Friday, July 31, 2009

more grim news

The Washington Post has pictures of the aftermath of the fire at Peggy Cooper Cafritz's residence here.

everything must go

Kriston's article on the closing of G Fine Art's space--and the woes of the remaining residents at 1515 14th Street--is finally up on the Art in America website.

I realize that Annie plans to continue in another space, but it's been really disconcerting to see first Cheryl Numark, then Annie Gawlak have to close the doors on top-flight contemporary spaces featuring diverse rosters of challenging artists--local, national, and international. This is definitely not a good thing.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

we do need some water, actually

From the Washington Post this morning: Local art collector and former D.C. school board president Peggy Cooper Cafritz's house on Chain Bridge Road burned last night. Badly.

This is especially sad news for me, personally: Last year, Ms. Cafritz kindly loaned a piece by N.Y. artist Nadine Robinson (whose gallery, Caren Golden Fine Art, shut down on July 10--another sad bit of art news) to the AAC for She's So Articulate; at the time, I saw the rest of her collection, and there were some really stunning pieces. No word yet on the extent of the damage to the house or the collection, but this sounds to me like a big loss for the D.C. arts community.

Apparently, controlling the fire was hindered by inadequate water pressure in the neighborhood fire hydrants. If only the D.C. Fire Department had referred to this recent art project by John Anderson...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

twelve-tone kitty

What does the world need? More videos of cats playing avant-garde 20th century music.

Cory Arcangel recently collected 170 YouTube videos of cats walking across, jumping onto, or otherwise eliciting sounds from pianos...and, with the help of online software, he sifted through, cut, sorted, and pasted that footage into an approximation of Arnold Schoenberg's 1909 op. 11 Drei Klavierstücke--Pieces (3) for Piano.

Schoenberg, of course, dismayed his contemporaries and critics by developing atonal and twelve-tone music. For awhile, at least, he composed pieces that seemed not to follow any traditional models for structure or development--sounding to the uninitiated a bit like, say, cats walking across a piano.

You can see the YouTube videos of the results below, along with another clip featuring Glenn Gould playing piece number one. Compare for yourself. Anyway, this is exactly the sort of collision of contemporary junk culture and ephemera with serious, high-modern art ideas that just makes me smile and smile.

Via Rhizome, via the artist's own website.

Monday, July 27, 2009

the dancer + the dance

I definitely will have more to say about this at some point this week: Merce Cunningham died yesterday. He was 90.

Read about it on the NYT site here. Visit the official Merce Cunningham Dance Company site here.

so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

Kriston lets the cat out of the bag: G Fine Art is closing.

I have been hearing noises about this for awhile now; the reasons for the closing have me wondering how much longer 1515 14th Street will continue to house any galleries at all. Look for details from Kriston on the AiA website, which should have his scoop soon, I think.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

maiden monkees

I've been fighting a couple of deadlines all week, so things will continue to be quiet here until next Monday.

Until then, distract yourself with this moment of Iron Maiden vs. The Monkees, courtesy DJ Schmolli. Oh, my goodness, yes. Link courtesy of my friend Mike, who creates all sorts of wonderful stuff himself.

Friday, July 17, 2009

can't possibly be real dept.

Surely this article on a trip to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is phony. Seriously, this reads like one of those faux editorials that appears in the Onion. Right? Even the picture of the author projects deliberately cultivated awkwardness. Courtesy of C-Monster, via Eyeteeth.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

judge, jury, and guy sipping wine at the opening

If you (or someone you know) lives in or around the southwestern corner of Virginia--say, within 150 miles of Blacksburg--then you (or that certain someone) should consider applying to the New River Art biennial juried exhibition.

I'll be judging the show this year. As you may or may not know, I grew up in Lynchburg, and went to school in I look forward to seeing all of my C'ville, Roanoke, and Lynchburg friends at the opening reception on Saturday, October 3.

Deadline for submissions: Monday, August 24.

Monday, July 13, 2009

crafty weekend

I spent the weekend reviewing the 450+ entries for this year's Crafty Bastards alt-craft fair with Tina Seamonster, Kriston Capps, Kelly Rand, Kim Dorn, Sara Dick, and Pete Morelewicz.

This was my second year participating in the two-day process. It was good fun, and, like last year, was not unlike jurying a fine art show, particularly in the sense that lots of applicants seemed to fall into a surprisingly narrow number of categories. I'm amazed by the power of certain art or craft memes--how they get picked up by many different producers who live in disparate parts of the country, presumably unaware of one another.

There were definitely some standouts, and some booths that I can't wait to see--assuming those applicants make the final cut once all of the scores are tallied. I don't envy the CB folks for having to compile all of those numbers.

As with last time, there were a number of drinking-game-worthy words and phrases that appeared in an overwhelming number of vendor statements: whimsical, up-cycled, and sustainable seemed quite popular this year; making return appearances were unique style, inspired by nature, and the ever-popular a blend of classic and modern. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with any of these phrases per se...except that when 200 different people use them in exactly the same way to refer to entirely different objects and practices, they cease to mean much.

Other observations: Edgar Allen Poe appears to be the new Abraham Lincoln; fake mustaches are still inscrutably popular; and little homespun kawaii creatures are not necessarily more interesting than the mass-produced toys they resemble.

You can read more about the jurying process here on the Hello Craft blog. Note that Kriston, Pete, and Kelly all managed to keep their bios to two or three simple sentences; mine rambles on for four bloviated paragraphs.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

final victory

After Michael Jackson’s funeral, I started to think about Greil Marcus’s 1989 book, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century--which links the Sex Pistols to Hugo Ball, Guy Debord, and just about everything else. At one point in the book, Marcus describes that moment in May of 1983 when Jackson first moonwalks on national television:

Lithe, beautiful, grown up but still a child, an Afro-American with surgically produced Caucasian features, androgynous, a changeling, communicating menace with the dip of a shoulder, comfort with a smile, singing a song from his new album, Thriller, stepping forward but somehow seeming to glide backward at the same time, walking the television stage not as if he owned it, not as if it was built for him, but as if his very presence had called it into being, he shocked the nation.

Okay, so that’s one long, hyperbolic sentence. But in the pages that follow, the author gives a clear sense of the strangeness of what he calls Jacksonism. Marcus contends that Jackson’s rise was unlike other pop explosions that came before—was ultimately different from, say, the emergence of the Beatles or the Sex Pistols, figures who “raise the possibility of living in a new way.”

It was the first pop explosion not to be judged by the subjective quality of the response it provoked, but to be measured by the number of objective commercial exchanges it elicited…the pop explosions of Elvis, the Beatles, and the Sex Pistols had assaulted or subverted social barriers; Thriller crossed over them, like kudzu.

So Thriller didn't split people into opposing camps; it was a cultural phenomenon that one participated in simply by being alive at that moment and acknowledging the pop culture landscape, which Thriller pervaded utterly. Ultimately, though, in Marcus’s telling of the story, the illusion of Jacksonism falls apart with the subsequent Victory Tour, for which tickets are only available for sale at $30 a head, in blocks of four—that’s a mandatory commitment of $120 in 1984 dollars to see the King of Pop.

Jackson’s main fans, tween African-American boys and girls, were locked out in large numbers. Stories of families going without medical care or food in order to buy the tickets surfaced, and in the end, the audience for the Kansas City kickoff was predominantly well-off and white. For Marcus, it appears that the Michael Jackson phenomenon was directly connected to the political culture of the 1980s:

The Jacksonist pop explosion…was brought forth as a version of the official social reality, generated from Washington as ideology, and from Madison Avenue as language—an ideological language, in 1984, of political division and social exclusion, a glamorization of the new American fact that if you weren’t on top, you didn’t exist. ‘Winning,’ read a Nestle ad featuring an Olympic-style medal cast in chocalte, ‘is everything.’ ‘We have one and only one ambition,’ said Lee Iacocca for Chrysler. ‘To be the best. What else is there?’ Thus the Victory Tour—which originally boasted a more apocalyptic title: ‘Final Victory.’

the twofold path

Kriston asks which is more compelling: Austere installations featuring the likes of Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread...or a double-ended metal dildo by Lynda Benglis, fashioned in honor of the founder of October?

Consider your answer carefully.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

boxing over the boxer

Apparently, some folks are not happy with Lisa Marie Thalhammer's boxer girl mural, which went up in Bloomingdale at the end of May. See the video clip below:

an inside job

Yesterday Tyler weighed in on the Jerry Saltz vs. MoMA phenomenon. I briefly mentioned the discussion between Saltz and MoMA curator Ann Temkin in this post from last week.

Tyler expresses his disappointment that Saltz's campaign is essentially ghetto-ized, i.e., taking place for the benefit of his (presumably art-world oriented) Facebook friends, and not reaching the broader audience that a crossover critic like Saltz--someone who is a contemporary art insider, but who writes for the general public--could reach, if he wanted to. He points to this as yet another sign of the decline of arts journalism.

I think Tyler's on to something. I hate to say it, but because of the novelty of seeing this unfold on Facebook, the thought that Saltz might just be preaching to the choir hadn't occurred to me.

Having said that: Is Saltz's facebook network really so small a neighborhood? Doesn't holding the discussion there allow the 5,000 friends who did read it to disseminate that content in other places, as Ed Winkleman did by reprinting it on his blog? (Which is arguably just another neighborhood in the same ghetto...but, hey.)

I also have to wonder exactly how engaged the general public has been with this particular fight of Saltz's. Isn't the visual art world at its highest levels all about privilege? That's the prevailing assumption amongst non-artsies I know, anyway, so latent gender discrimination within the halls of an elite arts institution is probably no surprise to them, and confirms what they already think.

Tyler would probably argue that disspelling those assumptions is exactly Saltz's job. And I think he'd be right.

But it seems to me that the question of really changing MoMA is whether you should apply pressure from within or without--rally the art world, or focus on educating everyone. In this instance, anyway, Saltz seems to have opted for an inside job.

Monday, July 06, 2009

back from the shadows again

This is a brief post to announce that:

1) I'm back at my desk at the AAC, and

2) you should visit artist Andrea Chung's new website.

Andrea was in our FALL SOLOS show last year, and currently has work on view here.