite moment of mine was when he showed slide with a single, drawn line representing a scale with two numbers on it: a zero, and a one-hundred, both with percentage signs. Having brought that image before the audience in it’s projected, and therefore large, format, he then went over and pointed at our current location on the scale with regard to urban revolution. Ha. Nice use of the PPT system : ) Get it? Power POINT?

3) He interrupted his own lecture to take a sip from a white cup with black lid and red straw to hydrate and issue a satisfied “mm”. A man who can experience joy is one to learn from indeed. In that moment he was a little like Robert Irwin during the documentary when it depicts him drinking soda in his car.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pixilerations: Part One

Saturday night I packed up my sack and headed south for Concert II hosted by Pixilerations at URI’s Shepard Auditorium. The night was off to a good start when, after scurrying behind a large white curtain to arrive in a dark room with video playing in front, I realized that my slightly-late form had just been projected via Todd Winkler’s pre-show piece, Glint, before the whole audience. Score.

That feeling of being caught off-guard continued through the night as a feeling of nausea crept into my stomach during the middle of Aesthetic Evidence. The middle third of a fairly lightweight yet long video looked as though the technicolor and psychedelic aspects of the boat from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original) had been applied to a bridge. Having had no dinner, and a thermos of strong coffee on the train, I nearly lost it. I wondered tangentially whether motion sickness is ever a reaction desired by performance groups. As for the rest of the video: the first third was unmemorable; the last third was a beautiful presentation of nature imagery reminding me of walking around kettle-holes in my hometown. Beyond the visuals, though, the music was a pop-ambient background for excruciatingly spacey answers to the questions posed by the performance group. I hope the group re-forms this piece; it could be very powerful if they narrowed the scope of the disparate styles and unsatisfying responses to fairly objective questions.

Jing Wang’s following performance on the Erhu was at times stunning. Having no understanding of the computer component of her work, I feel I was at a loss. The instrument was beautiful – and even a non-musician could tell that her technique was amazing. Sadly, with no knowledge of her goals in using the MAx/Msp component, the piece as a whole seemed to persist too long and act as a context for performing audio tricks of sorts.

Crash Test Pavilion ‘B’ reads as a good experiment on paper. I had a hard time appreciating the technical aspects for the following reason: listening to harsh, stochastic sounds in a dark theater felt very un-joyous and reminded me of gun-shot I have heard on recordings. Sorry for the subjective associations – but there they are. The piece made me a little anxious.

Christie Lee Gibson & Arvid Tomayko-Peters then re-filled the room with delight. The length of each piece was perfect for carrying the experimental sounds they produced; Lee Gibson’s singing was terrific; Tomayko-Peters’ TOOB was magical ... and they carried a sense of elegant and macabre humor through the piece.

Finally, David Blithell’s Whistle from Above as performed by Russell Greenberg and Ian Antonio of the group Hunter-Gatherer, was a lot of fun. Fun, because the two percussionists created gaming rhythms while performing a sort of pissing-match. The piece would certainly be better off if the scope of the Blue-Man Group was less pervasive ... expressionless men on a specifically lit stage, sometimes accentuated with blue light, using electronics-entwined percussive tools? The resonances were a little too strong to be ignored. Luckily, no paint entered the scene as I waited at full attention to see what the next mini-trial would be. The two drummers never seemed to resolve their jocular battle. That left me wondering if the artist had an overall comment about people arguing into oblivion in futile and petty ways. The piece also left me wanting to read more Beckett. Thanks New Media for re-igniting my drive to read and listen to music.

As an addendum to my reactions above, however light-hearted or critical, I am extremely grateful that this work was performed in a public venue, and without cost. I am glad that time & space is available for experimental work of this contemporary nature! And, though I am not sure if the artists see their work as still in development, I am grateful for the opportunities to view art that is (hopefully) on the table for expansion. Thanks Pixilerations for a great concert.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bikes & Riders: Image Two

(work in progress)
Image Two.
+ better lighting
+ higher degree of abstraction
+ looking more for spatial relationships
+ more elements of the under-oil drawing
- accuracy of bike (I have photos of the set-up to fine tune some of the specifics with)
- arbitrary-looking abstraction in center-bottom
- still considering elements from Image One's post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Opening Thursday Night.

The Broadway Bicycle School's Door 3 Gallery Space is hosting a reception for the October show, Visions of the Future, tomorrow night from 7-8:30. Check out the POSTER.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Opening Friday Night.

Friday night, from 6-8PM at the newly renovated West Cambridge Youth and Community Center/VFW Post, there will be a reception for a contemporary project in portraiture by artist Michael Oatman. His talent was commissioned by the Cambridge Arts Council to innovate a community-oriented installation at the long-awaited opening of the center.

This spring I had the pleasure of assisting Oatman with this project. Before he arrived in Boston to create portraits of residents from the West Cambridge area, I biked around the area posting advertisements serving as calls-for-participation. Once the creating began, my role changed from that of errant poster-courier to that of studio assistant and gopher. Both experiences taught me much about my own neighborhood.

The address of the center/ VFW post is at:
680 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, MA

For more information, visit the City of Cambridge:

Say hi if you stop by : )
Cheers - J.


I am finally connecting this blog space to Facebook after one year of blogging. For the facebookers reading this: The Traveling Cube blog is primarily used to announce upcoming local events, shout out to community organizations for efforts in art or environment, and document my own progress with various art-related projects. Tune-in, and feed-back.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Open Call: Video

A few days ago I subscribed to an art event and show-notice email listing (http://www.e-artnow.org/). The most recent call is for Music from the Masses - and after visiting the site, I found this pretty video featured below:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bikes & Riders: Image One

(work in progress)
1) figure out what I want from these images.
2) figure out a potential limited palette.
3) decide whether I want to only use the two-hour modeling period alone or also work from photographs.
4) figure out if oil-on-masonite is even the best medium for this series.

So far, I am considering adding more elements of drawing and restricting the palette. More progress as it comes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gallery Visit Goals for Sept./Oct.

1) Decidedly Ambivalent @ The New Art Center, Newton.
2) The Art of Mosaic @ The Somerville Museum, Somerville.
3) Artegeddon @ The Distillery Gallery, South Boston.

4) First Works Festival / Pixilerations @ First Works, Providence.
Specifically ... (as seen described in Artscope & on the site):
"Invisibles" by Bruno Vialli,
"bark rubbings: city as forest" by Erik Conrad,
"Loop Loop" by Patrick Bergeron,
"You Are My Sunshine" by Raphael Diluzio, and
"Space Invader Returns Home" by Andrew Ames.


5) Human=Landscape @ Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts, 135 Church Street
Future Landscape Lab
6) WIND: Power&Play @ ECHO Lke Aquarium & Science Center, One College Street
Patrick Marold!

More to be added as I find the promos on my bulletin board.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Contemporary Cube Artist

Jasmin from Brisbane, Australia emailed me a little over a week ago after finding my sites come up in queries for cube art online. You can see HER work at the following Myspace account:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cube Release: 08-27-09

Yesterday morning at 9:30 world traveler & high-school chum Milena left for continued sight-seeing in the company of one cube. I can see already that the trip will be amicable, judging from the mutual admiration seen here to the left.

Auf Wiedersehen
Viel Glück.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Three Announcements.

1) New portrait sketches in my Picasa album Sketchbook.

2) Two new portraits in my Picasa album Portraits.

3) Kate Smart is now being accompanied on her travels by one little cube. Good luck to them both. Hindsight being what it is, I should start taking photos of the cubes before I send them onward and upward ... stay tuned for the next cube release.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Triptych.

Citrus. Body. Building.
Lime. Pink. Roof.

NY Guggenheim: Top Floor

This is my final posting about the museums I visited in NY. Today’s area of focus spotlights the top floor of the Guggenheim. While I recognize that there were other works in the space, such as a full spiral of Wright’s drawings, the most captivating show I experienced was that of some very young artists. As one featured participant put it, “It’s an artist’s job to think about amazing things, then to draw the things they were thinking about.” The children in the Guggenheim’s LTA (Learning Through Art) residency program, including the second grader the G. recorded that quote from, did just that.

Here is a partial list of projects I would like to work with this year in a classroom context:

1) Lucid landscapes.
This could be a one-afternoon project in answer to, “what should I draw?”

2) Collage
Better start collecting magazines now – can’t wait to work with this great cutting-skills builder and fun imagination utilizing activity.

3) Things Worth Collecting
A project that seemed focused around appreciating museums and making the concept behind museums current and interesting. The teachers had the students create the following:
a) a desktop displays of a small collection (like bottle caps or toys)
b) a collage of or about the collection
c) a group collection
d) notebooks containing research about other collections (What do the signs and displays look like? Who is able to see the work? How are they allowed interact with the work?)
e) a group brainstorm for a final presentation
f) a group presentation of the class collection!

4) Symbols
Designed by each student and printed from styrofoam. As a continuation: imagery, symbolic and/or abstract, for what non-physical concepts look like (like pride). As an adaptation on styrofoam prints: COLLOGRAPHING. I always forget about this great medium, and reliably become excited when I see it in action.

5) Bridges
First the students looked at city bridges, drew them, thought about them. Then, using the bridges as metaphors, they collaged about the path and bridges to their individual goals.

6) Community Portraits.

7) Posters
This would be a project about design, color, and meaning (one they chose was the topic, “what are you willing to stand up for? ... another topic used in a separate project but useful for posters was, “what makes people get along?”).

If you’ve read through this list, you’ll notice that most of these will involve a physical craft coupled with a lot of serious brainstorming and introspective journaling. My special challenge: convince the kids they want to write. Also, find them sketchbooks and convince them to think visually in those sketchbooks. Game On.

Thanks Guggenheim.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NYC MoMA: Tall Building, Many Things.

NYC 01: MoMA

Being greeted by Tacita Dean’s ghostly sailing vessel diptych was a great start to a long afternoon at the NY MoMA. Since I like to start from the top, the look down onto both her work and the Song Dong installation, “Waste Not,” made me feel a little anxious. Song Dong's piece made me want to leave and purge my apartment of even more items from my already shrinking collection. Ironic, considering any trash leaving my apartment may end up in someone else’s house as part of a collection later shown in an installation ... even so, I can’t bring myself to hold onto that much material to show as a piece on the floor of a museum. A good counter installation might be to put a purse and single backpack in the middle of a gallery and title it, “Self-contained.” Would that be a luxury of the west? I don’t think so, not completely.

Moving on.

I saw eager museum-go-ers being measured by a neatly-dressed man for Roman Ondak’s Performance 4. One visitor would go up to the wall of a room whose walls are covered with a reverse milky-way. The man would hold his hand over his or her head, he stopped in an expressionless pose with the grinning participant, then continued to record the visitor’s height with a mark, name, and date on the wall. I’d love to see a really large door-frame for this project.

That performance was preceded by high-ceilinged halls of small treats. The collection of contemporary drawings from the Judith Rothschild Foundation, "Compass in Hand," was filled with classic examples of artists like Lewitt and Marden.

The design exhibits, "Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge" and "What was good design? MoMA's message 1944-56" also held reminders of enduring shapes created with very specific jobs in mind. The bike rack and the enclosed ball-bearing system particularly caught my pedalophilic eye.

Other names of note:

Shahzia Sikander - Beautiful watercolor & gouache drawings packed with symbols. Her combination of precisely rendered details with open areas of free-flowing, washy color caught my attention.

Andre Derain - Go team Fauv.

Steven Levine - Ribbon-bike rack designer!

Frantisek Kupka - Though not taught about him, seeing a few of his works on display will have me looking into his collection for his varied yet always carefully colored approaches to abstraction and figures.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Short Story: Solanum Pecora

(disappearing breed)

NY P.S.1: First Time

My trip to NYC yielded three other museum visits that I will describe over the current week. Today’s focus is about the contemporary art center in Williamsburg, Long Island City, P.S.1. The works there were by far the most socially interesting and broad-ranging of any I saw during my four-day NY blitz.

Michael Joaquin Grey’s work appealed to me as the most inter-disciplinary and attention-demanding. I first took in Object as Preposition (1988-2007), a piece that “...visualizes how throughout art history the object became part of a performative process in relational aesthetics” *. I don’t quite understand that phrase yet, but this piece appealed to me for two reasons: firstly, seeing prepositions so simply illustrated was exciting (I am an ESL tutor and a homework coach); secondly, his color choice, text format, and pragmatic yet simple formal layout reminded me of Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings. I felt I could learn more about both linguistics and design from looking at this series of small images.

And would have, except for the pulsing Oz video "ZOOZ" pulling me into the next room.

It seems like Grey is working with these humanist elements, these really basic human desires and observed features, to create very sophisticated messages beyond the mere observation. He even uses media ranging from painting to real biology to video.
THAT is why Grey inspires me.

The other work I saw riffed on topics of gender, humor, and social justice.

Jonathan Horowitz’s plexi-glass “Construction Cube” partially filled with donations and labeled with the Green Peace name was smirkable ... and his tofu sitting in a glass dish of water seemed similarly curious and amusing.

Leandro Ehrlich’s swimming pool was fun. Fun, because it was a) well crafted, b) had living adults and children laughing from under the surface rather than sculpted dead bodies as I was expecting, c) reminded me of swimming pools when I was younger, d) all of the above. D: All of the above. The piece didn’t seem progressive in any specific way ... but I was really glad for the gleeful experience of hearing the visiting children love the installation and also for looking up through the perfectly rippled surface.

Lutz Bacher. Her paintings of sex-kitten cartoon women had enscriptions like, “You make your peace sign, I’ll make mine,” “Sure I’m for the Feminist Movement. In Fact, I’m pretty good at it,” and, “They’re watchdogs, Mr.Tate, but I usually don’t let them.” The women reminded me of gripes from feminists about the blissfully ignorant (and apparently playful) powerful yet still un-liberated others. I thought they were funny.

On the flip side of Bacher's gallery space were more serious images. The hologram she had made regarding the violence of the war (“Iraqi Freedom”) was grotesque and striking. The video collage she created around Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye’s music and use in movies by white mothers and daughters was thought provoking. Those works, and others in her show, effectively made me aware of the political and racial points I assume Bacher was making.

Bacher, like Grey, has her message and the presence of mind to find whatever the medium she needs to best suite it. Thanks P.S.1 for the brief education.

* ©2008 P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center | Museum of Modern Art affiliate

Sunday, August 16, 2009

NY Met: Francis Bacon.

Today is the last day of the Francis Bacon show in NYC. This show was one impetus for my trip last week to the city, and seven days later I have finally mulled over the ideas I carried home with me on the bus.

1) The vertical striping I had always perceived as bars were actually intended to represent the wrinkles of a curtain. One of the many useful, if repetitive, museum plaques described Bacon’s frequent use of this device as a context through which he wove the figure. Why is this an important distinction? The bars I originally responded to made the paintings’ meanings seem more negative and dark than intended – Bacon’s actual message was obscured for me. I may still not be sure what he wanted to convey; however, at least I am now seeing his symbolism correctly.

2) Bacon worked with open mouths a lot. He reportedly wanted to paint them with Monet-esc expressivity and attention to color. Eccentric, sure, yet I can see the importance of rendering the open mouth to Bacon’s efforts at conveying rawness.

3) There is some pretty sweet roundness implied with his use of white paint as though it was dry chalk. On a related color note, his use of flat, black shadows is unique and interesting to me. I’m usually drawn to strongly observed shadows, showing all traces of reflected color – but Bacon’s opposite approach to shadows is powerful.

4) I discovered two other intentions reported by the museum research:

a) Bacon’s use of the exposed back is meant to show an increased consciousness of the vulnerability of the rest of the figure, and

b) Bacon’s distortion of the appearance of his sitters was done out of the desire to reach a deeper truth about their lives.

These two ideas are part of what draws me to Bacon. Despite his grotesquely painted figures, which originally held no appeal to me as an art student wanting a figural role model, I now appreciate his connection with the human psyche through the portrayal of select body parts. I’d like to see work by him and Maria Lassnig in a two-person show. Both artists have an abstracted image embodying a fleshy truth – the saturated colors of one next to the other’s pastels would be jarring, but the figures would create a lot of good conversations. Once I've read up on both, I'll post some informed examples of those potential dialogues.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eat Local

I recently learned about the community and food growing organization, The Food Project. While I have not been to the farms, I can't wait to look for their produce at any one of the nearby farmer's markets.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Potato or Deer ...

A Spanish potato held too long in captivity within the mesh hanging basket of my kitchen.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Verge.

Coming back from a run, I suddenly realized that I was not twirling my keys around my fingers. Patted myself down. Nope, not in the shorts. Not in my cleavage. Ok, not at first glance. But where in the middle of the Harvard end of Brattle Street should I look further into the matter? Luckily, upon uneasily adjusting my left strap, the bright brassy head of one out of three keys (yes, you'd think I would've felt that lunp) appeared out from under the edge of a very robust strap.

Thank goodness.

Crisis averted.

I chuckled to myself and continued on home. Note to Self: find reflective velcro strap-pocket.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Subway Shoe Thoughts.

On my way to Back Bay Station this past Monday morning,
I noticed the eery sight of a child's shoe on the Orange Line tracks.

I also noticed the following advertisement for Cambridge College's programs:

Is it really appropriate, especially in Cambridge, for the picture of female career advancement to look like pink, uncomfortable, irrationally expensive and non-ergonomic shoes? No, I didn't think so. "Fail," Cambridge College, fail. This observation is without even getting into the ad's promotion of the gender segregation in adult circles as compared with non-gender-specific kicks at frats.