Saturday, May 31, 2008

NEJAR infiltrates New York Times

One of The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research’s crack researchers infiltrated The New York Times yesterday by sneaking into this photo above that was splashed across the front of the newspaper’s “Weekend Arts: Fine Arts, Leisure” section. That’s him at the right, skulking in front of that mirror thingy. Good job!

Brian Lamora and Katrina Cathcart

Top Drawer Art Center in East Providence, which offers art programs for adults with developmental disabilities, is presenting an exhibit of two of its participants in “Two Friends: The Art of Brian Lamora and Katrina Cathcart.” These Bristol artists specialize in mesmerizing, electric patterns. Cathcart (pictured below) makes large paintings of fluorescent rainbow bars and stripes that seem to flash from across the room like cinema marquees. Up close little cartoony people and critters and witty scraps of writing (“Dog in a crazy unbelievable upsidedown world,” “Judge Judy is a cool lady in the court house,” “Beware genie bottles”) appear. Lamora (pictured above) makes obsessive marker drawings of circles and crosses, which he then subdivides with lots of little lines and colors in, predominantly with moody deep reds and blues. They resemble stained glass windows or geometric spiderwebs.

“Two Friends: The Art of Brian Lamora and Katrina Cathcart,” Top Drawer Art Center, 2731 Pawtucket Ave., East Providence, May 17 to June 6, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: Brian Lamora working on a piece that I’m told he has been busy with for 18 months, a detail of an untitled Lamora painting, Katrina Cathcart next to her painting “World History,” and a detail of “World History."

Friday, May 30, 2008


Pixnit, everyone’s favorite Boston graffiti artist angling to be a home decorator, has painted a new mural at Judi Rotenberg Gallery that’s up through tomorrow. I wrote briefly about the show here.

“Hello my name is Pixnit,” Judy Rotenberg Gallery, 130 Newbury St., Boston, May 3 to June 1, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: Pixnit’s “Camp d’ Oiseau," "Hello my name is Pixnit," “Cabriolet Avec L'oiseau,” "La Salle de Dessin" and “Sporiferous." All images courtesy of the artist and the Judi Rotenberg Gallery.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Steven Zevitas moving downstairs

Steven Zevitas, who operates Steven Zevits / OSP Gallery and Open Studios Press out of a third-floor space in the gallery building at 450 Harrison Ave. in Boston, will begin moving downstairs over the next couple weeks into a storefront gallery in the same building that was recently vacated by Julie Chae Gallery.

“It’s just a nice expansion for us,” Zevitas says. “It gets us on the ground level.”

Zevitas plans to build out the gallery in June, with about half the space devoted to what will now be called Steven Zevitas Gallery and about half devoted to his publishing business. A planned summer group show is on hold because of the move, but Zevitas expects to have some art on display in July. The gallery’s first major show in the new space will present large works on paper by New York artist Jacob El Hanani, who will also be along the featured artists in the DeCordova Museum’s fall exhibition “Drawn to Detail.”

The gallery opened in 2001, presenting work by artists featured in the Open Studios Press periodical “New American Paintings,” which started up with Zevitas as founding editor in 1993. (He bought the publication in 1999.) The gallery’s programming developed into free-standing shows, mostly focused on abstract works on paper. But with the move Zevitas plans to expand its offerings to include large-scale painting and sculpture, stuff he didn’t have room for upstairs. The move increases the firm’s space to roughly 2,400 square feet from about 1,400 square feet (plus a 250- to 300-square-foot inventory room).

In addition to “New American Paintings,” Open Studios Press also runs OSP Catalogs, which since 2000 has published catalogs for galleries and museums, and “Studio Visit,” a publication showcasing artists which began operations last year.

BCA chair stepping down

Boston Center for the Arts board chairman David Hacin (left) will be stepping down from the position when his term expires next month after holding it for six years. Philip Lovejoy, who has served on the 27-member board of directors for three or four years, will take over the job at the BCA’s annual meeting on June 18, though their terms will somewhat overlap.

Asked if there was a reason that Hacin was stepping down, BCA communications manager Alyssa Mikiko DiPasquale said, “Nope. It’s been six years. That’s all.”

Hacin, who will continue to serve on the board, will be honored with the institution’s Champion Award 2008 at the BCA’s “Cabaret and Cocktails: A Salute to David Hacin” at the Beehive on June 9. According to the BCA, the award recognizes his “outstanding leadership in engaging Boston’s youth and neighborhoods in the arts, and for supporting the arts as central to urban design and community development."

Hacin is the principal of the Boston architecture and interior design firm Hacin + Associates.

Brian Chippendale interview – part 2

Earlier this week I posted a link to my review of “Human Mold: New Growth by Brian Chippendale” now at Stairwell Gallery in Providence. Yesterday I posted the first half of my May 16, 2008, interview with Brian Chippendale. Here are the concluding excerpts:
  • Fort Thunder “would have hit a wall one way or another, I think. And I don’t think I could live in a huge warehouse with like 15 dudes and 10 cats and one cat litterbox. So I’m kind of happy it ended when it did or how it did or something. But I’m not happy that Providence is a more cramped, expensive place where people can’t get studios that they want.”

  • “Since that time I’ve had a hard time investing in a space as like the end all product of all my art making. Fort Thunder was the big project, it was just like one big painting, in my mind, that was being worked on.”

  • “Providence is actually still pretty awesome. It’s kind of more behind closed doors in a way.”

  • “There have been great years since that time, like a few years after that there were three or four years where there was a ton of [music] show spaces around the corner from here. Munch House was one of the places. Red Rum is one of the places. That’s still there as a practice space but they don’t really do shows. There were a few years in this culmination where there were like six venues in this two-building complex and people were having shows all the time. And then it got condemned. And that’s where I was before here. And everyone got kicked out, like 60 people got kicked out over this four day period. Like the coldest week of January. It was like 2002. Fort Thunder left in 2001. Well maybe it was 2004. So there’s been good stuff, but there hasn’t been a place as big and open as Fort Thunder was, I think, since that time. Providence hasn’t had a comfortable medium-sized venue in any fashion since that point. Which has been a bummer. Like all the really comfortable places that make you feel like they’re more artsy and they’re more open and you can be more creative, they’re just tiny little places.”

  • “Music and art were sort of entwined back then. When Christopher [Forgues] has a show, you go over there and he lives with a few people, and they do paintings and stuff too. So you’re in there and you see what’s going on. But for a while with Fort Thunder and that place over there, it was like Troy and Oak Street, a lot of people were having shows in their spaces and they were all making art too. So you were doing music, but you were seeing, it was like a venue for people’s art too. Now there’s just a couple little tiny places where you get that same feeling of I’m seeing music but I’m surrounded by art, and it all makes sense together.”

  • “I’m just trying to make all-encompassing experiences. I think it’s just like trying to make intense moments. I know why I’m attracted to drumming specifically, because drumming, at this point in my life, it’s become a stabilizer for just being healthy. It’s a real physical experience. It’s just super fun. Sometimes I’ll go and I’ll drum. It’s the same thing, I bike as well. And I went for a good bike ride last night. You’ll be biking or drilling on a walk or if you’re just moving, and you’re hopefully not getting too distracted, you can just work through ideas.

    "So sometimes I’ll be working and I’ll get stuck so I’ll just sit down at the drum set and I’ll just play something that’s as stupid as I can. And then I’ll just think, I’ll think about the story I’m working on in a comic, or the way to finish an image, or just what the next idea is. Because it just gets adrenaline flowing and when the adrenaline’s flowing your mind just like gets to a clearer state. And the same when I play drums, I’ll play for like an hour and by the end I’ll literally get to this point where I’ve forgotten all my issues for the day. Again through adrenaline. The kind of music I play it just gets you to this other point. And then sometimes I’ll have drawing paper in there. So I’ll drum and drum until I get to this sort of ecstatic point and I’ll just run over and draw some shit.”

  • “So in a weird way they’re all processes to get me to that ecstatic place.”
Also check out photos of Chippendale's studio.

Brian Chippendale's studio

Earlier this week I posted a link to my review of “Human Mold: New Growth by Brian Chippendale” now at Stairwell Gallery in Providence. Yesterday I posted the first half of my recent interview with Chippendale. I’ll soon post the concluding excerpts. But in the meantime, here is my photographic tour of his Providence studio.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brian Chippendale interview – part 1

I interviewed Brian Chippendale at his Providence home and studio on May 16, 2008, in connection with his art show “Human Mold: New Growth by Brian Chippendale” now at Stairwell Gallery in Providence. Here are some of the things he had to say:
  • “I had a computer phase in eighth and ninth grade where I was playing long drawn out fantasy games. I loved those things. You can get so absorbed in them. I like it when people build this whole world and then you can go in there and visit. I just think it’s awesome to see humans make fantasy worlds. Part of it’s just this sort of depression of how unfantastical the real world seems at times, and how hard the real world is. And it’s a bummer because the more time you spend in a fantasy world the less time you spend exploring the real world. And there’s amazing things out there.”

  • “A lot of the stuff I was doing last year, the year before, I feel like I was doing sort of overt political storytelling. I had pictures of people talking about ‘developers are evil.’ I had one, it was like a war scene, I did a lot of soldiers around a guy with his arm blown off, a child with his arm blown off, roughly. And then at some point I just got tired of doing overt meaning or something. So now I’ve been trying to have more fun with the colors and sort of let it be more open to interpretation what’s going on.”

  • “In this group of stuff I’m trying to get away from that feeling that I had to be an illustrator. Started trying to get into the potential of collaging more. And I haven’t exactly found a way to balance the two out.”

  • “Some of this stuff, like this one, which has this guy [in a chair] with balloons. I like to listen to the radio all the time, a lot of NPR and BBC and stuff. Just a couple weeks ago or a week ago or something there was a news report about this priest in South America who tied balloons to himself and then flew away. Last I heard it had been a day, he had flown out mistakenly out over the ocean, and it had been like a day and a few of the balloons had been spotted. So like the dude was dead, obviously. So I just thought that was just almost like this hysterical, horrible but beautiful idea. The most dreamy guy throws himself into the air and that’s it. But when you’re listening to the radio half the time they don’t ever follow up on the stories so it lends to the dreamy quality, you can pretend he’s fine, he’s living on a cloud somewhere.”

  • “When I’m working on this stuff I spend a lot more time listening to the radio and then I remember why I was making the more political stuff before. Because it just drives you crazy listening to all the ridiculous crap we do as a country.”

  • “I was trying to make this series of like these two people and then there would be like some voyeur watching. Just human interaction. On some level it’s like what else is there. I’ve always been interested in figures and it’s just sort of that’s what it’s all about, just how humans treat each other on a one-on-one basis.”

  • “I think real estate stuff got me interested and got other people interested [in political artwork]. Yeah, maybe that was like a launching off point. But then maybe when your existence is threatened, you start thinking about the threats to everyone or something. But then when it goes away you stop thinking about it. It’s sort of like when you hear a news story, ‘that’s insane, this sucks,’ and then a week later you’re just sort of like “Oh well, life goes on for me.’ At some point maybe a year or two I burned out on being so angry about stuff all the time. And now I’m kind of coming back. It comes in waves. Maybe it has to do with the election.”

  • “I have a fascination with all this crap, all this garbage that’s generated in the world and how everyone is always arguing who is more morally straight than the other person, but on a fundamental level the States, all sorts of places, it’s just a trash culture. We just produce so much shit and so much toxicity. We have no right to say that we don’t deserve some kind of horrible fate. We just do. I feel that as a culture – I don’t want bad things to happen to anyone – but I think it’s hysterical for a country full of abusive garbage-filled unhealthy consumers to just say they have the moral high ground.”

  • “I like having connections to the past. I like having new stuff. But I like dragging stuff with me that’s old. Things that inspired me before still inspire me. And I like juxtaposing them with new things that inspire me. I think that’s sort of interesting. I don’t feel the need to cut myself off and start new again. I still think there’s lots of unexplored stuff on this path that I’ve been on, that I’ve been on for 10 or 15 years maybe. … I wonder sometimes if I’m being close-minded about my approach. I don’t want to regurgitate the exact same thing over and over again. But I also love what I love.”
More wisdom of Brian Chippendale (plus studio photos) tomorrow.

Dava Newman

"We need to design some pretty revolutionary spacesuits if we're really going to realize human exploration of other [planetary] bodies.” – Dava Newman in the Christian Science Monitor, 2005.
“BioSuit,” a form-fitting next generation spacesuit prototype by MIT aeronautics and astronautics professor Dava Newman (modeling it below) is on view in the exhibit “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 7 to Sept. 1, 2008.

Reports on Newman’s “BioSuit” in the Christian Science Monitor in 2005, in USA Today in 2007, in Time in 2007, and in MIT reports from 2005 (I think) and 2007 (with video of Newman).

Pictured at top is “BioSuit” on view in the “Aerodynamic Body” portion of the Met’s exhibition (courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna Marie Kellen). Pictured below is a photo (by Donna Coveney for MIT News) of Newman modeling the suit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Anne Elizabeth Moore speaks

Anne Elizabeth Moore, a pal of mine from Chicago who has been doing a month-long residency at Providence’s AS220, will speak about her letter press book “New Girl Law” at AS220’s performance space at 6 p.m. Friday, May 30. The book, which she has been working on here, grew out of her amazing work with young feminists in Cambodia last winter (and which was the subject of her blog).

Moore explains: “Initially a self-publishing project, intended to give these 32 young women options for expressing voice under an extremely oppressive government regime, the project grew to include a collaborative rewrite of a traditional Cambodian text called the ‘Chbap Srei,’ or ‘Girl Law.’”

By the bye: That is not Moore pictured above, but rather an April paparazzi shot of the illustrious Pamela Anderson reading Moore’s 2007 book “Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity.”

Anne Elizabeth Moore speaks at AS220 performance space, 115 Empire St., Providence, 6 p.m., May 20, 2008.

Clark picks firm to design its MassMoCA branch

The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown announced today that it has picked Work Architecture Company of New York to design Clark@MassMoCA, the museum’s planned 29,000-square-foot exhibition and storage space at Mass MoCA in North Adams, which it hopes to open in 2011.

I wrote a brief about this project when the Clark first announced it last September.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Brian Chippendale

From my review of “Human Mold: New Growth by Brian Chippendale” at Stairwell Gallery:
A blue papier-mâché cathead-lady in a yellow suit occupies the window of Stairwell Gallery for Brian Chippendale’s new show “Human Mold.” She stands between a pair of little pyramids, and before a gumball-headed papier-mâché guy seated atop a giant papier-mâché mushroom. The cat-lady’s arms are outstretched as if offering a hug of welcome to the Providence artist’s scrappy DIY, rainbow bright, patched-together, cute brut, nostalgic storybook fantasy land.

A few years back, Chippendale, a co-founder of Fort Thunder and half of the noise rock duo Lightning Bolt, was making surreal art allegories of Providence’s gentrification and our post-9/11 world — sinister developers, burning homes, wild soldiers, a derelict Humvee, people cascading out of a cracked and flaming jetliner. His collages here are less political, but still seductively strange. And he’s mastered his technique. It’s a great show.
Read the rest here.

Coming soon: A two-part interview with Mr. Chippendale and a photographic tour of his studio.

“Human Mold: New Growth by Brian Chippendale,” Stairwell Gallery, 504 Broadway, Providence, May 19 to June 6, 2008.