All notes from Archives | Notes on Looking

Rothko Chapel performances: Jacob Kirkegaard “A CAPELLA” and Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello “The Spaces Contained in Each”

…to my right a purple rectangular painting is flanked by two black and slightly narrower canvases, the color in these paintings is “full bleed.” In the two other groupings, as well as a single narrow painting on the entry wall, the paintings have a narrow border in a dark color. The mute regularity of Rothko’s paintings in this famous chapel surprises me again on this, my second visit. I think I expected drama, and blatant anguish. But unless you bring it, little of either is present here. A kind of clarity is manifested by natural light that feels grey and wintry, and despite the heat of Texas July, I shiver. The chapel’s high plaster walls frame Rothko’s paintings while also allowing them to recede from my attention. The walls provide the grey I noted earlier, and the tone of this color matches in intensity the darker tones of the canvases. The audience is dressed mostly in earth tones and blues, with occasional fearless brights: a yellow folding hat pushed low over sunglasses on one woman, and a surprising orange collared T-shirt on a young man. The three largest of Rothko’s panels are set back in a niche. This arrangement nods to the idea of an altar but resists this interpretation. Jacob Kirkegaard records the sound of the space in real time – in our time – and then plays it back into the space; he captures the resulting resonances in a second recording which he also plays back and records. Through this repetition I become aware of the half-life of sound. For example, when once a person coughs this...

Dan Flavin installation at the Menil Collection, Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I notice a rainbow on the ceiling, this faint reflected glow on the plaster – cast by Dan Flavin’s fluorescent tube installation – looks like colors in the air, and like colors made of air. Present at Richmond Hall are a pink that is more salmon, yellow, green and blue; these shine from vertically mounted light fixtures with a double row of horizontal ultra-violet bulbs between. The installation on the wall is quite bright, it might be that the presence of the ultra-violet light softens the harshness. The fixtures are mounted on their sides and oppose each other: if the upper row faces your eyes then the lower one faces away, so that an upper color on the left points at a matching lower color facing right. The arrangements on both long walls begin with pink and close with green. Up close the colored light nearly completes a square in each section – light bleeds through the ballasts. While the upper row facing away has a diffuse structural architecture, in the lower one facing me the colored light becomes an object. In a nice way, Flavin’s room makes structure insubstantial and gives substance to color. Outdoors, the green lights that are encased in plexi and that partially circle the building at the parapet were not lit. Dan Flavin installation at Richmond Hall, the Menil Collection:...

Lindsay August-Salazar and a traveling group exhibition – Alpaca: Figure, Form and Abstraction

  Joshua Aster Lindsay August-Salazar Sarah Awad Leon Benn Kristin Calabrese Jacqueline Cedar Art Guerra Daniel Ingroff Devin Kenny Alpaca: Figure, Form and Abstraction Modeled after the mass movements of valise-carrying artists and others throughout the 20th and 21st century, I have curated a show entitled  “Alpaca: Figure, Form, & Abstraction.” It is a playful art­-historical tracing of various dimensions and theorizations of painting. Included are artists from Los Angeles and New York, who propose common identities within paint. There is a breadth of approaches, shuffling between the poles of conceptual and narrative abstract painting, suggesting a closer read into our current moment. Paying a particular focus on mobility, the exhibition aims to highlight the importance and value of physical representation to promote public discourse as it travels to Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. The second catalyst for this show stems from a reinvestigation of mobility and scale. In 2008, Thomas McCormick curated a traveling show entitled, Suitcase Paintings: Small Scale Abstract Expressionism. This title is derived from dealer Larry Aldrich, who coined the phrase “suitcase paintings”. This project/exhibition proposes that, despite the iconic status of large­-scale Abstract Expressionist paintings, many important abstract works have been produced at 20 inches or smaller. This exhibition shows that small dimensions do not bar monumentality. It is at this point where “Alpaca: Figure, Form and Abstraction” inherits potential discussion – American abstraction becomes a vocabulary rather than a representation of the success or failure of a particular movement. Continuing this theme and play with mobility and scale, this show investigates how the vocabulary of contemporary large-­scale abstraction can simultaneously be grand and expansive, yet compact...

Resistance comes in many forms – Telling “STOP” to spectacle-based, status-driven creative culture

An interest in examining relationships as well as a desire that their artistic practice include some sort of sustainable and community directed action has led artists Ari Marcantonio and Jaime Knight to Tres Piedras, New Mexico and to a residency called Practicing Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation (PLAND). In this instance, “examining relationships” can be understood as looking into the space that separates/joins teacher and student, artist and colleague, friend and friend; on a macro scale Knight and Marcantonio are questioning their individual relationships to the physical world, and how these relations are altered when individuals work together; as artists the two propose a responsibility to culture, and they wish to explore methods of demonstrating their commitment. PLAND is a project of self-reliance, creative problem-solving, and collaboration. PLAND is remote — 30 miles from any kind of food, gas, medical facilities, or other services. Residency is the heart and soul of PLAND. Not only does the Residency Program offer time and space to participants, but moreover, it offers the opportunity to deeply consider daily life. What does it mean to reside in a place? What supports or limits  a life off the grid? What happens when your cell phone loses its charge and the sun goes down and the water supply runs low? Each summer, PLAND offers a number of residency awards to individuals and collaborative groups who apply through an open call process. Residencies span two to six weeks between June and September. PLAND website: http://itspland.wordpress.com/ Ari Marcantonio and Jaime Knight: “We will commit our bodies to the arduous task of constructing a device, the primary purpose of...

Soon… a better future for emerging art (Salzburg/Los Angeles – small spaces/web action)

Saturday, July 21 at Galerie 5020 in Salzburg Alpine Gothic, Franz Bergmüller, Nina Dick, Andreas Duscha, Gudrun Fleischmann, Maria Flöckner / Hermann Schnöll, Andreas Fogarasi, Peter Haas, Kathi Hofer, Johanna Kirsch, Marianne Lang, Claudia Larcher, Christian Mayer / Geoff Tuck, Lilo Nein, Fritz Rücker. Demnächst: Orte für werdende Kunst Christian Mayer to Geoff Tuck, July 17: “The final show of curator Hildegard Fraueneder is named “demnächst” which means something like “soon” or “upcoming.” For this exhibition at Galerie 5020 Fraueneder looks to the future of institutions like this one (Galerie 5020 is what in the US we might term an ‘alternative” and an artist run space) , and how things might change (or are in the middle of changing) between artists and institutions. That is why I proposed our project Eye to Eye (for Deja Vu), as we built it up in between two media, a very old one (print) and a pretty young one (internet blog), and it is independent of institutional spaces like gallery etc. It might open up questions about how artists can and will communicate with viewers, and in the several forms it takes and media it uses Eye to Eye points to ways that projects might get more flexible in terms of media and communication.” It seems very important right now, this question of how art can be experienced and how ideas can be exchanged. Large institutions will continue to succeed and fail in the several ways that they do, and artists and others will debate the value of their actions and offer differing views of the audiences these museums serve. Los Angeles is...

It’s still illegal to make a mural on private property! City Planning Commission delays Mural Ordinance.

LA used to be the mural capital of the world.  For the last 10 years, this title has withered away as there has been a city-wide ban on murals on private property.  Yesterday at City Hall in room 340, I was surrounded by many artists to listen to and fight for the future of LA’s murals. For two hours of public comment, artists and community members came up one by one to share their issues concerning the proposed LA City Mural Ordinance, such as artist Anna Siquieros (the niece of iconic Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros), Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) Executive Director Isabel Rojas-Williams, muralist and United Painters and Public Artists (UPPA) co-founder Raul Gonzalez,  Art Historian and UPPA co-founder Lisbeth Espinoza, CSUN Professor Yreina Cervantes, muralist Carlos Callejo, and the list goes on and on… The majority of speakers were unhappy with the ordinance.  One huge concern was that the community had attended several meetings and had submitted hundreds of written correspondences to give their ideas to the Department of City Planning (DCP), however, many changes and significant language modifications had been made later by city officials without the local art community’s input. According to UPPA, they are disappointed “by the political process, which favors the interest of big advertisement companies and digital graphic groups that negotiate backroom deals when support from the local art community is not achieved.” Parts of the Ordinance that many artists opposed include: 1.     “Digitally printed images” included in the definition of a mural- Artists argued that a mural should be hand-painted or hand-tiled.  They also stated that vinyl is not...

Lewis Baltz ‘Park City’ and the choice of Wallace Stevens

What happens if I look at Lewis Baltz’ Park City photos without searching for “the afterglow of the new dystopia?” Quoting from the press release which then quotes the final lines of Wallace Stevens poem, Gubbinal: “The World is ugly,/and the People are sad.” I ask my question as a sort of reverse-engineering of my own aesthetics: I find these photographs, and what they picture, to be beautiful – they are to my taste. The half-built landscapes don’t feel like disjuncture, I can imagine the scenes to be fairly interesting and beautiful. The particular and specific messes that are a byproduct of construction have charms for me – the chaos indicates actions being taken. Looking at these photographs, first I appreciate their clarity and the level of granularity that they offer – literally as with the mounds of disgorged earth on which I can sense, and almost see, each grain of sand, and metaphorically in the many ideas that the artist presents – these are landscapes of the American west where our dreams of heroics resides, and yet these are small, are black and white and they do not idealize in a direction of traditional beauty – in fact they give me another way to think about beauty, as a thing I need to seek and not simply accept. In the time these photos were being made, our concept of “ecology” was being born – these photos probably bolstered the nascent movement toward thinking of environment as other than milieu, as a thing to be protected from man, as something almost holy. The 102 photos in the series are...

the hand of the artist: steve roden at lace (is closing on September 16)

In 2011 Steve Roden traveled to Germany to study curious marks that Walter Benjamin made in his (many and voluminous) notebooks. In another part of that year the artist bought at auction, perhaps on Ebay, a sealed box from the estate of Martha Graham. Concurrently, in the calendar year that just closed, Roden performed on his own each day the score of John Cage’s seminal work 4’33”. Currently at LACE the artist presents works that respond to these experiences. The installation functions as one work of art and it includes several sculptural elements that carry films on them as well as three sound works and a three channel projection on two walls. Immersive and subtle, the various parts – sound, light, volume, mass and darkness – work together on the viewer to effect a meditative state. Within this calm, images of objects that have been held and loved by humans and sounds that might be murmurs inspire wonder. I watch as the artist’s hand detects and with two fingers unrolls from inside a small seashell a note: “pure noguchi-graham”/a hand, the artist’s hand is a bit foreshortened – filmed from near the wrist on a changing monochrome background/a small carved wooden angel blows (softly, I think) on a pipe; turning to my left I see a typewritten page on a screen, “Bacchus on a billy goat, music from the casket.” My mind recalls childhood tunes, like “Ashes to ashes, we all fall down” or “A tisket, A tasket,” which my mother used to sing in a low, whisky voice. An olden days music box also appears on the screen...

So I’m dating this artist…

So I’m dating this artist.  He’s homeless.  He’s been homeless practically since I’ve known him, and for the most part, I don’t have a problem with it, and neither does he.  Sure, there are certain obstacles we have faced in our relationship as a result of his continual state of placelessness: for instance, that discomfort we both feel when driving in my car together and that song by TLC, “No Scrubs” comes on.  Or, the blush that washes over me when my roommate finally asks where my boyfriend lives, and I have to sheepishly confess what I’m sure he already has been suspecting: that, as a matter of fact, this artist doesn’t exactly have a “home” per se, but rather spends the majority of his nights making art at a college campus he can no longer afford to attend, until he falls asleep sandwiched in a 1 ½ foot wide canvas storage unit that has been cushioned with pieces of scrap art foam.  Once, we attempted to share the foam for a night.  It did not end well, for either of us. There is also something sort of disconcerting about realizing that your artist’s doppelganger might actually be the much older homeless man who strolls about the city with several books in hand, who your artist affectionately refers to as “Reading Man.”  Interestingly, this “Reading Man” possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of all things literature, including the various authors and translations of Proust’ Swann’s Way, one of my boyfriend’s favorite books.  For this very fact I have developed a deep-seated and irrational fear that reading Proust may directly result in me becoming homeless.  I shared this fear with my artist, one...