Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just Another Roadside Attraction

DinosaurLand!!!! (with cobras, and king kong, giant octopus, etc.)

Also links to similar roadside attractions, some of which even have King Kong mixed with dinosaurs also:

Nash Dino Land

Dinosaur Not So National Park

Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World, Arkansas (now closed)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU

Trevor Reese sent me a link to this awesome animation via electronic mail:

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

It reminds me of the work of Robin Rhone. (Coincidently the Free Library of Philadelphia just acquired Street Level: Mark Bradford, William Cordova and Robin Rhone with isn't even on Amazon and it's a nice little book to check out before someone steals it or something.) :

Which reminds me of the work of Keith Haring a little bit.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Zoe Strauss, Under I-95/ offsite

So, I've begun writing for a new blog, "Art-tistics", which is sponsored by an art-handling company called Mind's Eye (they seem like really nice people), and I just published my thoughts and some pics of Zoe Strauss' awesome under-the-interstate exhibition there:

A major exhibition, under the interstate

My thoughts on writing for them are this; because I will be writing with two other well known bloggers ( Lenny Campello and Bill Gusky) and because the company itself is based out of Boston, this ought to get some different exposure for my reviews on Philadelphia art, and as such "the Philadelphia art scene".

The design of the blog is a bit pastel for my sensibility, but it's Wordpress so all you nerds who have been hating on my blogger account can be a little happy. Plus I will also still be keeping up with One Culture, so never fear.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kate Bright at Locks Gallery

Kate Bright
Between the Woods
Locks Gallery
May 2-30, 2008


I have gotten into the nasty habit of popping in on really outstanding shows just a couple of days before they close. This is alright by me but particularly bad for you, dear reader, as you will no doubt be perusing this post as the minutes tick away from the time you have to see the paintings of Kate Bright at Locks Gallery. As it stands you have about a week which is more then I can say for those of you wishing to catch the delightful Jennifer Bartlett exhibition (read about it here), upstairs at Locks only until this SaturdayFriday! when it will begin to be replaced by the no doubt just as exciting exhibition by Joy Feasley.

It's not quite warm enough yet for Ms. Bright's (her name is so apt I am tempted to think of it as a pseudonym or "stage name") scenes of glittering snow falling on trees to be maddeningly escapist, but the silence of each image still tends to suck you in until you can almost hear your own footsteps breaking a fresh layer of snow in an isolated and enchanted forest. If the canvas wasn't covered in glitter, the image would be downright scary, or perhaps it is even creepier because of it. They are each so subtly done, that I almost don't want to think of the "cheapness" (here the word cheap has nothing to do with price because in reality this much glitter is expensive) of the material. I have never seen glitter so elevated and though comparisons to Karen Kilmnick have to come to mind (for the paintings are so very girly and glittery that you also think of unicorns and fairies and castles and ponies) I don't know that I have ever been tempted to ever proclaim the use of glitter in Karen's paintings "sublime".

I was most drawn to a canvas entitled Grove in which a cleared path appears between the trees and turns left until it disappears from your line of sight. For some reason I remembered those paintings by Henri Magritte in which a canvas is placed in front of an opened window. Those paintings always scared me to death and I can't quite come to grips with why I think of them in the same sentence as Kate Bright.

Jennifer Bartlett at Locks Gallery

Jennifer Bartlett
From Rhapsody to Song
Locks Gallery
April 18-May 24th 23!, 2008

I haven't really ever followed the work of Jennifer Bartlett but Edith Newhall has and was able to publish a quick account of her thoughts in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Without any sense of history what I saw at Locks looked almost like dots drawn on graph paper (in reality the graph paper was an enamel painting on a baked enamel steel plate). My mind didn't care if there was any sort of graphing actually being done and didn't look for a higher purpose besides beauty. I'm pretty sure my brain started functioning at a higher level in the atmosphere created by the work. Someone should really look into outfitting a reading room with painting of this type.


The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.









Monday, May 19, 2008

Late Notes on the WB

The 2008 Whitney Biennial
On view till June 1st.

I live in squalor. I make less then $30,000 a year and until recently had no benefits to speak of, so I cannot afford to be an art sophisticate. I cannot compare the Whitney Biennial to the Berlin Biennial or Documenta or anything that may happen in London. So I cannot complain that the Whitney Biennial is not as good as all those other fairs and art parties, but I have read that other people have stated this complaint and have proffered the opinion that we, American Artists, are slipping.

I can only compare the Whitney Biennial this year to past Whitney Biennials, of which I have been to two. I always leave a Biennial slightly bitter and end up deciding much later that I actually enjoyed the show. This year holds up to that trend, though I can't help thinking the show wasn't as "power-packed" as in years past. I didn't leave with the feeling that I had probably missed half the exhibition because it was physically impossible to see that much, instead I felt like I had seen everything, including some video, but was maybe still a little "hungry". The Whitney Biennial 2008 can readily be compared to a decent tasting sandwich that is just slighlty too small; you can't eat another one but you aren't satisfied with just one either. Perhaps if I had seen the part of the Biennial that was exhibited at the Park Avenue Armory (I missed it as it was only up till March 23rd) I wouldn't feel this way.

I actually applaud the curators; Henriette Huldisch and Shamim M. Momin, on trying out this "less is more approach". I like the idea of rooms devoted to one artist and think it could have worked to great affect if only the artist-projects had turned out better. As it were, I only wrote down a handful of awesome/interesting enough to talk about stand-outs:

Jason Rhoades:

You are confronted The Grand Machine, a post-humously installed sculpture first thing and already your mind is asking a million questions; besides the usual "What the hell is going on in this Jason Rhoades piece?" (it seems to be about karoke singing and packaging things with pea-roe-foam) there is the "How much of this piece did Jason Rhoades actually work on?" factor.

I know that The Grand Machine was actually created before Rhoades died in 2002, but it looks much different as it was originally installed in Vienna (I would love to show you this but just can't bring myself to care enough to contact the press office at the Whitney--when will people wise up and let us take pictures of whatever we want?). I would love to be a fly on the wall as they debated how best to install it as the artist would have installed it.

Amanda Ross-Ho:

Has the distinction of being one of the only artists I didn't already know about that I ended up really liking. I really feel her sensibility.

Dexter Sinister:

Is the other "artist" I now like. I think.

Upon further study Dexter Sinister appears to be one of the most complicated artists in the Biennial. I believe "his" contributions included a "True Mirror" in the bathrooms, that is a mirror that reflected your actual reflection, not your reverse reflection as actual mirrors do, a selection of printed material behind glass and some project at the Park Avenue Armory that is somewhat documented in a totally uninformation-giving way on the web here.

I have very little information to go on but I am sincerely intriqued. The name Dexter Sinister is probably not a real name but one inspired by the British comic-series; Sinister Dexter. In latin sinister means 'on the left side' and dexter means 'on the right side', so there's that as well. I feel entirely disinformed and am very impressed.

Or was, until I read this article, that pretty much cleared up everything, sort of. (I now know that Dexter Sinister is the compound name of David Reinfurt and Stuart Bailey, who publish books and things on an on-demand basis.)

Omer Fast:

The Casting, is a four-channel video presentation in which two narratives, told by the same U.S. Army sergeant, the accidental shooting of an Iraqi and a romantic liaison with a young German woman who mutilates herself, are sort of mixed up together in a seamless fashion. Sometimes you will be viewing the reinactment of the shooting, only while you hear the narrative of the date. The actors stand still in all of the scenes, as if they are a still-frame. The only noise is the narrative, sometimes the narrative turns into a scene of a director casting the actors for the sequence--or at least this is what I interpreted but the write-up on the Biennial's page makes no mention of this being a part of the video.

It stand to reason that one could write a full-length review of this piece alone, hopefully after watching the entire video (which I did not).

Javier Tellez:

Letter on the Blind, For the Use of those who See. This was a really moving piece of video in which six (?) blind persons were "introduced to an elephant" and allowed to touch the creature. It was amazing to imagine what you might think of an elephant, if you had never seen one and could only feel one. Again I didn't watch the whole video but I totally would have if they aired it on PBS.

Also great, were the works by Pheobe Washburn and Mitzi Pederson. I would love to say that I really liked the projects by Rachel Harrison and Karen Kilimnick, because usually I love them both, but found their work in this exhibition to be lacking.

Tomorrow I'm on a panel with Amy Adams and Jane Irish. . .

. . .and we will discuss "The Philadelphia Art Scene" at the Main Line Art Center as part of the programming for an exhibition entitled Main Line Collects Philadelphia.

How to start a collecting market in Philly has been on a lot of people's mines lately so hopefully this panel can help facillitate a brainstorming session.

The talk is at 7:30 and it's free.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy belated birthday Helvetica.

Just saw Helvetica, the documentary by Gary Hustwit. It was really great, really gives you a feel for the typeface of our lives and all the various opinions about it. Not boring at all, really.

Also there was this Helvetica Exhibition at Moma. . . did anyone go see it?

I know I'm a little late, but happy birthday Helvetica!:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Love Explosion at Fleisher/ Ollman Gallery

Screen, 2008, by Alex Da Corte

Love Explosion
Jack Sloss/ Alex Da Corte
Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. Philadelphia
April 18th-May 17th 2008 !!!!THIS IS THE LAST DAY!!!!

When I say or think the words "love explosion" I think of a penis dripping with cum. Then I think of hippies, weed, and the sixties in general. Then I think of Ray-Ban Sunglasses. Fleisher/ Ollman has produced an odd little show ripe with so many different layers of mystery, meaning, and intrigue that it was a little hard for me to make head or tail of it. (It has to be noted that Love Explosion (Cranial Sections with Gunshot Wounds) is also the title of a piece in the exhibition, produced by Jack Sloss.)

I even read the catalog, which is a forty-page zine compiled by William Pym, and it only brought to mind more questions; the most glaring being the odd pairing of artist Jack Sloss with Alex Da Corte. It becomes hard for me to focus, here, on the artist's work, when I am more worried about why I am viewing two wholly different oeuvres brought together. One can't help but wonder what the curator was thinking, as it seems like the medium (which is the message) of each artist's work negates the other's.

There is no cute little summary to describe Love Explosion. For one thing, I feel like I know the work of Alex Da Corte much better then I know the work of Jack Sloss. It is easier for me to analyze the work of Alex Da Corte because I can see his entire piece at once, while many of Mr. Sloss' artworks are time-based (video/film/other forms of motion picture), so I wasn't able to view them in their entirety. I get the feeling that Mr. Sloss wants to show me a divine and melancholic beauty that has it's eyes and ears on all the troubles of the planet; a world slashed with sublime flashes of sunshine over the shadows of dusty carpets in dark rooms. He has an eye towards decisive moments. . . I think that I begin to like him. There was a moment, when I was watching a montage of videos (?--didn't see a plot and it seemed like random videos all taken by the same person) shown on a TV placed upon the floor with two headphones to pick up and a rug to sit on, I and I Improv Impart IV, that I had a really safe feeling come over me, like I was a child again. I watched some show falling on the video-camera and I felt like I could stay there all day. (In reality I probably spent less then five minutes with the piece.)

I and I Improv Impart IV, 2006-2007, by Jack Sloss

Mr. Sloss' work is steeped in a dark palette; the color of Olde English, bronze, wood, ornate rugs, and images of muslims while Mr. Da Corte's pieces utilize glitter and run the gambit of the spectrum one would hope to find at a child's birthday party. It seems as though Alex's work turns a rose-colored lens to a world it knows is really ugly while the world in Jack's work is perfect, only marred by the violence within it. They are both wonderful artists.

But what is this thing called Love?

After Party, 2008, by Alex Da Corte

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nick Paparone at Vox Populi

King Kiosk

Nick Paparone
Vox Populi
Cliffs, Bluffs and Steamy Lowlands
Through June 1st.

Cliffs, Bluffs and Steamy Lowlands , Nick Paparone's first exhibition at Vox Populi, almost smells like a male adolescent that hasn't yet learned to use deodorant. If each separate sculpture and print were a painting you could say Mr. Paparone's palette was heavy on the reds and yellows associated with fast food restaurants, comic books, and the logos of corporate america. The work is compelling and repulsive at the same time.

The duel manipulated posters of Cindy Crawford; 400 Horsepower #1 and 2 (Mr. Paparone cleverly used the one with bananas for hair as his announcement card) are so gorgeous you almost want to lick them. In them Cindy is glistening in her revealing yellow bathing suit, chest puffed out, feminine and yet looking remarkably strong. The addition of fruit to her head turns the image upside down; instead of being a subject of masturbation and sexual fantasy her image becomes absurdist in nature. If this is representative of a Freudian-type fear of being dominated by sex then the artist has made a marvelous attempt at exorcising the demon.

400 Horsepower #2

The tour de force of the exhibition is easy enough to find as it dominates the entire space, leaving the other artworks little room to breathe; King Kiosk is a about the size of a garden shack with no entrance and completely covered by comic books. The eyes at the bottom of the structure, compounded with the sticks jutting out the top (which to me read as a sort of deer-antler-like attachment) lend the object animate properties, yet it has a shelf, almost (obviously) like a kiosk. Perhaps most mysterious is the fact that it wears chains. If I were to draw conclusions they would again be sexual, adolescent, and angst-ridden in nature. It is an object that seems like it could explode from the various forces pulling at it at any instant.

A moment of rest, though it too seems a little dangerous comes, quite literally, from a light in the corner. The Wonder Wander, a stand alone corner lamp, seemingly circa 1990, has a motorized spinning globe, laminated with aluminum foil and colored with markers, about it's middle. Immediately I think of this song.

The Wonder Wander

(Bravo Nick!)

(It should be noted that all the exhibits at Vox Populi are good right now and in due time I hope to talk about Stefan Abrams and Jack Sloss.)


The West Prize will be awarded to ten international emerging artists in 2008.  The prize will award $100,000 in acquisitions between the finalists and host a finalist TEN exhibition with accompanying publication.  A grand prize winner will be chosen from among the finalists to receive a $25,000 cash prize in addition to a West Collection Acquisition. 

Visit The West Collection's website for more information.

What I think is really different about this prize is that you can view all the submissions online, so you should definitely apply, if only to grant your work the chance of greater exposure. . .


Buy $20 worth of buttons, get free shipping:

Noah Lyon


Sunday, May 11, 2008

LeRoy Johnson at Little Berlin

Men with Hats, 60th Street Series

LeRoy Johnson: Call and Response
Little Berlin   
Closes May 21

I've taught in the same program as LeRoy Johnson, the Claymobile, for about three years now and though I've meet him once or twice the only things I really "know" about him are little bits of information I've picked up from his teaching assistants. He's an older African American man (This press release for an exhibition of his at Swarthmore College describes his "50-year journey as an artist", so I'll put him down as 50+), who started creating art as a potter. I mention the fact that LeRoy is African American, male, and a potter because people have often commented to me that the combination is rare. I've been told time and again by the people who have worked closely with LeRoy that "he has his own way of doing things" but whatever this means, it seems to be a good thing most of the time because although they may sigh, everyone says it with a smile.

I had assumed, because he's taught clay sculpture to the urban youth of Philadelphia and because he has such a close relationship to the Clay Studio, that LeRoy creates pottery. I was wrong, and the show I viewed recently at Little Berlin; LeRoy Johnson: Call and Response, pretty much chalks LeRoy up to legendary in my book. Mr. Johnson uses "urban debris" to create art the mirrors the experience of urban life in Philadelphia. I am told that even his paintings and collages are on recycled or found canvas or panel, then covered over with various substances. The resulting sculptures and paintings look like what they are; something born of the bombed out and not-so-pretty neighborhoods of Philly.

LeRoy Johnson's mixed media sculpture, R.I.P, is reminiscent of a abandoned warehouse/street corner and acts as a memorial to the dead, both anonymous and legend.

This detail of R.I.P. highlights a familiar scene in Philadelphia; the street corner memorial.

Which is not say that Call and Response is all serious gloom and doom, or even pessimistic in any way. LeRoy's realistic subject matter, compounded with the fact that he works to better the neighborhoods he talks about, though sad in places, seems tinged with hope for the future. Some of the works, like a series of "Men with Hats" or five paintings entitled "Happy Happy" seem downright playful. Overall Call and Response seems to be an accurate take on Philadelphia's problems by a person who has continually shown his love and devotion to the area around him. Philly could use about twenty more LeRoy's, but the city is lucky to have just one.


Three out of a series of five paintings titled; Happy Happy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Greatest Story Ever Told. . .

So I couldn't help but hope, when I saw Mr. Richard Serra on the cover of the New York Times (sorry front page of the arts section)this morning that he was once again in trouble for something similar to Tilted Arc. Turns out not.

I remembered this imaginary piece of art (never got made) I was talking to someone about back in art school (their idea, not mine), in which they would make a small-scale replica of Tilted Arc and stick it right in the doorway of a room, effectively blocking everyone's way in.

Willie Wayne Smith at Cerealart

Portrait of the artist, Willie Wayne Smith

Willie Wayne Smith
“it is Like a Simile”
Cerealart Project Room
May 2-July 3, 2008

I didn't get much of a feel for Willie Wayne Smith at the Cerealart Project Room (anymore I find that I don't have much of an opinion until I see at least two exhibitions of an aritist's work). I believe I liked what I saw, but what I saw was crazy; irking my sensibilities, a bit like when someone scraps their long nails up against a chalkboard. In other words, even though everything was in really bad taste it was beautifully so. . . If you don't believe me take this shell frame around this painting, named Wings of Fire' to the bank. While I can't claim to find it pretty I like it:

Also, these paintings are pretty big, this one being roughly the size of me.

To read more about this painter visit hustler of culture.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

From the e-mails

Tricia Avey has spotted this amazing photo project by Lilly McElroy, the artist literally throws herself at men: Lilly McElroy site, lots of other rad looking stuff too that I don't have the minutes to look at right now. . .but perhaps you do?

Also Anthony Campuzano pointed out this Village Voice review of a 1964 recreated Dan Flavin exhibition at Zwirner & Wirth (NYC).

Also!!!: For all of you fine persons commenting twice; don't worry your comments work the first time, they just don't show up till I moderate them. I have to moderate them or else this blog is attacked by machines and ads who wish to leave their comments. I publish all non-machines, even the unfriendly ones. I hate censorship.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Monofish: Too cool for school.

Jamie Dillon
Copy Gallery
May 2nd -May 2nd (one night only)

It may fall upon you to one day to have to think of what you think about it when someone hooks a dead fish up to an amp and throws it on the floor of your gallery. My initial reaction when confronted with the very situation was to shout “Jamie Dillon that's disgusting!” and then to find said artist/co-gallery director and tell him that I hoped he had a plan to de-smell the gallery (because it stank to holy hell). Anotheir part of me thought it was all very funny.

I want to dennounce this exhibtion as cliché avant-garde ill-thought-out attention-seeking bullshit, but I can't help but acknowledge that while it's an immature and cheap shot it does make me question the nature of many things. One, is the desire of the avant-garde artist to alarm or disenfrancise his/her audience. When talking to Jamie , he brought up the point that he saw his piece as a sort of “rite of passage”, meaning those of the viewers who could “take” the experience could be accepted into “club avant garde”. We both agreed that a proper musical comparison could be some forms of “noise music” which is sometimes played at such a volume and freguency that it hurts the eardrums, yet audience members at such shows often consent to stand, arms crossed, and take the onslaught of sound. It is not an accepted thing to dsilike the music or even get mad at the musicians for hurting your eardrums, instead the audience agrees that different kinds of sounds are worth listening to and that even the most ear-destroying sonic boom has merrit.

I became very interested in how the viewer (it is to be noted here that the viewer was very much an art-viewing public), would go so far as to raise their eyebrows, or react violently to the smell, but no one was willing to outright question the fish's position as an art-object in any sort of audible way. It is to be noted, however, that Monofish marks the only exhibition at Copy when the gallery has been virtually empty all night.

I wonder at my own ability to accept everything and find my mind in two places; I want to say it's okay to be crazy and do whatever but I also think the artist has a responsibility to their public. An anynomous viewer, after seeing Monofish commented “I'm a little bit mad that Jamie even invited me over here to see this.” I believe that we should have trust in our art-viewing public and that we don't have to “test” them with slightly shocking and smelly wastes of time. Time and time again they have proven to us that, yes, they will accept anything we throw at them and not riot because of it. The public has amassed an extremely high level of tolerence. We, as artists, don't need to pretend to be Joseph Beuys over and over again. A human being isn't a guniea pig and it's impolite just to invite people over to be part of your socialogical experiments. So I'm going to say I don't agree with Monofish, I won't riot, I won't shoot the artist (because, really, there is nothing there to even get mad about), I will just argue that this is a completely useless waste that I found mildly entertaining.

In stronger language I find Monofish to be a step backwards from everything I hope to achieve with art, which is a stronger and more diverse art viewing public. I don't like the idea of art that chooses to be anti-social or that proliferates the myth of an avant-garde art click. In the words of Winona Ryder's character towards the end of the movie Heathers “I just want my High School (gallery) to be a better place.”

Damien Hirst at Wexler Gallery

(In) Between: Contemporary Interpretations of Vanitas
Wexler Gallery, May 2nd-June28th

While I don't think it's necessary to travel to The Met to see a Damien Hirst shark suspended in resin, I find it reasonable to travel the couple of blocks to 2nd street to see some some DH sculptures and a print. Damien Hirst is where he isn't supposed to be and his artwork being down the street in a little gallery I would usually never go to has all the glitter of spotting an Olsen Twin with Chloe Sevigny at Johnny and Brendas.

While I would never think to question it in New York, in Philly I doubt the authenticity of Damien Hirst skulls in my neighborhood. I do not mean that I believe the sculptures and print at Wexler Gallery to be fakes, I simply mean to point back to my prior metaphor; If you see Chloe Sevigny or an Olsen Twin at J&Bs you do a couple of double-takes and ask yourself “Is that really who I think it is?”. At the Met the Damien Hirst is expected, just another piece of art in a priceless collection of masterpieces, at the oscars Chloe Sevigny is just another starlet, but in Philadelphia at a little bar/gallery both are a spectacle.

And not to take off on an unrelated tangent about fakes, but it is much easier to get away with that sort of thing in Philly. . .

There is the fact that while there are hundreds of watch-dogs (read; bloggers, critics and fans) for any kind of scam an artist or gallery might pull in New York, in Philadelphia I might be the only one. While everyone seems to be in on a New York joke--Triple Candie was recently able to show fake art from a fake artist (The "Lester Hayes”, Holland Cotter writes about in this article on the show is completely fictitious.) people know the Sturtevant's in the Whitney Biennial 2006 weren't really Duchamps, the Miles Davis' in the same show was really a David Hammons', and all that Reena Spauling's stuff was what it is,-- I know for a fact there have been certain “scams” in Philadelphia that have never been outted as fakes (*cough, The Golden Brick, cough*).

I'd like to reiterate that that has nothing to do with (In)Between at the Wexler, an exhibition you should be drawn to for the glitter of Damien Hirst and stay at because they have three excellent Randall Sellers paintings, and some beautiful paper cut-outs by Joe Boruchow. I'm just saying you have to watch your back when you're reviewing art these days.

Randall Sellers, "Arrivals and Departures", 2008

Randall Sellers, "Escape From Ghost City", 2008

Joe Boruchow, "Morning Before Deluge (Part 1 of Vanitas: The Deluge)", 2008