The Bearden Project: Arnold J. Kemp

The Studio Museum in Harlem is currently having a 3 part show of works that have been inspired or influenced by the work of Romare Bearden.  Before reaching the The Bearden Project Gallery I took note of these great works:

 René Peña

 Allora and Calzadilla
Returning a Sound, 2004
This video had a man riding a motorcycle where various wind instruments were attached to the exhaust. It was simple yet amazing.

Njideka Akunyili

The Bearden Project gallery was an open space, the works were well hung and curated in the space given the variety of works that were on display.

 Chakaia Booker 
Repugnant Rapunzel (Let Down Your Hair)

 Elia Alba
Portrait of a Young Girl

Arnold J. Kemp
The Names I Can't Remember and the Face I'll Never Forget (After Bearden)

While most works in this show found themselves within the genres of painting, sculpture, photography, or collage, Kemp's work stood out for it's mere technological difference.  This difference takes resonance because of a featured article I read in the September 50th anniversary issue of Artforum.  Step into Liquid addresses the growing number of paintings made of ink-jet print on paper.  Hung like paintings, Kemp's work immediately feels as though it belongs to this newer category of works where the archival pigment becomes the new medium.  Historically, I've not been a fan of these works and many people share this sentiment, 
"In its most extreme state, a contemporary ink-jet painting on stretchers inside a museum is technically the same as an advertising banner stretched on the museum's facade. For some that may be hard to stomach." pg. 426. 
Kemp's works are no where near this sentiment at all, but how do you take a new medium and make work that resonates with art's past and takes hold of the ideas and struggles of contemporary culture?  
Kemp's works accomplish exactly that - they take into account the influence of the past while allowing the technology to speak of the future.
Kemp's works stand out amongst a room full of paintings and sculptures, where familiar tropes fall into familiar places. In Kemp's artist statement, he praises Bearden's variety as one of his many strengths.  Kemp is also familiar with variety in his own process, his works differ from concept to concept addressing the subtleties of changing identities and culture. 
Upon looking at these works, it's hard not to fall in love with them. There is a satisfying play between the darkness of black and brightness of white, the subtle degree of high definition versus moments that fall back into a blurry grey hue, and ultimately the joy of imagining their physicality.  These masks seem difficult to construct due to the delicate nature of foil - a household item whose construction and color feel metaphorical for aspects of identity.  These works utilize the characteristics of this new medium to create intelligent meaning and presence - a combination for many artists to consider.


Design and Art: Utopias and Collectives Part 2

Douglas Coupland
Mad Scientist//2000

This essay makes a perfect example of a good design.  A good design can possess a lasting relevance and importance within a generation or generations of people. Coupland discusses the various relevancies of the Panton Chair before concluding that Panton was an excellent designer.

"Back before the mid-1990s neo-modernist revival, the Panton Chair conferred an aura on its surroundings that was at once rare, expensive, delicate, and privileged, at the same time marking its owner as an educated and finicky soul, patiently willing to deal with ageing plastics of unknown half-lives.  Now, two years after his death, Panton is obscure no more.  Licensed reproductions of his chair (made of sterner stuff) have swamped the marketplace; miniature versions are sold in stores for use in dollhouses."

Coupland uses the popularity of the Panton Chair as an example of its relevancy and permanence in our culture. The chair was once rare, yet now it is so abundant in production that even dolls use them in their own home decor. Short and sweet Coupland affirms Panton's impatience with traditional notions,  explaining that Panton lived in an era where 'modular' and 'future' always ended up in the same sentence. Coupland finishes with a sentiment that reflecting our flaws can occasionally create the best art.

"There is a famous image of Panton and his wife at home, settting up a weekend lunch in a room resembling the child-containment centre beside IKEA's room of plastic balls.  One senses that the Pantons are kind of pushing it to make the place look functional.  But it is the stretch that ends up being the point. Visitors to the Vitra show can see for themselves that Panton was at his best when he was at his most impractical, and that his work, while timeless in many ways, is also strongly locked into a moment and place - a roundabout way of saying he was an excellent designer." 

Coupland presents Panton's Chair being locked into a moment and place as evidence of good design. A good design perhaps is one that stands the test of time, however true, this idea could be argued for a variety of creative fields.


My Favorite Thing About Skeeball.

Last night was Championship Sunday at Full Circle Bar. It was the 20th skeeson in what many of us are very familiar with, New York's very own Skeeball league.  I met John Fisk at Full Circle Bar, and like most people who meet him - I was struck by his sincerity and enthusiasm (and now his great mustache), how he cares about others, and the amount of heart and soul he puts into the Skeeball community.

 While those who are unfamiliar may find my use of the term community odd, but those of us lucky enough to be involved know that our community is rare. Skeeball is a community of genuine people. One that I never imagined could exist, but does. Upon entering Full Circle Bar for the first time, you might not notice it at first, you'll think everyone is just in a great mood that night, but if you walk into the bar on any league night, any time of the year, you'll find a room full of awesome. People who will ask how you are, not for the sake of asking, but the sake of caring. People who will listen to your stories, help you with advice. A room full of talented multidisciplinary individuals, all with various careers and lives beyond Skeeball. A room full of people with heart, and that heart, is what makes Fisk stand out.

Fisk is an excellent designer, and his heart penetrates deep (that's what she said) into the community. In ways I'm sure most people aren't aware of. Fisk designs nearly all promotional items for Skeeball, you could even argue, that he's developed, over the course of 20 skeesons the entire aesthetic of the Skeeball league. The Skeeball logo, the BBNC posters, and every other idea the Skeeball geniuses come up with.  If there is anything I know, it's that Fisk doesn't design any of it for his portfolio, he does it all, because he loves that community. That community means a lot to him, and when you love something that much, making the art just comes easy. 

Now, if you were at Championship Sunday last night, you already know this. Last night Death Rolls won their first Mug. Snakes on a lane is a superb roller, keeping the average high. Doc is nice and steady, a possible veteran of the two, but maintaining the 40. And Fisk? Well, watching him win the mug for the first time is like watching someone put the icing on top of the most beautiful cake that is Skeeball.  A victory for someone who gives his heart to the community, for someone who forever cheers and motivates all players on the league, who wants nothing but to see the people he cares about happy and having a great time. 

This is all probably a little too sentimental - but I can't help it. My favorite thing about Skeeball isn't the machine, the balls, or the game really - it's the community of people who make it awesome.  I feel so lucky to be a part of it.


DESIGN & ART: Utopias and Collectives

Art and Reality//1996

This essay begins with the following;

"Could one imagine art which had nothing to do with persons?
Could one imagine art which had nothing to do with other persons?
Could one imagine art which had nothing to do with concrete situations?
Could one imagine the existence of concrete situations without the existence of things?
Could one imagine concrete situations with person in which the behavior of persons had no significance?"

These phrases immediately set the terms that art is directly related to persons and situations. Evident through logic, art could not exist without either.  The previous phrases encourage you to imagine the possibilities of art without either, however, seemingly impossible. N55 asks for a mathematical proof-like example for how art could exists without the previous. It cannot be proven and N55 has little to do but assume the following as truth;

"Therefore we now know that:

When one talks about art one must always talk about:
Persons and their meaningful behavior with other persons
and things in concrete situations
or about corresponding factors with the same significance
and the same necessary relations.

This knowledge enables us to talk about art in a way that makes sense, and without allowing habitual conceptions, social conventions and concentrations of power to be of decisive importance to our experiences."

In admitting the obvious relationship between art and meaningful behavior with other persons & concrete situations N55 sets a standard by which a conversation about art can truly begin. An honest platform to start discussion is not only conducive to communication, but parallels general aspects of design. All design begins with a set of concrete terms surrounding persons & concrete situation.  It was this parallel to design, as well as N55's assertive honestly that intrigued me about this essay. 

After reading, I was happy to explore http://n55.dk/Index.html which encouraged engaging manuals for me to explore...



This last week I've been up to the following:

 Finishing up all of these. Which means positive things! More posts about design, more delicious meals, better writing (with practice of course), and satisfying crime/mystery imaginings. 

 Watching these films: 21 Grams, Ghost Dog, and Audition. I recommend all.

Most importantly: Watching my amazing friend Jillian perform.

The little mental vacay from art viewing has been really nice.  It's allowed me to think about and plant the seeds for some fun things I'll have coming up this fall... 



Yesterday my mom and I took a quick drive to Palm Springs to visit my aunt. We had an excellent time - we checked out the Ace Hotel, had a drink at King's Highway, had an excellent meal at Las Casuelas with margaritas, and then headed back to my aunt's house for a dip in the pool.  Aside from the super relaxing fun, I was able to take some photos of the desert that displays my favorite range of color.  There was a small thunderstorm we drove by that struck lightning and caused a fire. It was gorgeous.

I'm really happy that I got a chance to drive through my favorite desert. I know in the future I'd love to take a trip out to Joshua Tree National Park, I imagine there are a lot of cool things to see out there! Though, probably not in the middle of Summer, I mean, 118 degrees is just ridiculously too hot. 

Home to NY tomorrow! For now.. one last trip to the beach.


Salon 94 Bowery: Jayson Musson/Halycon Days

It's nearly impossible for most artists not to like Jayson Musson. ARTTHOUGHTZ has rendered him into an honest and sincere artist/comedian of sorts with something funny and interesting to say. After walking through his show at Salon 94 Bowery, I decided to document just one painting, because I'm convinced that one painting is enough.

Musson states that Halycon Days is a reference for the nostalgia felt for the late 80's and early 90's. This sentimentality not only makes the show feel authentic, but enables an extra degree of believability to Musson's statements regarding the significance these Coogi sweaters have as symbols of (in his words) status, the golden age of hip-hop, and the evolving face of black culture.

If wearing a Coogi sweater facilitates its symbolic nature, what then can be revealed in removing it from the body and revealing it from the inside out? A change happens, one that moves from embodying symbolic meaning in a physical way towards examining meaning from a place of distance, the ever present distance of an art gallery. Salon 94's parenthesis likening Musson's sweaters to Warhol's Brillo Box is not needed (and feels like baiting) because it is apparent that the context of these sweaters has changed in a radical way.

An art context isolates Musson's concept; creating awareness surrounding the various historical and urban signifiers embedded within the nooks and crannies of the sweaters. There are as many nooks and crannies as there are compositional details to get lost within. Shapes and colors pull you around the "paintings" and push you into a dimension where fabric parallels a variety of painting strategies.

In the gallery, after about 10 minutes of looking, a man said in reference to the work, "It's beautiful." I agreed, but only because it immediately reminded me of Keat's, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." Whatever truth they are communicating is married with authenticity and concept: a recipe for my favorite kind of art.

I can't imagine this show will turn Musson into a painter by any means, but he's certainly utilized the conventions of painting to create works that have gotten my attention. What he'll end up doing with that attention is beyond me, but I certainly hope it is not a joke.


The Whitney: Sharon Hayes & Yayoi Kusama

When Marc and I arrived at the Whitney we were met with a long line. This line resulted in admittance to the museum as well as a 3:20 pm time slot for Kusama's Fireflies on the Water. We both declined the time slot (it was more than 3 hours away) and continued through the rest of the museum floors.

The third floor was the only floor that photos were allowed, so I am able to bring to you my collection of images surrounding Sharon Hayes's There's So Much I Want to Say to You. This show is one that demonstrates the politics of desire through various video and performance works while maintaining a consistent aesthetic of protest signs, small stages, and other politically symbolic constructions. The photos below reflect the overall look and diversity of the work.

The piece that I enjoyed most was a line of projected faces that were describing or explaining a situation or place but, without sound. The moderate sound of emotive protest speeches from other works in the room carried you easily into a space of understanding that these people were talking about something that mattered deeply to them. The emotions on their faces solidified the assumption.

Another favorite was the poster below, which reflected the ultimate sacrifice that love can demand of us, the lack of our freedom, turning the most precious of emotions into a political act of sorts.

The 4th floor headliner lived up to the hype by carefully and thoughtfully displaying a lifetime of works from Yayoi Kusama, though I wish I had some photos to show for it. I would like to see Kusama's paintings again simply because they were so enjoyable and engaging to look at. Marc and I were both most impressed by her ability to create depth while using seemingly flat painting strategies. I'll leave you with a picture of Yayoi and a recommendation to see the show.


Old Friends @MoMA

Yesterday Colin, Marc, and I went to MoMA.  Marc had never been, but because Colin and I had we were able to give him a little tour about modern art.  I was able to visit some of my favorite pieces and talk about why some paintings meant so much to me. It was a good field trip.

Here are the a few pictures from the artventure:

 Dieter Roth

 Gustave Klimt

 Henri Matisse

 Marcel Broodthaers

 Max Ernst

 Tomma Abts

Yoshitomo Nara