Archive for July, 2012

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Monday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.
Mass MoCA curator Denise Markonish speaks at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall, 522 Congress St., Portland. Free.

Wednesday, Aug. 1, 7 p.m.
@party and the Boston Cyberarts Gallery, at the Green Street Orange Line T stop in Boston, screen “Moleman 2: Art of the Algorithms,” a Hungarian documentary about the demoscene, with Q&A with the director and emcee. Free.

Wednesday, Aug. 1
Deadline to apply to be in “Insider/Outsider,” an exhibition of Live Art documentation scheduled to take place in late Fall 2012 at Lincoln Arts Project in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, Aug. 1
Deadline to submit art for consideration as the First Night 2013 button.

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 3 and 4
Salem Maritime Festival at Salem Maritime National Historic Site, 193 Derby St., Salem, Massachusetts.

Saturday, Aug. 4, 10 a.m.
Maine Lobster Fest Parade in Rockland.

Saturday, Aug. 4, 11 a.m.
Photographer Gordon Brown, who worked with Ansel Adams in the 1970s and ‘80s, speaks at the Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem, Massachusetts.

Saturday, Aug. 4, 7 p.m.
Covered Bridge Dance in Jackson, New Hampshire.

Monday, Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m.
Chicago artist Anne Wilson speaks at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall, 522 Congress St., Portland. Free.

Os Gemeos’s giant troublemaker for Dewey Square?

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Is the giant masked figure being painted by Brazilian graffiti superstars Os Gemeos (Portuguese for The Twins)—actual twin brothers Otavio (above left) and Gustavo Pandolfo—in Boston’s Dewey Square a graffiti artist? An Occupy protestor looking down on the site of last fall’s Occupy Boston encampment? Some other rascal?

Gustavo tells us that they had singled out the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway ventilation building at Summer and Congress Streets, where they have been painting for the past few days, as one of the ones they were interested in painting because “We liked the location here and we liked the shape of the wall.”

Their mural, which is expected to be up for about 18 months, depicts a single giant figure with a shirt wrapped around its head (neatly fit into the rounded shape of the roofline) as a mask.

Institute of Contemporary Art Adjunct Curator Pedro Alonzo, who says he spent nine months lining up the mural locations (they’re planning to paint another one at the Revere Hotel, 200 Stuart Street, Boston) as part of the twins’ upcoming exhibit at the Boston museum, describes the figure as a graffiti artist. Os Gemeos have painted this sort of masked figure to represent taggers in the past—but their masked men have also represented robbers, rioters, terrorists and activists. And they’ve been known to paint political statements. Could their giant masked man in Dewey Square, the site of the Occupy Boston encampment last fall, be an Occupy protestor?

It’s just a coincidence that they ended up in Dewey Square, Gustavo says. He adds, “We don’t really want to explain the meaning of this. We let people imagine things.”

Photos copyright 2012 The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

“Asco: Elite of the Obscure” at Williams College

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Asco’s first public performance was “Asco’s Stations of the Cross” in 1971 (pictured above), when a man with his face painted like skull carried a giant cardboard cross past shoe stores and movie theaters in East Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. This Jesus figure was accompanied by two androgynously screwball costumed accomplices on their “procession,” which ended at a Marine recruiting center. After five minutes of silence in memorial to those killed in the fighting in Vietnam, the story goes, the artists ditched the cross at the door and fled.

They called themselves Asco—Spanish for the disgust or nausea their art supposedly provoked—and specialized in absurd, political, mainly obscure provocations. “Stations of the Cross” was only documented (see photo above) because Seymour Rosen, the prominent photographer and preservationist of folk art environments happened to be passing by with his camera.

“Asco: Elite of the Obscure: A Retrospective, 1972-1987” at the Williams College Museum of Art, is billed as the group’s first retrospective. It was organized by C. Ondine Chavoya of Williams College and Rita Gonzalez of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it debuted last fall as one of the dozens of Getty-sponsored “Pacific Standard Time” exhibitions on post-War Los Angeles art.

The Asco quartet of Los Angeles Chicano conceptual artists—Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie F. Herron III and Patssi Valdez—plus a varying cast of accomplices, worked together from the early 1970s to the late 1980s. Herron and Gronk had come out of the Chicano mural movement, and aligned with its opposition to racism, poverty and the Vietnam War, but felt stifled by its earnest codes. “Instead of creating social realism protest art,” Gamboa said, “social surrealism seemed more to the point.”

A photo documents their 1974 “First Supper (After a Major Riot),” in which four performers, some of them masked, have a strange ritual dinner on a traffic island underneath the Whittier Boulevard sign. (Photo above by Harry Gamboa Jr.) Their gathering—including a skeleton mannequin, a dead child doll, and Gronk’s expressionist painting “The Truth about Terror in Chile” of an anonymous tortured body—transforms the seemingly mundane city street into a magic realist vision. But the point was that the street wasn’t ordinary, but charged ground near the location of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium, a Chicano anti-war march and rally attended by some 30,000 people that was violently broken up by police and resulted in three deaths—including Los Angeles Times columnist Ruben Salazar, who died after being struck by a tear gas canister fired by a sheriff’s deputy into a bar.

“The moratorium just made us blossom,” Herron told the Los Angeles Times in 2010. “It was like, this is my purpose for my art now: the police riots, the [student] walk-outs that had happened in the late ’60s.”

Asco’s 1974 photo “Decoy Gang War Victim” showed a performance: a man lying in the middle of a night street surrounded by burning flares. They distributed it to the press—some of which published it as fact. Their goal seemed to be to interrogate and parody the white press’ narrative of Latino violence—though they also simultaneously helped fuel the story.

Other projects like “No Movies,” photos advertising scenes from films that didn’t exist, and “fotonovelas,” narrated slideshow narratives, were cheap, do-it-yourself ways of playing at film making in the style of slasher, glam sci-fi, and gang war Hollywood B-movies. The group then spoofed the Oscars by giving each other “No Movie Awards,” a gold cobra statue that recalled the symbol of a street gang. Gronk said, “To expand propaganda-wise, I have to get into cinema.”

These projects simultaneously seriously and humorously consider the exclusion of Chicanos from the silver screen and the problems of Chicano communities (for 1976 Dia de los Muertos festivities, they dressed up as “The Three Causes of Death”: a switchblade, hypodermic needle and pharmaceutical pill), while also envying the allure of cinema. They revel in a sort of Hollywood dystopian “malaise” America—much as the contemporaneous Destroy All Monsters gang was doing in Michigan. (Photo above of “À La Mode,” 1976, by Harry Gamboa, Jr.)

Asco’s film stills are contemporaneous—and perhaps arrive slightly before—Cindy Sherman’s much better known “Film Stills” photos in New York. While her costumed self-portrait shots often are read as post-modern signifying or perhaps feminist reimaginings of Hollywood, Asco suggests another origin for this way of working: drag queen spectacles.

The exhibit is a tantalizing but frustrating retrospective. It’s chock full of artifacts—more than 150 works including comics, newspapers, expressionist paintings, a bit of video, and lots of photos of a gay drag wedding, protest graffiti, and absurdist crazy space glam disco dress up—but Asco’s story and context remain elusive.

“Asco: Elite of the Obscure: A Retrospective, 1972-1987,” Williams College Museum of Art, 15 Lawrence Hall Drive, Feb. 4 to July 29, 2012.

“Scissors,” 1974 black and white photograph by Harry Gamboa, Jr.
“Birds Wave Goodbye,” 1972 color photograph by Harry Gamboa, Jr.
“Instant Mural,” 1974 color photograph by Harry Gamboa, Jr.
“Malibu, CA,” 1975 color photograph by Harry Gamboa, Jr.
Asco members graffitied their names on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1972. Photograph by Harry Gamboa, Jr.

Kerry Smith, Eric Telfort, Andrae Green, Rebecca Zub

Friday, July 27th, 2012

From our review of exhibits by Kerry Smith, Eric Telfort, Andrae Green and Rebecca Zub at AS220 in Providence:

One of the notable art developments of recent years is the return of realism, particularly hardcore realist painting from studio models. After a century of the fine art world championing abstraction, who would have thought that Lucian Freud, who spent much of his career painting naked people lying around his studio and died a year ago, would be hailed as one of our era’s greatest artists?

Academies have quietly formed or regained notice by rigorously teaching the realist fundamentals — painting from live models and so on — and in the process reclaiming skills that the fine art world has nearly forgotten. It’s partly just the pendulum swinging back. It’s partly a craving for art that is sturdy and skilled in an era in which so much work comes not from the artist’s own hand but is mechanically produced or jobbed out to assistants.

But the art world remains somewhat aloof from hardcore realism. John Currin, one of the most famed artists of the past 15 years, paints an ironic realism cynically riffing on Penthouse pornography. The earnest realist painters exhibiting at AS220 through July 28 represent a movement mainly operating at the edges of the fine art world but inching closer to the center.

At AS220′s main gallery, Kerry Smith of Foster, Rhode Island, offers loose, brushy paintings of nude studio models in various seated or reclining poses (one is pictured at top). He often ignores whatever they’re sitting on and the surroundings to focus on the bodies, rendered in a quick, charismatically offhand style, partly caricatured but based on sharp observation. There’s a sense of the artist’s personality in the pictures; they feel true to one person’s particular way of looking.

Read the rest here.

Kerry Smith and Rebecca Zub at AS220 Main Gallery, 115 Empire St., Providence; Andrae Green and Eric Telfort at AS220 Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., all July 1 to 28, 2012.
Painting above by Eric Telfort.

Emberley tribute by Neelon and Salazar at Children’s Hospital

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

A few weeks back Cambridge painter and writer Caleb Neelon and California artist Souther Salazar (with help from Salazar’s wife Monica) painted a (temporary) mural in tribute to the great children’s book artist Ed Emberley of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in the lobby of Boston Children’s Hospital. Emberley is best known for books like “Drummer Hoff,” “One Wide River to Cross,” “Go Away Big Green Monster,” and a slew of how-to draw books, which were a major inspiration to our friend Mr. Neelon. The mural is on view at the hospital–300 Longwood Ave., Boston–through late October, or so, with Emberley’s mockups from some of his 1970s drawing books on an adjoining wall.

Photos here courtesy of Caleb Neelon.

NEJAR’s Greg Cook at Zeitgeist

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

New England Journal of Aesthetic Research custodian Greg Cook will be among the artists featured in “Friends of the Zeitgeist,” the first exhibition the Zeitgeist Gallery–formerly of Cambridge and Pittsfield–is presenting at its brand new space at 167 Market Street in Lowell, Massachusett, from July 27 to Aug. 28. The show features sculpture, painting, drawing, monoprints, video/sound and lightboxes by Asa Brebner, Greg Cook, John Engstrom, David Grant, Steve Kinney, Greg Kowalski, Angela Mark and Michael Shores, Markus Nechay, Patrick Pierce, Miranda Ryan, Bill Turvillle, Brent Whitney, Jeanne and Will Winslow, Elaine Wood and Rick Breault. Stop in while you’re at the Lowell Folk Fest this weekend. Opening reception: Thursday, July 26, 7 to 9 p.m. Regular gallery hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 1 to 8 p.m.

Pictured above: Excerpt from Greg Cook’s nonfiction comic about a Plymouth soldier’s experiences in Iraq.

Robert Stephenson’s Gloucester adventures

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Some years back we got curious about who had built the heavy wooden Asian-style gate and garden in an alley running down toward the harbor from Main Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was a mystery. But after some investigation, we learned that the gate was the entrance to the studio of Bob Stephenson, a cantankerous old coot with an acid sense of humor who’d taken up painting after, he said, an injury prompted his retirement from the Army in 1982. Of course we became friends.

Stephenson—whose art is on view at iartcolony in Rockport, Massachusetts—had joined up after graduating from Gloucester High School (and painting a locally well known mural of a dragon on a boulder on Cressy’s Beach) in 1955. Career military, he traveled the world, served in Vietnam, and returned home after 27 years with the rank of sergeant major and a love of traditional Asian art. His studio was decorated with Buddhist shrines and Stephenson’s own paintings, which recall the heroic adventure illustrations of N.C. Wyeth (though more mushy in their execution).

Stephenson, now 76, is full of stories—about his tough mother struggling to raise him and his brother in Gloucester after their father died when Stephenson was just 7, about his exploits in the Army, about his annoying brother Richard, about his cantankerous old Aunt Eliza (when a doctor supposedly told the elderly lady that if she hadn’t been so full of bile “we would have been rid of you years ago,” she responded, “Who is this quack?”), about a Charles Addams-esque cartoon he published in The New Yorker decades back. As Stephenson describes it, the drawing showed a boy running to his mother who is busy at the kitchen sink. In his hand, the boy holds a skull. The caption: “Look what I found in Dickie’s head!” We can picture it in the magazine, but we’ve been unable to find it among the more than 68,000 examples included with the 2004 book and CDs “The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.”

Heart troubles have kept Stephenson from painting for several years now, but what remains striking about his art is that he often takes Gloucester locales and transforms the old fishing port into the site of pulp adventure tales. Half Moon Beach, around the point from Cressy’s in Stage Fort Park, becomes a cove where explorers might wash up. In other paintings, Stephenson stretches the towers and the steeples of the downtown skyline to transform the city into a medieval Mediterranean fortress town. Gloucester’s seafaring history already gives the community an air of gritty romance. Stephenson turns it into the place of dashing mystery and intrigue.

Robert Stephenson “Visions of Cape Ann and Beyond,” IArtColony, 42 Broadway, Rockport, Massachusetts, July 21 to Aug. 4, 2012.

John Rosenthal’s anti-gun-violence billboard

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

In light of the recent shooting massacre in Denver, we’d like to repost our article below from last year:

One of the biggest and most striking pieces of public art in Boston is John Rosenthal‘s anti-gun-violence billboard on Route 90 behind Fenway Park. In May [2011], the Newton man switched the 252-foot-long billboard from a message mocking gun shows to a new sign tallying the number of people shot and killed with guns in America each day, noting that 33 states don’t require background checks before gun sales, and charging that the National Rifle Association spent “$6.7 m[illion] to buy congress in 2010.” The billboard has long been one of the most affecting works of public art in the region, but because it’s a billboard, and a political advocacy one at that, it is often overlooked when people tally public art in Boston.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

“Let’s Talk About Bikes” at BSA Space

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

From our review of “Let’s Talk About Bikes” at BSA Space in Boston:

A hit of the 1939 New York World’s Fair was General Motors’ “Futurama,” a vast model landscape lined with superhighways that arrived at a metropolis of gleaming skyscrapers. Traffic congestion was reduced by running limited-access highways through the city’s heart — and eliminating most pedestrians and trees. It epitomized midcentury urban planning: all glass and steel and concrete, all machines and fossil fuels, little green.

In retrospect, the flaws are obvious. And it explains why Boston’s old West End was leveled, City Hall got erected, and global warming heated up.

Slowly, communities have tried to heal the damage — in Boston, the Big Dig buried the Central Artery highway that had divided downtown. We’ve begun to embrace urban farming, energy conservation, and biking.

“Let’s Talk About Bikes” at BSA (Boston Society of Architects) Space surveys “the role of the bike in Boston’s physical and cultural transformation.” Some 52 miles of bike lanes have been added here since 2008. Hubway launched a bike-sharing program last year. And custom bike manufacturers have blossomed.

Read the rest here.

“Let’s Talk About Bikes,” BSA Space, 290 Congress St., Boston, June 12 to Aug. 31, 2012.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Monday, July 23, 6:30 p.m.
Francis Cape speaks at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall, 522 Congress St., Portland. Free.

Wednesday, July 25, 7:30 p.m.
Lisa Goren speaks about her watercolors on view at Athan’s European Bakery & Café, 1621 Beacon St., Brookline, Massachusetts. Free.

Thursday, July 26, 5:30 p.m.
Eric Telfort and Andrae Green speak about their art at AS220’s Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., Providence. Free.

Friday to Sunday, July 27 to 29
Lowell Folk Festival in downtown Lowell, Massachusetts, features live music, demonstrations and more.

Saturday, July 28, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Carla Repice and Geogg Cunningham present their one-day installation “Office of Blame Accountability” at DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, Massachusetts. Followed by artist talk at 2 p.m.

Saturday, July 28, 1 to 3 p.m.
Maine artist Dahlov Ipcar signs her reissued children’s book “Stripes and Spots” at the Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine.

Sunday, July 29, 4:40-9:30 p.m.
The Center for Maine Contemporary Art holds its annual benefit art auction and dinner at Point Lookout in Northport., Maine. $125, reservations required.

Sunday, July 29
Cape Verdean Day in downtown Brockton, Massachusetts.

Sunday, July 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The 59th annual Nipmuc Nation Pow Wow will be held at Hassanamesit Reservation, 80 Bringham Hill Road, Grafton, Massachusetts.

Monday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.
Mass MoCA curator Denise Markonish speaks at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall, 522 Congress St., Portland. Free.

Wednesday, Aug. 1, 7 p.m.
@party and the Boston Cyberarts Gallery, at the Green Street Orange Line T stop in Boston, screen “Moleman 2: Art of the Algorithms,” a Hungarian documentary about the demoscene, with Q&A with the director and emcee. Free.

Wednesday, Aug. 1
Deadline to apply to be in “Insider/Outsider,” an exhibition of Live Art documentation scheduled to take place in late Fall 2012 at Lincoln Arts Project in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, Aug. 1
Deadline to submit art for consideration as the First Night 2013 button.

Abbadia Mare Festival at Hammond Castle

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

The Abbadia Mare (“Abbey by the Sea”) Festival at Hammond Castle continues through 5 p.m. today. It features music, dancing and a craft fair plus some storytelling, human chess, and knights clashing (and boys playing with swords) in and around the castle that John Hayes Hammond Jr. (1888-1965) had built from local stone between 1926 and ’29 overlooking the ocean at 85 Hesperus Ave. in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Hammond was an inventor credited with more than 400 patents and 800 inventions, including developing radio-guided torpedoes and helping pioneer FM broadcasting. The building is a marvel, with a drawbridge, turrets, winding stairways, a great hall and an interior courtyard featuring facades in a French medieval style built around a pool. It served as his home, laboratory and a showcase for his collection of Roman, medieval and Renaissance artifacts. (What remains of the collection is modest.)

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Ningyo Editions is closing

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Ningyo Editions, the Watertown gallery which David Curcio, a talented artist (and a friend of ours), opened with help from Edward Monovich in 2010, is closing at the end of its current show which runs through July 28.

What has made the gallery unique locally is that it has not only showed art, but that its exhibitions were the result of original printmaking collaborations between Curcio, as master printmaker, and the featured artists, including Jane D. Marsching, Deb Todd Wheeler, Matt Rich and Joe Wardwell. It was a thoughtful and ambitious project featuring some of the top artists in Boston, but, as Curcio reports, “sales were dismal,” which ran up debt as well as seriously cutting into the time he had to produce his own artwork. Still, Ningyo will be missed.

As for the gallery space, Curcio writes:

“It will be taken over by the talented, wonderful Wendy Jean Hyde, a fantastic video/photographer and installation artist (and an MFA Traveling Scholar to boot) who will maintain the original format of a studio in back and a gallery in front. I look forward to what she will do there as I have no doubt it will be a welcome addition to the local gallery scene.

“I hope to continue to do occasional curatorial projects at satellite spaces, but I think my days of editioning with any regularity are behind me. I will miss the wonderful openings and the enriching experience of working with such great talent, and I extend a warm thanks to everyone who attended our exhibitions and parties. It made the whole experience truly worthwhile, and devoid of any regrets.”

Photo of the opening of Ningyo Edition’s exhibit of Matt Rich and Joe Wardwell on Sept. 16, 2011 by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Josiah McElheny

Monday, July 16th, 2012

From our review of Josiah McElheny “Some Pictures of the Infinite” at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art:

In 2000, when Josiah McElheny attended his first performance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, he was wowed by the auditorium’s 1966 midcentury modern “starburst” chandeliers. “They’re kind of Gilded Age/space-age objects, and they immediately looked to me like a galaxy or an explosion — a Pop image of the big bang,” he told Artforum in 2005.

“What if I remade the chandelier,” he asked himself, “so that instead of it being a gloss on the theory, all of the decisions were determined by the actual science of the origin of the universe?”

“Island Universe” (2008), a set of five of his Big Bang chandeliers (pictured above) — with cosmologist David Weinberg advising him on the science — hangs throughout the final gallery of “Some Pictures of the Infinite,” a two-decade survey of the Boston-born, New York-based glass artist’s work. Chromed spokes spear out of chrome balls like a Star Wars hyperdrive. They end in glass discs and balls that McElheny blew or cast (he jobs out the metalwork), some of which blink on and off. The sculptures are 10-foot-wide glass-and-chrome dandelions. They are wondrous, blingy, shiny happy things.

Read the rest here.

Josiah McElheny, “Some Pictures of the Infinite,” Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, June 22 to Oct. 14, 2012.

Pictured at top and below: Josiah McElheny “Island Universe,” 2008, photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Above: Josiah McElheny, Detail of “Three Screens for Looking at Abstraction,” 2012. Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.
Josiah McElheny, “Czech Modernism Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely,” 2005.
Above and below: Josiah McElheny, “A Study for The Center Is Everywhere,” 2012.

Licata to lead BCA visual arts

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Christine Licata has been named Associate Director of Visual Art at the Boston Center for the Arts. She was until recently an associate curator at the Taller Boricua in East Harlem, New York. She also helped organize the 2012 “Art for Odd Places” public art festival in New York. She is expected to begin work at the BCA on July 30.

The BCA’s relationship with visual art has been shaky in recent years with fairly regular turn over in staff. Instead it has primarily turned to independent curators for recent interesting shows like Liz Munsell’s “Close Distance,” Evan Garza’s “William Cordova: This One’s 4U (pa’ nosotros)” and Nina Garza Bozicnik’s “Pretty Ugly.”

Meanwhile, the BCA recently promoted Darren Evans to Director of Programs; Veronique Le Melle from Executive Director to President and CEO; and Cynthia Woo to Associate Director of Education and Public Programs. “Along with a reframed Program department, the BCA has elevated several current staff positions across the organization and will add three new full-time positions in the Development, Events and Finance departments by early fall,” the institution reports.