Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tara Jensen and Lucky Fruit!

Asheville artist Tara Jensen will be traveling to Tokyo and Osaka, Japan next month to install her latest collection of multi media work entitled Lucky Fruit! Paper cuts, stuffed fruit dolls, paper mache and drawings are just some of the many elements comprising this visually exuberant installation.

Using bright colors and tribal-influenced designs she defines her work as "folkpop." Says Jensen, "I love the vibrant work of Paper Rad and can also get lost in the installation work of Louise Bourgeois. Much of my art depicts colorful fantasy worlds where I find the strength and positivity to work towards a real world that is just, lively and free from suffering."

This Friday, October 23rd Jensen will be having a going away party for all the artwork that she will be shipping to Tokyo and Osaka. Come and see her creations, learn how they were made, and celebrate the completion of Lucky Fruit!

The viewing party is located in Jensen's studio at Handcranked on Tingle Alley, and runs from 6-9PM. She will have art for sale priced at five and ten dollars.

Visit Tara Jensen's blog:
www.frenemieglan.blogspot.com for more pics, and to read more about her process and creative insights.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The imagined realms of Jason Sabbides

The paintings and drawings of Asheville artist Jason Sabbides appear to be a free association of ideas and imagery that emerge as the artist develops each piece. Using a classical approach to painting, the "realism" Sabbides achieves is remarkable, while his subject matter is allegorical and fantasy based -- reminiscent of the Renaissance Netherlander painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Sabbides begins each painting with a monochromatic under painting, which he overlays repeatedly with glazes - developing highlights and shadows as he progresses. The forms are given the luminosity and timeless three-dimensionality of Renaissance works while evoking a magical and surreal experience.

Currently Sabbides has work on display at PUMP Gallery in The Phil Mechanic Building.

To see more visit www.sabbides.com

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New paintings by Daniel Nevins

Number 1, 2009
oil and acrylic on wood
48" x 48"

Number 2, 2009
oil and acrylic on wood
48" x 48"

Step into the downstairs gallery at Blue Spiral 1 this month and experience the unbearable lightness of being via 5 brand new oil paintings by Asheville artist Daniel Nevins. I hesitate to call the paintings abstract -- they feel more like representational work - visual descriptions of a multi-dimensional emotional landscape that vibrates with melancholia, sensuality, celebration, anger, hope, confusion, fear and relief all at once.

People familiar with Nevins' paintings may be surprised by the creative and conceptual shift taken in this new body of work. Noticeably absent are the people, faces, and sentimental gestures of earlier paintings. The new paintings are much bigger and display a subtler palette; the central black forms of each are most intriguing. Layers of painterly washes appear beneath meticulously rendered ribbons and tubes, all suspended weightlessly - a far cry from the artist's earlier tightly composed narrative paintings. Flowers appear venerable, seeming wiser and less eager-to-please than the bountiful and colorful bouquets of Nevins' previous works.

See the evolution of Daniel Nevins' art for yourself:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Karen Havens at FLOOD

New York artist Karen Havens exhibited work at FLOOD last month and I found her installment of paintings and sculpture to be quite profound. Unfortunately I cannot find any information about the artist and was unable to meet her when she was in town for the opening. I hope she continues her artistic pursuits as several people I've spoken with agree that her show was rather exemplary.
Below is the full review I wrote for the Mountain Xpress -- only a portion of it was printed in the paper:

In spite of the lack of titles present at this month’s FLOOD Gallery exhibit; the intention of the work is obvious. Karen Havens' solo exhibit of sculptural installations and 2D works, entitled USED, beautifully suggests the complicated relationship between the emotional being and the physical body.

The work is decidedly female. This is not to be confused with feminine. While there are some applications of pink here and there, the way Haven interprets the female body goes far beyond traditional depictions of the soft and submissive form we’ve become accustomed to in classical Western Art.

The art contains aggressive applications of paint, layers of evocative imagery, and distressed found objects. It’s as if the body and psyche of this artist has turned itself inside out for the world to inspect at close range. While the work is candid, it is not didactic or moralistic. There are no grandiose political statements to be found here. Nevertheless, the drama and assault of Haven’s work will probably turn some people off; others will identify with the artist’s sincere and unapologetic attitude.

Much of the work evokes a female psyche that struggles to make sense of pornographic imagery, memories and the objectification of the female sex. “I didn’t know you had a sister” is scrawled out on one photocopied piece. In others, photocopied erotic imagery is repeated and layered upon itself just enough that that it becomes an abstraction without obscuring the original image.

In one piece (title unavailable) cardboard boxes have been impressed with repeating circular forms of light blue and white, which at first glance appear as topographical map, satellite mages or even sonograms of embryos. Closer examination reveals that the shapes in all probability were produced with paint-slathered breasts, so one wonders if the act of the painting or it’s final product should be considered more.

All the pieces evoke a haunting and disturbed sensation like the sculpture comprised of a torn mattress cover spotted with bloodstains and cigarette burns. A multitude of plastic flowers lie in upheaval before it as if someone has placed flowers at a tombstone or alter. Bright orange circus peanuts are strewn amongst the flowers. What has happened on the mattress is left to the imagination -- the end result suggests a saddened state of a culture’s objectification around the spectacle of violence.

Another sculpture utilizes mesh pantyhose stuffed with marshmallows draped over roof tiles hammered through and through with tiny nails whose sharp ends jut out on the other side. A garland of cigarette butts along with a plastic bag filled with ashes and cig butts ornament the piece. Remarkably, the shadow cast by the sculpture reveals 3 veiled female forms marching in ceremonial procession.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This World and Nearer Ones

18 installations comprised Creative Time's exhibition This World and Nearer Ones curated by Mark Beasley which was located mostly on Governors Island. "Governors Island is a modern ruin on the verge of rehabilitation" Beasley writes, "The works assembled employ Spiritualism, science fiction, poetry, spoken word, tonality and dissonance, temporary architecture, and the projected image to reflect displaced states and the neither/nor."

I wasn't able to see all 18 installations, but the ones I did have an opportunity to experience moved me deeply. The underlying theme primarily seemed to be that history is written by the winners, and here the artists are appropriating history in alliance with the losers, the marginalized, the unspoken for, and the condemned.

Between You and I Anthony McCall 2006

I started off going directly to The St. Cornelius Chapel that housed the video installation of Anthony McCall. Here McCall used a simple projector and vapor to create architectural cones of light. Projectors installed on the ceiling cast slow rotating beams of light which seemed to create walls when reflecting against the mist. There was a hushed reverence amongst the crowd of spectators who moved slowly through the cascading light beams. This exhibit garnered the loudest "oohs and ahhs" for its kinetic and visual excitement, though I found that the subtler installations on the island spoke louder to me.

"Insular Act" was performed by the Mexican artist collective Tercerunquinto. A few weeks before the exhibit opened they threw a rock through one of the islands historic buildings. The simple act was planned out through elaborate storyboards, and then filmed and photographed to prove it had actually happened. Soon after they threw the rock, a fresh pane of glass replaced the shattered one - and if the collective hadn't documented the act there would be no physical trace that it had ever happened.

Invocation of the Queer Spirits through a peephole.

Another installation/performance that occurred prior to the opening of This World and Nearer Ones was "Invocation of the Queer Spirits" by AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs. Here the artists performed a sacred ritual to contact the queer spirits that had once lived and died on Governors Island. The material remains of the seance were on view through peepholes carved out in locked doors - a metaphor of the marginalization of queer communities. Through the peepholes (drilled out at suggestive heights) one sees the burned down candles, empty booze bottles, tapestries, offerings, food, and ashtrays -- the ghosts of the happening that had occurred there. "Queer communities have often overlapped with the histories of psychics, spiritualists, witches, and shamans, as well as the histories of all-male communities such as explorers, traders, loggers, cowboys, and the military." (All of which Governor's Island had plenty.) The exhibit invites us to "Think again about what is valued and what is excised from our collective history."

Land of the Free Photograph by Josh Robinson

I was particularly moved by the video "The Land of the Free" by Judi Werthein. Here she collaborated with a group of Colombian musicians on a remix of the US national anthem. She gave the musicians a Spanish translation of The Star Spangled Banner and asked them to reinterpret the words to craft an original song. She films the front of the group and the back of the group which are shown simultaneously on a two-sided screen that hangs in the middle of the room. From the front we see the musicians in their colorful attire performing the song, and from the back we see subtitles of the newly interpreted anthem "You say you can see/Does the flag still wave over the land of the free?" The work suggests that cultural history is always subject to new translations; they may be appropriated, rewritten, and made to tell a completely different story.
You can watch a brief video of the original video here

Click Here to read about all of the works and artists of This World and Nearer Ones.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Going Dutch

There were a couple of art shows happening simultaneously on Governors Island while I was there. It was a little confusing since everything seemed to be mixed together and I only had two hours to enjoy it all (on top of taking in the island itself.)
The Pioneers of Change exhibit highlighted various aspects of Dutch design while an invitational exhibition called This World Nearer Ours was installed through the public arts advocacy group Creative Time Both shows utilized empty buildings on Governor's Island in varying and interesting ways, and both were so grand that I will have to write about This World Nearer Ours in a separate post.

Designer Lotte Dekker developed a new view of gluing porcelain based on kintsugi, an old Japanese technique in which porcelain is repaired with gold leaf. It’s an extremely time-consuming, expensive method. Dekker found Bison glue to be the perfect Western variant for making beautiful yet simple repairs.

Highlights from the Dutch festival included Repair Manifesto which was set up by the art group Platform 21. This exhibit demonstrated ways to creatively repair broken things as metaphor for fixing a damaged economic system. Included was special wallpaper designed to cover chips in walls, and a group was sewing wool felt into the worn out parts of carpets...an old Persian rug hung on the wall with veins of neon blue felt running through it.
I encourage you to read Platform 21's Repair Manifesto It makes a lot of sense.

Also noteworthy was the house that artists were "accessorizing" with handmade lace and beautiful fiber decorations. Paralleling the building with the human body, doorknobs, banisters, holes in walls and radiators were decorated with simple pieces constructed by Dutch and American designers.

Videos of the real time clocks of Maarten Baas were installed throughout one building. With his clocks Baas makes us aware of time by showing it passing in ‘real time’. He makes clocks by projecting footage of people in action, and their recorded movements become the clock hands, moving minute by minute. www.maartenbaas.com

Then there was the huge woolen carpet that Christien Meindertsma was knitting with her six-foot-long needles using wool from three different species of Dutch sheep.
Meindertsma is interested in the origin of things, raw materials and the history of techniques. She also made a book called, PIG 05049, in which she shows all kinds of products that have been made out of a single pig, unraveling the lack of transparency in the world of products. Simply fascinating. www.christienmeindertsma.com

The Slow Cafe also peeked my interest though I didn't have time to enjoy it (not surprisingly.) In wake of the Slow foods movement all the food was prepared by elderly chefs, teabags were constructed on site, menus embroidered by hand, and food portions were dependent on the distance they had to travel -- a salad made with local greens, for example, was abundant compared to a banana pudding which might have been the size of a dime.

To learn more about all of the projects and art groups involved with the Pioneers of Change go to www.pioneers of change.com