Nov 4, 2011

REVIEW | Arkham Asylum | A Serious House on Serious Earth

Batman: Arkham Asylum 15th Anniversary Edition Cover.  Illustrated by Dave Mckean. 1989

It’s April Fool’s Day and the inmates of Arkham Asylum, lead by the Joker, have overrun Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum, house for the criminally insane and have demanded Batman in exchange for hostages. The Caped Crusader in his most vulnerable state plunges into what would seem as his own personal hell, and is forced to endure the demented challenge set by his arch-enemies, all the while battling madness and his inner demons.

REVIEW | Hystrionics and The Forgotten Arm - works by Margaret Meehan | Women and Their Work | Austin, TX

The Journeyman. 2011. Edition of 5 & A/P. Archival Print.

Walking into Women and their Work to view Margaret Meehan’s Histrionics and the Forgotten Arm, one sees an interesting juxtaposition of masculine and feminine elements. The first piece encountered is a photograph of a woman wearing a Victorian styled white gown (possibly a wedding gown), white boxing gloves, white wolf-like hair on her face and chest in a white room with a white wooden floor leaning on the back of a white chair. The only hues of this photograph that aren’t white are the pale color of her skin and her light pink lipstick. Most of this image is in soft focus, except for her face, staring directly at the viewer, mouth slightly open. With her boxing gloves and facial hair, she looks somewhat intimidating. Yet the overall white, color of her lipstick and dress makes her look docile. The viewer is confused looking at her, unsure whether to find her threatening or not.

EXHIBITION | The Dazzling Instant | Witliff Collections| Alkek Library

Cattlemen at Auction, Russell Lee, 1940, Silver Gelatin Print
On the seventh floor of the Alkek Library, past an out of order (and most likely haunted) elevator and to the left, there is a large room filled with photo prints and an eerie silence. I visited The Dazzling Instant exhibit three times and each time I was the only person there. Yet there was something about the stony silence and being isolated in each room that brought more life to the photographs. The exhibit features 95 images from 70 different photographers and is one of the exhibitions celebrating the Wittliff Collections 25th Anniversary.

PROFILE | Kseniya Simonova

 Kseniya Simonova is a world renowned performance sand artist who gained fame by winning the Ukraine's Got Talent 2009 competition. She has performed her sand drawings all over the world, including but not limited to: the 2009 Charity Ball L’Istrina to raise money for people suffering from cancer, the 2010 Fifth Annual Anti Human Trafficking Awards Ceremony in Kiev,and more recently at a memorial for the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in Rotterdam.

Nov 3, 2011

TREND | Words on pictures

Unknown, Unknown, 2011

Photography has been deeply altered by the digital age as it continues and struggles to evolve alongside the internet. What has caught my attention recently is the surfacing of a new "hipster" photography trend that I'm beginning to see everywhere; photography with quotes, or random text put on top. Not only altering an image, but seemingly changing context completely , putting words on images has now become a new form of expression for people sitting behind laptops.

TREND | Native American Prints

Tear from GRAZIA magazine fashion section

If anyone is a follower of current fashion trends, they are familiar with the explosion of native American tribal designs reaching retail stores and runways worldwide. It is hard not to find a retailer now that is not a source of moccasins, feather earrings, and other “native American” prints on shirts, sweaters, towels, and even undergarments. Until recently, Urban Outfitters, one of the largest well known retail stores for hip and trendy customers, used the name “Navajo” for part of their clothing line. The Navajo Nation’s government, very upset and offended, sent a letter to Urban Outfitters for trademark infringement. While the retailer responded immediately by using a different name for that particular line, other companies are still taking advantage of this sensitive subject. Urban Outfitters is not the only one guilty of using the term "Navajo". Barney's as well as magazines such as Cosmo, Grazia and Lucky have thrown the word around as well. Most retailers will argue that that the cultural appropriation of these prints is not meant to offend Native Americans, it is simply what is 'trendy' right now. 

TREND | Stop-Motion Animation

Photograph by David Strick on the set of the film Coraline, directed by Henry Selick

There is no avoiding the computer in the 21st century. In fact, I am using a computer right now, and so are you. The computer has become a part of our lives almost as its own species that we interact with and co-exist with daily as a source of entertainment, communication, information, etc. As a result, a beautiful combination has emerged, the combining of art and technology. The computer as an artist’s tool has taken countless forms. It has even gone as far as becoming the artist’s only tool which has birthed the debate as to whether or not purely digital art is in fact true art based on the absence of the artist’s hand. But there exists something that requires both the use of technology and the artist’s physical skill, stop-motion animation.

REVIEW| White Fluffy Clouds| Brandon Boyd| Found Inspiration Moving Forward| 2003

White Fluffy Clouds By: Brandon Boyd
He paints, he writes, he sings; he is the front man for the sensational band INCUBUS, and not to mention he's easy on the eyes. Brandon Boyd at just the age of 35 has accomplished more things than some people can only imagine. Selling out stadiums for almost two decades, Grammy nominations, and multi-platinum selling albums. I think it is safe to say that Brandon Boyd has conquered the music world. But don't let the titles that come along with the name Brandon Boyd fool you. He's not your average everyday drugged up, heading to rehab for the sixth time rock star.

TREND | Fractals

Fractals are radiating geometric shapes that repeat in a sequential order.  No matter how far you magnify the image they will hypothetically have infinite repeating forms.  The idea of fractals was actually thought up in the 17th century by Karl Weierstrass but they didn't get named until 1975.  The term fractal is used when a shape is not describable in traditional Euclidean geometry and is self-similar or repeating.  To produce a fractal in mathematics is complicated; it has to do with an equation undergoing iteration and then a form of feedback is created and plotted on a 3d map.  Luckily there are many programs that can do it for us.  Fractals can also be found in nature like when frost crystals gather on glass.  The production of fractals as an art form lies somewhere in the middle ground of nature and mathematics and has become an interesting new form of artistic expression.


PROFILE | Roxy Paine

Roxy Paine, Ferment, 2011, stainless steel

It is hard to talk about the work of Roxy Paine without mentioning the awesome power of nature.  He creates evocative works of art that are set amidst their environment, either nestling amongst the trees or growing out of the floorboards using materials such as metal and polymer to create stunning, other-worldly` depictions of nature.  

REVIEW | Pattern Plan, grayDUCK, Austin, TX

grayDUCK Gallery, Austin Texas
Dameon Lester, Jessica McCambly, and L. Renee Nunez all share the organic arrangement of their sculptures. Recently I viewed the contemporary art exhibit, grayDUCK, located in South Austin. The exhibition aims to show cutting edge work from across the country including Austin’s known and not yet exposed artists. The space was well-lit with each artist showcase located in general sections to not get one artist confused with the others. This helped you view the works within each artist’s sculptures and wall art.

REVIEW | Barry Stone: Darkside of the Rainbow | Art Palace | Houston, TX

Man at the End of the Rainbows, Bailey Island, Maine, 2011, Archival print, 34 in x 51 in

Barry Stone? The Barry Stone? Yes, ladies and gents, I am proud to confirm your suspicions regarding the familiar ring this name might have to you. It is your one and only Texas State photography professor Barry Stone! As a student of Stone's, I was a little hesitant to critique his show, considering he has an influence on my GPA (ha!). But, I was simply drawn to this body of work because of it's title. When I first heard Darkside of the Rainbow was the exhibition title, I may or may not have become extremely giddy! The title references two things: Pink Floyd's album Dark Side of the Moon, and the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. I may have mentioned in previous posts that my all-time favorite movie is the one I just mentioned. So, you can see where my excitement stems from. For those unfamiliar with the title reference, it's pretty cool.

TREND | Ejaculation in Art | Cum On Me.

Norbert Bisky, Bukkake Tsunami, 2007, Oil/Canvas, 70X50 cm

I am fascinated with ejaculation in art. Besides from being hot and messy,  I find myself incorporating sex and ejaculation more and more into my own visual art.  As my own art has developed, and my concepts have become more articulated, I have sought out other artists that explore ejaculation in their artwork.  I ask questions about what the role of ejaculation plays in artwork, whether it is a trend dominated by male artists, and whether sexually objectifying men and women play an important role in ejaculation art. The artists I researched, however,  tended to focus their artwork on sociopolitical and religious criticism.  I also found artists who celebrate ejaculation, whether it be in "queer" art or as a celebration of masculinity pride.

REVIEW | Dia de los Muertos Retables, Dragonfly Gallery at Rosedale, Austin, Tx

I chose a local art gallery in North Austin because I live in Austin and wanted to see some of the work done by fellow artists in the area.  I happened to come across the Dragonfly Gallery while searching around online and saw that they were going to have a selection of Mexican Retables made by local artists. 
Beth McCarry, Head Games, 2011

Nov 2, 2011

REVIEW | Beyond Paper Folding | Ellen Noël Art Museum | Odessa, Texas

Beyond Paper Folding, Joan Son, 2011

West Texas is not the contemporary art hub by any means, but when I went home for the weekend I thought it wouldn’t hurt to stop by one of our local museums. I was actually impressed with the exhibits that had been on display at the Ellen Noël art museum. Usually the shows featured in the museums of my hometown and surrounding areas feature artists and work that parallel with our climate or our geography. It was refreshing to not look at photos of the desert landscape of tumbleweeds and oil rigs or New Mexican indian crafts. The Ellen Noël was featuring origami and while paper isn’t too thrilling, I couldn’t have been more excited.

REVIEW | The Invisible Dragon | Essays on Beauty | Dave Hickey | University of Chicago Press | 2009

Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon: Essays on Beauty is an exploration of what beauty is in post-modernism and how it is viewed in the world of art criticism.  Starting off in Enter the Dragon: On the Vernacular of Beauty, Hickey paints the scene for the reader.  While daydreaming during a panel discussion, Hickey is questioned by a graduate student on what he thought would be the “Issue of the Nineties.”  In a rash response, awakened from his reverie, Hickey simply replied “Beauty.”

This was met with a dead silence, not of awe, but an awkward silence that makes you hear the chirping of the crickets.  With no way to backpedal out of it, he argued that “beauty was the agency that caused visual pleasure in the beholder; and any theory of images that was not grounded in the pleasure of the beholder begged the question of their efficacy and doomed itself to inconsequence.”

REVIEW | Dirty Fingernails; A One-Of-A-Kind Collection of Graphics Uniquely Designed by Hand

Dirty Fingernails- by John Foster

Good Design Doesn't have to be clean - in fact, the messier, the better. -John Foster
In his book Dirty Fingernails, John Foster addresses the division between good Graphic design and fine art. So many artists get stuck in computer mode and think they can never leave their perfect clean designs and ready made type, everything is simple, easy and to the point. John Foster himself is an illustrator and a sculptor whom, in addition to being the author of Dirty Fingernails he is an instructor for The Illustration Academy  , Concept forum and TAD by as well. He has also traveled and spoken at many lectures and is currently living in Rhode Island where he is an Instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design.

REVIEW | The Rachofsky House | Dallas, TX

Front view, The Rachofsky House
I had the pleasure to visit The Rachofsky House in the city of Dallas, TX a few weeks ago and boy was I in for a treat. Personally I am from a city outside of downtown Dallas and never knew about this hidden gem, it is definitely a must see if ever in the area. I visited The Rachofsky House with no expectations and was blown away. In the past they have had open house events every afternoon and fridays but currently that option is not available. 

REVIEW | Death to Dollars | Mexic-Arte Museum | Austin, TX

Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin. Death to Dollars Exhibition Flyer. 2011.

Last month I visited the Mexic-Arte Museum located in down town Austin for their Death to Dollars exhibition. Although many of the pieces shown in this exhibit are meant to honor the Latino tradition, the transformation between folkloric imagery and rituals to commercial art is apparent. With the expansion of the Day of the Dead festivities now being celebrated in southern states of the United States products of mass production are more commonly seen. This includes advertisements, clothing, party supplies, and even video games. 

TREND | Sculpture from Tires

Chakaia Booker, The Fatality of Hope, 2007, tire, wood, steel, 85 x 201 x 32 in.
With over 1 billion tires produced annually and the decomposition timeframe of over 100 years for rubber, it is assuring to see the appropriation of such a modern day object of the industrial age not end with the death of its intended use. Wether it be abstract, kitsch, futuristic, or otherworldy, the transformation of a tire into sculpture is astonishing.  What was once dead and sterile, is now transformed into fluid material receiving a new life and energy. 

REVIEW | Colby Bird: Dust Breeds Contempt, Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX

Colby Bird, Chair 2, 2011

Tucked quietly in between Third and Fourth Street on Nueces Street in Austin, the Lora Reynolds Gallery is surrounded by restaurants with valets and dance schools offering ballet lessons. A person could completely overlook it, if just passing by. When you walk in, a cheery docent greets you and invites you to look at the exhibition listings and general information. I visited the gallery to see Colby Bird’s “Dust Breeds Contempt” Exhibition.

Originally from Austin, Bird now lives and works in New York City, New York. Since graduating from the University of Colorado and the Rhode Island School of Design, he has consecutively had shows every year in multiple galleries. Only in the past two years has he returned to Austin to present his sculptures and photography.

Nov 1, 2011

EXHIBITION | Shadow Life by Cao Fei

Cao Fei, Transmigration, Shadow puppetry

I have had two experiences with shadow puppets. The first was during an electricity breach from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Because Zelda: Ocarina of Time was completely inaccessible, hand puppets set against the backdrop of a Yankee candle was a fair (but more boring) alternative. The second experience occurred my first night in my first apartment in 2010. With everything still in storage and absolutely no upper body strength to relocate the bulk of my possessions, my small and bare living area was void of furniture, books, or Zelda: Twilight Princess. However, I had a small lamp that granted some pathetic attempts at shadow puppets along my bedroom wall.


Example of Yarn Bombing at the Blanton Art Museum, Austin, TX
As the weather gets colder, you may notice that you are the not the only one (or thing) that is donning a knit sweater. Local city objects are becoming wrapped in knit garments, as well in a trend known as "yarn bombing".

PROFILE | Caleb Charland

Caleb Charland, Commission for Discover Magazine, 2009

Caleb Charland makes images with a view camera, simple physics, and everyday objects found around the house, that are visually, as well as mentally stimulating. It's not often that I come across a piece of art and feel baffled, but when I found Charland's photographs in Discover Magazine that was exactly how I felt. 

REVIEW| Blink, Malcolm Gladwell. 2005

Blink, the power of thinking without thinking.  Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist who writes more about social phenomenon than fine arts.  However, in this book, Gladwell describes how first impressions affect our decisions, and how meaningful gut instincts really are.  Contemporary art can easily be dismissed in just a glance, especially if a budding artist hasn't yet earned the clout to merit deeper examinations.  The first glance of an artist's work can make it or break it.  So, how important is it that we pay closer attention to what viewers are seeing in the first two seconds?

TREND | Superflat/Soflo Superflat

Takashi Murakami, Francis Bacon Study of Isabel Rawsthorne, Acrylic, 1963

A flat and heavy weight of solid colors, edgy while retaining an illusion of depth much like a system or deceiving set of rules. Superflat incorporates a style fused with underlying beliefs and interpretations against the stigma of governed prospects,  as well as the cultural limitations stemming from post-war Japan. Superflat spawned from it's creator Takashi Murakami a Japanese artist with a passion for cartoon-like drawings and animation; who saw a need to change and develope a new culture for Japan through the use of his artistic skill. Unfortunately for Takashi many attempts to provide and spark change in his country were unsuccessful which eventually led to his departure towards the United States.

REVIEW| Modart Highbrow. Lowbrow. No Brow.| Harlan Levey| Gingko Press, Inc.| 2011

Modart HighBrow. LowBrow. No Brow by. Harlan Levey (Cover)

I entered the library nervous in hopes to find a book that would hold my attention. I am not a reader of academic subjects, because I find them “stressful, dry, and holding with a lack of imagination”. I browsed the new books, and to my surprise and delight I spotted on the lower shelf MODART: Highbrow. Lowbrow. No Brow. Creative action = active creation. I flipped through it a bit and saw art in MY language, and decided to read further.

TREND | Rage Comics

Original Artist Unknown, Rage Guy "fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu", 2008

In the past couple years since around 2008, Rage Comics have become a fast spreading internet meme throughout the world of blogs and forums. Centered around the original "rage guy", these amateur-drawn like comics have developed a face for every emotion. With templates that allow any normal viewer to fill in their own story line that leads to the frustrating "fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu" (also known as f7u12), anyone can be the artist. This trend first appeared on the the popular site's "/b/ - Random" image board in August 2008. It stayed almost exclusively on there until 2009 when it spread to other online forums and blogs.

Oct 31, 2011

REVIEW| Blink, Malcom Gladwell, Penguin Books, 2005.

The book, Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell does not directly address contemporary art.  However, it's context should surely be considered by any artist today.  Blink is a social/statistical text which discusses the many aspects in which human beings use their first impressions and immediate gut reactions to gauge situations.  For budding artists, work may often be dismissed at first glance.  Some, however, exhibit that special something that pulls the viewer in for a closer look. 

REVIEW | Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton, W. W. Norton & Company, 2008

Seven Days in the Art World - Sarah Thornton

“It’s interesting how contemporary art has become a belief structure for atheists.” – Sarah Thornton

After selecting Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World to read for my book review, I prepared myself good and well to be irked.  This book is described as, “[investigating] the drama of a Christie's auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami's studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforum magazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. [Thornton] reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton's entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture,” and I saw myself learning nothing and reading the rantings and hero worship of some globetrotting so-and-so. 

Well, I am the first to admit how wrong I was, and really, color me impressed.  Thornton actually did do her homework.  I learned a lot from her research.

REVIEW | Unraveled and Intertwined (Ta Da!) | Jordan Faye Contemporary | Baltimore, Maryland

Jordan Faye Contemporary was founded as a platform to give emerging artists a wider audience. Its located in the heart of Federal Hill which is a hip neighborhood composed of extremely old buildings housing a multitude of galleries, boutiques and bakeries in Baltimore Maryland. The current exhibition Unraveled and Intertwined or it's self made nickname Ta Da! will be up until November 11th. Ta Da! featured the work of Stewart Watson and Gallery owner Jordan Faye Block.

TREND | Reverse Graffiti

Paul "Moose" Curtis, London

Towels? Check. Shoe brushes? Check. Rubber gloves? Check. Water? Check. Alright, let’s go tag some walls. Wait, what?

Unlike the graffiti most people are familiar with seeing that cover up the walls around us, reverse graffiti, or “clean tagging”, does the opposite. Artists remove the dirt from the surface to create a negative image within the positive; it can be as simple as dragging your finger across a dirty car window to making elaborate stencils, taking the grime off the tunnel walls with high-pressure hoses. Sounds like a bit of a contradiction, don’t you think? Wasn't the point of graffiti to break the rules and to permanently mark one's "territory"? 


Contemporary Textiles, Book Cover

Contemporary Textiles is a diverse assortment of over fifty profiles for some of the most innovative fiber artists working in contemporary art.  The book begins with a foreword by Jann Haworth, a note from the editor, Nadine Monem, a section titled, Textiles at the Cutting Edge by Bradley Quinn, another section titled, The Art of Fabric by Janis Jefferies, followed by artist profiles categorized under drawings, paintings, sculptures, and space. The book is perfect for prospective contemporary artists looking for inspiration, or those seeking more knowledge on the subject and history.

REVIEW | Robert Melton, Hungry Heart, McNay Museum, San Antonio

Robert Melton, Hungry Heart, 2009, still images of HD video, 2:27 minutes.
I feel like I was meant to see this exhibit. I had searched other art galleries but for some reason the McNay was the only one I kept coming back to. I had no idea what I was going to find or what type of subject matter I was planning on blogging about. I had initially been excited about seeing the Nightmare Before Christmas exhibit but that was before Robert Melton. Melton is a photographer and videographer who has received both a bachelor and a masters of fine arts from the University of Texas in Austin. He creates each of his scenes in his videos himself using his background as a painter and his dramatic composition and lighting skills.

Oct 30, 2011

REVIEW| Mariana Yampolsky: The Edge of Time, Photographs of Mexico | The Wittliff Collections as Texas State University | San Marcos, Texas

Wittliff Collections at University Texas State

The smooth quick ride up to the seventh floor in the Alkek library at the University of Texas State left me with an abrupt tickling feeling in my lower stomach due to the elevators bouncing stop. As I exited out to the left and make my way forward I was greeted at the heart of the Wittliff Collections by a smiling work study briefing me over the current running exhibitions.