Jun 072024
 

It was great to see new work by Keya Tama and his partner Isolina Minjeong at Court Tree Collective in Industry City. I last saw Tama’s work in Los Angeles in 2019. The woven and ceramic pieces they have created for Defender are charming and reflect their personal backgrounds. The couple have also kept the prices low to encourage younger collectors.

From the gallery-

Court Tree Collective proudly presents “Defender”, a duo exhibition by Isolina Minjeong and Keya Tama. These two young artists work by blending the old with the new and by infusing their cultural heritage into their creations. This new body of work breathes fresh life into traditional art forms. Their work is a vibrant reflection of their identity and experiences, enriching the viewer with diverse perspectives and narratives. The title “Defender” is for upholding traditions in a modern world. The exhibition features folklore history through ceramics, paintings, and tapestries. Combining traditional art forms, while incorporating elements of pop culture brings to light the protection of the past. Exacting the moment of when history becomes relevant in both the past and future.

Playing off each other’s strengths has unified the work as something special. Not only as two artists in pursuit of creating together, but in working in the present to bring a unique perspective on art history.

“Defender” is an exhibition of their collaborative language. Through tapestries, paintings, muralism, and ceramic sculptures, Keya and Isolina protect each other’s hearts. This is their first duo exhibition in New York.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.

 

Jun 012024
 

“Tundra #8”, 2024, Silk and dye

“Lava Fields #23”, 2024, Silk and dye

Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson’s current depictions of the landscape in Iceland for Lava Fields and Tundras at Tibor de Nagy are created using a three part process. She first takes photos, then projects them to create a painting on thread, and finally the thread is transferred to a loom. The results are dreamy.

From the press release-

A painter and textile artist, Jónsson uses the unique and active landscape of Iceland as the source for her works. In the current exhibition, she focuses on lava fields, made from recent volcanic eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula, in eyeshot of the artist’s Icelandic home in Keflavik and tundras which are arctic deserts, near Melrakkasletta, in northern Iceland, just below the arctic circle. In recent years, Jónsson has observed these evolving and tumultuous aspects of the Icelandic landscape and translated it into her painted and woven works.

Jónsson travels to her part-time home in Iceland several times a year. There she takes photographs and makes preliminary studies. Back in her studio in Ohio, she enlarges and projects the images, reworking them until she has the desired composition. She begins each work by painting the images on the loose silk threads – next these hand painted warp threads are transferred to the loom. The weaving then commences and the image is combined with the woven weft horizontal threads. Jónsson’s practice is squarely at the intersection of weaving and painting, where she deconstructs elements of both processes. The hybridized results blur the boundaries and sit comfortably between fine art and craft.

This exhibition closes 6/1/24.

May 302024
 

Beverly Semmes’ exhibition Cut Paste, at Susan Inglett Gallery, expands on her previous work with new textures and fabrics. A red velvety robe hovers behind a sky blue painting containing a wave of blond curls and a partial eye looking out at you. Two pairs of hands on yellow mirror each other.  Duplicates appear again in the paintings adorning textured vests sewn to a gauzy orange fabric.

The materials enhance the details of their attached paintings, but they also create questions about their meaning. What is the purpose of the robe, the high heels, manicured nails, the fake (or real) white fur – do they represent luxury or the illusion of it?

From the press release-

I begin by drawing and painting on an image from a porn or fashion magazine page. I then use scissors and tape to further separate the image. from this context/environment. A new image is born from these parts, most of which belong to my longtime friend Nikie, who modeled in the early 2000s. The pair of hands, the foot in a shoe, those are all Nikie’s.

—Beverly Semmes

In Cut Paste, Semmes ups the ante in her perennial mixing of mediums, found images, scale and techniques. Early on Semmes brought her roughhewn ceramic pots literally into the folds of regal wall-to-floor sculptures, her signature works, setting them out like buoys in the pooling fabric. Now paintings enter the fray, no longer separate but equal. While several large paintings are presented conventionally, others are treated as accessories to the fabric pieces, where they appear at chest height. Smaller than a breast plate, too large to be a pendant, the odd coupling trades in the artist’s long standing engagement with Surrealism and the absurd. One of the assemblages has a companion piece–a full-size, independent version of the “worn” painting–amplifying the dialogue between historically cisgendered sewing and painting, the one grounded in the here and now, the other conjuring a world apart. The paintings are themselves hybrids resulting from a recursive process of hand painting on iterative hi-res scans of the cut, pasted and taped magazine drawings. But paint has the final word, variously altering, accentuating and concealing what lies beneath.

The group of work as a whole is set to the rhythm of repetition through doubling and Rorschaching. A pair of wall-mounted twins in orange organza, standing shoulder to shoulder like choir boys, wear matching paintings. Doubling down, the small canvases feature a mirrored composite image involving photographic and painted bare legs, red pitchers, a sofa and stripes. The image has then been further altered–abstracted–by its upended presentation as a vertical when it actually reads horizontally. The fluid positionality carries on throughout the exhibition in the way Semmes toggles between abstraction and figuration, digital or painted illusionism and IRL, pitchers and stilettos, dressed and undressed, power and vulnerability. Here Semmes levels the playing field, using her favorite models along with long-coveted fabrics, shapes, objects, and patterns as fodder for an unhinged formalism. Her restless process of cutting and pasting leads the way.

This exhibition closes 6/1/24.

May 252024
 

Peter Opheim has created a charming, colorful world for Cocoon at The Hole. It’s worth bending down to get a closer look at the little clay creatures that helped form the basis for the characters in his paintings.

From the press release-

After a 25-year career as an abstract painter, Opheim started anew; “since everything we see in the world around us has already been painted”, a family of imaginary creatures and Opheim’s career-defining style was born. His works are an intuitive manifestation of emergence: sculpting the figures first in clay, Opheim removes roadblocks to his imagination. Working intuitively with his hands, the creatures reveal themselves to him and he then paints “from life”.

Not focused on conveying a snapshot of our contemporary world or visual markers of the present day, the sculptural approach to making the subjects of the paintings results in works that exist out of time—the characters are transient yet grounded in subdued color fields, their bodies and borders ambiguous and hazy. In Meadow of My Heart, Holding You and others, multiple figures fill the canvas, an assortment of semi-recognizable parts from a few fuzzy friends fill the canvas, cat-like ears, skinny arms or blobby bodies, with many large eyeballs blinking. In paintings such as Thinking of You a lone figure presents themselves, staring right back at you.

Rather than conveying grandiosity, Opheim instead is in the pursuit of emotional impact. The exhibition includes smaller paintings than ever before, making viewers look closely and the textural brush strokes more prominent. In the large rear gallery, small sculptures are positioned on the floor, barely visible from the other side of the room and dwarfed by 17-foot ceilings. Above the paintings, large woven flowers climb the length of the wall, further figures revealing themselves at the base of the stems: a sense of coziness and protection settles in with clay figures nestled in a small wooden home carved by a fallen tree on his property in Taos, New Mexico.

For this recent body of work there is a shift to a different type of subtlety based on concepts of emergence, interconnectedness, and growth. The title Cocoon is a multifaceted metaphor for these themes, as when a caterpillar spins its body transforming into a chrysalis and cocoon, it is surrendering to transform. This emergence can’t be expedited; patience and independence are crucial, a butterfly must emerge on its own. In the work we see an emergence of form, skillful blurred brush marks of creatures in a softer, hazier palette than when we first showed Opheim in 2018 and an emergence of emotions, a warm joy, the sensation of standing in the sun. These new paintings were difficult to make, notes Opheim, with the figures only starting to reveal themself once the painting was close to completion. Opheim notes the importance of an intuitive organic emergence: “we can have preconceptions on how something is supposed to be, but that’s not how they are made”.

Standing In The Sun, I Feel Your Arms Around Me the title of one of the larger paintings in the show and one of the potential titles for the exhibition, evokes the physical warmth that you feel in these paintings. The hues and figures are inviting yet the asymmetric, spherical bodies have just enough wonkiness to not be classified as overly “cute”. Opheim has shown extensively in Asia where Kawaii culture is widely pervasive and appreciated: New York is known for many things, but cuteness would not be one of them. While foreign, Opheim’s visual language feels refreshing and necessary, inviting curiosity and play through imagery we don’t often see in Western art. Here, Opheim is deliberately moving on from a lot of what we see in galleries at the moment and instead gives us enough room to think on our own, leaving space for our own joy and pleasure.

 

This exhibition closes 5/25/24.

May 212024
 

“blood compass” 2023, Cotton and acrylic yarn

“summer somewhere (for Danez)”, 2020, Woven cotton and acrylic yarn

“how to approach a foal”, Cotton and acrylic yarn, 2024

“american wedding”, 2019, Cotton and acrylic yarn

Diedrick Brackens’ weavings for blood compass, currently at Jack Shainman’s two New York City locations, have a mystical language all their own. In the gallery’s newest space, inside the landmark Clock Tower Building, his creations look particularly majestic.

From the gallery-

In these weavings, the artist maps an imagined place —visualizing the internal mechanisms and symbols that animate his work while removing the anchor of direct narrative. The scenes depicted in each weaving exist out of time, suspended between a distant past and a world to come. The works in this series are set at dusk, twilight, and deep night—hours that become vehicles for ritual and interiority. The silhouetted inhabitants of this in-between realm are archetypes that Brackens once described as ciphers, or “needles through which I slip the threads of biography and myth, and pass through a mesh of history and context.”

His figures are accompanied by an ecosystem of symbols and shapes that have recurred over the course of his practice. The animals, natural elements, and man-made objects, accrue significance every time they are cast in this ever-evolving mythology. The characters in this series are placed in dialogue with lightning bolts, waning suns, and sourceless orbs of light—open-ended devices of orientation. In these distilled arrangements, footholds for straightforward interpretation dissolve—inviting viewers to parse the compositions and uncover meaning.

Brackens’ semiotic language emerges from lived experience, but also through revisiting books, poems, and legends. In blood compass, some of these references—alluded to in his titles— include the novel Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler, the poem “How you might approach a foal” by Wendy Videlock, and the Bible’s parable of the prodigal son. These stories, though dramatically diverse in genre and subject, speak to Brackens’ inclination to loop, lose, and locate one’s self in that which is known, but also to shape-shift, forming new meaning from that which is “familiar.” He approaches these symbols—weighted with memory, context, and history—with fresh eyes or, as Videlock’s poem concludes, ”like you / are new to the world.”

The show closes downtown on 5/24, but continues through 6/1/24 at the Chelsea location where the selections below are from.

“if you have ghosts”, 2024, Cotton and acrylic yarn

 

“towards the greenest place on earth”, 2023, Cotton and acrylic yarn

“favorable conditions”, 2023, cotton and acrylic yarn

Apr 252024
 

Alyssa Lizzini, “Industrial Valley”, Ink and acrylic on paper on panel

Alyssa Lizzini, “East 41st”, Ink, acrylic, and found object on paper and panel

Alyssa Lizzini, “Unraveling City”, Ink and acrylic on paper mounted on 2 panels

Akron Soul Train is currently showing two exhibitions by Ohio artists. Alyssa Lizzini’s The Universe Between Here and There, pictured above, expands upon scenes from daily life using a mixed media approach. The works take the viewer into her expanded sections of the city, and encourages them to think about what may be unobserved in their own daily life.

From the gallery-

In The Universe Between Here and There, Alyssa Lizzini explores the interwoven connection between space, time, and memory through large-scale, multi-layer drawings. Lines, grids, maps, and data become the stars, black holes, and supernovae of an ever-expanding universe of memory. Using ink, acrylic paint, and collaged paper, Lizzini creates overlapping images that seem to compress space and time yet simultaneously fly apart or implode. Her drawings suggest that memory unravels in much the same way and investigates the almost inseparable connection between person and place.

“Drawings explore both my own personal histories related to remembered places and broader histories recorded through archival, ethnographic, and visual research of city spaces…The scale of [my] drawings allow the viewer to feel immersed in each piece, surrounded by swirling and morphing cityscapes, memory objects, and natural elements. They ask the viewer to consider the many layers of context not immediately visible in our urban world, and give a new language for understanding the ever-changing nature of memory.” – Alyssa Lizzini

Akron Soul Train Artist-in-Residence Melih Meric’s uses traditional Middle Eastern patterns to explore identity.

From the gallery-

Meric uses a traditional approach to their imagery through sacred geometry and explorations of Islamic geometric abstraction. Challenging traditional presentations of print editions, Meric’s print work crosses the borders of the paper. It highlights an expansion of patterns like Middle Eastern tiles. It also speaks to queerness without being explicitly queer. Stitched Editions: Exploring the New poses integral questions surrounding erasure and identity in Middle Eastern communities. Meric’s craft lies in creating wall-hanging objects that play between the realms of dimensionality while still being unmistakably paper. Their work acknowledges and is proud of its dimension, speaking certain truths to multiple minority groups.

“My work deals with making peace with a part of my culture that drove me to leave it. Finding beauty in design and simplicity, then creating systems to complicate those principles. I fell in love with printmaking and the idea of multiplicity when I first made the connection to tiles from the Middle East. It suddenly became a tool to create and expand patterns that challenge traditions in crafts.” – Melih Meric

Melih Meric, “I Think I Remember Something, Nevermind”, “Stitched Edition” of 12 linoleum prints

Melih Meric, “Carnation”, “Stitched Edition” of 36 woodblock prints

Melih Meric, “Carnation”, “Stitched Edition” of 36 woodblock prints (detail)

Melih Meric, “Swept Under”, “Stitched Edition” of 8 silkscreen prints

Both of these exhibitions close 5/11/24.

Apr 192024
 

Meryl Engler, “Lying in Red”, 2023, Woodcut

Work by Michael Loderstedt (left), Eva Pozler (center) and Lori Kella (right)

Work by Lori Kella, Maria Uhase, and Meryl Engler (right two pieces)

Lori Kella, “Mudslide and Forsythia”, 2022, Inkjet print (left) and Corrie Slawson, “Amalgam 4”, 2022 (top) and “Amalgam 3”, 2022 (bottom), Oil and screenprint on plywood

Today (4/19/24) is the last day to see Life Out of Balance at the Emily Davis Gallery at The University of Akron. The group show show includes work by Maria Uhase, Meryl Engler, Lori Kella, Benjamin Lambert, Michael Loderstedt, Eve Polzer, Ron Shelton, Ariel Bowman, and Corrie Slawson.

From the gallery-

When a tree falls in a forest, we may see it as the death of the tree. It stops photosynthesizing, growing, feeding its mycorrhizal symbionts, flowering, developing fruit, dispersing seeds, taking in carbon dioxide, and producing oxygen. But in the ecosystem, it begins a whole new life in decay. It feeds the soil and microbes through the decomposition of its tissues; it provides a place for fungi, mosses, and lichens to grow; and it becomes a protected habitat for a myriad of insects, mammals, and birds. This same tree, therefore, can be both dying and living at the same time, depending on perspective. It can be dead if considered separate from its surroundings, or it can be alive in its continued relationship within its ecosystem.

Humans can feel more alive by being integrated with the rest of the natural world. We are not living to our full potential, or allowing nature to be its full potential, when we consider ourselves as separate from it.

If we are to have hope for solving the complex environmental issues that are facing us today, we need to work with, rather than against, the forces of nature.

Below are a few more selections.

Ron Shelton, “Yellow Mosaic”, 2021, Plastic and wire

Ariel Bowman, “Wall Trophy Series”, 2019, (Cave Bear, Antique Bison, Early Horse, Saber Cat, Dodo, Brontotherium, Parasaurolophus), Unglazed, high fired porcelain; Maria Uhase, “Splitting Headache”, 2022 Ink on paper and “Softly”, 2023, Graphite on paper

Ariel Bowman, “Wall Trophy Series”, 2019, (Cave Bear, Antique Bison, Early Horse, Saber Cat, Dodo, Brontotherium, Parasaurolophus), Unglazed, high fired porcelain

Benjamin Lambert, “A pint for a gallon”, 2020 and “I Found Your Damn Lost Shaker of Salt”, 2020, Stoneware, underglaze, glaze, epoxy

Corrie Slawson, “Stage Set Tapestry 1, for Feast: a ballet. Of Bats, Blue Footed Boobies, Penguins and other threatened fauna and flora. Pastoral landscape after Rubens”, 2020, Oil and mixed media on muslin

Corrie Slawson, “Stage Set Tapestry 1, for Feast: a ballet. Of Bats, Blue Footed Boobies, Penguins and other threatened fauna and flora. Pastoral landscape after Rubens” (detail)

Michael Loderstedt, “Snakehead”, 2023, “Thistles”, 2023, Cyanotypes on fabric, embroidery, fabric collage

Lori Kella, “Mayflies in the Grass”, and “Yellow Irises”, 2024, Framed inkjet prints

Maria Uhase, “Encircled”, 2023, Oil on linen panel, “Worm”,2023, Oil on linen and “Conglomeration in the Spiders’ Ghost Town”, 2020, Oil on canvas

Eva Polzer, “Gift from a Cat”, 2024, Ceramic, underglaze, velvet jewelry box, and “Gift from a Rat”, 2024, Ceramic, underglaze, petri dish

Meryl Engler, “Waiting”,2023, Woodcut Block

 

Apr 192024
 

I was very sad to hear the news of artist and activist Faith Ringgold’s recent passing. Throughout her incredible career she created work in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, and narrative quilts. She also wrote and illustrated several children’s books- including the wonderful Tar Beach, based on one of the quilts, which won several awards.

Pictured above is American People Series #20: Die, 1967, currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

From the museum about the work-

Recalling her motivation for making this work, Ringgold has explained, “I became fascinated with the ability of art to document the time, place, and cultural identity of the artist. How could l, as an African American woman artist, document what was happening around me?” Ringgold’s American People Series confronts race relations in the United States in the 1960s. This mural-sized painting evokes the civil uprisings erupting around the country at the time. On the canvas, blood spatters evenly across an interracial group of men, women, and children, suggesting that no one is free from this struggle.

Apr 122024
 

Sarah Meyohas, “Interference #19”, 2023, Holograms, mirrored black glass, aluminum

Georgia O’Keeffe, “Poppy”, 1927, Oil on canvas

Francis Picabia “The Church of Montigny, Effect of Sunlight” 1908, Oil on canvas (left); Christian Sampson “Projection Painting”, 2023, Acrylic and films with LED light; and Claude Monet “The Houses of Parliament, Effect of Fog, London” 1904, Oil on canvas (right)

The Nature of Art exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg merges art from the museum’s collection with loaned works to explore- “art’s crucial role in our evolving quest to understand our relationship with nature and our place in the cosmos”.

One of the benefits of an encyclopedic museum is that visitors have the opportunity to experience art throughout history, and to revisit works that resonate with them. For the section titled Artist as Curator, Sarah Meyohas and Christian Sampson chose pieces from the museum’s collection to pair with their own work.

From the museum-

At first glance, perhaps, these may seem like unusual combinations, but upon deeper contemplation, their selections reveal complementary artistic intents. For instance, Meyohas and Georgia O’Keeffe share an interest in close looking, particularly in finding new ways to examine underappreciated aspects of the natural world. Sampson, influenced by the California Light and Space Movement, is interested in current scholarship that suggests the hazy fog found in Claude Monet’s work is an early depiction of air pollution, offering an entirely new perspective on the artist’s representations of light.

Sampson also created the four-part installation, Tempus volat, hora fugit, on view until 2025 at the museum.

Below are some of the works from additional sections of the exhibition.

Postcommodity, “kinaypikowiyâs”, 2021, Four 30.5-metre industrial debris booms

Postcommodity, “kinaypikowiyâs”, 2021, Four 30.5-metre industrial debris booms

Postcommodity is an interdisciplinary art collective comprised of Cristóbal Martínez (Genizaro, Manito, Xicano), and Kade L. Twist (Cherokee).

About Postcommodity’s work, kinaypikowiyâs, (seen above) from the museum-

This work is composed of debris booms, used to catch and hold environmental contaminants such as garbage, oil, and chemicals. The colors of the booms correspond to different types of threats— red (flammable), yellow (radioactive), blue (dangerous), and white (poisonous)-in the labeling system for hazardous materials. To indigenous peoples, these are shared medicine colors that carry knowledge, purpose and meaning throughout the Western Hemisphere. Suspended like hung meat, the booms represent a snake that has been chopped into four parts. Each part represents an area of the colonial map of the Western Hemisphere: South America, Central America, North America, and all of the surrounding islands. The title, kinaypikowiyâs, is a Plains Cree word, meaning snake meat. Divided by borders, Postcommodity asserts that all people living in the Americas are riding on the back of this snake.

James Casebere, “Red/Orange Solo Pavilion”, and “Orange Guesthouse”, 2018, Archival pigment print mounted to Dibond

James Casebere, “Landscape with Houses (Dutchess County, NY), 2009, Archival pigment print mounted to Dibond

James Casebere creates architecturally based models for the large scale photographs seen above.

Reclaimed ocean plastic sculptures and “Tidal Fool” wallpaper by Duke Riley

Duke Riley custom wallpaper, Tidal Fool, detail

Duke Riley custom wallpaper, Tidal Fool, detail

Duke Riley’s work, which was previously shown at Brooklyn Museum, addresses issues of environmental pollution by using discarded plastics found in the ocean and other waterways to create new work inspired by the past. You can hear him discuss his work in this video.

From the museum-

Inspired by the maritime museum displays he saw while a child growing up in New England, Riley’s scrimshaw series is a cutting observation of capitalist economies-historic and today-that endanger sea life. The sculptures were created for the fictional Poly S. Tyrene Memorial Maritime Museum, and are contemporary versions of sailors’ scrimshaw, or delicately ink-etched whale teeth and bone. Riley first thought about using plastic as an ode to scrimshaw when he saw what he thought was a whale bone washed up on the beach in Rhode Island; it turned out to be the white handle of a deck brush. Riley regularly removes trash from beaches and waterways, and often uses this refuse in his work.

Riley collaborated with Brooklyn-based Flavor Paper to create these two custom wallpapers for his solo exhibition DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash at the Brooklyn Museum. Tidal Fool exhibits Riley’s trademark humor in the face of devastating water pollution; notice the Colt 45-guzzling mermaid. Wall Bait vibrantly references Riley’s meticulous fishing lures, which he crafts from refuse found in the waters around New York City.

Daniel Lind-Ramos,”Centinelas de la luna nueva (Sentinels of the New Moon)”, 2022-2023, Mixed media

Daniel Lind-Ramos,”Centinelas de la luna nueva (Sentinels of the New Moon)”, 2022-2023, Mixed media

Daniel Lind-Ramos also uses a variety of recycled objects to create his sculptures.

From the museum about this work-

In Centinelas de la luna nueva, he evokes the elders of the mangroves, spiritual beings who watch over and ensure the health of this essential coastal tree. Mangroves are the basis for a complex ecosystem that shelters sea life and serves as the first line of defense in the tropical storms that batter the sub-tropics—including Florida.

Lind-Ramos’s practice reflects the vibrant culture of his native Loíza, Puerto Rico, by honoring local agriculture, fishing, cooking, and masquerade. His sculptures also evoke Hurricane Maria (2017), the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing environmental degradation. Lind-Ramos is committed to the survival and sustenance of Afro-Taíno traditions and people of the Puerto Rican archipelago. However, his art engages the global community through shared emotions, parallel histories, and the commonality of human experience.

The next post will discuss two other artists in the exhibition, Brookhart Jonquil and Janaina Tschäpe.

Mar 282024
 

Jazzalyn Palma, “21st st”, Oil on canvas, 2023

Rachel Augustson, “Gaze”, Ink on Paper, 2023

Ashton Burton, “…”, Oil on canvas, 2023

Cleveland Institute of Art’s 78th Student Independent Exhibition is currently on view in their Reinberger Gallery. The juried show is organized by the students and includes work from all mediums.

There are so many great pieces in this show, above and below are just a few selections.

This exhibition closes 4/7/24.

James Schaffer, “Bound”, Oil on canvas, 2023

James Schaffer, “Bound”, Oil on canvas, 2023 (detail)

Gwen Putz, “Viv!”, Monoprint, 2023

Tristen Kovacs, “897”, Spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 2023

Emily Fontana, “Untitled”, Acrylic and spackle on fabric, 2024

Emily Fontana, “Untitled”, Acrylic and spackle on fabric, 2024 (detail)