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Craft: Still a Dirty Word, or Dare Now Speak its Name?

In an age of DIY transformations, Etsy domination and artisanal homemade chocolates sold at hip flea markets, is CRAFT still a dirty word? Brooklynite Amy Shaw reflects on her years of experience in the field and thinks about the world of craft in general.

When I was growing up amidst potters, carpenters, artists and furniture makers in 1970/80s New Hampshire, the highlight of my summer was always the craft fairs my Mom organized. Running around with friends through the apple orchard, admiring the baskets and chairs and vases artisans displayed on their tables under the trees, feasting on handmade lollipops and bread and strawberry rhubarb pie — this was the essence of the good life to my young self, and I saved up money all summer to buy handmade stuffed animals and hand-printed stationary. This love stayed with me through college, where sections on the decorative arts were my favorite topic in art history classes. (Wherever that word went is another question.)

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As Seen on TV, Alex Bag at Elizabeth Dee

For Alex Bag’s current solo show, Reality Tunnel Vision, the front room of Elizabeth Dee gallery is wrapped with forest-patterned wallpaper on one side (curling off the wall at the far end), dead plants hanging from the wall, some dead bamboo sticking out of dirt on the gallery floor, an old barbeque, and a few drawings. The drawings, sketched in a cartoony crudeness, depict some of the despicable characters currently swarming our cable channel reality TV shows, such as puffy-lipped Barbie-women with impossibly huge breasts, or the muscled, faux-hawked, tattooed men who compete on national television for a chance at “true love,” money, or their own spin-off show.

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Street Artvertisements: “Hell, No!”

Much contemporary art is disappointing–street art especially. Even if you manage to find a piece you really like–or, if you’re lucky, one that is really worth liking–it gets buffed, weathered beyond recognition, hyped beyond reason, or it simply disappears. And like all art, its digital web ghost doesn’t replace the real thing. It’s really gone forever. And that’s disappointing, even if you knew it would happen all along. Still, some deaths are better than others.

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Andy Yoder Shows Us His Man Cave at Winkleman

Quirky, clever and crafty are words that immediately come to mind when describing the work of Andy Yoder. His brand of conceptual sculpture easily manipulates scale, surfaces and materials to create fetishistic objects that are familiar and alienating.

In his latest solo show titled Man Cave at Winkleman in Chelsea, Yoder continues looking at the banal objects of our culture (a garage door, a bowling pin, hub caps, a lifesaver) but transforms them in ways that seem to comment on our societal need to covet material possessions, no matter how ridiculous.

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New or Same Old Museum?

New York-based art blogger James Wagner recently declared “New Museum Commits Suicide with Banality” after the institution on the Bowery announced that they will be exhibiting the collection of one of their mega-rich trustees, Dakis Joannou. To add insult to injury, the whole museum show will be curated by one of Joannou’s BFFs, Jeff Koons. While James is right, I would argue that there have been signs of the institution’s death wish for some time.

From day one, the new New Museum has been presenting odd shows with allusions to trendy topics that feel disconnected from its roots as a barometer of the city’s artistic culture. Remember “After Nature?” Well, I’m trying to forget. And how about the Michelle Obama portrait that was carted in for the Elizabeth Peyton show after Obama’s election victory? How delightfully chic!

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Third ICP Triennial Dresses to the Nines

In the International Center of Photography’s (ICP) third global survey of photography and video, known as the Triennial, the focus is on fashion and “its relationship to art and other cultural and social phenomena.”

Titled “Dress Codes,” the exhibition is an ambitious look at fashion, which is interpreted to include everything from issues of identity, corporate consumption and politics.