A Portrait of The Capital

August 13, 2010 · Print This Article

I flew to Washington, DC this week for many reasons but while here made a point to see as much Art as I could and after a few galleries, museums and private collections some of which were sprinted through, some I could spend more time in I found much of the art venues to be a tad sparse  and fragile. Lacking the solidity and permanence you would think would come naturally in the nation’s capital. The one gem that stood out surprisingly was The National Portrait Gallery.

I mentioned it last week in posting the video that Spielberg/Lucas produced to showcase their collection of Norman Rockwell works and planned to take time to see the show but had low expectations even though I did like the attempt to contextualize Rockwell as a directors painter.  The Rockwell series was enjoyable and pleasant to see his paintings side by side with his preparatory drawings (which in many ways do overshadow the finished works) and the Spielberg/Lucas collection is a well curated and thought out collection with only a few stranglers (works based on the four seasons) which could easily have been early purchases and they were smartly set aside in a small corner by themselves apart from the main body of work. I wish I could have photos to share but they were militant on retaining their photo copyrights and even chased me away from photographing the entrance to the exhibition from over 15 feet away (which is a all time high for me after 8+ years of trying to document things like this).

What made the National Portrait Gallery stand out for me above the various Smithsonian collections including the National Gallery (which is staffed by some of the most pleasant customer service & guards I have ever dealt with, makes you wonder if the fact that the recession hasn’t even scratched this town having anything to do with that disposition?) was that it was both a dense collection of works that were smartly pooled into thematic bite size chucks but also very romantic and intimate as a venue. A throwback to the turn of the century parlors of old where you felt you had a more intimate one on one with a artist or series of works.

The term portrait gallery is apt for portions of the collection but it’s just meaningless for a large part and gives a misconception of what lies under the roof of that building. Many of the works being smart or rarely seen examples of pastoral or figurative 19th century works that feel fresher and challenging then their age would hint in this day of clinical detachment.

One of the interesting temporary exhibits in the museum was the annual portrait competition by various young artists, grad students and such. The work was surprisingly strong and continued to show the diversity that still exists in this 21st century bouillabaisse of style. About 20% of it wasn’t worth comment but much was fresh and well executed and even the parts that were derivative from more established but lesser known artists were still interesting.

For once as well the top award given by the public to Margaret Bowland’s girls in wedding gowns and white face was more deserving in some ways then the top juried choice. You can see a gallery list below. Have a great weekend!




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (8/13 & 8/14)

August 12, 2010 · Print This Article

Hello again everyone. Sorry for the silence last week, I was on an adventure to California. It was great, except for the fact that someone out there got me sick, and now that I’m back with my nose to the grinding stone and a shoot to go to this weekend (both kinds), and I’ve got a wicked cold. Art’s been slimming down in preparation for the big Sept. 10th blowout, but there’s still a lot of great work up. Here’s my weekend picks…

1. Chicago Variety Show at Rotofugi Gallery

Work by Chicago artists Jeremiah Ketner, Myong Kurily, Jim Pavelec, David Rettker, Shawn Roberts, and Chema Skandal.

Rotofugi Gallery is located at 1955 W. Chicago Ave. Reception is Friday, from 7-10pm.

2. A Walking Tour of Here at Fill in the Blank Gallery

Paintings and prints by Justin Santora.

Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception is Friday, from 7-11pm.

3.Who’s Yr Shaman? at Johalla Projects

Work by Elijah Burgher, Sara Fagala, Terence Hannum, Chad Harrison, Ivan Lozano, Adam Ludwig, and Rebecca Walz.

Johalla Projects is located at 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception is Friday, from 7-11pm.

4. Pastoral at Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery

Work by Kim Curtis and S.J. Hart made at Tryon Farm in Michigan City.

Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery is located at 215 N. Aberdeen St. Reception is Saturday, from 4-6pm.

5. Feeble Intimacy at LVL3

Work by Liz Nielsen, Kate Ruggeri, and Brendan Sullivan.

LVL3 is located at 1452 N Milwaukee Ave, #3. Reception Saturday, from 6-10pm.




Art in the Middle | Roger Brown: California U.S.A

August 10, 2010 · Print This Article

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This week over on  Center Field | Art in the Middle with Bad at Sports I had a chance to interview Nicholas Lowe, curator of  Roger Brown: California U.S.A at the Hyde Park Art Center. Check out the teaser below and read the entire article over on art21.

After passing away in 1997, painter, sculptor, and notorious collector, Roger Brown bequeathed his homes and collections to his alma mater, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). His Chicago home located at 1926 N. Halsted became what is now the Roger Brown Study Collection (RBSC). Known as an “artist’s museum,” the study collection houses Brown’s work and collection intact. His New Buffalo home, which was designed by his partner, architect George Veronda, has become an artists’ retreat for SAIC staff and faculty.

Unlike his other residences, Brown’s home in La Conchita, California, was sold in 1998 and the contents were archived and moved to the RBSC. With the help of the study collection’s curator Lisa Stone, assistant curator James Connolly, and SAIC alum Dana Boutin, Chicago-based artist and curator Nicholas Lowe has organized an exhibition based on the work that Brown made and the objects he collected while living in California. Roger Brown: California U.S.A, currently on view at the Hyde Park Art Center, explores Brown’s Virtual Still Lifepaintings and the intricate relations that formed while working in his home in California.

Meg Onli: How did this exhibition evolve and how did you decide to show Brown’s collection outside of his homes?

Nicholas Lowe: This exhibition grew from a discussion about what would be the best way to show [Brown’s] Virtual Still Life object series. There are 27 of these [paintings] and they were all made [from] 1995 to 1996, while Brown was living in La Conchita, CA, in the house that he commissioned Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman to build. Brown died in November 1997, and the house was subsequently sold in 1998. The contents, including all Brown’s personal possessions, from inside and outside the house were documented, cataloged, and packed. These items were placed in deep storage at the museum, and in 2008,  with the help of Lisa Stone and her staff we began to unpack and assess the material.

Read the rest of article on art21.




Episode 258: Nathan Carter

August 8, 2010 · Print This Article

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This week: We talk to Artist Nathan Carter who has a work in the current MCA Exhibition “Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy”about his work, the youth perspective, and the secret trasmissions of numbers stations.

Here is a slightly outdated bio I lifted: Nathan Carter’s wall reliefs, sculptures, collages, and hanging objects are inspired by myriad aspects of contemporary society: modes of transportation, mass communication devices, sports insignias, and architecture for mass gatherings like stadiums and parade grounds. At once gestural and reductive, his works amplify strategies first explored by modernist artists in the early 20th century. Deeply rooted in a fascination with how visual abstract codes represent a means of abbreviated, if not universal, communication, Carter’s free-form compositions are simultaneously non-objective and referential.

Playful at first impression, Carter’s art contains allusions to mundane yet foreboding engagements, such as radio transmissions, encoded transcriptions, and other electronic communications that serve not only to link us to world networks, but also to place us under surveillance and deprive us of our privacy. Often our dependence on these tools and the despair that results from their failure to properly operate is a recurring leitmotif in his work.

Nathan Carter was born in Dallas, TX, in 1970 and currently lives and works in New York, NY. He received his MFA from Yale University, New Haven, CT, in 1999. He has had solo exhibitions at Galería Pilar Parra, Madrid (2007); Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York (2006, 2004, 2001); and Esther Schipper, Berlin (2006). He also participated in Art 33 Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2002). Selected group exhibitions include Neo Baroque, DA2 Centre of Contemporary Art of Salamanca, Spain (2005-06); Greater New York 2005, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY; and GNS, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003).




Is Norman Rockwell Really That Interesting? Maybe?

August 6, 2010 · Print This Article

Norman Rockwell brought to you by Luacs & SpielbergArt = ((Money + Love)* Infatuation) its a equation we all know and like gravity you ignore it at your own peril. Everyone advocates for what they love or to be more mercenary, what they have invested money in and we all live in the shadow of that fact. The Economics of Art is much the same as everything else just tweaked a bit more. This is nothing new to anyone that has been in the Art world for any length but sometimes is worth restating.

Norman Rockwell plays into that fact neatly and had been promoted and actively shoehorned into the modern art cannon discussion with increasing persistence starting in the mid 90’s and continuing today. Nothing wrong with that, its the active debate that keeps the art world fresh and acts as oxygen sometimes when the fishbowl we live in starts to be a tad hypoxic.

Right now George Lucas & Steven Spielberg have loaned their collection to the Smithsonian American Art Museum to be on display from July 2nd to January 2nd. Most of the time anything having to do with Lucas or Spielberg I would not mention since I largely view the quality of their work to be in a holding pattern and their grip on contemporary anything to be a bit loose but the video brought to you again from Art Babble for the first time makes a semi cogent argument for Rockwell’s inclusion in the larger discussion on modern art.

The video is well worth your time if for no other reason then to see some lesser know works of Rockwell’s and get a feel for the body of work from a cinematic point of view. Some of it was very interesting even to a jaded individual as myself and when I am in DC next week will actually go out of my way to see their collection in person among other higher priorities.

Enjoy