Friday, November 14, 2008

Peter Goldberg

Here’s my essay on Peter Goldberg’s “Providence Underground” photos of men digging Providence’s combined sewer overflow tunnel, which are now on view at Gail Cahalan Gallery in Providence:
It was September 2004 when Pawtucket photographer Peter Goldberg first descended into the sewer overflow tunnel that the Narragansett Bay Commission was digging under Providence to keep crap — literally — from overflowing city pipes during heavy storms.

At a construction trailer on Allens Avenue, he was given a half-hour safety orientation and issued a hard hat, goggles, ear plugs, tall rubber boots, and a backpack holding a breathing apparatus in case — heaven forbid — something went horribly wrong. And, of course, he was required to sign the usual waivers. Then he climbed into a metal cage and a crane lowered it down a circular shaft some 300 feet (30 stories) into the earth.

"It's just cement-lined most of the way, until you get down to the very bottom. Then it opens up into like the Batcave," Goldberg, 43, tells me.
Read the rest here.

Peter Goldberg “Providence Underground,” Gail Cahalan Gallery, 200 Allens Ave., Providence, Nov. 12 to Nov. 24, 2008.

Photos copyright Peter Goldberg.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

After 10 Boston galleries close, where is the scene going?

Since the start of the year 10 Boston galleries have closed (11 if you include artSPACE@16 in Malden). Here’s an excerpt from my report in this week’s Boston Phoenix summarizing the changes and considering what they mean for the sort of art that will (and won’t) be seen around Boston:
By September, the Harrison Avenue gallery district seemed to have become a zombie, stiffly stumbling forward, as the citywide exhibit-space upheaval that began this past spring caught up with the neighborhood. Ten galleries were shuttered across Boston in 2008, seven of them in the South End, driven mostly by expiring leases and gloomy economic forecasts. The number of local venues deeply engaged in the future of contemporary art — particularly locally-made contemporary art — shrank. This fall, with each day auguring further economic catastrophe, the future looked even worse.

But this past week, Harrison Avenue came back to life, abuzz with hundreds of people out for the First Friday gallery receptions. All told, eight galleries have opened or changed addresses in the district since February. On Friday four of those galleries participated in the monthly showcase for the first time since settling in. Two more spaces are slated to open there next month.
Read the rest here.

Note that I overlooked one more new gallery: Nantucket-based Quidley & Company opened a Boston branch at 118 Newbury St. in October. I’ve not been there, but they seem to specialize in traditional realist painting. Also, in the Phoenix essay I purposely did not count two other new Newbury Street ventures: Lumas, the local outpost of a photography gallery chain, and Galleria Florentina, a home furnishings boutique.

A summary list of my previous reports on the Boston gallery shakeout is here.

Pictured: The First Friday receptions on Harrison Avenue on Nov. 7. From top to bottom: The window of the moved Howard Yezerski Gallery; Stephanie Walker (center) at her new Walker Contemporary; Yezerski inside Lalla Essaydi’s installation at his gallery; Arlette Kayafas inside her moved and expanded Gallery Kayafas; Boston photographer Bruce Myren hugs a guest during the opening of his show at Kayafas; visitors explore Essaydi’s installation at Yezerksi. Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Boston galleries shakeup

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research's definitive reports on the Boston galleries shakeup:
March 20: Allston Skirt to close.
March 25: Boston gallery shake-up – Allston Skirt closing, Bernard Toale reducing operations and gallery director Joseph Carroll taking over much of the space, Yezersky moving.
April 1: Round-up of galleries shakeup, with analysis of causes. Allston Skirt, Space Other, Judy Ann Goldman to close. Rhys rumored to be leaving town. GASP expanding. Space 242 opening. Walker Gallery coming. Axiom co-director leaving. Miller Block rumored to be moving. Zevitas considering move. Urdang looking for new space. HallSpace moved.
April 1: Space Other to close.
May 5: Julie Chae closes?
May 6: Julie Chae (sorta) moving.
May 13: Pepper Gallery closing.
May 13: Miller Block moving.
May 15: MPG Contemporary to close.
May 22: Rhys Gallery is leaving for LA.
May 23: Soprafina Gallery moving on up.
May 29: Steven Zevitas moving downstairs.
June 2: Diamond-Newman Fine Arts moving?
June 15: Galleria Florentia coming to Newbury Street.
June 17: Lumas opens on Newbury Street.
June 19: Walker Gallery to be at 38 Newbury St.
June 26: Alpha Gallery to shrink.
June 26: It's not just the number of galleries closing, but which galleries are closing.
July 11: Diamond-Newman Fine Arts moves.
July 11: Walker not moving to Newbury Street.
July 17: Sad, sad.
July 22: Urdang Gallery seeks new space.
July 23: Boston Contemporary Group forms.
July 25: Gallery XIV closing at Harrison Ave.
Aug. 7: Yezerski move probably delayed.
Oct. 22: Yezerski Gallery plans Nov. 7 reopening.
Oct. 22: Walker Contemporary to open Nov. 7.
Oct. 22: Gallery Kayafas has moved.
Nov. 12: After 10 Boston galleries close, where is the scene going?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Triceratops unveiled at Museum of Science

Boston’s Museum of Science unveiled a rare, nearly-complete triceratops skeleton this morning. The 65.6-million-year-old, 22-foot-long skeleton (said to be about 70 percent complete) was discovered in South Dakota in 2004. Featured in the new “Colossal Fossil” exhibit opening Nov. 15, it’s believed to be one of only four known, nearly-complete triceratops skeletons on public display in the world.

The fossilized remains were sold at auction at Christie’s in Paris in April 2008 for $942,797. The anonymous buyer, “who had loved visiting the Museum [of Science] as a child,” has offered it to the institution as a long-term loan.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Hera Gallery moves

Hera Gallery announced today that it had moved from Wakefield, Rhode Island, to suite A24 in the Lily Pads Office Complex at 23 North Road in Peace Dale. The gallery’s new office hours will be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 1 to 5 p.m., or by appointment.

(Fake) New York Times: “Iraq War Ends”

A fake New York Times distributed across New York this morning declares: “Iraq War Ends.” It’s a striking, surprising, visceral experience to see the headline. The potential end of the war – even after Obama’s victory – still seems like a dream.

The fake July 4, 2009, newspaper – a collaboration of mostly anonymous artists (save for The Yes Men) from around the country, including New England – also reports that the Patriot Act has been repealed, Bush indicted on high treason, ex-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice “apologizes for W.M.D. scare,” and Times columnist Thomas Friedman promises to give up his column because he supported the war while being consistently wrong about it.

The design in print and on the web is spot on, though the quality of the writing is mixed in the few stories I’ve been able to access. (The website seems to be having problems.)

I’ve contacted the real New York Times for a comment and am waiting for a response.

A spokeswoman for The New York Times Company e-mails: "We are in the process of finding out more about the fake issue."

Surrealism, “Project for a New American Century” at Rose

From my review of “Invisible Rays: The Surrealist Legacy” and “Project for a New American Century” at Brandeis’s Rose Art Museum:
The installation of “Invisible Rays: The Surrealist Legacy” [see above] is inspired by Marcel Duchamp's designs for a 1938 Paris Surrealist exhibit where visitors were given flashlights to view paintings in a dim gallery with 1200 coal sacks hung from the ceiling (and coal dust falling on everyone's heads). For a 1942 New York Surrealist show, Duchamp spiderwebbed the gallery with a mile of string. Rose Director Michael Rush hangs everything in a gallery dimly lit by descending bare light bulbs, provides visitors flashlights, and scatters red leaves over the floor. The gimmick makes some work hard to see, but it's amusing and feels right on.
Read the rest here.

“Invisible Rays: The Surrealist Legacy,” “Project for a New American Century,” Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, 415 South St., Waltham, Sept. 26 to Dec. 14, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: The opening of “Invisible Rays: The Surrealist Legacy”; Gregory Crewdson, “Untitled,” 2001, courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York; Matta, “Untitled,” 1956, © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; Fred Tomaselli, “Web for Eyes,” 2002, copyright the artist, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York; Dominic McGill, "Project for a New American Century" (detail) 2004, courtesy of the artist and Derek Eller Gallery, photography by Oren Slor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

“Andy Warhol: Pop Politics” at Currier

From my review of “Andy Warhol: Pop Politics” at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire:
For a while now I've been mulling over a question: was Andy Warhol more politically engaged than he's given credit for? My thought begins with his 1963 “Race Riot” screenprints [see above] based on Life photos of police siccing German shepherds on civil-rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama. The subject of civil rights rarely appears in books documenting '60s art. Could Warhol's taking it on be significant?

"It just caught my eye," he said of “Race Riot” in 1966. Two years later, he added, "I feel I represent the US in my art, but I'm not a social critic. I just paint those objects in my paintings because those are the things I know best."

Of course, Warhol was notoriously and deliberately flaky in interviews, so we write off much that he said and look for clues in his work. The consensus verdict: his art is about media, celebrity, and the nature of art. The corollary: he focused on electric chairs, atomic mushroom clouds, Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, and Communist hammers and sickles because they were in the news at the time — he was just channeling the zeitgeist. But could he have been engaged in the political substance of his images?
Read the rest here.

“Andy Warhol: Pop Politics,” Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, N.H., Sept. 27, 2008, to Jan. 4, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Andy Warhol, “Red Race Riot,” 1966 [which AIN’T in the Currier show]; “Vote McGovern,” 1972; “Red Jackie,” 1964; “Flash- November 22, 1963,,” 1968; “Robert Kennedy,” 1968; “Mao,” 1972; “Jimmy Carter I,” 1976; “Reigning Queens: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom,” 1985. All but “Red Race Riot” are in the Currier show and come from the founding collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. © 2008 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / ARS, New York.