I had arrived at that inevitable point in every coastal vacation where I felt that if I saw one more light-flooded, water-meets-horizon landscape, I would boot. Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, I stumbled upon the Parrish Road Show, a series of installations and events organized by the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY. Described as “an innovative summer series created to generate transformative convergences between artists, visitors and diverse members of Long Island’s East End community,” the Road Show cured my seascape sickness by demanding something more from me as a viewer than a casual gaze as I walk by; the artworks triggered action.
Watching the Art Watchers
There is something about art that begs us to get closer, which is why museum guards often stride up to visitors with a warning: “Please don’t touch the artwork.” To many, guards can be a nuisance, but to San Francisco–based photographer Andy Freeberg, they are an inspiration.
Singing Off the Heat of Being Alive
Esther Neff has hooks in her conversation that make you want to pull your seat a little bit closer. Her speech is that of a native Hoosier (although without the extra s’s), and it has a nasal tonality, remnants of a speech impediment that has been diminished through voice training. “I needed to learn to speak from the back of my mouth,” Neff said. She talks in a quick-witted, assertive manner that rubs off on the people around her. “I owe everything to her,” said Brian McCorkle, co-director of Panoply Performance Laboratory and Esther’s boyfriend, referring to his own speech.
Closely Watched Trains: Josephine Halvorson and Charles Demuth
A studio visit prompted these thoughts about Josephine Halvorson’s paintings, which Nancy Princenthal has characterized as “resolutely airless and mute.”
Halvorson depicts close-up views of largely flat surfaces, often with a rectangle framed within the painting’s rectangle. In addition to conveying little depth, the surfaces usually contain a space we cannot see into, or they feature a closed door or doors. These tensions inflect our experience of the artist’s work, with its slow dance between the visible and the hidden, and between sight and touch. She seems to want the viewer to smell her objects as much as see them, to become familiar with the scarred and punctured surface (or skin) of their silent “faces.” For her, painting isn’t confined to sight. She lives in a world of things, not images – a three-dimensional realm far removed from the flattened realm of popular culture and the mass media.
The Square in the Raw: Josef Albers’ Unguarded Moments
Josef Albers’ paintings and prints have always left me cold. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been that much of a color guy. I instinctively side with Florentine disegni over Venetian colori (though I routinely melt in front of a Titian or Tintoretto), and I would take an Analytical Cubist Braque or Picasso over a Fauvist Matisse or Derain, a Frank Stella pinstripe over a Frank Stella protractor, any day.
A View from the Easel
Artist studios in Arizona, California, New York and South Carolina.
Made in Iran But on Display in New York’s Little Italy
For three hot days, a show of street art by artists of Iranian descent, Made in Iran, is up at the Openhouse Gallery in Little Italy. Created by a team of two brothers, known as Icy and Sot, it’s a show of high impact stencils that pack a punch with just a few symbols.
The Artist’s Real Intentions: A Comic Strip
Artist Lauren Purje has a humorous — and spot on — take on what many artists may possibly intend.
At the Intersection of Art and Factory Work
LOS ANGELES — The image of the Chinese manufacturing plant is quickly becoming a 21st century icon of production, just as the car plants of Fordism were in the 20th century and Victorian coal mines were during the Industrial Revolution. They’re frequently portrayed as sites of high efficiency, but rarely as spaces for art, humanity and wonder.
Are Residencies Relevant? An Exploration in Nature
Often the role of an artist is simply to disrupt and create a perceptual shift. This past April, I was invited to participate in a residency program where the studios were on the outskirts of a small town, scattered among a forest. The residency promoted its relationship between artists, nature and quiet contemplation. Upon arrival, I was confronted with this somewhat contrived environment, but also with performance artist Jordan McKenzie.
Unexpected Sounds of Protest
Sharon Hayes can be a difficult artist to like. Her work often centers around “speech acts,” which the wall text in her current exhibition at the Whitney defines as “when speech functions not only as communication but as action.” Just beyond that text is an example: a barren area containing only a black platform of steps, a poster and a speaker that blares out one of Hayes’s speeches. In other words, there’s not always much to look at.