Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Summer Workshop

I treated myself to this neato weekend intensive at Greenwich House Pottery, "focus on terra sigillata". The instructor, Stephen Robison, who teaches at UNC, did a great job and had a terrific slide show for us ( always helpful for jump-starting ideas ). I really enjoyed working at this studio, and I'll post pics of things post-glaze firing. The small pots show what our group's trial pieces looked like after applying the terra sigillata slip, but before firing. These three leather-hard pots with the funky shapes applied outside I will glaze and then fire in GHP's gas kiln, a type of firing I am not able to do at the dojo, so that should be pretty exciting. The large gas kilns have an array of kiln gremlins sitting atop that I thought warranted a photo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I (heart) Philip Guston

No photos are permitted at the intensely moving show of Guston drawings on view at the Morgan Library (thru aug. 31), which I would say is a must-see, but the MoMA has its spacious second-floor gallery devoted to some knockout works from the Edward R. Broida collection. Again, I wish my photos were a bit better, but the work looks great in person. A sense of desperation in these works that somehow manages to be weirdly reassuring in that existential angst-y sort of way. The painting of these skyward-looking Byzantine Madonna-style eyes puts me in mind of that famous late Goya where the little dog appears to be struggling to stay afloat atop a giant wave of liquid asphalt. And as for this bird's eye view of an open wound that's been sutured to stay that way, well, what can be said, really?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cosima Von Bonin

This piece by the Kenyan-born German artist Von Bonin was part of a truly sprawling summer show called "Painting Now and Forever, part 2" that stretched across Matthew Marks chelsea space and Greene Naftali gallery. To sum it up: too much of a good thing, and lots also of not-so-great, but what of it? I find this artist pretty interesting, and she does lots of different types of work. My friends accuse me of having a too-soft spot for anything craftsy, and if it involves tapestry or the like, even better. Guilty as charged! That said, I could say there were things about this work that I couldn't quite "get", and, of course, I need to beg your indulgence for the details-only photos. Entitled "Straight, No Chaser", it is put together beautifully from fabrics upon which you can see there are tidbits of narrative-ish embroidered scenes ( think "hookah smoking caterpillar"). How these do or don't mesh with the embroidered title, and the somewhat comical-seeming Mickey Mouse-style white puffy gloved hands are anyone's guess. I just found it fun to look at.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chakaia Booker

Also seen at Marlborough Chelsea, "Midtown South", a sculpture using various types of tires, which are Chakaia Booker's signature material. The textures and draping of these, not to mention their smell, make for a very seductive experience. There is also a lot of energy and feeling of power in these coiled, cut and pinched shapes. Sad to say, I missed out on chances in recent years to see larger shows by this artist. By googling her, you can see wonderful images of large-scale works from a show at Storm King, which look phenomenal in a landscape setting, as well as lots of photos of work from solo shows at Marlborough in the past.

another summer show

Yes, these summer group shows can be taxing to get through. This one, at Marlborough Chelsea ( 545 W. 25th St. nyc ) was probably not my favorite, but I did get a chuckle from this sculpture by Manolo Valdez, one of their artists whom I know nothing whatsoever about. Do you recognize it? You saw this image in ads for the "Girls" show of early Roy Lichtenstein works this spring, which you loved, if you went to see it. Yes, it is an exact re-working ( in bronze, no less! ) of that beachball- brandishing blonde who seemed to distill the essence of play in Roy's early sixties masterpiece.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Eric Hollender

Spotted this piece today, which is part of yet another summer group show thing, at Carolina Nitsch Project Room ( 534 W. 22nd St. nyc till Aug. 8 ). It is called "A Bed Of Grass", and is ( I'm told ) made up of slab-built, sliced porcelain units that are then embedded into a porcelain slip, soda-fired and presented in an array on top of wooden blocks of slightly varying height. It has a tousled, non-uniform quality that does suggest movement, and enough variation in tone to keep it from looking hard or sterile. On a more prosaic note, I can't help thinking of the tipping ends of pyrometric cones when I see these. I've always been a bit drawn to those little curvy shapes that are the castoffs after a firing. But yet I do wonder how the individual blades were made, since there is more variation to their shapes that just slicing up slabs would suggest. Pretty labor-intensive if this is a one-element-at-a-time kind of construction. Anyhow, this artist has a website that shows some of his other work, which includes some interesting, drawing-based pieces on clay tablets and other types of objects, and since he provides some contact info there, maybe I will just see if I can pose my questions directly to him, then report back. Kudos and big thanks to helpful gallery staff as well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

" I Won't Grow Up" @ Cheim & Read

This is a typically crowded summer crowd-pleaser type of show, containing dozens of pieces from lots of well known folks. The gallery website allows views of all the rooms, as well as each individual work, so you can get a good sense of it even if you can't manage a visit. My two favorite pieces were these: an early ( c. 1938 ) Louise Bourgeois painting with pencil on canvas " The Runaway Girl ", and this wall of Mummified Barbies by E.V. Day. Using beeswax, twine and silver glitter she has come up with something that is delightful and disturbing at the same time. They had a kind of Lonely Space Traveler allure to them that brought to mind the lyrics from Neil Young's "After The Gold Rush" ( "Flying Mother Nature's Silver Seed to a New Home in the Sun....") ( C'mon, you know that song ) Show continues through august. 547 W 25th St. nyc

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Richard De Vore @ Max Protech Gallery

I will probably write again about this artist's work once I've had a chance to sort through my photos and digest some of the material in the catalog, but I thought I would sound the call for any clay lovers out there who might be able to catch this show. Run, don't walk. It is part of a major retrospective, the other part being held simultaneously at the Cranbrook Art Museum outside Detroit, Michigan. It will continue through the rest of the summer.
It was quite by chance that I happened upon this show. The fact that I could easily have missed seeing it is quite disturbing. You see, running concurrently at Max Protech (511 W 22 St. nyc) is a fun show of Buckminster Fuller prototype objects and works from his private collection. I've been a fan for a long time, and it was with that show in mind that I went. But I digress.
De Vore passed away in 2006, and had spent time teaching at Cranbrook, winding up finally in Colorado. I felt an immediate sense of his complete devotion to idea, feeling and craft. Bringing about these forms, these surfaces was clearly no mean feat, from a technical standpoint, but the tension and balance they bring to the fore make these works a sensual delight. A major ceramic artist. Gorgeous pots.

Division Museum of Ceramic Art and Glassware

Formerly located on Division St. in Manhattan's Chinatown, this collection has relocated to 259 Tenth avenue in Chelsea, and will perhaps enjoy the greater cachet conferred by proximity to the hub of galleries found there. Its focus is to present the permanent collection of broken and chipped ceramic and glassware, all donated by the Friends and Founders of the Museum itself. The Clay Dojo wishes them well in their new space.