's blog covering community artists, gallery shows, and the whereabouts of young entrepreneurs and artistic talents from NY, LA, London, Paris, the world.

Friday, July 25, 2008

2 days, 2 shows - China Gold and Trisha Brown

I wasn't planning to see a show, but on my way to the only salon in Paris that sells Aveda products, I saw a metro advert for the Musee Maillol's show China Gold, which tuns through October 13. And since it was so close to where I was already going, on Rue Bellechasse, I took the short walk there after my Aveda spree. And I wasn't disappointed, or let down, for my effort. The show was beautifully curated, the museum is absolutely beautiful and also holds, in their permanent collection, treasured works by Picasso, Gauguin, Ingres and, of course, Maillol.

Unfortunately, I don't read French, or I would know more about the show, the works and the artists. But here are two works from the show. The first by Tang Zhigang and the second by Cui Xuiwen.

This past weekend, I made plans to visit the Chateau de Chamarande on Sunday. Primarily to see the free summer show of Trisha Brown Early Works - part of the Festival Paris Quartier d'ete - but also because there is a gallery inside the castle and sculpture park on the land surrounding. The park is about 30-40 minutes south of Paris and a short 5 minute walk from the train station Chamarande (on the line RER C).

What can I say about the first work, pictured below? There was a clothesline of hanging clothes, and two male dancers eased into and out of the shorts and t-shirts and hung there for a bit before gracefully crawling out and into another pair. You never really know someone till you sit a while in their shorts? Or hanging out by a thread? Or I'm just here by the seat of your pants? All of these unrefined thoughts were tumbling around inside my head, like a freshly mined garnet in a rock tumbler, just hoping to come out shining. But they all ended up still a little rocky around the edges. C'est la vie.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Julia and Samuel at 169 Bar

Of the plethora of emerging musicians dragging themselves from bar-gig to bar-gig along the streets of New York, few stand out as anything but superfluous. Heavy Roc Music, however, cuts through the fat. The small, independent label and production company is something of a godsend, especially with owner DJ Ben “BRoc” Ruttner’s keen eye for talent and his ability to foster it. That said, last night at the tiny 169 Bar in Chinatown, attendees were given the privilege of listening to two of Heavy Roc’s finest, Julia Tepper and Samuel as they showed more than just a little chops.

It is always a pleasure for me to support a friend and, with that in mind, I am very familiar with Samuel’s music. Last night’s performance, however, was a terrific new take on his synthy, pop bangers. Performed not only with a live band, but also acoustically, the music became successfully intimate with each song experiencing a virtual reinvention. Samuel’s raw talent is always showcased in his live shows. His unique voice was so complimentary to the stripped down, acoustic approach (the general antithesis of his normal performance) that the set emerged as a conscious and fortunate reexamination of already well-composed and conceived material.

Giving Samuel his deserved nod, however, allows me to now gush, literally gush, over the powerhouse of talent that is Julia Tepper. Ms. Tepper is so charming that it is almost unbelievable. On stage, she is a magnetic force and, I promise, it is impossible not to enjoy her music. Her cherubic voice, which is nuanced by a deft vibrato and accented by her light, jazzy accompaniment, is sublimely effective and lusciously soulful. Do not be fooled, however, by the diaphanous musicianship; Tepper’s lyrics are acutely substantial and often thematically surreal ranging from the macabre, to the whimsical, to the emotional. The dynamic combination of the music and lyrics is potent while remaining playful and, in the end, utterly winning. With a flawless performance and indisputable talent, Ms. Tepper is someone to watch closely. I look forward to her solo debut EP entitled “Pizza and Lasers,” soon to be released by Heavy Roc. In the meantime, catch her with her other projects which include Frances and the Americans.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

After Nature at the New Museum

In his second major show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, special exhibition director Massimiliano Gioni unveils his desolate vision of a not-so-distant future that is at once hopelessly romantic and knowingly absurd. With ninety works by twenty-six artists, the exhibition spans three floors and makes use of the buildings cavernous interior to affect its post-apocalyptic austerity.

“After Nature,” named for W.G Sebald’s posthumous book-length poem, describes a portentous future plagued by disaster and disregard. Drawing inspiration from the decrepit and decayed the show comes to look more like an anthropologist’s’ study than a contemporary art exhibition.

Among the artists featured are Mauricio Cattelan, whose headless taxideremied horse appears in full on collision with the wall and Zoe Leonard, who’s resurrected a monstrous dead tree with industrial cables and steel plates. On opposite ends of the room, the works play off one another to create a motif that is as tragic as it is absurd.

The shows highlights include Warner Herzog’s 1992 film “Lessons of Darkness” which shows burning oil films during the Persian Gulf war and a short animation by Nathalie Djurberg in which an anthropomorphic blob of mud consumes a small town. One of the most striking pieces is a grotesque self-portrait of the Polish artist, Pawel Althamer, whose patchy complexion and yellow hue can be attributed to the intestinal patchwork he’s used as skin.

Other works include a predictable assemblage sculpture by the Iranian artist Huma Bhabha and a less expectant Dana Shultz painting of a man eating a hole through his stomach. More peculiar still is an installation by the collaborative artists Allora and Calzadilla in which they have assembled tropical plants at the center of Jenny Holzer’s 2004 projection Blue Wall Tilt.

The show is comprised largely of video artists who spare Herzog and Djurberg are uninspired and redundant. As is Polish sculptor Robert Kusmirowski’s scale model of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s infamous cabin.

But despite its inconsistencies “After Nature” is a remarkable show and an absolute triumph for Mr. Gioni and The New Museum.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ruminations on Circa 2012: Ruminations on a Changing World at White Box

Today I went into the new 16 Handles with the hope that among their 16 flavors of frozen yogurt, one would actually be good and make me forget about how hot this very hot day was. Well, it was refreshing, and the flavor of frozen yogurt was good (I've always been a sucker for mint) except that every bite was tainted with the taste of THE WOODEN SPOON. "Why not just plain old plastic?" My friend Lauren asked the girl who just rings you up (it's self-serve-soft-serve-- not as fun as you thought it would be). The answer: "It's green. The spoons are biodegradable." Yeah, but they also taste bad. Which is sort of anecdotal of how I felt last night at the opening of the second show of the Six Feet Under Program at White Box Gallery. 

Six Feet Under is this great series of exhibits traditionally consisting of six artists's work by six curators in six weeks, all thematically linked. But because the gallery is moving to the Bowery, the powers that be decided to extend the series to seven week (and seven artists, and seven curators).

Last night was the opening of Kim Holleman's show entitled Circa: 2012: Ruminations on a Changing World, curated by Jason Goodman. A large wave made of used plastic bags, aptly named "TRASHNAMI!" was in the corner of the gallery. I'm tempted to make the "the room was awash in garbage" joke, but I'll refrain because the piece was actually quite beautiful. Holleman's work focused on the lack of open- or park- space in contemporary civilization, oil as evil, the awful alternative of ethanol, and of course, the bee crisis, and subsequent apocalypse that the Mayans predict to occur in 2012. Her work was clearly environmentalist and perhaps that's why there was no air-conditioning in the gallery. 

Outside music was blasting out of the back of a truck, people crowded the Chelsea sidewalk chatting and smoking; it was regular opening fare tinged with a block-party feel, altogether enjoyable. Inside Grolsch beer was being served. And at first, it all seemed quaint and sweet and homey. And then I realized that everyone was on the street because the gallery space was sweltering, and people were chugging the Grolsch and moving on to vodka-tonics to keep cool.

Whether it was a lack of funding or a mindful nod to the environment that caused the lack of air circulation, it forced people outside and into Holleman's trailer garden that is exactly what it sounds like: a garden on wheels. This piece may be prescient-- we may have to create our own little bits of green to tow along with us (in our eco-friendly cars), but does the trailer have to smell like the monkey house at the Central Park Zoo?

It all seems like a great idea in theory, but sometimes we just want our art openings to be air-conditioned and to leave the somewhat obnoxious earth-activism at home. Especially when it's 90 degrees out. We're all trying to be green, anyway. No one wants the bees to go extinct. Hell, we're even eating frozen yogurt off of biodegradable wooden spoons....

That said, bravo to Holleman for furthering the cause, and Goodman for putting on an interesting show. And good luck to White Box at its new location!

White Box
525 W 26th St. betw. 10th and 11th Ave.
New York, NY 10010
Tues-Sa 11-6

This show is open until Jully 22nd

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Dali at the Moma

Dali still shocks: A man keeps laughing uneasily during Un Chien Andalou and an old woman has to turn around when “the eyes gets cut.”

Salvador Dali’s new exhibit at the Moma combines his passion for film with his paintings. Six of his surrealist films are scattered throughout the exhibit starting with his collaborations with Luis Bunuel, to a dream sequence scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound, to a grainy psychedelic film about an expedition for overgrown hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mongolia.

, Dali’s unfinished animated collaboration with Disney is in the third room. A princess runs across an endless Daliesque plain and enacts a love affair with a statue. It’s pure dreamscape of course, but gives viewers a chance to see what it might have been like inside this man's mind.

Some of his most famous paintings are on display: The Persistence of Memory, Metamophosis of Narcissus, and Illumined Pleasures.

Dali at any museum is an event. To be able to stand next to the paintings and works you’ve seen your whole life and witness the madness first hand is inspiring. He’s on display until September 15th, tread carefully.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Gallery walk in Paris

I'm relatively (4 weeks) new to Paris. No really knowing where to start for a Saturday gallery walk, I started with 6 galleries that I found on Paris Art and was drawn into two more during the walk. One unscheduled gallery caught my attention with bursts of color flying out the windows and the other with just black and white. This link will take you to preset google maps with all the galleries I mention here, should anyone else want to take this walk for themselves. I can even highly recommend the steak frites at Le Diplomate, on the corner of Rue de Turenne and Rue Saint-Claude.

Three of the galleries on my map had shows not interesting enough (to me) to write about - Galerie Chantal Crousel, Xippas Galerie and Galerie Magda Danysz. All three were physically great spaces that could have shown interesting works, but didn't.

La B*A*N*K. The most provocative. Of the 7 galleries I visited, this is my favorite. Definitely a place I will come back to visit again and again. The show I caught was called FORWARD2: Post Graffiti Exposition. And among my faves were pieces by Greg Vezon, Prunelle, Supakitch, and Guillame Adbi.

Almine Rech. Neat space. In my book, it's hard to go wrong with cement, wood and lights. The changing shadows on the ceiling, walls and floor were as much a part of the work as the more tangible cement and wood elements. But, to be honest, I really only spent about 5 minutes in the gallery. It was small, but worth the stop in.

Galerie Blue Square. This was the gallery I could not walk past without getting drawn in by the brilliant colors in the street facing windows. The show is called Portraits Evanescents, and the works are by the Russian artist Alexei Vassiliev. The show runs through July 26th. Is is really worth checking out. The gallery specializes in contemporary Russian art and the owner/curator, Dianne Beal, is very friendly and helpful.

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Another gallery I loved and will definitely go back to again and again. The two shows I especially liked were Malpais, works by Jules Balincourt, and Hyperrealism, works by Jeon Joonho. Some of the works by Balincourt have a pseudo digital-in-paint feeling which catches your attention with color and form and keeps it while you are trying to figure out the meaning of the text. Text like COEXIST, MMIISSSSEEDDMMEEDDIIAATTIIOON and SHOLE!WHEREISYOURFLAGNOW?ASS.

Joohno's works are exhibited below ground, down a spiral staircase. This video is from "Space 1: Panic Disoderius". As for "Space 2: Untitled", it freaked me out. Go see it.

Galerie Verdier. And next, the second gallery that caught me while I was walking past. All sharp black and white works of Akiza. The show is called Garden Party and runs through July 19th.

And finally, a gallery walk would not be complete without a little street art. The below was seen on steps on Rue Charlot and was dutifully submitted to Wooster Collective.

Double Take at Eyebeam

"Double Take" is the product of the two-week Interactivos? workshop at the Eybeam technology and art center in Chelsea. The international collaboration of artists, software coders, conceptual hackers, and inventors created a series of very fun interactive art pieces that aim at further blurring the already hazy line between life and meta. Eyebeam provides a terrific venue for such technologically art-based experimentation and it was truly a great moment (and a testament towards the success of the work) when I stepped into Miseong Lee's "Through the Time Tunnel" and literally giggled with delight as my projected image duplicated countless times echoing my movements in a domino-like succession. It was every thing that Kid Pix wishes it could have been and so so so much more.

Create noise through energy fields provided by conductive street signs or Wii controller wind chimes. Transform  your appearance through real-time digital video alteration. Become a digital dress-up doll. These are some of the wonderful possibilities that "Double Take" offers. The truth is, you'll need more than two takes to fully appreciate the show, but only one to be completely smitten by it.

"Double Take" is open until August 12th. Eyebeam is located at 540 West 21st Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Buckminster Fuller at the Whitney

This afternoon, I went and saw the most remarkable exhibit I've seen in some time. If you have a chance to go to the Whitney Museum, you need to see "Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe." The exhibition, which will be open until September 21st, is a collection of this man's epic contribution to design, architecture, science, and philosophy. Ages before Al Gore, Fuller was operating by asking himself whether or not human life has the ability to sustain itself lastingly and successfully on Earth. Doing "more with less" was his credo and the end results are impossibly wonderful. For anyone interested in design, architecture, sustainablity, or watching art and science be completely intertwined in the most thought provoking and enthralling way.

Kudos to the Whitney because, let's face it, the Biennial was garbage.