Grand Arts: Visions that Provoke and Disrupt

Grants Arts Sculpture

Rosemarie Fiore, process photo, The Good-Time Mix Machine: Scrambler Drawings, 2004.
Acrylic paint on vinyl, 60 x 60 ft. (Photograph courtesy E.G. Schempf)

Art creation takes more than time and money: it takes research, focus, and many kinds of support/teamwork. That’s one main message in Grand Arts 1995 – 2015 Problems and Provocations. When Glenn Harper assigned me to cover the Grand Arts opening of Pattie Cronin’s Memorial to a Marriage – a Carrara marble, Hosmer-inspired mortuary sculpture in Kansas City, Missouri around 2002, I had heard of Margaret Hall Silva’s arts foundation from artist Jeff Aeling (1996 awardee), but I didn’t realize until I read this book how messy and blindly optimistic Grand Arts was to commission work as revolutionary as Cronin’s Memorial and Sanford Biggers’ Blossom – a piano “born” from a tree, which, on its own, plays a soulful version of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. Continue reading

In the Studio with Peter Gourfain: “peculiar energy” and “cantankerous generosity”


“Who drive Fergus now and pierce woods woven shade.” 1994. Linoprint.

To meet an 80+-year-old artist “doing something I’ve never done before,” I visited Peter Gourfain’s Bedford-Stuyvesant studio in a neighborhood that was low-income when he moved there 30 years ago. The shift to the new style, in which three-dimensional yet abstract heads and hands are collaged together was “sudden and unexpected,” according to the artist.[i]  Continue reading

Rodin’s Visceral Vision

Rodin Sculpture

Rodin surrounded by plasterworks in his studio. Photographed by Eugène Druet Ph.203. 10 × 10 in. (25.6 × 25.2cm).

The new Musée Rodin book does an excellent job of framing Rodin’s multi-faceted legacy. It covers the artist’s beginnings, historical contexts, studio practice, and artistic achievements, including the surprising fact that Rodin failed the École des Beaux-Arts sculpture admissions test three times and largely developed his sculpture practice on his own. Due to space limitations, my review will address three facets not fully fleshed out in this well-illustrated volume: why Camille Claudel’s role is still under-explored;  how Rodin enlarged the platform for sculpture and public art as he ushered in subjects lacking conventional beauty and frontal male nudity; and how his erotic art challenged the sexual taboos of his era (and even our own). Continue reading

In the Studio with Katharina Grosse at Rockaway!


Rockaway! featuring site-specific installation by Katharina Grosse. Image courtesy the artist and MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez.

Katharina Grosse’s red bolts of color on white transform an aquatic building hit by Hurricane Sandy into a new art destination on the Rockaway Beach front at Fort Tilden. Grosse’s uses of color “break all the rules” and literally create a new dimension, turning an old ruin into  a dynamic, color-coded space that interacts with people, sky, grasses, sand, and ocean.  People literally danced in, on, and around Grosse’s new art object as deejays added to the festive mood.  The beach has been converted from a sleepy hideaway without lifeguards near an unused U. S. Army coast artillery post into one filled with bikers, beachgoers, and families. The untitled art is on view through November and is part of the Rockaway! National Parks Service and MoMA PS1 hurricane recovery effort for the Rockaway Peninsula. Continue reading

In the studio with Hadieh Shafie

Hadieh Shafie Sculpture

Hadieh Shafie Studio

Love and passion are secret innersprings that fuel Hadieh Shafie’s art and life. Iranian-born American artist Shafie grew up in Iran. She picked up English during two years in London around ages eight to nine. Upon returning to Iran in 1979 with her seven-year-old brother, she found that Iran had changed; at the airport, all she could see was a “sea of black” clothing, and she thought she was in the wrong country. Shafie and her family then lived for four years under repressive laws in Iran before receiving a visa for a family vacation in Austria. This turned into a trip to visit relatives in America and a new life. Shafie finds parallels between her early life and that of Iranian-born Marjane Satrapi, as told in her graphic novel Persepolis. Continue reading

Denise Treizman: Art that Rocks – and Rolls!

Denise Treizman Sculpture

“Spartan Follies”, 2016. Variable Tires, spray paint, plastidip paint, paracord rope, fitness balls, sand, chains, bolts, duct tape. Detail of tire sculpture at Randall’s Island Park. (Photo by Toby Tenenbaum)

Denise Treizman – at the beginning of her career — is making original art bursting with color, style, engineering chops, and jazzy moves. Her laser focus and talent is evident in her studio, in her Cuchifritos solo show, and at her Spartan Follies/ FLOW.16 interactive public art on Randall’s Island through November. Continue reading

In the Studio with Leonardo Benzant

Leonardo Benzant Sculpture

Kamarioka Magik” (detail) by Benzant, from the group exhibition called “I Kan Do Dat, Contemporary Abstract Art”, for Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY curated by Danny Simmons and Oshun Layne. From Paraphernalia Of The Urban Shaman M:5. Photos courtesy: Alaric Campbell.

Leonardo Benzant’s exhibition calendar is filling fast. In June, his work Cosmology of Resistance appears in Africa’s Out, curated by Wangechi Mutu, which opens June 3 with an Afro-centric gala at Pioneer Works. In July, Benzant’s Koi No Yokan III is at 101 Exhibit Space in Los Angeles. Continue reading