May 222024
 

Artist and activist Andrea Bowers is based in Los Angeles but was born and raised in Ohio. This provides the connection to the work in Exist, Flourish, Evolve, currently on view at moCa Cleveland, which advocates for environmental protections for the area. The educational material informs the viewer, while the artwork reminds us how much beauty there is to lose.

From the museum-

LA-based artist Andrea Bowers bears witness in her work, drawing attention to and inspiring movement around the most urgent issues of our time. Her drawings, sculptures, installations, and films chronicle and preserve history as it occurs, documenting collective action and amplifying the labor and lived experiences of activists dedicated to socio-political change.

Developed through an ongoing partnership with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and activist Tish O’Dell, Exist, Flourish, Evolve is a new, multi-site, multimedia campaign that builds awareness and action around the dangers facing Lake Erie and all of the Great Lakes ecosystems. It features a monumental neon sculpture installed on a waterfront balcony of the Great Lakes Science Center; a documentary investigating the impact of factory farming on Lake Erie’s ecosystem; and a presentation in moCa’s Lewis Gallery that includes a newly-created drawing of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, first-of-its-kind legislation protecting an entire US ecosystem that is part of the global Rights of Nature Movement.

Bowers was raised in the small town of Huron, Ohio and spent her childhood on the shores of Lake Erie, connecting to the lake itself like a member of her family to be cared for, cherished, and protected. Yet, Lake Erie and its watershed are abused and endangered by corporate practices such as contaminant dumping, toxic runoff from industrial farming, and the introduction of non-native invasive species. Exist, Flourish, Evolve demands justice for the Great Lakes, urging us to prioritize the preservation of our natural ecology over industrialization and capitalism.

Within moCa’s gallery, a timeline connects Bowers’s new and recent artworks with historical facts and archival materials using two catastrophic climate events as bookends to Bowers’s life thus far: the 1969 fire on the Lake Erie-connected Cuyahoga River (a result of oil slicks covering the water) and the massive 2014 algae bloom that blanketed Lake Erie and invaded Toledo’s water systems, preventing residents from using tap water.

From the Maumee to the Cuyahoga, the works in Exist, Flourish, Evolve come together to share the histories of our water, demonstrate the interconnectedness of ourselves and our natural world, and remind us, as Dr. Vandana Shiva states, “nature is not out there; we are a part of it.”

This exhibition closes 5/25/24.

Oct 122023
 

Above is “A very anxious feeling”, 2007, by assume vivid astro focus, part of Tampa Museum of Art’s 2022/3 exhibition All in Favor: New Works in the Permanent Collection.

From the museum about the artist collective and the work-

A very anxious feeling by the collective assume vivid astro focus (avaf) conjures both sense of worry and whimsy. In this vibrant neon artwork each letter is rendered in a different color-ranging from pastel pinks and blues to bright primary colors. The final letter, a yellow capital “G,” appears to fall away from the text.

Eli Sudbrack founded the collective assume vivid astro focus in 2001 and works collaboratively with fellow artist Christophe Hamaide-Pierson. A very anxious feeling represents a prime example of their art, as they are known for their colorful, kaleidoscopic paintings, drawings, sculptures, and light installations. assume astro vivid focus explores notions of free speech, gender identity, and civil rights in their artworks and projects. The collective often partners with other creative types, including musicians, dancers, and designers.

 

 

May 122023
 

Currently at Marc Straus is Marie Watt’s impressive exhibition, Singing Everything.

From the press release-

A member of the Seneca Nation, Watt also has German-Scott ancestry. Her layered and complex influences include Indigenous knowledge and Iroquois proto-feminism, the matriarchal structures of certain Native American nations, the rise of social activism throughout the 20th century, and the anti-war and anti-hate content of the 1960s and 1970s music scene.

Central to the exhibition are three Sewing Circle pieces that were initiated at communal gatherings at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2022. Watt’s sewing circles are cross generational, multicultural gatherings that she has been organizing for over a decade. Inspired by poet laurate Joy Harjo’s (Mvskoke/Creek) poem Singing Everything, Watt collects words from the participants of her sewing circles with the prompt, “what do you want to sing a song for in this moment?” The submitted words are then embroidered or sewn onto patches of fabric during the sewing circle. For the Whitney Sewing Circle, with over 300 participants, Watt, for the first time, used all the submitted words. Each panel is patterned in a way that stays true to the original hand. She thinks of ones handwriting as an extension of the cadence of one’s voice and in this project, it becomes part of a larger chorus. By composing large-scale wall works from these pieces of fabric, Watt creates collaborative artworks that interweave many individual handwritings, touches, and the stories that were exchanged in a shared space.

When entering the gallery, the visitor is greeted by a sweeping, 24-foot-long neon sign spelling out the words “deer, skywalker, heron, bass, great lake, woodland, beaver, turtle, wolf, lowly, muskrat, rat” in various hues that evoke the sky on the horizon during sunset and sunrise. While the piece represents a new direction in Watt’s work, she views neon as an extension of beadwork. The glass itself is at once thread and bead, and both neon and beads have a relationship to trade. They both envelop light, color, and sound, embodying sunrises and sunsets on the horizon.

Two blanket towers, her signature sculptural works, appear in the show but now with tin bells or jingles added to the reclaimed wool blankets. This choice of added material felt like a natural extension to Watt. She writes: “Blankets are danced and so are jingles, there is something healing about them both. They are objects of comfort” – by way of touch or sound. Jingles acknowledge the Jingle Dress Dance which began as a healing ritual in the Ojibwe tribe in the 1910s during the influenza pandemic. The Jingle Dress Dance was also a radical act. In 1883, the United States banned Indigenous ceremonial gatherings. Though the ban was repealed in 1978 with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, during its century-long prohibition the Jingle Dress Dance was shared with other tribal communities. Today it is a pow-wow dance and continues to be associated with healing. The relevance of this dance extends beyond pandemics.” By including jingles Watt brings the potential of sound into her work, adding to their visual and tactile aspects.

While drawing from long craft traditions such as textile or glass work, Watt is expanding her work by including contemporary stories and both individual and collective experiences. Her primary interest is to think about art as more experiential, rather than only visual, a direction she plans to explore further.

This exhibition closes 5/20/23.

Mar 092023
 

For Martín Touzón’s exhibition DISSOLUTION, at Kates Ferri Projects in NYC, each work plays a part in the one that comes next. Moving from work on Wet Wipes, to neon, to painting and back again- the more you look at them, the more you can see their connection to each other.

From the press release-

As an artist who normally rejects his previously established rules from one project to the next, he turns the table on this pattern as well, dissolving his own methodologies. Touzón says that “Change comes from noticing a difference in the feeling towards something.” Being an economist-turned-artist, he studies the impact of altering one variable on another. In the process he unconsciously opens a dialogue between arts and economics, relating at some point to the accumulation and fuite, trade, exchange, barter and surplus, production and circulation.

“The unfolding between the series came quite intuitively,” says Touzón. While on board the train to his residency in Turin (the city of Arte Povera) in 2017, he picked up bits of text and shapes from a magazine using acrylic markers and sharpies. He had to work fast so that the image would not be muddled because of the bleed of colors on the wipes. Lacking full control over the final image, the artist then lets them dry inside the same magazine. This technique underlies the paintings on Wet Wipes in the exhibition.

In contrast, the neon sculptures are very intentional. In his collaboration with a sign maker from Buenos Aires, Touzón must communicate quite specifically about how he wants the rings to look–almost misshapen. Translating from a 2D surface now into a 3D object, the artist is also playing with scale. The works on Wet Wipes are immediate and close to the hand, while the neon sculptures take up space and its light brings in the body.

As a next step, Touzón utilizes the neon shapes during the painting process. Laid on the canvases or over paper, they let the paint to diffuse on the wet surface, which in turn allows chance to play a role in the outcome. This gesture mimics the results in the Wet Wipes series, and yet the effect of the neon through paint or light is wholly distinct. Thus, he leads his work on the Escher stairs, seemingly returning to the same place, but ultimately, landing someplace new.

This whole process is an exciting new chapter in Touzón’s work. As an Argentina-based artist, Touzón has first-hand experience of an environment where instability is a constant of everyday life. Reason why his obsession for the careful study of transitions and changes. As the dissolution of society and systems come crumpling at our feet with the pandemic, climate change, and ongoing wars, the art world is also being reshaped by new artists and cultural producers. The holdouts for the old-world order or artistic hierarchies are also disillusioned, finding themselves in a new society that may look similar, but is fundamentally changed. Through his works, Touzón subtly suggests a way of perceiving through the cracks of this new normality and how one’s diluted perception of the world might not be an accurate reflection of others’ reality.

This exhibition closes 3/13/23.

 

 

Feb 042023
 

Le’Andra LeSeur, “In Reverence (An Honoring)”, 2019

Le’Andra LeSeur, “There are other hues of blue”, 2019-2022 (ongoing)

Le’Andra LeSeur, “There are other hues of blue”, 2019-2022 (ongoing)

Le’Andra LeSeur, “The CD Man”, 2017

Le’Andra LeSeur, “Superwoman”, 2018

Spirit, Rhythm, BluesLe’Andra LeSeur’s exhibition at Gallery221@HCC Dale Mabry Campus is a multimedia exploration of life, death, and rebirth- all bathed in blue.

From the Gallery 221 website-

LeSeur’s body of work—a celebration of Blackness, queerness, and femininity—seeks to dismantle systems of power and achieve transcendence and liberation through perseverance. In “Spirit, Rhythm, Blues” at Gallery221@HCC, LeSeur’s installation encourages viewers to contemplate themes such as identity, family, grief and joy, the experience of invisibility, and the power of language.

From the Gallery 221 press release description of Superwoman

This video is a documentation of a self-baptism that took place in the summer of 2018. The work speaks to the cyclical process of the emotional “waves”- highs and lows- experienced in life. As LeSeur conducts the baptism Donny Hathaway’s rendition of Superwoman plays over the visual, and the words “Where were you when I needed you last winter” repeat as the video proceeds then visually plays out in reverse. The words in the song symbolize the internal struggle present when asking how we show up for ourselves during moments of transition and change. Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to be better or do better, those words bring us back to a place of understanding the importance of self-love in how we overcome and get back to a place of grounding and balance in our lives.

It is a moving piece and works well as a balance to the other video works that reference the police killings of Akai Gurley and Alton Sterling (The CD Man, 2017, pictured above).

This exhibition is on view until 3/2/23.

 

Jun 032020
 

Artist Ja’Tovia Gary’s Citational Ethics (Saidya Hartman, 2017), 2020, from her recent exhibition flesh that needs to be loved at Paula Cooper Gallery in NYC.