Thursday, December 11, 2008
The janitor used to come every two weeks. One day he left a note on my desk to tell me that one of the artworks is dripping red juice. The piece was Matt Davis’ multimedia photo collage, and the red juice comes from the chewed sugar-free gums which adhere to the surface of the photo. At some point there are flies stuck to it; it is summer after all.
“Isn’t this the grossest thing you’ve ever seen?”
Three months later, Matt shows here again, this time his solo show. The anchor piece was an installation entitled “Inheritance”, which is made of sugar-free candy, foam, sunflower seed shells, cat litter, fish oil pills, nylon strap, band-aids, super balls, toilet paper, and body hair mounted on a photograph of what appears to be a vagina or a very ripe fig, mounted on clumsily cut aluminum. The piece embodies danger and anxiety, and with its tangling foam tentacles, sharp edges and near-unidentifiable objects affixed onto it, it’s easy to overlook the grotesque imagery in the photograph.
“Is this thing archival?”
Boss was born in the Depression era. She grew up to love art as much as life. To her, a piece of art is as important as a pair of wool socks or a heavy winter coat. She got married to Jack who builds chrome sculptures that are strong enough to brave the Chicago winter. Jack founded CAW with a mission to showcase young emerging artists with new ideas. It was the 1950s.
Nowadays, artists are finding new materials to use in artworks and it’s still a new concept for most of the art-viewing public. During the opening, one of the guests brought up the Unmonumental exhibition in the New Museum in New York and how it was target to outrage by many museum-goers because of its slacker aesthetic and unserious concepts. But even then, such style is widely accepted in the recently-artschool-grad circle. This is what they teach in school? What’s there to teach? How to mix epoxies and glue a bunch of shit together?
I’m biased, since I glue shit together in my own work, too. I have to say that this new aesthetic is totally relevant to our time. This is the era when consumer items define our lives and relativity is a mainstream belief. Things don’t just serve the purpose of being useful, they suggest a narrative to our identity. But it suggests a vague identity, more mystery -- a more fitting definition of personality. The fact that the materials are real doesn’t help make reading easier, but it provides a more full and open experience. Nothing else is clear-cut, so why should the art be?
Matt’s work is confounding not only in its material but also in its imagery. It’s gross, it’s beautiful, it’s overwhelming, it’s shoddy-looking, it’s lively. The red juice is absent from “Inheritance”, but the complexity of the materials guarantees a different reading each time. It’s aliiiiiiiive.
Matt Davis's show The End is the last for the historic alternative space CAW. Go see it before it closes January 23.
synonyms of collaborate: be in cahoots, coact, cofunction, collude, come together, concert, concur, conspire, cooperate, coproduce, do business with, get together, glue oneself to, go partners, hook on, hook up, interface, join forces, join together, join up with, participate, team up, throw in together, throw in with, tie in, work with
other fave co's:
Coco (my cat)
connect (as in early heads pictured above)
Since we began discussing our show this summer and the workshop ideas, I've been hyper-keyed to collaboration. It's PeeWee's word of the day. AAhhHhhhhh! He he!
- My student's did a crazy joint drawing a couple weeks ago on the dry erase board. Two of us got it started, and the rest couldn't have enough marker time. It was good productive togetherness! (Reminded me of our instigating "Friday Night Dance Party" at Waterworks back in 2001.)
- C and I just did a lil' drawin' for a friend of jumbled up people and cats and bling and pickles. Sweet fun.
- Recently talking about my co-created and co-taught class with J at the MCA---a challenging and productive teaching strategy that continues to drive my philosophies on art education.
- H, a friend from Memphis, posted his facebook status, "H is working on his Collaborative Painting & Drawing syllabus and is looking for examples of artists who've collaborated. Any suggestions?" Received responses from several "face-friends" like: Picasso and Braque, De Kooning and Rauschenberg, Abramovich and Ulay, Warhol and Basquiat, Bismuth and Gondry, Parreno and Gordon, Doug and Mike Starn, Dino and Jake Chapman, David Bowie and Hirst, Charles Long and Stereolab (the art guys), Bernd + Hilla Becher, Newton + Helen Mayer Harrison, Art Club 2000, Tim Rollins + K.O.S., Atelier Van Lieshout, Group Material, General Idea, Komar & Melamid, Gilbert & George, Bob & Bob, Terry Fox & Joseph Beuys, Fischli & Weiss, Seals and Croft, and I'm sure that Thomas Kinkade has collaborated with many - oh yeah, that's right, he has a staff that paints for him! UGH.
- And most recently, I noticed an enews about a December 2008/January 2009 issue of Modern Painters that includes an article about "merging artists" (get it? instead of their usual "emerging artists" section). Really wonderful work by 9 artist-teams. Above pics: Nina Canell and Robin Watkins, still from Sea Chant (2006) + Benoît Maire and Falke Pisano, Organon (2008)
I'm glad in a time of technology-driven social connection that artists (and others) are finding more ways to physically coproduce. Especially with the cold months ahead, we need more warm body time.
Looking forward to our future co-adventures!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I am glad, though, that you aren't in the gallerina chair this time. Not that last time was any easier, but the pressure of "selling" art now seems more ridiculous than ever. Even J--my collector's perspective--says the economy has finally touched the art world. I don't know why, but this makes me feel a little better. At least the two worlds (art and rest) are somewhat connected and the repression isn't exclusive. J keeps me up on the auctions (esp. the online ones), and numbers aren't as high as usual for fame namers. No bailout needed, though, we're still talkin' big money. So...what does this mean, then? Is it too hopeful to think that this might affect value systems? Maybe with less buyers, lower spenders, the demand of making-to-sell will turn to making for other reasons? Will buyers break fashion trends and take chances on lesser knowns (because they are lesser costs)? May the business of art buy/sell die with the stock market? I can dream.
p.s. loved the collab. post---what an amazing interactive site! i have some responses, but i'm slow. will post again soon.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Heard the author of Bird by Bird on "This American Life" earlier today and thought of you. Thanks for the tip on that book---it's good stuff! The theme of the show this week, music, was perfectly timed, as I seem to be falling into a music-centered season. You know how I always sort of trade off?---arty conquests vs. musical ventures. If only I knew how to combine the two. Anyway. You wrote about my new rules of art judgment: "Structure, familiarity, character, drama and heart - all things that we crave in our lives and in our creations." I love the idea of applying OUR rules of music/art-making and viewing/experiencing to larger understanding of others, situations, life. We're curating our preferred world, wouldn't you say? Appreciating the details, whether high or low.
I know that word-feud that you speak of quite well. I'm always in this conversation with my students, and with myself (with the critical voices in my head that were planted in art school). Too many vague words to define: art, craft, beauty. "To whom?" is always the circular issue.
Well, to me--someone who still laughs at poo jokes, listens to sentimental love songs and appreciates childlike wonder--using whatever material you can get your hands on to do your thing = beauty! Monet, Rothko, Brancusi techniques = tired. I think Jeff Koons proves a point about "high art" material. And I've seen an amazingly crafted oil painting that had nothing to say. It had structure, and that's about all. K, let's face it, we're suckers for heart. We like the sappy truth, in whatever form it comes.Yesterday, it came in the form of cardboard, yet again. The Viaduct Theatre hosted The Exquisite City. Around 40 artists made Chicago city blocks and windows almost entirely out of cardboard, organized together to make a collective city including all the banal (although cute-ified!) aspects of city life: street lights, speed bumps, sewer hole covers (which btw, immediately reminded me of the teenage mutant ninja turtles), parking lots, corner bars, churches, run down buildings, and power lines--even the cardboard covered entrance way had pigeons perched in the cracks with corresponding white cardboard bird poop on the ground. Totally tubular, man!And winding things up nicely, C and I agreed that the best works in Exquisite were the off-kilter blocks. The perfectly scored and assembled satellite dish was a quick pass to the trash-made sideways tilting brownstone. I mean, I have to appreciate the great skill and effort that goes into attempting the look and texture of faux-stone on a miniature art deco movie theater, but it's character I'm looking for.
Quarrel on, my sweet! It's worth it, if only to fuel your passion.
Go visit the Exquisite City! It's awesome! http://www.exquisitecity.com/
Read more about it: Chicago Journal article
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
yay! l-i-p is back! glad you had a book/art-filled weekend! i had some fun as well, and wanted to rave about one of my new fave artists. ;)
the show: Work Site
the artists: Chris Lin and Ben Brandt
the gallery: Estudiotres
There are a few key ingredients that go into making a good country song.
1. Structure: some sort of underlying form or loose system that holds it all together.
2. Familiarity: if the strange or absurd disrupts, often what we already know comforts.
3. Character: the personal, based on biography yet universalized (generalized) to relate on a larger scale.
4. Drama: exaggeration and elevation of everyday life--in an effort to make meaning, heighten, and slow those fast gone moments.
5. Heart: the sincerity and wisdom that only comes from someone who has truly hurt, lost, or failed.
And in this process, the writer finds purpose and release, romantically formalizing what might otherwise be a selfish tantrum.
This show is a good country song.
Lin and Brandt are both dealing with structure. More than the obvious architectural references, their work points to underlying surfaces, supports, and modular rhythm. The type of rectilinear plague we suffer daily (have you noticed?---everything is rectangle! ah!). The salvation comes in the imperfection of the system. The freedom lies in the cracks, the play is in the fissure. Brandt's scaffolds teeter with "almost balance", variable-sized canvases cluster together like loose communities or aerial shots of irregular plots of farmland. Lin's tenement blocks don't always match up, the chicken-wire foundation is exposed, and a city below is revealed.
An anthropological study would examine the layers, searching for clues of human life, the hand, the personal. In fact, the singular strange thing about this work is the feeling of people-less-ness. Talking to Lin about his work, he confided that several blocks are loosely based on places in Chicago where memory turned happy moments of the past into sad remembrances. His blues got to work, tediously constructing nondescript building after the next (he even lost sight of which was which soon after he made them). Tenements resting tenuously on a mountain of gray. The same gray of Brandt's textures. The same gray of the gallery utility doors. The city from the past is buried beneath, forgotten, and already purged.
This is a more serious play, wit is slight, less obvious. Yet there is humor in between. The sad homogeneity of the buildings (also goes for Brandt's surfaces) direct you to the "wonky" by contrast--holes, minute color details, dramatic peaks and valleys, scale, the tipping of blocks to extreme angles! They might just slide right off! Hee. Brandt jests, too, with a silly "walnut tongue" or tangled ball of string (noodles? worms? intestines?) protruding from the conservative tans, creams, browns, and grays (the colors of Eddie Bauer or maybe more poignantly, the working class uniform).
Both artists' work seem very much about material (low and high) and "boyness." Lin really knows his material. He should, he's been using it since he was little. It reminds me of one of my favorite students from Tally. Remember Jim Dolson, his cardboard space equipment, science experiments in the playground, and mission to the moon? Cardboard...it lacks pretension. There is a curious innocence in the meanderings of a 9-year-old boy with constructs, an erector set, Lego's or even just household objects. Brandt's work carries that mentality as well. Although his schooling is obvious, inscribing his name in every painting, he leaves a mark of naivete.
The "work site" is a place of vulnerability, unfinished thoughts and plans. Process and production. Surface and support. Creation from destruction (dramatic, I know, but that's history, man!). And maybe a few mountains out of molehills.
The show will be up through Dec. 18---go see it! details---http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=36260886609
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
I've been missing you! and blogging!...almost "back in business" as my favorite boss used to say. I have several posts on back order, and I'm not sure where to begin. Here's a little one:
When I was in St. Louis, A drove me to the St. Louis Light Project. A red-headed Social History Professor suggested I check it out, explaining his current writing and research over breakfast and toys in Edwardsville the day before. After 2 days of corn fields, a harvest fest, 4-year-old princess antics, an anxious lecture, and threatening racial tension, it was the perfect "relevatory" experience.
The church was a ghost, a grave for a historical social foundation. Only the main walls of the structure remained---the frame for so many. Within the old body, was an organized skeletal scaffold. Hardware, metal and stone, cold and vacant. Floating effortlessly above, in the form of the pitched roof, hung more than 200 lights. Warm liveness. A variety of shapes, colors, styles--they looked great together, a unified community of difference. Beautiful, magical, and conceptually minded--it reminded me of the majestic light that enters the stained-glass windows of a deeply Gothic cathedral, the sort of sensationalism and dramatic theater used to create an awakening of spiritual experience from an otherwise dark, wordly existence. Only this was outwardly glowing, and not consquentially pointed. It was like a memorial of the very human connection, the dynamic life that exists within a tired (and in this case, dead) institution. What's more, the lamps came from people in the surrounding community. (you know how I'm a sucker for inclusion!) With each lamp, personal current histories combined to reflect on the history of the church, dialogically celebrating the past and present. You can see many of the lamp donors and their lamps here: http://lamp-collection.pulitzerarts.org/category/lamp-project-at-the-spring-church/collection-process/donors-and-their-lamps/.
And learn more about the artists and other light projects around the St. Louis area here: http://lightproject.pulitzerarts.org/completed-work/kehres-hungerer/
You have some cute nostalgic lamps to offer, right k?
Good to be back!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
I want to respond to your posts, but will have to do so later. Just a quick plug for an upcoming arty event.
Come for silliness, come for spectacle!
Laughers/Players/Performers and Everyone else wanted:
· No musical or performance experience necessary
· Bring your laughter and a cell phone that will record and playback your voice
· Only 1 hour of your time gets you a shared experience you won’t forget
Meet on the steps under the monument in Logan Square @ 5:45 pm for section placement, tuning and warm-ups.
Let’s fake-laugh in “sweetened” harmony, and then “real”-laugh at ourselves! Hope to see you there.
~Conductor Sit Com (Situationist Comedy) ....a.k.a. "k"
Email questions to: email@example.com
Monday, September 8, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008