Culture: May 2005 Archives

John F. Simon, Jr. Endless Victory 2005 software, Apple Powerbook G4, acrylic plastic 28" x 28" x 3.25" [detail/screen still]

Sandra Gering showed only two modest-sized works by John F. Simon, Jr. in the show which closed on Saturday. Either one however could stand in for an entire art collection, since each of the two computer screens mounted in exquisite cut and engraved Plexiglas frames presents an infinitely-changing image. The one shown above is Simon's take, in the words of the press release, "on the endless merging, dividing, overtaking, turning, starting and stopping motions" of the city which inspired Piet Mondrian's unfinished 1943/44 Victory Boogie-Woogie.

No image in either work will ever be repeated on the screen, so the pieces will be renewing themselves forever. You may not be able to afford one of these jewels, but if you could, you'd never have to buy another work of art for novelty alone.

The gallery installation showed four pieces from each of the two editions, only beginning to suggest the endless variations produced by the software.

There's really a lot going on here. The screen images are never entirely abstract, they regularly mimic three dimensions, and their inspirational sources are a balance of humanistic ideals and conceptual purity.

The second edition, Endless Bounty, emerges from the tension between Simon's urban lifestyle and his longing for nature. The software flips between the two ideals displaying maps, drawings, photographs and three-dimensional models in a continual effort to capture our gaze.
I'm really attracted to the intelligence and creativity of Simon's art, but he adds something most artists who work with computer code do not have: He knows how to draw, and it's always a part of his "machinery."

John F. Simon, Jr. Endless Bounty 2005 software, Apple Powerbook G4, acrylic plastic 23" x 17.5" x 3.25" [detail/screen still]

[lower image from Sandra Gering Gallery]

They've made landfall and explored Roosevelt Island but in the end it's apparently not quite what they or any of us thought it would be.

Jesse Bercowetz, Matt Bua and Carrie Dashow continue their investigation of the weird mythologies of a half-forgotten, long narrow island lodged in the middle of New York's East River with an installation at Jessica Murray. This is a project begun last year whose first forms "in which the artists assumed the role of underworld crypto-zoologists" were exhibited under the title Under Gone at PS1 in the fall.

In order to explore the island and its treacherous surrounding waters once known as “The Hell Gate” they [subsequently] launched a makeshift raft into the East River. In their new installation Pent-Up and Under Gone, Bercowetz, Bua, and Dashow explore their findings, as well as the Island’s oral and written histories, and are led to a new interpretation of the land as a growing monster of unpredictable powers, with a life of its own, undetermined by humans.
There's no way any image can prepare you for what they've installed, and as usual the work leaves me speechless (in a good way). Don't miss their huge "book."

You're going to want to see it all, but you're going to have to find the gallery first: The huge 11th Avenue building was already partially veiled by a construction canopy, but the three artists have gone a step further. They've almost entirely covered the entrance to Jessica's neat minimalist rooms with boards and pallets which look much like the scrap wood you'd expect to find on parts of Roosevelt Island's muddy shore. Still, you should be able to just about make out the red lettering if you're on foot.

dust thrown up by gusty (West) river winds outside the gallery

one of the two "enhanced" gallery windows as seen from the inside

Jesse Bercowetz/Matt Bua Pent-Up and Undergone (panel) 2005 mixed media 64" x 88" x 18" [detail]

Damien Davis Bear and Cover 2004 paper bears, desk [installation view]

How do we address the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki today, sixty years after the fact? The artist Hiroshi Sunairi, a native of Hiroshima, asked his students at New York University this question when he taught a course one year ago entitled "Peace by Piece." Some of their answers are currently assembled downtown in Tribeca's Debrosses Gallery.

My own most profound memory of atomic war is not the initial report of my country's annihilation of these two great cities but rather the routine, regulary-scheduled school rehearsals for an imagined defense against the oh-so-likely employment of these same bombs by a former ally suddenly turned satanic enemy. Unlike the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were always able to come out from under our desks. To this day the people of the United States remain the only ones who have ever used these insane weapons against another.

Although he is far too young to have ever experienced the terror of The Bomb, or even the fear of its terror, Damien Davis manages to describe it in this simple, powerful installation. The small folded pieces of paper which appear at the bottom left in the picture are stray origami cranes folded by the students as part of the political mobilization of the project.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the artists and their professor on a flight to Hiroshima this summer, where it will be installed from August 13 through August 20 at the old Bank of Japan building, Hiroshima Branch, one of the few buildings which survived the 1945 bombing.

Jesse Burke Pink & Black 2005 C-prints detail view of installation

Jesse Burke Pink & Black 2005 C-prints detail view of installation

The two images above are elements of a larger work by Jesse Burke which we encountered while in Rhode Island last week.

While we were having dinner in Providence we met several young artists who were dining together at the next table. They all had some connection to the Rhode Island School of Design, and before we left the city we visited that school's installation of work by artists who had just completed its graduate program. There we encountered this piece by Jesse Burke, one of the people we had spoken to at the restaurant. We thought his Pink and Black was the strongest work in the entire show. I will be very surprised if he isn't adopted by a good New York gallery very soon.

The complete work we saw at the RISD Museum is shown below.

Jesse Burke Pink & Black 2005 C-prints

The artist's statement:

The idea of masculinity is so incredibly fragile, so sought after, because of what it stands for, because of the history of men. A delicate balance exists between the heroic ideal of masculinity – strength, endurance, toughness – and the true, fragile reality of men as seen through my eyes. My work is an autobiographically driven investigation into the notions of masculine identity and the presence of vulnerability and sensitivity that acts as forces against the mythology of male dominance and power.

My notions of what it means to be a man are romantic. I believe an innate part of our psyche needs us to be the Iron John of Robert Bly, yet we are responding to that primal urge in a new way. We have grown into a new fragility. We identify and illuminate within ourselves what it means to be men through the examples we see in our families, in the media, and in our peers. We are bombarded by images defining what it means to be male, and we are helpless but to give in part way to these campaigns. We are fragile.

I photograph my life and the lives of the men in my social and family circles in an attempt to understand from where our ideas of masculinity originate. As the author I act as an interpreter of a specific culture and mythology. I am most drawn to the moments when we are vulnerable or emasculated; where there is a presence of a rupture or wound inflicted in some way, whether it be physical, emotional, or metaphorical. I employ concepts such as male bonding and peer influence, masculine rites and rituals, homosocial desire, physical exertion, and our connections to one another as well as the landscape that we interact within to expose these instances.

[image at the bottom from Jesse Burke]

Jürgen Mayer H. In Heat detail of room-size installation/painting

Alex Schweder Lovesick Room detail of room-size installation

I'd want to do a post on this show even if the images weren't so spectacular, and I now have an additional reason to do so: Only tonight, as I read the press release while typing these lines, did I learn that this is the last exhibition for Henry Urbach Architecture in the current space (no further information, and the gallery site is "under construction"). Henry is a very special gallerist; I hope we will soon be pleasently surprised with the announcement of his next chapter.

Both artists in the current show are architects who have worked both here and in Europe. On 26th Street this month Mayer H. has built a three-dimensional painting which incorporates all six planes of the gallery and which includes seating as well. Some of the surfaces lose color with body contact, however fleeting. Schweder has covered the walls of the adjacent gallery space with "striped wallpaper that emits a delicious, cake-like odor." In a recess on one wall a small monitor projects a moving endoscopic image, suggesting that the visitor is located both inside and outside of this fragrant architectural body.

David Ratcliff Embroidery 2005 acrylic on canvas 72" x 66"

David Ratcliff Floatation 2005 acrylic on canvas 72" x 96"

The show was over even before we got home on Saturday after visiting it for the first time, so I can't blame my current indisposition for this belated encomium.

I thought David Ratcliff's recent show at team was absolutely beautiful, and I didn't even think of Warhol until someone else brought up the name.

I also had not yet had the advantage of information the gallery supplied about Ratcliff's inspirations and his process. From the press release:

David Ratcliff's first solo exhibition takes as its title a line from Bret Easton Ellis' novel American Psycho. Ratcliff's compendium paintings share with Ellis something of the elegant formal violence that seemed the only way to give voice to the decade that most relished acquisition for acquisition's sake. As a matter of fact, Walead Beshty, the artist and writer, has called Ratcliff's new works "1980's history paintings."

. . .

Ratcliff, like Ellis, is fond of lists, allowing the gathering together of signs to do the work of cultural critique. In a sense, the collecting together of material is as crucial as the manner in which it is deployed.

For his imagery Ratcliff builds his own stencil cartoons on his computer and then prints them onto paper which he cuts out and attaches to the surface of a black-painted canvas. He chooses a single vibrant color for each piece and sprays the surface. The wet paint destroys the stencil and leaves the edges of the images somewhat less than precise.

[images from team gallery]

Tim Thyzel Dot Lights 2004-2005 26 pegboard and electrical light constructions, variable dimensions, installation view

LOT-EK Cynthia Broan Gallery 2005 billboard-style facade with retained elements, detail

Cynthia Broan returned to Chelsea tonight, with a bang, after a two years' absence. Her beautiful new gallery on West 29th Street is a former garage which has transformed by the architectural firm LOT-EK into what appears to be the perfect gallery instrument, an exhibition space with moving walls and a billboard-style facade. Tonight we saw a clean blue box. Yes, the walls were painted a medium blue to set off more than a dozen of Tim Thyzel's minimal, mostly-white sculptural forms, assembled from ordinary commercial display materials.

From the press release:

Slots & Dots, sculptor Tim Thyzel's third solo show with the gallery, utilizes the slotwall and pegboard commonly seen in low-end retail stores to create a series of sculptures which reflect on formal aspects of art and architecture as well as issues of merchandising and consumer appeal. Also known as MDF (medium density fiberboard), slotwall accommodates hardware such as hooks and shelving for interchangeable retail display. Several of the works shown include these hooks to add both texture and context to the work. The crisp white laminate, punctuated with lines and holes, transcends its usual application to construct a series of towers and stacks, which are both elegant and humorous.

multiplying light









We're planning a trip to Boston and southeastern New England this month. One of the things I'm most looking forward to is seeing Cape Cod for the first time since moving from Rhode Island twenty years ago, especially since this will be Barry's first visit. It may seem strange, but while looking at these photographs of old things in interior spaces, I'm thinking of the extraordinary fresh light I've always associated with that long, sandy peninsula surrounded by the sea. The old house which shelters this furniture, ceramic and glass stands at the very entrance to the Cape and even its darker corners somehow share in that light.

I first saw these gorgeous prints attached to the wall of Nicole Cherubini's pottery studio last week. I couldn't get them out of my mind, so I asked her if I could have some jpegs to go with a short post. Once I had them on the screen in front of me I decided I couldn't leave out any of them, so I've included thumbnails of each.

She sent this short note to accompany them:

These images are from an on-going project documenting my grandmother's house, both the interiors and insides. By cataloguing her surroundings, I am able to enter into this developed aesthetic and come to a more complete understanding of excess, abundance and at times, their subsidiary, decay. These intimate portraits function as both finished works as well as source material for other works.

The final pieces are 30"x40" highly saturated C-Prints mounted on

Wellll, . . . maybe I'll admit that at this moment the last image is my favorite.

[images from Nicole Cherubini]

installation view of Roni Horn's Gold Field (1992) in the foreground and Felix Gonzalez-Torres's Untitled (1991) in the rear

The press release for the second in the Andrea Rosen Gallery's series of two-person exhibitions [closed last Saturday] exploring the affinities between Felix Gonzalez-Torres and other artists works included this excerpt of a 1990 text by Gonzalez-Torres read by Roni Horn at his memorial service:

L.A. 1990. Ross and I spent every Saturday afternoon visiting galleries, museums, thrift shops, and going on long, very long drives all around L.A., enjoying the magic hour when the light makes everything gold and magical in that city. It was the best and worst of times. Ross was dying right in front of my eyes. Leaving me. It was the first time in my life when I knew for sure where the money for rent was coming from. It was a time of desperation, yet of growth too.

1990, L.A. The Gold Field. How can I deal with the Gold Field? I dont quite know. But the Gold Field was there. Ross and I entered the Museum of Contemporary Art, and without knowing the work of Roni Horn we were blown away by the heroic, gentle and horizontal presence of this gift. There it was, in a white room, all by itself, it didnt need company, it didnt need anything. Sitting on the floor, ever so lightly. A new landscape, a possible horizon, a place of rest and absolute beauty. Waiting for the right viewer willing and needing to be moved to a place of the imagination. This piece is nothing more than a thin layer of gold. It is everything a good poem by Wallace Steven is: precise, with no baggage, nothing extra. A poem that feels secure and dares to unravel itself, to become naked, to be enjoyed in a tactile manner, but beyond that, in an intellectual way too. Ross and I were lifted. That gesture was all we needed to rest, to think about the possibility of change. This showed the innate ability of an artist proposing to make this place a better place. How truly revolutionary.

This work was needed. This was an undiscovered ocean for us. It was impossible, yet it was real, we saw this landscape. Like no other landscape. We felt it. We traveled together to countless sunsets. But where did this object come from? Who produced this piece that risked itself by being so fragile, just laying on the floor, no base, no plexiglass box on top of it. A place to dream, to regain energy, to dare. Ross and I always talked about this work, how much it affected us. After that any sunset became The Gold Field. Roni had named something that had always been there. Now we saw it through her eyes, her imagination.

The images on the stack of Gonzalez-Torres's take-one-with-you's are of a blue-grey horizonless ocean.

It was a breathtaking installation of seriously-wonderful work.

Taylor Steeddoll.jpg
Steed Taylor Doll With Chocolate Bunny 1964 photograph 15" x 15"

Even my mother might have shown she was impressed this time, and it was never easy to get her to show enthusiasm with our little accomplishments (she let us think she just expected them): I'm the curator for this month's Visual AIDS web gallery.

There's lots more in the statement, where I probabaly overdid it.

[image from]

heroes at large

We met these two extraordinary men for the first time this afternoon. Until then our knowledge and experience of the nobility and the courage of John Schenk and Robert Loyd had been limited to the incredible reports which regularly came to us from Barry's wonderful mother Earline, their good friend and neighbor.

John and Robert are visiting New York this week from Conway, Arkansas, because their story and that of their now thoroughly-notorious pink Victorian house is being told in a documentary which is part of the New York Independent Film and Video Festival.

Barry has already written more about the couple and the film, "Pink Houses." We will be seeing it tomorrow night, Tuesday, at 6 o'clock. He's included an article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a statewide paper.

While the film is presented from the viewpoint of these two men, it also includes comment from a representative of the Family Council — a Little Rock-based organization that promotes traditional family values — and television footage of Greenbrier farmer Wesley Bono talking about his decision to spread a dump-truck load of manure along streets around the Pink House on the day of last summer’s gay-pride parade.

"It didn’t stop us," Schenck says in the film, while standing outdoors with Loyd. "It smelled horrible for a couple of days, but we’re used to dealing with manure."

. . .

In their 19 years in the Pink House, the two say, people have driven by and shouted derogatory names, shot at their house, broken their car windows and destroyed holiday decorations.

"One year we had a 9-foot Energizer bunny," Loyd says. "It was decapitated Easter morning. I thought that was a little extreme."

And some of us once assumed that the big city queer owned the breed's style and courage.

Details: The 51-minute film will be screened at 6 o'clock on Tuesday, May 3rd, on screen 6 of the Village East Cinema, 181 2nd Avenue at 12th Street.

[image original source not available at this time]

Yolanda del Amo (large detail of lightbox image)

Oona Stern (detail of wall installation)

Nicolás Dumit Estévez (view of installation with still from video)

Noriko Ambe (detail of cut paper sculpture)

On Thursday I wrote about Jesse Bercowetz and Matt Bua and what I saw in their temporary Lower Manhattan Cultural Council studio. Yolanda del Amo, Oona Stern, Nicolás Dumit Estévez and Noriko Ambe are just four other artists included in the recently-completed session of the "artists-in-residence" program at the LMCC, and since I managed to leave with some interesting images of their work I'm including them here.

I really regret not trying to pull one of Olalekan B. Jeyifous's exciting large-scale drawings/investigations of a future Manhattan, but I would be seriously wrong not to include him here. Unfortunately his site doesn't include current work and it only begins to describe the scale and brilliance of what he is doing today.

For notes on each of these artist's current work see the LMCC site.

turkey cone

turkey face

turkey scene

David Humphrey unveiled the delightful products of his latest trip into the fantastic on Friday evening. His "Oven Stuffer Roaster" installation is now, well, stuffed into the courtyard of the Morsel gallery in (rather) far eastern Williamsburg. The sculptures are essentially reconfigured giant (but still much smaller than Macy's) Thanksgiving turkey balloons here lit from within.

Barry has more.

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from May 2005.

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