Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adrian Meraz Studio

Hein and I visited Adrian's Greenpoint studio. It was a welcome change to visit a studio in my own neighborhood!

One of the most exciting aspects of visiting artists' studios is having a glimpse into the workings of another mind.

Adrian has an exceptionally methodical approach to art making. He agreed with me when I observed that his work is comprised of a series of highly differentiated moves, and also elaborated on my observation by saying that to him each move is like a move in a game of chess. Hein and I both thought that that was a fresh and intriguing way to think about art.

Each move is considered with great care and deliberation, from the meticulously sanded plexiglass to the hot pink strips of fabric that enliven and add vivacity to the sculpture.

The limitations of communication, and more specifically the limits of music and language are ongoing themes in Adrian's work. This acknowledgement  of the limitations of how we communicate and the barrier between ourselves and others in terms of understanding, is a theme that has preoccupied so much of Contemporary thought and art. I picked up the new Kippenberger biography and I was just reading about how the misunderstandings found in language were an obsession for Kippenberger, who was dyslexic. Kippenberger not only invented words and a language that no one aside from a select few could decode or understand, but he would also intentionally title paintings with completely unrelated titles pertaining to the subjects.
Each piece is completely different from the next. Adrian has a fixed set of parameters he works within, but within this  framework an infinite amount of possibilities emerges. Just as each move he  makes in creating the pieces is specific and entirely different from the next, the sculptures are also distinct and individualized. 
I was reminded of a quote by another one of my favorite Germans, Dieter Roth,"hate it if I notice that I like somethingif I am able to do somethingso that I just have to repeat it, that it could become a habit. Then I stop immediately. Also if it threatens to become beautiful."

Habits are complacent and safe. They challenge no one, neither the artist making the work nor the audience viewing it. Art should be a form of rebellion and that goes without question. Anything that aligns itself with the status quo is commercial drivel. I equate certainty and predictability with death. Taking chances breathes life into both life and art. Although thinking outside the box is no longer an option, since the proverbial box no longer exists after having endured much vandalism, mutilation, abuse, and final execution, we as artists are still responsible for taking chances and risks within our own practices and never becoming comfortable or docile.  

 Adrian's thoughts on the moves in a game of chess being analogous the moves in making art was one of the most thought provoking ideas I've encountered. The idea of taking deconstruction to such a reductive yet essential point and applying an isolated strategy to each move or even considering the "move" itself, created a mental storm and actually changed the way I think about art, which was unexpected and refreshing. 

Amy Beecher Studio Visit

Amy has an ongoing series based on self-help books, in which she deconstructs and rearranges the language and words found in numerous self-help authors to form her own satirical commentary on the multi-million dollar industry. Amy's method is reminiscent of the Dadaist “cut-up” technique in literature, in which Dadaists literally cut-up and rearranged printed words in order to create new texts. Although the Dadaists were more interested in questioning the nature of language and the limitations of reason, Amy's approach is more visceral and sequential, although no less self-aware. The violence of the blood-drenched prints point to artifice, being no more than an image of an image, or more specifically photographs of acrylic paintings. The recorded voice of an actor accompanies the texts. Both the prints and the recordings reinforce the comi-tragic, expressive urgency of the work.
When I began listening to the recorded voice and reading the texts, I laughed uncontrollably at the pathetic absurdity of the self-help language being used, but it didn't take long before I began questioning my own reaction. I wasn't laughing because I was relishing in a pleasurable and light experience, but because I felt incredibly uncomfortable. The anonymous, desperate voice along with the pitiful, albeit sincere text she was reading created a strange and awkward sensation. 

The self-help industry thrives on exploiting people's feelings of inadequacy and desires to feel understood and accepted. Self-help literature often promises a better, more complete and fulfilled version of the self, along with the promise of a brighter, happier future. It coincides with the mainstream Positivistic attitudes held by so much of the American public, the idea that with the right tools and an optimistic frame of mind any catastrophe can be mended and repaired. This desire to deny and sugar coat anything less than saccharine sweet also helps explain Oprah's seemingly never-ending popularity. Although the allure of such assurances is undeniably appealing, there is something sickeningly unrealistic and neurotic about the constant quest for the bigger, better you. Self acceptance seems like a more productive and fulfilling goal. 

There has always been a disconnect between art and life. The Pop artists attempted to blur the boundaries between the real and imagined experience by placing a spotlight on the ordinary. What's intriguing and unusual about Amy's project is that although she comments on banality and the interests of greater culture at large, she also manages to create work that is witty, personal, and psychologically charged.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eric Hibit Studio Visit

Eric is a brilliant colorist! My photos don't do justice to his all consuming, fiery palette. It is really refreshing and inspiring to see an artist using color conceptually, rather than sticking with the ubiquitous, faux-sophisticated, b&w palette that blends seamlessly and all too easily with Modernist black leather couches. The Martha Stewart School of Abstract Provisional painting that employs a palette of equally predictable, yawn-worthy earth tones, is just as characterless. Seriously, New York painters, take a lesson from Eric and step it up!   

There's an endearing humor and pathos to all of Eric's work. Eric is a kindred spirit, and since he and I are both Polish, we relate to one another on an entirely different level, because we understand the specificity of our cultural background and how inseparable our ethnicity is from who we are both as people and as artists.  Poles are generally resilient, realistic people who have the ability to laugh at even the bleakest of situations.The line between laughter and tears is often thin, a reality most Poles are naturally attuned to.      

Eric and I also discussed the Polish avante-garde posters of the 70s that influenced so much of design at the time, as well as our own current bodies of work.

The beginnings of a new sculpture...

The works on the wall are a part of a new series Eric's been working on. "Fluffy Stuff" is still in progress. 


Saturday, July 14, 2012

If You Think I'm Sexy opens Tuesday, July 17, 6-9 pm

If You Think I'm Sexy

a group show curated by Irena Jurek and Diana Buckley

Aaron Peterman, Adam Parker Smith, Adarsh Alphons, Brian Belott,Caitlin Cherry, Carla Edwards, Chelsea Seltzer, Gavin Kenyon, Hein Koh, Inna Babaeva,Irena Jurek, Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw, Jesse Edwards, Jesse A. Greenberg, Kristy Leibowitz,Makibolas (Maki Kitagawa), Michelle Jane Lee, Miz Metro, Molly Weiss, 
Natalie Colette Wood, Nina Schwanse, Peter Caine

Gallery 461
461 W 126th St, Harlem, NY
July 17 - 29, 2012
Opening reception July 17, 6 - 9 PM


image courtesy of Adam Parker Smith

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jesse A Greenberg Studio Visit

Jesse's sculptures are incredibly visceral, in both meanings of the word! Some double entendre for you, gentle reader. My mother and I got in a debate over the meaning of the word visceral years ago. She of course being a woman of science knew the definition pertaining to the viscera or the organs of the body and I of course being a woman of the humanities knew the definition pertaining to deep inner feelings. As it turns out, we were both right. Visceral is not a univocal word!

I've been thinking a lot about Jesse's sculptures lately. His work is incredibly complex and has this paradoxical quality that resists categorization. It's very punk in a way :) 

Jesse's smaller sculptures have a sense of monumentality to them, they appear to be massive in photographs. When seen in person, the smaller pieces in particular possess a certain psychological intensity in how intimate and personal they are. 
Although Jesse's medium is always plastics, the ideas behind each sculpture vary greatly, from touching upon natural phenomenon,  to talking about the body, to referencing architecture and pointing out the physical spaces we inhabit. A cohesive and highly sophisticated vision emerges within all these seemingly incongruous vantages.

I especially love this piece, it has a metaphorical quality that I really respond to. The geometric cube seems to embody all our attempts at categorizing, delineating, compartmentalizing, and defining a messy reality which literally ruptures, spills out, and resists our best efforts at explanation. Jesse is in tune with the inexplicable. It's important for all visual art to defy verbalization on some level, otherwise what would be the point of making it?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brian Belott

Brian wins the award for funnest studio visit EVER, past, present, or future!

Beauteous cacti paining! Apparently I am not the only painter of cacti East of the Mississippi. 

Brian explained that he makes paintings in opposition to other works he makes. Brian made these paintings as a reaction to these Agnes Martin inspired grid paintings he's been painting. Among his other influences are Jeff Koons and Liberace! I love that he brought up Koons, because although Koons isn't typically cited as a reference by artists, like Warhol, he changed and influenced the way we look and think about EVERYTHING and also because I think about Koons all the time, too. After seeing the Koons retrospective at the MCA, the summer after grad school, all my work changed. Jeff Koons taught me to have freedom and fun with my work, the way I used to before I went to art school!

In terms of housekeeping, Brian could give me a run for my money, which I didn't think was at all possible.
Brian is wildly entertaining and well versed in many subjects, and we talked about everything from Dieter Roth to Bergman and Fellini. By the time we reached the topic of Woody Allen, we were definitely in trouble, since each of us has seen every Woody Allen movie made at least 20 times.
Diana and I had so much fun at Brian's that we probably never would have left, had we not have had another studio visit lined up afterwards. Each time we attempted leaving, we were sucked back into the ebullient vortex that is Brian Belott and his immediate surroundings. At around our sixth or seventh attempt at leaving, Brian showed us his art collection which I did not photograph. It was actually one of the best collections I've seen in a long time, and he showed us the most amazing Billy Grant drawing that I've ever seen and still can't stop thinking about. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Natalie Colette Wood

Aerial view of Natalie's new studio at Workspace Harlem!

Natalie's mamma!!

Natalie's approach to painting and idiosyncratic palette are deeply influenced by her childhood in Las Vegas and her German background. Her obsession with the paradoxical nature of the seduction and repulsion of casino culture is a recurring subject in her work.

This painting was my favorite!!

Synesthesia and the relationship between sound and abstraction are the subject of many of Natalie's paintings.

Sneak Peek of Natalie's sculpture that will be in our show!!