Blogs Centerpoints Exhibitions

Turning the tables: Critics curate a show in Hopkins

mnartists.org’s Scott Stulen (project director) and Susannah Schouweiler (editor) are two of four critics selected to make an art show, rather than write about it. The Critics’ Show, running January 15 through February 22 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, makes visible the personal tastes of local critics; it also subjects them to dissection, […]

mnartists.org’s Scott Stulen (project director) and Susannah Schouweiler (editor) are two of four critics selected to make an art show, rather than write about it. The Critics’ Show, running January 15 through February 22 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, makes visible the personal tastes of local critics; it also subjects them to dissection, analysis, and, of course criticism, from their peers, arts, and the public at large.

A novel idea, no? Still, the critic in me can’t help but quibble with the format. The exhibition theme does not revolve around the art or the artists, but rather the curators (let’s leave out the fact that Stulen, for one, is a practicing visual artist as well). That would be fine if a single curator/critic were involved, but having four of them, each contributing one or two artists, makes this a group show of curators, not artists, if that makes any sense. Which it largely doesn’t – thus the quibble.

But there’s another novel aspect to the show, one that could detract from the above issue: At tomorrow’s opening reception, the quartet of curator/critics will briefly talk about their selections. Actually, the press release used the verb “defend,” perhaps to sound more provocative. But whether the critics defend, justify, extol, or merely explain why they chose what they did, it sounds promising. Perhaps this is something that should occur at more gallery receptions?

PS – if you’re hesitant to venture to Hopkins, get over it. Hopkins Center for the Arts is at the end of a quaint (but not overly cute) shopping street, with several options for dining and drinking; you can even catch a movie after the reception – the gallery is across the street from one of the few remaining bargain cinemas in the metro area.

“The Critics’ Show”
Opening Reception + panel discussion with artists and critics
January 15, 6 – 8 p.m. (panel discussion at 7pm)

Charles D. Redepenning Gallery at the Hopkins Center for the Arts 1111 Mainstreet
Hopkins, MN 55343

The Critic/curators:
Kate Iverson (A+E Editor, Secretsofthecity.com) selected Rudy Fig and Travis Stearns

Susannah Schouweiler selected Kao Lee Thao, Alex Kuno, and Alonso Sierralta

Scott Stulen selected Erik Ullanderson, Beatrix JAR<
Gregory J. Scott (Lead Arts Writer, Vita.mn) selected Ruben Nusz

Act/React at the Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum is currently exhibiting a show called Act/React. I visited the show just over a month ago and have been meaning to blog about it for some time. It is coming down on January 11, so if you’re going to be in or passing through Milwaukee over the holiday break, take a […]

Daniel Rozin, Peg Mirror, 2007.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is currently exhibiting a show called Act/React. I visited the show just over a month ago and have been meaning to blog about it for some time. It is coming down on January 11, so if you’re going to be in or passing through Milwaukee over the holiday break, take a moment to stop in and see the show. It is worth it.

Going into the show, I was most excited to see the work of Cammille Utterback. Her piece, Liquid Time, is one of my favorite pieces of artwork. Several pieces from her External Measures Series are in the exhibition. One piece in the exhibition that really surprised me was Daniel Rozen’s Peg Mirror. The mirror consists of a collection of rotating pegs. Each peg’s end is tapered, and when they rotate in the light, the change in shadow represents shades of light and dark. While it’s a mechanical device, it feels very warm and inviting, certainly due to the warmth of the wood and the amazing precision it shows in reflecting the viewer.

Nathaniel Stern wrote a wonderful in-depth review for Rhizome:

…all the works on show are unhindered by traditional interface objects such as the mouse and keyboard. Most of them instead employ computer vision technologies, more commonly known as interactive video. Here, the combined use of digital video cameras and custom computer software allows each artwork to “see,” and respond to, bodies, colors and/or motion in the space of the museum. The few works not using cameras in this fashion employ similar technologies towards the same end. While this homogeneity means that the works might at first seem too similar in their interactions, their one-to-one responsiveness, and their lack of other new media-specific explorations — such as networked art or dynamic appropriation and re-mixing systems — it also accomplishes something most museum-based “state of the digital art” shows don’t. It uses just one avenue of interest by contemporary media artists in order to dig much deeper into what their practice means, and why it’s important. “Act/React” encourages an extremely varied and nuanced investigation of our embodied experiences in our own surroundings.

Stanley Landsman, Walk-In Infinity Chamber, 1968.

Stanley Landsman, Walk-In Infinity Chamber, 1968.

Another exhibition currently on view at the MAM is Sensory Overload: Light, Motion, Sound, and the Optical in Art Since 1945. It is a perfect companion exhibition to Act/React, highlighting some of the MAM’s new media collections, and connecting the contemporary work in Act/React to a deeper history of new media work. The exhibition web site notes:

The Museum has collected and exhibited new media art ever since 1967 when it co-organized Light | Motion | Space with the Walker Art Center, one of the first exhibitions on this form of art in the United States. Sensory Overload features some of the most popular works in the Museum’s Collection as well as key works on loan from other institutions and private collections.

A couple notable pieces are Erwin Redl’s MATRIX XV, Josiah McElheny’s Modernity circa 1952, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, and Stanley Landsman’s Walk-In Infinity Chamber, to focus on just a few. Many of the artists in the exhibition are also part of the Walker’s collection.

Past-Present-Future: George Brecht, Mark Bradford

George Brecht gestorben È morto George Brecht, genio di Fluxus Fluxus Conceptual Artist George Brecht Dies at Age 82 L’artiste américain George Brecht, un des membres du groupe Fluxus, est mort à Cologne (Allemagne) … … the breadth of publications reporting on the demise of this artist is an indication of how influential – and […]

George Brecht gestorben
È morto George Brecht, genio di Fluxus
Fluxus Conceptual Artist George Brecht Dies at Age 82
L’artiste américain George Brecht, un des membres du groupe Fluxus, est mort à Cologne (Allemagne)

… the breadth of publications reporting on the demise of this artist is an indication of how influential – and appreciated – his art is. Brecht was a key figure in Fluxus, a 60s movement whose art has been a focus of the Walker in its acquisitions, and his work was featured in the museum’s 1993 Fluxus survey. It will also play a prominent role in the upcoming Walker exhibition, The Quick and the Dead, opening in April – that is, to the extent that “prominent” means anything, given that Brecht sought to create “an art verging on the non-existent, dissolving into other dimensions.”

Peter Eleey, The Quick and the Dead’s curator, has selected several of the artist’s “event scores” for placement throughout the exhibition, where they will act in concert as a “larger score.” These are simple instructions for performances or “events” that anyone can enact – or in some cases, they simply happen. There’s Sink, for example, which is “on (or near) a white sink,” and Winter Event, which is simply “snow.” And every Thursday is the performance of Brecht’s Thursday.

While death means the end of Brecht’s career (though you never know, given the morbid preoccupations of many Conceptualists), that of another artist featured at the Walker has been coming into a full flowering. Mark Bradford, a self-described “beauty operator” whose work was included in Brave New Worlds at the Walker in 2007-08, will return to speak here in April (actual date to be confirmed – check back for details).


In the meantime, his Ark – built from the shell of a destroyed house and assorted flotsam from Hurricane Katrina – has become perhaps the emblematic piece at the sprawling Prospect.1 New Orleans biennial. (The image here comes from the exhibition’s homepage.) In his review, the New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl declared it perhaps the single artwork most liked by the locals. Prospect.1 is on view through January 18 should you have plans to be in New Orleans (warmth-seeking Minnesotans, take note!).

(Credits for Brecht’s Void Stone : Arp Museum Bahn hof Rolandseck. Photo: Warburg. Via Artdaily.com.)

Would Beuys have auditioned for “American Idol”?

Or the Idol counterpart in his home country, Deutschland sucht den Superstar? (Love that title!) The shaman/sham/most brilliant artist of all time (to paraphrase an Art News profile from 1980), did take risks with his “aktions,” most famously in cohabitating with a coyote in a gallery (see documentation in Walker exhibition) – but I just […]

Beuys goes "Bananas"

Beuys goes "Bananas"

Or the Idol counterpart in his home country, Deutschland sucht den Superstar? (Love that title!) The shaman/sham/most brilliant artist of all time (to paraphrase an Art News profile from 1980), did take risks with his “aktions,” most famously in cohabitating with a coyote in a gallery (see documentation in Walker exhibition) – but I just learned that he also made a go of it as a pop singer. Artforum.com (via YouTube) has a video of Beuys making himself vulnerable before mainstream TV viewers, performing a protest song called “Sonne Statt Reagan” in 1982 on the German show Bananas, which also hosted acts like Depeche Mode. Artforum’s video section has a lot of other good stuff, including David Byrne talking with Jeff Koons – in 1975, Matthew Barney’s 2003 Regis Dialogue at the Walker, and an interview with Mary Heilmann in which the artist talks about “keeping the bourgeoisie happy,” among other things.

What does boredom look like?

Leave it to Paul Schmelzer, the former chief blogger on Off-Center, to find the fine-art connection in Minnesota’s infamous Senate ballot recount. On his own blog, Eyeteeth, he’s mentioned how the “Lizard People” write-in vote on one ballot made waves last week, thanks mostly to MPR’s excellent “Challenged Ballots: You Be the Judge”, a feature […]

Leave it to Paul Schmelzer, the former chief blogger on Off-Center, to find the fine-art connection in Minnesota’s infamous Senate ballot recount.

On his own blog, Eyeteeth, he’s mentioned how the “Lizard People” write-in vote on one ballot made waves last week, thanks mostly to MPR’s excellent “Challenged Ballots: You Be the Judge”, a feature that provided an all-too rare occasion for election transparency.

But more to the point at hand, in a story for the Minnesota Independent, where he works as managing editor, Schmelzer talked to photographer Paul Shambroom about capturing the mind-numbing process of (re-)counting thousands of ballots. Shambroom, whose Meetings series masterfully – even majestically – documented small-town civic proceedings across the USA, said that if he were to return to his days as a news photographer, he might try “try to embrace the boredom” of such a task.

That got me trying to think of works of art that might “try to embrace the boredom” of something. What about Instead of allowing some thing to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things? That ‘s the “situation” by Tino Sehgal where a single person writhes slowly and soundlessly, kind of starfish-like, on the floor of an empty gallery; it played out last winter in the Walker’s Medtronic Gallery as part of Sehgal’s largest “show” to date in the first U.S.

Other examples of tedium-as-art? Send a comment below.

Political statements: Free Beuys and Judd buttons

While the “statements” on view in the exhibition Statements: Beuys, Flavin, Judd may seem less-than-political at first glance, all three artists — Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd — were deeply engaged in political matters. According to exhibition curator Yasmil Raymond, all three men, who were adult artists working in the turbulent 1960s, were […]

buttonsWhile the “statements” on view in the exhibition Statements: Beuys, Flavin, Judd may seem less-than-political at first glance, all three artists — Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd — were deeply engaged in political matters. According to exhibition curator Yasmil Raymond, all three men, who were adult artists working in the turbulent 1960s, were both military veterans and pacifists and had bold views on politics of their day. Of course, theirs wasn’t politics in the traditional sense. As Beuys once said, “I have nothing to do with with politics — I know only art.” Yet he and environmentalist Likas Beckmann founded Germany’s Green Party. And Judd, who was bitterly opposed to war of all kinds, wrote the seminal essay “Art and Internationalism” in protest of imperialism; his withdrawal to Marfa, Texas, some say, was a response to the war in Vietnam.

With a contentious and historic election three weeks away, the Walker has taken some of the political quotations by artists in the show and reproduced them on simple red and blue buttons, to be given away free at each Target Free Thursday Night. The statements, selected by Raymond and Education’s Sarah Peters, are bold, positive and quirky — like Beuys’ quizzical “Democracy is Merry” — serving as either a welcome respite from the clichés of modern horserace politics or a transcendent view of a different possibility for democracy.

(more…)

“Pictures of People”

Calvin Tomkins has a lengthy piece on Elizabeth Peyton and her “pictures of people” (as she prefers to call her portraits), in the October 6th New Yorker. It’s pegged to a new survey of her work, Elizabeth Peyton: Live Forever, which opened yesterday at the New Museum in New York, and arrives here at the […]

Calvin Tomkins has a lengthy piece on Elizabeth Peyton and her “pictures of people” (as she prefers to call her portraits), in the October 6th New Yorker. It’s pegged to a new survey of her work, Elizabeth Peyton: Live Forever, which opened yesterday at the New Museum in New York, and arrives here at the Walker on Valentine’s Day.

The article traces the evolution of Peyton’s style, from her early years of painting mostly from photographs (she used to have a day job as a photo researcher), to her recent focus on doing live sittings with people who are part of her life. Tomkins, who writes of sitting for Peyton along with his wife, Dodie Kazanjian, also delves to some degree into the personal life of Peyton, whose biography enters her work most markdly through her renderings of close friends and lovers.

The article is available only in print (and no one has put it elsewhere on the Web that I can find), but the New Yorker website features a web-only slide show of 9 images, ranging from one of her early works, a charcoal portrait of Napolean, to a recent likeness of Matthew Barney.

charcoal drawing by Elizabeth Peyton

charcoal drawing by Elizabeth Peyton

Also: here’s a 10-minute audio interview on the New Museum’s website, in which Peyton talks with curator Laura Hoptman; and a few notes, courtesy of WWD, on the “fashion flock” who attended the Tuesday night preview in New York: you know you want to read it!

Answers, and Eero Dynamic Furniture

I’m pretty excited to announce that out of the plethora of answers to the game I posted, nobody got all the answers right. I’m happy to report that this black and white interior picture (fig. 1) stumped everybody. I’m lucky to have found it; there aren’t many pictures available online of the interior of Monsanto’s […]

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I’m pretty excited to announce that out of the plethora of answers to the game I posted, nobody got all the answers right. I’m happy to report that this black and white interior picture (fig. 1) stumped everybody. I’m lucky to have found it; there aren’t many pictures available online of the interior of Monsanto’s House of the Future. Opened in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in 1957, it was demolished in 1967, when they decided, ten years later, the white, plastic, Modernist future previously depicted was just not tomorrow enough.

Earlier this year, a set of drawings used for the planning of the House of the Future showed up on Ebay(and sold for $8000.) All the twitter about this find on various blogs notes the strong Eames influence evident in the drawings. They are quite gorgeous, and just like many fashion sketches, look more stunning on paper than they did in practice (fig. 2.)

monsantoeames.jpgSaarinen was a long-time collaborator and lifetime friend with Charles Eames. In fact, Eames was inspired by Eliel Saarinen, Eero’s father, and was invited by him to attend Cranbrook to further study architecture. The group at Cranbrook at that time included Florence Knoll and Ralph Rapson (of Guthrie fame). For their first collaboration, Eames and the younger Saarinen designed a winning entry, a molded plywood chair (fig. 3) for an organic design competition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in 1940. The influence of the basic industrial structure of this chair’s design can be seen in the rest of both the designers’ careers.

Saarinen created a range of beautiful furniture with Florence Knoll. They designed such staples as the Tulip Chair and the Womb Chair, which will look familiar to millions and millions of people because of their inclusion in the best-selling PC game of all time: The Sims, a human-life simulation game. Stay with me, here–Imoldedplywood1940.jpg can’t remember exactly how and when I became familiar with the Eames furniture by name; it might have been from visiting various museums as a child, or maybe some art history 101, but I do know that to millions of people who have never heard the names Saarinen, Knoll, or Eames, this modernist furniture is going to look very familiar. There is no doubt that IKEA has been evoking 40s and 50s furniture design in their extremely streamlined and industrial giant European operations, and that might give people a point of entry, but I swear I’ve furnished some of my Sims’ houses with a Knoll Saarinen Coffee Table, Tulip Chairs, and Stools multiple times (fig. 4.) Of course, these items aren’t named like so, but they are essentially identical. I don’t own the game anymore because my computer is too old, and the Walker decided not to buy a new graphics card for me even though it’s for work-related purposes so I don’t have any images of my perfect modernist house, but I sure wish I did.

Notably, however, people have taken it upon themselves to teach the Sims-playing world about the history of furniture design. There are millions of downloads available online for people who create their own furniture for the Sims, to be imported into the game and played with. Shino & KCR, a featured ‘artist’ at one of the biggest download sites, The Sims Resource, has a whole line of Eames inspired furniture (fig. 5). The Sims, already one of the biggest blurs between reality and technology, has recently engineered deals with H&M and more recntly, IKEA, to bring clothes that are available in real life and furniture that is available to purchase for your own home, into the game so you can purchase them for your own home. But on the computer.

And, with the steep dollar prices that accompany any Saarinen-designed furniture, a tulip chair in The Sims will only cost you a couple hundred Simoleons.

Extra, extra: This amazing featurette on Monsanto’s House of the Future. Part 1 and Part 2.

Answers: A, D, E, G, and H are Disneyland. B, C, F, I, J are Saarinen.

752151.jpg

Eero Saarinen or Disneyland?

Here’s a fun game I came up with as an introduction to the upcoming Eero Saarinen exhibition. To play: Guess if each image shows a) something designed by Saarinen or b) something in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. A little bit of introductory information: Eero Saarinen, known as a key modernist designer and architect in the 20th century. […]

Here’s a fun game I came up with as an introduction to the upcoming Eero Saarinen exhibition.

To play:

Guess if each image shows a) something designed by Saarinen or b) something in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.

A little bit of introductory information:

Eero Saarinen, known as a key modernist designer and architect in the 20th century. He often collaborated with Charles Eames and famously used sweeping architectural arches and curves.

Disneyland opened in 1955 and Tomorrowland was given a total makeover in 1967. The new Tomorrowland famously used sweeping architectural arches and curves to reflect the modernist view of the future.

Leave your guesses in the comment section!

a.a.jpg

b.b.jpg (more…)

Curating beyond our walls

Walker assistant curator Yasmil Raymond juried Open Door 4, the the fourth annual juried exhibition at Rosalux Gallery, an artist-run co-op, at Open Book in Minneapolis. Raymond sifted through more than 200 entries to select 15 artists for this show: Matt Bakkom, Greg Carideo, Sarah Christianson, Jennifer Danos, Jan Estep, Gregory Euclide, Mark Fisher, Luisa […]

Walker assistant curator Yasmil Raymond juried Open Door 4, the the fourth annual juried exhibition at Rosalux Gallery, an artist-run co-op, at Open Book in Minneapolis.

Raymond sifted through more than 200 entries to select 15 artists for this show: Matt Bakkom, Greg Carideo, Sarah Christianson, Jennifer Danos, Jan Estep, Gregory Euclide, Mark Fisher, Luisa F. Garcia Gomez, Caroline Kent, Janet Lobberecht, Jennifer Nevitt, Tim Roby, Chad Rutter, Tony Sunder and Aaron Van Dyke. Bakkom recently mentored teens from the Walker’s Teen Arts Council on their Collections Project.

Opening reception for Open Door 4 is 7-10 pm Saturday. The exhibition is up through June 29.

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