I am quite pleased to announce that I have finished up my first, very own zine called Not French Cooking. It's a melodramatic interpretation of my very complex relationship (and other people's relationships) with food. My copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking started as the inspiration, and the process grew from there. It's just the first one, but I've already got ideas for more issues. There are definitely subjects I would like to expand upon, but as a first-issue experiment, I'm happy to share it with you!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Katja Mater is kind of a nerd — but in the most clever and creative sort of way. Her photography is simple, dry-humored, and frank. And she documents staged moments as if they were in real-time. She's a visual journalist under a tight deadline. Her observations are spot-on and her execution of retelling or creating the story is like all of my favorite writers: quick-witted, sharp and just a little bit sexy. Mater examines subjects ranging from the very logical and straightforward series of blurred, photocopied books entitled Summaries, to the ethereal Dancers, in which ghostly human forms sway in sparse interior and exterior landscapes.
What is most refreshing about Mater, though, is her keen sense of self-humor. Her series called My Portfolio and Celebrating RGB Color Space are perfect examples of an artist who can keep people intrigued by examining the very personal; one who knows how to cause a reaction but makes it look effortless.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
At 9:01 we leave the bar on Main and walk less than a block—past the well-designed parking garage, past the strip club with the behemoth man taking the escalator to the second floor — to our parked car. It is the first time I notice how dark it now gets at such an early hour. Just a month before, in the 9 o'clock light, and on this same street, my mother wouldn't have asked me if I carried pepper spray. We open the car doors, and she turns the ignition. Her right knee has not stopped jittering since dinner.
"His still hasn't called. Your brother still hasn't called," she says.
All my life she's told me not to wait around for phone calls. All my life. And here she is spending every minute of every day waiting, worrying. I get it, though. He's her son. My brother. It's different.
Even with the windows open, the city is quiet as we drive north. She pauses slightly at an empty four-way stop. Down Baltimore Avenue we notice a dime-store we've never seen before. Inside is filled with fringe-edged lampshades and cracked globes. Outside, a man leans against his walker, waiting for something. Who knows.
The sky is covered in an opaque sheet of dark iris. The yellow lights of the President Hotel give off a hypnotic glow as they rest in the limbo between street level and the sheet cloud's edge, like the flashlight that once shimmered as I read Anne of Green Gables from under the covers. Fluorescent patches of office-buildings and the headlamps of oncoming traffic drift near my alert but buzzed conscious and outward, toward the periphery of faint memories I will try to conjure later when I write.
I look east, down city blocks that grade upward toward the cloud cover. Cars appear from nowhere, as if they have fallen, heavily, from the sky to stop and go in single-file lines. "I wish I had my camera tonight," I say. I always wish I had it.
The light turns green, and we cross the Broadway Bridge. "Into the Mystic" plays on the radio, and I think about how much I used to like this song. How, inexplicably, it suddenly became uncool to like this song. How I still like it. And we hum together, me and my mother.
The song ends as we pull into a fuel station outside of town. "I'm just gonna put in $10," says my mother. She goes in to pay, I get out of the car, open the tank, get back in the car and check my phone. "Here, put these in my purse." I look up, startled as she passes a box of Tylenol and a pack of Merits through the window. I watch her wait outside at the pump and remember that I smoked one of her cigarettes the other night. I can't decide whether to tell her. I don't feel guilty for swiping it from the drawer. Actually, I don't feel guilty at all. I didn't smoke the whole thing anyway. Even though when I swam laps the following afternoon, my lungs heaved with angry exhaustion. I decide not to say anything. When the fuel gauge stops at $20, we leave.
By the time we reach Crooked Road it is much darker than 25 minutes earlier. She pulls into the garage, and when we open the kitchen door the two pups are there, panting, waiting, wiggling, greeting us in licks and excited screams. My mother quickly grabs their leashes and whisks them away for a quick walk. I go upstairs. Remove my jewelry. Put on a jumper and some sweats. Turn out the lights in my room. Walk towards the bed, carefully lift up the sheet and scoot my whole body underneath. I hold up the cover by the tips of my fingers and wonder where I put the flashlight.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
For notes on extreme crying and patriotism via American flag sunburns, check out my review of Nari Ward's exhibition at the Nerman, which is on until the end of August.
Also, check out the rest of Review for zillions more reviews, profiles and art-related things to do in Kansas City.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
When it's 500 degrees outside, one should have very low expectations for what happens in a day. All I know is that I don't have nearly enough cold-rinse face washes, smart shorts and breezy linens to go around. And sometimes — sometimes — it's too hot to even go to the pool. Instead, one must revisit cooler, more refreshing places via laptop and spoonfuls of sorbet. Missing the temperate climates of coastal places I've visited before:
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Kelly John Clark makes happy, dreamy art that lifts off the page in the most tormenting of ways. The textural, touchable quality of his 2D works are subtle, quiet teases of complete sensory experience. Employing meticulous shading, line work and perspective, the online images of Clark's work just do not do it justice.
Despite their permanence, there is a have-to-be there quality that makes these color field drawings so moment-driven. And through the synesthetic nuance that is only understood from up-close, Clark's drawings more appropriately represent our own intangible moods and actions rather than the simple idea of a pencil-to-paper. They are colorful whispers and quiet breaths that remind us how nice refreshing it is to be present-minded.
Nagi Noda does everything. Books, music videos, bleeding toys, shopping bags. However, her hats are beautifully weird beyond words. With a couture and runway quality, they pair well with Chanel's ice forests and woodland creatures. Definitely not without The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe meets David Bowie vibe, Nagi Noda's hair hats are imagination realized.
It's the very ordinary medium she uses that makes her subjects – sometimes just a domesticated pup — seem exotic. Using human hair, she shapes her creatures into fiery elephants or a raven-colored elk. It looks as if she sculpts up and away from her models' heads, but the hats are flawlessly detachable (and available for purchase).
Rather than a 12-point rack over the mantle, leather jackets or goatsmilk, Nagi Noda turns the use of animal upside down, employing our own hair to create the creatures we covet, kill and consume.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Although they are oftentimes slightly hidden — an entrance with an inscrutable sign or an upstairs space — small, handmade shop-galleries are also the places that can make a normal outing a unique, mini-adventure.
Recently, on a long, weekend trip to Chicago, we perused Wicker Park's offering of spaces and stores. There were insane sales and hoarder-like bookshops a-plenty, but it wasn't until we walked into Renegade Handmade that I managed to forget about the sweltering Saturday heat, lose track of time and jump into the bespoke work that brimmed from every shelf, drawer, table and rotating card stand in the shop. It was a happily organized clutter of handmade things and artworks, and the shopped effortlessly (and pleasingly) spilled into the little gallery in back.
The exhibition at Renegade, Clay Curiosities, is a whimsical collection of clay works tied together through color and nature. An eight-headed cat totem-poles upward, conjuring slow-motion visuals and bizarrely sweet dreams. Across the space, porcelain ladders connect cabins and treehouses, creating an imaginative wonderland in a pretend sky.
The octo-cat was hard to pass up, but I left with a lovely, felted cameo fascinator and a couple of colorful illustrated cards.
When we arrived back in Kansas City, Renegade was still stuck in my head; it was the tangible, real-life, edited-down Etsy shop of my dreams! I couldn't stop wearing the fascinator and I made a list of who might be deserving of the cards I had bought. Although I frequent Hammerpress in Kansas City (just bought a couple of screenprinted cards yesterday), I wondered at the chance of finding something like Renegade closer to home.
But on a sudden afternoon drive to Lawrence, we remembered to stop by Wonder Fair, another gallery/shop that I had never visited. And we were so happy we did. Wonder Fair, which sits on the second floor of a building on Massachusetts, is a trove of carefully selected works that attracts artists, designers and makers.
"I hate buying things in places like this because I just want to buy it all," said T.
It was true. Most of the works, books, papers, t-shirts and jewelry that I picked up, I wanted too.
In addition to the shop, Wonder Fair also prints its own works in-house. A sizable printing space in a back room houses hoses, screens and equipment for the artists' needs. There is also a small gallery in the back of the shop, which is currently exhibiting HOTT SHEETS, a playful, witty look at the value of contemporary art.
The Value Assessment Methodology Forms are the yellow sheets that hang below each work. The work's value is determined by filling in a flow chart of specific symbols and using the information to complete the equation. Image: Wonder Fair
For $3, artists purchased a few sheets of 5x7 paper, marked with the Wonder Fair logo. The sheet of paper then became the venue for the piece of art they would make. Once submitted to Wonder Fair, the curators developed an equation to price each work. In addition to the original $3, monetary value was determined by themes, colors and trends (every trend deducted $2 from the work). The final equation looked something like this:
[(Original Cost x Media) + Colors] x (Themes / Trends) = Price
Although HOTT SHEETS is mostly having fun with its Value Assessment Methodology Form, the curators highlight important questions and conversations we should be having regarding our perception of the value of art. Trends are...well...trendy, but how sustainable are they? What makes a work of art priceless? What makes a work of art a good investment? What themes should we look for in contemporary art?
It is interesting that the initial paper cost is given. The rest of the categories, one could say, might be arbitrary numbers. How should we factor in the price of paint and color? Is one theme worth more than another?
There is an argument that, rather than museums, auction houses now determine the worth and importance of art. But what is most fascinating is the fact that a very small, one-room gallery in Lawrence is having these big conversations and allowing people to have fun with the subject (Wonder Fair is selling blank copies of the form along with a pencil and friendship bracelet). Although the Assessment Form is just an interpretation of art's value, I love to imagine how Christie's price evaluation compares.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Hey People! I know I've done a great job of leaving everyone out of the loop on what I've been up to lately. To make a long story short, I moved from Columbia to Kansas City and am now working for the Charlotte Street Foundation, an arts organization that has tons of exhibitions, awards grants to artists and is an all-around, bang-up place to work!
Anyway, we've just put out a call for entries for an upcoming show called PAGES, curated by the beyond talented Amy Kligman, which will explore book arts, zines, magazines and a slew of other interesting things. Take a look at the description below, and please think about submitting. Exciting, right!?
To find out more about Charlotte Street Foundation and the Urban Culture Project, check out the website.
Urban Culture Project and independant curator Amy Kligman are soliciting work for an upcoming exhibition. This show will include book related work, ranging widely in format and purpose. The hope is to present to the community the book as an opportunity — the book as entry point to one's own art practice, as catalyst to new and evolved work, and as an unpredictable format that can be taken far beyond the bound signatures with which we are most familiar.
We will look specifically for work that exemplifies the following categories:
1. Books inspiring new media projects (projection, film, digital)
2. Wall pieces that are inspired by the book format or convey the impress of "pages"
3. Sketchbooks, Process Books
4. Artist Books (small-run, limited edition or original books only, not mass produced).
5. Books demonstrating the Zine or Magazine format
6. Altered books and/or books as sculptural object
7. Work demonstrating collaboration between artists and writers, poets, journalists, academics
DEADLINE: August 15, 2010
Exhibition Dates: November 19th, 2010 to early January 2011
Exhibition Location: Paragraph Gallery, an Urban Culture Project Space
-low res (72 dpi) jpeg format of either work you wish to submit, or images related to a proposed project piece to be created for the show, OR link to website where images of work are available
-written description of the work. Include conceptual description, title dimensions, media and date.
-A one-page, abbreviated CV
-Description of all display needs associated with work. Please let us know ahead of time if your work is "touchable" or not. Some book works are meant for browsing, some are not. Both are fine for the purpose of this show, but we want to know ahead of time to properly prepare.
-Please indicate if you are interested in participation if the show travels beyond its initial venue.
Send entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org by AUGUST 15, 2010. Please enter "PAGES SUBMISSION" in the subject line.