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Canvas and Sash – A Meet at the Met

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Feb 26-May 27, 2013  — At first glance Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, on view at the MET through May 27th, looks less interesting than it actually is. Just in case a large-scale exhibition of great Impressionist paintings doesn’t pander enough to the tastes of the general art going public, this exhibition pairs Impressionist painting with the actual gowns and accessories worn by their sitters. What could possibly be more appealing than a show that brings together the great lifestyle portraitists of the late 19th century and the bourgeoning reputation of modern Parisian fashion? While it sounds like a vacuous blockbuster, Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity … [Read more...]

17 Days in Southeast Asia: The Roar of Saigon

I’m used to the bustling, frenetic movement of New York City. I’m familiar with all the New Yorker’s lost in their ever-shrinking, individual worlds, even while they’re surrounded by a thronging mass of people. It’s a city where personal space is malleable but somehow maintained. The breakneck pace of NYC, however, is more of a mindset than anything else. The city is only dangerous, toxic or unsustainable for people who don’t actively choose to mentally participate in the frenzied multi-tasking necessary to live here. Saigon, by contrast, audibly rumbles. Like all those earthquakes I knew well as a child growing up on the west coast, Saigon perpetually sounds like it’s on the verge of upheaval, and perhaps it is. Flying in from the coast … [Read more...]

17 Days in Southeast Asia

“So, as you are soon heading off to Southeast Asia, what are you expecting? Is making your expectations or prejudices concrete important? Are you looking for the ruptures between what you think versus what you experience? Do you look for something familiar to situate yourself? How will you make comparisons? Will you play the role of tourist or traveler? Is there a chance that you will be disappointed?” –RC-D Undergraduate professor, longtime friend and sometimes-respectable photographer, mailed the above barrage of questions to me on a handmade postcard shortly before I traveled around the world. They are good, provocative questions, but ill timed. I couldn’t fathom then how to answer, not knowing what my “expectations” let alone … [Read more...]

Conceptual Threads

ANN HAMILTON: the event of a thread, Park Avenue Armory, Dec. 5, 2012 -Jan. 6, 2013 I will always remember Ann Hamilton as the keynote speaker at my graduation many years ago. Like most professors, from the vantage point of a student, she seemed larger than life. I remember listening to her intently, waiting to be inspired, until I realized that she wasn’t talking to us but around us, and she was discussing the idea of graduation rather than our graduation. She approached her speech in the same manner that she approaches her artwork: conceptually, not personally. Though it wasn’t the inspired imparting of wisdom I’d hoped it would be, it provided useful insight into the thought process of a smart, complex and obtuse … [Read more...]

The Murder of Crows

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller: Drifting Off — Art historians, professors, and artists alike all say that the average amount of time a person spends viewing a work of art is about 10 seconds; I’ve since learned that this is a generous estimate. While I never find art to be particularly boring, even when I don’t like it visually, I vividly remember the first time I was expected to enjoy being bored by art. It was in a color photography class, I was seventeen, and the movie up for discussion was Baraka. Made in 1992, Baraka is a beautiful, non-narrative film by Ron Fricke. It is an arty flick that tries to capture the essence of humanity in an hour and thirty-six minutes of exquisite, time-lapse filmmaking. About half way … [Read more...]

The Loupe_Oregon City

Living in the South taught me to appreciate the absurdity of our history. Everywhere you turned was the face of Lee and the figure of Stonewall. Great plantations with weepy oaks still sit majestically along the banks of the James River, looking uselessly beautiful. Idly exploring on a windy Sunday, I found a similar kind of historical humor painted across the sleepy walls of Oregon City, Oregon. The murals, depicting a nostalgic past of ingenuity and labor, contained more people than there were walking the streets of downtown. Please click to enlarge for artwork details … [Read more...]

The Pearl

Exploring Portland’s Regional Arts District – Art doesn’t differ from city to state to country as much as I sometimes think it should, or wish that it did. Like most things in this highly technological decade of “sharing,” art has become a global form of expression, and galleries worldwide feel homogenized when it comes to the medium and aesthetic they promote. Looking at auction results you can surmise, as clearly as you could when the “hierarchy of genres” was taken seriously in the not too distant past, what that hierarchy is in today’s art market. Analyzing different artists shown across the U.S. can be a repetitious endeavor, as galleries make only the smallest of shifts in the artwork and the artists represented to appeal to the … [Read more...]

Double-Take, The Whitney Biennial 2012

Looking back on the work of Tom Thayer, Moyra Davey, Elaine Reichek and Werner Herzog – The Whitney Biennial, March 1–May 27, 2012, a group show of about fifty plus artists amply fills all five floors of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The exhibition is notorious for being one of the most anticipated and important group shows, while at the same time feeling like one of the most meaningless. The Biennial, turning from annual to biennial in 1973, is still seen as a truthful indicator of the state of the art world, the mood of contemporary artists, and the preoccupations of the society that surrounds them. The show has a kind of trend-setting prestige and greatly appeals to young artists, perhaps because the exhibition is supposed to … [Read more...]

Without Apology

Zoe Strauss: Ten Years, Philadelphia Museum of Art, January 14 - April 22, 2012 – Zoe Strauss: Ten Years, on view earlier this spring at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is by far the most provocative show I’ve seen this year. Only 42 now, Strauss who was born and raised in Philadelphia, discovered photography when she was given a camera for her 30th birthday. Approaching picture taking with a self-taught sense of freedom, she quickly adapted the medium to her already developed conceptual ideas. Having founded the Philadelphia Public Art Project in 1995, well before she began her Ten Years project, the goal of the public art program was to give the residents of Philly access to art in their everyday lives. Expanding upon this idea of … [Read more...]

The Quiet Artwork of an Outspoken Artist

Ai Weiwei’s Sunflowers at the Mary Boone Gallery, 2012 – Last year the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei captured the world’s attention when he was detained on April 3rd, and was held in a secret police detention center for the following 80 days. It was a story that brought the real world to the doorstep of the art world, and as the art world awaited news of the already internationally known artist, protests of his disappearance took place everywhere. In New York City, home to a particularly large and vocal art community, various different protests—Creative Time’s 1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei, a staged recreation of the artist’s own installation Fairytale: 1001 Qing Dynasty Wooden Chairs for Documenta 12, or the Cuban artist Geandy … [Read more...]