Jun 232021
 

Quarantine, 2018

This painting is from Julie Curtiss’ exhibition Altered States at VSF gallery in Los Angeles in 2018.

From the press release from that show-

Depicting mostly female subjects in her works, Curtiss creates an undulating dreamscape where the depths of a woman’s psyche are as important and palpable as her body. Rife with swirling curvatures and oscillating lines that convey both physical movement as well as cognitive dissonance, Curtiss’ subjects are secretive and faceless, inhabiting uncanny narratives driven by the logic of dreams. Teetering between dichotomies of seduction and repulsion, feral and domestic, their countenances are strategically concealed with thick mounds of serpentine hair, clawed hands and razor-sharp nails that conjure the anatomy of cold-blooded beasts. For Curtiss’ latest series of paintings and gouaches on paper, marine imagery permeates the narratives: koi, lotuses, fishtails in lieu of feet, a lobster claw clasping a glossy manicured finger … a nod to the 1980s science-fiction film “Altered States,” whose protagonist descends into a bottomless search for the self by way of floatation tanks – sensory deprivation chambers filled with body-temperature saltwater (water being the Jungian dream symbol for the unconscious). While Curtiss invites us to dive deeper into the layered, mercurial mind of her subjects, we are inevitably faced with a reflection of our own subconscious.

She is currently showing her newer work, which includes sculptures, at White Cube Mason’s Yard, in an exhibition titled Monads and Dyads, closing 6/26/21.

Jun 222021
 

This mural, Play Her Voice, is by one of Afghanistan’s first female street artists, Shamsia Hassani and is located in Eugene, Oregon.

She was also one of Hammer Museum’s resident artists in 2016. While in Los Angeles she met with local artists, painted the mural seen below (image via her website) and showed her work in an exhibition at Seyhoun Gallery in West Hollywood.

Make sure to check out her Instagram for updates on her current work.

Jun 182021
 

Where the Bloom Begins, created by artist Jabari Reed-Diop, aka iBOMS, for the 2020 SHINE Mural Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Tonight (6/18/21), iBOMS’ first solo exhibition, Be Kind To Yourself, Young Man, opens at D Gallerie in St. Pete. You can also check out his work on Instagram.

Jun 172021
 

Bluff, 2019

This painting is from Jarvis Boyland‘s 2019 solo exhibition, On Hold at Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles.

From the press release-

Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Boyland navigates intersections of black identity through portraiture. His paintings focus on queer men of color within intimate spaces. Boyland sees the domestic space as the foundation of social ideologies and an incubator that molds the facade of masculinity. Based on photographic images that the artist reconfigures to create specific compositions, Boyland’s paintings sensitively highlight the nuances of these complex interpersonal relationships, identities, and locales.

The idea of comfort is a recurring theme in Jarvis Boyland’s work. The complex intersections of blackness and queerness shape his delicate renderings of the black male body in repose. The figures in On Hold: dream big and beautifully, yet they are fully grounded and aware in their leisure. Boyland’s palette suggests stillness in the digital age of app culture that shapes modern interaction while evoking David Hockney’s 1970s California and the coolness of Barkley Hendricks. Black bodies are not welcomed in cyberspace but are privileged in Boyland’s paintings. Expectations, aspirations, and dreams that infuse queer experiences come into focus. Situated within domestic environments, Boyland’s paintings emphasize limpness through intimate gestures of distant closeness, overlapping satin garments, and a seemingly shared vanishing point. Coy yet cocky, pretty and promiscuous, commanding yet chaste––luxury is embodied by the three figures waiting on the phone with varied expressions in these slumber-party-themed works. There is tense correspondence, a deliberation about relationships within the group of artists pictured, all of whom grew up in the American South: D’Angelo Williams, Cameron Clayborn, and Jarvis Boyland. Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture brought these artists together and influenced the tone of this series. On Hold: expands Boyland’s oeuvre of queer relationships. Through his aperture, Boyland’s group and individual portraits collectively depict an idyllic sensibility towards reality.

 

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 092021
 

Potatoes, Grapes, and a Lemon, 2019

Pear and Cherry Juice, 2019

 

These paintings are from Holly Coulis‘ 2019 exhibition Stilly at Philip Martin Gallery.

From the press release

Holly Coulis’s paintings operate as stages where still life scenes unfold. A table, or tables, create an initial structure where simplified, geometric forms are arranged and interact. There is a sense of order in these scenes as though the fruits and dishes had been laid out by some external force. Through layers of paint, linear elements are created, giving the illusion of colorful stripes or energy fields around individual objects. These works feel familiar, but upend our sense of figure/ground, horizon-line, perspective, and scale. In these newest paintings, the still life begins to verge into abstraction.

Coulis works from a visual vocabulary built up over years of practice, and the sense of discovery and newness in her works occurs as she continues to explore her own paintings and their possibilities: “I rarely look at a scene. It’s more about shapes of things I know. Things like oranges, lemons, cherries: they’re all very easy shapes.” Standing in front of her works, we are immediately involved in a scene of pleasure and abundance, surprise and stimulation – a stimulation that is physical, intellectual and aesthetic.

Her new exhibition, Orbit, which also includes her sculptures, is currently on view at the same gallery in Culver City until 7/2/21.

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 262021
 

Mel Chin’s animatronic sculpture Wake, formerly on display in NYC’s Times Square, is now on view in Asheville, North Carolina until December 1.

From The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina website-

Wake was commissioned as part of Mel Chin: All Over the Place, a multi-site survey of his works from across many decades that took place in several New York City locations. A collaborative group, led by UNC Asheville’s Steam Studio and CFWNC, formed to plan and raise funds for the sculpture to be seen locally.

Wake – 60 feet long, 34 feet wide and 24 feet high, conceived and designed by the artist – was engineered, sculpted and fabricated by an interdisciplinary team of UNC Asheville students, faculty, staff and community artists led by Chin. Wake is interactive and features decks and places to sit and contemplate.

Wake evokes the hull of a shipwreck crossed with the skeletal remains of a marine mammal. The structure is linked with a carved, 21-foot-tall animatronic sculpture, accurately derived from a figurehead of the opera star Jenny Lind that was once mounted on the 19th century clipper ship, USS Nightingale. Jenny Lind moves subtly as she breathes and scans the sky.

“She may be looking at what cannot be seen as she moves away from the wreckage of her past,” explained Chin. “It’s about relationships we have to history. It’s almost an obligation to understand our relationships with our environment now and an opportunity to project what things could be like far into the future if we’re not engaged.”

The artwork is not only a comment on climate change, it calls forth a history that includes ships, like the USS Nightingale and many other vessels, used to move tea, guns and slaves that augmented the nation’s burgeoning economy. “These expanding past economies serve as prologue and perhaps a warning to our current environmental dilemma,” said Chin.

“Wake is a powerful comment on how the tides of history have shaped many communities, including Asheville,” said Steph Dahl, who manages the City of Asheville’s Public Art Program. “The piece asks us to acknowledge and discuss a long and complicated past, one that has left us operating in a sea of racial inequities and environmental crises. Wake’s temporary presence in an empty lot where the history and future of the Southside and South Slope meet is part of its power, and its impermanent nature underscores some of the tough questions we need to address together.

“Jenny Lind was the Beyoncé or Adele of her time,” said Chin. “She was brought by P.T. Barnum to tour America as the Swedish Nightingale. Barnum initiated American mass marketing and the world still lives in the real wake of this marketing enterprise. American commercialism provided profound advancement and wealth, but it came with real costs including colonialism, enslavement and rapid expansion. Jenny Lind, an abolitionist herself, had nothing to do with the USS Nightingale, but as its figurehead, she is an integral part. You can’t escape the web you’re in whether you are in New York City or Western North Carolina.”

Since the late 90’s Chin has lived and worked in Egypt Township, outside of Burnsville in Yancey County, North Carolina. His work has been exhibited by major art centers nationally and globally. He is described in his MacArthur entry as “a category-defying artist whose practice calls attention to complex social and environmental issues. In an expansive body of work ranging from collages, sculptural objects, animated films and video games to large-scale, collaboratively produced public installations, Chin demonstrates a unique ability to engage people from diverse backgrounds and to utilize unexpected materials and places.”

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.