Friday, November 25, 2016

Images from Lois Dodd at Swarthmore College

Alex and I recently went over to Swarthmore College to see the show Windows and Reflections, a solo show of Lois Dodd's work.  List Gallery has such a strong line up of shows, they never disappoint.  Here are a few images of some of my favorite works from the show.  They span about 40 years of her career and as usual should be seen in person for the full experience.  The show is up through December 15th and the campus is beautiful in the fall.

          detail of image at left

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Miserably Timely 114 Year Old Film "A Trip to the Moon"

In trying to dig myself out of the heavy depression that set on since Tuesday November 8th election, I decided the best course of action was two part.  The first is to voice resistance, agitate, petition and donate.  The second is a more self-preserving action; to witness more exquisite human creation, stay in touch with human empathy through art.  In the last few days I went to see Lois Dodd's show at Swarthmore College, a concert at a local venue Boot and Saddle, started back on reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith, all in all feeling better about being a human being.  

It gave me the momentum to deny myself more wallowing in nytimes, cnn etc and seek out a film instead.  I found this short little film on Netflix called "A Trip to the Moon", it was produced in 1902 and each frame is hand painted.  And as beautiful as some of the sets are, I have been haunted by this thing.  It's awful in its message and exacting in its relevance.

The premise is this group of explorers take a rocket to the moon.  Of course, only men can actually go in the ship, the women just wear the same strange outfits to assist them into the rocket and send it off into space, (sick of women getting no credit for these menial tasks.)  

 When the group gets to the moon, which is illustrated as a blinding ketchup bottle to the eye (ominous of the mucking up humans are about to do) they find alien life there.

These inhabitants of their own planet curiously look on at the newcomers and do little dances on a log.  Which prompts the group of Rocket Men to start detonating puffs of pink and green gas from their umbrellas to kill the inhabitants.

Somehow they are invited into the capital, brought by the inhabitants.  The Rocket Men pretend to look around innocently and then as the king is welcoming them, the leader goes up, grabs him and smashes him into the ground in a puff of gas.  

The group goes back to Earth to celebrate in a town gathering where a statue depicting the Rocket Man with his foot crushing the moon's head is erected to commemorate what they have done.  

Fuck.  It's 1902 in America.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Baked Goods Installation

Installation Shots of Baked Goods, University City Arts League, Philadelphia, Pa November 2016:

From left: Polina Barskaya, Jennifer Coates, Mike Geno, Owen Ahern-Browning, Polina Barskaya

 From left: Jennifer Coates, Mike Geno, Holly Coulis, Trina Turturici

 From left: Emilie Selden, John Bokor, Mike Geno, Polina Barskaya, Tiffany Tate

Owen Ahearn-Browning, Jimmy Bellew

Jimmy Bellew

Joshua Marsh

On Wall: Jennifer Coates, Owen Ahearn-Browning, Sculpture: CJ Stahl

 Mickayel Thurin                         On wall: Trina Turturici Sculpture: Brandon Spicer-Crawley

 from left: Jimmy Bellew, Emilie Selden, John Bokor, Mike Geno, Polina Barskaya

 Mike Geno, Polina Barskaya

 from left: Polina Barskaya, Jennifer Coates, Mike Geno

Opening Night October 21st 2016:

           My Guston cake!                                       And our eating experiment for visitors:  
'17th cuisine commonly called for a plethora of options on the table, up to 25 dishes per course. However, you were not supposed to eat every plate but rather choose two or three as a personalized meal that fit with your 'constitution' and kept you healthy.

For example a melancholic temperament was believed to be cold and dry and required a diet of hot and wet foods such as strong red wine and lamb to maintain balance. A choleric temperament was thought to be hot and dry which meant a cold and wet diet was best, melons and cucumbers.'

We brought in and made foods that were present in the visual work so people could eat what they were seeing.  Strawberry cake, Philly soft pretzels, hard cheese, waffles, rigatoni pie, apple jacks and the list goes on.  The opening was a full sensory experience.  

We also had two performance installations, one by Tiffany Tate which offered visitors herbal tea hand collected on a residency in the mid-west. The other was by Marie Manski who stood in the gallery making 'Sarraf Splits'.  She grew up in Latrobe, PA, the town where banana splits were invented.  For this work she made her own take on the dessert, infusing her family's Syrian heritage, particularly her grandfather, Sarraf, of spices and bold flavor into the project in an attempt to raise awareness of place, identity and race as they relate to foods.  

 The beginning of the night                                      Marie Manski making 'Sarraf Splits'

Overall it was a beautiful night.  The space was packed with a couple hundred people making it out to celebrate.  It felt really good to see an idea that had been floating around in my head for years take the shape it did and see the hours of work we put in paid off.  People from all over the community came and met and it felt like what great meals and good shows do, bring people into a space where conversations and ideas that wouldn't otherwise happen, might.

Co-curators! Me and Adam Lovitz -- such a good collaboration.  Felt like the universe gave back for all the times I had a shitty group project as a kid in school.  The show wouldn't have gotten to the place it did without the ability to bounce ideas off each other (and that fabulous hair).

Monday, October 31, 2016

NYC Trip

Kerry James Marshall at the MET Breuer



The main reason I went up to New York last week was to be at the Kerry James Marshall show the day it opened.  I knew it would be something and I wanted to make sure to have enough time to get there again before it is over.  It was so very good.  He filled two floors of the space which used to be the Whitney and hold all the work for the biennials.  In fact, my only criticism would be that the show felt hung too tight.  His work has such an expansive reach beyond the edges of the composition that it got to be a lot to take in in each room.  

But he is a current day master of painting.  The use of different languages of paint to not only work formally but narratively is so exciting.  In his 1990s 'Gardens' series which depicts different public housing projects with the word 'gardens' in their title (first image) he paints the flowers and landscaping with a speed and scale that references graffiti.  The natural world is like a stain on the picture plane, making me think about the fact that it is a painted illusionistic space and what that might imply about how the natural intersects with these real places.

There were so many small references to art history and to his own personal narrative that I enjoyed too.  The left detail above is a more overt and playful example, using Holbein's perspective trick from The Ambassadors painting in his current day depiction of a beauty shop.  The detail on the right, from another painting shows the shop from outside on the street.  So the paintings connected beyond their perimeters to form larger narratives in really satisfying ways. 

They also had KJM select 40 works from the Met's collection to go alongside his work in a back gallery.  I really enjoyed that glimpse into his interests which made so much sense but were so varied and thought it was a good way for a museum to host and augment a solo survey show.



(left: Schiele,  right: Modigliani)

 I also caught the Gagosian's Nudes show on its last day which was enjoyable.  Some little gems from Cezanne, Schiele, Giacometti.  Some paintings I hated but haven't seen in person much like John Currin (I don't care that they are commenting on misogyny, in this climate they feel like the same old excuse to paint a young vulnerable girl which is simultaneously boring and disgusting).  Also the image on the right is an early Modigliani.  I had no idea he could make a painting I liked.  

These are the times I wish I taught in NY.  I have a life painting class at PAFA this semester and a lot of the points I am trying to make about content, how vast the read on a nude figure can be depending on how it is painted are not yet connecting.  This show made those points so painfully clear, would be great to have a place to discuss work like this in person.

The last thing I thought very good and worth mentioning was Arlene Shechet at Sikkema Jenkins.  Really stunning sculptural work in person.  The back room had a show of Merlin James, whose work I can't make up my mind on.  I don't think I'm so into it but I did like this one painting below a lot.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Lobster

I finally saw the movie The Lobster this weekend.  I had been wanting to see it since this summer and it was very good.  Very visually interesting and also a curious use of storytelling and narrative voice.  I recommend it...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Simple Thought

I made a painting that reminded me of a poem I think about sometimes.

The Light of Interiors by Kay Ryan

The light of interiors
is the admixture
of who knows how many
doors ajar, windows
casually curtained,
unblinded or opened,
oculi set into ceilings,
wells, ports, shafts,
loose fits, leaks,
and other breaches
of surface. But, in
any case, the light,
once in, bounces
toward the interior,
glancing off glassy
enamels and polishes,
softened by the scuffed
and often-handled, muffled
in carpet and toweling,
buffeted down hallways,
baffled equally
by the scatter and order
of love and failure
to an ideal and now
sourceless texture which
when mixed with silence
makes of a simple
table with flowers
an island.