Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Issue of Art News

Shannon filled me in on February's cover story on Art News. The article by Nicole J. Caruth entitled "For some artists, cake is a subject. For others, it's a medium" allowed me to gain insight into a few other artists working with cake (though for the most part, theirs are real while mine are fake). As I'm continually thinking about presentation with the series Nine Fake Cakes and Nine Bodies of Water, I was drawn to the fact that Will Cotton opened his own temporary pastry shop when exhibiting his work in 2009. The detail is tremendous: the cupcake head pieces, his painting on the wall referencing similar color schemes, and cakes precariously piled as sculptures. Images via.

Dustin Wayne Harris' series Cake Mixx features nine photographs and one sculpture when it was first exhibited at the Heist Gallery. Harris asked women to bake him a cake following their first date and his titles represent the name of the bakers. All the images in the series can be found here.

Of particular note in the above link is this passage: "Lindsey Kremkau, its baker [of the above cake], said the cake was a representation of Harris. “It’s fun to look at and tastes good but it’s not very appealing or perfect in any way,” said Kremkau. “It’s like a mess on the inside, a mess on the outside but you still want to be near it, touch it and look at it because it’s interesting.”

My next rejection letter will come from Kreëmart as I can't help but pass up an opportunity to contact an organization that "gives opportunities to artists to explore dessert as a medium." Leandro Erlich, one of my favorite installation artists created this chocolate couch in conjunction Kreëmart entitled You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat it Too. It's a life-size replica of Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Daybed.

You can buy one of Franco Mondini-Ruiz's layered/stacked canvases for $5000.

I love Laurie Simmons' series of objects on legs and what do you know! She has a Walking Cake from 1989.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stephanie Snyder's Catalog Essay for Reed Art's Week RAW: Geographies

"3 weeks, 6 earthworks, 1 portable studio, & ALL that lies in between is an itinerant art and performance project by artists Jacinda Russell and Nancy Douthey that re-examines a group of American earthworks created during the 1960s and 70s. For three weeks during the summer of 2009, Russell and Douthey traversed the Western United States in a rented SUV on an irreverent, but celebratory pilgrimage to the following: Robert Smithson’s (1938–1973) Spiral Jetty (1970) and Amarillo Ramp (1973); Nancy Holt’s (b.1938) Sun Tunnels (1973–6); Michael Heizer’s (b.1944) Double Negative (1969); James Turrell’s (b.1943) Roden Crater (1979–present); and Walter De Maria’s (b.1935) Lightning Field (1977).

In many respects “3 weeks” is a work of art captured in the shadows of giants. The picturesque photographs, antic videos, and conceptual artists books that comprise the project’s massive compendium wick their significance from the stoic and achingly monumental works they embrace and critique. Russell and Douthey question the persistence of the earthworks as works of art—under the pressure of the present— replacing their canonical representations (repeated in endless art books and articles) with images that cast the works as theatrical sites, autobiographical backdrops, and art historical “texts” calling for re-interpretation.

In Russell and Douthey’s appraisal, the earthworks become characters in a decidedly feminine and experimental narrative. The artists photograph and film themselves engaged in all sorts of performance actions accompanied by kitschy store-bought props and artful handmade objects. Props take on particular importance as the artists transform the earthworks into ruins by repeatedly re-framing them within the technologies of the present.

At their most theatrical, Russell and Douthey don costumes, make-up, and disguises, such as false mustaches to portray unspecific but stereotypical character types (villains, vagabonds, etc.) both within the landscape and on the journey. In one video sequence, Douthey—dressed and made-up like Anne Hathaway’s cowgirl character from the film Broke Back Mountain—attempts—and fails—to twirl a length of bright synthetic rope, as if she were lassoing a calf. The ersatz lariat falls to her feet like a cast-off dress. In the artists’ truncated, energized video dramas—and there are quite a few—the journey is often represented in inconclusive, interrupted, and incomplete narratives. Here, the impression of space and geography feels far more virtual—subject to sudden shifts—contingent, and decidedly unmonumental. The same is true of many of the photographs. Here, the frame of the landscape is transgressed by unexpected and disturbing textures and colors—billowing pink tulle, for example. In a particularly poignant image, Russell and Douthey straddle the gulley of Heizer’s Double Negative (emphasizing the feminine attributes of the work’s concavity) chatting on a “telephone” made of two tin cans connected by bright pink cord. Communication is a critical theme of the project. On their first road trip together in 2008, the artists played a game in which they screamed “GEODOME!” each time they saw anything resembling a mound or dome. These playful acts of exclamation flutter against the history of the American West’s representation in art and film. What fun to imagine John Wayne screaming “GEODOME!” in the red rock landscape of The Searchers.

Tracking time and space in “3 weeks” is challenging—particularly in the project’s most comprehensive form as an online Blog. At times, it feels like trying to use a GPS system that has been hacked by a karaoke duo masquerading as art historians who are producing a television series about American land art for young girls in China. The narrative drift is palpable. If it weren’t for the conceptual weight of the earthworks, one might just float away into fantasy, or comedy, or absurdity. But that’s OK. There’s nothing better than being on the road."

Stephanie Snyder
Reed College RAW 2011

The catalog will soon be published by Matthew Stadler's Publication Studio. A hand-bound beautiful book coming soon to a Midwestern town near you. Thank you Stephanie and Matthew!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Heading to AZ

Robert Voit, Industrial Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 2006

Richard Misrach, Phoenix 6:20 AM, 1994

Mark Klett, Desert Citizens, 1989-90

Stephen Shore

Edmund Teske, 1943

Jim Dow, Marilyn Motel, Tucson, 1980

William Larson, Tucson Gardens, 1980

Stephen Shore, Tucson

Frederick Sommer, Arizona Landscape, 1943

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 1997

William Wegman, 2007

Martin Parr

Friday, February 18, 2011

Justin Richel's "Sweets"

Hannah introduced me to Justin Richel's gouche paintings tonight as we both use cakes as subject matter. I love the intricate details and the piles and piles of towering pastries. Any artist that manages to combine cakes and a globe in mass quantities requires an instantaneous blog post.

Justin Richel, Tower, 2008

From his website:
"In the midst of an entirely barren and empty "landscape", void of anything other than a multitude of sugar coated inhabitants. The many shapes and sizes, parts and pieces of a greater whole come together to construct towering mountains, pillars of sugary strength and the destructive forces of confectionery whirlwinds and tsunamis. A flawed yet functional infrastructure, A conglomerate society of multi-colored temptations, vying for the same hierarchical position at the top of the heap.

These paintings represent our relationship with one another in a society in which success is measured largely by one’s ability to consume. The “sweets” are representative and are essentially a replacement or stand-in for the “figure”. I attempt to portray the fragility and precariousness of our situation through these works."

Precarious, 2008

Globe, 2009

Globe, (Detail), 2009

Justin has an etsy shop where I also discovered his fondness for birds! I can't believe Hannah withheld this information/artist for so long.

Love Birds (Stack)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It Worked! It Worked! The Cake Plates are Done!

There is even one extra one! This isn't the world's best photo but when they are so weighty and you only have a cell phone, you'll take what you can get. These have a green tint compared to the others and it is due to how much the glass was recycled in the kiln. I happen to love that they aren't perfectly clear.

• Next up... back to the lighting studio with these heavy plates to rephotograph all the cakes with Serena (I might have to change my desktop image - ahem).

• Find out whatever has happened to my matboard back-order to get the frames in the right corner of this photograph FINISHED (Heather I know you are waiting!).

• Yes or no on the cards that will go next to the cake platters? Still figuring out that final part of the presentation.

• Speaking of installation, I don't know what kind of table will be strong enough to hold these. I swear the glass plates each weigh 25 + pounds.

• Yes, I finally sent all the applications mainly to locations in California so waiting for rejections letters will also be inevitable.


I can't believe I missed World Nutella Day on 5th February! This post stems from a conversation with Nick Jones who informed our table last night that today was National Almond Day. Since I could not find any (serious) art that deals with almonds (aside from the artist Darren Almond), here is Thomas Rentmeister's Nutella, 2000:

Rentmeister uses sugar, chocolate, and baby lotion in his art, but since 1999, his material of choice has been Nutella. Here he poured 1000 large buckets of it directly on the floor. As repulsive as it looks, it must smell very sweet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Small Sign of Spring and I'm Dreaming of Bicycles...

The warm weather is coming (though it may only be a glimpse). I keep dreaming of riding my bicycle as soon as the ice pack melts.

YMCA, Astoria, Oregon, c. 2007

August Sander, Westerwald, 1926-27

Bill Brandt, Coal Searcher Going Home to Jarrow, 1937

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Plazza della Signoria, 1933

William Eggleston, Memphis, 1980

Claes Oldenberg, Buried Bicycle, 1990

Romuald Hazoumè, La Roulotte, 2004

Olafur Eliasson, Your New Bicycle, Urania, 2010

Ai WeiWei, Forever, 2003

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tears and Mark Rothko

In Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings, James Elkins writes that if a scientific survey were attempted, Rothko would emerge as the 20th century painter whose works most often elicit tears from viewers. He speculates that "this may be because certain Rothkos can overcome the viewer with a sense of emptiness, a suffocation of the senses."

Mark Rothko, No. 37/19 (Slate Blue and Brown on Plum), 1958

Mark Rothko, Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas, 1971

On rare occasion, when I cry in front of an artwork, it's usually the color that elicits the emotion. The first time this occurred was in Edinburgh, Scotland in front of a piece of Egyptian faience. I still can't explain why. I stood in front of faience in the Louvre a year before this so I was well acquainted with the material but it must have been the mass of color - the object was approximately one foot square and it was presented like a wall plaque (though I have no recollection as to what it was). I fall into the category of James Elkins' masses when I admit to Mark Rothko's work producing tears. Rothko wanted us to view his work up close (18 inches was ideal) and my proximity to his canvas directly reflects my emotive response. The closer I get, the more I'm overwhelmed due to surrounding myself with this color, this emptiness, this void.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New York

Let's start off with a little fake food at the Museum of Modern Art exhibition Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen. Are those giants cubes of tofu or blocks of burned toast at the bottom left?

with Meret Oppenheim's furry utensils to accompany it.

On a more serious note Abstract Expressionist New York was an outstanding exhibition that I was very grateful to see before it closed. Here is Barnett Newman's signature at the bottom corner of Vir Heroicus Sublimus. I never knew this painting was so bright as no reproduction does it justice yet it was as monumental as I anticipated it would be.

This was my favorite Newman and perhaps one of my most liked pieces in the exhibition - The Wild from 1950. It's 1.5 inches wide and the same height at Vir Heroicus Sublimis. It's an isolated "zip" and it's the most sculptural painting in the entire show.

Surprise #1: Jackie Windsor's Laminated Plywood from 1973.

Surprise #2: How much of a let down the exhibition Staging Action: Performance in Photography since 1960 was though here is a higlight: a detail from Eleanor Antin's 100 boots which I hadn't ever seen in person before:

Surprise #3: Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists at the Bronx Museum of Art. Adam took me to see this show and I can honestly say it had some of the best photography I've seen in awhile (in addition to showing how outdated face mounting photographs on plexi looks not even ten years later).

Sam Durant's Female Indian from 2005 at the Bronx Museum.

Surprise #4: How cracked and deteriorating Jackson Pollock's paintings are upclose:

and how much Nan Goldin's photographs have physically aged (and almost any C-Print from the 1980s that I saw yesterday). I am wondering how long the color will remain stable at this rate.

Realization of the day: Mark Rothko paintings remind me of Hiroshi Sugimoto's Seascapes though Rothko's work is the only one of the two that will make me cry (James Elkins would be proud). Mark Rothko's Number 10, 1950 (below).

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ligurian Sea, Saviore, 1993

The most beautifully presented exhibition of video art I have ever seen - Andy Warhol's Motion Pictures. I was enthralled with the two on the left - Susan Sontag (who held so still and nearly expressionless) and Dennis Hopper to her right who couldn't help "acting" eventually during his four minutes screen test. Image via.

Best thing about the trip: Seeing old friends (Adam as mentioned above) and Rachel and Thomas Hines. When I first stayed with them in Brooklyn in 2007, they had a magnificent wall of art work and although it has transformed in the last four years, here is it's most recent incarnation in Queens.

The best performance: Rachel sleeping at the College Art Association's Art Exchange (while most people exhibited their artwork on the table, Rachel commented on the odd sense of professionalism of having job interviews in hotel rooms at a national art conference). More on Rachel's work coming soon as she will be in Muncie in March as a Visiting Artist!