Culture: December 2005 Archives

Valerie Hegarty Among the Sierras with Woodpecker 2005 [pretty large detail of both installation and admiring naturalist]

Guild & Greyshkul showed this wonderful paper creation by Valerie Hegarty in their booth at NADA Miami early this month.

Note that Hegarty seems to have installed an ivory-billed woodpecker as the villain of the [Bierstadt] piece. This magnificent bird was recently sighted in Arkansas after having been declared extinct in 1920.


Big, wonderful surprise when I rounded a partition and found these two beautiful new images by Scott Treleaven inside John Connelly's booth at NADA! Treleaven will have a show in the gallery's new space on 27th Street in February.

not barefoot, but with cheek of tan to be sure

Some gallerists have a more casual approach to the concept of office space than others.

I found this very distracted Daniel inside his gallery's booth at NADA in Miami on December 1.

Brian Ulrich Edinburgh, UK 2003 (Shoe) Lightjet C-print 30" x 40"

Brian Ulrich Chicago, IL 2003 (Freezers) Lightjet C-print 30" x 40"

Brian Ulrich Smithhaven, NY 2003 (Sugar Plum) Lightjet C-print 40" x 50"

Brian Ulrich Chicago, IL 2002 (Paper Towels) Lightjet C-print 30" x 40"

I told myself I'd only put up one image, and then just say a few words, since I'd already written about Brian Ulrich in the past.

It was just going to be an encomium to this wonderful artist, but as Christmas was fast approaching I thought I would also have to say something about my weird choice for a holiday-time post after a week of silence.

As far as the number of uploaded images is concerned, I realized that one Ulrich is clearly never enough.

Now, even though I'm looking at these images two days before December 25th, I'm forced to recognize the obvious, that Ulrich himself is not commenting on Christmas here, and perhaps not even on the familiar deformities of an enormous consumer society no longer confined to North America [the first image is of a store in Edinburgh].

I think he's in fact very much in love with his subjects, however sad their world appears in his art, and I think his passion is quite contagious.

I first saw his images on line a year and a half ago, but because of travel I'd never seen the real pieces until yesterday [I can't quite count the work I had seen at Exit Art earlier this year, since it was installed much to high on the wall]. We finally met Brian while he was visiting New York for, yeah . . . , Christmas. He stopped by our apartment in the afternoon with a roll of perhaps a couple dozen large work prints under his arm.

I was absolutely astounded by the quality and the incredible beauty of these prints when seen up close. Even familiar images which had totally haunted me before now assumed a stature I could not have imagined possible. It was like hearing a live performance of your favorite music for the very first time.

I'd like all of New York to see this work; I can't imagine him not being picked up by a good gallery soon.

In New York or anywhere else, for anyone who is (for now) out of range of the physical prints, a visit to his excellent on-line gallery will be a real treat nevertheless.

[images from Brian Ulrich]

large detail of a still from Elena Kovylina's Waltz, a 2001 performance in Berlin documented in a video shown at Schroeder Romero this fall

Never thought I'd get to see this piece except in the form of the video installed in Schroeder Romero's "Russia Redux #1" show earlier this fall, but the gallery managed to bring this intrepid artist to the NADA fair in Miami earlier this month, where Elena Kovylina performed her work on an outside terrace in the mid-day Florida sun.

From the original gallery press release:

The artist subverts the prevalent clichés of the "Russian woman" whose body became one of the main sources of revenues in the new capitalist economy of the 1990s. She also subtly comments on a forced "reconciliation" between Russia and Germany, the former absolute war enemies and ideological adversaries. Choosing members of the Western audience to dance, the artist reverses the prevalent aesthetics of failure, empowering herself and symbolically activating what has been repressed.

the customer

the trophy

the memory

the remains

Jumping back now to the first minutes of the performance, when the bottle was still almost full, we can watch Barry and Elena sweep across the cement floor to the strains of "Lili Marlene" sung by Dietrich herself in a continuous loop:



New York Grimm|Rosenfeld showed a spectacular site-specific installation by Felix Schramm in their booth at NADA in Miami. These two images document what he had done with one wall of the three walls [the projecting materials in the second image are much smaller than the wall seen in the first]. The gallery's current show in New York is devoted to this Düsseldorf-based artist. I haven't yet made it to West 25th Street, where Schramm has apparently transformed the entire space, including the floor and ceiling, but now it's a must.

As a huge fan of big chances taken by both these arts, I love it when art and architecture mix it up together. If we can't mate them with the tools available to us in the 20th century, we really should be ashamed of ourselves. New York please take note.

From the gallery press release:

Much of the formal inspiration for Schramm's work comes from public and institutional architecture. By breaking apart archetypal versions of these spaces, as well as the specific locations in which he creates his installations, Schramm exposes a multiplicity of tensions in experience: between architectonic shapes and the negative space created by them, between new, builder's-grade materials and the used and found materials that he sometimes employs, between construction and destruction, meditation and violence, the impulse to build and the inertia of gravity. Although his interventions are very carefully composed, the roughness of the materials, the jarring angles and the uncomfortable spatial incursions often seem to be the result of some terrible disaster, as if the room had opened up just long enough to accept some falling wreckage--only to close again.



I don't have any details, mostly because this is a view of an open portfolio of an artist whose work the people of Seattle's very interesting artists-run Platform Gallery had first come across just prior to the Miami fairs. His name is Marc Dombrosky and, as it was described to me, he hand-embroiders the images or text of pieces of paper which he might find discarded just about anywhere.

As you might expect, the results vary, but the level of their interest begins with, well, . . . just fascinating, and continues toward something like profound, even sublime.

Disclosure: I have accepted an invitation from the gallery to do catalogue interviews for their current exhibition.

MORE: When I posted this item I did not have the correct spelling of the artist's name and so missed the many Google images of his work from this as well as earlier series. Jim O'Donnell of Seattle's COCA led me to the Solomon Fine Art site , and now when I entered the name properly, the search engine turned up these goodies.

looking up

It wasn't just about the art.

Michael, our Florida sunshine

We went to Miami Beach during the run of Art Basel Miami this year (and the five or so shows which were scheduled for the same days) because it was additional motivation for a visit to my old school friend Michael - and because I had never been to Miami. Yeah, I know, "not even spring break?"

imitating nature

We did see a lot of Miami and Miami Beach, but we ended up spending far more time with the art fairs and the many related events than we had expected. Even then we were surprised at how little of that ground we were able to cover.

nice, but no convertible

Because of a mess-up with the car we had reserved months before, we missed the big one altogether, Art Basel itself. We had expected to make it to the Convention Center for the vernissage, but it took us almost four hours after arriving at the rental-car counter before we finally drove away with a substitute for our contracted, but totally-no-show Beetle cabriolet. The neat little Mini coupe is a very fine car, even without the blacked-out windows, but in spite of a fine sunroof, it wasn't the convertible we'd both been anticipating, so I accepted the rental agency's offer to switch it for an open Mini Cooper S the next day. I was amazed that the transaction went so smoothly this time.

Michael's house, open Mini below

I had such a ball with this little car I forgot to get a real picture of its pink-gold or burnished-copper beauty, and running around the city from one festival, gallery, installation, performance or party to another - while having to sweat an often impossible parking challenge - didn't leave much time for contemplation of the features of one of the most exciting rides I'd had in years. Hated the silly dashboard and the door design on the inside however.

"Living Room" in the Design District

The entire, very impressive arts shebang was an amazing accomplishment, and I have to admire a city and an [industry?] which could put it together. Still, I don't think I'll be going to another arts fair in a distant city anywhere, unless everything is located in one area, or at least accessible to decent public transportation. I understand Miami is trying hard to show off its many charms and serious real estate potential to visitors who could make a big difference for its future, but I don't need the wear and tear, and the disappointments from missing so many advertised attractions, on what should really be just a pleasure trip.

Miami Beach beach

I should add that it was never intended as a resort vacation either. Neither of us likes sitting still while on holiday. We did walk up to the ocean for about five minutes one afternoon (it was behind Starbucks, where we went to check our mail after three days), even though we were staying only three short blocks away on the southern end of South Beach.

protected relic of old Miami Beach

On our last day we managed at least to drive through some of the older and most interesting sections of the city and nearby communities. It was a kick to see real Spanish Moss on one Banyon Tree (I think it was in Coral Gables, which once was a swamp), but I would love to have seen the Everglades themselves.

behind Carolina Sardi's studio, the asado

I'm not sure if or when I'll be going back, if only because there are so many other places to go, but I know I'm going to be thinking and even dreaming about Miami for some time to come. I may eventually sort out my impressions - to my own satisfaction at least. I'll say right now however that I was happy to find the prominence of Miami's Latin elements confirmed, and thanks largely to the interventions of our host, we saw first-hand evidence of the importance of non-white artists and collectors to the cultural scene of the city.

terrace, Miami Beach house

New York may be able to pretend that it is truly multicultural, but power here up north is still pretty much in the hands of a white establishment. There is no sign of a Yankee establishment, or even a Southern, in Miami. Both the political and cultural walls seem to have been breached, and the entire country is so much richer for the conquest.

slow food on NE 2nd Ave. (Carlos and Joe)

I'll close with a microcosmic note: Miami's multiculturalism is about much more than my poor observation that there doesn't seem to be anything like "fast food" in this amazing, quite Caribbean town. Anyway, those sandwiches were delicious.

inside Aqua Art Miami

Over at least the next few days, I expect to post some images of real art sighted throughout the city, so check back soon.

Sir Harold

Nobel laureate Harold Pinter addressed the Swedish Academy yesterday. He began with a beautiful description of his own creative process, but very soon stepped up to the broader political pulpit which the prize so generously provides its honorees.

From the brief account in the NYTimes:

Dressed in black, bristling with controlled fury, Mr. Pinter began by explaining the almost unconscious process he uses to write his plays. They start with an image, a word, a phrase, he said; the characters soon become "people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort."

"So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction," he continued, "a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time."

But while drama represents "the search for truth," Mr. Pinter said, politics works against truth, surrounding citizens with "a vast tapestry of lies" spun by politicians eager to cling to power.

Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not. "I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road," he said. "Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love."

Earlier in his address [see the Guardian for the entire text, and it's definitely worth a read] Pinter reminded the world that American narcissism has been exercised at enormous cost, and that the world continues to pay for it today.
The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War.
And yet we persist in the myth that we are just a peace-loving, democratic folk continually abused by a world to which we generously offer our highest ideals and material support.

SIDEBAR: Barry and I will be seeing Pinter's first and most recent plays in a double bill at the Atlantic Theater next Tuesday. I could hardly wait for the day even before the artist's appearance on the screens in Stockholm; now I can't help thinking of the opportunity as a small event of world significance.

[image from CamdenNewJournal]

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

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