Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hillbilly Kama Sutra Is a Yawn!

This four-person exhibition is over, but you can check out the artists' work at their web sites. This review was in the Kansas City Star, June 13, 2012.

Chameleon, by Marcus Cain
Fiendishly disturbing, “The Hillbilly Kama Sutra” is also often predictable.

St. Louis printmaker Tom Huck’s inelegant suite of linoleum cut prints, “The Hillbilly Kama Sutra,” is a study in, among other things, disparities. The prints at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art are beautifully detailed, drawing influence from the historical thematic print series of William Hogarth and Honore Daumier.

Huck’s suite maps out in graphic detail humans, skeletons and other beings — costumed and otherwise — in multiple stages of violent sexual activity. Yawn.

If the results are wince-inducing and mostly grotesque, this printmaking process is strikingly intricate, which is, of course, part of the point. Huck has said he wants “to make bad things beautiful.” By setting up the age-old and stale don’t-want-to-look-but-can’t-help-but-look paradox, he creates a disquieting print suite with indeterminate and perhaps simply gratuitous purpose.

Anne Austin Pearce and Marcus Cain are 2012 Charlotte Street Foundation visual artist fellows. Pearce’s “Undertow” feels like a sea change. Having finally shed the fragmented body, these new paintings surpass her previous work. Painted on paper and framed, the giant 84-by-54-inch paintings “Inverted” and “Overlooking a Well” are staggeringly accomplished.

Using water as a metaphor for her thoughtful examination of “the unnamable corridors of emotion,” Pearce’s free-flowing works suggest sophisticated yet enchanted underwater fairylands. Now untethered from the human form, Pearce is free to utilize space with more authority and creative freedom. The movement in all of these works feels completely alive and complicated in ways that her previous work did not.

The five paintings of “Disruptive 1-5” enjoy a velvety surface. The flowing paint, partially absorbed into the wood panel surface, has a magnetic effect, pulling us along. “Undertow” is an apt title for Pearce’s metaphysical paintings inspired by water and its energy.

Marcus Cain continues his interest in stippling. Abstract paintings with little quirky eyes could feel banal, but Cain’s earnest soulfulness keeps cliché at bay. His carefully plotted paintings radiate dense precision and yet something unknowable and mysterious. Cain’s meticulousness embodies a sense of order out of disorder and control over chaos.

While Cain notes that he approaches the world with “wonder and dread,” we can’t help but find the wonder in each of his delicate, but definitive paintings. The dots radiate energy; the paintings pulsate and vibrate. Painted as sheer dynamism, shadowy faces and heads emerge from the space of these paintings as if in transformative states of being and becoming.

Kent Michael Smith also has the ability to stay true to a particular process or theme, yet continually advance it in engaging ways. In this latest group of paintings suspended in resin, Smith works in the round and has also begun to use larger geometric acrylic shapes within all the paintings. Where those geometric forms have been smallish in the past, they are now large and commanding, giving the works a new feeling of heft and difference.

While his backgrounds are typically gestural, as a counterpoint to the strict geometric forms that float suspended above, in two of the works he has scraped the paint off of his studio floor to create the background. These multihued scrapings add an alien depth to his already hypnotic works. The scrapings are dense, a little dirty, and he layers them so they become a contentious and unfamiliar surface upon which his sharp geometric forms smoothly ride. 

My advice? Hightail it to the gallery for a jam-packed free ride with four artists doing what they do best.

Read more here:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gallerist Bernice Steinbaum To Close Miami Gallery!

photo, Liam Crotty
Bernice Steinbaum, one of the most energetic and dedicated gallery owners I've ever worked with—in New York and then Miami—is closing her Miami gallery after 12 years.  I remember when she left her New York Soho gallery to open her Miami gallery, I was shocked then, and shocked now that she won't own her own gallery any longer.  At 70 (which surprises me, as she seems ageless), it's time for a change.  Bernice has always worked with extremely talented artists, with whom I've had the pleasure of working, including Ken Aptekar, Hung Liu, and MacArthur "Genius" Award winner Deborah Willis, to name a few.

Bernice, you are a force of nature! You shall be missed!

Read Lydia Martin's article in the Miami Herald here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kansas City artist Jarrett Mellenbruch's Fantastic Sculpture

A Busy Solitude, Jarrett Mellenbruch
Kansas City artist Jarrett Mellenbruch has a gorgeous sculpture in Bill Brady's gallery in the West Bottoms.  See my review here in the Kansas City Star, or read it below.  Mellenbruch is also participating in this year's Avenue of the Arts public art project.  His site specific installation FLOAT is a field of hammocks facing the iconic Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 

Here's my review that includes Mellenbruch's A Busy Solitude sculpture.

Unique materials stand out in ‘East West Shift to the Middle, Part II’

Read more here:
Garbage bags and gongshi have nothing in common. But as strange and alluring bedfellows, they inspire Kansas City artist Jarrett Mellenbruch and Brooklyn-based Andrew Sutherland, two of the 16 artists exhibiting at Bill Brady’s gallery.  These two artists are the highlights of “East West Shift to the Middle, Part II,” the second of Brady’s exhibitions aimed at establishing his presence in the Kansas City gallery arena.

Mellenbruch and the self-taught Sutherland are acutely engaged with the material processes of their work, adding a layer of context beyond the conceptual impulses that inform them.
Mellenbruch’s satisfyingly chaotic “A Busy Solitude” initially may suggest Petah Coyne’s wax-covered objects. But Mellenbruch writes that his sculpture emerges from his interest in Chinese scholar rocks, or gongshi.

His cacophonous work has a counterintuitive empathy with the contemplative nature of the curious scholar rock. The beautiful and sculptural gongshi were removed from their natural locations to serve as focal points of personal reflection, as microcosms for the whole natural world.
The artist’s incorporation of absurdist objects such as tiny clown and kitten sculptures, branches and berries creates a visual Tower of Babel, perhaps also exciting in us deliberation of the weird world at large.

Sutherland’s three works reveal his material eccentricity. Both “Untitled (Red Tape)” and “Untitled (Garbage Bag Painting)” look exactly like red tape and black garbage bags mounted on canvas and covered with a glazy, shiny surface. However, the painstaking process involves applying about 40 coats of paint — pigmented and clear medium — onto garbage bags and a taped box, and then carefully peeling it off the objects to obtain the skin of a painting, which Sutherland mounts to canvas.

The pieces are uncanny, magical and obsessively detailed. While “Red Tape” is his best work in the exhibition, his sculpture “Geode” — plaster, chicken wire and tiny shards of car glass individually glued — is also an exciting triumph of material and process.

Robert Greene’s “Scott,” in his standard semi-monochromatic palette, is composed of his trademark vertical painted lines in horizontal rows. Greene’s rhythmic paintings pulsate. The lines optically undulate up, down and across the canvases.

Kate Shepherd and Gordon Terry explore the vast quietude of space in their dark panel paintings.
Terry’s trippy hallucinogenic blobs floating in space are a delicious counterpoint to Shepherd’s strict geometric forms that divide up her infinite space clustered with tiny white dots.

Other than Mellenbruch’s and Sutherland’s works, Brady’s exhibition is missing a major wow factor that might have felt inventive and unusual. While Brady writes in an email that his goal is “to inform and be a reference for local artists, collectors, and museums of what is current and trending on both coasts,” simply racking up 16 artists on white gallery walls fails, so far, to uncover innovation.

The exhibition is diluted, not strengthened, by the high number of artists. Fewer artists showing multiple works would resonate more deeply, because everybody knows that too many artists spoil the vichyssoise.

Read more here:

Monday, April 30, 2012

You Going to Brazil Soon? See Marco Maggi.

Marci Maggi
If you are in the neighborhood of Saö Paulo anytime before May 13, then please, go see Marco Maggi's exhibition at Instituto Tomie Ohtake.  Maggi, who divides his time between New York State and Montevideo, Uruguay, has installed an exhibition titled Functional disinformation, drawings in Portuguese.  Maggi, truly one of the nicest people in the world, works with concepts of time and language in his exhibition.  The exhibition includes a large scale paper installation, in which he stacks sheets of paper and carves into some of the sheets.  Maggi is known for this type of installation; the Kemper Museum in Kansas City owns one, plus a couple of his other works.

Maggi notes, "All my work lies on the threshold between two and three dimensions: engraving and drawing, plan and installation, the line that cuts the paper and the micro sculpture."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Julie Chang at Hosfelt Gallery

Julie Chang, studio view
I've been following Julie Chang's work for a couple of years and I love it.  She stitches so many influences into her work—her Chinese heritage, social expectations, to name a couple—layering her art with meaning.  She's having her first solo exhibition in New York through June 16 at Hosfelt Gallery.  In Chinese. Japanese. Indian Chief—she takes the name from a game she played as a child—she exhibits beautiful panel paintings with multiple cultural influences.  If you're in NYC, stop by the gallery and see this gorgeous work.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Need A Grant Source? Try Fractured Atlas

I get posts from Fractured Atlas in NYC and have been interested in their granting opportunities for artists and arts organizations.  There is a fee to be a member, but it might be worth your time to check them out here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Headed to London This Summer? NYC? Portland? Chattanooga? Get a Street Art App!

If you're headed to London for the Olympics in a few months, that's cool, but you don't want to miss some of the best art in the entire world in London's museums, galleries, and on the streets!  How do I find all that street art you ask?  Why, on your Street Art App for your iphone, that's how!  Cassandra Daily gives us this post about public art apps in London, NYC, and Portland, OR.  

Street Art London app for iPhone offers a comprehensive map of London's outdoor art.  The Arts for Transit app lets New York City's subway riders search the Art For Transit collection by artist or subway line.  The Public Art PDX app helps Portlanders find the city’s public art.

My friend Matthew Carroll is cofounder of SecondSite LLC, which provides a mobile app for the public art of Chattanooga.   Check it out!