Apr 122024
 

“Erika”, 2021, VCT, shotgun shells, and drink stirrers

“Duke the Fisherman’s High Quality Fluke Rigs Made in the USA™”, 2022, Found tampon applicators, fishing line, fishing hooks, nail polish, peg board, card stock

Detail of “Monument to Five Thousand Years of Temptation and Deception V, VI, VII”, 2022, Salvaged plastic, paint, fishhooks

The images above are from Duke Riley’s exhibition DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash, on view at Brooklyn Museum in 2023. The artist’s inventive fishing lures, made from discarded plastic items found around waterways, are engaging to look at but highlight the grim reality of how much garbage is polluting our natural environment.

From the museum-

In DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash, Brooklyn-based artist Duke Riley uses materials collected from beaches in the northeastern United States to tell a tale of both local pollution and global marine devastation. Riley’s contemporary interpretations of historical maritime crafts—such as scrimshaw, sailor’s valentines, and fishing lures—confront the catastrophic effect that the oil, food, and beverage industries have had on the environment through single-use plastics. The works are presented in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jan Martense Schenck and Nicholas Schenck Houses, alongside a selection of historical scrimshaw from our collection, directly connecting environmental injustices past and present.

In his contemporary interpretations of scrimshaw—ink drawings etched into bone by sailors—Riley replaces the medium’s customary whale teeth with repurposed plastic containers, detergent bottles, toothbrushes, and other waste. The works incorporate the maritime imagery traditional to scrimshaw, but expand it to portray international business executives that the artist identifies as responsible for the perpetuation of single-use plastics. Also on view are Riley’s fishing lures and sailor’s valentines, similarly created with detritus found on northeast coastal beaches. The exhibition juxtaposes corporation-driven pollution with new short films by Riley that highlight New York community members working to remediate plastic damage and restore our waterways.

Erika, the mosaic pictured above, depicts the 1999 shipwreck of MV Erika which, after splitting in two during a heavy storm, released thousands of tons of oil into the Bay of Biscay off the coast of Brittany.

In the video below, Riley gives a brief tour of the Brooklyn show.

Some of the work from this exhibition is currently on view at Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg as part of their exhibition, The Nature of Art.

 

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 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.

Aug 252023
 

“Bryson Funmaker”, 2020, Inkjet print and beadwork

The Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg is currently showing an impressive collection of work from photographer Tom Jones. The photos, in multiple series, focus on Native American identity, history, cultural appropriation, and the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, of which Jones is a member. The work engages visually while also being informative.

From the museum’s press release for Tom Jones: Here We Stand

For over twenty years, Tom Jones has created a visual record and exploration of his Ho-Chunk community. Born in North Carolina and raised in Orlando after a short stint in Minneapolis, Jones returned to the Midwest, moving to Wisconsin at age 15. He then made his way to Chicago for graduate school at Columbia College. Jones’s father worked with Kodak and owned a photography lab, helping shape the artist’s understanding of the practical aspects of photography from an early age. During graduate school, Jones began an ongoing photographic essay on the contemporary life of his Ho-Chunk community, beginning first with the elders.

The show comprises over a dozen series, ranging from the documentary to the conceptual. Of his series on Veterans’ memorials at the annual Black River Falls Pow-Wow, Jones says, “I was interested in the way families made very conscious decisions about how they want their loved ones memorialized.” Other series include the emotionally intimate, though larger than life, beaded portraits. “Beading is a metaphor for our ancestors watching over us. I am also referencing an experience I had when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My mother took me to see a Sioux medicine man named Robert Stead. He led the call to the spirits, the women began to sing, and the ancestors appeared as orbs of light. This event inspired the series Strong Unrelenting Spirits.

Jones’s photographs examine identity and geographic place with an emphasis on the experience of Native American communities. He is interested in how American Indian material culture is portrayed through commodification and popular culture. Much of his work counteracts and corrects decades of misinformation and misrepresentation of American Indians, particularly targeting the field of U.S. history. Jones’s critical assessment of the romanticized representation of Native peoples in photography re-examines historic pictures taken by white photographers. This reassessment questions the assumptions about identity within the American Indian culture by non-natives and natives alike. “While each of Jones’s series is distinctly different, the message remains consistent: the Ho-Chunk are not vanishing or frozen in time,” said Dr. Jane Aspinwall, Senior Curator of Photography. “Jones’s photographs emphasize a solid, generational commitment to family, tribal community, and land. His photographs reclaim appropriated images and set the historical record straight.”

Below are a some selections from a few of the series in the exhibition.

“Trenton and Roger Littlegeorge”, 2011

“Dorothy Crowfeather”, 1999

“Dear America” series

About the Dear America series pictured above-

Using each line from the first two verses of the song, America (“My Country Tis of Thee”) as the title of fourteen of the works in the Dear America series, Jones questions whose history is being propagated here. With dry wit and an unfailing commitment to truth, Jones exposes atrocities like the massive effort by the U.S. government to assimilate Native American children to non-Native culture, the merciless seizing of Native lands, and the mass hanging of thirty-eight Sioux and Ho-Chunk men under President Lincoln in 1862. He also highlights Native American identity in relation to cowboy culture, the thoughtless misappropriation of Native American customs, and the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy on the U. S. Constitution. Jones’s aim is to broaden the “traditional” historical American narrative to be more representative of all people, especially the original inhabitants of this land.

About the Ho-Chunk Veterans Memorials, pictured above-

“I wanted to do this photographic essay to honor our veterans… One in four American Indian males is a United States veteran. Ho-Chunks have fought in every war for the United States except for the War of 1812. The Ho-Chunks did this even though they were not granted the right to vote until 1924, and during the Indian Removal Act, were removed at least seven times from Wisconsin by the United States government. This is the conviction we have as a people… I honor these people who give of themselves freely to protect this land. Traditionally, Ho-Chunks are taught to live their lives for the betterment of others. The veterans have done this.’
-Tom Jones

From Jones’ “”Native” Commodity” series

About the “Native” Commodity” series-

The Wisconsin Dells, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, is home to spectacular natural scenery and the largest concentration of waterparks. Located on Ho-Chunk ancestral land, the area is now highly commercialized, with much of its identity resting on the appropriation of Native American stereotypical tropes. In this series, Jones documented this unabashed use of Native American symbols, images, and place names in advertising and popular culture. The sale of “Native American” crafts made in China, the liberal use of names of historically important figures like Black Hawk, and the indiscriminate mix of tribal communities into one conglomerate-tipis from the Plains next to totem poles from the Pacific Northwest next to Pueblo pottery. The Dells serve as a microcosm for how images of Native Americans are reproduced and reframed into a collective memory that is often distorted. Jones wryly noted that none of the Native American objects feature anything specifically attributable to the Ho-Chunk Nation.

This exhibition has been extended until 9/10/23.

Feb 132023
 

Auguste Rodin, “Monumental Head of Jean d’Aire”

Eternal Spring

Currently at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg is True Nature: Rodin and the Age of Impressionism. The exhibition includes nearly 40 of his sculptures and presents them alongside Impressionist paintings by his contemporaries.

The curation of the show by Stanton Thomas really creates an exceptional experience for attendees. The large works, along with the paintings, are given plenty of space to be appreciated. While there is a power to seeing these larger than life works, the smaller ones, like Eternal Spring, pictured above, are also captivating.

In one room, on a single wall, is the facade of the building that would become the Musée Rodin. It is there to give both a sense of scale and to remind visitors that most of Rodin’s sculptures were intended for public spaces. Quotes by the Rodin, including one on beauty and character, along with film footage and photographs, add depth to the show as well.

This exhibition closes 3/26/23.

Aug 132021
 

Dolores Coe “Perimeter”, 2019

Dolores Coe, “Borderland”, 2020

Dolores Coe, “Borderland”, 2020 (detail)

Skyway 20/21: A Contemporary Collaboration, is the second iteration of a joint exhibition across four institutions that highlights contemporary art created in the Central Florida region. Artists selected by a jury are from five counties- Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, and Sarasota. The exhibitions are an excellent sampling of the work being made in the Tampa Bay area.

The works shown in this post are from the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. I’ve included links for these artists as well as those not pictured.

Gabriel Ramos, “Mi Isla”, 2021

Gabriel Ramos, “Mi Isla”, 2021 (detail)

Savannah Magnolia, “Chemical Inhalation”, 2019

Savannah Magnolia “In Big Pharma We Trust”, 2019

Savannah Magnolia “In Big Pharma We Trust”, 2019 (detail)

Savannah Magnolia “In Big Pharma We Trust”, 2019 (detail)

Keith Crowley, “Rain Season”, 2019

Keith Crowley, “Nocturne”, 2020

Bassmi Ibrahim, “Awareness 41”

Bassmi Ibrahim, “Isness 158”

Bassmi Ibrahim, “Isness 158” (detail)

The exhibition at this location closes 8/22/21.