Culture: December 2003 Archives

image of part of Joe Ovelman's installation, "Two Walls"

The picture is big. It runs across one page and onto the other. I'm credited for the casual image captured by my tiny digital camera, but it was just for the record. No, it was an act of love.

It's only because of the surprise element and the ephemeral nature of the artist's September 13 Chelsea wall installations that in Wayne Norcross's review of Joe Ovelman's "Two Walls" in the Jan/Feb issue of Genre my own photograph dominates the magazine's two-page spread. At the time I thought of the picture as a modest documentation of something I would not see again. Except for the images in my head it was all I could take home with me that day if I wasn't going to rip the color zeroxes off the plywood wall.

For more images of details from the wall on 10th Avenue, and the remnants of the wall on 25th Street, see the "gallery" links on two earlier posts.

the latest (last?) proposal for Larry Silverstein's new World trade Center cock

If there's more of it to be made, money really does always win in New York, so I really wanted to stay out of this thing, and recently I told myself I don't care what happens to that damn vacant lot, but what they've come up with is just too outrageous, and if they carry it through we're all going to have to live with it, on a big, noisy, obsessive scale which will make the original WTC site seem like an anonymous Staten Island mini-mall. It's a Jackalope, it's an abomination, it's an outrage for New Yorkers, a betrayal of trust, and an assault on good sense and every aesthetic sensibility.

We can't let them get away with this.

The NYTimes editorial board and their very strange architecture critic, Herbert Muschamp, seem to be crazy about this monstrous* "Freedom Tower" stuck in Liebeskind's office park. Didn't they do enough damage in Columbus Circle? I'm scared.

* I call it "monstrous" for its hideousness, and not for its size, to which I have no objection. I note that its designers and backers don't even have the courage of their own pretensions, since only 60 floors are actually to be occupied. The rest of the height of this building which will replace a World Trade Center is a phallic conceit they hope to make respectable with narrow patriotic references, and an expedient "green" gimmick unlikely to make the final cut.

Scott Hug entertains in the game room

Scott Hug's wonderworld curatorial set, "Attack--The Kult K48 Klubhouse," originally scheduled to be struck yesterday, will remain in the Deitch Projects space in Williamsburg through Saturday. Yea!

He's done it again.

It's another incredible trip through a bold, irreverent new world of creativity which is still only barely understood even by scribes and gallerists who make emerging art their business.

Scott's created an incredible environment related in one way or another to the idea or practice of cults and Kults, and he and the other artists have divided it into microworlds, but the gods are also in the details of individual works. You'll need plenty of time, but you still won't be digesting it easily.

I can't begin to name favorites, since any list I would draw from this show would be totally arbitrary, if it didn't include every artist.

Only one small complaint: There's no checklist, although I'm not surprised, given the scale and complexity of the installation. Big compensation: You get to talk to Scott if you want to know more about individual works.

Don't miss the show no matter how you fit it in, but it's probably best to experience the Klubhouse twice, once while it's at rest, if it could ever appear to be at rest (afternoons), and once when it will be further amplified by partying and music this Wednesday and Thursday evening. Ask Scott for details, or see the Outlaw Series posting for Wednesday night's special amusements.

Hey, if B and I could wade through the slush and heavy rain in the dark yesterday, both of us with bad colds (with an East River crossing detour via the E and G trains because the L was down), there's no real excuse for other curious fanatics to deny themselves in better weather. We're definitely going to check back ourselves.

The venue is a garage at 110 North 1st Street, between Wythe and Berry, just a few blocks south and west of the Bedford Street L stop. "Normal" hours are 12 until 6.

Scott's newest issue of his sensational glossy zine, K48-4, is now available at the space on North 1st and everywhere good cultish literature can be found, like St. Mark's Book Store, Other Music, Mondo Kim's, Dia Center for the Arts, Printed Matter, alife, The New Museum, MOMA Design Store, See Hear and Isa.

Collier Schorr, Jens im Weizen (Topless) 2000
c-print 55 x 37 inches

We went to a benefit for the New Festival two nights ago. It was essentially a silent auction of nearly a hundred items related, directly or remotely, to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered film.

A few items, paintings and photographs, would have been standouts even in a benefit specifically oriented to the visual arts. They were of extrordinary quality.

In the midst of the minor chaos of the competition, Barry and I quicky zeroed-in on two items. I think we were successful with both because our interest in those pieces was not shared by other males in the room, and the lesbians present may have been too impecunious, in spite of the great personal style of a number of the women there.

One prize was a new history tome titled, "Entertaining Lesbians," by Martha Gever accompanied by a unique, hand-assembled photo album memorializing a pioneer female Hollywood director, Dorothy Arzner. The other catch was a wonderful example of the confounding art of Collier Schorr, whose photographs usually portray young males in a way which discomforts even those who would normally be attracted to them. This image was different. The small color print portrayed two affectionate young lesbians who could easily be mistaken for boys. In fact one member of the Festival staff insisted that they were male. Even after he was shown the title of the image I think he still had his doubts. The title? Karin & Michelle, Bismark Kassern 1998-2000

Arzner was a lesbian, a very successful director and later a film academic whose students incuded Francis Ford Coppola. Schorr is something like a gay man in a woman's body. Although I have a curious, remote connection with Arzner through a visit I made to Coppola's Rome apartment in 1961, neither B nor I is yet acquainted with her films. That's obviously going to be remedied soon, thanks to NETFLIX.* We've both admired Schorr for years, even before the wonderful show of her own "stuff" (not her work) which she curated at Apex.

Our thanks to the New Festival and everyone who went home happy that night.

* [later the same day] Oops. I placed too much confidence in our suppliers - or their suppliers. Barry just checked, and found that none of her films are available on DVD, although some are available on tape.

[image from 303 Gallery]

We had every intention of making it three days in a row, but we stayed inside out of the storm today. Our unusual homebody status was established mostly through reports that the streets linking the artists of the weekend's Long Island City "Open Studios" event were unplowed, but we had some catching-up to do around our imaginary hearth, so we may only have been looking for a convenient excuse.

On Friday we trekked to Brooklyn for a performance at BAM of John Adams's "The Death of Klinghoffer". No machine guns or bombs, thank goodness [the metal detectors we're all now taking for granted surely must have saved the evening - may the devil not take this new America!], but there was still a lot of snow and wind.

Something was missing from this performance, but I have no idea what it was. I've now seen "Klinghoffer" three times. We have the beautiful CD and it never collects any dust on the shelf. For the first time, I was not moved upon hearing the music and Alice Goodman's sensitive libretto. Much of the time the evening seemed to crawl. Maybe the busy Mark Morris choreography I found so annoying in its New York premier over ten years ago, missing last night, made all the difference, but the Ridge Theater Company's minimal staging of the current production was certainly very beautiful.

For a real review, see Felix Salmon.

We ducked across the street in the swirl of a real nor'easter, into the warmth of Thomas Beisl, a very comfortable and very real Viennese restaurant/conditorei (ok, bistro). I ordered the esoteric Sulze appetizer , but the beautiful Hungarian waitress didn't bat an eye. We could have been at Freud's own Stammtisch. I sat facing a window which framed a view of the magnificent storm. The driving snow, dramatically lighted by street lamps, only partially obscured Vic Muniz's fanciful gingerbread house image painted on the canvas still covering the scaffolding on the facade of the Opera House. Wow.

On Saturday we bundled-up again and tramped around west Chelsea mostly visiting those galleries which had shows we knew were about to close. The storm continued all day, and eventually into the night. There were a few other souls about, but we shocked the galleristas in several spaces when we walked through their doors, and the only place we found the kind of crowd we'd normally expect on a weekend was LFL Gallery, where the collaborative PFFR was about to break camp. Lots of fun for the entire family there. We bought some more souvenirs, a video and a CD, having grabbed a small drawing on an earlier raid.

For more on our Saturday afternoon adventures, see Bloggy.

That evening, after a brief stop home for a cappucino and half of a cinnamon pastry each, we headed back into the wind and snow on a return to "Breukelyn," this time to the granite-block streets under the Manhattan Bridge, for a benefit for the D.U.M.B.O. Arts Center Winter Auction.

We were delighted to be able to bring home two great pieces, a small painting by Johathan Podwil and a large drawing by Fritz Chesnut.

We had been afraid that the place might be mostly empty, because of the storm, but were [almost selflessly] delighted to see we had the decent bidding competition of a very good size crowd. Obviously we weren't the only fanatics not easily discouraged by the elements. Less than is sometimes the case at these events, there was no heavy anxiety and no trampling of competing bidders, just good food and wine, and lots of laughter and smiles. Folks at the party, guests, artists and patrons, were all in a festive mood. Some of that must have been the snow, the rest the great vibe of this very interesting, and "developing" neighborhood of artists and . . . others.

Jonathan Podwil, Huey, 2000
oil on paper, 5 1/8" x 10"

Fritz Chesnut, Total Request Live/J. Lo #1, 2001
graphite on paper, 24" x 18"

UPDATE December 11: For a full c.v., and more still and video images of Jonathan Podwil, see his own site.

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from December 2003.

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