Public Art, Midsummer

August 18th, 2011 § 0 comments

As summer draws toward fall, relatively speaking, I am gearing up for the start of the new art season next month. The enticing prospect of new shows opening throughout the city, many of them dedicated to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, means that all the shows which opened in the latter half of the summer will be, or already have, closed. Though Ai Weiwei himself was thankfully released at the end of June, his photographs of New York City, on view at the Asia Society, closed today, and his Zodiac Heads, at the Pulitzer Fountain in Central Park, have been shipped to L.A. where they will open at LACMA at the end of the month. The Alexander McQueen exhibition at the MET, Savage Beauty, was undoubtedly the blockbuster of the summer (like Tim Burton at MoMA last summer), but Ai Weiwei’s disappearance, detention, and release was the story of the summer—it was a story that brought the whole world to the doorstep of the art world.

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Editors & MFA’s

July 10th, 2011 § 4 comments

Editors are a blessing and a curse. They are like the teachers who told us the things we really didn’t want to hear, the ones who said edit, or reshoot, or who asked, why those images? Like teachers, editors promote their own perspective, one that is dependent on what they want their publication to be, or what they want it to sound like. Noah, the editor of Whitehot Magazine, is a self-declared “voiceless” editor. He didn’t design Whitehot to represent a particular point of view, but based it instead on a simple mission: he wanted to create a place where the voiceless could congregate and write about art. He wanted good writing from artists, art historians, and art critics without having to tell them what to write about or how. I never think about who the Whitehot reader is when I write for the magazine, which probably makes it my most selfish, self-indulgent, and satisfying place to write. Nancy, editing for the Times Quotidian, comes from another perspective entirely, where the voice of TQ is dominated by her voice. She has a good sense of order and concise writing, and gives in completely to her own perspective, tastes, and interests. She reminds me of the weaving teacher I had in undergrad who proudly admitted that she had no interest in books, music, or movies. Nancy is good for me the way all vested professors are. For example, my department chair in grad school, having a vested interest in my success, gave me the type of feedback I needed to be “successful.” Nancy is the practical voice that stresses coherence, and the limiting voice that says, I doubt you really need to write about that like this.

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Public Artworks Unveiled

May 20th, 2011 § 0 comments

With summer on the horizon public art has been popping up around the city, from the annual and much anticipated opening of the MET rooftop to individual sculptures placed throughout the city. Summer, or at least spring as our moody weather dictates, seems to begin when PS1 opens its courtyard once again for Saturday Sessions full of art, music, and general museum lounging. Most of the city’s public art is so scattered that to see it all would require a days worth of zigzagging through the city. One of the many nice things about public art, however, is that it isn’t in a gallery with restrictive hours and locations. Stumbling upon pieces as you head elsewhere reminds us of how pleasant our cities are when filled with beautiful, odd, historical, or experimental pieces of art. They reach everyone because they are surrounded by everything: retail, restaurants, nature, sidewalks, cars, and pedestrians. While public art is the most obvious kind of art we know, it’s also the kind we engage with the most. Unlike gallery shows that seem to open and close too quickly to accommodate our busy schedules, public art usually lasts through the summer, giving viewers enough time to actually see it. Covering the fashionable preview of Alexander McQueen’s posthumous exhibition at the MET, I wandered past Will Ryman’s Park Avenue flowers, and Urs Fischer’s giant yellow Untitled bear/lamp, conspicuously sagging in front of the Seagram building. While buying Heirloom vegetables in Union Square, I crossed paths with Rob Pruitt’s shiny Andy Warhol monument. In Madison Square Park lunching with Chicagoans, I walked by Jaume Plensa’s forty-four foot sculpture titled Echo.

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The Subtle Highlights

March 21st, 2011 § 1 comment

Standing out against a garish background of colorful artwork, I did discover a few artists during the March art fairs that caught my eye because their work differed from everything else: it seemed to represent a kind of realism that was lacking from almost all the artwork shown. Though you’d think bright colors would be the eye catcher, these artists stood out visually with softer, more muted color palettes, and conceptually with their quotidian, almost mundane subjects. Overall I found them more compelling visually and conceptually, actually stopping my stroll to get a better look at their work. Researching the names I jotted down afterward, I found that most of them are in their early to mid 30s, and are all holders of MFA’s from somewhat pedigree schools. While I don’t see this as an indicator of quality, it’s interesting to see where our artists are coming from, and how, if at all, they were trained.

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Art Without Austerity

March 13th, 2011 § 0 comments

Wandering through the Scope, Pulse, and Armory art fairs this past weekend, in that order, I was reminded of the fashion buzz after Oscar night. The Fashion Police bantered and bickered over the different colors, gowns, styles, and designers on our stunning leading ladies, with Joan Rivers lamenting the lack of flashy, eye-stopping gowns and jewelry. Even Hollywood in its finest hour, however, followed the fashion trends of the past few seasons by scaling back and pairing down. Minimalism, a kind of toned down sobriety, has been the dominant fashion trend since the recession began. Though there must be irony to arriving in a designer gown to walk the red carpet, and being called “austere” for not being covered in diamonds, the Sex in the City fashion of the early aughts has since been deemed inappropriate for our current national mood—unemployment is still above 9 percent. Though at the Armory I overheard a couple disdainfully commenting that artwork masquerading as fashion had no business being shown, I can’t help but compare the art I saw to the recent trends of fashion. While some sense of austerity descended upon the fashion market over a year ago, it seems to have missed the art world completely. With my mouth slightly ajar, I wandered Scope and Pulse feeling as though I were living through the great depression while stuck within a Shirley Temple film of never-ending happiness—which is not to say the art wasn’t fun and entertaining.

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