Exhibit wanting to turn street lights into stars is up, but did it light up visitors?

August 27, 2010 1 comment

Envoy Enterprises is showing photographs by James Holland for the next two days.

Given how I was working on a constellation series about a year ago, I was assuming James Holland’s application of constellations in his street photos would evoke some meaning. Shame on me for having expectations!

The photographs of city lights were beautiful and simple on their own. However, the “connect the dots” aspect of the work made it seem immature. The result just looked like an extended glares from street lights. James’ created the lines by drawing on a glass clamped to the camera lens. Interesting technique.

Even though the end results weren’t moving, as a New Yorker, the purpose of this series of works is not lost on me.

“Without the opportunity to see natural constellations, he would link streetlights together in his mind, turning an ordinary view into something fantastical”

Press release

In cities like New York, it is difficult to see the stars. The only time the city goes dark is if there’s a blackout otherwise, people’s windows, cars, billboards, store fronts, etc are always lite up. Street lights and city lights illuminate surroundings instead of the stars or the moon.If have seen the exhibit as well, feel free to share your thoughts.

Envoy Enterprises is located at 131 Christie Street. Lights will do dark on “Sky Lines” on August 28th.


His work is beyond just painting “stuff”

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Ever walk into a room that was no longer lived in, say in an old house, where it still felt like a presence was there?

Can you imagine capturing that feeling in a painting? Matt Klos is capable of doing just that.

“Baltimore based painter Matt Klos paints familiar spaces caught in the act of existing”. Press release

When moving his family into a house that had already been part of the family’s, the option was presented to toss anything that wasn’t needed. Most items that weren’t being used were moved to the basement which has enough room to serve as a studio for Matt.

The initial glance at the postcard promoting the exhibit first struck me as stuff that he painted. Stuff put in a basement or garage somewhere. Instead, there was an experience awaiting me once I entered the gallery.

His paintings managed to have soul.

My brain wasn’t trying to figure out context or try to make sense of what it was seeing. Looking at the work was an experience that brought my mind to a place where no thinking was needed.

“Treasure Chest” (c) Matt Klos http://www.mattklos.com

His oil paintings in the gallery ranged from small to large which provided a balance of being up close to a work or being a few steps away. The small paintings were about 4” x 6” and larger works of about 19” x 30”. The surfaces used for his work included panel, linen, museum board, cigar box lids and copper. Each had this air about them that you weren’t alone.

The viewer wasn’t just looking at a painting of something but rather experiencing it (I know right…how many times am I going to say that). How did he do that? I think it was because he was painting things that had a personal meaning to him.  It wasn’t just stuff. If the objects could speak, they would have a story to tell. Each has a past and had a purpose. Matt is skillful enough to capture that essence in his work. Very well done.

Check out the work on Matt’s website http://www.mattklos.com to see more of his intimate work.

Matt Klos‘ “Keeping Things” exhibit on view until August 21st, is at the Prince Street Gallery located at 520 West 25th street, 4th floor.

Josama Madera’s work at Collective Consciousness in DUMBO

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Wouldn’t your world be more interesting with a couple of cartoons stirring things up? Well if you don’t expect that to happen while sober, check out Josama Madera’s work at Collective Consciousness in DUMBO (10 Jay Street, Suite 605, Brooklyn, NY) through August 31st. You can’t get any closer than this show to see Gary Coleman dressed in an Alf costume (remember the show “Alf” 80’s peoples?). Also where else would you see Speedy Gonzalez jumping a subway turnstile huh?

For this and other pics from the opening reception, visit: http://ccnyc-events.blogspot.com/2010/08/eyecon-cept-nyc-great-success-amazing.html

Josama’s painting technique can be described as ‘rough around the edges’ where a fair amount of dry brushing creates a cray-pas look and feel. It is quite interesting and shows how versatile oil paints are. With this technique Josama uses, he enhances the feeling of the streets.

It’s not pretty, it’s rough and tumble and may not always be that pleasing to the eye, but that’s the world you are in for it’s up to you to survive.

In the world Josama created for the viewers, he makes it more enjoyable place to be…well maybe not so much. In bodegas, subways, on building stoops and street corners, Josama includes the imaginary characters children in these environments escape to via their television.

There is no divide anymore in Josama’s work: real and fantasy collide in an amusing and sometimes disturbing way.

In one painting, there are Care Bears passed out in a subway car. In another Mickey Mouse looks to be falling down the stairs after drinking too much. A shoot out in front of a store involves Bugs Bunny in another painting of Josama’s. Then Tom from “Tom and Jerry” is wielding a knife above the head of Pink Panther.

Seeing his work was certainly an experience. His work is fun, disturbing, rough, affordable and certainly memoriable. Check it out if you can either by visiting the gallery or visiting his website (http://ripjosama.com).

Peace out.

Do you feel entitled to ‘connect’ with artwork?

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

So just a few days ago I decided to wander around the Lower East Side for a bit and check out what the gallery/art scene is in that area. I’m very much used to galleries in Chelsea so I went to  LES with a map and an open mind.

Overall, I saw work that certainly had me questioning

What can be considered “art”??

Someone recently asked me, “What is art to you?” I’ve asked myself that for years and it usually comes to mind for me when I experience artwork that I don’t connect with. Its creation is still art because what art to me is the creation of something that didn’t exist before from sculptures, writing, music, cooking, computer programs even. Each of those, and others, uses different tools of the trade to create something out of nothing.

So with the works I saw that had me shaking my head, yes,  that’s art. Whether it’s worth the price being asked for it or worthy of valuable gallery wall and floor space is up for discussion. That is what makes the art world interesting.

I feel that as an artist

I ‘should’ be able to connect with other people’s creations.

because I create myself. I’m a painter/drawer so I know the experience of truly creating a piece of work by combining the tools of a blank canvas, brushes, paints and an idea. I honestly felt that some of the work I encountered, left me shaking my head. Seeing two pieces of wood for example, attached to make a right angle and painted turquoise is personally, um, not my cup of tea. I seriously thought it was something left behind after construction of some sort, but in fact, it was on the price list. The creation of it and the agreement of showing it at a gallery space was not up to me. I’m just a bystander and those involved in those decisions saw it as worthy to be shown and to be worth several hundred dollars.

Though there will always be people that don’t get it, love it, or don’t care for it.  That experience between the outside world and your creation is another aspect of art.

Art can make us feel, be it inspiration or frustration.

You and I complete the piece.

The ART of Graffiti at Benrimon Contemporary

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

And I thought I was cool when I learned how to do bubble letters in Junior High!

Aight New Yorkers, ya’ll know graffiti when you see it with tags and characters. This exhibit at Benrimon Contemporary takes the appreciation and beauty of its work to a new level. The work will be up until August 10, 2010.

Now when I walked outside after viewing the show, there was a couple that asked me about what exhibit was being shown. I tried to sell it but not everyone understands or wants to appreciate graffiti. Whether you think you do or not, there is no harm in checking it out. Either you will gain an appreciation you didn’t have before or be further impressed with the kind of work that can be done with an aerosol can.

“An urban art culture has grown in popularity and adapted various forms, art dealers saw an opportunity to promote a new art form within the white walls of a gallery” Press release

When I visited the gallery, I had a chance to talk with curator Mario Ramos. He along with Claudia Bumbas are owners of 1HUNDREDB, a LES storefront that serves the urban art culture.

Featured are pieces by PNUT, Cap1, Stayhigh149, Noc167, Richard Hambleton among others with tribute to Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Stayhigh149 has a NYPD ticket dated 1969 proving that he is one of the founders of bringing street art to the masses.

On their blog http://1hundredb.blogspot.com/ or flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/1hundredb they also have pics from opening night with the numerous artists it includes. I included an example where it looks like the event was a nice chance for the artists to show appreciation for each others work and for fans to meet in person the mysterious artists who’s work they’ve only seen on the streets.

“Graffiti on the subways cars was a phenomenon witnesses by New York City’s straphangers during the early 70’s and lasting in intensity until 1989.”Press release

Mario is an awesome guy and this is an awesome show. When I walked in 2 days after the opening (which had over 1,000 people) , I could still smell the fresh paint from a live installation (subways doors included ;)) done on one of the gallery walls. He pointed out that while looking at the tags on the mural, it may look like a mess at first, the taggers respect each other’s space. If by accident someone writes over someone else’s tag, the offender would write “Sorry” to the other person..

We talked about how the form of art has become one more thing to issue fines or jail times for. Some parts of Europe are turning into what NY was in the 70s and 80s, as NY artists seek places around the world to express themselves.

The freedom of expression NYC once had and was known for is now highly regulated

Artists now are now using stickers to leave their mark.

Now advertisers are leaving their mark on the subways. $$$$$$$$$$ (To the MTA that if given all the money they would need to get out of their convenient deficit, would still have NO IDEA how to manage their money. Honestly I feel if business students took on the MTA finances, they would have it solved in a semester)….but anyway.

What are your thoughts on the branded subway cars? Would you prefer that, plain or cars done with original art?

I recommend checking out the work at Benrimon Contemporary so you have a better perspective to answer that question (if you don’t have the experience of all 3 in the subway already).

"See, Also" goes beyond sight at Central Booking Art Space in DUMBO

July 20, 2010 Leave a comment

“See, Also” is currently being held at Central Booking Art Space in DUMBO [111 Front Street] and will run until August 18. The show was really enjoyable as it brought out the curiosity in all of its visitors with various interactive works.

The show was curated by Omar Olivera, a native Brooklynite now residing in Queens and part of the Central Booking team. He also included a piece in the show that made pixels fun and colorful. Most of us encounter pixels when we enlarge a picture too much, taking something we are familiar with and turning it to a nearly unrecognizable and grainy image. Omar

turned what would appear to be unrecognizable into something fun
by taking the pixel out of the picture allowing it to stand on its own to create its own image.

While I described pixels as taking a picture and enlarging it, the way Omar approaches the use of pixels reminds me of the Impression style of painting. The technique used with Impressionistic work is that colors aren’t blended perfectly, the human eye is a part of completing the illusion. So while the colors in a painting can, from a far, appear to be blended well, when you get up close, you see the brush stokes and the separate colors of paint. Omar celebrates those stokes and colors.

Part of his work includes a light box and several patterns of pixels printed on transparencies, a way for the audience to experience layering pixels and allowing the eye to blend the colors together. Another part of his piece took up an entire wall of Central Booking Art Space which was pretty much a large painting of pixels.

Another artist featured at “See, Also” was Andrea Uva who included work from her Braille series. Her work can be seen here on her website. It is certainly an interesting concept in providing those who can’t see, the opportunity to still experience works of art in an objective and descriptive way. In her words:
“The purpose is to allow the visually impaired to experience art by stripping a painting of its paint and reducing it to a type of language code.”

Even how the works are created feels thoughtful.

Other works in the show included a carton of drained eggs. The eggs had their form and a note was inside each egg. Now how would you get to the note? Well you would have to crack the egg!! The only slightly messy part were all the shells. It was fun to see people’s reactions to this piece which ranged from skeptical to “haha, this is pretty cool….I wanna crack another one.”

Another work that caught my attention was several dozen drawing on paper each hung by a silver binderclip on a horizontal line along a wall. The drawings were very neat with clean lines and hardly showed any erasures. The drawings did not seem connected to one another. Part of the experience was just the act of  thumbing through them wondering what was going to be seen next.

You should experience it for yourself.
Conceived by respected and accomplished artist/curator, Maddy Rosenberg, Central Booking’s objective is two-fold: create a distinctive space where the virtually infinite forms and range of book art and prints can be seen in one place while simultaneously providing both established and emerging practitioners of the genres with an outlet for their work. Central Booking’s overall mission is global in scope: to serve as a catalyst for the integration of artist’s books into the mainstream art world where they are now often marginalized.

Part 2: Artists Panel Discussion at Priska C. Juschka Fine Art

July 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Here is the conclusion of what the artists thoughts were on their work and the process of creation.

Your thoughts on the divide between ideals and evidence. What you want to convey versus what you see.

Here was when Tom put an interesting spin saying that art is one type of documentation that is allowed to be correct. Very good point. It can stir controversy but noone can argue that the artist’s view is incorrect. My thoughts are that everything we experience day in and day out go through our filters, our experience and what we interpret from them are ‘correct’ to us. So everyone can have various ‘correct’ versions of the same event. 

Inventing work with its own internal logic or leave something for the audience to grasp?

Lisa’s work “Pontiac Kingston” is of a car dealership that had closed. It’s painted in a way to have the cars, the lot and building appear to be melting. Pretty cool execution in my opinion. So with this piece, Lisa does little of both; it’s not very literal and involves some thought by the viewer to interpret what’s going on. Our work, as Kamrooz puts it, is an abstract reflection of the world in which we live.

Liz originally was doing paintings just for her and later on wanted the audience to connect and have an experience with her work. So I ask, as artist ourselves, how are we able to connect to work that inspires us? Perhaps the person that created it had us in mind when creating their work.

For Ryan, part of being an artist is creating your own world with its own dialog and rules. I agree, not everyone will get it. I’ll add that everyone that experiences a piece adds a little more dimension to it. A work can grow infinitely through the experiences of others. 

At this point in the panel discussion, I can rely on Tom to sum things up in his concise way: An artist is someone that creates art for an audience, if you are doing it for yourself, it’s a hobby. If there is no communication with the viewers, it’s not art.

Do you have more in common with conceptual or abstract style?

Kamrooz identifies with abstract expressionism though he adds that it’s problematic for artists to be asked to take a position. True, sometimes it’s hard to put your work into a category. 

Liz doesn’t consider herself a figurative painter (you can view her piece by clicking here) and would identify with being more conceptual. For her, an abstract piece would need to be planned, she couldn’t start something with the intention of it being abstract. Instead, she would allow the process to dictate the style.

Tom’s one-liner was that abstract is art being made in conceptual terms.

For Lisa’s answer to the above question, she says that it depends on what it is that drives the starting of the painting. Good point.

Ryan considers himself to be an abstract artist as he is driven by the relationship with colors. So when one color is in one area of the canvas, he would think about what other color would compliment it.

Do your paintings surprise you?

For Lisa it does. Since her work, along with what other artists experience, changes in the process of creating it, the outcome does surprise her.

Discuss source material as it relates to your work.

Source material is important to all the artists in the panel (and for me too). It is very important for Ryan who uses newspapers, magazines, his own pictures, and the internet. He would tack on the wall images that he’s considering using for a painting. They may be on the wall for a while and then he’ll let his instincts take over. For example when new canvas arrives to his place, he’ll know what picture would be painted on what canvas. 

Lisa travels a lot so the subject matter for her work leads her to visit places in person. She would do sketches on location as well as take pictures. She would even use found objects for some of her work. She told a story about finding a litter box on the side of the road in the town where she lives and it had been there for a while. She ended up taking in and painting it.

The internet is a common source of pictures. Tom uses it too and in fact, draws from his monitor! I admit to doing that too 🙂 After this initial sketch, he’ll do a larger one before sketching to the canvas. Tom adds that source material is important to make work more credible.

Liz would look for images online and print them out while researching a topic or concept of interest. She’ll let the idea stew for a while before starting a painting. 

Kamrooz also uses source material such as patterns and photos of textures and would get ideas from carpet stores. He also made a link between Persian rugs and conceptual painting as there is a story and context behind those rugs. However, over time, the history and meaning has been lost to where it is now only something pretty.

What musician or band has influenced your work?

Ryan: Nirvana
Lisa: The Doors
Kamrooz: Bob Dylan
Tom: Frank Sinatra 

Thanks everyone for reading! If you’re an artist reading this post, it’ll be interesting to hear what your answers to any of these questions would be.