Monday, March 29, 2010

Nava Atlas at Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, April 3, 2010

The work of New Paltz artist, Nava Atlas is included in a three person traveling exhibit called In Retrospect: Artists' Books and Works on Paper.  The exhibit will open at the Abecedarian Gallery in Denver on April 1 and run through May 8 .  The opening reception will be held on April 3 from 6-8 pm.  Nava will be in Denver to give a presentation at the gallery 5 pm, prior to the opening reception.  The gallery is located at 910 Santa Fe

Nava will also have work included in The Edge of Art: New York State Artist Series at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse NY from Apr 17- July 11. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010


My toilet bowl whispered my name.  It happened early in the morning of this past Wednesday and it sent a shudder through me. I hadn't even been engaged with the toilet.  I was actually at the sink, rinsing out the mouth guard that keeps me from grinding my teeth (TMI).  It was a breathy vocalization - Chhrisss -  and it immediately squeezed the breath out of me.  It said nothing more.

Of late I've begun labeling posts either Innie or Outie depending on whether they pertain directly with the development of my own work and my own studio endeavors, or if it characterizes those things on the outside the studio that attract my attention and provide a broader framework which might inform or be informed by  the direction of my thoughts and work.
I'm a bit stymied on how to label the occurrance of a sentient, whispering it an interior act of creation on my part, or is it an example of the exterior world infiltrating my zone of comfort?

I think I'll go with.....

Dark Reflections

the studio at night

Via Two Coats of Paint: Paul La Farge's essay on black and darkness for Cabinet magazine is a reflection that is much deeper and darker than mine own musings on that subject.

asphalt drawing
 collage, 11"x16" 2010

collage, 14"x17" 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kork: Highland Path by Matthew Hereford

As if unwilling to relent to the very notion of spring and the vivacity it embodies, Mother Nature delayed by several days the installation of Matthew Hereford's installation at kork earlier this month.  "Highland Path" is testament to the coming of a new season. 
The work is a sort of visual onomonopoeia.  It is what it looks like.and it looks like something real.  And it is real; real components are playing themselves as if in a walk on roll in a sitcom in the formation of a fictionalized representation of a view of itself, of nature.
The scale is a little disorienting.  This is a God's POV and  the size relationships between elements and composition engender a frenetic blurring and refocusing of the eye as it works to discern what is in the fore and what is receding.  It's this constrained view finder onto a distant pastoral scene lends the entire kork board a sense of receding.  Even as the work itself is a dimensional and additive amalgam of collaged elements, the work as a whole functions as a negative; a removal of the constructed office interior to reveal that natural scene through or within the wall mounted portal.

The components of Highland Path were collected during the many walks Matthew takes in the Hudson Highlands. 
Maybe it's just me, but the more I look at this work, the more I get the sense  of time and space folding in on itself over and over again.

Matthew Hereford's work will remain on view through April 30, 2010.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Diary of an Art Hand....elete?

Here's breakdown of one person's doings on the event of the inaugural Art Handling Olympics:

7:45 am - Wake up and check my look in the mirror - I likes what I see.

7:57 am - eat breakfast consisting of pineapple and yogurt, topped with some corn flakes (I pretend they're Wheaties)

8:21 am - I do my morning stretches, 'cause I'm playing old and I'm dealing with some back pain.

8:35 am - Consider shaving my entire body from the neck down. Might make up for time lost due to back pain, but decide I don't have time for another all day project. Settle on just shaving neck.

9:50 am - Meet up with teammate Sara to head to rendevouz with the rest of team rBad

10:51 am - A united rBad convoy is city bound

11:27 am - Potty break pit stop/detour in the wilds of Westchester County.

Descend here all ye with hopes of glory and fame.

12:42 pm - arrive at Ramiken Crucible, official AHO venue.

1:26 pm - rBad's team photo is taken

The Stripped Screws' striped stockings.
2:05 pm - rBad team knuckle tattooing

2:53 pm - Opening remarks and layout of events from AHO organizer Shane Caffrey

The Nitro Lords!

The all LADEES team, Screw 'Em

The Well Hungs Team.  I only just now got the connection between the team's name and the logo of the horse...It takes me a while sometimes.

AHO official blogger, Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City tweeting the event.

3:15-3:20ish pm - The qualifying event "Special Delivery" begins.  rBad is in the second 6 team heat.

 rBad in the home stretch.  Even though all looks copacetic, at least one of us at the very moment is convinced he is dying, his thighs feel like bundles of stretched out bra straps and he wouldn't be surprised if blood started spurting from his eyes.

 A brave bystander rescues the Quick and Dirty team from a surprise attack by another bystander
 This image and the previous one, courtesy of Rachel von Wettberg

3:41 pm - O god, o god,  god, o god o god, o god, o god.

3:52 pm -  The Well Hungs and the Kings of Cleats participate in the first heat of "Hang This."  I've regained my breath from the grinding ordeal of the Special Delivery.

4:20 pm - The Quick and Dirty and Dept 13 are in heat two of Hang This. And I insured that the dumplings and whiskey I consumed in Special Delivery would stay down by burying them under a supressive layer of cheese balls.

4:45 pm - rBad is hungry so we pack up gear, and head into Chinatown for dinner.

6:12-6:17 pm - Watching the woman from the restaurant trying to rustle an eel out of the tank.  It's a real contest of wits.

6:35 pm - Walking back from the restaurant, we pass the gallery, considering whether we should rejoin the gathered crowd.  Instead we head to the cars for our long drive home, champions, not of of international art handling primacy, but of our own.......whatever.   Really, the Art Handling Olympics is like the Special Olympics in that everyone is a winner.....any other similarities between the two contests, is for the viewer to decide.
I'm not sure what this posting is for.  I just liked the way it fluttered in the breeze.

In the end, the Kings of Cleats take the day with the Well Hungs and the Quick and Dirty also making to the medals platform.

Here's a video piece on the event by the NY Daily News:

For more info and better pics of the event, check out:
The NY Times article and slide show
Art Fag City's exaustive coverage, including  photos by Marina Galperina.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My City Was Gone|What is ever lost? Mapping Place and "Space with Freespace

Matthew Slaats is not a fellow who is ever wanting for a way to fill his down time.  He concluded the Hyde Park Visual History Project last October with a long awaited interactive projection at the Hyde Park Drive In and now he's fully involved in the Midddle Main Revitalization effort, working to leverage artistic activity to invigorate the cultural and economic life in a stretch of Poughkeepsie's Main St.

Matthew's work is interactive and participatory.  His impulse is toward community building and he engenders that in activities which are engineered to pool the knowledge, experience and creativity of a given community.

His latest project is an online and real world project called Freespace.  The website of Freespace seeks to generate a network of sites of of significance - of personally held significance as opposed to significance on an institutional or national scale.  The nature of the project is open ended and will ultimately be determined by the aggregated character of submissions by the public, and the site will map those locations and experiences and individual's experiences tied to that location.   As stated in the website's About section, the impetus for the project arose out of a visit to the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park as a way to spur a sort of National Park System that reflects the American experience of the common individual.  The project is a cataloging of the relationships built between people and place.
When Matthew sent the link and an invitation to participate I was reading James Fallows' article How America Can Rise Again in The January 2010 issue of The Atlantic and the pairing felt particularly synchronous.
In the article, Fallows questions several individuals on the state of the nation's well being and tracks the attitude that's been ingrained in the American psyche since its infancy that the society's high point has passed and the downhill slide is underway.  Fallows' inquiry takes stock our current state and indexing the values of today's society against the real and perceived visions of our history.  Freespace is a similar activity, codifying the involuntary habit we all have of staking claims on our surroundings based on our experiences and emotions.  Freespace charts this new territory in land we all already to navigate it with new insight;
it's just one particular approach on remaking the concept of the commons.  Stake a claim, then open it up for your neighbors to enjoy and share.

On Darkness, and on being in it.

One of a series of collaborative additive char drawings created by Central Hudson and
Mother Nature, documented by me. 

One note of domestic discord that persists in our home revolves around the light switch.  If you ask one of us, she'll say that the other has an annoying habit of turning off the light every time she turns around.  If you ask the other, he'll say that he doesn't see the point of running a light if no one is in the room.  Besides, we've been granted the power over light through the use of switches.  Why not use them to the fullest extent?
Another pet peeve of my lovely is that from time to time I'll walk around with no lights on at all.  This usually happens as I go to bed - turning out the lights in the living room and navigating my way through one of our two studios through a connecting space and into the bedroom to disrobe and get into bed all without a light.  there have been occasions when I stub a toe or run into a door or wall and she's said something like "See?  Why don't you put on a light?"  I have no real answer.  Kicking something or running into something seems like a natural side effect of walking in the dark to me and I'm not bothered by such things.
This is not how it always has been for me.  When I was in third or fourth grade and I would be at home alone, preparing for bed, I would turn on every light in the house, then make my way to bed, turning off lights as I went until I reached the last switch in my bedroom, at which point I would start running to the bed as soon as hit the switch.  Immediately in bed I would review my performance, usually certain that I had gone airborne in my final leap to the bed before the bulb had been extinguished.
It was fear, a creepy fear of the dark when you're in it doing things you shouldn't be doing - in the dark - which amounted to anything other than sleeping or at the very least being prone.
That goblin of fear appeared again as I descended the stairs to our very creepy basement with only a candle  scented of fresh cut roses, courtesy of our upstairs neighbors.  It was one of those moments when that one part of your mind is trying to psyche out the rest of you - and receiving a thrill from that feeling of fear.

The reason that I was using that candle was our lack of electricity.
For once, the warning of the coming of a major storm finally came had some veracity. 
I was outside on the night of the snowstorm to do a little shoveling around my truck.  Fortunately, I got distracted and when the transformer at the end of the driveway blew, I was out of the way, clearing snow from trees in the yard.  Even with the substantial distance between me and the transformer when it blew, I was doing a Holy Shit/WTF dance in knee deep snow, wondering if I could be electrocuted from sixty feet away, and if anyone was capturing video of me.  This electrical incident created an arc that ended up blowing a hole through the breaker panel in our apartment - twice.
In the following five days without electricity, I found myself flipping switches when entering and exiting rooms - old habits...

The unbounded development in technology that affects our lives in this society serves us in almost immeasureable ways. I don't think we reflect on it much, beyond asking "What did we do before advent of ...(fill in the blank).  With greater frequency, we assume our digital prostheses and adapt to our "enhanced" way of life.  Whatever primary task our phones, screens, players are created to tackle, the one universal thing these devices do is make light; they push back the dark dark night, and they allay boredom, two things that immediately flood in during a power outage.  I'm not talking about the symbolic, knowledge as light/ ignorance as darkness kind of way, but rather, darkness in a "Man, It's dark in here and I can't see" kind of way. These things a really tricked out glowing flashlights.  Flashlights that make phone calls and take pictures and videos.  The fire department report on our power surge incident was written up under the ambience(s) of two cell phone screens.
Granted, human ingenuity and technology have assumed position within the march of evolution for our species, but one must realize that in an environment where our seventh and eighth senses are being carried via cables in the air, amidst aging and threatening tree branches, at any moment, we can be back on our own. 
There's an "aligned" quiet in walking around in a darkened environment.  I won't say it's primal, but it is sensory...or sensorial? It's moving through the tangible volume of a space.  The components of the darkened air have a felt volume.  It's like moving back to a point of history when ether still existed and all that was, sloshed through it.
When I was even younger than in the previously mentioned bedtime story, I would wake up in the morning and I'd consider every flick of a switch, every engaged appliance to be part of the slow revving of a machine that, as the world around me was also awakening, would gain in power and make the day happen.  This was even more the case in the winter when the production of heat added to the envisioned effect.  It, as my memory serves, gave me the desire to be awake and be part of that mechanism.  Or maybe I didn't want to be part of it, I just wanted to observe it.  It didn't actually make me want to go to school in any greater degree - and that was a kind of light and heat my mom had to contend with.

A snowstorm like this one we experienced is like walking in the dark; you have both limited vision of and control over your surroundings.   You can only control you own actions and reactions in very short order to what is presented.  In an average day, the technical accessories give us the impression otherwise. But how nice is it to roll with the rhythms of the day free of these illusions?  I advocate an energy holiday for at least one week a year for everyone.  Like camping at home.

Definition for the day:
Glowting [glo - teeng] orig. Late Ren., Beacon, 2010 - The envy inducing illumination of a lam or fixture when seen by an individual whose own abode is without such extravagance as electricity.


The glowting parking lot of Spire Studios flirted teasingly though my darkened windows and downed tree limbs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More details emerging about the Art Handling Olympics

Paddy Johnson from Art Fag City has an interview with Art Handling Olympics founder Shane Caffrey reveals valuable details of this Sunday's competition, including, the menu that is part of the qualifying event: dumplings and shots of whiskey.
The members of rBad are getting psyched with every passing moment.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Get it on!: The Art Handling Olympics - March 21 @ Ramiken Crucible in NYC

Periodically, I condition my wallet by working as an art handler at a couple of esteemed art institutions in the area, one of them being the CCS Bard|Hessel Museum. The CCS|Hessel installation crew is fielding a team  (rBad) for the first ever Art Handling Olympics which is coming up on Sunday, March 21 at Ramiken Crucible down on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The competition kicks off at 3pm with the Official Opening Ceremony.
rBad, along with r support crew will join some fourteen other 4 person teams will be vying for glory via a handful of absurd feats of skill and endurance indigenous to the often absurd world of art handling and installation.
Think of it as MXC with booze, box cutters and measuring tape.

If you're around the LES that day come show your colors and cheer us on to either said glory, orto immediate and inglorious indignation. 

Oh, It's on, alright.  It's on!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shared sensibilities

It's not an infrequent occurance when someone else is able to articulate things deeply felt and believed by myself. Jessica Stockholder so does in this segment from Art 21.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Embracing the Beast

It's fitting that Embrace!, the exhibit of installations by 17 artists at the Denver Art Museum is closing on Easter, because viewing the exhibit is an Easter egg hunt of its own.
I visited the exhibit with my dad in November:

John McEnroe's suspended nylon forms The Bathers and Katharina Grosse's painting George (above and below.)

 Vertigo:  part of Katherina Grosse's piece on the Left, and Jessica Stockholder on the right. Stockholder's atrium element is connected to a larger installation in the second floor galleries (below) by an extra long orange extension cord as if it's a battery or solar power source.

Tobias' Rehberger's Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson in the rain is a fun piece that evokes a Chuck E. Cheese bungee cord paradise which is nicely integrated into the second floor of the atrium

The atrium is lined on all levels with works that are seen in relation to one another.  This can be interesting, but it can also proffer the sense of an art fair on a vertical axis.
Additionly, a small area in the second floor galleries is dedicated to photographic documentation of the installation process of the various works would be (and is) a nice informative feature for the exhibition website, but its presentation in the gallery has a compromising effect on the exhibit.
How an installation is made can be interesting, but to draw attention to that aspect of the work while in the midst of it misses the mark entirely, threatening to reduce an exhibit to a collection of peculiar novelties. 
I recommend checking out the exhibition page on the museum's website for loads of pics and other info on all the works in the show.

El Anatsui's work Rain Has No Father? is installed in one of the small side galleries that houses a selection of African artifacts.  It's logical, the artist being African, that his work would be contextualized among African tribal artifacts, but given the dinky, uncomfortable nature of the space, the choice of  installation placement comes off seeming marginalized, obvious and perhaps a bit racist to me.

Kristen Baker's Dihedral Barrage holds a place of honor on the fourth floor.

Charles Sanderson's mesmerizing video installation Chamber, in a gallery all it's own was the most engrossing enveloping work, literally.  I would be surprised if it nobody took the initiative of experiencing this work under some sort of chemical influence....Although none such additive would be necessary to enhance the enveloping nature of the piece.

The spirit behind the exhibit is honorable.  It's a worthy effort in addressing a museum space that by its nature longs for a permanent Tino Sehgal installation.  

As we exited the Liebeskind designed Hamilton building via the passageway that crosses over Thirteenth Ave to the original Ponti building, we passed,  a young boy standing at the threshold to the Hamilton shouting to his father inside the Liebeskind space, "I don't want to go in there."  Out of the mouths of babes...