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 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 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.

 

 

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.

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.

Sep 292020
 

One of the many art works in East Jesus, an art museum near the Salton Sea in California. This sculpture by Flip Cassidy is made entirely from found and collected TV sets and computer monitors, with more added as time goes on. The version pictured is from 2018.

Jul 302020
 

Happy Birthday to Betye Saar who turned 94 today! This work Still Ticking, (2005), was part of LACMA’s exhibition Betye Saar: Call and Response which opened at the museum in September of 2019.

From the wall description of the work-

Made shortly before Saar’s seventy-eighth birthday, the assemblage includes years and astrological glyphs on the inner left side that correlate to various important dates in her life. The work’s title wittily refers both to the timepieces in the sculpture- which, of course, are not ticking; indeed they are either frozen in time or missing their hands- and to the artist herself, who is alive and well, still ticking, now at age ninety-three.