Strolling through the gallery openings in Chelsea the other evening I came upon Jen and Paul’s One Stop Shopping Souvenir City & Chelsea Bus Tours. Definitely hard to miss, the glitzed up light blue parked bus (on 26th Street the night I was there, but apparently more often located on 24th Street) beckons to passers-by, welcoming them in and offering an array of humorous art souvenirs for purchase. The mobile shop — created, designed, run, and driven by performance artists Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw — displays and sells an impressive selection of clever mock DIY-style art kits, games, and supplies that poke fun at the big-name contemporary artists whose work is often found within the galleries that surround it. Make your own Jeff Koons balloon animals with a set of branded balloons. A glasses and nose disguise is repositioned as a Cindy Sherman Disguise Kit. There’s Chuck Close Graph Paper, Paul McCarthy Ketchup bottles, Mini Damien Hirst Shark, William Wegman Dog Treats and much more. Definitely chuckle-inducing throughout. And if that weren’t enough, Jen and Paul offer free Chelsea tours led by the two of them as well as a few semi-celebrity guests such as Paddy Johnson and comedian Sean J Patrick with others to follow. Make sure to keep an eye out for the bus if you’re headed to Chelsea this fall, or sign up for a tour over here.
You can learn more about Jen and Paul in the video below:
You wouldn’t necessarily associate Moishe’s Moving with art and architecture, but you would be wrong not to. Moishe Mana, founder of the moving company, and his right-hand man Eugene Lemay have converted 150,000 square feet of the 1.5 million industrial space they own in Jersey City into the impressive Mana Contemporary, a center that houses over 250 artists’ studios, numerous art galleries, Richard Meier’s Model Museum, Gary Lichtenstein’s Editions printing studio and shop, in addition to dance studios, an art book shop, a bistro, designer studios, a recently completed spectacular column-free 50,000-square-foot separate glass gallery, and who knows what else? I visited last spring during an open studios event and was blown away by the facilities as well as the quality of the art (there are some impressive names on the doors such as Michal Rovner and others.) The Richard Meier Model Museum is a must-see, and there are special exhibits in many of the art galleries. The trip from NYC is relatively quick on the Path train but, as was the case when I visited in May, this Sunday, September 14th there will be free shuttle buses running from the Meatpacking District every half hour, making the excursion irresistible.
Daniela shared this Instagram photo series with me last week and it’s right up our alley, both because they’re absurd—starting with the title—and because they’re pizza-related, two things we really enjoy. Pizza in the Wild series I and IIby Los Angeles-based photographer Jonpaul Douglass were inspired by pizza graffiti which led him to photograph a bunch of Little Caesar’s pizza pies in unusual locations and situations throughout LA. Some hang off ledges, others are thrown/placed on animals, cars, street signs and the like, and still others become one with nature. If you’re feeling badly for the pizzas that appear in the shots, don’t; none were harmed in the making of the series and apparently some were even eaten! A very wise man, for sure.
I stopped by the opening of Outlaw Arts’ graffiti and street art show 21st Precinct last Saturday evening. The 1863 NYPD building will be demolished in the coming months and a condominium will take its place, so, as has become recently popular in NYC and abroad, the four-story space was handed over to street artists who covered every wall, door, floor, ceiling, bathroom, and other nooks and crannies throughout with their art. The irony of graffiti in a police station was not lost on many of the artists who themed their work accordingly: there were excerpts from the Miranda Rights sprayed in beautiful type graffiti; there was a bathroom that looked like a murder scene with a blood-filled sink; a machine gun vending machine; Pacino’s Scarface above writing in white powder simulating cocaine on the floor, and much more. Each artist was apparently given a room or hallway or stairway to go to town on, and go to town they did. Some of my personal favorites included Rae-BK, Alice Mizrachi, Yok and Sheryo, Mr. Toll, and of course others who I was not able to identify, such as the bottom photo. (Update: it’s Erasmo.)
It’s interesting to see how street art is increasingly making its way indoors and with that so is the sense of a downtown gallery scene. There were even iPads displaying additional works in some of the rooms and business cards abound. And why not? Just as with any art, there are some truly exceptional artists among many of the more mundane, and I, for one, would be thrilled to have any one of a number of these artists’ works on my walls.
Many of the featured artists were wandering around the opening, blending in with everyone else, except for the rare case of red spandex pants that far from blended, but that seemed to be the point. If you missed the event last weekend, don’t despair, the 21st Precinct at 327 East 22nd St. will be open to the public again this coming weekend 8/23 and 8/24 from 1 to 6pm. If you can’t make it live, you can see many more (and better) photos here and here.
Artists Bob Seng and Lisa Hein have created their Jello Brick Wall sculptures on more than one occasion. Their most recent was at the Seattle Center in, well, Seattle. The jiggly installation consisted of 500 lbs. of Jell-O made into loaf-size bricks of varying flavors (raspberry, orange, cherry, lime, and more) and colors held in place with gypsum mortar. The artists cook the Jell-O on a hot plate and cool it in molds in a fridge. The final wall measured roughly 5 feet in height and 12 feet in length. And then there’s the melting/deteriorating aspect. Hein and Seng like the temporary nature of the work. Each brick apparently has the approximate lifespan of cut flowers, eventually melting or crumbling leaving just the mortar. The work is part performance, part installation. You can see more in the video below:
I noticed a few of these in Nolita the other day and then again yesterday right around Astor Place. I wondered what they were about and have since learned that it’s a public art project titled Signs by artist/designer Ryan McGinness fabricated and installed by NYC Department of Transportation (DOT). Apparently there are fifty in all of these vinyl on aluminum signs and, so far, they seem to mostly be downtown. McGinness has sketches of all fifty on his website accompanied by brief, somewhat whimsical/enigmatic descriptions. I couldn’t find more information, such as how the DOT went along with this, but I’m a fan of anything that makes you stop on the busy streets of NYC and ponder. If you’re in the city, keep your eyes open for more of these. They’re scheduled to be up through August.
East London artist duo Mariana Fantich and Dominic Young who make up the studio Fantich & Young, create conceptual sculptures addressing “parallels between social evolution and evolution in the natural world.” The original Apex Predator—described as predators with no predators of their own, residing at the top of the food chain—tooth-soled shoe sculptures started with the Barker Oxford shoes inlaid with 1050 false teeth in their soles in 2010. These were used to accompany the Apex Predator Suit made of human hair and glass eyes for buttons. The Empire (Jimmy Choo heels) followed and, most recently, this year in fact, the Red Shoes Mary Janes are the latest addition to the series. Now the whole family can grip the ground, chomping their way around town. Creepy? Yes. But come on…pretty cool, too.
You can see the rest of Fantich & Young’s work here.
A couple of months back I made the trip out to Mana Contemporary (a surprising cultural hub in Jersey City) and witnessed Matt Reilly of Japanther—a band established by Reilly and Ian Vanek while students at Pratt and described by art reviewers as “art-rock installation paratroopers” —skateboard paint. Somewhere between Jackson Pollock’s drips and Aaron Young’s multi-motorcycle performance art piece Greeting Card, lies Reilly’s skate-painting. By adding paint to the wheels of his board with sponges and then showing off his skating skills, Reilly is able to create large, abstract paintings while putting on a mesmerizing show. The results are nicer than I would have imagined, and the process was fun to watch. You can see him in action below:
Top two photos: collabcubed. All the rest: Japanther
This isn’t the first time artist João Onofre displays his art installation titled Box Sized Die, nor is it likely to be the last. It is, however, the first time the installation has gone to London. Consisting of a large soundproof steel cube, the Portuguese artist invites a local Death Metal band to play inside the cramped space both with the door open, and then with it closed, limiting the performance length to how long the band can last before the oxygen runs out. Placed in the heart of the business district for this summer’s Sculpture in the City festival, Box Sized Die, according to Onofre, is meant to symbolize the office buildings that surround it filled with cubicles and impossible to know what’s going on inside from the exterior. Spectators put their ears to the box to hear the band Unfathomable Ruination play their self-proclaimed “unrelenting brutal death metal” to no avail, but the band seems to be embracing the challenge wholeheartedly having lasted between 19 and 25 minutes in the sealed box so far.
If you’re in London, the band will be performing Wednesday to Friday through August 1, 2014.
When it comes to street art, it doesn’t get much cuter than Stik. The British graffiti artist based in London paints mouthless and noseless stick figure characters on walls, doors, water towers, and more, that despite their minimalistic quality exude warmth and charm. Sometimes in groups holding hands (see the two water towers we’re acquainted with in the East Village and Bushwick), and other times alone, these not-so-little guys are usually painted in black and white against solid bright colored backgrounds. In addition to his unauthorized work, the somewhat private Stik, who has been homeless at times, works with many charitable and human rights organizations. See? That good heartedness shines through in his art. Stik’s work can be seen in Europe, NYC, and even the Middle East and Japan. We are fortunate to have two of his works right in our neighborhood.
You can see more of his work here and an interview below:
All images courtesy of Stik except bottom left: Geof Hargadon via Brooklyn Street Art, and bottom right: Paul Whitehouse via Huffington Post London.
I probably should know Rona Pondick’s work—after all she studied under Richard Serra and her impressive list of exhibitions include the Whitney, Brooklyn Museum, and MoCA in LA among many more art institutions worldwide—but I don’t believe I’ve ever come across it before. Fortunately, I stumbled upon it the other day online. I really like all of her work; both new and old. Pondick, a NYC-born and based artist, offers a feminist critique on Freudian theories of sexuality through her work. Her earlier pieces mostly depict abstractions of mouths and breasts in an array of mixed media. Her more recent sculptures are cast in a variety of metals and consist of human-animal or -plant hybrids, often strange and disturbing, suggesting a kind of metamorphosis, hence the name of one of her exhibits and subsequent publication: The Metamorphosis of an Object. You can see much more on her site.
It’s been a couple of years, but it comes as no surprise that OK Go’s latest music video for their new single “The Writing’s on the Wall” is amazing. It may even top all the others, if that’s possible. With one tricky optical illusion after another, the clip includes the anamorphic effects and styles of artists such as Felice Varini, Vik Muniz, Bela Borsodi, and one of our favorites, Boa Mistura. The project took roughly three weeks (looks like it would have taken even longer!) and fifty takes before wrapping. The last scene revealing the crew is terrific, adding yet another dimension, and the sense of joy at having completed the impressive project shines through. In addition, the playing with perspective (more than one way to see things) goes hand-in-hand with the somewhat sad lyrics, despite the upbeat tune.
Watch the video below. OK Go’s new album Hungry Ghosts, which includes this song, is due out in October.
It was a spectacular day this past Saturday here in NYC, ideal for strolling through Chelsea and taking in a lot of art. To my delight most galleries still had great shows up and hadn’t yet reverted to their quieter summer group shows. Over at Pace, the amazing Tara Donovan (previously here) had two new large-scale sculptures. For over a decade, the NYC-born and based Donovan has taken volumes of everyday materials and turned them into impressive works. Whether toothpicks, drinking straws, paper plates, styrofoam cups, or pieces of mylar, Donovan, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, layers, piles, or clusters these items with a precise repetition until these products assume forms that evoke natural systems. These two sculptures currently at Pace are no exception. The first room in the gallery welcomes you with what seem to be a group of conical rock formations, possibly of a volcanic sort but, upon closer inspection, the millions of 3″ x 5″ index cards stacked and glued become evident, proving, once again, her ability to create amazing effects through the accumulation of identical objects. The second room contains what looks to be an almost fluffy or furry sculpture, but in fact is made of thousands of acrylic rods of different lengths, quite the opposite of soft or fluffy. These “bursts” are interconnected much in the way coral appears to be. Donovan has experimented with these rods before, but this work is her largest of the series. Tara Donovan’s sculptures will be on exhibit at Pace Gallery through June 28, 2014 extended through August 15th!
Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian lives and works in Tehran. Her photographs, though at first glance somewhat humorous, reflect what she sees as “the duality and contradiction of life.” After her marriage, inspired by her wedding gifts, Ghadirian photographed her series Like Every Day in which each of these photographs depicts a figure draped in patterned fabric in place of the typical Iranian chador. Instead of a face, each figure has a common household item such as an iron, a tea cup, a broom, or a pan, depicting the daily routine of many of the women that surround her yet, despite its focus on Muslim women, its relevance extends to women in other parts of the world as well. An earlier series titled Qajar (bottom two photos) is equally smart, reimagining the traditional Iranian portraiture of the late 19th century, but the veiled women carry boomboxes and other modern-day items.
Daniela showed me these amazing nails a couple of nights ago. I’m not one to wear nail polish—it’s a stubby-fingers issue combined with a ridiculous feeling of nail suffocation—or even appreciate it much, but these literal works of art painted on the small fingertip canvases definitely wowed me. Art lover (and nail art lover) Susi Kenna has had her nails painted numerous times in the past two years in the style of paintings by famous artists ranging from Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet, to more recent artists including Shantell Martin and Barry McGee. It’s not clear to me whether Kenna goes in to her various nail artists (Mei Kawajiri, Vanity Projects, and Jessica Washick) armed with art, but it appears that may be the story. In any case, Susi Kenna has documented the nail art on her hands in a tumblr worth a peek.
Apart from the white sugar-covered (4 tons of sugar were used) sphinx with the Mammy-inspired head, there are fifteen large-scale black figurines based on ceramic racial tchotchkes that Walker came across online, of brown-skinned boys carrying baskets. These 5-foot tall sculptures are made of molasses-colored candy, much of which is slowly melting (can’t wait to see what these look like in the heat of late June) and in some cases are more red in color than brown, making it difficult not to associate with blood and the horror of beaten slaves, or of the workers who lost their limbs and lives in the dangerous process of feeding the cane into large mills. Blood sugar. There was an interesting interview with the artist on NPR last week in which Walker pointed out another curious parallel: sugar is originally a brown substance that is considered more valuable as it is “refined” and turned into a white crystal.
Walker has given us lots to think about here. In addition, I should point out that the factory itself is worth the visit. What an amazing space. Every direction makes for a great photo-op filled with rusty textures and machinery.
A Subtletywill be up Fridays through Sundays until July 6th at the Domino Sugar Factory on Wythe and South 2nd Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And it’s free! Be sure to check out the geometric street art by Rubin415 outside along the fencing while you’re there (bottom photo).
Chilean artist/designer Sebastian Errazuriz (previously here, here, & here) has taken the birthday piñata of his youth and put a spin on it for this year’s NYCxDesign Festival. His monumental Golden Calf, or Cash Cow, will provocatively serve multiple purposes: a symbol of celebration; a symbol of capitalism; and as a symbol of “anti-capitalistic” greed. At the end of the festival, guests will be invited to smash the symbol of capitalism to smithereens. The oversized piñata will be filled with over 1000 dollar bills that will tumble out once the beating is successful. The irony that Errazuriz anticipates is the moment when the anti-capitalist rage in the piñata bashers turns into greed as the very same crowd ends up running for the cash themselves, stuffing their pockets with the bills. “I’d like to see people rolling on the ground and fighting for dollars,” he said. Wouldn’t it be nice if he were wrong.
Errazuriz’s golden calf will be on view at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn until May 20th at which point mayhem should ensue at 5pm.
Flickr user Harvezt has cleverly ventured to the other side. The other side of iconic album covers, that is. Harvezt has created a gallery of album covers as seen from behind. From a British bobby directing Abbey Road traffic, to the other leg and cheek on the Strokes’ Is This It, on to Kraftwerk, Springsteen, Nirvana and more, the funny and well-executed idea often surprises, but even the less surprising cases readily evokes a smile. You can see the rest of the set here.