Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Imagine my surprise: My Puryear piece is already available online!

Read it here. You'll still have to wait 'til tomorrow to smell the newsprint.

Pictured: Installation view of Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996)
Matthew Langley doesn't dig the awkward layout of the Martin Puryear retrospective in its NGA incarnation, and suspects that it's part of why nobody's talking about the show. Read here.

You can read my take on Puryear in this week's Washington City Paper--grab a print copy tomorrow, or wait 'til Friday to see the story online.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thanks to everyone who came out to the closing party for She's So Articulate on Friday! We had a huge crowd for the panel discussion; the Meyer gallery was absolutely packed, and I think the artists were all really pleased with all of the positive feedback they received. Frankly, I expected a much smaller audience, given the prospect of arm wrestling roller derby girls across the bridge.

I've been threatening to post original audio content on this blog for awhile, and I finally have some for you: Below is a recording of the discussion, moderated by professor Terri Weissman and featuring myself, Henry Thaggert, Maya Freelon Asante, Stephanie Dinkins, Nekisha Durrett, and Renee Stout. It runs for just over an hour. Terri asks the artists and the curators about narrative, the work in the show--and, of course, the Kara Walker question, with some audience Q & A at the end. Please forgive occasional PA feedback and/or white noise from the struggling, shuddering climate control system.

Sadly, Torkwase Dyson didn't make it in time for the discussion. Damn you, New Jersey turnpike! Luckily, you can read a little bit--and I do mean a little bit--about her current show at Meat Market in Sunday's WaPo. I was excited to hear that she'd been interviewed...until I realized it was for the Studio feature, which basically consists of one question and one answer in hilariously large type, with a half-page graphic of the artist's work.

Hey, Posties: Since I know there's an extensive interview with this fabulous artist floating around somewhere on Jessica Dawson's laptop, why not put that content on the web?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Come to the Arlington Arts Center tonight for the closing party for She's So Articulate: Black Women Artists Reclaim the Narrative.

We'll have a panel discussion from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm with artists Renee Stout, Nekisha Durrett, Maya Freelon Asante, Torkwase Dyson, and Stephanie Dinkins.

Afterwards, we'll have drinks, music by DJ Neekola, and some poetry, too.

Please, please let this be our next president:

Support Barack Obama!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spent the weekend jurying for the Crafty Bastards DC fair in September. It took two full days, but was good fun, thanks mostly to the other members of the panel, whose company I thoroughly enjoyed. They were not only knowledgeable but also managed to keep the mood light.

Overall, the experience was not entirely unlike jurying for a fine arts show. Crafters are apparently just as fond of declaring their work to be unique (we are all special snowflakes!) as fine artists--this despite the fact that the work of both communities invariably breaks down tidily into a handful of conventional, clearly defined categories.

The uniformity of preferred imagery was also surprising: I saw more owls, pirates, whales, squids, unicorns, ghosts, and smiling (or frowning) foods in one weekend than I've seen in the last three decades of my life combined. Who knew that what really ails mainstream consumer culture is a lack of fuzzy cupcake appliqués?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Grammarpolice may be temporarily out of commission (new blog name: Error 404), but Kriston Capps has a nice post here on the passing of Jesse Helms and the lost art of phony moral outrage. Via C-Monster; via Art Fag City.
I've been writing a review this week of the Martin Puryear show at the NGA. This will be my first City Paper piece since--eek!--last December. So, yes, I guess the AAC has been keeping me busy.

This would probably also explain the cobwebs gathering in my friend Evan Reed told me that I should expect to take about a year to figure out how to balance running a gallery space and actually making art--Evan should know, since he teaches at Georgetown and runs the gallery there. I guess that means that in about a month, I'm out of excuses.

Anyway, while I might not have much news for you, Tyler's doing a wonderful set of posts this week about the Baltimore Contemporary Museum's current show, Cottage Industry. The show sounds fascinating (I regret that I haven't seen it yet), and I'm glad Tyler's giving it such extensive coverage.

I did pause, though, when I read Tyler's statement today that "a lot of the work here isn't really art." Tyler is specifically referring to Fritz Haeg, whose piece, Edible Estates, is in the show. I understand Tyler's hesitation; Haeg, after all, is as likely to talk about his projects as exercises in landscape architecture or design as he is to refer to them as art per se. But my immediate knee-jerk response to the statement (probably just conditioned by having students tell me they "weren't convinced that [insert some piece of art or other from the last 60 years] is really art") is that anything can be art.

Any action, object, list of instructions, or bit of ephemera can be a work of art, provided it comes with the right reasons or explanations attached. And since Haeg is pretty much part of the academy--he has taught both sculpture and design at various universities--one assumes that he has the right set of reasons handy.

The only thing that remains at that point is to determine whether or not what's being offered is actually relevant or good. (Given Tyler's observations about victory gardens, I'm guessing he'd judge "no" and "no".)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lots of art in a little space for a good cause. With an artist-designed cocktail, too. That's Curator's Office tomorrow, July 12, from 6:00 to 8:30.
Mixology I: Paintings and Works on Paper is only up for a week--through July 19--and sales from the show apparently help Doctors Without Borders. Artists include: Charles Cohan, Janis Goodman, Jason Hughes, Michele Kong, Jessica Langley, Nilay Lawson, Barbara Liotta, Linn Meyers, J.W. Mahoney, Jiha Moon, Cory Oberndorfer, Andy Moon Wilson, and a whole bunch more. Gallery website here.
Apropos of nothing: Two Youtube videos of Shooby Taylor, the Human Horn. I did an interview with someone before I went away on vacation who had never heard of Shooby...or the Shaggs, for that matter, who are often designated the worst band of all time. I hope you already own a copy of their album, Philosophy of the World, which honestly resembles nothing else in the pop music landscape, and is accordingly wonderful.

While I may not be big on outsider art, outsider music invariably makes me very happy. This might be because so much respectable, saleable pop music is so wretched and forgettable, and musicians who respond to that material in truly unconventional ways are so much less of a snooze. For an introduction, try author/producer Irwin Chusid's indispensible Songs in the Key of Z.

The first video below is Shooby on Showtime at the Apollo. The poor guy gets called "Scooby" just as he takes the stage, and gets booed off inside of about seven seconds. Must've been baffling and crushing for a performer who was a legend and a classic--in his own head, anyway. Below that is Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Just think what Shooby could've been in the present era of microfame and internet pseudo-celebrity. Truly a man ahead of his time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Happy birthday, Marcel Proust! If the man with the madeleine were still with us, he'd be a sprightly 137 years young today. Celebrate by seeing how many times you can use the word "Proustian" in an art conversation. (Talking about Bonnard helps.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I insist that you go see Torkwase Dyson's new show at Meat Market this Friday, July 11. If you haven't seen her installation here at the AAC, as part of She's So Articulate...well, I frankly don't know what to say to you. Shame! Suffice to say that Torkwase's work is fearless, surreal, multi-valent, and funny (four adjectives!), and you owe it to yourself to check her out now.

Yes, the crickets have been chirping here at H&S, but I'm finally back from vacation--tanned, somewhat rested, but still not really ready.

First order of business: Why don't you have a studio at the AAC? We're looking for someone to occupy one of our solo studios for a two year lease--that's $1 per square foot per month, for 209 square feet of work space. So, just over 200 bucks a month. Cheap! You'll be a part of a community of 13 resident artists here, and you'll have opportunities to show your work in the Wyatt gallery upstairs.

Our website says that the application deadline is July 15, but a little birdie has told me that'll be extended to the end of that week--to July 21. Get your apps in now!