Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Heather Guertin’s studio is a relatively small part of a large, developing building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Though the space was small, all 20-some-odd of us managed to come in, take a look at her paintings, and then sit down. After a bit of introduction, we were able to get a taste of a new career she is pursuing – stand-up comedy. Though a little slow in the set up, Heather eventually reeled us in with her satire on painting culture, and a short excerpt from a novella written by her that, I have to say, was quite amusing.
Using actual paintings of hers in the act led some people to question whether this discounted value in her painting – bringing the paintings from art-objects to stage props. At the time I welcomed the interpretation of her art, even if meant to be humorous. Looking back on it, bringing our attention to these paintings during a performance Gave them, and all of her other paintings the context of her comedy interest and really, any topics that she may be interested in as a comedian. Considering their subject matter was abstraction, I was grateful for this hint and appreciated them more as artworks because of it.
Aside from showing us her work, she talked a lot about how she acquired things necessary for her career, such as the studio space, and her current job as an artist’s assistant. Having the chance to meet her and hear what she had to say was a great learning experience on our trip. It made me think about the possibilities that exist after art school in order to advance myself in my interests.
Here is a clip of the same routine she shared with us:
Let loose for the day to explore the galleries of Chelsea, I made sure I went to as many as I could stand before my feet started yelling at me. Before I made a B-line for the train, I told myself “Just one more!” and that is how I happened upon the Marianne Boesky gallery, which was showing works by Melissa Gordon.
On my way into the inner room, I stumbled upon one piece in particular that immediately spoke to me. It was as if the artist had taken an etching of mine and brought it into the three dimensional realm. This piece consisted of a print stretched on canvas, accompanied by two colored shapes being held up on skinny black poles at different distances in front of the print.
When I finally decided that, maybe I should see what the next room contains, I found several different groups of people circling the room together. One was an old Asian couple. Another was a mom pushing a stroller. I stood in the doorway for a minute just to observe these people’s reactions.
I have to admit that not all of her pieces struck me in the same manner, but they certainly seemed to delight the crowd, weaving around her geometric forms until they finally meet the canvas face to face, nodding and pointing at what they noticed. Realizing the time, I hastily took some photos with my not-so-great camera, and went on home. Later I realized we would be going to that same gallery as a group, and got very excited for my seemingly ahead-of-the-curve experience.
When we finally did meet back there as a group, I learned that we would in fact be inquiring a different artist. I was a little miffed I would not get to meet the likes of Melissa Gordon, but I put those thoughts aside and, with a curious eye, began to explore the work of Anthony Pearson.
Anthony’s works harmoniously resided together in a room off to the side of the gallery, which I hadn’t even noticed before. Amidst these pieces was one that was not his: a work by an Arte Povera artist, which was composed of a large sheet of metal behind a panel of glass. This piece worked very well hung up with the rest, but its place there still puzzled me, considering the history of Arte Povera and what we later learned about Anthony’s work. Not to mention the sheer fact that you don’t normally see a set up like this. Did his gallery curator just not want to leave the wall blank? I admired Anthony for his honesty; in telling us his work was primarily for selfish reasons. But all through the talk, the presence of this slightly more impressive object of immateriality haunted me.
There were however, some curious similarities between his work and the Arte Povera piece. For his photographs, Anthony used reflective glass in the frames, a common technique I have noticed in Arte Povera that causes the viewer to not be able to escape becoming a part of the work. Other themes in his work seemed strikingly opposite of Arte Povera: the luxury of photography, the complexity in the making of his sculptures, and the general amount of resources available to him to be able to make his art.
Despite my mixed feelings on the presentation of his art, Anthony Pearson had a lot to share with us about going about being an artist, and staying true to your motives for making art. For him, his art is about constantly making and improving, with the eventual goal of just being a good, successful artist. We all have our motives for doing what we enjoy doing, and if we happen to make money from doing it, that’s just luck.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Theatre 80 on St Marks Place
On Friday, January 6th , my sister invited me to come see improvised shakespeare with her friends. The improvised Shakespeare group coincidentally is based in Chicago, but they come to New York for a season each year to do their show. At the beginning of a show they ask the audience to pick the title of the play, and then the entire one act play is made up on the spot then and there, never to be repeated ever again. Why is this called improvised shakespeare you ask? Because the entire play is spoken in iambic pentameter, and in old english! They also frame the show the way shakespeare would, in terms of characters and their relationships, and the drama that ensues.
The play that I had the pleasure of watching that night was entitled “My Taco is Your Taco”. The British and the Spanish were looking to become allies by wedding the King of England’s daughter to prince of Spain, but the princess was in love with another man and ran away. Meanwhile the King of England’s brother consipired to make himself king, and start a war with the Spanish. In the end, the English Princess and the Spanish Prince fell in love, and the evil brother’s plan was foiled. Needless to say it was quite entertaining, and I nearly split my sides laughing. I look forward to hunting them down in Chicago to experience it again!
Sunday, January 8, 2012
This was a show with many twists and turns – works that were whimsical, satirical, scary, and intellectual all packed together. Each climbing step up the Guggenheim’s spiral led to another view, and with it a new discovery, and a new thought. This was a show best viewed from the sidelines, especially if you happen to have a fear of large objects falling on your head. I was surprised that the crowds of people down below me didn’t seem to mind.
Maurizio Cattelan is a man who has worked in many trades in his lifetime, and has held many interests. This part of him is evident in the variety of subject matter as well as the craftsmanship put into each piece. The greatest feat of all is the organization of this collection of work, and its secure placement into the center of the museum.
One thing that I became a bit miffed by was the fact that a good portion of his works were untitled. I would pick out a piece of interest, look it up on the show’s Diagram, only to find a very minimal description of it. Because I was so fascinated by the show, I decided to purchase the book of the same title in order to find out more about the artist himself as well as the work. However, I find that because there is very little effort put into the show in terms of having the audience really understand the work, it is as if there is this sort of intentional distance created. Because no title is assigned to the work, the art simply becomes about its physical appearance, and ultimately comes to represent nothing other than itself. If a great amount of work has been put into creating a functional miniature elevator or a cartoon-like life-size sculpture of a person, my thought is that there should be an obvious amount of intention behind making the work, which has certainly been misrepresented in this show.
Because it seems that whether or not the pieces had significance, the people walking around the Guggenheim that day did not seem to mind, I am content to say that in Maurizio’s case, keeping information from the viewer is not necessarily a bad thing.