Posted inArt

Art + Sparks at BETA

Last Sunday’s BETA Spaces 2010 didn’t disappoint as we all got what we were looking for. Organized by the all-volunteer organization Arts In Bushwick, BETA Spaces (Bushwick Exhibition Triangle of Alternative Spaces) offered the public a big block party full of art. A truly overwhelming affair with more than 50 exhibitions spread out across galleries, studios, apartments, temporary locations, and any place else that could possibly contain art, it displayed the works of 400 artists in a fantastic collaboration between curators, artists, and art fans of all kind.

Posted inBooks

Reading The Believer’s 2010 Art Issue

It’s easy enough to tell that The Believer is a publication from California from looking at the cover of their 2010 Art Issue, much less getting to the table of contents. A 70s psychedelic mashup of art icons, a John Baldessari suited figure, a dinosaur figurine, and a Picassoian acrobat by Clare Rojas march up a ray of red and yellow light into … the mouth of a skin-less human body? New York this is not.

Famously co-edited by Vendela Vida, writer spouse of writer wunderkind Dave Eggers, The Believer is well known for its cutesy tone and off-beat vibe, helped along by its graphic design and a coterie of Californian cultural denizens. None of these are bad qualities in themselves, but when editing an “art issue,” it might be best to start looking outside of the narrow perspective of your own aesthetic.

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Blue Chip Chelsea: Keifer, Rauschenberg, Sugimoto + Surprises

Yesterday afternoon, I ventured out into the bordering on bad weather and braved the gray skies to bring you the latest on Chelsea this November. The gallery district is probably much as you remember it, with high-end galleries showing off their blue chip stables and smaller spaces skipping to keep up. Yet there are still pleasant surprises to be found in the warehouse-strewn streets, from lesser known painters that include (gasp!) a ceramicist to commercial shows that may as well be museum retrospectives. Continue below for the blow-by-blow of my blue-chip Chelsea trip.

Posted inBooks

NY Art Book Fair 2010 Overwhelms With Possibility, Hipsters

The trek out to PS1 for the 2010 New York Art Book Fair took me on the E train to Long Island City, away from Hyperallergic’s Williamsburg office. Yet somehow, the population of Williamsburg had followed me there. The concrete colonnade and ramped steps leading up to PS1’s converted school building were filled with more keds, more obscure totebags, more skinny jeans and photocopied zines than one often sees in a single place. Once inside, the books on offer only slightly outnumbered the visitors.

Posted inArt

Seeing Enough Shows on the LES

A generic survey of New York’s Lower East Side galleries, perused at random on the first week of November, 2010, including observations from a viewer completely outside the art world.

Jerry Saltz often ridicules artists for not going to see enough shows; that they have several cookie-cutter reasons: too busy, not wanting to overexpose themselves in the scene, fear of polluting their unique and singular artistic vision, etc. Well, I set the fear of contaminating my art aside and I went around the New York City’s Lower East Side gallery circuit on Saturday to bring you the report.

Posted inArt

Yoshitomo Nara Rocks Out At Asia Society

Yoshitomo Nara’s retrospective Nobody’s Fool at Asia Society is what you would get if art museums loosened up and let themselves have some fun. After climbing the institution’s glassy modern stairs, what greets visitors isn’t a succession of white-walled galleries but a mishmash of wood-walled cubbies and tiny chambers that force participants to kneel down and greet Nara’s drawings, paintings and sculptures on their own terms: close to the floor, like a child exploring a new world. And that’s what Nara’s work is all about: a journey through a world influenced by childhood, small emotions writ large and wonder in hidden corners.

Posted inBooks

Reading New Museum’s “Free” Catalogue

The New Museum’s “Free” exhibition is based on the freedom of cultural exchange that has followed the advent of the internet and digital technology. Following up on that emphasis on online activity, the exhibition’s catalogue is entirely digital as well, a website-hosted document that’s somewhere between an online PDF and an interactive vertical blog.

If you’re wondering why I’m reviewing a digital catalogue as a book, it’s because this is a book — it’s just online.

Posted inArt

New Museum’s “Free” Isn’t Just About the Money

To see the New Museum’s Free exhibition, you’ll have to fork over at least enough dough to make the $12 admission fee. For an exhibition that’s all about the limitless dispersion of culture quickly, easily and cheaply through the internet, the title presents an unmissable irony.

Despite the joke, Free represents a rare chance of looking at the visual and information cultures of the internet in a controlled context rather than in the anarchy of their native habitat. The New Museum is presenting a chance for removal, a step back from the computer screen and onto the wall. Not so much an escape from commodity or currency culture, Free pushes the boundaries of how we look at the flow of cultural artifacts themselves.

Posted inBooks

Reading Ian Berry’s Fred Tomaselli

The Brooklyn Museum’s catalog for their Fred Tomaselli exhibition is pretty mammoth for a show that only takes up three galleries. Still, the tome serves well as a way to expand on ideas presented in the exhibition and give a greater view of the artist’s work than would otherwise be possible in the limited space. Just do yourself a favor and don’t stop at the book version.

The diversity of works included in the catalog, from early installations and sculptures to constellation drug charts and later lacquered collages, is fascinating to see, but the ability to see so much at once also comes at a cost.

Posted inArt

Art Stars Fly Their Freak Flag for Hans Ulrich Obrist’s New Interview Book

Obrist is strange. There, I said it. In an event that often felt like a coffee klatch at Obrist’s house, the art world power broker known as Hans Ulrich Obrist — he’s #2 on Art Review’s Power 100 — had a book reading last Saturday at MoMA’s PS1 in Long Island City for his newest publication, Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews, Volume 2. The event venue looked like a cross between a set for the Last Supper and a conference stage thrown together by Leni Riefenstahl and there was coffee and books being served on the periphery of the event.

Posted inArt

How the Guggenheim’s “Play” Failed

The first offering of the Guggenheim’s Youtube Play biennial kicked off with a lot of spectacle, not limited to a ladder-perch musical performance by Ok Go and a stage setting more suited to a television show than an art exhibition. From the emcee to the nightclub vibe, this was no normal biennial exhibition. In fact, judged as an art exhibition, I think Play was a failure.

However, that doesn’t mean the whole event was a failure. In evaluating Play I think we have to first carefully state our terms- what we’re judging the show as and what we’re judging it against.

Posted inArt

Jim Herbert Is Big, Intimate and In Your Face

Jim Herbert’s paintings of naked lovers are not for the feint of heart. At first glance, viewers might want to look away as though catching a glimpse of a couple kissing. And some people will totally avert their eyes from these intense canvases. At the opening for the recent show at the English Kills Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a young couple strolled in, saw one work, and then bolted out the door.

They left because these works are not simply nudes. With today’s porn-soaked internet and sexually liberated gaze, nudity’s shock value is dismally low. Something else plays out in Herbert’s huge canvases. By depicting the tenderness between lovers, these images portray intimacy — the same emotional concept that pays therapists’ mortgages.