Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh Christmas Thing, Oh Christmas Thing.

Since I've been on my own, I've never had a Christmas tree. I love the season and my nostalgia for it seems to grow every year, but my experience of it is pretty internalized, and this has continued since I've been living with Angelika. We don't do much for Christmas generally, and usually drop out of the broader xmas machinations whirling around us, finding a serene corner in which to pass the holiday.

I love the smell that xmas trees and garland bring into the home, and the most that we've done consistantly decorating-wise is stringing up some natural garland, and trying to keep the cat from constantly eating and puking up the stuff.
I very nearly bought a tree, and I was envisioning the compositional potential of christmas lights. But putting all that together from scratch on short notice was more than I wanted to commit to, so I improvised and utilized what was on hand.

Thereby was born, The Christmas thing.

I strung the garland and colored lights around a contraption that I had built to support a sculpture that is in progress, and was originally intended for possible inclusion in the SOTT exhibit in November. Unfinished, the plaster sculpture, which is inspired by the graceful tendrils of ligament, blood and flesh flowing from Medusa's decapitated head in Benevenuto Cellini's sculpture, has assumed the mantle of holiday significance.
I think I've discovered my special holiday tradition. Look ahead for future renditions of new and varied Christmas Things in the years to come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Final Days in Denver, Nov 07

William Stockman Puddle, oil on canvas 2006

My final days in Denver in November allowed me a chance to stop into the opening ofWilliam Stockman's "Nothing is Hiding" in the Singer Gallery at the Mizel Art Center at the JCC. I have always been taken by Stockman's drawings, and I've not coveted an artist's work more. I can't say why I never bought any. I remember stopping into Ron Judish Fine Art several times during a Stockman show back in 2000, and simply not being able to decide which I wanted more than another.
I guess I'd make a crappy collector.
Oddly, in a very indirect way, Stockman is responsible for me being in Beacon, NY now. I've never met him, but sometime soon after his aforementioned show at Judish, I read in Michael Paglia's column in Westword that Stockman was gearing up to move to Philadelphia. I was itching to leave Denver, need a landing spot and notice of this caught my imagination. I envisioned carving out a little to live and work in some anonymous and neglected corner of the city where real estate was cheap, and I was close to NY, but not too close. That's where it started, then by way of a pinball-like action, my attention was shot to rural Pennsylvania, up to Coxsackie NY (for the wedding of the inimitable David Kimmett) and eventually down to Beacon.

Still today, looking at Stockman's scratchy figurative drawings brings me a real visceral pleasure. I haven't seen his work since that 2000 show. This show at the Singer Gallery includes the black and white sketchbook pages, but the space is predominated by large canvases. The paintings' Twomblyesque accoutrement's are attractive, but feel obvious. Although beautiful and elegant, most of the paintings exist as large scale translations of the drawings. The paintings offer little new to the territory staked out in the drawings save the larger, color infused format, and all but a few of them make me think more of the sketches from which they were born. Still, its' a beautiful show, and it's on exhibit through January 18. Michael Paglia's write up of the show features a slide show of the exhibits' paintings.
On my last Sunday in town, I ran up to visit Dea and Dave at Plastic Chapel in their new location on East Colfax. Unfortunately, the joint is closed on Sundays. I snapped a couple of pics of the joint's new digs.
Lauri Lynnxe Murphy's installation on the walls.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Golden Fleece

Angelika flew out to join me for a few days around Thanksgiving, and with her came wintery, snowy weather infused with wonderful holiday atmosphere. The weather prior to her arrival had been in the '60s and 70's which is nice, but I was ready to feel the impending holiday season.

The plaza outside of the Denver Art Museum.

On Friday after Thanksgiving, we headed down to the Denver Art Museum. It was her first time to see the new Hamilton building. Currently on view at DAM is an exhibit of Color field painting, and an exhibit of objects from the Louvre called Artisans and Kings which required an additional special admission ticket of $8 over the $10 museum admission. Our friend John had an allotment of additional tickets to the exhibit so we didn't have to pay which was fortunate, because that would have been a horrendous waste of money had we had to shell it out ourselves. I have no problem paying an additional amount for a special exhibit at a museum, and I can appreciate the circumstances behind bringing a truly special exhibit to a venue. However, charging a premium for this exhibit is an extraordinarily cynical manuever on the part of the museum; throw the Louvre's lable on an exhibit, and the yoekels won't care what they're seeing. Hell, it's from the Louvre. Dig some crap out of the closet ship it to the new world and hold a glorified antiques road show in a $90.5M home? for contemporary art. The majority of the exhibit consists of well crafted over-the-top tacky decorative objects that had been personal possessions of of Louis and Marie Antoinette. As Angelika said, the history behind the objects is far more interesting than the actual objects. We were far more interested in the drawings included in two small galleries downstairs. Two small galleries. Sort of slim pickings to warrant an additional charge, and time stamped tickets. There's an uninspiring Titian painting, and a Velasquez portrait of La Infanta Margarita, the distinction of which, as promoted by the Museum, is that it was kept in Louis XIV's mother's bathing chamber.

How enlightening.

The additon of small oak curbs on the museum floors helps prevent folks from bruising their heads on the angle walls.

I guess I hope that the scheme to charge an extra premium was planned from the beginning, and it didn't arise as a strategy to make up for any shortfall in revenue given that this year's attendance numbers fell far short of projections, particularly as staff levels were drastically cut after the opening of the new wing.

It's an ok show-of decorative work, with some wonderful drawings, but there's no way in it warrants time specific tickets......

The Hamilton building's best interior attribute; the staircase.

The upside of Artisans and Kings being shown in the Anshutz Gallery is that Color as Field exhibit benefits by being seen in a gallery that does not detract from the work on display. This is a beautiful exhibit with many powerful paintings including a stunning, large ochre Motherwell, (the title of which I forget) some great Olitski's among many others. The Color as field exhibit is more than worth its price of admission. As this exhibit is tucked away in the main floor gallery in the North building, three or four paintings from the show are actually on display back in the Hamilton building, in order to draw traffic across the bridge to see the rest. Unfortunatly, these paintings play the role of sacrificial virgins which fare poorly at the hands of the killers of the sublime that are the Hamilton's galleries. Color as Field is on exhibit through Feb 3 and is worth a visit.

MCA's rooftop walkway as seen from below.

After leaving the valley of the DAMned we feasted on bison burgers in Larimer Square and then off to the newly opened but not quite finished MCA . The new building designed by David Adjaye sported unpainted joint compound patches on the walls and unpainted grinded down welds on the metal handrails above the atrium. The building provides a maze-like unfolding as you move from gallery to and floor to floor. The current offering is the inaugural exhibit "Star Power: Museum as Body Electric", featuring the work of seven artists from seven countries.

MCA's cafeteria

Before I was politely busted for taking photos in the rooftop museum's cafeteria I did manage to snap a few shots. I look forward to returning to this space in the future. The scale of the building is such that provides succinct a dose of contemporary art with out being overwhelmed right in the heart of LoDo.
From the MCA, we stopped into the Tattered Cover for hot beverages and extendsive magazine perusal. And I bought a book.

Monday, December 03, 2007

More Denver

Veteran's Day Parade on Nov. 10th. 2007 in Denver, afterward, I wandered around my old neighborhood for a bit.

Kids on cow.
The sculpture is "Cow and Calf" by Dan Ostermiller, located just South of DAM.

Plus+Gallery, sculpture by Michael Whiting.

After visiting with Michele Mosko at her gallery, I went up to Plus+Gallery to see the
exhibit of sculpture by Michael Whiting and paintings by Frank T. Martinez.

The next day, I headed over to the
Lab at Belmar for the first time. For a couple of years, I've heard of the Lab's Mixed Taste Lecture series which combines two talks on disparate topics into one grand evening. The entity has only been in it's permanent space for little more than a year. I guess I was expecting more of an improvised, diy-type space carved out a store front in the newly developed, former Villa Italia Mall site, but the Lab is an honest to God REAL exhibition space; a petite contemporary kunsthalle. The proper name of the joint is "The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar," and the exhibition of art is only a portion of the activity there. I'm really taken by the spirit of the space and its mission as conveyed via the promotional material.

As stated on the website, the Lab is: "Part Art Museum /Part Public Forum/ Wholly Mackeral" and it's portrayed on the website and in its Notebook publicaton, the Lab is an open, irreverant and broad platform for the sharing and nurturing thought.

A view of the Lab's Poop Deck.

Shot of installation in Melanie Smith's exhibit Spiral City/Ciudad Espiral
on view through Dec 30.