Friday, December 26, 2008

Adel Abdessemed

From my review of “Adel Abdessemed: Situation and Practice”:
Violence and religion (plus immigration and race) are the subjects of "Adel Abdessemed: Situation and Practice" at MIT's List Visual Arts Center. In one gallery, the New York–based Algerian artist exhibits a black terra cotta car resting on its side. Cast from a relic of the 2005 riots in the predominantly poor black and North African immigrant Paris suburbs, it also suggests the wreckage of a car bomb. In the video “Also Sprach Allah (Thus Spoke Allah),” 10 men in a room use a blanket to toss the artist toward the ceiling in a room. Each time, Abdessemed draws a charcoal mark on a rug tacked to the ceiling, until he scrawls out the piece's title. An 11-second video shows the view of a camera dropped from a helicopter 700 meters above Berlin. You glimpse a bit of the city, then a dizzying blur as the camera spins down, until it stops dead. Bombs and Allah and crashing from the sky — I suppose you can sense where this is heading.
Read the rest here (about halfway down).

“Adel Abdessemed: Situation and Practice,” MIT List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames St., Cambridge, Oct. 11, 2008, to Jan. 4, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Adel Abdessemed, “Dead or Alive,” 2007; “Practice Zero Tolerance (retournée),” 2008; “Séparation,” 2006; and “Helikoptère (I),” 2007; courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Von Rydingsvard wins Rappaport Prize

Ursula von Rydingsvard, the German-born New York-based sculptor, has been awarded the $25,000 Rappaport Prize for 2008 by the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, the institution announced this week.


Ernest Haskell (1876-1925), a Connecticut native who briefly attended art school in Boston and late in his life summered in Maine, made this Christmas poster for the New York magazine Truth in 1896. International Poster Gallery in Boston, which is selling the poster, contends that it “is possibly the first ski poster ever created. It shows an early technique for turning, where a single pole was used to brake to a stop, and the skis then stepped around.”

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has a large collection of Haskell’s work – mainly fine art prints inspired by Rembrandt – which can be viewed here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

“NetWorks 2008”

From my review of “Networks 2008” at the Newport Art Museum, AS220 and 5 Traverse Gallery in Rhode Island:
In 2004, AS220's StinkTank put out a paper titled "Compost and the Arts." It's probably the most concise and astute thinking on how to foster creative communities that I've ever read. Its key idea: create creative crossroads — places where people cross paths to show art, perform, hang out, display announcements, make art. The idea is that places where people share work, ideas, and techniques — places, not coincidentally, like AS220 — inspire people to keep making art, encourage artists to learn from each other, challenge them to make better art, and to keep making it here.

"Compost and the Arts" articulated how to lay the foundation of creative communities. Now "NetWorks 2008" — a group of photos, exhibits, and videos — is a proposition about how to keep a creative community going. "It is my assertion that the more conscious we are about documenting Rhode Island's community of makers," AS220 artistic director Bert Crenca writes in the catalogue, "the more likely that this community will be sustained and, in fact, grow."

"NetWorks 2008" is the brainchild of Crenca and Joseph Chazan, a Providence doctor and art collector, who is the project's sugardaddy. Originally they planned to just document Rhode Island artists. But the project grew into three exhibits…
Read the rest here.

“Networks 2008,” AS220’s Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., Providence, Dec. 5 to 28; Newport Art Museum, 76 Bellevue Ave., Newport, Oct. 25, 2008, to Jan. 19, 2009; and 5 Traverse gallery, 5 Traverse St., Providence, Dec. 5, 2008, to Jan. 11, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Works by Xander Marro and CW Roelle.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Milton Rogovin’s "Quartets"

Among Buffalo photographer Milton Rogovin’s most astonishing works are his “Quartets,” in which he returns to the same people again and again over the years. Pictured here are his photographs of Cecilia Maldonado in 1973, 1985, 1992 and 2001. When she was interviewed about the photos in the 2003 book “Milton Rogovin: The Forgotten Ones,” she said:
“That first picture? I was 16. I had just got married. That’s my oldest daughter. That’s my husband. He had problems. He was doing things that wasn’t supposed to be done, and I didn’t appreciate that, so I left him. The last time I seen him was in ’72, and I haven’t seen him since. … This one [1985] I’m 25, somewhere around there. That was a piece of nothing there. … This one [1992], that’s my buddy, Carlos. Carlos Plaza. Him, he’s my heart. I met him at the shelter we were both working at, and we hit it off. He was sick when I met him. He told me, but you don’t think about the virus or the AIDS. You think about the way you feel about him. I took care of him from ’85 to ’93, when he died. … I stay by myself now. … I don’t think about what’s going to happen tomorrow. If it comes, it comes. If it don’t it don’t. I just go day by day.”
Milton Rogovin “A Clear View,” Gallery Kayafas, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, Dec. 3, 2008, to Jan. 10, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Milton Rogovin, “Buffalo Lower West Side Revisited (Cecil & Cecilia),” 1973, 1985, 1991, 2002.

Rose freezes curator search

The search for a new curator at Brandeis's Rose Art Museum has been frozen as the Waltham, Massachusetts, university seeks to reduce costs during the current international economic meltdown, according to Rose Director Michael Rush and a school spokesman. The curator position has been open since Raphaela Platow left the Rose for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center in June 2007. As the museum has since then, the Rose is bringing in guest curators to help organize exhibits. Rush says curators for upcoming shows include Laura Hoptman, a senior curator at New York's New Museum, and freelance curator Michael Conner.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Milton Rogovin

My review of Milton Rogovin “A Clear View” at Gallery Kayafas in Boston:
Milton Rogovin is a 98-year-old Buffalo leftie who took up photography when his optometry business fell apart after he'd been hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1958. The heart of his work — and his 29 photos on view at Gallery Kayafas — is his four-decade portrait of the cool cats, stern moms, and stylish ladies of Buffalo's impoverished Lower West Side. The years have given his black-and-white shots the allure of nostalgia, but in the past I've gone back and forth about his artistry — sometimes it feels dull. This time, though, I'm swayed by his straight-ahead documentary vision. In his “Quartets,” he returns to the same persons again and again over the years. Parents become grandparents. A young couple with an infant become in time a tired old woman alone. The photos are often heartbreaking records of how poverty plus years can break up couples and homes, steal your health, ruin your looks, and grind down hope.
Milton Rogovin “A Clear View,” Gallery Kayafas, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, Dec. 3, 2008, to Jan. 10, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Milton Rogovin, “Buffalo Lower West Side (woman in tank-top, hair styled),” 1972; “Buffalo Lower West Side (P.R. man w/ baby),” 1972.; and “Buffalo Lower West Side Revisited (Mrs. Lopez - 6 confirmation girls),” 1974;

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seeking nominations for 2008 Boston Art Awards

The 2008 Boston Art Awards is a contest to honor the best art made here and exhibits organized here in 2008. And we are seeking nominations.

The aim of the awards, which are organized by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, is to promote a more exciting local art scene by encouraging and celebrating the work of artists and curators active in New England (except Connecticut – see why below). Everyone is welcome to nominate. Winners will be chosen by (1) local active art journalists and (2) anyone else who wants to vote – and will be announced in terms of these two categories of voters.

So consider yourself invited to post nominations as comments here – which I hope will promote discussion – and vote by e-mail once a ballot of nominees is posted here in early January. (If you’re shy, please send nominations here. Put “Nominations” in the subject line.) And please invite others to do so too. (I will also be soliciting nominations directly from some local individuals.)

When making nominations, please list name of artist or curator and place and date of exhibit. Also, some broad categories to consider: favorite local artist, local curator, local show, new media, photography, conceptually-driven installation/performance (including video thereof), favorite gallery show, favorite school show, favorite museum show, favorite historical show, favorite contemporary show, best survey/retrospective, favorite solo show, favorite group show, favorite public art (or best non-exhibition space project), favorite on-line project, favorite outdoors project, favorite art book/publication.

Nominations should be received by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4, to be considered. A ballot of nominees grouped into (still-to-be-determined) categories that The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research culls (at its sole, imperfect discretion) from these submissions will be posted here in early January. Subsequently, voting will take place for about two weeks (deadlines will be posted here). Winners will be announced here sometime in late January or early February – and, with any luck, also reported on elsewhere. (Note: This the first year we are doing this, so details may change somewhat in the process.)

Please contact us with any questions, suggestions, complaints, dire warnings. And please send nominations.

Some nomination rules:

For artist nominations:
Artists must reside in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont or New Hampshire. (No Connecticut – too many New Yorkers/Yalies there.) And the art must have been exhibited in New England (in a gallery, on the street, online, published) in 2008.

For exhibit nominations:
Exhibits must have been on view in New England (excepting Connecticut) in 2008 and must have been organized by a local institution or curator. For example, Tara Donovan at the ICA would qualify because it was organized by the ICA but “El Greco to Velasquez” at the MFA would not qualify because it was organized by Duke University’s Nasher Museum. Also, “The Triumph of Marriage” at the Gardner would qualify because even though it was organized by an outside curator it was organized by a local curator (Cristell Baskins at Tufts) exclusively for the local museum.