NYC: May 2009 Archives

Bill Mutter Bunny Boy, Devil Boy, Pinnochio Girl (dates unknown) ceramic sculptures, dimensions variable [installation view]

I think what you see above was the most intense image I carried home in my head from the opening of "Then and Now" at the LGBT Center last night. For the longest moment, when I spotted them just as I reached the busy stair landing where these smallish (2 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet tall) figures were installed in a corner to the left, I was still almost totally distracted by a conversation with Barry about an installation we'd just seen. I absolutely didn't know what I was looking at for a few seconds, but I remember I was almost giddy with delight and at the same time a little unbalanced by their suggestion of some kind of horror.

They seem to be children in halloween costumes, but the members of this little band clearly represent some kind of outsiders, especially when seen in the context of the building where they've been assembled, although in fact, like all the undisguised queers they seem to represent, they would be outsiders virtually anywhere.

I know little more about the artist than what I learned from this link, and in the last paragraph of this 1987 New York Times review of a group show.

What follows are images of a few of the other works installed on 13th Street, some of it from the 1989 "The Center Show" show and some of it chosen by the artists in that show for inclusion in this one. All works dated "1989" are works installed twenty years ago.

Gran Fury RIOT 1989 acrylic on canvas

fierce pussy [title not supplied] 2009 black and white xeroxed posters on wall, dimensions variable [large detail of installation inside a multiple-toilet room marked "ALL GENDERS" on the door]

Leon Golub Heretic's Fork 1989 oil on wall [installation view]

Nancy Spero Elegy 1989 acrylic on wall [installation view]

Tre Chandler A narrative of ga(y)zes 2009, 90 ink on paper drawings; 10 ink on paper post-its, dimensions variable [large detail of installation]

Stephen Lack Boy on Wall 1989 oil on wall [large detail of installation]

sculptor David Lukowski warming up for tomorrow's play

For twelve hours tomorrow, beginning at noon a group of 30 or so scrappy artists will be putting on their own show, "Playing Through", in an enormous, huge-windowed 16,000 square foot indoor space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, just above the docks (55 33rd Street).

They describe it as an extensive mini golf course, but much more, a "carnival extravaganza". The announcement continues:

We are eliminating greens fees and assembling a full food court featuring many local vendors. There will be a cotton candy machine and a popcorn waterfall. The course will have roaming beverage cart service. Nightfall will see the musical stage come to life, with several bands performing. In these tough economic times we're taking care of you with an entire day of free entertainment for everyone on the Brooklyn waterfront.

As Barry writes in his blog today, we definitely hope to stop by. The concept, and the creative energy involved, would be more than enough, but the list of artists (some emerging and some quite visible), many of whose work we know and some we have written about, virtually guarantees excitement. Barry:

I was told by one of the organizers that they wanted to use an event like this to introduce the artists working there to the broader community. I particularly like the fact that they have fliers in English and Spanish!

The space is only about four blocks from the D,M,N and R (36th Street station). Here are the other details, on flyers in each language:


[first image via The Brooklyn Paper, the other two from Playing Through]

with good in one hand

and evil in the other

Barry and I happened to be visiting the Metropolitan's newly-reworked American Wing on the same day the California Supremes announced their decision on queer marriage. There didn't seem to be one jot of a connection between the two events when we started out, but I eventually manged to find one.

I spent much more time with the nineteenth-century sculptures in the glass court than I might normally have expected to because we were with the artist Sarah Peters, whose work has been inspired by the milieu in which these earlier American masters flourished, and by their skills, although she finds her own space in interpreting that world anew and commenting on what the artist and his/her contemporaries thought of it through her own drawings and sculpture.

I was also eager to investigate what had inspired Holland Cotter's terrific piece on the galleries which appeared in the Times last Thursday.

The female nude by Hiram Powers, intended as a California allegory, attracted my attention primarily for the odd props the figure was holding, especially the divining rod which she grasped so demurely before her smoothed pudendum. My mind jumped back to the news of the day when I read the note on the museum card, which reads in part:

Inspired by the California Gold Rush of 1849, Powers devised the following program for this allegorical figure: ". . . an Indian woman . . . stands in a reserved and guarded posture and with a watchful expression, holding the divining rod in her left, and pointing with it down to the earth, under a large quartz crystal, which supports the figure on the right. Quartz is the matrix of gold and the divining rod is the miner's wand, or the sceptre of 'California' . . . In the right hand, which is held behind, there is a branch of thorns, to finish the allegory for she is the miner's goddess, or 'Fortune,' and as it is usual to represent the Goddess 'Fortune' with good in one hand and evil in the other [my italics], by suitable emblems I have done so with 'California,' and the moral is that all is not gold that glitters. . . ."

What California gives, she also taketh away - sorta, sometimes, possibly only for a while. Maybe the queers will eventually make out, er, . . . that is, within a structure certified by the state.

BTW, it would certainly help if we could remember to call it "civil marriage" rather than "marriage", which in this benighted land always means religion is involved. That way we might be able to get the folks over 30 to go along with the concept.

For those still interested in the allegory with which I started this post, here's "California" in full figure:

Hiram Powers California 1850–55 (this carving, 1858) marble 71" x 18.25" x 24.75"

[third image from Metropolitan Museum of Art]




I've seen it described as his masterpiece; it's almost certainly his most personal, exuberant and uninhibited expression of pure sexual jouissance.

Twenty years ago today Keith Haring finished his men's room mural, "Once Upon A Time", on the second floor of the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street. Then he signed and dated it. The detail shots above show that it remains there today, pretty much as he left it, with one important exception: The ancient toilet fixtures and partitions which brought both great relief and great joy to the building's habitues over the years have long since been ripped out. Sadly, the room appears to have fallen into desuetude.

But, wait, is that actually a conference table I see in the picture below?


While Haring's room-size installation may have been the most extravagant, it was just one of many works included in The Center Show [see video], organized in 1989 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Stonewall. These additional artists included, among others, Leon Golub, David LaChapelle, Barbara Sandler, Kenny Scharf, Nancy Spero, and George Whitman, and much of their work remains inside this amazing, reinvented 165-year-old school building today, continuing to enrich the dynamic energy it both encourages and shelters.

The Center is putting on a show again this year. It's entitled "Then and Now", and it's intended to commemorate the 1989 events with a new installation by a new catalog of artists, although without the permanent, applied-directly-to-the-walls part of the original. It opens tomorrow, May 28, with a free reception from 6:30 to 8:30, and it will remain installed throughout the summer.

The artists invited this time around are:

Trisha Baga, The Brainstormers, Ian Campbell, Tre Chandler, Chi Peng, Abby Denson, fierce pussy, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Lola Flash, Alex Golden, Rory Golden, James Kaston, Jillian McDonald, Bill Mutter, Deirdre O'Dwyer, James Rohmberger, Jamel Shabazz, Nathaniel A. Siegel, Lori Taschler, Wu Ingrid Tsang, Forrest Williams, and Sarah Nelson Wright

Suzanne Thorpe and Philip White created "Balancing Act", a psychoacoustic composition which related the list of the ship to the location of the listener on the cabin deck

Richard Garet's "Inner-Outer" harmonized a video projection of the abstract, crystalline effect of light reflections bouncing on the water's surface with a sound collage of recordings made underwater

with "Underfoot", Melissa Clarke, Ben Owen and Shimpei Takeda recreated the Hudson River bed within the ship's bowels, using projections, sound, reflective materials composed of geographical data, and light

Bart Bridge Woodstrup's "Gathering Lore", set up on the ship's bridge, was a weather station which translated current meteorological conditions into sound

Jessica Feldman's evocative piece, "Sirens", heard throughout the ship, and beyond, reflected the ship's original function, warning sailors, simultaneously playing with the natural seductive quality of sound

It's not often that I get a chance to post my own images from my experience of a musical performance. Even if it might be better described as a musical "installation", my ears and my camera both delighted in "Sound in the Frying Pan", a remarkable project put together this past weekend by the Electronic Music Foundation in and on the "Frying Pan", a historic decommissioned lightship moored in the Hudson River at the end of 26th Street. What you see above are a just a few bits from my collection of visual takes on the five separate site-specific compositions created by the artists or artist-collaboratives who worked on this quite literally "phenomenal" sound project, curated by Suzanne Thorpe.

This post, because of the images, may seem to be as much about the "Frying Pan" as is about the music, but I've been to the ship before* and yesterday it wasn't only the squeaking of its old metal plates that I heard as it rolled gently alongside the dock, although that sound accompanied the ensemble introduced both above and below its decks; yesterday the old barnacle-encrusted veteran actually sang.

beginning in September 2000, in the halcyon days before Bush 2, with the appearance of Miss Kittin in the program, "BATOFAR: NEW FRENCH ELECTRONICA"

[the images are mine, but the captions are partly borrowed from the press release]

untitled (Bart) 2009

I've seen the way a baby, and even the smallest of animals, will always notice when it's being looked at. We're all attracted to eyes, and that's true even when we know they're attached to inanimate objects. I saw this paper remnant on a wall on the Lower East Side yesterday. It looks a bit like Bart Simpson to me, although I can't say I really know the kid.

preparing for the ArtBaselMiamiDocumentaSiteSantaFeWhitneyBiennaleVeneziaNadaPulseScope Fair

The SchroRoWinkleFeuerBooneWildenRosenGosian Gallery, a combined project of guest curators Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida, is currently installed in the Schroeder Romero Project Space. The title of the show is, technically, "Art-Pocalypto 2012". It's a very successful and extremely funny satirical take on a familiar art market, one which was marked by the extraordinary extravagance of the recent past but which feels more like it's in the midst of a death watch in the present. The artists have created this remarkable space as both a combined real and virtual representation of the fictional skeletal remains of the entire "fabled Chelsea at district" as they imagine it will look in the year 2012.

Excerpts from the press release:

Since the gallery is one of the only outlets for contemporary art related products remaining in New York’s fabled Chelsea art district, we will be exhibiting artworks by whoever we want.

As everyone knows by now, artists have not been able to produce any new art since the crash of 2009 due to shortages of art supplies as well as basic necessities. Dalton and Powhida will therefore be exhibiting 8" × 10" printouts of our very large stable of artists' pre-crash greatest hits which will be laminated on-demand. Make our day and ask if they are archival, that word helps us remember what used to pass for problems back in the day.

. . . .

Prints will be on sale for the low price of $500,000*. If we are lucky and supplies are available, we hope to be able to print in color. However, if we run out of fuel for the generator, the co-curators will make themselves available on selected Saturday hours to copy images by hand. Since child labor was decriminalized last year, we might even have the kids help out! You'd be surprised what they'll do for a cracker. Actually, by now you probably wouldn't.

And save the date! SchroRoWinkleFeuerBooneWildenRosenGosian Gallery will be exhibiting at ArtBaselMiamiDocumentaSiteSantaFeWhitneyBiennaleVeneziaNadaPulseScope this December.

*This is $20 in Spring 2009 dollars.

In schedules which slightly overlapped with SRWFBWRG, the two curators each enjoyed individual shows, in neighboring galleries, and neither was unrelated to their collaborative piece. In a show which closed at Winkleman last Saturday Dalton revisited her 1999 "The Appraisal" project with "The Reappraisal", in the hope of learning something about herself and her lifestyle through an investigation into the different dollar values very different authorities might attach to both. Powhida's delightfully messy installation at Schroeder Romero, "The Writing is on the Wall", is also something of a memoir, but of a more conventional sort, employing as it does both text and drawings, although for sure nothing about this artist can ever be described as conventional. Well, he is representing it as having been written "sometime in late 2009".

Jennifer Dalton puts all her stuff on the block [tiny detail of installation]

[detail of above]

a section of William Powhida's personal chronology [detail of drawing in installation]

This page is an archive of entries in the NYC category from May 2009.

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