MASS MoCA + Sol Lewitt

posted by on 09/09/14 @ 1:20pm

On this day, It seemed nothing short of appropriate to compose a blog post about artist Sol Lewitt, celebrating not only his personhood but also his career, one that continues to make strides in the art world today. Born 86 years ago today, Lewitt became a modern pioneer in the realms of Minimalism and early Conceptual art. The key to understanding the artists body of work is to remember that the focus is not so much on the execution and final product, but on the idea. He became in creakingly controversial due to the fact that many of the works were temporal and often executed not only by Sol himself, but also by a team that carried out written instructions of how the work was to be created. This yielded beautiful inconsistencies that contributed to a well structured overall work. This would become the statement of LeWitt, imprinting this process into the history of modern art.

In an effort to pay homage to the visionary work of LeWitt, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in partnership with other prestigious institutions is hosting an exhibition that will run until 2033. Yes. 25 Years.

MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson comments, “With this exhibition, Sol LeWitt has left an amazing gift for us all. Great art draws upon previous artists, but also contradicts and contravenes. And the most essential art argues for new ways of seeing, even as it is almost immediately absorbed into the work that surrounds and supersedes it. As I believe is evident in this landmark exhibition, LeWitt’s wall drawings rise to those highest of standards. This amazing collection of works is on long-term view as a sort of proton at the center of our museum around which our program of changing exhibitions and performances will orbit with even more energy.” (

Like the art on display, a gesture such as this makes a statement about the lasting impact of certain works and the urgency to see them preserved and appreciated by the public. Just as the first pieces created by Lewitt himself, all of these drawings began as a set of instructions and evolved into something that reflects the often unobserved collective experience to making art.

As the exhibition makes clear, these straightforward instructions yield an astonishing — and stunningly beautiful — variety of work that is at once simple and highly complex, rigorous and sensual. “The drawings in the exhibition range from layers of straight lines meticulously drawn in black graphite pencil lead, to rows of delicately rendered wavy lines in colored pencil; from bold black-and-white geometric forms, to bright planes in acrylic paint arranged like the panels of a folding screen; from sensuous drawings created by dozens of layers of transparent washes, to a tangle of vibratory orange lines on a green wall, and much more. Forms may appear to be flat, to recede in space, or to project into the viewer’s space, while others meld to the structure of the wall itself.” (

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

A unique exhibition such as this is a rare find in a world that is constantly moving forward onto the next thing. Perhaps not even LeWitt himself would have imagined that it would be his work that would challenge viewers to slow down; to observe; to think. In remembrance of Sol and the many contributions of his career, there could be nothing more fitting than an installation that will last for years to come.

For more information, visit

A New Lens

posted by on 08/28/14 @ 2:01pm

When considering the medium of photography, the associations made most often relate to images captured from real life that render an interpretation of a single moment in time. Though the medium has changed over time, viewers look to photographs for a glimpse of something otherwise left undiscovered. Local artist Carla Ciuffo has created a body of work that serves to disembody known conceptions of photography, thus illustrating concepts and juxtapositions that manifest their own life.

Carla Ciuffo

The artist describes her works as “an amalgam of narratives, abstracts and lyrical imagery emphasizing the enigma of being human. Quality of light, both natural and constructed, provides luminosity within alternate dimensions that expand the boundaries of her photographic world.” (artist bio, As in the case with her series Words Fell, there seems to be an exploration of that equilibrium that we all seek, a oneness with self, nature and the world. The joining of botanical elements and anonymous figures create a dreamlike world in which reality seems to fade and the abstract comes to the surface. There is most definitely a narrative present, but how it plays out seems to be unknown.


The series entitled Stasis draws on a similar theme of humanity and the ever looming thought of mortality. The images contain a tree or branch of a tree and a composited figure. The silhouette is small but magnificent in its flight. There is a mesmerizing haze that seems to have settled over these photographs, adding the dreaminess of them. Perhaps this relates to that world we enter in our sleep where we can indeed become immortal. And what if these worlds collided? What would be the result? Ciuffo poignantly asks the questions of life, asking us to consider exactly what our world consists of.


Look for Carla’s upcoming installation and solo show with select and new artworks from Stasis at Tinney Contemporary: Finding Stasis in a Positive Negative Space.

Visit to view more work and to find a schedule of upcoming exhibitions.




Art Everywhere U.S.

posted by on 08/19/14 @ 1:27pm

Imagine the ordinary sights of your daily commute: bus stops, taxis, billboards and subway platforms. All of these things seem to blur together and become a mundane part of our everyday lives. But what if these things became platforms for showing some of the most famous pieces of american art? A new initiative entitled Art Everywhere U.S. is making this scenario a reality. In partnership with five leading museums across the country, 58 selected works of art will be integrated into public life in an effort to expand the reach of some of America’s most beloved pieces.

Started in response to the success of Art Everywhere U.K., a list of 100 works was reduced to a final 58 based on the votes of the american people. Artists featured include Mark Rothko, Chuck Close, James McNeil Whistler, Thomas Eakins, Georgia O’Keeffe and Mary Cassat. Museum partners include The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Dallas Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



For more information on Art Everywhere U.S. and and a list of selected works and location, visit More…

Starting Out

posted by on 08/14/14 @ 12:29pm

There is a certain level of excitement, whimsy but also paralyzing fear that overcomes young artists as they venture beyond the walls of their respective institutions and face the colossal giant that is todays art world. A specific safety exists while in college, a shelter of ideas and academic practice that can help one stay afloat in an ocean of endless possibilities. But how do we survive after this is removed? Can this education alone sustain the artists long enough to truly accomplish all that they aspire for?

Artist Kara walker offers insight into what it means to have success as a young artist and how to contribute to the art world in its current state. In an Art 21 feature entitled “Exclusive,” Walker shares how she dealt with unusually early success and how it has changed the way she makes and views art today.


Shortly after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, Walker’s groundbreaking show entitled Gone: An Historical Romance of Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of a Young Negress and Her Heart premiered at The Drawing Center in New York. Her famous panoramic friezes of cut-paper silhouettes, usually black figures against a white wall, which address the history of American slavery and racism through violent and unsettling imagery captured the attention of artists and critics alike. Following the success of  her exhibition in New York, Walker became the second youngest recipient of the coveted John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s. “genius” grant. Such successes catapulted her into a full-fledged career as a visual artist well as a position as an MFA professor at Columbia University in 2001.

Gone: An Historical Romance of Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of a Young Negress and Her Heart (1994)

“When I came to the City,” she says, “I felt like my newly forming ego and sense of self was just torn to shreds.” ( Artists now have a whole new set of challenges to face, many of which can seem daunting and unsurmountable. “It’s a different art world than the one that I stepped into” says the artists in her Art 21 feature “There’s more distractions, in a way, from the process of making one’s own work. But she offers this word of advice to the young, aspiring creative of today: “There’s no diploma in the world that declares you as an artist-it’s not like becoming a doctor. You can declare yourself an artist and then figure out how to be an artist.”

There are many questions that may go unanswered, many attempts and failures and many moments of self-doubt. But we have visionaries such as Kara Walker and many others to look to and garnish wisdom from. It takes years to figure out exactly what our art practice looks like and how to engage the world. Whether there comes great success or minimal recognition, what one creates matters and it is as meaningful as the artist believes it to be.



Tull & Talulah

posted by on 07/30/14 @ 7:16am

Take a look at this new painting (above) by Brian Tull, “XOXO.”  Do those red lips look familiar? Yes, that’s right, they belong to the same woman as the one featured in Tull’s 2012 piece (below), “We Walk by Faith Not by Sight.”  Who is this mystery muse?  Her name is Talulah Blue – a popular British burlesque dancer.

So how did British Blue and Nashville-based Tull get connected? Blue explains on her blog that the first painting was a result of a social media post.  After seeing photos of Blue from a 2011 photo shoot with Grace Elkin, Tull got in touch with Blue about painting the images.  Two years later, Tull has completed a second painting of Blue this time from photographs taken by Paul Needham.  This vintage-inspired piece will be featured as part of the upcoming photorealism show, The New Real 2: Figure-Focused, curated by Tinney Contemporary Gallery Director, Sarah Wilson.  Read below for additional details about the exhibition.

Brian Tull’s pieces will be featured in the upcoming exhibition, The New Real 2: Figure-Focused, at Tinney Contemporary along with works by Eric Zener, Yigal OzeriAli Cavanaugh, and Kevin Peterson.  The show will run from August 2nd through September 13th with an opening reception on August 2nd from 6 – 9 pm and a closing reception on September 6th from 6 – 9 pm.

A Fresh Take on Fresco

posted by on 07/19/14 @ 1:44pm


If you are as excited as I am to see the three new Ali Cavanaugh pieces in the upcoming show, The New Real 2: Figure-Focused, then I would highly recommend checking out this video, Ali’s World, to learn more about the artist, her process, and her sources of inspiration.  Cavanaugh, who was recently featured in the June edition of the Nashville Arts Magazine, says her process of using watercolor paint on wet kaolin clay is best categorized as “neo fresco secco.”  Describing her process in depth in one of her blog posts, she writes, “I use small controlled strokes of overlapping colors to create depth while letting the white clay surface illuminate through the pigment. These small strokes of color are built upon a wet plaster surface.”  For her newest pieces, Cavanaugh has innovated this process further by using a new type of watercolor paint that holds up to forty-percent more pigment.  This technology, combined with her meticulous layering process (one of her paintings may have as many as fifty layers), leads to pieces that are even more luminous and nuanced.  As follows, since photographs cannot fully capture the iridescent quality of these works, I am antsy to see these paintings in person.  Read below for additional details about the upcoming show.












Ali Cavanaugh’s pieces will be featured in the upcoming exhibition, The New Real 2: Figure-Focused, at Tinney Contemporary along with works by Eric Zener, Yigal Ozeri, Brian Tull, and Kevin Peterson.  The show will run from August 2nd through September 13th with an opening reception on August 2nd from 6 – 9 pm and a closing reception on September 6th from 6 – 9 pm.

Connecting Collections

posted by on 07/17/14 @ 12:29pm

Every summer, the major art museums of New York host workshops in an effort to expand the landscape of modern nd contemporary art in the classroom. Teachers of grades 3-12 are invited to attend forums on a variety of subjects at institutions such as the MoMa, Guggenheim, Met and Whitney museums. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns in the pedagogy of art is how to keep conversations alive which encourage further exploration of both past and current art practice. Programs such as these are an effective catalyst for ensuring that art stays in the classroom and that teachers and students alike can converse about some of history’s greatest works.

Connecting Collections workshop at the Guggenheim.


Through the educational efforts of museums today, teachers are encouraged to form a comradery in which lesson development is embarked upon together, expanding the paradigm of how to meet common core standards while still incorporating modern and contemporary art. Experts in the field of public pedagogy in the arts share their expertise and open up new areas where teachers can express their own creativity. It may seem daunting at first to dialogue in the classroom about more contemporary works, but through hands on learning and experimentation, teachers gain their footing in this area. Workshop activities include drawing from description, practice classroom discussions, research methods, communicating aesthetics, learning to personally connect to a piece and many more!

Contemporary works by Clyfford Still at the Met.


Workshops in progress at the MoMa.

Connecting Collections and programs like it promote the idea that art reflects our culture and thus should continue to be incorporated into the education system. For teachers all over the country, these few days become an essential part of understanding how to keep modern and contemporary art in the forefront of classroom standards, allowing generations to come the opportunity to explore their cultural heritage in a new way!


Beauty in the Overlooked

posted by on 07/02/14 @ 2:51pm

Due to the upcoming photorealism show in August at Tinney Contemporary, I decided to focus on paintings by Laura Shechter. Shechter is a Brooklyn based artist who focuses on “solving the aesthetic conundrums each photo-based painting presents.” By looking at the photo above, it becomes apparent that Shechter has an interest in making her paintings come alive through using uncommon New York cityscapes and graffiti. In the painting below titled, FSM Packing Corps, Bronx, Shechter finds ways to create a vibrant painting of what would normally appear as a soon-to-be torn down storefront. Not only does her painting bring the building to life, but it also preserves the life of the storefront and the graffiti. Shechter is drawn to the graffiti based on its intricate beauty. The recreation of the graffiti in her painting serves as an ode to the artists whose work will soon be demolished through urban renewal.

Her work helps bring the forgotten cityscapes to life in ways that a photograph cannot capture. If you want to read more about her thought process and view her other works click here.



The Art of Soccer

posted by on 06/29/14 @ 11:23pm

It is no secret that protest, along with excitement, has gone hand in hand with preparation for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.  Brazilians’ feelings about FIFA’s month-long soccer tournament has found its way into the streets as local artists express their sentiments through graffiti.  Some street paintings are unequivocal about their critique of the government’s spending on the games. For example, Brazilian graffiti artist Paulo Ito painted a child crying out for food, but being presented instead with a football at the dinner table (below). “It’s a good way to expose the country’s problems,” Ito told the Guardian.

Still, other artists celebrate Brazil’s hosting of the most important tournament for their national sport and their pieces depict enthusiasm for the World Cup – as seen in the image below. Whether supportive or critical, these powerful images are reaching a world audience.  With the highest ESPN viewership for a World Cup match, Americans have certainly embraced the international tournament like never before.  With less than two weeks left, it will be interesting to see how these artists continue to reflect the emotions of the games through this visual medium.

To read more about street art in Brazil, check out this CNN article.

The Influence of Space and Time

posted by on 06/02/14 @ 9:03pm

When visiting the current exhibition at Tinney Contemporary, CONTINUUM – New Work by Carol Mode, you’ll notice that one horizontal, grey, textured piece in the back room is specially labeled.  Upon further inspection, you’ll note that while the piece, FORA, has been recently completed, its start date is from a little over a decade ago.  Reading the accompanying description of the work, you’ll learn that Mode began FORA during her time as a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome in the 1990s.  Looking at the piece, taking in her current work, and learning more about Mode’s background as an artist-in-residence all over the world, you may become curious, like I was, about how Mode’s experiences in these different artistic cultures, histories, landscapes, and tastes affected her portfolio and present work.  In advance of this weekend’s First Saturday Art Crawl, Mode was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work and its relationship to her experiences -


One of the pieces in the current exhibition, FORA, was initially begun during your time as a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome in the 1990s.  How or in what ways does your work from this period in Rome influence your current work?

Mode: The work FORA, a result of the experience at the Academy, definitely triggered a change in [my] approach to large work. I began collecting objects and tools around the Academy for use in mark making on the large roll of paper. My studio was enormous. The work was experimental, and the whole process of building layers and patterning led to all the work that followed. The stone work and grey architectural monuments led to a constant interest in greys.  Something important that occurred was my continuous shift in approaches to painting, and I can say in earnest that the thrill I get in painting is about my experiments, challenges in process and constant learning.


You have been an artist in residence in several locations all around the United States and Europe - the Christoph Merian Foundation in Basel, Switzerlan), the Wurlitzer Foundation in New Mexico, and the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, and have also spent significant time in Nashville. Does the environment/culture/landscape of the cities in which you are living play into your work? If so, in what way?

Mode: Every residency led to change in my work, though there is the thread that ties all my years of painting together. In Basel, as one of eight international residents, the exposure to the world of minimalism and mostly non-traditional artists definitely opened up great avenues of thought in my work. Culturally, Basel being a city of brilliant contemporary museums, I created large bold works, all experimental. Travel within Switzerland, Germany and France was a huge influence. I researched museums and galleries everywhere, tried to see everything possible. In Taos, and also in Wyoming residencies, I had immense spaces, isolation, huge sweeping sky, and daily interaction with poets, fiction writers, composers, and other visual artist, mostly minimalists. I developed a series of 70 blue paintings in Taos, and a series of amazing large abstract landscape minimal paintings that were deeply influenced by both Wyoming and Taos, New Mexico.

If you, like me, are curious to learn more about Mode’s process and pieces, please join us and the artist for the closing reception of CONTINUUM at Tinney Contemporary this coming Saturday, June 7th from 6 – 9 pm.  The exhibition will continue to run through June 21st at Tinney Contemporary (Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm or by appointment).