Culture: January 2010 Archives

Ezra Wube Amora 2009 [large detail of still from video installation]

Barry and I visited the fall 2009 Hunter College MFA Thesis Exhibition galleries twice last weekend, and we both agreed it was probably the best collection of their MFA program artists we'd seen. We had been asked to be a part of a "walk through conversation" with the artists and others on Sunday, along with Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City and artist Clive Murphy and we had gone up to 41st Street to preview the installations the day before.

The "show" is definitely worth a visit. We made it a "top pick" on the ArtCat calendar, partly because of the opportunity to see work by artists who may not yet have shown in galleries, and because of the challenge it offers in seeing the work "raw", without the interventions of galleries, press releases, curators, or even, in most cases, identifying labels. The exhibition has been extended through Tuesday, January 19. Details are here.

The Hunter Times Square Gallery is not normally open on Sundays, but tomorrow at 3 pm there will be a panel discussion in conjunction with the MFA show. It will be moderated by Katy Siegel, Professor of Art History at Hunter College, and the guest panelists are Bob Nickas, Gabrielle Giattino, and Oliver Herring.

I've uploaded here a small number of images I took on Saturday. The complete list of artists includes Courtney Brecht, Meredith Davenport, Jared C. Deery, Allison Evans, Peter D. Gerakaris, Vivienne Griffin, Nathan Gwynne, Paul Helzer, Ellie Irons, Darren Jones, Yashua Klos, Noah Landfield, Lori Merhige, Dave Mishalanie, Jo Q. Nelson, Alta Price, Sarada Rauch, Rebecca Simon, James Weingrod, Ezra Wube, and Seldon Yuan.

It may be a wrong call, but I'm going with a translation of the title of Ezra Wube's video which suggests the role of "teacher", giving me an excuse to use it at the top of this post describing a magister program in the fine arts.

Wube was not at the walk-through, so there was no exchange with the artist, but I had been drawn into his multimedia installation on a visit to the galleries the day before. Today I was streaming WQXR2 while I watched this luscious, semi-narrative soundless video, "Amora", once again, this time on line. Just as the video started so did a recording of Kyle Gann's "Etude No. 4: Folk Dance for Henry Cowell"; then, when the image shifted from words to figures, that player piano piece was succeeded by Olivier Messiaen's "Fantaisie burlesque". A perfect, serendipitous cross-disciplinary, interactive invention, although impossible to produce in the gallery, or reproduce anywhere. [large detail of still from video installation]

Yashua Klos's dense woodblock collages reveal their handsome portraits, sometimes only reluctantly [medium detail]

Ellie Irons, in a number of installations which include abstracted drawings of rivers, deltas and watersheds, along with reconfigured found organic materials, and the litter which is attracted to them, addresses our "attachment" to our environment, both the gifted and the corrupted. [detail of one element in the installation]

Nathan Gwynne's work is almost audible: "The Rhythm Method", his installation of colorful drawings in pencil, gouache, acrylic, pastel and collage, and his freely-worked sculptures reflects the artist's percussive music projects outside the academy. He's gotten my attention there too. [large detail of "Greatest Hits"]

Vivienne Griffin's work, while executed in a number of media, has an intense affair with film, although always in an extremely oblique way. [detail of installation]

Paul Helzer's richly-colored and lighted video documents a roughly-hewn cabin, paradoxically constructed entirely inside his white studio, which is oddly-alluring and almost surreal. It's fully-occupied by a sound design as compelling as it is mysterious. [large detail of video still from installation]

Meredith Davenport's installation included a revolving cast of live "stand-ins" (in several senses of that compound) and a more obscure element involving a looped video on a small monitor vis-à-vis with the printed-photo "stage". In a country where war reenactments of all kinds and all periods manages to thrill millions, it was a show stopper, even for visitors less attuned to "art which is political" than Barry and myself. [large detail of installation, including performance]

Noah Landfield's spectacular city/landscapes describe scenes which may be understood as gloriously celebratory or unambiguously apocalyptic. Only on Sunday did we learn from the artist that each of the paintings began with his own photograph of sections of specific Japanese cities.

Jo Q. Nelson's sculpture and installation project has an important interactive element, involving her interviewees' understandings of place, addressing their relationships with familiar private/public spaces. [detail of one element of the installation]

Peter Gerakaris straddles town and country, in his background and in his art, where he weaves natural and constructed worlds into unstable electric relationships inside his compelling, almost tantric tondos.

Dave Mishalanie resurrects the records of long-gone innocent, or at least ambiguous, intimacies between men in a large, very beautiful installation inspired by found images, artifacts which had been crinkled, faded or erased, re-contextualizing them among gorgeous abstractions picked out from the patterns of old fabrics, also found. [detail of installation]

NOTE: In a gallery just inside the entrance to the MFA Building and the Thesis Exhibition is an installation of work by Mathew Spiegelberg, who was a part of the 2009 class but who died on April 18th last year, after falling between two New York subway cars.

[image of painting by Peter Gerakaris from the site of the artist]

Beuys's cane continuously raps on the surface of Ustvolskaya's percussion box, one corner of which rests on a copy of Castaneda's "Don Juan"

the hugely-outsize Boli, constructed of sacrificial materials, including one of Evo Morales's acrylic sweaters, contemplates Malinowska's replica of Malevich's "Black Square"

a group of slightly-scruffy habitués of McCarren Park "performing the Solar System model falling apart", accompanied by toy piano, in a video using Messiaen's "Visions de l'amen" as sound

Joanna Malinowska has installed her own aggressively-idiosyncratic diagram of the universe, "Time of Guerilla Metaphysics", inside the two gallery spaces of CANADA, on the Lower East Side.

It's not a simple walk-through show. A certain amount of attention has to be paid when the universe is being re-imagined. Its appeal may only develop slowly, at least partly because it's surfaces are largely brown and gray, and because its pieces echo the diversity of Malinowska's model, the universe itself, but ultimately the installations, both separately and together, register as powerful, tantalizing, and, ultimately, deliciously enigmatic. Their mysteries mirror the artist's sources themselves, which include traditional West African totems, Joseph Beuys, Copernicus, Mammoths, Galina Ustvolskaya, Oglala Sioux dance, Spinoza, Kazimir Malevich, Evo Morales, and Brooklyn’s McCarren Park.

I left the gallery thinking that visitors to this, her second New York show could only be scratching the surface of this artist's creative imagination.


This sort of thing is why I don't despair of the art world.

It's almost 6 o'clock, and that means the artist Man Bartlett is about to complete his "24h Best non-Buy, a Performance" inside the aisles of the Best Buy store in Union Square.

Barry and I learned about the piece through Twitter, and Barry was able to follow that traffic all afternoon. There's also this. I visited Bartlett in person around three o'clock, on my way home from the Greenmarket. He told me that the going had been tough at times, mostly during the middle of the night, when he may have been the only "customer" in the store, but that security had been pretty cool. He also said that he fully expected to be able to leave tonight at 6 without having bought a thing.

While talking to him I learned that he had recently been asked to be a part of the residency program at the Flux Factory.

The more I learn about this artist's work the more I find I want to know. I'm pretty sure we will all soon have that opportunity.

There's much more, from Hrag, on Hyperallergic.

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from January 2010.

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