Wednesday, April 28, 2010

gimmee shelter

Paul C├ęzanne - Still Life, Drapery, Pitcher, and Fruit Bowl, 1893-1894*

During my lifetime, media technology has brought an ever-increasing flow of information to my attention. As an artist, with a solid Northeastern urban background, cultivating my skill within the NYC community, I was jarred by news of activities beyond my scope that seemed almost alien to me, but at the same time there was a distance, engendered by the notion that while it might be important to understand a wider reality, the fact was that it's true nature would likely never intersect my life or that of any of my friends, family or associates.

New media challenges that notion every day. Why? Because now, we can interact with virtually any issue that comes in to view, and create content for so many, many others to interact with in turn. And with so much novel and often disturbing information arriving from so many different directions - the past few days alone for me it has included climate change legislation in jeopardy,  St. Vincent's Hospital closing, restaurants in the city serving live animals (via PETA), attacks on schoolgirls in Afghanistan, USMC Lt. Col. (retired) Allen West's ominous insights into how we are NOT dealing with the threat to America from Islamic extremists, the Supreme Court's rejection of the first legislation banning animal "snuff" films...sometimes isn't it necessary to strategically retreat just to keep a creative life in order? And is it even possible?

Jokingly, in a Facebook post in response to hearing on Tavis Smiley's radio show that America is home to a significant population of science deniers who don't believe in climate change or even evolution (remember "Inherit the Wind"?), I wrote "I will simply pretend they do not exist." Which, maybe, is what I do when I sit down to draw or write about art. Yet I can't help but wonder how the age of information has influenced my body of work, and the art of others around me. 

As yet untitled work (c) 2010 by the author

Perhaps the answer lies in studying history, looking for the deepest differences between work created by those living in "smaller" perceptual worlds, who, sheltered from the day-to-day struggles of almost all of humanity, had more time and focus to create their visions, and what we make today. And, while studying history, it also couldn't hurt to re-visit HL Mencken and Clarence Darrow...

Strawberries and Cherries by Margaretta Angelica Peale (1795-1882)*

*public domain images via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Take a walk...

The many moods of Lower Manhattan have inspired the artists of TriBeCa for 5 decades. This weekend partake of the essential experience by visiting about 70 artists where they work during the annual Open Studio Art Walk (a/k/a TOAST), beginning Friday evening April 23rd.

Studio Window - photo by Peggy Cyphers

In the words of artist Jacqueline Sferra Rada, her work presents "both a nostalgic memory of the simplicity and restorative affects of nature, which have become increasingly overlooked in lieu of technology." While she discusses the "marring effects" of industry on the landscape, we find her studio at 515 Greenwich Street nestled in a setting shaped by commercial forces in the decades before the western waterfront of Manhattan was reclaimed. Ensconced there, the transparent layers of her landscapes on paper seem all the more precious and delicate.

Jacqueline Sferra Rada - Small Island Series #II (24 x 30 inches)

As her photo attests, at 315 Broadway painter and printmaker Peggy Cyphers works with sight of the beating heart of the city, as well as the financial district. She describes the result as "exciting and abrasive, noisy and full of history. It's a Spectacle of Disaster and Beauty and extremes that informs my work - dramatic spacial tensions that mirror the human tensions, those in positions of financial and judicial power in contrast with the frightened powerless others...Then there's this legacy of 9/11 which still haunts all my being. TriBeCa!"

Disaster Spectacle - NYC,  painting by Peggy Cyphers

Finally, all that walking makes you hungry, and as always the art in the community has led to myriad eateries of all stripes thriving below Canal. A few have sponsored the event, including our favorite discovery from the days when Mark had a studio on Worth Street. Southsat 273 Church St. near Franklin, is a small neighborhood pub in the best New York tradition - tasty and generous specials, salads and sandwiches at very attractive prices, friendly service and conversation, and the best Irish Coffee we've had anywhere in town! Perfect place to begin or end your TOAST with a toast - maybe we will see you there...

Monday, April 19, 2010

One (happy) ending and one beginning...

April is already a great month for Colette - you may remember that in March, 6 of her paintings went astray while being returned from a recent solo show. (more here)

Well, this month began with their return by photographer, DJ and good neighbor Bryan Raughton, who spotted the canvases at 51st Street and 3rd Avenue, brought them home, and began an investigation of their provenance. Thanks to media coverage and research on Artnet, he was able to connect the pieces to Colette and contact her for their immediate return -  in the middle of her dinner date downtown! 

Colette & Bryan at the happy reunion

She was happy to receive them, and we are certain they will spend no more time in a trash bag! And just in time, because Colette must turn her attentions to her next exhibition opening Thursday April 22nd, with a reception from 6-8 PM,  at Chelsea's Pavel Zoubok Gallery.

Colette: Records from the story of my life series 1978-2007: Real Dream Installation 
Performance at Clocktower, 1975 , Mixed-media collage, 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches 

"Girl Talk" brings together two artists, Colette and India Evans, who explore the iconography of traditional femininity to explore issues of gender and identity. Since the 1970s Colette’s pioneering performances and mixed media installations have established a unique brand of “hyper-feminine feminism” that is carried forward in the work of emerging artist India Evans. Coming from distinctly different sides of the Feminist movement, these two women find common ground in their unapologetic celebration of beauty, embellishment and the erotic." 

 - Pavel Zoubok Gallery

"GIRL TALK" April 22 - May 22, 2010  
 533 W 23rd St.NYC 10011

Friday, April 9, 2010

Was it BANKSY?

On the heels of the resolution of a mystery in the art world with the happy reunion of Colette and her lost canvasses  - view the post "Have You Seen Me?" - and watch for an update soon! - last night presented me with a puzzle of a more personal nature.

My art cards are left on a table outside our studio for visitors to take away with them - but sometime around 9:30 PM, while we were gone for only a short while -  I found my top card looking like this:

Which is quite attractive, except the card image as printed looks like this:

It appears I have a swift and secret collaborator, perhaps the mystery tagger who has struck 551 West 21st Street before, but who knows? There was quite a crowd in the building for an event.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Have a great spring weekend!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where form meets function...

...and art is the sum of the parts.

Artists Jean Marie and Marthe Simonett are well known if France for their monumental sculptural works, but they have also mastered the art of creating wonderful 3-dimensional pieces on a more intimate scale. Their first New York exhibition focuses on a series of puzzle tables (images above & below)- in the words of curator Renaud Vuaillat, "Conceived for life together, to meet together, to connect, to prolong and combine each other infinitely." -  originally created in 1969 for the apartment of prominent French ad-man Jacques Seguela.

Their first New York exhibition focuses on a series of puzzle tables (images above)- in the words of curator Renaud Vuaillat  "Conceived for life together, to meet together, to connect, to prolong and combine each other infinitely." -  originally created in 1969 for the apartment of prominent French ad-man Jacques Seguela.

Vuaillat, who after fifteen years in Paris as an established furniture dealer opened his New York flagship gallery, Twenty First/Twenty First, in Chelsea., continues:

"The Simonnets create formal alphabets - that is to say, series of modules that are made to be linked, assembled, that have parental links because they are constituted of families of forms...This approach to form, this language, is linked to the technical mode of production, and reproduction: the polyester casting. Unlike other materials like stone or wood, polyester only takes on what is given to it: form, color, matter."

"Chairs"  - 1998,  all images courtesy Twenty First/Twenty First Gallery

See them at the opening reception on Thursday April 8th from 6-8, or during gallery hours April 9th - May 29th on the 3rd floor at 551 West 21st  - website