Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mixed Messages

So much importance in the media and gallery settings is placed upon what an artist says about the meaning of their own creations and/or how the anointed writer understands and contextualizes the art -- intelligible mainly to the equally anointed reader. Is this is visual art for the viewer to experience according to his or her own context, or is there only one way to “see” the art?

In June, it will be 3 years since the studio I share with life and work partner Mark Wiener moved to Chelsea, and with that tenure (and alas the life of the 551 Arts “Castle”) slated to end later this year, I am trying to make the most of the here and now, especially my time with the 1 – 100 people who flow in and out of our open door daily. From them, I have learned more about my art, and why I make it, than I have learned about any other artist in decades of reading wall text and criticism.

The predominate subject of my line-based works on paper is definitely a conversation starter, visitors to my studio find themselves face-to-face with pears – walls of pears, tables of pears, books of pears, as well as a few models arranged under a light. The mixed messages here are pear as figure, pear as model, pear as food. 

Most often people ask why, and if I knew the whole answer myself I would probably not still be doing it (All the more reason my attempt to state “why” for an audience would be clear as mud) so everyone who asks teaches me more. I do know that I  “saw something” in some local Greenmarket Potomac Pears (grown by Samascott Orchards BTW), and photography did not capture my vision, so I started to draw, capturing something, but what that is exactly is and perhaps should be out of my verbal range. If it were expressible in words alone I would not have been exploring it visually since the 2006 harvest (“How long” is the usual follow-up question).

Do I eat the pears? Sometimes, but since gallerist Matther Foster asked my how I could eat the fruit after drawing it like that, much less. Up to that point I had not given it  a thought. Do I draw apples? Rarely, the smooth surface tends to make them look alike. Peaches work. In the 2010 growing season, when local peaches were plentiful , I acquired them by the bagful from the farmers and filled several “Peachbooks” with portraits, small groupings, and even piles of peaches. When summer 2011 began I realized I was totally  “peached out.” But anything, especially from the farm, that catches my eye can wind up on a page or two.

The fact that people have life experience with pears is a bridge between art and life supporting a flow of ideas between the two… All pears are sexy and look like nudes, pears grew in their back yard, the last pear they ate was red…  Recipes abound  -- as I write this I just received a canning recipe for spiced pears -- oh dear, if my models had ears I would have to cover them! Only once did someone try pick up one of my models for a snack. (I gave them a substitute pear but I think they were still put out!) The logic inside my studio is just different from how the world sees pears,  but most people seem to get it. Another artist once caught Mark hungrily (fresh food is tough to find west of 10th Avenue) washing a pear in the slop sink and would not allow him to eat it until Mark explained that he had called me for permission.

Still, even I find it a little weird when I catch myself chatting with the pears as I pose them, let alone looking and saying, “Look at you!” or “Aren’t you cute?” I hope the sentiment comes through my art, and when a collector started saying similar things when leafing through a book, it made me very, very happy. Another collector looking at peaches told me who he related to each piece in terms of how he saw the subjects as characters relating to one another. Two special moments that would never have happened if I had been explaining my content.

Hopefully my flexibility encourages suggestions too – visitors have recommended that I explore sculpture, fashion, accessories, tiles etc. One such prompt led to exploration of printmaking and an ongoing series of unique block prints. If you have every been to the studio and recommended that I  try something out, know that your idea was taken to heart and has influenced the work you see today.

Please join us Thursday, July 26th for one of the last chances to visit the pears as well as all the artists in our storied studio building,  551 West 21st Street, nicknamed  “Cold Castle,” which will be departing this timeline forever come autumn.  Chelsea Art Walk, 5 - 8 PM 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day one...

A step ahead of most you, dear readers, The Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory has it's public opening tomorrow (tonight's preview gala benefits Henry Street Settlement and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ADAA). What I saw was a temporally and stylistically eclectic array of works via many of the world's top dealers, some booths naturally in a marketplace vein but also several monographic installations.

Standouts among the latter were Metro Pictures' presentation of Cindy Sherman's virtuosic "Murder Mystery" series (1976), Rudy Burckhardt at Tibor de Nagy, and L&M's striking installation of John Baldessari.

A few museum-worthy collections were of note. Mary-Anne Martin showcased a strong and intriguing group of 20th Century Latin American artists, including works by surrealist Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo , and Diego Rivera. Washburn Gallery celebrated Jackson Pollock's centenary with some unusual and captivating pieces, as well selection by several artists created 50 years ago. Galerie St. Etienne brought nearly 60 pieces to the fair, mainly showcasing their focus on Expressionism - numerous selections by Egon Schiele and Otto Dix were especially impressive.

Finally, if you enjoy as I do some flash and drama at a big New York art fair, James Cohan Gallery, as usual, does not disappoint. To say much more would be a spoiler, but please do give my regards to the gentleman at the front desk...

Note... Mark will be first on scene at tomorrow's Armory Show preview, and we'll be at Scope for the evening's First View. We will stream the highlights for Resolve40's Listings Live, to get them please subscribe to our Twitter on the home page at - ld

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Farewell, Hello and Welcome Back... Armory Week 2012

551 West 21st St, Studio 210, works by Mark Wiener

First days of March find us already in a whirlwind, pulling highlights together at Resolve40, still trying to absorb the fresh approach at the Whitney Biennial, and getting ready for the fairs and activities collectively know as Armory Arts Week.

As artists, we are also gearing up for "Chelsea Saturday" - and our participation in the
High Line Open Studios (March 10, 12-6), bittersweet this time around. It is our last such event at Studio 210, 551 West 21st is slated to close its doors later this year. We will miss this venerable and storied magnet for art and culture, please join us one last time!

A trek that same evening will bring us to Williamsburg for Brooklyn Armory Night and another look at Sideshow's "Mic:Check" exhibition featuring almost 500 artists, and many other galleries staying open from 7-11.

All week we'll be racing to catch the best shows, which we continue to compile on the home page of Resolve40. Subscribe to our Twitter updates there - it's the only way to get "Listings Live" streaming videos from on the scene!

Passing through midtown at lunchtime of your way up to the Armory or across to the Piers? Make a stop for one of the coolest and tastiest traditions on the New York art scene:
Molly is coming to town with two notable Chelsea art dealers...

Thursday, March 8th: Pavel Zoubok, director of the Pavel Zoubok Gallery specializes in collage and will talk on the history of collage.

Friday, March 9th: Douglas Walla, brilliant author and owner of Kent Fine Art has shown artists Richard Artschwager, Richard Prince, Llyn Foulkes, Mike Cockrill, and DorotheaTanning.

At the Penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel, N.E. corner of Lexington Avenue and 47th Street in Manhattan. They start at 12:00 noon, but please plan to arrive earlier for a complimentary Brown Bag lunch, lively conversation, and of course, a good seat. If you have any questions, please call the Roger Smith at 212 755-1400. (via Fran Kornfeld - thank you Fran!)
Hungry for novelty and nightlife? Welcome the first edition of the curator-driven fair, Spring Break Art Show -- it runs 'til 9 each evening at Prince & Mott Streets, and you can register for the after-party each night! But do save Friday for a special Armory Show After Party at the Hole, 312 Bowery, co-hosting with The Serve LLC and Art Station -- remember the cool show at Chelsea's Lukoil Station last fall? (deets below)

Also Friday only, Pink Gallery of Seoul, Korea presents a pop-up show by artists Chris Twomey, Nikki Johnson and Linda Levit for the opening of the Pool Art Fair on the mezzanine of the gorgeous new Flatiron Hotel, open to the public from 3-6 pm at 9 W 26th St (corner B'way)