Feb 26, 2010

Pioneers of Color: Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, and William Eggleston at Edwynn Houk Gallery

This was a phenomenal photography show, and a must-see for anybody who is a photographer, who appreciates photography, or who just likes good and important art. It was inspiring to see the work of these three masters together. The prints were beautifully presented and in a variety of sizes---reflecting the thoughts and attitudes toward color photography at the time they were made, in the '70's---and a fascinating reflection of America during this time. The opening was exciting, as all three of the artists were there (plus Mitch Epstein!), and despite the blizzard outside, was packed with people thrilled to see this work.

© Edwynn Houk Gallery: Joel Meyerowitz TRURO, 1976

Kiki Smith "Sojourn" at the Brooklyn Museum

Sometimes there are shows that just make me feel good about art in general. That make me feel, some people are just gifted with a beautiful, creative spirit and don't let anything stop them from making beautiful, transcendental objects and experiences, who continually proliferate amazing ideas and things. Kiki Smith at the Brooklyn Museum is one of those shows. Consisting of about 5 rooms of installation, drawing, and sculpture, Smith presented themes of birth, life, and death, and specifically, these ideas as a woman. Drawing upon Prudence Punderson's The First, Second and Last Scene of Mortality, an 18th century needlepoint work depicting birth, life, and death of a woman, Smith examined the strength of our gender through her drawings and sculptural forms. In a sculpture of a woman in an ethereal nightgown, the body is powerful, beautiful, and positioned in a way that causes the figure to appear as if floating. Her strong thighs and thick arms are beautifully formed, sensual, and powerful. I think anybody with daughters would benefit greatly from these pieces. In addition to the main installation rooms, Smith also created site specific installations in several of the period rooms, including a sculpture of two women holding a needlepoint piece, together in a darkened Victorian parlor, a ghostly but dynamic project playing upon them, of leaves, of flowers, of lace, of time passing both by and through them.

Lastly, I highly recommend the film that accompanies the exhibition. Following Smith's installation and process for a house museum in Venice, it is a truly inspiring portrait of a thoughtful, unique artist who works reactively to the space she is exhibiting in, as well as her own flow of thoughts and poetry.

Feb 21, 2010

Amy Stein & Brian Ulrich at Caption Gallery, and 'Wendy and Lucy' Film

I finally had the opportunity to see 'Instruments of Empire' at Caption Gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn, featuring the work of Amy Stein and Brian Ulrich. First, as one who has curated, I have to commend the extremely catchy name of the show. It just sounds impressive. Secondly, I was fortunate to catch Amy giving an artist talk with Lyle Rexer in conjunction with the screening of the indy film Wendy and Lucy.

© Brian Ulrich

©Amy Stein

First, the photographs: in light of the current economic situation, Stein and Ulrich's photos---of stranded motorists along the highway and abandoned and shut down big-box stores, respectively---were very timely, and printed at a modest scale.

At Amy's talk, she described the increase in break-downs she has witnessed during this recession, the desperate nature of many people along the highways.

Secondly, the film in conjunction with Stein's photographs.

The film was extremely intimate, closed in, nearly claustrophobic in its portrayal of the main character, Wendy, played by Michelle Williams. In contrast, Stein's photographs are quick glimpses of people in incredibly vulnerable states. In the film, we become completely immersed in Wendy's highly concentrated, stressful existence, mostly as a result of her car breaking down. In the photographs, the viewer is not given any clues beyond the visual as to the circumstances surrounding the pictorial protagonist. For me, the contrast worked, and I recommend both the exhibit and the movie.

Feb 17, 2010

Art show reviews: The Revered German, The Gothic Hipster, and the happy Danish Rainbow Guy

THE REVERED GERMAN: Thomas Ruff at David Zwirner
I have always had an interest in Ruff's work, specifically his blurry shot of the Mies Van der Rohe Pavilion in Spain. Immaculately printed geometric abstractions based on photographic captures taken in space, there is an intrinsic mystery to the source of these images. Some of them evoke ghostly moons, while others more varied geometric forms. The crowd at Ruff's opening included a lot of well-heeled, glamourous Europeans, who were having a much better hair day than me.

Image "cassini 10" courtesy David Zwirner Gallery

THE GOTHIC HIPSTER: Banks Violette at Gladstone Gallery
Violette's work once again references hipster rock n' roll while referencing Minimalist and Conceptual Sculptors such as Donald Judd and Dan Flavin. At Violette's opening, scores of pencil thin hipsters dressed in black clustered around his large scale black sculptures. I was much too colorful in my purple socks so I left quickly.

THE HAPPY RAINBOW DANISH GUY: Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
My favorite of these three shows was Eliasson's 'Multiple Shadow House' in Tanya Bonakdar's gorgeous space on 21st street. Eliasson created multiple white rooms and hallways with old looking wood plank floors, and illuminated with multi-color light projections. The result? When lots of people were at the opening, psychadelic rainbow silhouettes followed everyone around the show. IT WAS FUN! Openings should be more fun, and this was definitely it. Upstairs in a darkened projection room, different colored bright shapes spilled out in the center of a wall, like a never ending kaleidoscope. It was both soothing and very '80's at the same time. At this opening, the crowd was more relaxed, a variety of folks drinking beer and enjoying the rainbow hues around them.

New Film for Large Format Geeks!

My darling sister alerted me to the exciting news that Kodak will begin putting out Ektar 100 speed negative film for OCD large format shooters such as myself. It will be available starting April 2010. Yay Kodak for realizing that a lot of the best pictures are still made on film.

Feb 16, 2010

The Waiting List: vote to help some folks...

The Waiting List is a project by photojournalist David Lee, who has been documenting the wait for organ transplants for over a year with the hope to bring awareness to being a donor. With this funding he'll start a photography program for children who are on the waiting list for a transplant. (Currently there are over 100,000 people waiting for an organs.)

VOTE: www.refresheverything.com/thewaitinglist

For more information about the waiting list:

Website: www.thewaitinglist.org
Trailer: www.thewaitinglist.org/trailer.mov
Vision: www.thewaitinglist.org/thevision.pdf
Support: www.southerndocumentaryfund.org/projects/the-waiting-list
Twitter: www.twitter.com/the_waitinglist

Feb 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

A romantic Red Hook, Brooklyn sky for my lovely readers.

Happy valentine's day!

Feb 11, 2010

A Dreamlike Sensibility to Inspire

2010 has been going incredibly well so far. I believe this is in large part to my renewed focus and concentration in all aspects of life; however, the biggest missing piece was my music. I've been a classically trained pianist since I was 5, and only just got a piano to resume my music. Playing every day for an hour has contributed hugely to other parts of life as an artist working out, I feel, and additionally, I think most artists have a few mediums in which to express and balance themselves. One of the pieces I am studying is Debussy's Pagodes. I love this piece because of its relationship to my world's fair pictures; Debussy first heard Japanese and Chinese music at the 1937 Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris, and this led to the creation of some of his most beautiful and ethereal music. Here is an amazingly dreamlike performance of Pagodes.

Feb 9, 2010

Reality TV: Untitled Art Project, on Bravo

Today was very fun for this 'emerging artist/ professor.' I was invited through Kipton Cronkite to attend a private taping of a new Bravo reality show on emerging artists! I cannot disclose what the art is like, but it was an incredibly fun reception at Philips de Pury on 15th street, hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker and with a huge array of fabulous gallerists, artists, and everyone who falls in between! So stay tuned; I may be making my tv debut as an art reception shmoozer in a few months.....

Feb 5, 2010

Fine art vs. Editorial: Is There Really a Difference in 2010?

In this economy, I have been struggling---like many people---with making ends meet, especially as I have made the decisions in life that: 1. I am a photographer. 2. I am an artist---not necessarily in that order. In fact, these 2 sentences are one and the same, as I have an MFA in photography and am a photographer. However, I have been coming across an attitude lately that these are not in fact one and the same, that a photograph is either editorial / commercial OR fine art. This seems like a curiously antiquated view, but I have been giving it some thought. For my own work, I look both to the high and mighty art-photography gods and goddesses as well as photographs considered more 'editorial.' As I photograph mostly architecture and architectural subjects, I have spent a lot of time researching such creative masters ad Ezra Stoller and Julius Shulman. I feel through their technical execution and passion for the subjects they photograph, the work is both fine art and editorial. It is a document and it is concept, as well as being exemplary of certain schools of thought on modern architecture and the built environment.

© Robert Polidori

Other photographers whose work I greatly respect are Robert Polidori and Andrew Moore---they also execute extreme technical precision while alluding to contemporary topics through their choice of subject. I guess ultimately for me, one must master technique in order to show concept; otherwise a photograph can be a sloppy snapshot with a whole lot of theory and photography history lumped onto it. And I just don't buy into that. I feel that ultimately, if passion, knowledge, and technical ability all come together in a photograph, it is a success, and can therefore be labelled editorial or fine art or whatever, but it works as an image. Isn't that what is most important? Interested to hear your thoughts on this one, my dear readers.

(Here is a new picture I photographed of Erie Basin, a beautifully curated little shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Is it art? Or is it editorial?)