July 2009 Archives

dead artists and such outside the Guggenheim, in the BHQF film, "Isle of the Dead"

zombie artists and such recalling the summer of '69, in the BHQF film, "Isle of the Dead"

The art world may be the middle of a continually-darkening 2009, but I'm still trying to stay well away from any ghoulish gallery deathwatches. Actually, I never understood how galleries operated/survived even in boom times, but then I never really had to; I don't have a gallery, I am not advancing and cannot advance any money to anyone, I'm not selling art and I've not been able to afford to buy art for some time. Normally on this site (and elsewhere) I simply refrain from speculation, scuttlebutt, even factual news of any kind about behind-the-scenes gallery operations, except as it might impact close friends, my own blogging, the ArtCat calendar, or our ability to attract advertisers on Culture Pundits. Unless I'm standing on my virtual soapbox sharing an earnest political anger, most of the time I'm writing about art, and sharing some pictures. I can't promise however that an occasional, particularly-colorful story might not sometimes tempt me to drop my customary constraint.

By the way, like my general habit of truthfulness, this reluctance to engage in certain conversations doesn't seem to be have anything to do with personal virtue, but more likely stems from a consciousness that I lack the talents ordinarily required of a successful gossip, cynic or schemer; that is to say, absorption in the subject, guile, the ability to keep a story straight, and the sheer love of the game.

Anyway, I don't pretend to be on top of the news about the regular disappearance of art galleries over the past months, sometimes unaccompanied by a notice of any kind, but after hearing today about another gallery closing, not one of the biggest spaces, but one which was a favorite of both Barry and myself, I finally confess to being deeply saddened.

While I was putting this entry together I learned of the death of the artist Dash Snow, further deepening my gloom. Barry and I were talking to William Powhida last night about the degree of interest regularly shown by much of the art world and the general public, and all forms and levels of the media, in gallery and artist prattle (as opposed to actual art news).

Today I found this sad, sweet post on Powhida's own blog.

The fact that we were discussing art gossip and disappearing galleries last night happens to have been only a coincidence to today's news but it suggested some of the thoughts for this post of my own, one which was originally intended to be only a few words attached to an image or two from "Isle of the Dead", the wonderful film by the awesome collaborative, Bruce High Quality Foundation [BHQF]. It's playing in an old movie theater on Governors Island all summer. It's one of the very best of the many installations spread throughout the grounds.

Thinking about the film, which I saw two weeks back, has made me feel much better, and it should work for you too. Just follow the art zombies downtown to Governors Island. Check out the trailer.

Shinique Smith Untitled (Whistler's Mother) 2009 clothing, fabric, ribbon, rope, twine, chair, wall and collage [installation view]

Yvon Lambert's current show, Shinique Smith's "Ten Times Myself", offers a splendid swirl of work in a mix of media and related to what appears to be the current Great Recession-era vogue for "austerity art", but in this instance the found objects have been assembled into compositions as formal as the figurative art of the masters.

Smith's "(Whistler's Mother)" is clearly more than just an arrangement, since she's bouncing off of Whistler's "Arrangement in Gray and Black: Portrait of the Artist's Mother". Her own [disquisition on the feminine principle?] replaces Whistler's dark, sober canvas with a robust baroque effigy and an extravagant palette, fully-modelled in its own way, yet in the softest shapes.

Singling out "Mother" may be misleading, but none of the works in this show are abstractions independent of outside references; the titles only begin to suggest how their exuberant imagery relates to a "real" world reassembled inside the artist's mind and informing the confident hand which assembled them.

Barry and I first encountered the artist and her work five years ago when we talked to her inside her space near the top of the Woolworth Building during an LMCC open studio weekend. It's been exciting watching her work pop up all over ever since, always attracting more big fans.

Shinique Smith And the world don't stop 2009 ink, acrylic, enamel, fabric, ephemera and collage on canvas over wood panel, two panels 96" x 120" x 4"


[detail of "And it feels like love", a work not reproduced here in its entirety]

Shane Hope cartoon_trace_atoms=1 2009 archival pigment print 60" x 48"



[two details of Shane Hope's 2009 48" x 48" archival pigment print, "Hyperneckerdeathcube"]

[detail of Shane Hope's 2009 48" x 48" archival pigment print, "On Graphite"]

Shane Hope's, "Your Mom Is Open Source", opened last Friday at Winkleman Gallery, and it's a doozy. I already knew this artist was on to something both "outstanding" and "unique" [cf. definition of this quaint adjective], but I hadn't seen his latest work, and until last week I could only imagine how magnificent his prints (such a modest word) would look inside a gallery, in this case a very well-lit gallery.

My photographs hardly begin to describe what can be seen on 27th Street. The actual prints of these incredibly-complex three-dimensional shapes are so luminous, their detail so extravagant, and their depths so mind-boggling, that I can't claim that these images are anything more than rough approximations of the work.

We're told that he uses customized versions of user-sponsored open-source molecular visualization systems to create the large monotypes. I can attest that the artist is able to share the extraordinary vision behind his “Mol Mods” and “Compile-a-Child" drawings*, and the "posthuman" world he imagines and and these systems describe, but my lamentable ignorance of these things means that I have to take his descriptions on faith, even after several conversations spread over several years. While I like to imagine that the gallery statement is likely to read like mind candy to some folks, I think that even if a viewer has only the most cursory acquaintance with "hard SF" this work will dazzle. I'm also pretty sure that complete scientific ignorance would not obscure its delights.

Hope has a science background (surprise!), but the array of delightful junk-wood-fabricated laptops visible in the gallery office and his fondness for his own B.C. wheel(!) suggests that his personal integration of art and science is sui generis, if not a bit bizarre.

Maybe its out of my embarrassment for my fundamental ignorance of science that, checking out the absence of [only a single] horizon in the portrayal of these magnificent organic worlds, I thought of Tiepolo's painted ceilings, with their tangle of gods heroes, chariots and horses, pink putti and broad staircases, together perched on the edges of a frame and floating in spaces assembled out of castles, cliffs and clouds. Tiepolo however didn't have to deal with an audience which could examine the details of his creation from the distance of only a handspan.

The work is boldly conceptual, highly technical and dazzlingly beautiful. It would be more than worthy for its success with each of these purposes, but with their combined triumph Hope's art is a wonder.

Shane Hope to be Imortel 2009 graphite and crayon on paper 12" x 9" [installation view]

More links:

DistribuDeev Data-Debased Dark Matter of Infactious Informorphically-Biorouted Hick-Hacker Hortus Humanus Electricus, Aeonomically Autoscient Artillectual Anthropos/Implementa GraviTV and an Acceluture Future-Pharmada of Ornamentally-Challenged Molecula Modula

Termite Art for Terminators

Decoding Shane Hope


  • I neglected to mention that Barry and I were introduced to Shane Hope's work by Stephen Lichty, an exciting artist and curator recently returned to New York from Tuscany, where he was director of Project Gentili in Prato, outside Florence.
  • While I was at the opening reception I was so carried away with the color prints that I missed capturing images of Hope's b/w work, either the computer-generated prints or freehand drawings on paper. I've added below a thumbnail detail of his "Goo(f) Ball No π, dark matter demarcations on lesser dimensional bits of tree, year wheneverafter" (which is not in the current show), snapped on a visit to his studio in August, 2007. As I recall, the entire image is only a few inches across.


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