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

Oct 312023
 

“Steelhead” Terracotta sculpture by Ako Castuera

Spooky season may be coming to a close but there is still time to see the ghosts, and the artists behind them, in At Home with “City of Ghosts” at Dunedin Fine Art Center. Thoughtfully curated by Nathan Beard, the exhibition focuses on artwork, in a variety of mediums, by 17 of the artists who helped create the award winning Netflix series City of Ghosts.

Created by Elizabeth Ito, City of Ghosts follows a group of children as they track down and record stories about the history of Los Angeles from the ghosts who also live in the city.

Artists included in the exhibition- Mike Andrews, Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin, Ako Castuera, Alex Cline, Mercedes Dorame, Luis Grané, Chloe Hsu, Elizabeth Ito, Jasmin Lai, Bob Logan, Yulissa Maqueos, Hugo Morales, Keiko Murayama, Adam Muto, Claire Nero, Zen Sekizawa, and Pen Ward, with additional contribution from Decibel Studios LA.

This exhibition closes 12/23/23.

Below are some additional selections from the show.

Chloe Hsu– “Fish Market”, drypoint and watercolor

Jasmin Lai– “The 110 and Downtown LA”, digital print

Acrylic and ink work by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

Prismacolor and watercolor work by Alex Cline

Luis Grané– “Pool Maintenance” , acrylic on canvas

“La Mejor Herrencia”, Maqueos-Gonzalez family photos and “Maqueos Music (Banda Oaxaqueña)”, 2023, video by Decibel Studios LA with Los Angeles based clarinet player Yulissa Maqueos

Pendleton Ward (left) and Elizabeth Ito (right) both created Pepper’s Ghost animations for the exhibition

 

 

 

 

Aug 122023
 

Work by Elliot and Erick Jiménez (photographs, left) and Reginald O’Neal (paintings, right)

Sculptures by Akiko Kotani, Paintings by MJ Torrecampo

Work by Denise Treizman

Work by Amy Schissel

Photography by Peggy Levison Nolan

Work by Magnus Sodamin

Work by Yosnier Miranda

Work by Cara Despain

There is some really impressive work currently on view for the 2023 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at Orlando Museum of Art.

From the museum site about the exhibition-

The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art is organized by the Orlando Museum of Art to bring new recognition to the most progressive artists in the State. Each year OMA’s curatorial team surveys artists working throughout the State before inviting ten to participate. One artist will receive a $20,000 award made possible with the generous support of local philanthropists Gail and Michael Winn.  Artists range from emerging to mid-career, often with distinguished records of exhibitions and awards that reflect recognition at national and international levels. In all cases, they are artists who are engaged in exploring significant ideas of art and culture in original and visually exciting ways.

This year’s artists are-

Denise Treizman (@denisetreizman )

MJ Torrecampo (@mjtorrecampo )

Akiko Kotani

Peggy Levison Nolan (@peggylevisonnolan )

Amy Schissel (@amyschissel )

Reginald O’Neal (@_reginaldoneal_ )

Elliot & Erick Jimenez – (@elliotanderick )

Cara Despain (@caradespain )

Yosnier Miranda (@occurrences)

Magnus Sodamin (@magnificentmagnus )

On the following pages below are more works by the above artists and detailed information on their work in the exhibition.

Jul 252023
 

Currently at the University of Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum is Rico Gatson: Visible Time. The exhibition includes a collection of the artist’s paintings and works on paper, video works from 2001-present, and a life size mural of author Zora Neale Hurston.

From the museum’s website about the exhibition-

For more than two decades, Brooklyn-based artist Rico Gatson has been celebrated for his vibrant, colorful, and layered artworks. Inspired by significant moments in African American history, identity politics and spirituality, his oeuvre includes images of protests and longstanding injustices—touching on subjects like the murder of Emmett Till, the Watts Riots, and the formation of the Black Panthers—as well as dynamic abstract geometries that celebrate Pan-Africanist aesthetics and Black cultural and political figures.

About the mural, Zora III, commissioned by the museum (pictured above)-

Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo (a set of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs created by enslaved Africans in the Southern U.S.). The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. Born in Notasulga, Alabama, Hurston grew up near Orlando, in Eatonville, Florida, incorporated in 1887 as one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the country. Despite her landmark achievements, Hurston died penniless and in obscurity in 1960-her novels and other writings largely unknown, until they were single-handedly rescued by novelist Alice Walker in 1975. Through his wall painting Rico Gatson extends the monumental impact of Hurston’s legacy-and Walker’s- into a visual arena reminiscent of the Mexican Muralists and hand-painted cinema signs.

“Untitled (Seven Panels)”, 2022 acrylic paint on wood, in seven parts

From the museum’s wall plaque about the above paintings-

According to catalog contributor Mark Fredricks, Rico Gatson’s “panel paintings” resemble “a musical framework.” Arranged together along a single wall, the “rhythm” animating their colorful compositions and their “uniformity of structure” suggest, anthropomorphically speaking, musicians in a jazz combo. One of the many ways in which Gatson draws on music as a lasting influence in his art, his seven panels approximate what legendary jazz player Albert Ayler described as “the healing force of the universe,” but in three dimensions.

“Don” 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

“Sidney” 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

“Miles #2″ 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

Below are images are from Four Stations, one of the five moving image works in the exhibition. For this work, Gatson traveled to Money, Mississippi and took handheld footage along the trail of places and events that led to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

“Four Stations” 2017

On one of the smaller screens is Gun Play, 2001, a film collage that mixes sequences from Foxy Brown and The Good, the Band and the Ugly, combining them together with kaleidoscopic effects.

“Gun Play”, 2001, single-channel video, color, sound

This Thursday 7/27/23, the museum will be showing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, the last of the three films chosen by Gatson to accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition will close on Saturday, 7/29.

Jul 072023
 

Richard Linklater’s 1990 film Slacker, is a wonderful trip back in time to the pre-Internet days and a celebration of American eccentricity. If you haven’t seen it, the film follows various different Austin locals in brief scenes and conversations, all within a 24 hour period in 1989.

The film opens on a monologue from Linklater himself describing his dream to a taxi driver and then moves on to a man who hits his mother with a car. The scenes flow from one character or group to a new one almost seamlessly. Conspiracy theorists, coffee shop philosophers, a man who collects televisions and disaster footage, a group of housemates reading a story on postcards from a former housemate left behind, and on and on as the day turns to night and then back to day again.

Linklater wrote these interactions and many of them are based on stories or projects from the people seen in the film. In his director’s commentary he gives the background for many of the involved participants. He also explains how he directed them not to treat any of the people speaking as if they are strange or odd. It’s another aspect of the film that makes it special, and a reminder of the way we should try to treat people.

Sadly Teresa Taylor (pictured in the above two photos center), aka Teresa Nervosa, one time drummer for the Butthole Surfers, died last month. Her image was used for the movie poster and promotional materials. Her scene in Slacker is one of the most memorable as well. She tells a story of a highway suicide and then attempts to sell what she claims is singer Madonna’s pap smear.

 

 

Jun 232023
 


Closing tomorrow, 6/24, is Cross Communication, an exhibition of Chris Burden’s relics, films, video works, and other materials that document his early performances at Gagosian’s 75th and Park location in NYC.

Walking into the gallery and hearing one of his TV commercials in which he reads off the names of famous artists followed by his own name (Chris Burden Promo (1976)), is a humorous introduction to Burden’s often audacious work. Poem for LA from 1975, which follows with the messages- “SCIENCE HAS FAILED”, “HEAT IS LIFE” and “TIME KILLS” still resonates today.

Check out the video below to see the commercials and hear Burden discuss the work.

Other videos included have him crawling across glass; lying between two sheets of glass that are on set on fire (Icarus); and one of his most infamous- being shot in the arm (Shoot, 1971). The less outrageous works are great too, including Disappearing (1971), pictured above.

For more on the artist, the excellent documentary Burden, by Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan, follows his career from these earlier works to the large scale sculptures like Metropolis II and Urban Light that came later. Both of these installations are on view in Los Angeles at LACMA.

Jun 212023
 

These days it’s hard not to think sometimes about the end of the world. But have you started putting together a plan? Thought about who would be good in a crisis? Put together a pros and cons list of your friends, family and acquaintances?  Wondered if things would actually be better?

Finn Schult’s current exhibition Everything You’ve Ever Wanted at Gallery 114 at Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City location, presents an interesting take on the current state of things for those with the end on their minds.  It includes paintings, animal traps, an ipod and walkie talkie, as well as a book containing photos, prepper information, journal entries, drawings, and some pros and cons for the people in his life, including his mom. The paintings are titled “L’appel Du Vide” a French phrase meaning “the call of the void” or the urge to jump when you are standing in a high place.

From the gallery’s website-

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted is a solo exhibition of new work by Finn Schult (b. 1993, Naples, FL) reflecting on the inevitability of the end of the world and the fantasy of apocalypse as catalyst for utopia. Schult’s multimedia series exists as fragments, sketches and interludes distilled from an otherwise deranged web of theories. At times, the artworks presented in Gallery114@HCC feel terroristic, violent and unbearably bleak–at other times, they remind us of the beauty inherent in loss, longing and love. Schult’s work yearns for a world that doesn’t yet exist and mourns for a world that isn’t yet gone, answering the cry, “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” with “The only way out is through.”

There is also a video in the exhibition, Where r u rn? which mixes a variety of imagery with a bit of author and mystic Terence McKenna’s 1999 final interview where he discusses “the fire in the madhouse at the end of time”- the possibility of the craziness in the world being a sign of the dying of our species.

This exhibition closes on 6/22/23.

Jun 192023
 

Robert Pruitt, “A Song for Travelers”

Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition, A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration, is an opportunity to learn about an important period of American history, and see it interpreted through the eyes of twelve contemporary artists.

From the museum’s website-

Between 1915 and 1970, in the wake of racial terror during the post-Reconstruction period, millions of Black Americans fled from their homes to other areas within the South and to other parts of the country. This remarkable movement of people, known as the Great Migration, caused a radical shift in the demographic, economic, and sociopolitical makeup of the United States. A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration brings together twelve contemporary artists to consider the complex impact of this period on their lives, as well as on social and cultural life, with newly commissioned works ranging from large-scale installation, immersive film, and tapestry to photography, painting, and mixed media. Featured artists are Akea Brionne, Mark Bradford, Zoë Charlton, Larry W. Cook, Torkwase Dyson, Theaster Gates Jr., Allison Janae Hamilton, Leslie Hewitt, Steffani Jemison, Robert Pruitt, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, and Carrie Mae Weems.

A Movement in Every Direction presents a departure from traditional accounts of the Great Migration, which are often understood through a lens of trauma, and reconceptualizes them through stories of self-possession, self-determination, and self-examination. While the South did lose generations of courageous, creative, and productive Black Americans due to racial and social inequities, the exhibition expands the narrative by introducing people who stayed in, or returned to, the region during this time. Additionally, the Brooklyn Museum’s presentation centers Brooklyn as another important site in the Great Migration, highlighting historical and contemporary census data about the borough’s migration patterns. Visitors are encouraged to share their own personal and familial stories of migration through an oral history “pod” available in the exhibition galleries.

About Robert Pruitt’s work, pictured above, from the museum’s wall information plaque-

“A Song for Travelers” celebrates the individual and Black collective experiences that have shaped the histories of rural East Texas and Houston’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Wards. In this drawing-based on an early 1970’s photograph of a reunion of the artist’s family in Dobbin, Texas -sixteen people gather around a seated central figure about to embark on a journey. During the creation of this work, the masked traveler became a stand-in for Pruitt, who had recently left his hometown of Houston.

Pruitt often draws inspiration from his and others’ family photographs while examining historical events that have impacted Houston’s Black communities. Wearing costumes and adorned with items that reference various aspects of Black culture found in schools, social clubs, and religious spaces, the figures in the work reflect the numerous networks that remained and flourished in the South. Merging the Great Migration period with the present, Pruitt centers the Black neighborhoods across the southern region that served as safe havens and rich sites of cultural expression for migrants during the twentieth century. This link extends to today as many Black Americans leave the northern and western cities that once attracted their elders and return to the South.

Allison Janae Hamilton’s A House Called Florida, below, takes the viewer on a journey through part of northern Florida’s natural beauty.

From the museum’s information plaque about the video installation-

Allison Janae Hamilton produced the three-channel film installation A House Called Florida in her hometown region of northern Florida. The breathtaking landscapes of Apalachicola Bay and the swampy Blackwater Lakes of Florida’s Big Bend frame musicians, dancers, motorists, a Victorian house, and a slow resounding rhythm.

The artist references French Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar’s 1946 short story “Casa Tomada.” (“House Taken Over”) about ghosts that slowly take over a home and eventually push out its owners, room by room. Hamilton echoes the story’s theme of displacement with two regally dressed, spirit-like protagonists who move about the house engaging in mark-making and ritual performances. Hamilton’s film pays tribute to the Black Floridians who remained in the Red Hills and the Forgotten Coast regions, despite the racial violence and environmental precariousness they faced throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Carrie Mae Weems‘ personal and moving contribution is in two parts- a series of photographs and a unique digital video installation.

The museum’s description of the work-

Carrie Mae Weems explores a painful family story: the disappearance of her grandfather Frank Weems, a tenant farmer and union activist who was attacked by a white mob in Earle Arkansas, in 1936. Presumed dead, he narrowly escaped and made his way to Chicago on foot, never again reuniting with his family. Frank Weems may have followed the North Star to Chicago. Weems’s series of seven prints, The North Star, makes an apt metaphor for Frank’s life. In Leave! Leave Now! Weems conjures the figure of her grandfather with a Pepper’s Ghost, a late nineteenth-century form of illusion first used in theater. By weaving historical events with fragmented family stories, photographs, poetry, music, and interviews, the artist reveals the tragedy of her grandfather’s disappearance and the aftermath.

This exhibition will close on Sunday, June 25th, 2023.

Mar 092023
 

 

Ja’Tovia Gary “Citational Ethics (Zora Neale Hurston, 1943)”, 2023, wood, neon and engraved obsidian

Ja’Tovia Gary “Citational Ethics (Zora Neale Hurston, 1943)”, 2023, wood, neon and engraved obsidian (detail)

Currently at Paula Cooper Gallery in NYC is Ja’Tovia Gary’s You Smell Like Outside…, an exhibition that centers around her 2023 film, Quiet As It’s Kept, and includes two new sculptures.

From the press release-

The artist continues her practice of interrogating and re-contextualizing multiple archives, concerning herself with the power and responsibility of language and the radical possibilities of narrative. The exhibition title You Smell Like Outside… is a Black Southern phrase that foregrounds the artist’s specific cultural origins with discursive traditions that invoke an interior knowledge. Inspired by Toni Morrison’s 1993 Nobel Laureate lecture, Gary attempts to heighten the contradictions between a living and a dead language. Notions of domesticity, interior and exterior, and the conflict between perception and being perceived are explored in the show.

With a filmic and sculptural language uniquely her own, Gary eloquently intervenes into foundational renderings of Black life to expand the conversation and the possibilities of being. The artist considers what is destabilized when we include the cinematic within the category of language, asserting: “if we are to ensure the future efficacy of storytelling, we must boldly and audaciously insist upon new narrative forms.” Quiet As It’s Kept (2023) is a contemporary response to The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s first novel published in 1970. Set in Ohio in 1941, the book is an evocative illustration of the everyday particulars of colorism and its ravaging effects on the intramural. Themes of embodiment, psychoanalysis, and beauty are explored in both the source text and the answering film. Instinctual and eviscerating, the film encourages viewers to make meaning that is rooted in the subjective and examine their position within looking relations.

Following Gary’s critically acclaimed films THE GIVERNY DOCUMENT (2019) and An Ecstatic Experience (2015), Quiet As It’s Kept (2023) is an intimate bricolage of vintage Hollywood, direct animation, original super 8 and 16mm film footage, and documentary conventions. Mediating on the gaze and Black women’s particular embodied realities, Gary also re-contextualizes contemporary social media footage. Creating conceptual links for each viral clip to a character, event, or thematic element from Morrison’s story, the film emphasizes questions around the book’s themes of internalized and externalized anti-blackness in contemporary culture. Situated within an immersive installation with domestic elements, the film asks the viewer to employ an oppositional gaze that allows for narrative structures that run counter to those of the mainstream.

High John de Conquer came to be a man, and a mighty man at that. But he was not a natural man in the beginning. First off, he was a whisper, a will to hope, a wish to find something worthy of laughter and song. Then the whisper put on flesh. [1]

The sculptures in Gary’s Citational Ethics series illuminate the words of Black women through the medium of neon, with the title of each work serving as a citation for the quote. Citational Ethics (Zora Neale Hurston, 1943) cites Zora Neale Hurston’s 1943 essay on High John de Conquer, a Southern folk trickster figure who brought joy, laughter, and strength to enslaved people while continuously evading capture. The sculpture is a vanity mirror set which gestures towards a speculative future past. Comprising a desk, stool, and fan-shaped obsidian mirror, the object invokes the Harlem Renaissance, Art Deco, and southern Black Hoodoo lore. A departure from the previous works in the series, the quote is etched into the highly polished black stone said to bring about visions through gazing, while the furniture is rendered in neon. Drawing the viewer in to read the words written in the mirror while bathed in red light, the sculpture summons an intimate encounter with the self and spirit.

[1] Zora Neale Hurston, “High John de Conquer,” in The American Mercury, October 1943, pp. 450-458

This exhibition closes 3/11/23