Dewane Hughes: Dallas Farmer’s Market

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

Empowered Women

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Installation view of SEED, at Paul Kasmin Gallery, June 21 – August 10, 2018. Wangechi Mutu in foreground. Photo: Christopher Stach

“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

Tepantitla at the Broad

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Field Station: Claudia Peña Salinas,installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2018. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography

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

Too Close for Comfort

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Memorial to a Marriage – Patricia Cronin and Deb Kass.
Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Portraits Gallery.

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

Landscapes in the Air

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Installation view of Spencer Finch: The Western Mystery at the Olympic Sculpture Park. © Seattle Art Museum, Photo: Mark Woods.

When we think of representations of landscapes in art, the first thing that comes to mind might be the rich history of landscape painting. Developing in  the Egyptian, Roman, and Chinese traditions, landscape painting developed techniques of perspective, as well as idealistic concepts of nature— often focusing on the lack of humans, or at least minimal evidence of their existence in the works, in contrast to the “pure nature” of the landscape image. Continue reading

Heaven’s Light

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Xu Longsen: Light of Heaven. (2018) Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In Chinese mythology, the Kunlun Mountain is home to many gods and goddesses, it demarks the center of the four points of the compass, and it’s the place where Earth and Heaven meet.  For artist Xu Longsen, it served as the inspiration for an ambitious serious of site-specific paintings and sculptures that calculatedly respond to the architecture of the Art Institute of Chicago’s suite of Asian art galleries.  Continue reading