Archive for November, 2011

MIT’s Chain Reaction

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011


Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 14th annual Friday After Thanksgiving Chain Reaction Event was held on Nov. 25. Participants, led by local artist Arthur Ganson (pictured below the video), linked up their Rube Goldberg-like contraptions into one giant chain of ingenuity.

MIT Tech TV

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Video by MIT. Videos of previous years here.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Monday, Nov. 28, 11:30 a.m.
Illustrator Kelly Murphy speaks about her work at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts. Free.

Monday, Nov. 28, to Friday, Dec. 2
The 20th annual “Medicine Wheel” installation by Michael Dowling and associates at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama, 539 Tremont St., Boston, marks World AIDS Day and honors the many lives lost to AIDS.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m.
Boston Globe Arts reporter Geoff Edgers leads a “State of the Arts” discussion with Peter DuBois, artistic director, The Huntington Theatre Company; Mikko Nissinen, artistic director, The Boston Ballet; Mark Volpe, managing director, The Boston Symphony Orchestra; and Malcolm Rogers, director of the Museum of Fine Arts at The Boston Globe
, 135 Morrissey Boulevard, 
Boston. Free.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m.
Boston-area filmmaker Errol Morris discusses his book “Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography” at the Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Presented by the Harevard Book Store. $5. Tickets at harvard.com.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m.
British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes speaks at MassArt’s Tower Auditorium, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Free.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m.
Sound artist Bora Yoon presents a free concert as part of the “Cybersounds” series at Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress St., Boston.

Thursday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m.
Greil Marcus discusses his book “The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years” at the Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Free.

Saturday, Dec. 3, noon
Animator Bill Plympton presents a “master class” at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts. Free.

Monday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m.
Dan Borelli, Gavin Koeber and Jesse Shapins discuss art project planning in relation to an artwork they’re planning for Ashland, Massachusetts. At Harvard Graduate School of Design, 40 Kirkland St., Room 1D, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Presented by Artists in Context. Free.

Monument to the Plymouth Forefathers

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Lead statuary cutter Joseph Archie stands on the arm of “Faith,” the 36-foot-tall central figure of the National Monument to the Forefathers, now in Plymouth, Massachusetts, as it was being carved in Hallowell, Maine, in 1877. The final monument, said to be the “largest granite monument in the United States,” stands some 81 feet tall on Allerton Street.

Photo above from the Hubbard Free Library in Maine. Photo below by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

UC pepper spray cop meme

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Explore the UC Davis pepper spray cop tumblr.

Elizabeth Alexander speaks

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

“I feel like nobody really feels comfortable in their class.” —Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander, who grew up in Hopedale, Massachusetts, and now lives in Gloucester, spoke Nov. 9, 2011, at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, where she teaches and her art is on display in the group exhibit “Home Sweet Home” through Jan. 21, 2012. Below are excerpts from her talk.

“My father is an iron worker. He has his own steel working business. I spent almost my entire childhood in his office looking through architectural books. … That decorative steelwork, I’m very nostalgic about it.”

On “Faux Piano” (pictured above): “I used contact paper to turn a three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional space and used pattern to do that.”

While bedridden by an illness during grad school at Cranbrook, she made cut paper works from a garden book (pictured above): “I decided to see what would happen if I removed all the flowers in the book … and remove the most important part of these formal gardens and change your idea of space. … It changed the way I looked at my work and how I looked at decoration and how our ideas of a space can change because all that makes these spaces really magical and beautiful was removed and left as voids.”

On her installation “Keeping Up Appearances” (pictured above): “I was thinking of what would happen if I cut out all the patterns from real objects. … I really began with this chair and kept going. I did my dress and the curtains. … The piece is about the lengths you go to look okay and fit in. … It just sort of alludes to feeling like you don’t fit in, feeling like you don’t measure up, and trying everything you can to get to where you do. … The person is going through all these things without realizing how crazy it is. … You’re actually exposing yourself, not hiding.”

“All the objects in the room, the wallpaper is completely compromised. You’re left with something totally useless.”

“In a way this is a very extreme self-portrait, talking about obsession and … not really fitting in.”

On her sculpture “Upward Mobility” (pictured above): “In Detroit, I found a Firebird at a junkyard and they actually donated it to me to do what I’d do with it. And I turned it into this Victorian chariot.”

“It’s not really fixing it. It’s making it more useless and more ridiculous.”

On “Welder’s Daughter” series: “I started drawings of tools and I started using patterns to cover the tools and it was a very simple way of sort of feminizing the tools.”

She had worked as a commercial welder before attending grad school: “It was very strange for me to feel like I don’t fit into the world I grew up in. … Working as a commercial welder, I had to do a lot of work on site and that’s when I felt really alien. People always treated me as a damsel in distress.”

“I was rendering these objects completely useless by sort of feminizing them—sort of how I felt people saw me in these environments.”

“Part of my what my work is about is these stereotypes that say who we are before we do. They make us an outsider before we’re even there.”

Disclosure: We also teach at Montserrat and Alexander was included in the “Best of Boston 40-ennial” (aka the MFA bathroom show) in June 2011, which we organized.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Friday, Nov. 25, 1 p.m.
Kinetic sculptor Arthur Ganson hosts the MIT Museum’s 14th annual “Chain Reaction,” a Rube Goldberg series of linked contraptions that play out like a giant domino demonsration, at MIT’s Rockwell Cage Gymnasium (120 Vassar Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visitors can also bring their own contraption to add to the chain; register here: museum.mit.edu/forms/fat-team. $15.

Friday, Nov. 25, 8 p.m.
Marco the Magi of “Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company” speaks at the Larcom Theatre, 13 Wallis St., Beverly, Massachusetts.

Monday, Nov. 28, 11:30 a.m.
Illustrator Kelly Murphy speaks about her work at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts. Free.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m.
Boston Globe Arts reporter Geoff Edgers leads a “State of the Arts” discussion with Peter DuBois, artistic director, The Huntington Theatre Company; Mikko Nissinen, artistic director, The Boston Ballet; Mark Volpe, managing director, The Boston Symphony Orchestra; and Malcolm Rogers, director of the Museum of Fine Arts at The Boston Globe
, 135 Morrissey Boulevard, 
Boston. Free.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m.
Boston-area filmmaker Errol Morris discusses his book “Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography” at the Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Presented by the Harevard Book Store. $5. Tickets at harvard.com.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m.
British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes speaks at MassArt’s Tower Auditorium, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Free.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m.
Sound artist Bora Yoon presents a free concert as part of the “Cybersounds” series at Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress St., Boston.

Laurel Nakadate speaks

Monday, November 21st, 2011

“A lot of really interesting work is terrifying to make.”
—Laurel Nakadate

Laurel Nakadate (pictured above in “Lucky Tiger #63,” 2009), a New York artist who studied at Boston’s Museum School (BFA 1998) before going to Yale, spoke Nov. 17 at Harvard’s Carpenter Center, where her exhibit “Say You Love Me” is on view through Dec. 22, 2011. Below are excerpts from her talk.

“I grew up in Iowa. So I think when you grow up in the middle of nowhere in a landlocked place, you always think everything is happening some place else.”

“When I was going to summer camp in north Iowa when I was probably 7 years old, we drove by a man who was living alone in the woods. … My dad said he’s a hermit. He’s living alone. He wants this. … I think I was so struck by that moment, by that man. … The people who choose to be alone without a family, without children.”

“I documented the lives of girls at Wellesley for four years. I was taking Bill Burke’s photo class at the Museum School. I was just figuring out what it meant to tell a story with a camera.”

“Even if you’re in over your head, if you keep making pictures you’ll figure it out.”

The “The Seven Sisters Schools” photos (1995–99) include parties with women in various states of undress. “I grew up in a small town in Iowa and I never imagined women’s schools would have these types of parties.” [Pictured above: "Twister."]

“With the Wellesley work, the women’s school work, there was this sort of awe of everything they had … coming out of lower middleclass Iowa.”

“I didn’t really identify with the Wellesley women.”

“The work was made right at the head of girls culture sort of blowing up. … It was a time in women’s lives when they were really proud of their sexuality, and really proud of the power they had.”

“For the longest time after the women’s school project, I just wanted to use myself because a lot of the criticism I got was: where are you?”

“I danced with strangers. I had fake birthday parties. … I started making a series when I traveled around the country making fake pin-up pictures.” [Pictured above: "Exorcism in January, 2009.]

“When I was in that first man’s apartment dancing, I was thinking: this is exhilarating; this is really terrifying.”

“None of my family members knew what I was doing because when you’re 22 you don’t tell your parents.”

“A lot of really interesting work is terrifying to make.”

“I chose music that really mattered to me at the time I was making the work. … I’d often let the men choose the music.”

“I’ve always been really interested in the way pop songs can get you through really hard times in your life and bring you back again.”

“A lot of the men said they tried to have lives with other people but they decided it was better to just do it alone.”

“I met these men because I was lonely and I was wandering this Home Depot parking lot.”

“I don’t think they’re all innocents in this.”

“Every single one of those men approached me first. … I met them out in the real world and they asked me to spend time with them.”

“For me going into other people’s homes with a camera is figuring out what they have and what they don’t have. … And then we can figure out about their lives and their desires and their dreams.”

“I was always trying to reference the everyday girl becomes the sex object, and how do you deal with the everyday girl acting up.” [Pictured above: "Lucky Tiger," 2009.]

“My work asks the viewer to look inside themselves and ask what it means to me a single man in his 50s without children.”

“I don’t really draw a line between myself and these men.”

“I think it’s important not to draw lines between us and the rest of the world.”

“I very much identified with those men and I didn’t think we were from other classes.”

“I’ve had to work very hard to feel like I really belonged anywhere.”

“What I really valued in the early videos was that the power could go back and forth. At one moment you can feel for the man. Then at one moment you can feel for the woman. So you never know where to stand.”

“It’s about you don’t know where to stand, you don’t know where to feel comfortable.”

“With the men, they all knew they were being videotaped. … Certainly if someone [in the piece] has problem with something I’ve made, I’d never show it again.”

“I think it’s an honor that I’ve been at the center of many arguments because that means the work is relevant.”

“One of the very difficult things to do is document performances in an interesting way.”

On her first feature film “Stay the Same Never Change” (2009): “Everything in the film is scripted but all of the actors are found through open casting calls, chance encounters, Facebook, Craigslist.”

“I think there’s something really amazing about people who can’t keep it together even when they’re supposed to keep it together.”

On a pair of dogs (pictured above) that were supposed to play dead in the film: “These two dogs represent a quarter of my budget for the entire film. … You’d look over and one’s tail would be wagging.”

“Failure is your friend.”

“This idea of trusting the world will take care of you when you have no budget is a good lesson.”

On her “365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears” (2010), a year-long series of daily self-portraits documenting herself weeping: “After seeing a lot of people on Facebook looking happy, I decided I’d spend part of everyday being sad.” [Pictured above: "February 9, 2010" from her series "365 Days," 2010.]

“This is the hardest performance I’ve ever done. … It’s really hard to cry everyday.”

“I had to be in the crying project because to ask anyone else to do it would be abusive.”

“I think the melodrama becomes sort of slapstick after a while and that’s intentional. … I mean the idea is ridiculous. It shouldn’t have been made. Thank God I did it.”

“I wanted to make pictures that spoke about the various ways we make and share photographs” in the Facebook era.

“We’re living in this era of Facebook status updates. Everyone understands how quickly a photo can be deleted.”

Karl Baden, one of her Museum School teachers, has been photographing himself each day for 25 years. “Karl, I was thinking about you when I was making this project. … I had so much respect for you for doing that project. I only had to do it for a year. But I had to cry.”

On the “Star Portraits” that she’s now working on: “I go to a very dark, beautiful location and ask anyone and everyone to meet me there. … I see these as being about meeting strangers and I see these as places where kids hang out, because generally kids only hang out in the middle of nowhere at midnight.”

“I couldn’t see these people in front of the camera when I took the picture. I could only see them through the camera because, of course, the camera can remember more than we can remember.”

“I’m waiting for great things to happen. … That’s the agenda. Anything can happen and I’ll photograph anyone who comes.”

Harvard’s gated community

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

It’s funny how easily the Occupy protests can clarify one’s view of the world. Take Harvard. Since protestors set up an Occupy encampment in Harvard Yard on Nov. 10, the university has locked many of the gates around the yard and set up security checkpoints to keep undesirables from entering the gates that remain open. We’d always admired the brick walls and ironwork for being so beautifully decorative. But, of course, it’s not just for show. The lovely fencing is there to turn the Cambridge university into a fortress city—or, since we’re talking about economic protests here, a gated community.




Haacke, Piene and WWII air war

Friday, November 18th, 2011

The resemblance between Otto Piene’s 1960s light works and World War II anti-aircraft tracer fire is one of the things we note in our review of “Hans Haacke 1967″ and Otto Piene “Lichtballett” at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center:

Pairing Hans Haacke and Otto Piene is a sharp move — recognizing the history they have together (they became friendly in the ’50s) as well as illuminating common themes in their art. Both men grew up in Nazi Germany (Piene born 1928, Haacke in 1936). Haacke, who has been based in New York since the ’60s, has referred to the Germany of his youth with works like his 1988 recreation of a Nazi monument (pictured at left). Piene, the retired, longtime director of the MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, who now splits his time between Groton, Massachusetts, and Dusseldorf, comes at it less directly in his signature light shows and “Sky Art,” inflated sculptures of flowers, stars, and rainbows lifted into the air by helium. As a teen, late in World War II, he served as an anti-aircraft gunner. Clear skies meant good weather for aerial attacks. Night skies were lit up by tracer bullets. “We want to exhibit in the sky,” Piene wrote in 1965, ” . . . to enter new space peacefully — that is, freely, playfully and actively, not as slaves of war technology.” The MIT shows make clear that early in their careers, both artists turned to air and machines, reclaiming them from war and reimagining them as sources of joy.

Read the rest here.

“Hans Haacke 1967″ and Otto Piene “Lichtballett” at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames St., Cambridge, Massachusetts, Oct. 21 to Dec. 31, 2011.

Previously: Piene’s “Sky Art” at MIT in May 2011.

At top: Otto Piene’s “Lichtballett,” installation view at MIT.

Otto Piene’s “Lichtballett,” installation view at MIT.

Compare Piene’s “Light Ballet” with this photo of American anti-aircraft tracers fired up into the the night skies of Okinawa to fend off a Japanese air attack during World War II. Department of Defense photo.

Otto Piene’s “Lichtballett,” installation view at MIT.

Footage of Hans Haacke’s “Wide White Flow” (1967/2006/2010) in his 2008 exhibit at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York.

Hans Haacke’s (from left) “Ice Stick” (background), “Wide White Flow” (middleground), “Flight” (background) and “Sphere in Oblique Air Jet” (foreground) installed at MIT in 1967. They’ve been recreated for the current MIT exhibit.

Andrew Masullo

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Andrew Masullo’s paintings at Steven Zevitas Gallery are small rainbow brite bubblegum abstractions, each titled with just a number. A bunch of cartoon word balloons—orange, pink, yellow, turquoise—slump against the red border in the bottom corner of “5260” (pictured at top). Crooked, rainbow-hued framed pictures jostle in “5264.” A red cartoon cloud or bush hides bubbles of blue, pink, green and yellow behind it in “4940.” And “5235” is a loopy red and white maze. Usually this short of hard-edged abstraction is painted smooth and flat, but Masullo, who resides in San Francisco, brushes on the oil paint at a fluid, opaque consistency, something like house paint, with it building up into lumps and encrustations here and there that suggest him working out the compositions as he goes along, and makes them feel more homespun. The results are small, giddy, explosions of joy.

Andrew Masullo, Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, Oct. 20 to Dec. 3, 2011.

Masullo “5235.”

Masullo “5264.”

Masullo “5266″

“Yes!” at Buonaccorsi+Agniel

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

From our belated review of “Yes!,” which closed at Buonaccorsi+Agniel on Nov. 12:

Providence is one of the most fertile art-making communities anywhere, but commercial galleries showcasing groundbreaking art made here — the art that defines the future — struggle to stay in existence. Gallery Agniel shuttered in 2007 after eight years, Stairwell Gallery closed in 2009, and 5 Traverse closed in 2010. There are many reasons why they struggle, but the main one is money: too few local collectors and too few connections to out-of-town buyers.

A year and a half ago, the commercial gallery scene in Providence seemed bleak, but since then four galleries have come into their own: Cade Tompkins Projects and Craftland in Providence, which both launched in 2009; Candita Clayton Studio, which began showing art in Pawtucket last year; and R.K. Projects, which began producing pop-up exhibits last fall.

Last month Sara Agniel Buonaccorsi of Gallery Agniel and her husband Jon Buonaccorsi, who founded the online print gallery Tiny Showcase in 2005, debuted their new gallery Buonaccorsi+Agniel at 1 Sims Avenue in Providence. Agniel Buonaccorsi says they missed the action.

They’re one of the power couples of Rhode Island art, combining sharp eyes with wherewithal. Financially the gallery rests on Buonaccorsi’s printing business, the Head Light Hotel, which produces screenprint music posters as well as limited fine art editions. It fills up a good chunk of the back of the 2000-square-foot space, which might be familiar from recent pop-up shows like “We’re going to make some big decisions in our little world” last spring. “I just wanted to be able to do retail stuff and events,” he says. Agniel Buonaccorsi says she plans to keep her day job as a commodities broker.

Their first exhibit, “Yes!,” showcases 50 artists from all over, but it reads like a lively, jam-packed who’s who of present and former residents of Li’l Rhody. Two major strains of local art emerge: psychedelic (Jungil Hong, Brian Chippendale, Andrew Moon Bain, Mickey Zacchilli, Cody Thompson, James Quigley aka Gunsho, Jo Dery, Leif Goldberg, Jill Colinan, CF) and expressionist (Ruth Dealy, Mike Taylor, Neal Walsh, Thomas Sgouros, Dan Talbot). The categories are porous (Taylor could fit in either) and they aren’t the only trends hereabouts. Anna Highsmith’s stoneware tea set embodies our penchant for craftsmanship. And Arley Rose Torsone’s “It’s Going to be O.K.” poster holds the banner for RI’s witty, rascally, yet embracing spirit.

Read the rest here.

“Yes!” Buonaccorsi+Agniel, 1 Sims Ave., Providence, Oct. 14 to Nov. 12, 2011.

Pictured at top: Matt Tracy’s “A detailed map of, uh, New Ham 1878″

Jo Sittenfeld

Kyla Quigley “Pegasus.”

Kristin Sollenberger

Paintings by Marc Freedman

Judy Haberl

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Glow-in-the-dark. That’s the headline of Judy Haberl’s exhibit at Gallery Kayafas. The main attraction is “Antidote” (pictured above), a 21-foot-wide digital image combining several photos she took of topiary elephants, bears, horses and so on at Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Basically, the Newtonville, Massachusetts, artist multiplies the carefully pruned bushes and gangs them closer together than in real life. It glows eerie, midnight green and feels like you’ve wandered into “Edward Scissorhands.” Haberl also offers a wall relief of lovely, intricate designs made from glow paint pushed through doilies. It’s all rather gimmicky, but fun.

Judy Haberl, “Dystopian Dreaming,” Gallery Kayafas, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, Oct. 22 to Nov. 26, 2011.

Judy Haberl “Antidote”

Judy Haberl “Half-life 1” and “Half-life 2”

Haberl installation lit-up view.

Artists Under the Dome on Nov. 17

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts hosts its “Fifth Annual Artists Under the Dome” at the State House, 24 Beacon St., Boston, to “thank artists for all for they contribute to our state’s economy and quality of life” on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Massachusetts artists are invited to meet state legislators, attend a hearing of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development, and a roundtable discussion and brainstorming session on “protecting the rights and property of individuals and small businesses who create intellectual property.”

“The day was started because each state usually has an annual arts lobby day at their state capitals and we found that individual artists and their issues/concerns were getting lost in that event,” writes Kathleen Bitetti, co-founder of ArtistsUndertheDome.org and the Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition. “Artists issues cover more than just public funding for the arts. Our issues also cover labor laws, intellectual property issues, health care, micro/small businesses, etc. It is important to be involved with your state government- a democracy only works when you take part in it. Plus it is free and fun!”

Note: Despite our wiseass illustration at top, the dome in the event’s title actually refers to the dome of the State House.

Joey quits with help of What Cheer Brigade

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Joey of the What Cheer? Brigade quits his job at the Renaissance Providence (Marriott) Hotel in spectacular fashion with the help of his bandmates.