Jun 162021
 

Wasteland Paradise, 2018

Hollywood/ Highland, 2017

These paintings are from Michael Alvarez’s 2018 exhibition We’re Out Here at Marlborough gallery in New York.

From the press release

Taking inspiration from his immediate surroundings in the domestic sphere, at work in alternative education high schools and Juvenile Detention Centers, and the city at large, Alvarez creates a compound narrative of life as lived in the complex sprawl of his native Los Angeles. From the glitz and dashed hopes of Hollywood Boulevard to the backyard barbeque we begin to see through carefully constructed surfaces, revealing a tender humanity.

Also depicted are more marginal and thornier hybrid sites. Concrete drainage ditches, that double as skateboarding spots and broad canvasses for graffiti murals, are also host to homeless encampments, presenting a friction between an ascendant and hopeful lawlessness and the desperation of pure survival. Similarly, the eponymous painting We’re Out Here, which was created in collaboration with his incarcerated students (Alvarez’s portraits are interspersed with students’ original artworks) underscores the fine line and expanding gulf between opportunity and a dead-end existence.

Technically, Alvarez mixes a matter-of-fact style with dashes of magical realism. Exhibiting a keen understanding of photo-specific technique, figures blur and ghost across the images suggesting movement through time and space in a static image. Appropriately, snapshot source material ranges from the posed semi-formality of the family portrait to the yearbook-candid playfulness of his students. These images are collaged or cleverly composited into painted scenes that are invested with a warmth, humor and realism that supersedes mere depiction.

Alvarez recently was part of a group show at Sow and Tailor in Los Angeles. Follow his Instagram for more updates on his work and shows.

Jun 102021
 

NEW YORK CLEARING by Antony Gormley was on view in Brooklyn Bridge Park from 2/4-3/27/20. The work consisted of a single line made of 11 miles of square aluminum tubing that looped and coiled without a beginning or end, “turning itself into an environment for the viewer that counters the grid of modernism and the city with swooping lines of energy”.

This is one of a series of art works that were part of Connect, BTS– a global public art initiative supported by the K-Pop Group BTS and organized by a group of curators under the direction of independent curator Daehyung Lee. The project took place in five cities on four continents with 22 contributing contemporary artists.

Jun 032021
 

Barbara Kruger designed this mural, Untitled (Blind Idealism Is…) for the High Line in 2016. It is based on the quote “Blind idealism is reactionary” by Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon.

From the High Line website-

The original statement by Fanon, “Blind idealism is reactionary,” suggests that political and religious convictions stem from the situations from which they grow, not from the inherent nature of individual human beings. According to Kruger, the work reflects “how we are to one another” within “the days and nights that construct us.” These texts, along with Kruger’s own writings, resonate with particular potency in today’s political climate.

For more on this work at the time it was made, check out this interview with Kruger by The Intelligencer at New York Magazine.

May 222021
 

This was one of the pieces from Neighborhood Reflections, eco friendly banners created last year for the Arts Gowanus Art Walk event in Brooklyn.

 

Mar 102021
 

I stumbled upon this work while walking around in Brooklyn, NYC. It was created by artist Brian Block and is part of his project “based on late writings of Californian writer F.C. Wott”.

The biography of Wott from Block’s website

Wott was born in Santa Monica and lived as a resident of Elysium Fields commune in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles from the late 1960s until its closure the early 2000s. He was an occasional prose and poetry writer, with his musings appearing in various zine style tracts that circulated among the west coast commune culture of the 60s and 70s.  

Confirmed further details of Wott’s life are few at this time, but it has been established that he served as part-time adjunct professor at Santa Monica Community College for many years in the 70’s and 80’s, teaching classes in Anthropology and Poetry.

Curiously, after years of writing only occasionally, his late years see Wott throwing himself headlong into his writing – intensely penning hundreds of lines of notes in seclusion at his modest beach hut at the nudist colony. These varied widely in length, coherence, and completion when they were found at his desk at his death in 2013. These writings would eventually became known as “The Notes”. 

“The Notes” were first circulated informally among friends, gradually acquiring a small, eclectic readership amid creative circles in and around Los Angeles.  One set of loose photocopied pages eventually captured the attention of UCLA Art Historian Emeritus Rene Glete, who introduced Brian Block to the writings.  Glete also went on to establish the scholarly framework for the study of Wott’s work: gathering and archiving all of Wott’s papers (such as they were) in cooperation with his estate, and setting up the framework for the Nachlass. It is worth noting that these are somewhat unchartered waters, academically researching the work of an “outsider” writer, for unlike the well established conventions of “outsider artist” and “outsider art”no such consensus has been forged in historical circles around such terms for writers.   

In deciding to make a group of artworks based on the texts, Block was drawn to their “eccentricity, and the fractured, iterative thinking” they depict, obtaining permission from the estate to make work from the Notes. 

Block is pasting up more work around town so check out the walls when you pass.

 

 

Dec 042020
 

 

Ida Applebroog’s exhibition Applebroog Birds at Hauser & Wirth’s New York location is a delightful collection of paintings and sculpture. But there is more to them than meets the eye.

From the press release-

For more than six decades, American artist Ida Applebroog has continuously engaged with the polemics of human behavior, often exploring interrelated themes of power, gender, politics, and sexuality in works that span and challenge the boundaries of her mediums. Her forthcoming exhibition ‘Applebroog Birds,’ opening 12 November at Hauser & Wirth New York, finds the 91 year old artist advancing her trenchant political inquiry through avian portraits, paintings, and sculptures, all of which are ripe with symbolism relevant to this unprecedented moment. This exhibition expands upon the ‘Angry Birds of America’ works she began making in 2016 and reaffirms her status as one of contemporary art’s most consistently inventive political image-makers.

A pioneering artist of the feminist movement since the 1970s, Applebroog constantly evolves her visual vocabulary and draws from a diverse array of themes, memories, and mass media sources. These range from her own genitalia to dolls and mannequins, to cartoon characterizations of people in her life, to fashion models and accouterment – and, most recently, birds. In 2016, Applebroog became captivated by ornithology and John James Audubon’s skill at merging art and nature. She developed an interest in drawing birds nestled in trees. Quickly realizing that Audubon and other ornithologists work from taxidermal birds, Applebroog began collecting birds and reading ornithological books, eventually producing her own models in plaster and paint.

Her series ‘Angry Birds of America’ was developed during a time of grief and rage, expressed with new intensity in American politics: it was the year that saw the beginning of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, the concomitant rise of white nationalism and anti-immigration violence. Mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, the #MeToo movement, and women’s long suppressed anger at accepted sexual affront and assault in the workplace were brought into public focus. Some of Applebroog’s ‘Angry Birds of America’ works will be on view at Hauser & Wirth, having been presented at the Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland, in its 2019 exhibition ‘Ida Applebroog.’ Centered on Applebroog’s paintings and sculptures of dead birds, these works provide viewers with analogs for the underlying amalgam of violence and beauty that exist in the world around us, both natural and manmade.

Applebroog’s images and sculptures of birds depict a wide range of avian types. Her ‘White Bird’ sculptures, inspired in part by Applebroog’s studio menagerie of stuffed birds, have the aspect of phantoms in flight, forms that seem to bob gently on unseen air currents, while the ‘Specimens’ works, innate and individually tagged, suggest findings from an ornithologist’s lab. The bird portraits on mylar similarly emit a feeling of taxidermy’s strange temporality. These works evolve from images that are printed with inks that the artist then manipulates by hand. Though the animal depicted in each work has expired, Applebroog’s skill in returning a carcass to life is in full view, creating a metaphor for contemporary political life in America and a call to action.

In an essay titled ‘Bird on a Wire,’ originally published in the Kunstmuseum Thun’s catalogue for Applebroog’s 2019 solo exhibition, art historian Jo Applin notes the irony that President Trump has his own, ‘ill-advised addiction to social media through which, like the proverbial caged canary, he tweets, and tweets, and tweets all manner of bizarre statements, unfounded allegations, and lies.’ In ‘Applebroog Birds,’ the artist’s portrait of a bald eagle – the national symbol of the United States of America – keeps company with a flock of dead birds.

This exhibition is on view until 12/19/20, by appointment.

Dec 012020
 

Today, December 1st, is Day With(out) Art, a national day of action and mourning organized by Visual AIDS with arts organizations and institutions in response to the AIDS pandemic. It is also World AIDS Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the disease.

Every year since 2010, Visual AIDS has commissioned a video program that is then shown at various venues around the world. The short films presented this year consider the impact of HIV and AIDS beyond the United States.

The program this year, Transmissions, consists of six new videos, and can be seen online as a whole or individually on the website (which also provides more information on each work).  The artists included this year are Las Indetectables, Lucia Egaña Rojas, Charan Singh, George Stanley Nsamba, Jorge Bordello and Gevi Dimitrakopoulou.

 

 

Nov 262020
 

This year because of the pandemic, Photoville’s 2020 version is entirely outside. It is in all five boroughs of New York City, but the majority of the exhibits are located in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

It closes this weekend (9/29/20) and is a wonderful way to get some fresh air and see some excellent work.

Pictured above is work by anonymous art collective Mz. Icar featuring Erin Patrice O’Brien (VALUE: In terms of Iconography), George Nobechi (Here. Still.), and Francesca Magnani (People of the Ferry 2020. Connection at a Time of Social Distancing). 

For more information on these works and to check out samples from the other installations check out Photoville’s website.

Nov 012020
 

Artist Scherezade García’s large-scale community altar at Green-Wood Cemetery’s Historic Chapel for Día de los Muertos. Visitors were encouraged to bring personal offerings to a community altar, including flowers, photographs, and notes, among other objects.

Info from the artist’s Instagram

Inspired by altars found throughout Mexico and the Mexican diaspora, Garcia’s altar combines her own unique style with this centuries-old celebration of the departed.

The centerpiece of the altar is a weeping, cinnamon-colored Statue of Liberty. By mixing all the colors in her palette, Garcia achieves a brown hue that embodies the ideals of diversity and inclusiveness. Her rendition of the Statue of Liberty, an iconic symbol of New York City, evokes the multitudes of immigrants that have found home here, including large Latin and Caribbean American communities. Garcia has dedicated the altar to all the New Yorkers who fell victim to the coronavirus.