• David Benjamin Sherry

    Climate Vortex Sutra presents color-manipulated film negatives of landscapes in order to discuss the humans’ distortive impact on geography and our changing physical world.  On the images, most of the sci-fi, futuristic tones are achieved by using analogue techniques in the darkroom.  The photographs are meant to raise the critical concern of our relationship with the rate of the climate change.  Along with landscapes, Sherry also photographs the personal territories of the human body.  He uses this as a representation of a reverse landscape as a documentation of our adapting skins to the impact of the changing surroundings.  The prints are large in scale and mesmerizing.

     

    David Benjamin Sherry’s “Climate Vortex Sutra”is on view at Salon 94 Bowery through October 25th.

  • In A Different Vein

    If you will be in Long Island over the next month, make sure to see Jason Middlebrook's, Every Tree is a Map, up at Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton until September 14!

    From left: Black Lines on Black Birch (2014); Many Types of Woodgrain (2012); and Inspired by a Diner in Nyack (2013). Photo courtesy of Hamptons-Magazine.com (http://hamptons-magazine.com/lifestyle/articles/jason-middlebrook-exhibits-his-series-of-paintings-on-planks-at-the-silas-marder-gallery).

    In 2007, Jason generously partnered with RxArt to create a wall painting, Traveling Seeds, in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of Mount Sinai Hospital, in addition to creating prints for San Francisco General Hospital's Psychiatric Emergency Unit in 2011, and for an outpatient clinic waiting area at New York City's Metropolitan Hospital in 2013. The installations have been a huge success, transforming bleak areas into spaces that soothe and bring a smile to hospital patients and staff. His current works on exhibition are similarly inspired by nature's regenerative cycles. In his plank paintings, he paints elaborate patterns on various types of wood to emulate organic growth rings. As the title reveals, each cross-sectional slab traces a lineage of experiences that reflects the state of the natural environment as well as man's place within it. The gallery, an oversized barn that sits on landscaped grounds filled with hay bales, is the perfect venue to display these works. The embellished planks highlight the wonders of evolution, while reminding us of the human interventions that shape and change nature's path.

    Photo courtesy of patch.com (http://patch.com/new-york/north-fork/jason-middlebrook-every-tree-map-opens-silas-marder#.U_Ig8oBdXi8).

    Every Tree is a Map is on view at Silas Marder Gallery until Sunday, September 14. 

  • Artists Curating Artists

    When artists curate works by other artists, it creates a dialogue between artistic sensibilities. Often we are unsure if the artists personally know (or knew) each other, if they were influenced by each other, or if their collaboration was the result of a stimulating first encounter. And we start to look for clues—the visual and thematic links that join the artists in their uneasy union. Two gallery shows up now, Some Artists’ Artists at Marian Goodman and A Machinery for Living curated by Walead Beshty at Friedrich Petzel, provoke these questions of aesthetic preference, lineage, and influence. Similar to MoMA’s Artist’s Choice series, most recently overseen by Trisha Donnelly, the shows present intriguing, frequently surprising, connections between the selectors and selectees, generating an unresolved tension between two artistic practices.

    Installation view of Some Artists' Artists at Marian Goodman. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.

    Marian Goodman’s exhibition includes 23 international artists from countries spanning Albania, Cuba, Holland, Portugal, Taiwan, and the US. The selecting artists, established figures like John Baldessari, Tony Cragg, Tacita Dean, Gabriel Orozco, Julie Mehretu, and others, were not restricted in their choice of artists, yielding a pool both young and old, known and emerging. Interestingly, the gallery does not reveal who has chosen whom in its press release nor in plain sight in the gallery itself (you must inquire at the front desk). By leaving its curators anonymous, the gallery squashes any direct associations between artists, leaving the work to speak on its own.

    There were a few standout pieces. I loved Edi Hila’s series of paintings depicting landmarks from his home country of Albania—in particular, this frothy pink painting of the Parliament building. Almost like Gerhard Richter’s blurry photo-paintings, Hila’s images allude to his country’s shrouded history, and are simply beautifully-rendered paintings.

    Edi Hila, Parlement, 2011. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.

    In Jessica Rankin’s Dear Another, the artist placed cut-up words in poetic juxtapositions against a spongy monochromatic backdrop that was inspired by constellations, and that to me resembles cellular globs.

    Jessica Rankin, Dear Another, 2014. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.

    Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Self-Portrait sculptures are tributes to the traditions of his native Mexico, while also referring to other forms of regional construction that combine generic manufacturing with unique handicraft. Using gravity and weight, Cruzvillegas strikes a precarious balance that represents the gap between local and foreign cultures.

    Foreground: Abraham Cruzvillegas, Tectonic Self Portrait Thinking of the Possible Disappearance of the Baja California Peninsula and Reading Anthonio Gramsci's "Gli Intellectuali e L'Organizzazione della Culturea", 2014. Four Edi Hila paintings in background. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.

    Lastly, Thomas Schütte’s startling Glass Heads are comedic takes on the heroic busts of historical sculpture.

    Thomas Schütte, Glaskopfs (Glass Heads), 2013. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.

    In his show at Petzel, A Machinery for Living, Beshty, a London-born photographer and writer based in Los Angeles, set out with an enigmatic agenda. Beshty’s own work explores the fraught relationship between photographic images and political issues. Using the camera as a social tool, he has focused on the decrepitude of shopping malls, abandoned buildings, and airports, examining the ways in which fact and fiction intermingle at these controversial sites. And from the first moment you enter the gallery, you get the sense that Beshty’s exhibition leads the viewer on a carefully choreographed journey.

    Atelier EB, Manet. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.

    Atelier EB’s elaborately costumed mannequins are situated in two galleries, imbuing the gallery with a mysterious human presence, no matter how “fake.” The installation was meticulously arranged from every angle. Strange human silhouettes are presented against the purity of Josiah McElheny’s ceramics, angular tables, and the repeated motif of xeroxed hands in works by Jay DeFeo and James Welling. Welling’s chaotic tangle of wire hangers and Rachel Harrison’s whirling assemblage make a marked contrast to the mechanical precision of images like Christopher Williams’ cross section of a camera, and the ordered bookshelves of Thomas Barrow’s black and white photographs.

    Petzel installation views. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.

    Jay DeFeo, Untitled, 1979. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.

    Christopher Williams, Cutaway model Nikkor zoom lens..., 2008. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.

    My favorite works in the show were the delicate “jewelry” pieces by DeFeo. Her talisman-like pendants made of wood, metal, glass, and wire dangle in the center of white window boxes that allow for views of the adjacent galleries—again creating mini vignettes that emphasize the graphic interplay of form, shadow, and light in the gallery space.

    Jay DeFeo, Untitled, c. 1953-55. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.

    Instead of producing a traditional press release, Beshty included four statements on everyday life. Referencing class struggle, revolution, uneasiness, subversion, spiritual emanation, and enclosed rooms, the quotes suggest that there is a political charge to Beshty’s curatorial premise. He seems to be advocating for social awareness and activation over apathy and complacency. Just how this conflict is manifested in the art of Beshty’s artists, though, is what compels us to dig deeper and to look closer at their work.

    Some Artists’ Artists is on view at Marian Goodman through August 22, 2014.

    A Machinery for Living is on view at Friedrich Petzel Gallery through August 8, 2014.

  • The Morgan's Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Last weekend, while everyone was flocking to Central Park or decamping to the nearest beach, I found myself happy to be inside, in midtown Manhattan, admiring Spencer Finch’s installation, A Certain Slant of Light, in the atrium of the Morgan Library. Finch (American, b. 1962) applied 365 colored film gels to the windows and to glass panels that dangle in the center of the four-story glass courtyard. As the natural light changes throughout the day, the Mondrian-esque grid--inspired by calendars and medieval prayer books--shifts and sparkles. Finch will change his palette in conjunction with each season, various (secular) holidays of his choosing, and the movement of the sun, creating deliberate and scientifically conceived alignments and overlaps of light and shadow.

     

    Spencer Finch, A Certain Slant of Light, 2014. Photo courtesy of the author.

    Conflating human and natural cycles, Finch’s abstract installations convey the subjective and often subconscious nature of our perceptions and memories. He recently created an enormous curtain wall featuring 26 different shades of glass for the facade of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, an homage to Monet's Impressionist landscape paintings. 

    Spencer Finch, Johns Hopkins Hospital Project, 2009. Photo courtesy of mikebloomberg.com

    His work reminds me of synesthetic artists like Kandinsky or Scriabin, or Olafur Eliasson, who uses scientific configurations involving light and color to produce startling sensory encounters. I also thought of William Lamson’s beautiful Solarium (2012), a greenhouse with caramelized sugar panes, temporarily installed at Storm King a few years ago.

    Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery. Photography by William Lamson.

    William Lamson, Solarium, 2012. Steel, glass, sugar, plants. Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery.

    But what I found so compelling about A Certain Slant of Light was not necessarily its dazzling and emotionally evocative visual quality, but rather how the work gives a subtle examination of the function and effect of filters: the aesthetic, cultural, religious, and psychological transparencies that shape our lives. The museum atrium provides an apt framework for this multi-faceted investigation of how we approach our daily interactions and how we internalize these experiences, highlighting what may be foregrounded, imagined, or lost in the process.  

      

    Spencer Finch, Painting Air, 2012. Photography by Erik Gould. Courtesy of Spencer Finch.

    Installation at Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. More than 100 panels of suspended glass of varying reflectivity refract and distort the wall mural, which is an abstraction of Monet's garden at Giverny. 

    A Certain Slant of Light: Spencer Finch at the Morgan is up June 20, 2014 through January 11, 2015.

  • Lee Bul's Installation at Lehmann Maupin Gallery

    Lee Bul’s installation Via Negativa II, at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York transports viewers into an alternate dimension. The visually complex, three-dimensional labyrinth adorned with mirrors immediately draws viewers in only to quickly lead them astray. Lost in a maze of mirrors, the viewer is left looking at fragments of oneself, and leaving them to question their existence in relation to infinite space and time. Experiencing the central chamber lined with illuminated mirrors reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room is an overwhelming intense and an excitedly distorting experience.

    Her installation is fantastically confusing and a stand out piece amongst the exhibition. Bul, a native of South Korea is known for her exploration of idealized conceptions of the human form embedded in architecture, and the perceptual and cognitive boundaries of consciousness. This powerful installation seeks to define the body and minds limits in striving to reach perfection, and is breath of fresh air in the realm of contemporary art. A must see!

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_x9_kYXcFg_  

    Click above to experience Lee Bul's exhibition at Lehmann Maupin

    ( Images courtesy of Lehmann Maupin and Video courtesy of The Creators Project)

  • Kara Walker's Public Art Installation at Domino Sugar Factory

    Kara Walker's installation at Domino Sugar Factory, fully titled “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant,” will activate all your senses and take your breath away. Experiencing the melting sugar sculptures in this massive, historic space is moving, poignant, and disturbingly delicious. 

    Her site-specific work takes over the factory, not only in scale, but in concept as well. Walker beautifully communicates a political, historically significant work that is still relevant to our current time and culture.

    (Photos taken from NY Daily News, by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

  • Kelley Walker Opens at Paula Cooper

    Last Saturday Paula Cooper unveiled Kelley Walker’s solo show revealing his new vibrant body of work that captivates viewers through its combination of popular culture, art, advertising and politics. A work that consists of 190 silkscreen and acrylic ink panels takes over the entire back room and brightens the space. The assemblage of panels, some color and others grey, encompasses a large rectangular room of stark white walls, allowing the viewer to be completely consumed by it.

    It is quite a sensation standing in the dead center of the room surrounded by scattered panels on the wall. As you get closer silkscreened Volkswagen Beetle advertisements from the 1950s-70s are unmistakable, they seem as if they are about to lift of the flat surface. Each of the ads are contorted and punctured that nearly look 3-D on a flat panel. Walker manipulated a 3-D modeling process called Rhino and figured out how to force the program to accept 2-D images. It’s almost a mind trick considering the intense contrast between the folded or rolled VW advertisements and the ultra flat, 100 percent opaque colors behind them.

    As beautiful as the piece is, it is hardly just aesthetic. Walker is known for his politically and culturally charged work. Here he chose to use the Volkswagen Beetle advertisements demonstrating the power of the media in creating and also transforming this iconic image.

    “The directness and humor of the VW campaign is largely responsible for the now iconic status of the Beetle and for rebranding a product that, only a decade before, was widely associated with the Third Reich (the ‘People's Car’)”

    Kelley Walker takes it upon himself to re-contextualize this iconic campaign into something of his own, into something of our current culture and time.

  • Keith Haring at La Rabida Children's Hospital

    Last week RxArt took a trip to Chicago to celebrate the grand opening of La Rabida’s stunning new Outpatient Center.

     Image courtesy of Medical Construction & Design

    Image courtesy of Medical Construction & Design

    La Rabida Children's Hospital is the only hospital of its kind in Chicago. The hospital specializes in treating kids with lifelong conditions such as diabetes and sickle cell disease, as well as those with developmental disabilities, or who have suffered abuse or trauma. La Rabidaʼs young patients have medically complex conditions that require costly, ongoing management. Philanthropic support is critical since much of the care that has been proven to benefit patients is not adequately covered by insurance. RxArt’s support enabled La Rabida to make the additional step to alleviate pain by providing a comforting environment and healthy distractions with Keith Haring’s uplifting facsimile.

     Image courtesy of La Rabida Children's Hospital

    In collaboration with The Keith Haring Foundation, RxArt installed a 13’6” by 7’ work that adorns the entrance of the hospital’s new ambulatory wing. The work is meant to “brighten the days of the children, staff and visitors,” says RxArt founder Diane Brown.

    Image courtesy of La Rabida Children's Hospital 

    Energy pulses through Keith Haring’s work like a strong steady heartbeat. Haring believed, “Art should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.”  Combining process, theater, and supreme calligraphic and compositional skill, Haring danced his drawings, perceiving the act of creation as a performance and ritual of every day life. Painting for Haring was transformative process, providing a creative catharsis. The energy, optimism and spontaneity of this image will provoke the imagination and inspire creativity in the pediatric patients of La Rabida Hospital. This facsimile of Haring’s work captures the incessant motion of his line, bringing the universal symbols of the unconscious and collective imagination to the surface.

     Image courtesy of La Rabida Children's Hospital

    The project was made possible through the generosity of The Keith Haring Foundation, The Capitanini Family and the John T. Jackson Foundation.

    On Monday, February 10th, a reception celebrating RxArt’s installation was  held at The Langham Hotel hosted by RxArt Founder Diane Brown, Pamella and Alfredo Capitanini, and Beth and Dr. Richard Heller III. An icon on the city's skyline, The Langham, Chicago occupies the first 13 floors of a 52-story skyscraper designed by celebrated architect Mies van der Rohe. The reception was a joyous celebration and we are incredibly grateful to have been a part of La Rabida’s growing success. 

  • Mike Kelley Fills PS1 Down to the Boiler Room

    “Art is some sort of interesting area where dysfunction is allowed,” said Mike Kelley in an interview by John Miller in 1992. Dysfunction dominates MoMA PS1’s immense retrospective of Kelley’s work from the 1970’s until his tragic suicide in 2012. First let me say how well the space of an empty public school turned art gallery fits his work that deals with the schooling system and challenges contemporary society. This exhibition felt as if we had entered the mind of one of the most influential, forward-thinking artists of our time.

    Mike Kelley in the Boiler Room at MoMA PS1. Photo courtesy of MoMA PS1.

    In each of his works we see his profound understanding of our society, of capitalism’s affect on us, of human emotional instinct and of unconscious desire. However, he also understood our culture to the point that he realized the importance of aesthetic appeal. This explains the huge line of people—which doubled in length in 1 hour after I had arrived—outside of the room where the giant masses of fluffy, colorful stuffed animals, Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites hung.

    Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites. 1991/1999. Photo courtesy of MoMA PS1. Image courtesy of Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los Angeles. Photography: Joshua White/JWPictures.com.

    In Kelley’s memory paintings, hanging masses of stuffed animals, floor sculptures and various other works throughout the run down public school, he pulls off the execution of attention-grabbing art objects that have multiple levels of meaning. Without being kitsch or overtly critical his worn down stuffed animal sculptures and memory paintings open the eyes of viewers willing to spend more time with the objects, allowing them to penetrate the surface, and realize somewhat stupefying conditions of our modern consumer society.

    As we entered the huge room where his Day is Done installation stands, the sounds of each separate video intermingle with each other creating a cacophony, pulling our attention in every which way. It seemed to me that being in this room could be compared to being in the mind of Mike Kelley. It is both incredibly relevant to our time of overstimulation and indicative of our microscopic attention spans.

    Installation view of Day is Done at MoMA PS1. 2013. © MoMA PS1; Photo: Matthew Septimus.

    Viewing over 200 of Kelley’s pieces in one space revealed a sort of brilliant chaos that took over his mind, a type of chaos responsible for the constant creation of thought provoking, beautiful, confounding work. Personally I found myself visually/mentally exhausted while simultaneously moved and overwhelmed, even confused, by the time I hit the top floor of PS1.

  • Q&A With Kenny Scharf!

    Kenny Scharf opened his exhibition 'Kolors' last night at Paul Kasmin Gallery. It was a colorful affair complete with a particularly delicious collaboration between Scharf and The Doughnut Plant. Known for his colorful paintings, murals, and close friendships with artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat during the East Village art scene of the 1980s, Scharf was one of the first artists to inject street culture into mainstream contemporary art. He continues to incorporate imagery from cartoons and pop culture into his exuberant painting and sculptures. Scharf took some time out of his day to answer a few questions about his work and new exhibition.

    kenny scharf

    Let's start from the beginning. How did you get your start making art?

    My earliest memory was finger painting in nursery school. I can remember vividly the excitement I felt and the visuals like it was yesterday.  

    You're from LA - do you think being from there influences your work?

    Growing up in LA definitely influenced my art. I was constantly being bombarded with imagery that spoke of the space age in cars, architecture, and media. The colors and imagery are still fresh in my mind. 

    kenny scharf

    Then you came to New York and became friends with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. What drew you to each other?

    Fate - they were some of my first friends I made immediately upon arrival. 

    With Keith you made blacklight installations called 'cosmic closets,' which eventually caught the interest of the Whitney, who then asked you to recreate it for their Biennial. How did that come about and what was that like?

    Keith and I lived in a decrepit townhouse near Bryant Park - I converted an old large closet into an installation after I came upon a blacklight and began to put items from the street garbage into the room and painted them florescent. It began to grow and became the "closet," and then the "cosmic cavern." It became the site of a lot of fun parties! 

    kenny scharf

    A lot of your work prominently features cartoons characters and pop iconography. What about that interests you?

    That I own these icons because they are personal to me, yet they are also shared by millions! 

    You have a series of doughnut paintings. What about doughnuts interests you?

    They look good, taste good, yet are bad for you. They have a hole in the middle and resemble the universe. Some scientists think the universe is shaped like a doughnut. They are the ultimate good-to-look-at, bad-for-you consumer object. They're fun to paint. 

    kenny scharf

    Through your work you have developed a fully formed world with characters. You've translated this into animation in the past - will you be making more in the future?

    I would very much love to make more animation. 

    kenny scharf

    You've made a few sculptures: one for your show at Honor Fraser and your sculpture at the Standard Hotel. What is it like seeing your characters move from the 2D realm to 3D?

    Ive actually made many sculptures over the past 30 years, but these new ones are different and I think more successful in their bright, colorful, shiny boldness. It is natural for me considering all the paintings incorporate imagery that has a "3D" look.

    You often refer to yourself as a customizer and have transformed objects ranging from household appliances to Cadillacs. What about that interests you?

    Taking everyday usable objects and turning them into art is a great way of incorporating the everyday task and transforming it into a magical art experience, thereby uplifting the banal into beauty and experience. 

    kenny scharf

    Tell me about your collaboration with Kiehl's - what was it like to make over a product as iconic as the Crème de Corps? How was that process?

    It was great to work with Kiehl's as they have such a good graphics team - they made it super easy for me! 

    What are some of your new inspirations and what are you looking forward to?

    I am very exited about the present and future. Besides my show opening next week, I am about to make another mural in NYC on Hudson and 14th Street, I'm showing in a "futures" exhibit in the museum in Mobile Alabama in May as well as painting a mural there, and I am also customizing a 70s Pontiac in a new and very exiting way as well as some other fun stuff that I can't mention yet!

    kenny scharf

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