Month: November 2013

Thanksgiving and Balloons

posted by – 11/22/13 @ 12:37pm

Thanksgiving is all about getting together with family and friends and feasting on delicious food.  It’s a celebration of togetherness.  I extra excited to be trying a new beer can turkey recipe (how awesome does that sound).

Thanksgiving is one of the few times in the year that you can go big and go home at the same time (although, too big might be bad for your health.)  For families in New York, nothing is bigger than Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It was originally created by immigrants who wanted to celebrate their lives in a new world, in a new home, and with a new family.

Now let’s cut to the art–the balloons!  Although my personal favorite will always be the rubber duck by Florentijn Hofman, the balloon line up is still very impressive, and each balloon is so big that it requires 90 handlers.

Here are a few of my favorites:

You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella

posted by – 11/20/13 @ 2:33pm

A new organization called The Kefi Project has surfaced at Vanderbilt University.  The Kefi Project creates public art installations around campus as a vehicle for social change.  Their most recent project dubbed PairAsouls involved suspending 130 umbrellas in the courtyard of the schools student union.

The project was created to address the issue of homelessness in the Nashville community.  Each umbrella can be sponsored and the funds that are raised goes towards the Safe Haven Family Shelter, an organization that takes in homeless families and helps them to support themselves through education and mentorship.  After the installation is taken down, the umbrellas will be given to vendors of Nashville’s largest street paper, The Contributor.  More information about this project and other projects can be found here!

Trespass

posted by – 11/13/13 @ 1:05pm

Have you ever driven past an abandoned building and wondered what was inside?  Or ever wondered what was on the other side of that yellow tape that says “No Trespassing.”  We’re always fascinated with secrets, and that which is forbidden.  That fascination has spawned an awesome hobby called urban exploring.  The closest I’ve come to urban exploring is walking into an old shed behind a house for sale built in the 1940s, and walking into a room that was dug into the side of a mountain in Argentina.  I didn’t really find anything except garbage, cob webs, and bad smells.

Dan Marbaix travels around the world and photographs abandoned buildings.  I guess you could say that he quite literally ventures off the beaten path.  His photographs show a new perspective that quenches a curiosity we didn’t know we had but leaves us wanting more.  I don’t know if it’s the haunting stillness that makes his pictures so enticing or if it’s the fact that the images capture a time that we have never had the fortune of experiencing.

Here are a few of my favorites, but check out his Flickr page for a lot more:

Nobody is keeping score

Absolute silence leads to sadness

Redundant

Why Not More Love?

posted by – 11/06/13 @ 3:47pm

More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s is a traveling exhibition at Cheekwood alongside Bruce Munro’s LIGHT. The exhibition brings together a wide array of art by 33 artists working within the last 25 years. Their explorations in new and traditional media may challenge some preconceived notions of fine art, and their attention to our relationships –with ourselves, our loved ones, and our broader communities –may change some of our preconceived notions of love. But when considered together, these artists and their works invite us in to a reconsideration of the essential role of contemporary art as a lens for considering the past and possibilities of the future.

After visiting the show, I was particularly keen to explore the work of one particular included artist: Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Felix Gonzalez-Torres is clearly one of the giants of his generation. Gonzalez-Torres reoriented our relationship to art. He shifted the focus from the artist to the audience, challenged accepted modes of distribution, created politically potent yet aesthetically seductive works, and encouraged time-based and performative interactions with the viewer. Through his art, he was able to engage the politics of his moment, synthesize the practices of the previous generation of artists, and anticipate the future of art by using love not just as his chosen subject matter, but also as his working methodology. Yet, despite his dedication to love as a political act and as a tool for challenging artistic conventions, its importance to his practice has been too often sublimated by critics, academics, and curators, and is generally understood as being peripheral rather than central to his agenda.

In a way, Felix Gonzalez-Torres is becoming the new Andy Warhol. Museums are making sure that if they own his work, it is displayed. Like Warhol, there is both scholarly appeal and mass appeal to his work. Gonzalez-Torres’ dealer and close friend Andrea Rosen said in response to his inclusion in the 2007 Venice Biennial that his “work has the ability to change with people’s intentions and to be read through the filter of any given moment… I think different people  are going to come away with different experiences. That’s Felix’s magic.” Or even as Gonzalez-Torres said himself, there are so many readings of his work because “meaning is always shifting in time and space.” By design, there is something universal and deeply open, loving, and giving in his practice. By design, there is something universal and deeply open, loving, and giving in his practice.

His 1991 candy spill “Untitled” (Ross in L.A.) is a clear example of love as practice, as methodology, as biography, and as chosen subject matter. Tellingly, when the initial idea for this exhibition was first shared at a curators’ conference in 2009 and this work was highlighted as a primary example, two well-respected male, heterosexual curators were quick to point out that the work was about desire, not love. Yes, the pile of brightly colored Fruit Flashers can represent the illicit longing of a sexual encounter by seductively beckoning the visitor, who is able to break museum decorum, take a piece, and eat in the museum. Yet, “Untitled” (Ross in L.A.) is also a memorial to Gonzalez­ Torres’ lifemate, Ross Laycock. The pile of candy starts out at Ross’ weight of 175 pounds. “As people take pieces, the work slowly declines and disappears as did Ross as he succumbed to AIDS. Gonzalez-Torres said himself, “I wanted to make an artwork that could disappear, that never existed…it was a metaphor that I would abandon this work before this work abandoned me.” It was a startlingly simple and poetic way to open up a dialogue about AIDS, homosexuality, loss, and love at a moment in time when these topics elicited fear and rage. This is not sex; this is love.

But “Untitled” (Ross in L.A.) is more than Ross, AIDS, or Felix. It required the interaction or intervention of the visitor. As critic Russell Ferguson stated, “Only in the form of an authentic emotional and intellectual response would the work be complete.” ” By creating an encounter that did not dictate what one should think or feel, the work set up a situation, which purposely courted varying and unique responses. The work required an active viewer. The piece emerged from Gonzalez-Torres’ specific, individual experience but was designed to connect with our own specific experiences. As he said, “Without the public, these works are nothing; I need the public to complete the work. I ask the public to help me, to take responsibility, to become part of my work, to join in.” For him, it was not complete without the physical and emotional connection with the viewer. The work does not exist without the act of giving. His goal was to reach and connect with a large, broad audience. He did not want “[to] service an elite community of professional readers and writers;” As he said, “I want to make art for people who watch The Golden Girls and sit in a big, brown La-Z-Boy chair. They’re part of my public, too, I hope.”

 

Contemporary Masquerade

posted by – 11/05/13 @ 2:43pm

Masks are an essential element of ancient art in almost every region spanning across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. From Venetian carnivals and Japanese theatre to Picasso and Matisse, masks have played an influential role throughout the history of art. Today, the art of mask- making continues to grow. The editors at Vogue Magazine US recently commissioned a diverse collection of masks from the world’s top artists and designers. These masks represent a contemporary continuation of the ancient masks of Ghana, Iran, Greece, Mexico, and Papua New Guinea, to name only a few.

In recent years, masks have virtually gone missing from the art scene. Masks are viewed mostly as protective gear in sports and science labs, or as fear-inducing face coverings that villains wear in movies. But the masks in Vogue’s collection are exciting, fresh, and fashionable. This new collection returns to the idea of masks as art – a trend that hopefully continues into the future.

To see the full collection of masks, go here.

 

Please Touch the Art

posted by – 11/01/13 @ 2:28pm

Installation art is a term that describes a construction or assemblage conceived for a specific interior and is distinguished from more conventional sculpture as a discrete object by its physical domination of the entire space. By inviting the viewer literally to enter into the work of art, and by appealing not only to the sense of sight but also, on occasion, to those of hearing and smell, such works demand the spectator’s active engagement. In the late 1960s and 1970s, installations became a favored form for artists working against the notion of the permanent, and therefore collectable, art object. It was essential, for instance, for Minimalists such as Dan Flavin, who modified the viewer’s perception of interior spaces through the precise placement of fluorescent light tubes of different colors, or Carl André, whose exhibitions of floor sculptures were designed in part to articulate the architectural setting in which they were housed.

In the depths of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville rests a room tucked away beneath the expanse of the hotel and restaurant above: The Bunbury Suite.  The room, an installation by New York artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, is informed by a 1960s Utopian community, whose platform bed and edgy reading material give it a bachelor-pad vibe. It features what the hotel calls “curated linens” selected by the artists, a curio cabinet with their sculptures and a record player for their album picks.


 

Titled Asleep in the Cyclone, Freeman and Lowe have moved us into rural 1960’s Colorado and into the dream of a certain utopian ideal of the time.  When one opens the door to the room you almost have a feeling you are Alice falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.  The work is largely inspired by Drop City, a social project/community that formed in Colorado in the mid-sixties.  Started by a group of artists who purchased several acres of land, Drop City was meant to be an artist’s community where everyone was a peer and there were no “bosses.” Inevitably, human nature crept in and hierarchies formed, tensions grew, and the community disbanded.

The free and open society of Drop City may not have stood the test of time but it is the “kind of experience that can last for a night,” says Alice Gray Stites, chief curator at 21c. “This is a space that can be rented by anyone and when it’s not going to be occupied it can be seen by the public just like our other exhibitions. So I think we are kind of true to the spirit of the free democratic, Drop City republic in that sense.  You can come into this space and it’s a dream. It was a dream.  It didn’t work out in that reality but you can have it in a parallel one.”

 

Tackling Tacheles

posted by – 11/01/13 @ 12:20pm

Berlin is known for a lot of really cool things:  World War II history, great beer, and a vibrant art scene.  Not too long ago, an important landmark of the art world was torn down in order to make room for a residence high-rise.  But let’s start from the beginning.

The German government sold an old building to the developer, Fundus Group.  Soon after, the building was invaded by droves of artists looking for a place to squat and make some art.  Fundus Group didn’t really have any plans for the site, so they decided to lease it to them for the low, low price of 50 cents.  Pretty good deal, right?

So they officially moved in and called the building Tacheles, Yiddish for “Straight Talking”.  The artists thrived there for twenty years, and Tacheles became the heart of a new art community.  Unfortunately, after the twenty years, Fundus Group foreclosed on the property and HSH Nordbank decided to sell it.  The only problem was that there are a bunch of artists that are refusing to leave.

Every man has his price.  And for the handful of people living downstairs, one million euros was sufficient, so they left.  The rest held their ground, and the bank constructed a nine foot wall around the courtyard.  So what do the artists do?  They build a bridge over the wall.  Unfortunately, the guards came by late at night and destroyed it.

Tacheles did eventually close, but at least not without a fight.

I think using part of a city as a canvas for creative collaboration is an awesome idea and there should be more buildings like Tacheles in our cities.