Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wolf Girl Gilmore.

Kiki Smith, Wolf Girl, etching on paper.

I have to admit to falling off a bit when it comes to The Gilmore Girls in the last couple seasons. I did, however, catch the music episode last season that everybody refers to as their coolest moment. Yo La Tengo played. Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and their daughter Coco played. It was pretty damn cool, but my favorite moment came earlier in the season when the show's music department used Sparks "Angst in My Pants". Whatever. All bets were off tonight when Lorelai's parents presented their wedding gift to her . . . Kiki Smith's Wolf Girl. Cooler than cool, as ever. They can't help themselves.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


For my 200th post it's somehow appropriate to be bringing you one of my first art loves, Maya Lin's Peace Chapel at Juniata College in my hometown of Huntingdon, PA. This was the project that Lin worked on immediately after she did the Vietnam War Memorial.

Carving a simple circle into the top of a hill, Lin creates a state of grace in the viewer by utilizing the immediate and the distant landscape. This is a work that never fails me. It's never the same thing twice; changing with the weather, the time of day, and the season. It's like a great painting that transforms every time you see it, while never lessening its impact. This time around the stark colors of late fall were muted warmly by the fog and drizzle. Happy Thanksgiving to me.

On top of the hill in the distance is a single stone for private mediation. More perfection.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Under Heavy Manners.

It was great to walk through the NY Art Book Fair on Sunday and see so many affordable lovely things, but the freshest of them all were to be found at the Heavy Tapes table. Art books are great, but cassettes made with this much love and care? Mmmmm. Rest your head on my heart and hum.

It got even better when I got the little analogue wonders home and pressed play. Jessica Rylan's amazing experiments with the mighty Serge synth sound like an unstable womb. This is the one that's made me want to find an old Walkman on ebay. I also picked up the luscious 2 cassette set from the Religious Knives, a project by label heads Maya Miller and Mike Bernstein. It feels like an alternative universe where time thinks it likes you but it's still making up its mind. Sick Llama's Alien Facial contains itchy drones for scaring the kids at night.

Maya Miller's acid-drenched (The kind you find in car batteries . . . not tabs.) artwork wraps the sound works in the blanket they deserve, creating a whole package that delivers on all fronts. Simply irresistible. There's no tellin' where the money went. I can tell you that it's not in my pocket anymore.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"I woke up one morning and I could sing.”

It's over. All over. Don't have to cry no more. RIP, Ruth Brown.

Like New.

The inaugural show at Alexander Gray's new gallery, J. Morgan Puett's Wholesale: To The Trade Only 1985-1997 looks like the past, but it couldn't be more now. With all the renewed feverish talk about the collision of the worlds of art, fashion, and commerce . . . (Oh, shut up.)

Stop. Pull the record back. Scratch it. Fuck the past. This is just a wonder of a show to walk into today. Overwhelming in fact. It's going to mean a lot of things to a lot of people depending on their experience. My experience with Puett's work was nonexistent, and it sent my head and heart swimming. It didn't make me wistful for some past that I missed. (Read the exhibit info for the story of her influential shop in SoHo in the 80's and 90's.) Puett covers the history of her store--12 years of it--in beeswax, and somehow it doesn't feel like preservation. It feels like a sculpture living in the constant now, and filled sweetly with promises that will be kept.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sebastian Lemm Update.

traveler II #1, Lambda c-print on Kodak Endura

I wanted to pass on some info about Sebastian Lemm's upcoming activities because, well, his shit rocks and you should see it. He'll be in a group show at Margaret Thatcher Projects, Landscape Re-Imagined, opening on November 30. Also, he'll be collaborating with choreographer Johannes Wieland at the Ailey Theater from November 30 to December 3.

Last but not least, LA's BANK Gallery will be showing his Subtraction series at the Aqua Art Fair in Miami. This will be a good opportunity to not only see Lemm's work, but also to check out an excellent gallery. BANK had one of the strongest shows I saw when I visited LA in August.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Splitsville Wonderland.

Alexander Gray opened his new gallery in October and now his website is up and running. You might remember my practically worshipful reviews of the shows that he and his former partner Venetia Kapernekas' put up at their gallery, Gray Kapernekas. I would say that the gallery is much missed, but in this case it's been more like a stock split, rendering mourning unnecessary. Gray and Kapernekas have decided to go in their own directions (And it should be said that they've done so amicably.). They both win, but more importantly . . . I do.

Gray's first show is a delicious stunner, J. Morgan Puett's Wholesale: To The Trade Only 1985-1997, running through November 2. Kapernekas' first show opens tonight with LA-based artist, Meg Cranston.

I'll be saying more about both shows in the near future. Stay tuned.

This just in. I just got home from the Meg Cranston opening. Killer show. Like I said, everybody wins. Especially me. Good art all around.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Secret Chords.

The Austerity Program plays music the way I like it: loud, galvanizing, and destined for commercial failure. Although that last one might fall by the wayside as they've been picked up by HydraHead Records . . . Well, actually, they probably still won't sell any records, but that's ok. I doubt that they care. A guitar, a bass, and an abused drum machine are all they need to live their dreams.

I've seen them play in front of 10 people and I've seen them play in front of, oh, at least 50. It doesn't matter how many are in the room, The Austerity Program wins them over. The best example of that is the damage I saw them do to a group of cooler-than-you Pratt kids one night at Sputnik a couple months ago. The young 'uns were expecting to score some heavy sneer time and and by the second song of the set they were screaming and hitting each other. It was the definition of victory.

A documentary, Too Big To Fail, is in the works about the band. They showed the trailer at the Red Cross benefit in DUMBO Saturday night, and it looked great. Seriously. This is the kind of story that can't be told enough. Obviously the soundtrack is gonna be killer.

Also on the bill last night was the Pelican side project, Chord. When I encourage my friends who get their metal referrals from the Times to dig a little deeper, Chord is the kind of treasure I hope they'll discover. Compositions are based on one note and move forward into drones of a crushing dark beauty. There were moments that had a clear connection to John Cale's work with The Dream Syndicate. I picked up their CD-R from the merch table and I've had it on REPEAT all day.

The guitar effects duo, Grower, was the last to go on. They were like Illitch with a power drill. The crowd wouldn't let them leave the stage. Brilliant.

Ooh. And many thanks to Decibel magazine and Powerhouse Books for all the comped goods. The free mags and the Beastie Boys Anthology would have been enough, but David Yellen's amazing book of Heavy Metal portraits, Too Fast For Love, took the cake.

Friday, November 10, 2006

California Dreaming (Still)

I was reminded twice this week of two highlights from my trip to LA in August.

Sebastian Lemm, filtrate # 1, lambda c-print on Fuji Crystal Archive

Last Sunday I stopped at Pierogi in Williamsburg. I always make a point to look back and see what they have hanging around the office. (Art fetishist rule #1: Never miss the back room.) Hanging up high on the wall was a piece that grabbed my attention and held it. I asked who it was and the answer was Sebastian Lemm. His work was the strongest in a very strong group show at BANK in downtown LA and here it was again, taking me down. I'm pretty sure that Lemm doesn't have a NY gallery . . . proving once again that crack is way too inexpensive here.

Kalup Linzy, still from All My Churen

Mid week I was reading a very entertaining Rants & Raves by Kate Gilmore on the NYFA site. In it she talks about discovering the truly spectacular Kalup Linzy via one of his videos at the Armory Show. I saw his piece, All My Churen, in a group show at LAXART when I visited Culver City. Linzy's work bends the viewer in about a thousand ways. Race and culture, family, gender, popular music and television: all are sent up and explored in his videos. More importantly though (at least for me) is that it's just a fucking blast to watch. Gilmore is right that it's really difficult to tear yourself away once you start viewing. More please. More. More. More.

Ooooooh. This just in. Barry just posted the artcal link to the Kalup Linzy show that is up RIGHT NOW at Taxter & Spengemann in Chelsea. It closes TOMORROW. Thank you, Barry!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fur Preview.

They shot a scene for Fur in the courtyard of my building last Autumn. This is what it looks like during the day without Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. gliding across it.

And yes, it's rent-stabilized with one of the nicest landlords in the city.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It Ain't Groundhog Day.

And hopefully tomorrow won't be either.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Body Count.

One fine show that slipped through the cracks this month during all my tech hell was the blogger-curated show, Dangling Between The Real Thing And The Sign In The Window, at Dam, Stuhltrager in Williamsburg. Just say the name to yourself a few times. It's perfect. Curators Barry Hoggard and James Wagner took the title from a quote by minimalist rabble rouser, Morton Feldman. I was reminded of my negligence today when Art Fag City posted a link to Tom Moody's review of the show.

The show successfully investigates the difference--or the lack thereof--between hawking and hawking in our disastrous times. Jaishri Abichandani's works are a riot, but I'm not saying that they're funny. Jacques Louis Vidal's amusement park terrorscapes started as eyerollers and turned into love at second sight. The real jaw dropper though is waiting out back, like a bad dream.

Susan's C. Dessel's "Our Backyard: A Cautionary Tale" gave me nightmares while I was looking at it. I didn't even have to wait for sleep. The piece had Abu Ghraib and Hurrica Katrina sharing the same set of synapses in my head, filling the gap with shame and anger and nothing good. When they start hiding the dead it falls to artists to dig up the bodies and throw them back on the road, and Dessel has a strong arm. You can try to duck, but it won't help.

Images totally swiped from Barry Hoggard's Flickr site.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Live Through This.

Last night I immediately fell in love with this Sara Greenberger Rafferty C-Print at the opening of View 12: Heart Breaker (feistily curated by Amy Smith-Stewart) at Mary Boone's uptown gallery. Also, there were some lovely semi-abstract paintings by Kathleen White. You know how I feel about Kate Gilmore's work and she has two pieces in the show. The jury is still way out on Laurel Nakadate's videos. The music Nakadate uses is too fun for me to be even remotely objective about the whole thing. I mean, the Jim Steinman-penned Making Love Out of Nothing At All by Air Supply! You could use that song as the soundtrack to meat and I'd think it was brilliant. There's some really amazing work in this show. Time to make the trip uptown.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Eat Your Heart Out.

still from Cake Walk

Kate Gilmore made me cry when I visited her studio in August. I've been able to give this form of immediate artist feedback only once before, when John Oswald approached me during his jaw-dropping show at Jack Shainman a few years ago. Gilmore was showing me an involving piece, Anything . . ., she had created during a residency in Dijon, France the month before. I don't want to give too much away because it's going to be in her show at Peirogi that opens on November 17. So, without getting too specific Gilmore builds something and--like so many of her most effective pieces (Which is to say pretty much all of them)--the work enters the viewers body through an arc. I became completely and helplessly engrossed in where she was going and how she was going to get there. What brought tears to my eyes though was her final gesture in the piece, at once pulling me in further and letting me go, spinning me away. For a few minutes the artist's arc had become my own, and I was suddenly left with all the glorious refractions and reflections that flowed from that moment. I was all kinds of overwhelmed, and I was happy that the artist was sitting next to me when it happened.

still from Every Girl Loves Pink

Another telling reaction that afternoon was Gilmore's own while we were watching Heart Breaker, one of the two videos included in a group show opening tonight at Mary Boone's uptown gallery. In the video the artist takes a hatchet to a large heart sculpted from lumber. Flailing away, Gilmore takes apart the heart following an unpredictable path that owes as much to what she wants to accomplish as it does to the laws of gravity. At one point while we were watching Gilmore flinched as she remembered how close she had been to serious physical harm at a certain point in the process. There was no flinching on the screen though. She just kept plugging away with a single-mindedness that was frightening, hilarious, and instructive. Splinters may come. Blood may come. Sweat will overstay it's welcome. Love hurts. Deal with it. Tear it down. What remains?

still from Double Dutch

Well, beauty for one thing. Gilmore's videos are replete with it. As extreme as they can be, beauty is often their anchor. Sometimes it's a mess. Sometimes it's a clean line. But beauty is always there, holding down the planks, throwing the tomatoes. The more I viewed her work the more I realized what a brilliant colorist Gilmore has become as her work has progressed.

Watching Gilmore's videos is like watching someone eat their own heart. It's nourishing and fatal at the same time. The extremes can provoke hilarity. The work is as likely to lead to uproarious laughter as it is to tears and awe. Everything is possible. When an artist pushes this hard--and this well--through a wall, it's best to just follow them and see what's on the other side. Don't even hesitate.

In the studio . . .