Friday, September 29, 2006


Did we already mention that we are doing a studio residency program? Well, we are. Last night was the "mixer" that brought us together with artists in other NYC residency programs. We ran into curator Geir Haraldseth, from Oslo, who recently graduated from Bard's Center for Curatorial Studies. He told us about the book he's writing on art and music collectives. We also stumbled into the studio of someone named Aaron Johnson, who was making big, grotesque paintings that are just plain awful - in a good way.

Look at those wacky colors, like mashed berries and potato soup. The octopus tendrils and dripping, oozing forms stir up Steve DiBenedetto and Peter Saul, as if they were painting intestines and mashed up food. There's a "decorative grotesque" at work, like Chris Ofili, and the frequent use of patterns invoke an op-art contingency; so Aaron Johnson is like Bridget Riley taking acid, meth, and testosterone simultaneously. The acrylic pigments stick to translucent vinyl stretched just like canvas, so the pictures kind of float in their frames. We didn't get to meet him, nor Alison Elizabeth Taylor, whose studio was mostly empty, because she has a show at James Cohan, but we wanted to. So if you see them, please say hello for us.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Auction Action II

The TD crew was in full force at last night's SVA Auction (read previous blog entry), as were many prominent artists: Elizabeth Peyton, Mary Heilmann, Spencer Sweeney, Jonathan Horowitz, TJ Wilcox, Tim Rollins, John Arsenault, Robert Melee, Lisa Kirk, and many more. Dealers, too! Andrew Kreps crept, looking closely at works in the silent auction. Jeanne Greenberg coached a collector bidding on a Sue Williams drawing in the "elite art" live auction; this collector bowed out at $7000. Elizabeth Peyton's watercolor portrait of Pete Doherty stirred a bidding battle between telephone bidders, but ultimately sold for $42,000 to a mysterious dark-haired man. The auction followed a ceremony honoring Elizabeth Peyton the distinguished alumni award, and Mary Heilmann and James Moffatt another distinction.

But don't take our word for it! ArtInfo has the scoop~

TD crew headed up to MoMA for a party, and then to a drag queen performance at Barracuda, which was boring, which was convenient, because it was time for bed!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Auction Action

Tonight is SVA's auction, made to benefit its Alumni Fund, raise scholarship money, and add cocktail-party glamour to the institution. The TD crew has its eyes on a few scores, like Jutta Koether's gothasaurus drawing, Ricky Sears' wan dollhouse, Dylan Stone's postcards, Lynda Benglis' print, and A.L. Steiner's dreamy photo. With sufficient funds, we'd compete with the Horts for Mary Heilmann's little painting, but we have rent to pay.

Catskill Aktion

Frank Haines and Lisa Kirk pulled it off this weekend, with Frank's Autumnal Equinox performance. Frank converted a country side barn in the Catskills into a veritable performative space, building walls and sculptural accoutrement to support his ceremonial, ritual spectacle. Candles, a skull, a memento mori from his grandfather, fog, banners, light boxes, and a corncob-topped staff were among the objects created/used. Frank also recorded original, electronic music for his chants and dances - one passage sounded like "Neon Lights" by Kraftwerk - and Frank's dances included running-in-place and a spastic version of the Robot: kind of like embracing control and release, rigid and free, tight and loose, at the same time. The performance concluded with a chant and gesticulation that appeared to be a blessing, and then several minutes of silence.

Later, a collaborative dinner, rotating DJs, rocking dance floor (literally), and continuous bonfire kept the equinox revelers up all night. Travelers from NYC, LA, Chicago, and Providence - including artists Peter Coffin, Robert Melee, Justin Lowe, Rose Kallal, Rachel Mason, Bengala, Mark Golamco, Michael Bauer, Naomi Fisher, Jim Drain, Keegan McHargue, Takeshi Murata, and others - bunked in tents, cars, and crammed beds. The rain generously, miraculously held off until Sunday afternoon. (We remember Frank invoking Isis, so maybe she had something to do with it.)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Autumnal Equinox-a-go-go

Anyway, speaking of all this mysticism and occult such-and-such, our friends head 2.5 hours upstate this weekend to Casa Kirk for a performance/ritual by Frank Haines, an artist from San Francisco, now in NYC. Frank uses magic, occult ideas, and cinema as sources for his practice, based mostly in performance and elaborate sets/installations. We hear that Frank is real-life witch, a soothsayer, a medium, an exorcist, and a great cook.

Full report pending...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Occult, Martians, Weirdos

Ursula von Rydingsvard's architectonic, primitive forms got the TD crew thinking about civilization and then extra-civilization and then space exploration. And John McCracken has a show up.

Can artists really respond to supernatural, occult, or extraterrestrial topics? Isn't earth-bound material enough?
John McCracken's mirrored planks relate to extraterrestrial life. "I do try to make things that look like they come from somewhere else-from a UFO or a futuristic environment or another dimension," he says.

Ian Cooper, in a 2005 show at CUE Foundation, incorporated E.T. and Elliott's machine for phoning home.

And Budd Hopkins compromised his career as an AbEx painter by becoming a leading researcher and spokesperson for UFO research. On the profundity of extraterrstrial life, he says, "On the most profound level, it means that an intelligence which is a controlling intelligence, which can see into our mind, so to speak, which would mean a total end to the privacy that we each have inside our heads right now." Of course, we don't need aliens for that - we just need President Bush to keep at it.

But how about the occult? Of course, there's Tom Friedman's "Curse," a spherical curse placed eleven inches above a white pedestal. And the recent Creative Time show, "Strange Powers," included art "made to actually have a paranormal effect on the world, including spells, talismanic objects, and apparitions conjured and transcribed."

We know Kandinsky responded to music, but he also made paintings related to theosophy. So did Kupka, Mondrian, and Malevich. Supposedly. One teacher at SVA told us that these painters developed palettes inspired by human auras. We think Mondrian had more reductive, formal concerns, however, with his management of primary colors. And remember that "3x Abstraction" show at Drawing Center? Those drawings with spiritual purpose?

But if we take theosophy as a religion, or at least some "faith," then we also have to think about Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist art. Then it's no big deal to have "theosophist art" because faith-inspired art fills history books about art and architecture.

Skeptical pragmatists that we are, the TD crew welcomes these interpretations only in our earnest purpose of learning more about the artists. But we kind of chuckle to ourselves about all the ghost and alien stuff.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mad-About-Art Square Park

Madison Sq. Park, under the Flatiron Building, is currently an oasis of public art. This week, United Technologies installed huge prints by Chuck Close, Mitch Epstein, and Dayanita Singh. Chuck Close presents daguerrotypes of immigrants, Mitch Epstein images of Boston, and Dayanita Singh black-and-white photos of Hartford. Ivan Chermayeff designed the installations. We still prefer last year's edition, with billboard paintings by Gary Hume, Alex Katz, and Lisa Sanditz. Although we're happy any time the public gets to see contemporary art, these photos aren't very challenging, and are kind of a bummer.

On the other hand, Ursula von Rydingsvard's monuments have been in the park for several months. "Damski Czepek" is like a craglike womb or big cave, translucent, cast in polyurethane resin. "Czara z Babelkami" is like a tower of Babel constructed from Jenga blocks, its bricklike units protruding out in various directions. (We wonder about the title and how it is pronounced. "Sara Zee?" "Sarah Sze?") UvR's sculptures combine architecture with a raw, pseudo-primitive approach - units stacked into a larger form - which is perfect for an urban park, where skyscrapers filled with suits and BlackBerry machines meet children running in grass.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jared Buckhiester

TD crew is looking forward to Jared Buckhiester's new show, opening tonight at envoy gallery. Jared's narrative watercolor drawings mingle together children at play, rural life, and budding sexuality, all at work within a faint application of paint and wistful drawing style.

Jared was in two recent group shows: "Kamp K48" at John Connelly Presents and "Not Gay Art Now" at Paul Kasmin. He also made T-shirts, although we don't know if he still does.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Catching up

The TD crew has been grossly neglectful of its nest on blogspot. This is mainly due to an overamped work schedule and subsequently much-needed weekend r&r. But no excuses. To catch up:

*If you haven't seen The Everyothers play a live show, and you like rock, then check them out! Kill Rock Stars label. They offer a tight, lean/mean, and gleeful show. It's kind of like The Strokes, but without the shrug, and with much more glam and blues fuel. Fun.

*Check out Chris Martin's sublime abstractions at SVA: 209 East 23rd St. Tom Huhn, PhD curated the show, which also includes Gary Stephan, Richmond Burton, David Humphrey, Matthias Ludwig, Jeff Gaunt, and Amy Wilson. We wish we could buy a Chris Martin for our ceiling, and look at it every night after climbing into bed.

*If you're shopping for drafting tables, check out Nationwide Drafting. The 60-inch Alvin Workmaster we bought was $40 cheaper than at Utrecht. Both offer free shipping, unlike Blick Materials, whose prices lead you to believe the savings are great, but they aren't, because shipping costs a fortune.

Peace out!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

RIP Willi Ninja

We met Willi Ninja one time on the subway after a day at MoMA. He was soft-spoken and sweet, yet brimming with confidence and towering in his high-heeled boots.

We even talked on the phone a few times after that. He invited us to a spring fashion show, which we didn't attend; we invited him to a summer group show, which he didn't attend. Missed connections. And then today, we learned of his death this weekend. Willi was only 45 years old. And at 45, he still worked, lissom and graceful as he was in "Paris is Burning," where we first found him...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Nan Goldin in "Full House"

What's behind Nan Goldin's pursuit of those men? You know, the sweaty, smoking, tattooed, moody, drunk, damaged, and violent men? We're asking in earnest, in order to understand her work. Is it simply the "bad boy" thing? Or is part of her apparent self-destructive tendencies?

Nan Goldin is one of our favorite artists, but sometimes we feel suspicious. The "bad boy" was isolated and subverted by Richard Prince, and the "victim girl" by Cindy Sherman. She's unmatched in her efforts to document the NY demimonde and essential in the snapshot aesthetic, acutely intimate, a master of seizing "the moment" and maximizing photography's ability to reveal telling nanoseconds of drama. Books about AIDs should include her for her revelatory documentation of the disease's toll. We watched her slideshow, "Ballad of Sexual Dependency," 700 images, two-and-a-half times in the freezing cold room at the Whitney's mezzanine.

That underworld resists the passive role of the documentee, and instead reaches back out. It fucks her, loves her, gets her high, and beats her. And the male culprits populate her images, unchecked, unchallenged; everything is romantic, like the misogynist street thugs in a Genet novel. Instead of challenging problematic masculinity, guys gone wild, Goldin gets seduced and has bruises to prove it. Yet we wonder if she kinda likes it, after seeing her self-inflicted cuts and cigarette burns in "Sisters, Saints, and Sybils."

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