Jun 012024
 

It’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed at Arthur Jafa’s exhibition BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG at 52 Walker. His latest show includes a large installation, photography, sculpture, painting and a new film. Passing the reflective black surface and walking through his sculptural installation, Picture Unit II,  you’ll find portraits of bikers, a photo from the Manson murders, a subway car, and a stripper at a club next to a photo from a Rwandan genocide memorial. Next to where a video plays a collage of clips, an installation of cut out figures includes himself, Miles Davis, The Sex Pistols, and artists Cady Noland and Adrian Piper.

Death plays a large part in the show, as does personal and collective history. His best friend of forty years, cultural critic Greg Tate, recently passed away, also contributing to the heaviness of this recent work.

From the press release-

Lauded for his achievements as a filmmaker and cinematographer as well as a visual artist, Jafa has developed an incisive, chameleonic practice, through which he seeks to unravel the cultural significance and strictures ascribed in tandem upon Black existence in the Western world. In BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, Jafa invokes the body’s personal, political, and industrial guises in one fell swoop, deftly interweaving images and objects to create a forceful and maximal space that beckons toward engulfment and revelation alike.

Jafa’s exhibition at 52 Walker brings to the surface questions of form, force, and resistance— in addition to tensions that result from common slips and errors. The title of the show, BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, applies strategies of sequencing and juxtaposition, channeling various meanings in its wordplay—including political ideologies, industrial terminologies, and the specter of death—while also nodding to the complexities of the word “black” and its many inflections. Favoring intuitive arrangement over uniformity, the artist eschews traditionally monolithic modes of presentation and instead coheres multiple simultaneous events, applying a decidedly Black and non-Western viewpoint that confronts twentieth-century art historiography and museology’s indebtedness to African aesthetics.

In the video below, also on the 52 Walker website, Jafa discusses the show with screenwriter Judnick Mayard and is worth watching for additional insights.

This exhibition closes 6/1/24.

May 242024
 

“The Water-Bearer (Version 20)”,2024, Acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil, graphite, ink and marker on canvas with collage

“The Water-Bearer (Version 20)”,2024 (detail)

“The Fish (Version 20)”, 2023, Acrylic, colored pencil, graphite, ink, permanent marker and oil-based permanent marker on canvas with collage

“The Fish (Version 20)”, 2023, (detail)

Tomorrow (5/25/24) is the last day to see Edward Holland’s mixed media zodiac paintings, At the Bottom of the Celestial Sea, at Hollis Taggart. The layers of color and the collaged items combine to form fascinating portraits of the astrological signs, while also hinting at larger themes.

From the press release-

Edward Holland’s zodiac painting series, which he started creating in 2014, are inspired by the many dimensions of zodiac signs from the astronomical to the astrological and the mythological. Holland incorporates the linear geometry of a zodiacal constellation in each painting, using this as a kind of framework onto which he collages printed papers ranging from notes from his neighbors and poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti to maps and doodles created by his two daughters. Holland then builds on this foundation with graphite and paint, at times scribbling out the words on the printed papers, and at others layering expressive brushwork – usually incorporating the color associated with the given zodiac – in what resemble fragments of Abstract Expressionist paintings. The resulting works are almost like abstracted portraits of each zodiac, inviting the viewer into a game of excavating their many layers of meaning.

To take one example, The Archer (Version 18), 2024, is scaffolded by the constellation of Sagittarius rendered in purple and anchored by moments of bold yellow, which is complementary of the color attributed to the zodiac. Partially hidden beneath layers of paint are instructions for how to bandage a wounded leg as well as anatomical drawings of legs, nodding to Sagittarius’ association with lower limbs. Peeking through at the center of the canvas is the signature moustache of Frank Zappa, the legendary musician and composer born under the sign of Sagittarius. Each painting contains dozens of such zodiacal associations – some more obscure than others, with certain material so painted over that it is no longer visible to the viewer. While it may seem that Holland would search for such reference material intentionally, he only ever uses materials he finds on the street or which is shared with him by friends and family. This adds a sense of wonder to the works, as the material has come to the artist through serendipity.

For more on the artist and this series, Artnet recently visited him in his studio to discuss his work and process.

 

May 172024
 

“Island”, 2024. Acrylic on paper

“Daredevil”, 2024, Acrylic and colored pencil on paper, and “L’Observatoire, 2024, Acrylic on paper

Yancey Richardson is currently showing two exhibitions which focus on architecture and city life. Mary Lum’s paintings and collages for temporary arrangements combine elements of city life found on her walks in New York and Paris. Fragments she discovers along the way combine to form dynamic interpretations of these environments.

From the press release-

Lum mines aspects of daily life, vistas of architecture, design, and advertising that could easily go unnoticed. These familiar and often mundane sights are transformed into something more: juxtapositions and layers of random elements, which show both spontaneity and control, perhaps revealing a glimpse into the soul of a city.

The exhibition title temporary arrangements refers to Lum’s journeys though the streets of New York and Paris, observing the fragments of a crumbling façade of a building, a vendor’s pushcart, or a poster for a vernissage, which may have a short shelf life in the urban environment. Lum takes photographs on the streets looking at geometric forms, planes of color, and text. She pulls off bits of advertising posters that are peeling from their bases and collects printed materials – all of which are collaged in her sketchbooks, becoming the basis for her paintings. These elements provide inspiration for Lum, who creates a collision of perspectives and forms that boldly announce the delights of quiet discoveries.

Susan Cross, Senior Curator, Mass MoCA, wrote that Lum’s work “suggests the speed of daily life and the fragmented way in which we encounter language in the world. Language speeds up and slows down, much in the way that when we are walking or riding a bike in the city our pace is determined by what we notice around us. Words come together and fall apart, with each individual viewer making meaning.”

Influenced by Cubism and Russian Constructivism, Lum is also interested in the concept of psychogeography, as practiced by members of the Situationist International movement in the 1950s and ‘60s. Referring to the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behavior of the individual, one may see Lum’s interdisciplinary practice as a physical manifestation of this phenomenon. Lum also finds inspiration in artist and activist Corita Kent’s graphic style and fractured text as well as artist Ray Yoshida’s use of comics, which tell stories with isolated fragments.

Mary Lum wrote, “A couple of years ago I saw a William Kentridge exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. One of the things that kept jumping out at me from that show was the phrase: ’FIND THE LESS GOOD IDEA.’ That painted phrase was repeated several times in various parts of the exhibition, and each time I saw it I got a little jolt of recognition. I’m not sure exactly what Kentridge meant by that phrase (it’s related to his Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg), but to me it meant everything about the way I work. I took the reference to mean finding the things that are in the margins, those things that are on the periphery, those things that are between the lines, that you see out of the corner of your eye. Not through a concerted effort, but by paying attention, looking around, looking the other way. And often, later, you are not sure that you’ve seen these things at all.”

For Lynn Saville’s exhibition Elevated, she has captured NYC at its most peaceful time, twilight.

From the press release-

Twilight in the city, after the sun disappears below the horizon and the hustle and bustle has dissipated, is where Lynn Saville finds refuge and inspiration. For decades, she has documented these fleeting, dream-like moments suspended in time within the urban landscape.

Elevated showcases Saville’s mastery of the city’s natural light. Much like Edward Hopper, who painted the solitude of New York City through its buildings and rooftops, Saville’s photographs transform architectural elements and structures into dramatic geometric forms and patterns through light and shadows. Saville describes the importance of capturing images at twilight, “During this transitional time, the change from daylight to moonlight and artificial light seems to awaken the city’s own dreams, apart from the business and errands of its inhabitants. For me, these dreams are expressed in basic shapes and patterns, as if the infrastructure were communing with its own geometry while distracting details are hidden in shadow. The shifting light brings out forms that may disappear in the darkness of night or remain invisible during the more chaotic visual world of daylight.”

As the exhibition title implies, photographs featured in the show were taken from the elevated platforms of New York City’s mass transit system or from the street looking upward at structures on rooftops. These photographs explore perspectives on the language of the built environment and our perception of the cityscape. For example, Elevated subway platforms offer an expanse of skyline structures such as rooftops, water towers, and upper sections of nearby buildings, which along with the coming and goings of trains become the focal point.

Both of these exhibitions close 5/18/24.

Apr 262024
 

This tribute to artist Margaret Kilgallen was spotted in Los Angeles in 2014. The quote is paraphrasing what she said during an interview for the PBS program Art21. The full quote reads- “I do spend a lot of time trying to perfect my line work… when you get close up, you can always see the line waver. And I think that’s where the beauty is.” Kilgallen died of cancer in 2001, at only 33, but left behind a remarkable body of work.

You can currently see one of these works at Cantor Arts Center’s as part of the group exhibition, Day Jobs, on view until 7/21/24. The exhibition examines the impact of day jobs in the lives and work of several famous artists.

Image courtesy of Cantor Arts Center: Margaret Kilgallen, “Money to Loan (Paintings for the San Francisco Bus Shelter Posters)” [detail], 2000. Mixed media on paper and fabric, sheet 68 × 48½ inches Courtesy of the Margaret Kilgallen Estate, photo by Tony Prikryl

You can learn more about Kilgallen, her husband and fellow artist Barry McGee, and several other artists including Shepard Fairey, Mike Mills, Ed Templeton and Harmony Korine in Aaron Rose’s film Beautiful Losers.

 

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 032024
 

Summer Wheat created this mural, Foragers, in 2020 for the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it remains on view today.

From the museum about the work-

This monumental “stained glass” installation celebrates the resilience of North Carolina’s community of makers and providers and creates a space where our present-day Charlotte community can gather for contemplation and inspiration. Collaging sheets of colored vinyl, Wheat has created a towering, prismatic composition that fills all 96 windows of the Mint atrium with female figures of varied sizes, ages, shapes, and races performing acts of labor: fisherwomen, beekeepers, hunters, mothers, caretakers, farmers, bankers.

Following the tradition of stained-glass windows found in places of worship, Wheat offers a narrative of hope and resilience that can be enjoyed in a few minutes or studied over hours. Wheat says that “Foragers presents a tradition in which women were the original hunters, technologists, and artists. This array of women connected by geometric patterns echoes the psychological space of women supporting each other. They are marching together, connecting to creatures from land and water, demonstrating their inherent link to natural elements and to the intricate depths of the unconscious.”

The women in Foragers also call attention to the underrecognized populations who have cultivated the land that we now call North Carolina, from the indigenous tribes to the colonial settlers to the enslaved Africans and all those who have followed. The region is home to myriad traditions-ceramics, basket weaving, quilting, furniture construction, textile production-and The Mint Museum specifically celebrates that legacy through its collection and exhibitions. Foragers salutes North Carolina’s history of creativity and industry, both by those whose names we know and those who remain anonymous.

Her latest exhibition, Fertile Ground, is currently on view at Nazarian/Curcio in Los Angeles, closing on 4/6/24. It includes new paintings and three stone mosaic sculptures.

Mar 222024
 

Pictured is Jacob Hashimoto’s This Particle of Dust, on view at Tampa Museum of Art through 2025.  At first glance, it may seem monochromatic, but on closer inspection the blue color and star patterns begin to emerge on the darker pieces. It also changes depending on the viewer’s vantage point and the changing natural light.

From the museum about the work-

The artist takes inspiration from cloud formations and the cosmos, with each navy blue kite featuring star-like markings. Depending on the time of day and the natural light filtering through the atrium skylights, the kites will shift in color intensity. This Particle of Dust explores the visual poetics of light and dark, color and form, as well as space and architecture.

Created from over 2,500 handmade kites, This Particle of Dust is a site-specific installation and unique to the Tampa Museum of Art’s architecture. The installation represents Jacob Hashimoto’s exploration of abstract landscape and his interest in blurring the boundaries between painting and sculpture. This Particle of Dust evokes the experience of observing the night sky through various cloud clusters. Thousands of transparent and opaque white discs hang suspended from a bespoke armature. Navy blue kites, imprinted with white and cerulean blue star patterns, hang amidst the cloud shapes and catch the light as the sun rises over the Museum and dips into the horizon over the Hillsborough River. Depending on one’s vantage point, either from the lobby, stairwell, or galleries, the experience of This Particle of Dust shifts—from below the cloudscape appears to drift into the sky while at eye-level the viewer looks directly into the stars.

Hashimoto began making kite sculptures twenty-years ago while an art student in Chicago. Inspired by traditional Chinese kite making in the city of Weifang, where the artform of sculptural dragon kites originated, Hashimoto has made hundreds of thousands of kites from Japanese paper and resin. He appreciates kites as a universal object of joy that is recognized across the globe. Transformed into monumental artworks, Hashimoto’s kites convey happiness, wonder, and serenity.

Below is Tampa Museum of Art’s video of the artist discussing this installation.

Hashimoto is also showing several wall-mounted sculptural works for his solo exhibition, Fables, at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago. It will be on view until 4/20/24.

Feb 262024
 

Willie Cole, “American Domestic”, 2016, Digital Print

Tom Laidman, “Broadway”, 1993 and “Bois Ma Petite”, 1999, Lithograph on paper

Currently on view at Akron Museum of Art is RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore, a collection of art from the Wesley and Missy Cochran collection, organized into themes exploring aspects of African American history and culture. The show features many well known and lesser known artists including Amiri Baraka, Beverly Buchanan, Willie Cole, Trenton Doyle Hancock, William Pope.L., Tom Laidman, Jacob Lawrence, Alison Saar and more.

From the museum about the exhibition-

African folklore has been around as long as humankind, and the African diaspora in America has added new dimensions to its rich history. African American folk stories teach about culture, the mysteries of life, and the survival of a race of people bought and sold who continue to thrive in an unjust society.

“RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore” focuses on four themes: Remembering, Religion, Racialization, and Resistance. These themes provide a comprehensive retelling of the works featured in the exhibition. In many of the pieces, the artist’s muse connects closely with stories that have been told generation after generation. Folklore texts are featured throughout the space as a means to retell a richer, deeper story of African American culture.

There are more than forty artists represented in this exhibition, all holding one similar truth: their story of joy and struggle in the African American experience.

In addition to the artwork, there is also an educational video produced by Josh Toussaint-Strauss of The Guardian that explores the misconceptions about Haitian Voudou that is worth a watch.

How ‘voodoo’ became a metaphor for evil

Jan 292024
 

Whimzeyland, the “Bowling Ball House”, is a local landmark located in Safety Harbor, Florida, created by artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda.

About the house from their website

In 1985, they purchased the beige house on Third Street in Safety Harbor, Florida. They traveled everywhere, actively seeking out inspirational and unusual places. Inspired by these travels, they began transforming their house. One of the earliest additions were the wooden triangles to the eaves of their house. The beige house became bold in color, too.

One day, they went to a flea market and saw a sign that said that anybody could take 10 free bowling balls. They took the bowling balls and began painting and placing them around the property. This is how they became known as the bowling ball house of Safety Harbor.

Todd and Kiaralinda even branched out of decorating their home, creating two different art cars, designed a restaurant, and making public sculptures, among other things. They began calling themselves the Whimzey Twinz because they work together on all of their projects.

Their travels soon included visits to folk artists and artists that they met at their shows. These friends visited them, too. Todd and Kiaralinda’s bowling balls inspired many of them. They would create bowling balls for Todd and Kiaralinda, who got so many of these works from artist friends that they started a gallery in their home. They created a “Call for Balls” which made a lot more of these art works roll into their home. Today, they have over 80 bowling balls from various artists around the world and people still bring them bowling balls as gifts.

If you are in the area, make sure to also stop by Safety Harbor Art and Music Center (SHAMc), a nonprofit they opened in 2017. It has an art gallery and shop, and hosts music events and art classes as well.

 

Dec 172023
 

The Arts Annual at Creative Pinellas is always a great way to see what the artists in the area are creating. For 2023’s larger than ever edition, there is also a separate space for a video program that includes short films, theater productions, poetry readings, musical performances and more.

Artists included in the exhibition-

Tatiana Baccari, Elizabeth Barenis, Christina Bertsos, Daniel Barojas, Chomick + Meder, Courtney Clute, Neverne Covington, Sheila Cowley, Patricia Kluwe Derderian, Nikki Devereux, Javier T Dones, Dunedin Music Society, Sara Ries Dziekonski, Sarah Emery, Roxanne Fay, Jean Blackwell Font, John Gascot, Denis Gaston, Mason Gehring, Donald Gialanella, Jim Gigurtsis, Kevin Grass, Sheree L. Greer, Jason Hackenwerth, Steph Hargrove, Patrick Arthur Jackson, Reid Jenkins, Kenny Jensen, Charlotte Johnson, Victoria Jorgensen, Steven Kenny, Candace Knapp, Akiko Kotani, Teresa Mandala, Cora Marshall, Carol Mickett & Robert Stackhouse, Miss Crit, Mark Mitchell, Chad Mize, Desiree Moore, Zoe Papas, Gianna Pergamo, Rose Marie Prins, Gabriel Ramos, Babs Reingold, George Retkes, Heather Rippert, Ashley Rivers, Marlene Rose, Ric Savid, Tom Sivak, Sketzii, Emily Stehle, Rachel Stewart, Erica Sutherlin, Takeya Trayer, Judy Vienneau, Kirk Ke Wang, Angela Warren, and Joseph Weinzettle

The show is on view until 12/31/23.

Below are some additional selections from the exhibition.  

Reid Jenkins, “Holding Court”, Acrylic

Candace Knapp, “What the Blue Heron Sees” and “The Light Within” Acrylic on canvas

Daniel Barojas, “Future Ancestor”, Gouache, acrylic, gold leaf on canvas and “Future Ancestor #3”, Gouache and resin on paper

Rachel Stewart, “Caribbean Currents” Colored pencil, oil stick and collage on Archers archival paper; “Under a Different Sky”, Wall installation Painted relief wood construction with cooper and mixed media materials; Printing Ink and collage on rice paper

Mark Mitchell, “The BurgHive”, Acrylic on Hexagonal canvases

Sketzii,”Out of the Pink Concrete”, “Reclamando Mis Raices” and “A Señora’s Dream”, Acrylic on canvas

Steph Hargrove, “Catch You Later”, Acrylic paint, paper on canvas

Marlene Rose, “Three Bell Tower”, Sandcast glass and “Map Triptych” Sandcast glass

Heather Rippert, “Shakti” (center) and “Hawk 1, 2, and 3”, acrylic on canvas