Frieze is a welcome reminder that we don’t need to be afraid to cross our own bridges to experience the visual arts (think of all the low rent, large studios, and emerging art that is quietly ripening in Queens, the Bronx, and yet untapped depths of Brooklyn). Traveling across the East River to experience an international art fair may confound us, but Frieze encourages us to set sail.
The tent on Randall’s island was light, spacious and well thought out. Misty breeze and water crashing up against the rocks, it actually felt good to be there. The sheer scale of the fair was overwhelming, but there were many gems — Ryan McGinley, Gabriel Orozco, Jonas Wood, Bjarne Melgaard are just some highlights. Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Joan Mitchell (among many others) brought some solid female representation as well.
I was also into the Frame section, which was dedicated to emerging galleries. Frame offered collectors and visitors the opportunity to discover artists who may not have previously showcased their work on an international platform or exposed their work to such a wide collector circuit. The outdoor sculpture installation was also a great non-traditional touch, and further broadened the scope of the fair-goers experience. The public scale sculptures, dotting the east river waterfront, emphasized the uniqueness of the location, and offered a stimulating juxtaposition with the intimacy of the gallery booths within the main tent.
I am drawn to RxArt’s innovative initiatives on both on a personal and professional level; the daughter of an anesthesiologist and a sculptor, I grew up immersed in the critical vitality of both worlds. I pursued non-profit arts administration, a path that allowed me to explore the transformative nature of art-centered experiences, and has provided me with insight into the power of interdisciplinary communication and accessibility to creative resources. All the while, I was keeping an ear to the ground about the state of healthcare policy, mental health, and even toyed with going into psychiatric nursing. But I’m delighted to have this great opportunity to bridge the gap, and finally delve into learning about the therapeutic roles that art plays in the healing process. I am a strong advocate for the creative process as an antidotal medium to soothe the psyche and nurse emotional wounds. The potential for the arts to promote relief and hone the senses of touch, sight, hearing and overall intuition is brilliant and irrefutable. I am looking forward to experiencing the ins and outs of an organization that vitalizes the ecology of hospital facilities, and instills inspiration, while easing tension, in unexpected and non-traditional spaces.
"You do your work because you have to, it's your calling. One does their work for the people, the more people you can touch the more wonderful it is. You want everyone to be transported, you want everyone to be inspired." - Patti Smith
We couldn't agree more.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
This post has been updated to include the time-lapse video:
I wish that after writing this post, I could encourage readers to head to Feature Inc. to witness Kylin O'Brien's ethereal creation, Amo Legomandala, but alas, the experience lasted for just three days and now lives on in photo and video documentation.
Drawing upon the tradition of Tibetan sand mandalas, Kylin created a mandala entirely of LEGOs on the floor of the 131 Allen Street gallery. The Tibetan Buddhist ritual of creating and subsequently destroying an ornate sand mandala after careful construction was playfully redone with children's construction pieces. Using a medicine mandala as inspiration, Kylin and her assistants (which included our fabulous intern, Jillian) mapped out the mandala over the course of several months, meticulously measuring and structuring the piece. Finally, the LEGO mandala was constructed on the gallery floor over a three-day period.
Kylin's mandala was unveiled at the opening reception on Friday, March 22nd, during which attendees carefully walked around the massive structure, maintaining several feet between themselves and the freely-lying blocks on the ground so as not to disturb the structure. (When a woman walked into the gallery with a dog in her arms, Jillian and I both had momentary heart palpitations as we imagined the dog streaking through the center of the piece...a recurring nightmare of Jillian's in the days leading up to the show!)
After a full-day viewing on Saturday, all were invited back on Sunday the 24th to transform the piece and assist in its disassembly - or reassembly, depending on how you view it. Viewers took an active part in changing the entire structure of the piece, experiencing what Feature Inc. called an "opportunity to become aware of our contribution to collaborative change."
Jillian commented that the finished, modified product was reminiscent of a "futuristic space station." The atmosphere during Sunday's reconstruction was quiet and calm as participants fell under the spell of the thousands of colored blocks.
The full process - from the build-out of the original piece to the ultimate deconstruction - was recorded with an overhead camera in the gallery; a time-lapse video will soon be released to document the experience.
In the meantime, here is an installation shot from the calm before the storm at Friday night's opening. Congratulations to Kylin on a beautifully whimsical and innovative installation.
Photograph by Morgan Jacobs
Shortly before the Christmas holidays, Ovation TV was alerted by Time Warner Cable that they would be dropped from its channel line-up effective January 1, 2013. As the only channel on Time Warner Cable completely devoted to the arts, Ovation is perhaps the best way for nationwide viewers to access world-class ballet, orchestral performances, musicals, and contemporary arts and music. For almost three months now, that access has been removed.
In an economic climate in which arts and music programming are being cut from our nation's public schools, more and more students have turned to arts programming on the most accessible of all media: their televisions. Ovation allows those without the economic means to purchase tickets to Broadway, visit museums, and go to the opera, for example, to enjoy those pleasures for free (or for the cost of basic cable). Perhaps most troublesome is that Time Warner Cable has a monopoly in parts of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens - areas that are widely recognized as the more underserved and economically challenged boroughs of New York City. With no ability to switch to Verizon Fios, Comcast, or Dish, (all of whom still feature Ovation in their channel line-up), those viewers who are most at risk of not having access to art in their own cities are left with no alternative way of viewing exclusive arts programming at home.
More than just a television channel, Ovation has donated enormous sums to arts programs around the country; approximately $14 million has been allocated to such causes. RxArt, like so many other arts non-profits, has benefited enormously from Ovation's support since they came on the air in 2007. Ovation produced public service announcements and short films for RxArt, disseminating our message across the country and helping raise awareness of the work we do. Like Ovation, RxArt believes that art should be available to everyone - in the most unexpected of places, like in a hospital waiting room or on a CT scan machine, art can serve a vital purpose, ease tension and inspire thoughts beyond that of fear. To see a channel dedicated so tirelessly to promoting arts and culture cut from millions of households is a tragedy.
Time Warner Cable cannot rationalize their cutting of Ovation by a drop in ratings or viewership. According to Nielsen, Ovation is the sixth fastest growing network: it has grown from a presence in 5 million homes five years ago to over 51 millions homes prior to the January 1st drop. Furthermore, Time Warner Cable has violated its franchise agreement in New York by not giving Ovation proper notice of its termination.
RxArt has joined forces with other arts groups around New York City and, with Gotham Government Relations, has attended and spoken at public rallies at City Hall and Brooklyn Borough Hall. With the support of elected government officials, Brooklyn-born and Queens-raised actress Rosie Perez, Bertha Lewis and The Black Institute, and Urban Arts Partnership, among others, we have brought this issue to our city council and are calling for a joint hearing before the Zoning & Franchise, Cultural Affairs, Education, and Consumer Affairs Committees, all of whom are involved due to both the legal and ethical considerations at hand.
Yesterday, we presented Speaker Christine Quinn's office with 45,000 signatures of Ovation supporters. We are anxious to resolve this, get Ovation back on the air with Time Warner Cable, and prove that the arts deserve a place on our television as much as the sports games and sitcoms currently filling our dials.
To show your support, please visit Ovation's Take Action page and add your name to the tens of thousands of others who are dedicated to preserving our culture and our nation's access to it.
RxArt's Morgan Jacobs at City Hall Rally, December 19, 2012. Courtesy of Citizens for Access to the Arts.
Rosie Perez at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Rally, January 10, 2013. Courtesy of Citizens for Access to the Arts.
Founded in 2006 by David Kesting, Lincoln Capla, and John Leo, with roots deep within the independent Williamsburg, Brooklyn art scene, Fountain Art Fair has grown to represent sixty of the most avant garde, edgy, and experimental international galleries. Fountain was created in an attempt to leverage support for smaller independent galleries, collectives and artists who wish to gain access to a larger audience of collectors and critics. The fair’s alternative model and genuine dedication to the galleries and artists is inspirational and exciting. Artists and galleries are accessible and enthusiastic as they engage the global art market on their own terms.
This year, Fountain Art Fair was held in the location of the original 1913 Armory at the 69th Regiment Armory. Packed with art and featuring live music and performances, the lively event was bursting with artistic vision forging the way for contemporary art.
View some of the highlights below.
Boat by Dennis McNett at Republic Worldwide. Photo Courtesy of Paper Magazine.
Performance artist Mideo Cruz at Grace Exhibition Space. Photo Courtesy of Hi*Fructose
Vicki DaSilva. Photo Courtesy of Fountain Art Fair
Nina Sky performing at Fountain Art Fair. Photo by Kendra Heisler. Photo Courtesy of Fountain Art Fair
Performance artist and director Willard Morgan of Ideal Glass at Republic Worldwide. Photo Courtesy of Hi*Fructose
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s comical, vigorous, and tortured spirit reigns at the Gagosian Gallery. The artwork spans Basquiat’s brief but remarkable career, featuring over fifty works from public and private collections and producing an exhibition that simulates an emotional roller coaster.
Rousing highs are found in works such as “Eyes and Eggs,” made on a large white painter’s drop cloth with sneaker prints on it. Pictured is a black line-cook in a white cap with the name “Joe” written on his white shirt. Joe holds a frying pan containing a pair of red steaming, sunny-side up eggs whose yolks mirror his crazed goggle eyes.
There are dark plummeting lows found in works like “Riding with Death,” painted in 1988, Basquiat’s last year of life. Moments of fear and rage are experienced in “Untitled (Two Heads on Gold).” Painted in teal, gold, black and white on a canvas over 10 feet wide, this image depicts a double portrait of a reoccurring funny but scary figure of a skeletal black man with dreadlocks, hollow eyes, sneering teeth and lanky limbs. According to Ken Johnson of the New York Times, Basquiat was responding to “…the tragically absurd calamity of racism in America” (2013). The discrimination prevented him from becoming all that he wanted and is ultimately what drove him insane. Johnson states Basquiat worked rapidly with brushes, spray paint, markers, and other implements on found boards, stretched fabrics, wooden doors, and professionally stretched canvases, conjuring an artistic persona who mumbles and chortles to himself as he compulsively improvises his chart like compositions of cartoon images, glyphic signs and enigmatic word lists. Bringing viewers along for the ride, Gagosian pays perfect homage to Basquiat's brilliant madness.
"Eyes and Eggs" courtesy of Gagosian Gallery
"Riding with Death" courtesy of Gagosian Gallery
“Untitled (Two Heads on Gold)” courtesy of Gagosian Gallery
Last Friday, RxArt had the exciting mission of installing works by Garrett Phelan, Jason Middlebrook, Laura Owens, Paul Henry Ramirez, Mark Dion, Fabien Verschaere, Chris Martin, Fatimah Tuggar, Tony Feher, G. Jesse Sadia, Jr., and Carlo Ferraris at New York's Metropolitan Hospital.
While we were installing the works, we also met a lovely woman named Ruth Hutson who shared her feelings on the new additions to the walls:
"My name is Ruth Hutson and I have been a patient at Metropolitan Virology Clinic for 23 years. I must say that today was the first day I enjoyed the atmosphere because a beautiful picture by Jason Middlebrook entitled Travelling Seeds inspired me. Metropolitan Virology waiting area is mute and grey, however, Middlebrook's painting brought life, color, and inspiration to an otherwise dark and depressed area. Thank God for art!"
We were deeply moved to know that with the art we also brought inspiration to the patients and staff. The artwork stimulated many conversations throughout the clinic.
Below are some photographs and some of the conversations that they inspired.
Patients and staff members were thrilled to see the vibrant paintings by Paul Henry Ramirez go up. Many agreed that Ramirez’s paintings are going to brighten their days.
Patients and staff in the waiting room chuckled when they saw The Untitled photograph by Carlo Ferraris. They were delighted to discover that the men’s shoes had been rearranged.
Garrett Phelan’s drawings inspired conversations about caretaking. The staff expressed that these drawings evoked positive feelings. One doctor stated it was nice to have art on the walls that mirrored the nurturing work done in the clinic.
The installation was a success at Metropolitan Hospital! We enjoyed spending the day with the staff and the patients, receiving feedback, and witnessing the reactions to the artworks. We hope the artwork continues to provide a break from the harsh reality that many face during their visits to the clinic.
With Paris on Her Mind
30 September — "In the evening, I attended the RxArt charity auction. For that, I changed into a peach cotton tee that I tucked into a high-waisted blood-orange crepe pencil skirt. My nud...
RxArt In Color
01 December — For children, coloring between the lines is a challenge of visual dexterity. To an adult purchasing the new Between the Lines coloring book, the latest in RxArt's annual se...
19 December — At this stage in the holiday shopping game, most children have submitted their own incredibly ...
The Picasso Prescription
30 November — There's some cutting-edge contemporary art going on exhibit - but you might need surgery to see it.Working on the theory that thought-provoking artwork can promote h...
Avant Garde Preschool with Dan Colen