Apr 122024
 

Brookhart Jonquil, “Groundless”, 2023, Mirrors, steel, acrylic paint, enamel paint

Brookhart Jonquil, “Groundless”, 2023, Mirrors, steel, acrylic paint, enamel paint (detail)

Brookhart Jonquil, “E)A)R)T)H)”, 2012, Mirrors, EPS, MDF, plaster, paint

Brookhart Jonquil, “Multiplication Portal”, 2022, Plexiglass, water, powdercoated steel, plant cuttings, marine polymer sheet, pump system

Brookhart Jonquil, “Multiplication Portal”, 2022, Plexiglass, water, powdercoated steel, plant cuttings, marine polymer sheet, pump system

Brookhart Jonquil, “Multiplication Portal”, 2022, Plexiglass, water, powdercoated steel, plant cuttings, marine polymer sheet, pump system

Brookhart Jonquil, “Multiplication Portal”, 2022 (detail)

For The Nature of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, work from the exhibition is spread throughout different sections of the museum. In the Great Hall and Sculpture Garden are installations by Brookhart Jonquil.

From the museum about these works-

In this group of installations, Brookhart Jonquil creates art that engages physics, architecture, and ecology to explore the immaterial, shifting aspects of the natural world. His work reflects influences ranging from Minimalism to theories of utopia and perfection; it offers viewers new ways of seeing and a nuanced understanding of our place in the world. The works exhibited here and in the Sculpture Garden encompass over a decade of his career, illustrating how nature has always influenced his artistic practice.

Groundless is Jonquil’s most recent work, inspired by painting en plein air, the Impressionist practice of working outdoors. However, the artist has complicated this by incorporating mirrored surfaces that deny full control of his compositions. Jonquil notes, “Each stroke of paint multiplies unpredictably as I place it, while shifting colors and cloud-forms evade fixity.”

The floor-based sculpture E)A)R)T)H) uses five pieces of mirror glass to dissect an earthly sphere. Unlike Groundless, these mirrors reflect the Great Hall, foyer, and surrounding galleries, suggesting a macro-and micro-viewing of our planet. To further a sense of dislocation, Jonquil has inverted the colors typically associated with land and water: bodies of water are depicted in white, while land is blue.

Multiplication Portal-on view in the Sculpture Garden- is a participatory sculpture highlighting the care and responsibility involved in cultivating plants. Reminiscent of both a kaleidoscope and a beehive, it was inspired by chaos theory-also known as the butterfly effect, which is the idea that one tiny gesture can have colossal consequences within dynamic systems. Brookhart created Multiplication to fight environmental disillusionment. Can one individual impact the impending climate disaster? What is the point of separating paper and plastic? Does turning off the lights make a difference? Multiplication Portal serves as a reminder that our seemingly small actions have the potential for significant consequences.

In an upstairs gallery is the video installation, Blood, Sea by Janaina Tschäpe (seen below). The dreamy video takes you underwater to explore transformation through sea maiden myths.

Information on the installation from the museum-

Reminiscent of Voltaire’s Micromégas, Janaina Tschäpe’s fantastical scenes dissolve boundaries, seamlessly intertwining in an ever-flowing continuum of evolution and transformation in a grand opera that delves into themes of change, gender, and the construction of myth and history. The universe created by Tschäpe beckons one into a parallel world of ambiguous scale-indeterminate in both time and space. The spring-fed grotto provides the scenographic impetus for this grand production, a captivating fusion of a theme park nestled within a state park and bearing the distinction as one of Florida’s oldest roadside attractions. The sea maiden mythologies that inform Blood, Sea link endless stories from across time and space, as many cultures have some version of a water goddess. Millennia of previously unknown deep-sea creatures caught in fishermen’s nets spawned the mythic narratives that gave rise to these goddess/creature tales. From the Mami Wata spirits of West Africa to the water sprites of Irish lore, the trope of the sea maiden appears around the world and across time. Tschäpe’s primary connection is her namesake, the Orixa lemanja of Candomblé. This powerful water spirit is the Brazilian version of the many syncretic gestures born of the Yoruban Afro-Atlantic diaspora. But lemanja is merely one character in the global pantheon of the water goddess.

The split-tail mermaid motifs that adorn the exterior walls of centuries-old homes in the landlocked Swiss Alps are a testament to the enduring allure of the fish woman’s imagery. The split-tail represents the hybrid presence of both home and away, the perpetual dual identity of the émigré, and a curious cipher of Tschäpe’s experience living between the culturally antipodean points of Germany and Brazil. This existence places her between logic and magic, between Protestant rationalism and the mystical worldview of Candomblé, between the grey angst of northern Romanticism and the sensual elegance of the southern hemisphere. This ever-changing identity is evidenced clearly in Blood, Sea, where the video’s perspective perpetually shifts. At certain moments, the viewer finds themselves aboard a ship, assuming the role of a scientist discovering a previously unknown life form. In other instances, we have the privilege of swirling amidst the creatures, becoming one with them.

This exhibition closes on 4/14/24.

Apr 102024
 

Nalani Stolz “Bread Bodies”, bread, ceramic, muslin

Nalani Stolz, “”like floating in thick waters”, fermented membrane, stainless steel

Nalani Stolz, “a small ocean swallowed” baking soda, ceramic, cheesecloth, vinegar, pump, latex

“a small ocean swallowed”, closer

Nalani Stolz, “a wild wetland in our gut” ceramic, plum vinegar, muslin, stuffing, salt

Nalani Stolz, “a wild wetland in our gut” ceramic, plum vinegar, muslin, stuffing, salt

The Sculpture Center in Cleveland is currently showing Nalani Stolz’s Bodies Still Becoming and Zachary Smoker’s Inured.

With the sound of water dripping, the bread stretching fabric, and growth covered vessels leaking into mattresses- Stolz’s sculptures engage the viewers senses, at times viscerally.

She has also included her film Traces in the exhibition. For this work she and her mother slowly sew their hair together through a sheet of gauze.

From the gallery about the exhibition

The bodies Nalani Stolz crafts bulge, grow, and break down. Materials such as rising dough expand and constrict, cloth sculptures leak and ooze, fermented membranes and porous clay forms seep vinegar, growing warts across their surfaces. These bodily processes draw on the often-gendered experiences of how our physical forms take in and expel matter; the feelings of expansion and fullness and those of emptying out, of breaking down when weeping, menstruating, and experiencing miscarriage, abortion, and pregnancy. These moments shift our seemingly solid edges and reveal our porous boundaries; reminding us that we are dying, changing, decaying vessels, loosely contained by skin, muscle, and bone.

Zachary Smoker’s sculptures for Inured address issues related to U.S. currency, power, capitalism, and material culture. In two of the works, familiar items ask questions about purpose. The whiffle ball bat /police baton combination mixes violence and play. Shopping carts now have associations with living on the street, as well as for buying goods in a store- which one will this be used for when assembled?

Zachary Smoker, “Crony Tikes”, Plastic Whiffle ball bats, pegboard, double hooks, 2024

Zachary Smoker, “Anyone can make Art, not everyone can buy it”, Demonetized U.S. currency, BFK Rives, Elmer’s glue stick, safety wire glass, poplar, enamel paint, paint marker, 2023

Zachary Smoker, “A place for everyone, and everyone in their place”, Steel shopping cart, polyurethane wheels, enamel paint, 2024

Both of these exhibitions close on 4/13/24.

Mar 072024
 

Francesca Woodman, “Untitled (Rome), 1977-8, Gelatin silver print (image via Columbus Museum of Art)

Two of Cindy Sherman’s “Film Stills”, Gelatin silver prints from the 1970s

Four Gelatin silver prints by Diane Arbus

Francesca Woodman’s “Italy”, 1977-1978 (printed later) Gelatin silver print

Currently on view at Columbus Museum of Art is Arbus • Sherman • Woodman: American Photography from the 1960s and 1970s. Although many of these photographs by Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman and Francesca Woodman are well known, it’s great to see the work of these three exceptional artists in person. The black and white images still captivate, even in our current image saturated world.

About the show from the museum-

This selection of monochromatic prints reflects a shared interest in capturing the world outside oneself as well as the world within. Perspective is an elemental link between each work: the images speak to how we see ourselves as individuals, how we are perceived, and how we observe others.

While Arbus was known for photographing families, children, pedestrians, performers, and celebrities, both Sherman and Woodman turned the camera on themselves. Dressing as anonymous female film characters from the 1950s and 1960s, Sherman poses in the series “Untitled Film Stills”. However, these works are not considered self-portraits, but rather carefully constructed performances of various female identities. Conversely, Woodman’s surrealist images might be called non-traditional self-portraits. By obscuring, blurring, or cropping parts of herself out of the final image, the photographs become intimate, personal snapshots that reflect a wider human fragility.

Arbus, Sherman, and Woodman are considered among the most prominent twentieth-century photographers and remain influential to contemporary artists today. By including aspects of feminism in their work and pushing the limits of the medium, these women challenged societal norms of their time while contributing to the elevation of photography as an art form.

It’s always interesting to hear artists discuss each other’s work. Included in the exhibition is this quote by Cindy Sherman about Francesca Woodman-

“She had few boundaries and made art out of nothing: empty rooms with peeling wallpaper and just her figure. No elaborate stage set-up or lights… Her process struck me more the way a painter works, making do with what’s right in front of her, rather than photographers like myself who need time to plan out what they’re going to do.”

For more on Francesca Woodman, her short life, and her artistic family, The Woodmans is an excellent documentary.

Oct 282023
 

Installation by Edgar Sanchez Cumbas

The Ybor City Arts Tour was last week and was a great way to check out the many spaces currently in the Ybor City area. The Kress Contemporary building with its multiple galleries, artist studios, performance space (The Fringe Theatre), and microcinema, was definitely a highlight.

The above images are of sculptural work by Edgar Sanchez Cumbas (he was also in the Department of Contemporary Art group show in the same building). It is just one of the rotating works you can find while walking around the space.

Below are some selections from the event.

Kim Radatz opened her space, currently showing an installation focused on the “C” word.

Screen Door: An Ybor City Microcinema is always showing interesting films from a variety of genres. Pictured are the seating area and the movie posters lining the hallway outside of the film viewing area. For the art tour they were showing past Flex Fest short films.

On the third floor are a large group of artist studios with several walls hanging work by many of the artists.

Work by Jon Pannier

Sculpture by Eileen Goldenberg

Polaroid work by Brian Pannier

Lots of great work by the three very different artists that make up the Y3K Collective- Jon Pannier, Eileen Goldenberg, and Brian Pannier, seen above.

Work by Juan Espinosa (left) and Ashley Cantero (right) of Dluance

Inside Dluance

Creative space Dluance is run by visual artist Ashley Cantero and music producer/ graphic designer Juan Espinosa.

Paintings by Marilyn Binder Silverman

Paintings by Eilzabeth Fontaine-Barr

The work above is from the painters Marilyn Binder Silverman and Elizabeth Fontaine-Barr who share their studio space.

Painting by Karol Batansky

Self taught painter Karol Batansky just moved in to her new studio from the Ybor Art Colony which is closed while currently being renovated.

Mixed media artist Chase Parker makes a variety of work, including the unique sculptures pictured above.

Ron Watson creates highly detailed drawings at his Shades of Gray Studio.

Below is one of the common spaces filled with work by a selection of artists. It’s always worth a trip up from the 2nd floor galleries even if most of the artists are not in their studios to see what’s new.

Work by Jenal Dolson (left) and Michael Jones (collage, right)

The next post will focus on three spaces outside of Kress Contemporary that were also part of the tour.

Sep 192023
 

Trailer for Translators

This past Saturday was the 3rd Annual Tampa Bay International Film Festival in collaboration with Dunedin International Film Festival, Mi Gente Mi Pueblo, and Creative Pinellas. The short films selected for the festival varied in length, subject matter, and style- but they all presented unique perspectives on the Latin American experience.

The film above Translators, directed by Rudy Valdez, was a standout. The moving documentary short tells the story of three children in the U.S. who, as the only English speakers in the family, help their parents by translating for them. You can watch it in full for free on the film’s website, linked above.

Below is the flyer from the festival with a list of all the films. On Tampa Bay International Film Festival’s Instagram, you can find more details on each of them.

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 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.

Apr 122023
 

 

How does one truly reckon with history?  The imagery in Yael Bartana’s three channel film Malka Germania at Petzel Gallery draws you in and presents you with this question for the entire 43 minutes. Drifting along with the film’s protagonist, scenes of beauty and destruction unfold- but seeing the eagle rise from the water as Hitler and Albert Speer’s proposed Volkshalle continues to emerge, you feel as stunned as those on the beach.

From the press release-

Malka Germania investigates the longing for collective redemption for German and Jewish histories as a response to an age of anxiety.

Malka Germania is Hebrew for “Queen Germany.” The name references a female designation for the Messiah: Malka Meshichah, or the “Anointed Queen.” In Bartana’s film, a new androgynous Messiah, Malka Germania, joins forces with the Israeli Army to liberate Berlin from its collective traumas, memories, and inherited pasts.

The 3-channel video portrays Malka as she walks through Berlin’s haunted landscape, revisiting historical events that seamlessly blend with contemporary scenes. The film weaves subconscious elements through surreal hallucinations, the biblical and mystical to leave questions of redemption, national myths and collective identities for the viewer to contemplate.

This exhibition closes 4/15/23.

 

Mar 092023
 

 

It often feels like we are oversaturated with images in today’s world, but the energy at the Charles Atlas exhibition A Prune Twin at Luhring Augustine gets the balance right.

From the gallery’s press release-

Luhring Augustine is pleased to announce A Prune Twin, the gallery’s third solo exhibition with pioneering film and video artist Charles Atlas. The presentation will mark the American debut of this major multi-channel installation with sound that was originally commissioned by the Barbican Centre, London as the centerpiece of their 2020 exhibition, Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer; which traveled to the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee, Scotland in 2021.

The collaboration between the two artists began in 1984 when the young dancer, Clark, performed in two single-channel films by Atlas: Parafango and Ex-Romance. However, it was not until the groundbreaking Hail the New Puritan in 1986, that the relationship between the two artists was deeply cemented. Originally commissioned as an arts documentary by Channel 4 of the BBC, Hail the New Puritan turned the genre on its head, presenting a highly stylized and fictionalized version of a typical day in Clark’s life – an “anti-documentary”, as Atlas has called it.  The two artists also worked closely together on another Channel 4 production, Because We Must (1989), which was full of extreme theatricality in its dance, choreography, scenery, costumes, and directorial position.

In A Prune Twin, Atlas pulls material from these two major films to create an immersive eight-channel installation of sound and moving image. He extends the idea of choreography to camera and sound, flowing across and throughout screens and monitors; in this sense, Atlas choreographs his own past material into a new and compelling dance all of its own. Evident in this work, and many others by Atlas, is his strong affection and attraction to exceptionally creative collaborators, his sensitivity to movement and how to capture it on film, and his novel skills as both a storyteller and observer. Much like MC9, an immersive installation that compiles Atlas’ extensive work with Merce Cunningham, A Prune Twin surrounds the viewer in a beautifully choreographed spectacle. The work captures the spirit and passion of a 35-year collaborative relationship, one that continues to this day – currently realized through the lighting design that Atlas produces for all of Clark’s live performances, an endeavor he has undertaken since the 1980s.