Friday, April 23, 2010

Ben Jones in "Thirty Days NY"

Providence artist Ben Jones, of the collaborative Paper Rad, has created some sort of installation/furniture (photo of it in progress) in his signature eye-popping neon stripes for the pop-up gallery "Thirty Days NY," 70 Franklin St., New York City, from April 7 to May 6, 2010 (or thereabouts).

Pssst: If you're a local museum having trouble finding a local artist to feature, consider this MassArt grad who has shown at Deitch Projects, The Museum of Modern Art, The New Museum, Yerba Buena, and Tate Britain. Do you want to be the last museum to figure out that this hometown guy is worth paying attention to?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hames, Snowden, Lima at AS220

From our review of Seamus Hames, Mary Snowden and LauraBerth Lima at AS220 in Providence:
Mary Snowden and LauraBerth Lima offer chickens and risqué vegetables. Snowden’s photo-realist paintings of chickens bring out the ruddy details — a Spanish chicken, with its black body, white face, and fleshy red comb and cheeks. The birds could feel more alive, but Snowden nails their threatening alien stare.
Read the rest here.

Mary Snowden and LauraBerth Lima at AS220’s Main Gallery, 115 Empire St., Providence. Seamus Hames at AS220’s Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., Providence. All April 4 to 24, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom two drawings by Seamus Hames, paintings of chickens by Mary Snowden, and two works by LauraBerth Lima.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New gig for Brandeis pres, PR folks not so lucky

Also no future Rose exhibits have been announced.

Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz (at left), a key leader in the January 2009 proposal to shut down the Waltham university’s Rose Art Museum and sell off its collection, has landed a new job leading the Mandel Foundation, the university reports. Meanwhile three members of the school’s office of communications have been fired as part of a “restructuring,” according to a report by the Brandeis student newspaper The Justice.

Reinharz announced last September that he would be stepping down, eventually. Last week the school announced that he will become president of the Mandel Foundation, “an internationally recognized philanthropy that provides leadership to non-profits in the United States and Israel.” The foundation has made major donations to Brandeis, including helping fund the Mandel Center for the Humanities, which is scheduled to open this fall. Reinharz has been at trustee of the Mandel Foundation since 2005. Barbara Mandel, wife of the foundation’s current chairman and CEO of the foundation, Morton Mandel, has been a Brandeis trustee since 2005 – which means she was one of the folks approving the plan to kill the Rose.

Brandeis reports that Reinharz will continue working as the university’s president until “a new president arrives on campus” or June 30, 2011, whichever comes first. A search for Reinharz’s replacement at Brandeis is underway, the school reports.

The Justice reports that Brandeis Assistant Vice President of Communications Ken Gornstein, Director of Media Relations Dennis Nealon and Communications Operations Supervisor Sossy Megerdichian have been canned. Senior Vice President of Communications and External Affairs Andrew Gully did not respond to our questions about this – including whether these changes had anything to do with the changes at the Rose. Remember that the crisis management public relations firm Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications was hired by Brandeis early last year – funded with a 10 percent pay cut from Reinharz and Brandeis Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter French – to help deal with outcry over their handling of the Rose. Gully told the Justice: "The Communications Department has been restructured so we can be better positioned to reach the long-term communications and marketing goals that we're developing for Brandeis. The changes are the result of an assessment I began when I arrived on campus in November."

Also there seems to be no news yet about the search for a new education director for the Rose and a curator/arts coordinator for Brandeis’s Women’s Studies Research Center, which was founded and is run by Reinharz’s wife Shula. The center will be presenting a new exhibit “Science of Art: Recent work by Guhapriya Ranganathan and Nancy Selvage” from April 28 to June 30, which means that the center will present three exhibitions this school year (earlier it offered Roberta Paul and Andi Arnovitz) compared to just one at the Rose. “The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis: Works from the Collection” exhibit, which has been on view since Oct. 28, is scheduled to close on May 23. No future Rose exhibitions or events have been announced.

We asked Gully about all these things. He responded on Friday: “We're almost ready to announce those details, but need a few more days. Hope to share them with you mid- to late next week.” Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rotenberg Gallery to close June 19

Judi Rotenberg Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston plans to close on June 19, executive director and owner Abigail Ross Goodman says in a e-mail sent out tonight.

Judi Rotenberg rented a basement space on Newbury Street and began selling her paintings out on the sidewalk in 1970. The following year, she moved into her storefront at 130 Newbury St. She passed the business on to Ross Goodman in 2001 (several months before Judi's husband and Abigail's father Richard Ross was killed on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11). Ross Goodman and director Kristen Dodge re-energized the gallery, turning it into one of the sharpest venues in town by presenting a mix of cutting edge work by local younger artists (Ria Brodell, Dave Cole, Sheila Gallagher, Brian Knep, Douglas Weathersby) as well as established local painters (Zygmund Jankowski, Jason Berger) more connected with the gallery's roots.

This is a major loss for Boston and another sign of the decline of the Newbury Street gallery district, which has lost a number of prominent galleries when they closed (Nielsen, Pepper, Goldman) or moved (Yezerski, Chase) in the past few years.

The entire text of Ross Goodman's e-mail is below:
Dear Friends,

It is with bittersweet emotions that I write to tell you that the gallery will be closing on June 19, 2010. The judi rotenberg gallery has been a 40-year partnership with truly great artists and with wonderful friends like you.

The ten years of my stewardship have been incredibly rewarding, and my profound gratitude goes out to every single member of our community for your support. I am so proud of everything that we have accomplished together. You have brought your enthusiasm and energy to our projects and you helped create a space for meaningful encounters with art and within the artistic community.

I will continue my deep engagement with the art world in new ways. I have learned from my artists: you have to keep inventing.

I hope you will join us for our final shows, Man Up which opens on April 29 and All This & More which opens on May 26, and that you will visit us in the next few weeks.

Warmly and deepest gratitude,

Abigail Ross Goodman


Plus an interview with blogger Franklin Einspruch

Sad news arrived on April 5 when Boston blogger Franklin Einspruch announced with a post titled “So long” that he would be ending his long-running has occupied a landmark place in art blogging because it was one of the founding art blogs – begun so early, in fact, that it was able to claim the name Einspruch started the blog in 2003 while living in Miami, where it won a “Best Local Website” award from the Miami New Times in 2005. That year he had a residency to Taiwan, then moved to Boston in 2006, where he says intended to stay, but in 2007 was offered a yearlong teaching gig in Orange County, California. Afterward in 2008, he had a big cross-country RV adventure while to moving back to Boston.’s structure – a mix of the broad view with the personal, of clear thoughtful commentary with (occasionally) Einspruch's own art – reflects its nature as a blog formed before the style of blogs become more codified, more narrowly focused, more magazine-like. And it had one of the most sharp and lively comments sections this side of Roger Ebert’s Journal.

Since Einspruch’s “So long” post, members of his audience have launched their own blog [Post] It begins with the kind of wit that made a delight to read: “The name of this blog draws from that central idea and the art truism that any art related topic with the word 'post' in it seems to garner a lot of critical acclaim and notoriety simply for being so named.” Our online communities are (perhaps) surprisingly sticky. Long may the blog live!

Below Einspruch was kind enough to answer some of our questions via e-mail.

Why are you taking a hiatus from
I see as a completed project. If you end a party at the right time, everybody feels a little awkward, because they want it to continue but know that if it does, it won't be as good as it has been. I feel that the blog had gotten to that point. was at once an artistic, intellectual, and social phenomenon that harnessed the energies of a small group of dedicated, patently visual art lovers. But I felt that we had hammered out every point that needed making and it was time to release those energies, especially mine, into other projects.
How long have you been doing it? ended just shy of its seventh birthday. I was involved in the establishment of an online art magazine in Miami 2000, at the behest of the dealer Bernice Steinbaum, who was trying to light a fire under the seat of the local art world's pants at the time. (This was two years before the first Art Basel/Miami Beach, which probably goes to show how much more efficient money is than criticism as an art-world fuel.) I stepped down as the Miami Art Exchange's founding editor in 2001; the site still runs as the personal project of Onajide Shabaka, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale and was closely involved with MAEx at the time. Afterwards I ran a site called The Sunburn for a couple of years, which featured my sporadic arts commentary, and started as static HTML pages. By then blogging was starting to catch on, and to my amazement the domain name hadn't been taken, so that began in 2003 and ended this month. In total I've been doing this in one form or another for ten years.
What have you gotten out of it or learned from it?
I learned an enormous amount about human nature: what people are willing to claim as true given the opportunity to speak freely under a self-selected amount of anonymity. I learned to talk about the fundamentals of the artistic experience, quality and taste, as real phenomena and not some kind of relativist, social construct. I learned to despise and combat the academic attitude towards art, which has covered the art world like a blanket of smog. I learned how to make a case for art as a visual thing, rather than a philosophical one. My ability to write grew by leaps. And I had a conversation, one that grew in sophistication over the course of seven years, with some brilliant minds about the nature of art and the art world. Is was an amazing apprenticeship. I also learned the extent to which this essentially visual approach lies outside the establishment mainstream, which is academic to the core.
What do you see as the power, purpose, potential of these sorts of blogs? What can they accomplish?
At this point, I'm not sure. Five, six, and seven years ago, blogging was an exciting alternative to the mainstream media, a way to make an end run around the official gatekeepers and make your thoughts publicly accessible to a degree never before possible. This was before there were tens of millions of blogs and before the mainstream media started blogging. Also, used to draw spirited disagreement from people who had wholly different takes on art than mine, and that stopped more or less all at once about a year and a half ago coincidentally with the rise of popularity of Facebook and Twitter. In 2004 you could make a big splash by putting up a blog. Now maintaining a credible public presence as a writer requires both self-publishing (a blog, a Facebook page, and/or a Twitter account), and what we might call other-publishing, regular appearances in print or on other peoples' sites. Only having the first makes you look like a crank, and only having the second makes you look like a dinosaur. Microblogging made it too easy to self-publish for anyone to make a name for himself as a writer that way.

We may be in a post-criticism art world, one that will freely allow Dakis Joannou to turn the New Museum into a vanity gallery, or allow the Rubells to use the Brooklyn Museum for entirely private purposes, or nonchalantly appoint Jeffrey Deitch to direct MoCA, and otherwise threaten to turn the whole contemporary art scene into a giant put-up job. I doubt that the blogs, or even the newspapers, have the power to stop this. But certain writers employing the blog-Twitter-Facebook combo have successfully poisoned the PR coming out of these establishments, and certainly your work as a blogger has been important in combating the disinformation campaign emanating from the Rose Museum. So we shouldn't give up just yet.

One of the problems we have to look at as art writers is whether or not what we're doing is ever going to aggregate into literature. The writings of Clement Greenberg or Fairfield Porter, collectively, seem to do this. We have to write at a high level over the course of many years if want to hope to accomplish that. I think we ought to reflect on your question about power, purpose, and potential in that light. Will blogging allow for literature? It could, but frequent posting doesn't lend itself to it. Microblogging makes it impossible. Newspaper writing often has its own constraints, of course, but largely it has been enabling.
Are you still blogging elsewhere – or are you taking a break from blogging all together? What will you be doing instead?
On May 3 I'm going to start journaling again at an updated version of The format will be entirely different, as will the publishing schedule, and I'm not going to try to produce the full-length criticism that I wrote as a blogger back in Miami. I'm looking at Thoreau and Montaigne for inspiration. I've come to realize that it benefits me personally and professionally if I let other people publish my criticism instead of self-publishing it – the involvement of other people insulates me from some of the side effects of damning somebody's work in public.

In a way, I miss what was before it became thinkable that it might generate revenue, or establish itself as a arts publication in its own right, or serve as a bastion of modernist thought. It was more free, and I was more free. At the journal, I'm hoping to cultivate the informality and sincere disclosure that drew readers in the first place. Art demands alternating commitment and reinvention in order to maintain the vitality of your chosen activity. It's like drilling for oil – you commit to explore the current location and move on when the well dries. Personally, I'm due for a reinvention.

Freedom ain’t free

Watching Concord’s Patriot’s Day Parade yesterday, we kept wondering why the primary way our culture publicly represents American freedom is with marching soldiers.

Patriot’s Day commemorates battles that are considered the start of the American Revolution – and the freedoms that war secured for our nation. So it’s fitting to reenact these skirmishes and to have parades of Revolutionary War re-enactors. But the rest of Concord’s parade featured detachments of Civil War and World War I re-enactors. There were also boy and girl scouts in their adorable paramilitary uniforms. The only non-military elements were a school marching band and a couple horses and buggies.

And this military bent isn’t limited to Patriot’s Day in Concord. Plymouth’s Thanksgiving Parade and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, for example, are also dominated by military, police and paramilitary groups.

We’re not saying get rid of the soldiers. Wars have been one way our nation has secured and defended our freedoms. But how might we commemorate the Revolutionary War as well as represent and celebrate the rights won in the fighting, and enumerated in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights – the right to representative government, to freedom of speech and religion, freedom of the press, protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to trial by jury, and so on? (The military stuff seems to have the right to bear arms covered.)

Moreover, our local patriotic parades offer practically no representations of our nation’s struggles to secure the civil rights of ethnic and racial minorities, of women, of gays, of our struggles to secure the rights of workers and keep our air and water and land free of poisons. These are rights generally won through marches and picketing and sit-ins, through legislation and legal challenges. They are as dear to us, and as defining of what makes America great, as those fought for on battlefields.

When our public patriotic pageantry favors military spectacle over our rights, we signal that we take greater pride in our military than our freedoms.

Photos of Concord's Patriot's Day Parade by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Patriot's Day in Lexington, Concord

Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, marked the anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution with Patriot's Day events this morning. The first group of photos shows the 1775 confrontation between British troops and the Lexington militia on the Lexington Green as reenacted at dawn by the Lexington Minute Man Company and His Majesty's Tenth Regiment of Foot, 1st Foot Guard, 4th Foot Guard and 5th Foot Guard. Below the sign for the Lexington pancake breakfast are photos of Concord's Patriot's Day Parade near the North Bridge.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research except for the third, seventh, eighth, eleventh and last photos, which were taken by special correspondent Caleb Neelon.