Reminiscent of the summer of 2000 when The Cow Parade hit the streets of NYC—we were huge fans, having set out on the mission to find all the cows and photograph ourselves with our favorites, pre-social media era, just for our own pleasure…imagine that!— this April the city has kicked off The Big Egg Hunt NY with close to 300 eggs “hidden” around town that Fabergé commissioned artists, designers, and architects to paint, or create their own, all in the name of charity. The participants are an impressive bunch, from artists such as Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel, to architects Zaha Hadid and Morphosis, to graphic designer Debbie Millman, fashion designers including Cynthia Rowley and Diane Von Furstenberg, and, of course, street artists: Dain, Cost, Faust and plenty more. Unlike the cows at the beginning of the century, the eggs can be tracked via smartphone app that will notify a person if they’re near an egg and will place it on a map once it’s been discovered (and checked in) by ten people. It seems many of the street art eggs are located downtown, other eggs are exhibited in Grand Central, Rockefeller Center and Columbus Circle (there are a whole bunch more photos here.) But those are just a few eggsamples… there are lots more to find all across the boroughs, so get cracking! Well, you know what I mean. You have until April 17th. After that they’ll be exhibited at Rockefeller Center through the 25th and then auctioned off. Anyone can bid via the website and there are also more affordable mini versions available in the site’s shop.
It’s been an art-intense week in NYC, with more art fairs in town than time to view them. I did, however, get to almost all of them and will cover some of the highlights for me, sporadically over the next couple of weeks. Overall, and very in general, I continue to have a bit of a weakness for VoltaNY and The Armory Show, but Spring/Break was a nice surprise, with its edgier works and installations and its very topical theme of PublicPrivate. Less surprising were Scope and Fountain, which seemed to have a lot of repeats from previous years, but then, arriving at Fountain after over four hours at the piers might not have been the freshest way to take it all in. The banners hanging from the upper floor were pretty great, though.
So first here, from the Armory Show, are West African artist Romuald Hazoumé’s whimsical contemporary African masks made using discarded plastic containers, in particular gasoline canisters. Though the masks link to the artist’s heritage, they also represent his critical vision of political systems. “I send back to the West that which belongs to them, that is to say, the refuse of consumer society that invades us every day.” Hazoumé was at the Armory booth when I was there, explaining to a small group that in several of these masks, the hair was very telling of a woman’s relationship status. For example: the criss-crossed braids topping the black diamond-shaped mask represents a woman who is content, but not thrilled by her husband. The yellow jug with the bunched up hair on top, is a woman who is thrilled by her man. The blue canister with the twisted braids shooting out and turning downwards, is a very dissatisfied woman. So, there you have it. Romuald Hazoumés masks reminded me a little of Willie Cole’s shoe masks (here), and whose work was nicely featured at Volta this year, including this fun sculpture made using irons.
For performance artists/architects Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder (previously here) sharing an unconventional living space is not a new concept. Their “performance architecture” has taken unusual forms such as a hanging see-saw-like structure or a stacked-living arrangement, in each case co-dependent on the other’s movement. Their latest installation/performance is titled In Orbit: a 25-foot wheel hanging from the ceiling, complete with two beds, desks, chairs, sinks, and apparently porta-potties (fortunately those don’t flip with the wheel), one of each at the counterpoint of the other. Ward Shelley lives on the exterior of the wheel, while Alex Schweder on the interior. And live they will, like this, without getting off, for a total of ten days. Currently they’re halfway through their stay. Any time one of them wants to use the sink or lie on the bed, they both have to slowly walk, rotating the wheel—much in the way a hamster makes his/her cage wheel rotate—to get to that particular item, in unison, and they both have to be in agreement as to the current activity. Schweder can’t choose to work at his desk while Shelley lies on his bed. That simply won’t work.
For those of you in NYC, you can visit In Orbit and witness their cohabitation at The Boiler through March 9, 2014. After that the structure will remain on view until April 5th sans artists. For everyone else, there’s the video below:
Photos courtesy The Boiler; top photo eyespeed’s instagram
If you walk by Madison Square Park here in NYC from now through April 13th, you’ll spot a confusing sight: three water towers, the sort we usually see perched atop the city’s buildings holding much of our water supply—and usually a familiar part of the urban landscape. The three tanks in the park, however, do not contain water but rather are Brooklyn-based Chilean artist Iván Navarro’s (previously here and here) latest light installation titled This Land is Your Land after the Woody Guthrie song. This site-specific piece “reflects” the experience of immigration through mirrored neon type, as well as a neon ladder, that repeat infinitely within the wooden cylinders. The word “me” reflects becoming “we” alternating up the interior of one tank, while “BED” in another. I stopped by during the day and then again at night to see these and enjoyed the experience both ways. Having them stand low in the park, with the backdrop of the Flatiron building from one angle and, at night, each one glowing downward with the brightly lit Empire State Building behind from a different position, make the choice of location all the more appropriate. So, make a point to pass by, and peek under, Navarro’s water towers before April 13th.
Photos: James Ewing via Madison Sq. Park’s flickr; Paul Kasmin Gallery; and collabcubed.
A couple of weekends ago, when Dan was in town for a short visit, we went over to the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea to catch the new Doug Wheeler light installation. Having been to the previous Wheeler show two years ago (here) I was very excited to share the experience with my daughter. Unlike the last exhibit, there was no line. In fact, we were asked if we had a reservation, which spurred a moment of panic but, fortunately in our case, it was of no consequence. However, also unlike SA MI 75 DZ NY 12 this Wheeler light installation was less surprising and disorienting, which isn’t a bad thing, just different. While the last exhibit was a bit unnerving upon entry — not being able to tell where the room began or ended — this domed room shows its edge and horizon line right from the door. The previous work instilled a bit of anxiety, this one a calm and soothing effect. As in many of Wheeler’s works the immersive environment emphasizes the viewer’s physical experience of space, in this case focusing attention on the way light almost imperceptibly changes along the horizon as the earth turns. If the last exhibit installation felt like being in a cloud, I would equate this one (based on no personal experience, obviously) to a moon-like atmosphere. Forget watching George Clooney in Gravity, head over to David Zwirner and immerse yourself in Doug Wheeler’s rotational horizon. Best to make a reservation, just to be on the safe side. The installation will be up through March 29, 2014.
Third photo courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery. All others collabcubed.
What would you do with 500,000 sugar cubes? Well, if you’re Irish artist Brendan Jamison and his sculptor collaborators Mark Revels, Mary McCaffrey, Lydia Holmes, and David Turner, you build a metropolis, naturally. A Sugar Metropolis. Brendan Jamison and his crew did just that this past October through January at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland, inviting visitors to participate in the ongoing construction of sugar buildings with the assistance of the experts. Now, with the help of No Longer Empty (previously here and here) they’re bringing their project to Harlem this summer; the Sugar Hill district, no less! The event aims to celebrate the power of collaboration in art, engaging local residents of all ages in the community to help build their own Sugar Metropolis, with the goal to ignite the imagination of everyone in the neighborhood. Brendan Jamison has created a Kickstarter page to help fund the project, so see if you might want to consider contributing to their generous creative efforts.
Here’s Ulster installation in progress:
It’s been, and continues to be, a long and relentlessly snowy winter here in NYC this year, but Brooklyn-based author/illustrator Shelley Jackson is making the best of it. With admirable handwriting, Jackson has set out to writing a story in the snow—one word at a time—photographing each one and posting them to her instagram. Reading from oldest photo to newest, you can follow the ongoing story, waiting with bated breath for the next words to appear. Photos, it seems, are posted in relatively large batches roughly once a week, so maybe you can get a sentence or two in at a time. Story aside, the photos themselves are lovely, with great composition and a splash of color here and there. This is not the first time Shelley Jackson has taken to story-telling a word at a time; SKIN, a story published in tattoos on the skin of 2,095(!) volunteers is a previous project.
You can follow SNOW (in reverse order) over here, “weather permitting”, but from the looks of things outside, that shouldn’t be an issue…this could end up being a multi-volume story.
Photographer Fred Cray’s (previously here and here) latest exhibit at Janet Borden Gallery centers around his ongoing work titled Unique Photographs. It’s a fun idea that engages the public, distributing his unique artworks in the most unexpected places. But, really, who better to describe it than the photographer himself?
“This project is referred to as Unique Photographs which is also the title of the first overview book about the project. The second book, Changing the Guard, is a counter point to the first book and uses the same image double printed to make hundreds of unique print variations. The photographs have been hidden literally around the world with the intent of surprising people in pleasant ways, perhaps being kept as gifts. This should be an on-going project taking on new permutations for a number of years. The photographs have been stamped and numbered with holes being punched in the photographs recently to reinforce the notion of the photographs being unique objects.”
You have until February 21st to see the show at Janet Borden. Additionally, you can purchase both books here and here. And keep your eyes peeled for Fred’s unique photographs around your neighborhood. You never know where the next one might pop up…
It’s that time of year again, when all things turn red and heart-shaped in honor of St Valentine. Times Square is no exception. Now in its sixth year since the revitalization of Father Duffy Square, Times Square Arts held their annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition for a heart- and love-themed interactive sculpture to be placed across the square from the TKTS booth steps. This year’s winning design is Young Projects’ Match-Maker that will cosmically connect people, guided by their zodiac signs. Peering through bright red, interwoven periscopes – which, from certain angles, appears as an iconic heart, while from others a more abstract tangled object – visitors are offered glimpses of their four most suited astrological mates.
But while Match-Maker is a clever design, the competition was no slouch either. The five finalists were strong candidates and merit mentioning as well. Haiko Cornelissen Architecten submitted Tweet Heart NY, an illuminated heart that would pulsate with every tweet @ it. The more tweets, the faster the pulse. Schaum/Shieh Architects offered My Fuzzy Valentine, a striped graphic reflective structure that would create moiré patterns when rotated that pulse like a beating heart, as well as making for great selfie opportunities and creating digital Valentine-grams. Next, The Living proposed Vapor Valentine: a dynamic cloud that captures and displays the ever-changing life and light of Times Square. People could interact with the heart through touching and blowing the cloud, through placing their hands on the glass box to affect the vapor inside, and through a custom text-messaging hotline. Heart, proposed by Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio, would have been made from an illuminated circle that could be pulled and folded to form a heart. When released it would flutter until regaining its balance. Lastly, SoftLAB’s entry was inspired by the sweetness and forms of rock candy and candy hearts, hence its name Sweet ❤. Its kaleidoscopic reflective surface would capture the lights of Times Square in addition to revealing hidden messages as visitors moved their mobile cameras around the sculpture.
You can visit the winning Match-Maker sculpture through March 11, 2014, and you can read more about all the entries over here.
Brooklyn-based artist Duke Riley describes his work this way in his artist statement:
My work addresses the prospect of residual but forgotten unclaimed frontiers on the edge and inside overdeveloped urban areas, and their unsuspected autonomy. I am interested in the struggle of marginal peoples to sustain independent spaces within all-encompassing societies, the tension between individual and collective behavior, the conflict with institutional power. I pursue an alternative view of hidden borderlands and their inhabitants through drawing, printmaking, mosaic, sculpture, performative interventions, and video structured as complex multimedia installations.
His piece Trading with the Enemy seems to fit the bill perfectly. Riley trained 50 homing pigeons to travel from Havana to Key West, Fla. Half the flock were smugglers of Cuban cigars while the rest documented their travels on film. The cigar-laden pigeons were given names of notorious smugglers such as Pierre Lafitte, while the filmers were given names of famous film directors who have had run-ins with the law: i.e. Roman Polanski and Mel Gibson. I imagine there’s a certain thrill to subverting hi-tech drones with good old fashion homing pigeons. Riley’s connection to the birds goes back to his childhood, after rescuing one, letting it go free, and finding that it returned to him. Trading With the Enemy is part of an exhibit titled See You at the Finish Line currently at Magnan Metz in Chelsea. Two of the pigeons are for sale at the gallery along with the art. The show will run through January 11, 2014. For those who can’t make it in person, you can watch the video of the pigeons’ adventure, below.
Photos courtesy of MagnanMetz & The New York Times
Well, actually, they’re already here. These eight foot snails are part of the REgeneration Art Project and are made of recyclable plastic obtained from landfills. The snails are a creation of the Cracking Art Group (previously here) consisting of six international artists whose intention is to change art history through both a strong social and environmental commitment, and a revolutionary and innovative use of different recyclable plastic materials. The snails were “living” at Rumsey Field in Central Park up until last week before moving (okay, they were more moved/transported than moving themselves) to Columbus Circle last week. You’re gonna have to trust me, they’re there. That’s where I spotted them earlier today, but no time for photo-taking. Apparently there’s at least one at Eataly on 23rd Street as well. These snails seem to keep with the scavenger hunt street art theme that has descended upon our city since the fall, first with Banksy, then Invader, and now, in a smaller, yet at the same time larger, scale, the invasion of the red snails.
The snails will be up at Columbus Circle through January 6th, 2014, so if you happen to be in the neighborhood, do keep an eye out for them.
For some, regularly dozing in moving vehicles and inadvertently leaning against random strangers while doing so, is a common occurrence (ahem…Em), but in the case of Brooklyn-based artist George Ferrandi, it’s completely intentional. For her ongoing project It Felt Like I Knew You… Ferrandi rides the subway (her choice for these interventions because of its packed quality and the loneliness one can feel despite the physical intimacy) during rush hour and tests the limits of this shared confined area by reshaping the space between her body and a stranger’s sitting next to her.
I focus on the shape of the space between the person sitting next to me and myself. I attempt to mentally and emotionally re-sculpt that space. In my mind, I reshape it- from the stiff and guarded space between strangers to the soft and yielding space between friends. I direct all my energy to this space between us. When the space palpably changes, and I completely feel like the stranger sitting next to me is my friend, I rest my head on that person’s shoulder…
Ferrandi started the continuing project in 2012. The endearingly humorous results are documented by co-conspirator Angela Gilland on her phone. So, the next time you feel a woman’s head rest on your shoulder in the subway, it’s likely to be George Ferrandi…or, Em.
It Felt Like I Knew You can be seen at the Abrons Arts Center as part of the exhibit GUTS through the end of December.
Minneapolis-based street artist—and NYC frequenter—HOT TEA is known for his yarn-bombing typography, usually found on—but not limited to—chain link fences & telephone poles. Most often the words HOT TEA are geometrically spelled out, seemingly interlocked in three dimensions. I’ve run into several of his pieces over the past couple of years around NYC, one in Soho, another Nolita, and DUMBO as well. A couple of weeks ago, shortly after Banksy finished his month-long scavenger-hunt-like show Better Out Than In around the city, I came across a tribute to the reknowned street artist by, I assume, HOT TEA, though this speculation is based soley on style. The piece, which was on East 4th Street, was gone in less than 24 hours replaced with a real estate sign by the owners of the empty lot where the work stood. I’ve looked around to see if this Banksy tribute appeared anywhere online, including HOT TEA’s flickr, but so far nothing. Earlier in the fall, HOT TEA created his largest site specific piece to date with over 1600 knots and 800 pieces of yarn installed on the Williamsburg Bridge walkway. You can see the installation in the video below:
Top two photos: collabcubed. All others courtesy Hot Tea’s flickr.
New Jersey-born and based artist Willie Cole creates many of his works by repurposing objects such as irons, hair dryers and, in this case, shoes. His shoe sculptures and masks communicate messages about African history. I happened upon the last day of Cole’s show If wishes were horses… at the Alexander and Bonin Gallery in Chelsea this past weekend which featured a large bronze sculpture in the center of the lower floor titled Sole Sitter. At first glance the seated figure appeared to be just that, but upon closer inspection the oversized stacked shoes became evident and just at that moment all the shoe masks on the walls came into focus as well. Super-cleverly done, these pieces have an African art feel to them. Cole is not new to creating with shoes. A few years back at the same gallery I saw his impressive shoe mandalas, but these more recent sculptures really take the use of shoes to a new dimension.
Top two photos courtesy of Alexander and Bonin; all others collabcubed.
I’m all for things that surprise and delight, and that’s just what British artist Killy Kilford is up to since moving to NYC this past year. Feeling negativity from some of the city’s street signs, Kilford set out to create Happy Signs with upbeat messages and, with the help of volunteers, placed them under the official signs. “Honk Less, Love More” or “You Look Pretty Today” are just two examples of the many slogans aimed at getting a smile from his street audience. Kilford proposes that the city open a Dept of Well Being in addition to their standard agencies. He plans to use his project—currently 200 signs have been installed mostly around lower Manhattan and Williamsburg—to measure happiness using surveys and social media, with the ultimate goal of acting as a model for other cities to adopt a similar concept and their own department of well-being.
If you’re in New York City, keep your eyes peeled for the smile-inducing signage.
Photos courtesy of the artist and evgrieve
What if your corner bodega didn’t just sell milk, candy and cigarettes, but acted as an exhibit space for beautiful street art, inside and out? Cool, right? Well, that’s exactly what Brooklyn artist RAE has done in the East Village. Finding a former bodega that had to close due to flooding by Hurricane Sandy last year, RAE reopened the shop temporarily for his first solo NYC exhibit Word of Mouth. Covering most every surface in the place—including security cameras—with his drawings, and folky sculptures, the artist has the ‘gallery’ space operating as a functioning bodega as well.
A couple of years back, a friend pointed out RAE’s art on a sign at a now defunct fruit and vegetable stand in SoHo, so it seems that he has a longstanding fascination for the corner food vendor.
Word of Mouth will be on exhibit Thursdays through Saturdays until November 16, 2013, at the corner of East 12th Street and Avenue C.
Photos: changoblanco and vandalog
It’s hard to know what to make of the wacky exhibit Will to Power at La Mama Gallery here in NYC, but it’s definitely engaging. Norwegian artist Rune Olsen, now living in Hudson, NY, is interested in what he refers to as “Alternative Intelligences” such as ADHD, Asperger’s, Dyslexia and Bipolar disorder. He questions what functionality would look like if “the norm” were one of these alternative intelligences.
Using mostly food and kitchen-centric objects, Olsen creates pieces that include a Cheese-ball Head that conveniently doubles as a paper towel holder; a leaning tower of take-out containers titled Endless Column; a kitchen counter in the center of the gallery with a person covered in foil and dishes stacked precariously by the sink in a piece titled Endless Water Fall, just to name a few. The entire space has foam sausages flying through the air as well and, apparently, at times there are performances in the space, though not while I was there.
In some ways meme-like, the artist seems to favor that comparison. He speaks of the idea of evoking “a visceral response in the viewer, a response that elicits a desire to imitate thus initiating a first hand experience and making them personal.”
Will to Power will be up at La Mama La Galleria through November 17, 2013. Open Wednesday to Sunday 1 to 7:30pm.
On the recommendation of a friend, I stopped by Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery last week to see NY artist Suzanne Caporael’s exhibit Enough is Plenty in the back of the gallery. Though the paintings were quite nice, the pieces I was immediately drawn to were the small color paper collages. The combination of her lovely palettes, the irregular shapes, and subtle hints of the New York Times newspaper in the background either in the form of folios and running heads, or articles ghosted back behind other paper, added a surprisingly lovely touch. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes these so special but, at least to me, they certainly were. Enough is Plenty will be up in the Chelsea gallery through November 23, 2013.