Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts

March 18, 2019

Shaolin*: the forgotten borough

Who we are has so much to do with where we are from.

Something's been on my mind about place and belonging. So many artists talk about where they're from and how much it's influenced their work and their lives. Whether they left a place by choice or not, whether they stayed, returned, or were never able to, whether they hated it or loved it, it has played an important role.


I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, and lived there until I was 29.



Staten Island has a very ghetto mentality. By that I am being quite inclusive as far as race and discrimination. It's less about poverty, but definitely about fear, isolation, and cultural starvation.

Staten Island is divided by neighborhoods. There are 19 stops on the Staten Island Rapid Transit. Each one has its own personality. In my era, neighborhoods were divided into territorial gangs. My neighborhood gang was called the Albee boys because we lived on the cross street of Albee avenue. The Albee boys were rivals of the New Springville boys. In 1991 Thomas Bickerton's big brother was beaten to death with a baseball bat by the New Springville boys and his name was spray painted under the overpass a block from my house. I remember this distinctly because Thomas Bickerton had jumped up to kiss me in the courtyard of PS 36 during our Kindergarten recess, and I had been friendly with him ever since. I graduated from a high school with a population of almost 4,000. There were exactly two African American students in my graduating class. In the last election almost 75% of the people from my old neighborhood voted Republican.

Staten Island is divided by the north shore and the south shore. My neighborhood on the south shore was made up mostly of people who had moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island, including my family. People who commuted to Manhattan to work every day but didn't spend much time there after working hours. My friends and I didn't hang out in the city, we hung out on the corner, in back of the high school parking lot, or literally at the giant rock in the woods by my house.

In 1986 I was accepted to the high school of performing arts for ballet. I didn't go. I have no recollection of what that conversation was like, but for a sheltered 13 year old from Staten Island, the idea of riding the ferry to the train by myself to Fiorello La Guardia every day wasn't even in my peripheral.

There are five boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island. Staten Island is the only borough that doesn't physically connect to Manhattan. There is no bridge or train that goes directly to the city. Commuters take a train to a ferry, or a bridge to a tunnel, or some combination which often includes driving from New York to New Jersey to New York again. From Annadale it took me an hour and a half to get to midtown Manhattan. A half hour train ride, a 20 minute ferry ride, a ten minute subway, plus the walk to, and the wait for, each of these operations. There are three bridges that cross over to New Jersey and exactly one bridge that crosses to Brooklyn. This is not an accident. It symbolizes a great cultural divide. In 1993 65% of Staten Islanders voted to secede from NYC. With mostly no interest in taking advantage of/enjoying any of New York City's culture, art, spirit, energy, there was also no interest in paying its expenses/tax bill.

Staten Island, often referred to as the "forgotten borough", if you didn't already know, was also once home to the largest garbage dump in the world. T h e   w o r l d.  It was seen from outer space... for real. On a particularly stale day one could smell the dump from miles away.

It took me years to accept that the place I grew up in was, well, kind of embarrassing. A way more suburban than urban, left out, dumped on borough under a giant shadow of one of the greatest cities in the world. When I worked in the city I never volunteered that I was from Staten Island. People would make fun of the dump or the ferry or the fact that New Jersey was easier to get to.

I hated Staten Island when I was growing up. I was shy and artistic and I didn't get anyone's inside jokes about the Staten Island mall. I was a cheerleader but I couldn't do a cartwheel. I had no connection whatsoever to the place I was from. When I was a senior and about to graduate high school, my parents went to an open school night and incidentally met with my art teacher. Mrs. D'Agostino was shocked that I had absolutely no plans for any specific college or to pursue art in any way. She's the reason I became an art major. Not because she was particularly inspiring, but because she was the only one who'd suggested it.

I think I let the place I was from define me for a long time. I'm beginning to understand that the place itself is just part of a story I tell myself about who I am, and that's something I can change.




*Shaolin is what the Wu Tang Clan called Staten Island in the early 1990's.


February 22, 2019

NYC ART: 3 MUST-SEE SHOWS

I went to see some gallery shows yesterday, in particular Dana Schutz at Petzel Gallery, Judy Pfaff at Miles McEnery, and Brenda Goodman at Sikkema Jenkins.

Judy Pfaff, detail of Quartet II

Judy Pfaff, Quartet II, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, steel frame, acrylic, expanded foam, aluminum discs, lightbulbs, wood, melted plastic, Styrofoam. 128.5” x 160” x 60”

Dana Schutz, Trouble and Appearance, 2019, Oil on canvas, 90 x 96 inches

Brenda Goodman, Let the Match Begin, 2017, oil on wood, 60 x 72 inches

Brenda Goodman, Possibility of Age, 2018, oil on wood, Two parts: 80 x 144 inches overall


WOW. These three artists are kicking ass with uncontained, unbridled energy, intention, and material-love. Monsters of color, detail, and form. I saw the shows in that order, Schutz, Pfaff, and Goodman. I left the Dana Schutz exhibition feeling like I should just give it up right now. The work feels so big, and a lot of it is so big. Big and bold and juicy. I imagined my paintings next to hers like little puny specks. Then I walked into Judy Pfaff's show and just started smiling uncontrollably. She is total exuberance! I was still smiling when I got to the Brenda Goodman show. Goodman has been at it for so long, I think of the saying, slow and steady wins the race. She is persistence. The surface details and little unexpected moments everywhere are too marvelous!

These women are laying it all out there. Led by a very personal, intuitive layering of material and meaning. I am so inspired. I feel like I have to go back and soak up some more.

These shows prove that seeing is believing. Visual art NEEDS to be experienced in person. Not one online image I viewed of any of these artworks came even close to what it feels like to be in a room with them.

Both the Dana Schutz and Brenda Goodman exhibitions end tomorrow, so if you haven't been, high tail it over there. Judy Pfaff's exhibit runs through March 9th.


Dana Schutz, Painting in an Earthquake, 2019, Oil on canvas, 94 x 87.75 inches

Brenda Goodman, Bringing it Home, 2018, oil on wood, 16 x 20 inches

Judy Pfaff, Quartet I, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, wire frame, acrylic, melted plastic, aluminum discs, fungus, paper, glitter, Styrofoam, florescent light. 120.75” x 156” x 32”

Judy Pfaff, detail of Quartet I

Dana Schutz, Washing Monsters, 2018, Oil on canvas, 94 x 87.75 inches

Dana Schutz, Boatman, 2018, Oil on canvas, 88 x 75 inches

Dana Schutz, Smoker, 2018, Bronze, 28 x 30 x 12 inches

Brenda Goodman, Pink, 2018, oil on wood, Two parts: 50 x 72 inches overall

Brenda Goodman, Pushing Through, 2018, oil on wood, 14 x 18 inches

Brenda Goodman, Say It's So, 2018, oil on wood, 12 x 16 inches

Dana Schutz, The Visible World, 2018, Oil on canvas, 108 x 140 inches

Judy Pfaff, Quartet III, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, acrylic, expanded foam, aluminum discs, Melted plastic, paper, acrylic, melted plastic, Styrofoam, lightbulbs. 121” x 149” x 21”

Judy Pfaff, Installation view

Dana Schutz, Washing Monsters, 2018, Bronze, 44 x 38 x 17 inches

Dana Schutz, detail of Strangers, 2018, Oil on canvas, 88 x 84 inches






January 3, 2019

Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray

Bowtie, 2000
Everybody Knows, 2007, oil on canvas, 87 1/4 x 93 inches

(the last painting made before the artist died in 2007)


To follow through with some of those unfinished posts I recently mentioned, here is Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray.


Elizabeth Murray's heroic paintings are as fearless as the life she seems to have led. A woman who wanted it all, and achieved it against all the odds; to have her children and family, and her artwork all playing center stage at once. She is a hero and an absolute inspiration. 
The Sun and the Moon, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 feet 
Do the Dance, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 1/2 x 11 feet
Kind of Blue, 2004, oil on canvas on wood, 9 x 11 feet
Midnight Special, 2000, oil on two canvases, 92 7/8 x 129 1/2 inches
Bill Alley, 2006, 3D lithographic construction, 35 x 41 1/4 inches
Hey Madge, 2001-02, oil on canvas on wood, 53 x 48 inches
Worm's Eye, 2002
Cry Baby, 2000, oil on canvas, 105 3/4 x 105 3/4 inches
Path/Door, 2002
Mister Postman, 1998, oil on canvas, 82 x 77 inches
for a better sense of scale: Bop, 2002-03, at MOMA

As always, I try my best to include the correct information for the images I post. In this case I was unable to find full descriptions for a few of the paintings. 

With one exception, these paintings are all from 2000-07. There are so many more layers to her work and it's nice to see the progression throughout the years, but these just screamed EXUBERANCE to me so that's why I chose them. 

Further looking and reading:

Pace Gallery
elizabethmurrayart.org
Art21
Everybody Knows, a PBS film



March 14, 2018

Abstract Heart



FOCUS: Abstract Heart

Abstract Heart: Passion, emotion, deeply-held beliefs – how do we express and convey these concepts through an abstract vocabulary? Abstract Heart solicits work that speaks from the soul through a personal visual language. ...

Read more
www.woodstockart.org
March 17 – April 29, 2018
Juried by Katie Schmidt Feder
Director Garrison Art Center

EXHIBITING ARTISTS: 
Paulette Esrig, Nils Hill, Henry Klimowicz, 
Jerry Michalak, Samantha Palmeri, Tracy Phillips, Stephen Rose, Barbara Smith, 
Kat Stoutenborough, jd weiss

GALLERY TALK: FRI. MAR 23, 5 PM
RECEPTION: MAR 24, 4-6 PM

I'm pleased to be part of this show opening March 24th in Woodstock, NY. 
I'll have three paintings in it. And how nice they used my image for their advertising!

FOCUS: Abstract Heart




March 17 – April 29, 2018

Gallery Talk: Friday, March 23, 5 PM
Reception: Saturday, March 24, 4 – 6 PMMAIN GALLERY
JUROR: Katie Schmidt Feder, Director Garrison Art Center
AWARDS: Linda Freaney Award $100
Exhibiting Artists:
Paulette Esrig, Nils Hill, Henry Klimowicz,
Jerry Michalak, Samantha Palmeri, Tracy Phillips,
Stephen Rose, Barbara Smith Gioia,
Kat Stoutenborough, and jd weiss
Introduced in 2017, the FOCUS series features the work of ten artists in a theme-based exhibition. Selections are curated by a different juror for each exhibition with each artist represented by multiple examples of their work in service to the particular show’s theme.
Abstract Heart: Passion, emotion, deeply-held beliefs – how do we express and convey these concepts through an abstract vocabulary? Abstract Heart solicits work that speaks from the soul through a personal visual language.

In The Press



February 4, 2018

"Byron Kim's painting ritual" by Two Coats of Paint

Byron Kim’s painting ritual

Byron Kim, Sunday Painting 1:20:09, 2009, acrylic and pencil on canvas mounted on panel, 14 x 14 inches

Every Sunday, Byron Kim makes a painting of the sky. One hundred of these purposefully unremarkable small canvases are on view at James Cohan through February 17. What makes them unremarkable are their size and the undramatic skies they depict – not the complex, sublime sky paintings made by, say, great Dutch painters like Aelbert Cuyp and Jacob van Ruisdael. Instead, they are simple renderings with a limited palette of blue and white, and a bit of light grey for the odd cloudy day. Rather than offering an expansive view or capturing the subtle color ranges in cloud forms, these paintings convey a dainty sense of claustrophobia and ennui but no real sense of joy or wonder. It is as if the monotonous ritual of making a painting a week were more important to Kim than the painted image itself.
Byron Kim, Sunday Painting 6:19:01, 2001, acrylic and pencil on panel, 14 x 14 inches
Thus, in Kim’s exhibition, quantity, habit, and process seem to trump the quality of the individual paintings. Reinforcing this point, Kim has handwritten a prosaic note about the day on each painting, perhaps as an indication that Kim’s ambition and concentration have gone missing in the mire of family life and all the yawn-inducing tasks that a successful artist must perform. Kim may be living the dream, but it doesn’t seem very transporting.
Byron Kim, Sunday Painting 3:26:08, 2008, acrylic and pencil on canvas mounted on panel, 14 x 14 inches
Byron Kim, Sunday Painting 4:20:10, 2010, acrylic and pen on canvas mounted on panel, 14 x 14 inches.
Byron Kim, Sunday Painting 1:22:17, acrylic and pencil on canvas mounted on panel, 14 x 14 inches
Byron Kim, Sunday Painting 8:20:17, 2017, acrylic and pencil on canvas mounted on panel, 14 x 14 inches
Byron Kim, installation view.
The project reminds me of On Kawara’s Date Paintings. Each day Kawara crafted a painting of the date in the ubiquitous sans serif typeface Helvetica. In the box where he stored the painting, he also included a page of the newspaper from the city where he was working. Like Kawara, Kim is interested in the idea of maintaining a serial approach rather than engaging with the materiality of paint. But Kim’s project also conjures a link to more painterly perceptual artists, such as Lois Dodd and Giorgio Morandi. Morandi spent his life painting easel-sized still-lifes that depicted small cups, bowls, and other tabletop vessels in tertiary colors, even as World War II raged around him. Lois Dodd has painted the landscape around her familiar Maine homestead for decades, and the resulting body of work is a moving record of a quiet and dedicated life.
Both Morandi and Dodd focus narrowly on translating their immediate surroundings with great painterly nuance onto canvas to convey the emotional timbre of their lives. In this distracted age, especially as the big picture becomes increasingly daunting, it’s undeniably tempting for artists to employ this kind of approach as a kind of refuge. Kim presents an alternative escape, whereby grim routine isolates the artist and decontextualizes the personal content of his work. It’s rather dispirited, and perhaps a sign of the times.
Byron Kim: Sunday Paintings,” James Cohan Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. through February 17, 2018.
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