December 2007 Archives


Flowers, like other objects of our affection - or lust - are usually sought out for their freshness and youth, and not for their spots and wrinkles. Anyone familiar with this site knows I love flowers, but I confess that more and more in recent years I myself seem to have so shared this attitude. It must be one of the reasons I have generally avoided purchasing cut flowers either for myself or for others.

Of course, since I have watched so many bouquets purchased from New York corner deli's die within hours of their arrival, my preference for potted plants might be explained by something other than any special aversion to witnessing the natural sequence of maturation and death. There's also that messy, complicating thought that a flower actually dies the moment it is cut.

Like their animal cousins flowers do not seem to lose beauty as they age as long as they are left in their natural environment. I've always loved looking at a landscape or garden, including those I've nurtured myself, late in the season when its flashier beauties start to fade and begin to shrivel and bend. Indoors I've thought I could only approach this phenomenon with a living, flowering plant in a pot.

Until this past week.

Thirteen days before I took the images at the top and bottom of this post I received as a birthday gift the magnificent vase of florist-arranged mixed white blossoms into which were tucked the buds of these now-fading lillies.

It lasted over a week as a bouquet (although, surprisingly, the roses left shortly before that, having never quite opened). These remaining stems, together with the Eucalyptus leaves which accompany them, have now been sitting by the window on our ancient table in this heavy old green glass "can" for many more days. They have Barry and I both great, silent pleasure while we read, write, talk, and listen to music, eat and drink.

Some time today, before midnight, I will respectfully dispose of them, but I'm going to remember the beautiful, graceful dignity of their aging.




Out of sight and out of mind. Our concentration camp in Guantanamo is still off the chart (literally); missing from the Democratic Congressional agenda; "not present" in presidential campaign rhetoric; and, most frighteningly and damningly of all, it still appears to have completely escaped our national conscience.

[fabric color swatch, otherwise unrelated to Guantanamo, from froggtoggs]

A girl, who was wounded in a bomb attack, receives treatment in a hospital in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, December 25, 2007. U.S. forces killed two gunmen and detained four others in operation near Baquba, the U.S. military said. Hours later, a suicide bomber killed four people and wounded 21 at the funeral of the two men who were killed by the Americans, police said.

I'm not feeling good about religion today, any religion, but nothing new there.

I'm listening to a magnificent recording of Handel's "Messiah" (the music, the music). I'd just read the CD liner notes which refer to Handel's beneficences to the children's home, London's Foundling Hospital, which has been associated with his oratorio since 1750. Then I opened my computer to the news stories on my home page. The lead item from Reuters cried out with the image and caption at the top of this post.

There are no words for this obscenity.

[image and caption from an unidentified stringer working with Reuters]

Ester Partegàs Yes Collection 2007 resin, spray acrylic and enamel paint 12.25" x 82.75" x 59" [installation view]

Barcelona's Nogueras Blanchard gallery showed work by Ester Partegàs at NADA, including this over-size identification bracelet. I thought the gallery's images of a room installation, "Invaders", being put together at that moment in Madrid's Reina Sofia were very impressive, but light reflections made them impossible to record.

The museum page includes a statement about Partegàs's work in general which is even more useful than its description of the current installation itself. Wish I could see it.

one of the huge sets of layered paintings on methacrylate, which surround a central sculpture in the Reina Sofia's Producciones

[second image from the Spanish Ministry of Culture]

Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen The Artist's Song 2007 video (16mm film transferred to DVD) [large detail of still from video]

Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen's terrific rap take on the state/hotness of the current art scene was one of the most entertaining performances, live or recorded, I witnessed at the Miami art fairs. The video was presented by Copenhagen's Kirkhoff gallery.

The gallery supplied this description in a statement which accompanied Rasmussen's solo show this past spring:

In the film, "The Artist's Song", the artist sings about (in)famous works from the history of art which have influenced the concept of art, just like [her live performances at the March 10 opening]. The film also deals with an artist's dream of fame and immortality as an incentive behind the works. The film shows the artist at the museum Glyptoteket in Copenhagen, dressed as a sculpture on a pedestal and surrounded by classicistic sculptures. Her descriptions of the competetive art scene, the various positions, the artist's dreams and ambitions become both general and personal statements. The film is part of Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen's work with identity, whether it is nationality, gender, religion or as in this exhibition - the identity as an artist.
I was already sorry that I missed the Brooklyn Museum show, "Global Feminisms", also mounted this spring, but learning now that the artist was a part of it makes me want to kick myself.

To watch Rasmussen talking about her work, showing excerpts from some of her videos, click onto this image:

ADDENDUM: Rasmussen will have a solo show here in New York at the Renwick gallery in February. It will feature reenactments of performances, including "The Artist's Song". I wouldn't miss it.

[second image/clip from Brooklyn Museum]





four views of Ara Peterson's site-specific wall relief inside one of the most popular containers of "Art Positions" at Art Basel Miami Beach last week.

This installation, of hand-painted, laser-cut birch plywood, glass mirrors and space, was arranged by John Connelly Presents.

It's my birthday, so although I already like Peterson's work a lot, I have another good reason to put up these images today: It's a very happy piece. I got some great flowers this morning, but no balloons; these colors and shapes will do very well instead.


It was totally dark on far West 27th Street at 6:15 last night, except for the amber incandescent lights overhead, so this beast looks even more weird than it might normally.



The first Smart of winter. The Mercedes Smart (yes, Mercedes) will finally be available in the U.S. by the end of January.

We spotted this little beauty (a cabriolet with manufacturer's plates) parked across from our building as we headed out to Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy via several subway lines this afternoon. Sigh. I think I'm still hooked.

Louise Fishman's "Dartmouth Quartet I" at New York's Cheim & Read

large detail of Xu Zhen's "ShangART Supermarket" at Shanghai's ShangART Gallery

Ann Craven's "Stripe" at New York's Klemens Gasser and Tanja Grunert

large detail of still from Miguel Ángel Rojas's "Caquetá" at Bogota's Alcuadrado

Juan Uslé's "Mardi Gras I" at Cheim & Read

detail of Carol Bove's installation at New York's Maccarone

Charles Goldman's "Scrapwood Sculpture" at Toronto's Birch Libralato

Zilvinas Landzbergas's 4-part installation, "JPG 3", at Amsterdam's Fons Welters

Two years ago Barry and I missed Art Basel Miami altogether (car rental problems during the vernissage), even though it was the first of what has morphed into a virtual circus of annual trade shows, er . . . art fairs throughout the Miami area (there were dozens this year, and they came in all sizes). We ended up having a great time visiting and looking at so much else that year.

We skipped last year's excitement, but returned this year seduced by a friend's generous offer of a part of his beautiful South Beach apartment, and by the prospect of meeting people around this country and beyond with whom we'd only communicated on line.

We did make the Basel vernissage this time, arriving only minutes after the doors opened. Of course the big-deal collectors had already had their preview earlier in the day and by the time we arrived they were probably sprucing up for the a large private dinner party scheduled for that night. While we were boarding the plane at Newark we had spotted Paul Miller and learned that he (aka DJ Spooky) would be showing one of his latest projects, "Rebirth of a Nation" to 150 invited guests at the Rubell Family Collection across the water. Now that would definitely have been worth a detour had we been offered the opportunity.

Meanwhile the aisles and the gallery booths at the fair were crowded with both press people like ourselves and "ordinary" guests, including many artists. Many of these folks, including some of the exhibitors, were our friends. With that kind of stimulation, plus the lively mosaic of individual works which competed for our attention, it was pretty difficult to focus on a single piece, even a single gallery set up. We had three hours, but in that time we were able to get through little more than the booths on the periphery and two special rooms.

We made one sortie through the center of the Convention Center to check out Cheim & Read, since we were told they would be showing Louise Fishman's first work in acrylic, done this past summer in New Hampshire. Only near the end of our tour did we realize we had actually lucked out in our chosen route around the edge, since it was to the spaces on the outside walls that the less mainstream galleries new to Basel Miami were assigned - galleries more in tune with our normal appetites.

The images at the top describe only a few of the more interesting pieces I encountered along the way:

Louise Fishman's 66" canvas turned out to be pretty spectacular.

Xu Zhen's convenience store was a huge hit, and many visitors couldn't resist purchasing samples of its (totally empty) containers and wrappings.

Ann Craven's birds had really gotten to me several years ago and since then I've watched her move into even more conceptual work. This "Stripe" painting opens up very new territory.

I'd been attracted to Juan Uslé's work when I had seen it in group shows before, but this vivid painting really stood out even in the rich company of both its gallery colleagues and those in the larger show itself.

Carol Bove's peacock blanket had been covered in the media, but nothing had prepared me for the unearthly beauty of the thing itself.

Miguel Ángel Rojas was our first "discovery" in Miami. The fact that Barry and I hadn't known this artist's work before probably demonstrates our New York provincialism. The Columbian gallery, Elcuadrado, showed nothing other than work by this wonderful, mature artist, and I thought it was awesome, the video and photography-based installations in particular.

The video cited here shows a 21-year-old lieutenant who lost the lower part of both arms in the Columbian government's war against the peasants in Caqueta province. It's a continuous loop which begins with his face covered in grease paint camouflage and it continues as it records the labored process of the young man washing it off from a basin of water.

We've seen and loved Charles Goldman's work for years, and eventually came to know and love the artist as well. At Basel he was represented, in this wonderful piece and another not shown above, by Torontos' Birch Libralato.

Zilvinas Landzbergas's work was pretty special, for its very ordinariness, a pile of things so easy to overlook beside a partition, as well as the non-ordinary choice of subject, the extraordinary skill of its execution (in cardboard and plastic) and its surprising beauty.

Barry here, to say go visit the show created by Pierogi, Ron Feldman, and Hales galleries around the corner from Pulse. Today (Sunday the 9th) is the last day. More information is on bloggy.

Bruce High Quality Foundation arthur kills again 2007 [detail of installation]

Eugenio Ampudia Impression Soleil Levant 2007 video [installation view]

I'm not going to be able to do regular posts while Barry and I are still in Miami for the two dozen art fairs and related events, but I wanted to get the word out on one particular smaller-scale attraction we visited last night which definitely hasn't yet gotten the publicity it deserves. If you're here in the topics this week, don't miss ArtHaus Miami.

The first image is of an installation which is something of a combination coin toss and miniature golf operation in the mansion's very formal backyard pool. It's all a very funny and imaginative take on the history of a wilder body of water located somewhat further north, Arthur Kill.

The second is of a video installed in an upstairs chamber of the house. It was at the moment I was taking this picture that I realized we had to had to leave for our next stop and come back when we have more time. Unfortunately, except to show this great installation, I can't say anything about the work itself right now.

These two pieces are among a great many more spread throughout the rooms and gardens created by dozens of artists. They are part of what is also known as ArtHaus UnFair 07. The haus is located behind an arched gate in a large old deco mansion at 1616 Drexel Avenue, just north of 16th Street, close to all the other Miami Beach art venues, and it's open from 1 until 10 pm through Monday.

Have fun!


As for reports of my other favorite experiences of the fairs' bounty, I may be able to do some very brief posts including nothing but an image and an attribution. Because of time demands and only irregular access to the computer however, any real summary will have to wait for our return in the middle of next week.

Aaron Young Untitled (silver and gold) 2007 acrylic paint and rubber on aluminum 144" x 144" engineer: Wink 1,100


William Stone Branching Drawings 1996 computer printout on paper, dimensions variable, engineer: Charles Waldman


I knew we had made a big mistake for not having visited James Fuentes's gallery yet. I mean, it's near our scary Police Headquarters, but I used to live not too far away from the site, and it's not really so very far from the Lower East Side neighborhood now hosting more and more worthy new gallery spaces. A visit to a new space on Broadway this past week confirmed the error of our neglect: It's going to be very hard to miss a show at 35 St. James Place in the future.

The latest show in his own gallery has just closed, but Fuentes was given responsibility for curating the inaugural show in the New York gallery of the Emily Harvey Foundation. After our visit there this past week and a look into the history of Emily Harvey and the ambitious young foundation bearing her name I'd say it's a perfect fit. The EHF space is a classic, finely-patinated second-floor loft on Broadway in SoHo. Fuente's installation, "Programming Chance", continues through this Saturday.

This small group show includes work by John Cage, Jean Dupuy, Alison Knowles, Ken Knowleton, William Stone & Aaron Young. Their connection here is the artists' shared interest in connecting their art to the genius of machines or computers (working with collaborators the curator calls "engineers"), although there are at least sixty years difference in the ages of the artists and engineers, and the works themselves range from the mid-sixties to 2007. This is clearly no fad.

And it didn't start just forty years ago: Da Vinci liked machines, but then he was his own engineer.

I confess I hadn't read Carol Vogel's NYTimes article on Aaron Young's installation/performance/painting last September. At a distance, the whole thing looked to me too much like hype and excess, perhaps both, but when I saw the large work by Young which concluded the chronology of this show I understood the excitement. It's terrific. Of course it was a great help, and a privilege, to have Fuentes himself deliver a commentary on this piece, and on each of the others in the show.

David Reed #575 oil and alkyd on polyester 40" x 160"


I've enjoyed looking at David Reed's work for years, and this is one of the most beautiful paintings I've seen yet. He's definitely not standing still.

The show is "New Paintings", and it continues at Max Protetch through December 22.

In my earlier post, and its addendum, I've shown views of the inside of the New Museum building itself; with this one I'm uploading images of [only some of] the works I found most interesting, and photographically accessible, on my too-brief visit during the press preview.

But first a serious, negative note about New Museum policy:

While I was able to take pictures as a member of the press visiting during a press preview, photography is not permitted in the Museum galleries to anyone without this status. This is a serious affront to the purpose of any museum of the visual arts, but especially for an institution devoted to broadcasting the work of artists who do not have public exposure or critical acceptance. In its own handout it describes itself as "A site of ongoing experimentation and questioning of what art and institutions can do in the 21st century . . . through programming that is open, fearless and alive." Especially in our contemporary world, where the camera is increasingly ubiquitous, and its own creative purposes progressiveley more diverse, how can photography be considered the enemy of an agenda of light, one devoted to making emerging visual art more visible to more people?

I am genuinely saddened, and a little frightened, by the kind of blindness I see among certain individuals and institutions in the arts world which produces blanket photo prohibitions. If you agree, don't be shy about telling the offending museums, and the occasional gallery, what you think about their wanting to keep some people in the dark.

I think no-photo policies are at best foolish and misguided, and at worst an indication of a craving for power or control. I see the phenomenon as an anachronism, and I have to believe it will ultimately be discredited as common sense comes to prevail among people of good will. If I am proven totally wrong on the last point, I think a gallery or museum photo ban will be among the least of our concerns: It would be only one aspect of a new, very dark age everywhere in our society.

And now, from my privileged camera:

Sharon Hayes I march in the parade of liberty, but as long as I love you I'm not free 2007 site-specific performance piece [detail]

Hayes's wonderful, noisy piece is not part of the museum's major installation, "Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century", the first of a four-part exhibition to be mounted this winter. The images which follow however are all from "Unmonumental".

John Bock Untitled 2005 plastic bottle, cardboard box, paper and ink 8.5" x 10.25" x 10.25" [installation view]

[complete installation of all 14 works]

Martin Boyce We climb inside and everything else disappears 2004 powder-coated steel tubing, wire mesh, cast aluminum, one deck chair (white) and one hose tube (yellow), two parts, dimensions variable [large detail of installation]

Tom Burr White Folding Screen (T.C. II) 2005 pained plywood, mirrored plexiglas, photographic material, hinges and pins 47.25" x 68.75" x 25.5" [detail of installation]

[full image, obverse]


Jim Lambie Bed-Head 2002 mattress, buttons and thread 20.25" x 75. 25" x 50.75" [installation view]

Manfred Pernice Commerzbank 1 2004 painted particleboard and plaster 38" x 32.5" x 66" [installation view, showing Pernice's "Untitled" to the right rear, and Rebecca Warren's "Cube" left rear]

Gedi Sibony The Circumstance, The Illusion, and Light Absorbed as Light 2007 various materials [large detail of installation]

A few footnotes to my earlier post on the architecture of the New Museum:


This piece was my favorite continuing thing in the old New Museum, where it hung near the front door for years. This ACT UP/Gran Fury neon icon is now part of the Museum's permanent collection. It's been installed on the landing of the beautiful stair which descends through glass railings from the lobby floor to the level below, where the theater and Jeffery Inaba's installation, "Donor Hall" can be found.


The theater in the basement looks like a minimalist high school gymnasium, but there are no hoops and no painted floor; this one is for the art and theater fags. A simple full-height movable curtain hung on a ceiling track can be snaked around the stage area to create either a proscenium or a backdrop.


During the press preview on Thursday Barry pointed out this crack in the floor of one of the galleries. I said something about the need for expansion joints. Now I'm not so sure our assumptions were correct. Maybe we didn't get the press packet the NYTimes got, because their architecture critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, was able to write, "That effect [a hint of mystery] is reinforced by the rawness of the spaces — exposed beams, painted white walls, cracked concrete floors [my italics].


The window on the landing of the long, east-west staircase showcases a skylight in a gallery below and suggests the rich historic complexity of the neighborhood.

This page is an archive of entries from December 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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