Just Blue Things

Portia Munson’s “FLOOD” images courtesy of Disjecta.

A wave of objects inhabited the gallery in Portia Munson’s Flood, at the Disjecta Contemporary Arts Center. Mostly plastic, some metal, others paper, and yet still others, constructed from material that is harder to parse. But all of them, blue. They were blue things. In their unevenness, their jumbled edges, stacked and piled together, in their mass and totality, they were blue. Continue reading

Shane Darwent at the SPRING/BREAK Art Show: Suburban Psalm


Shane Darwent, Suburban Psalm, 2018 Photograph: Samuel Morgan Photography for SPRING/BREAK Art Show

The 2018 SPRING/BREAK Art Show celebrated its seventh anniversary on two abandoned floors of a corporate high-rise in Times Square. Catalogued as one of the most experimental art fairs in New York, the S/BAS aims to exhibit artwork, with a low-cost entry, through underutilized New York City spaces that are uncommon to the traditional cultural landscape the art market has set as a rigid example. Both founders, Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly—with a creative superstaff that has organized, curated, facilitated and produced events inside the “Big Apple”—provide an internationally recognized art platform that delivers established and emergent artwork from around the world, customarily but not exclusively during the Armory Show, Volta NY, Independent and NADA. Continue reading

Backstroke of the West


Installation view, Michael Rakowitz: Backstroke of the West, MCA Chicago September 16, 2017—March 4, 2018 The invisible enemy should not exist, (2007–ongoing) Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

In 1995, Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein, established the Fedayeen Saddam, a notorious paramilitary force.  As a devoted fan of the Star Wars trilogy, Uday issued an exact replica of Darth Vader’s helmet as part of the Fedayeen’s official uniform—a bizarre and unsettling instance of life mimicking art.  At Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, a Fedayeen helmet sits alongside a Darth Vader helmet as part of Chicago-based conceptual artist Michael Rakowitz’s mid-career retrospective, a show which calls attention to politically charged and revealing instances of cross-cultural exchanges between East and West.     Continue reading

Between Physical and Digital


Set dresser Matt Brooks makes landscapes from found fabrics in Kubo’s cemetery set.KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS ©2016, TWO STRINGS, LLC

In the shadows of the far side of the cavernous space, are rows of faces. Or more precisely, rows of a face. One row of twenty-four tiny faces, formed in plastic by a 3D printer, becomes one face. Each photographed, then pulsed together in a burst of twenty-four frames per second, becomes a single second of film— the illusion of motion depicted in moving light projected onto a screen. Viewed as if pulled back from that film-to-be, the faces on the wall appear as moments frozen in time. The smallest syllables of spoken words, hanging on the small, painted lips of the characters. The subtle topologies of facial expressions, caught in a stasis, so that we might examine them. But they are not moments. Those moments never existed. Continue reading

Fired Up


Installation shot, courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art is ground zero for the Studio Glass Movement of the 1960s, which had modest beginnings in a garage on the TMA’s campus.  Although women were integral to the movement, their work originally attracted less attention than that of their male counterparts.  In recent years, this is no longer the case, and the Toledo Art Museum’s exhibition Fired Up is a celebration of the robust international presence of female glassblowers.   Fifty works comprise this exhibition, the first in America to shine the spotlight on glass art by contemporary female glass artists.  The show isn’t bound by any particular theme, but all the works on view are emphatically aesthetic objects, entirely nonfunctional, and playfully push the boundaries of the medium beyond what many of us are likely used to seeing, revealing the surprising and perhaps under-appreciated versatility of glass.  Continue reading

Ileana Sonnabend and Arte Povera – Edited by Germano Celant

This exhibition catalog reminds us that performance art and some art made from discarded and daily use objects –and ingenuity — began in the 60s as playful investigations of process, concepts, psychology, and aesthetics. I taught intro to Art History for decades when Germano Celant was a star curator in New York and Europe, also often seen in a 20th Century Art film series discussing process-oriented art — for example, Franz Klein painting nude women blue and rolling their bodies on paper – and why this was art. Many artists in the 60s & 70s, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Lynda Benglis, did nude performance art, but it was not necessarily process-oriented. Continue reading