Rebecca Louise Law’s immersive, site-specific floral installations have graced venues ranging from the British Royal Academy, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, and Times Square, where she thoroughly transforms spaces with canopies and garlands comprising flowers by the hundred-thousand. Community, on view at the Toledo Art Museum, applies half a million floral elements that create a tangible lavender mist into which viewers can immerse themselves and disappear. It looks (and smells) absolutely transcendent, but Law’s floral works– tranquil, serene, and undeniably beautiful—also manage to gently touch on the themes of community-building and environmental sustainability. Continue reading
Francis Cape’s straightforward-appearing art communicates a world view that is complex and sophisticated. As the son of a British diplomat, Cape was born in Portugal and grew up in major cities all over the world. This, and his apprenticeship to a wood carver in York, England from 1974-79 are early markers that led to his life with artist/wife Liza Phillips. Their innovative yet traditional art practices enliven the light-filled rooms of their renovated home and studios in Narrowsburg, New York, a low-income Republican area of Sullivan County that was recently devastated by a derecho, a kind of horizontal tornado. Cape told me that thirty trees were down on his land, and I could see he was already in the process of turning some fallen trees into firewood and hauling others away. In Narrowsburg, Cape serves as a volunteer ambulance driver and head of the Democratic Party and considers this his “social practice.” Continue reading
In 1909, at a time when automobiles were just starting to gain traction as a technology in society, an Italian poet named F. T. Marinetti penned “The Futurist Manifesto,” which recounts the excitement of a car accident as allegory to inspire a generation of artists to embrace the aesthetics of technology. And in turn, these artists inspired designers, architects, critics, engineers, and even politicians with their language of speed, danger, and mythological struggle. Thirty years later, the European continent was entering its second catastrophic war. Futurism didn’t survive these real-world dangers (and many of the Futurists themselves did not survive it, either). But the aesthetics of speed were already tied in to the shape and feel of our technology. Continue reading
In “Haikus & Doo-Dahs, Tiny to Titan,” Dewane Hughes’s exhibition of large-scale steel sculptures and maquettes on view at the Dallas Farmer’s Market, the Texas-based sculptor provides the viewer with a new perception of the market and its space. Hughes’s use of steel, an industrial material, highlights the Market’s unique status as a space devoted to the fruits of agricultural labor that happens to be situated in the midst of one of the largest urban areas in Texas. The Market itself functions as a kind of in-between space as it operates as a zone between industry and agriculture, metropolis and farmland. Continue reading
“Seed” at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York brings together 29 emerging to seasoned artists whose work embraces female archetypes — the goddess, warrior, mystic, sage, lover, maiden, and matriarch. The layout allows works to “talk to each other” and the selection avoids or confronts stereotypes. Curated by Yvonne Force, one theme is “the complexity and resonance of a long association between the natural world, sexuality and fertility, and spirituality and mysticism.” Continue reading
There’s a purposeful tension between past and present in Claudia Peňa Salinas’s work. Her installations evoke ancient Mexican history, but through the sparse language of minimalist grid-like sculptures reminiscent of Sol Lewitt. Her site-specific works respond to the architecture of the gallery space, and her exhibition at the emphatically modern Broad Art Museum offers a re-creation of Tepantitla, a compound in ancient Mesoamerican city Teotihuacan. Yet while evoking the ancient past, Salinas’s work also manages to speak to contemporary social issues. Continue reading
Sometimes you go to a museum to see one thing, and bump into another entirely unexpectedly.
A few months ago I went to see the recently unveiled Obama portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. It has become NPG’s practice that presidential portraits join their counterparts on the second floor, while the portrait of a first lady enters the hall of recent acquisitions. Just beyond the queue to see Amy Sherald’s painted portrait of Michelle Obama was another work of significance, lying in state: Memorial to a Marriage, by Patricia Cronin. The work depicts Cronin and her wife, artist Deborah Kass, nude on a bed, tastefully shrouded by a sheet. They rest in an embrace, Kass’s head nuzzled against Cronin’s neck, their toes touching. Continue reading