freakin' weekend: see PAC then get outdoors!

if you pick up this week's issue of City Beat, you can read a story i wrote about PAC Gallery, set to open tomorrow night in Eastern Walnut Hills with their inaugural exhibition that features fourteen contemporary Indian artists. You can also read the story by clicking here.

Amitesh Shrivastava, Evaporator, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 118", 2009

I will be stopping into the opening there, but not before getting out of doors in the balmy spring weather we are having. One stop might be the 25th Biennial Outdoor Sculpture exhibition at the Civic Garden Center on Reading Road. I have an installation in the show that i have been checking in on periodically over the past month:

recently i

brief notes about local shows i've taken in over the past couple of weeks. i have photos to accompany most of the artworks mentioned; hopefully i'll have a chance to post them later on.

I caught the opening reception of Annie, a series of paintings by Annie Titchener on display at the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately time hasn't allowed a proper post about this show, and it ends TODAY. But i'm sure that if you get in touch with Visionaries and Voices it would be possible to learn more about Titchener's work (the show was organized by V+V as I understand it...).

Titchener's paintings are expressionist and saturated; one would be hard pressed to describe a bias in the color schemes she presents, though bright reds and blues appear throughout. In many of the best moments, paint is heavy laden so that the colors muddy down into subtle intricacy. Many of the paintings on board are as textural as they are pictorial. In some paintings, drawn marks bleed out from under the paint (my brother, who saw this work with me, suggested these were made with large chisel marks-a-lot). I was reminded of Joanne Greenbaum's paintings that, if they don't actually include paint pen or sharpie, reference that kind of markmaking in acrylic or oil. My particular favorite was a small painting in one of the offices that is fitted with several blocky, brownish forms. In the bottom right corner, the artist's name is painting in multicolored strokes in qualities that reminded me of Santogold singing the song "Anne."

The current exhibition at semantics, the gallery i volunteer with, is Joe Civitello's solo exhibition Brink. The editor of Aeqai wrote a small piece about the exhibition on Aeqai's main blog here. Civitello created video installation sculptures in both rooms. The front rooms broken tunnel piece is paired by a series of digital prints, while the back space is darkened completely and trembles with the volume level of the throbbing video works that are built into a kind of fort. Beyond what Frabetti wrote, I would draw viewers' attention to the aesthetics that tweaked even the equipment, such as the coils of extension cord that have been tacked to the wall. These extra hints at control seem to crystallize some of the light/dark formal issues in many of the other works, lending them to a dialogue about power, order, risk, and true aspects of the creative process that demand subtraction as much as addition. Civitello will be keeping the gallery open during its normal 12-4 Saturday hours, as well as a closing reception on April 25th.

Rawe's installation in Convergys

So far, I've made it out to all of the senior thesis exhibitions at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. I was very impressed and proud of two close friends- Nick Hill + Zach Rawe- who made postminimalism undeniably hip again. Both slip in Pop subtexts in their objects and installations. Showing in galleries nearby one another, a marked difference in approach was the sparse, airy space that Hill made with his small wall-mounted objects and glitter installations on the floor, in contrast to the whimsical, dense carnival of objects and drawings installed in Convergys Gallery by Rawe. These two have shown together a couple of times before, and I reviewed one of their exhibitions at semantics HERE. Hill has recently put up a website with more information about his work. See it here.
One of Hill's wall mounted objects.

Other graduating seniors of interest (in no particular order):

Jon Flannery's screenprinted text works mess with album titles that will be variably familiar and obscure depending on the saavy of the viewer. With sharp wit in both the idea itself and the craft of their execution, this was a sexy installation of prints that do the Printmaking department at the Art Academy proud.

Emily Davidson's paintings only partially depend on photographic source material. Throughout the paintings, almost carnal, lusty explorations into the materiality of paint- soupy, scruffy, scumbled, sprayed, dripped, impasto, you name it- are conducted into a topographic ecosystems that are built into the final images.

Rachel Talty presented large, painterly collages as well as collaged photographs. The small photographs depict grainy outdoor images that each contain a very small bit of brown paper covering some detail within the print. The scenes feel surveilled and poeticized. The scrutiny in inspecting the images is an act of play. These were beguiling, weird little pieces in gray-painted frames. I kept looking at them. And then I kept looking at them. I should probably have one.

In this week's exhibition, Patrice Williams presented a set of utterly disturbing but jewel-like, impressive airbrushed paintings. She is graduating with a degree in Illustration, and these paintings do feel like illustrations. But they stand up with boldness and intrigue as quirky, grotesque anthropomorphs and other invented characters elaborate on the realism of the portraits in each.

“Untitled” by Patrice Williams (airbrush on smooth canvas, 18” x 24”)

The drawing that appeared behind the projected video in Baker's and Helmes' piece.

Last night, a set of Northern Kentucky University's graduating seniors presented their thesis projects in the campus' gallery. The stand out was a collaborative project between Katherine Baker and M. Kate Helmes, who used the moniker The Paper Dolls as the author of their video and drawing installation. Entitled Devolution: Things Fall Apart, a room constructed within the gallery was made to feel dark and derelict. Pieces of actually furniture like chests of drawers and a large traveling chest were pushed up against walls upon which tromp l'oeil drawings in what appeared to be charcoal completed the interior space. Window unit air conditioner, shelves of scattered books, and a fully hand-drawn "wooden" floor were drawn and smeared into blurs throughout. a thick layer of powdery dust (maybe chalk?) coated the floor and furniture, and was tracked out into the gallery. low hanging draped fabric was mottled with black; the shadow of these drapes framed the projected video piece. The video is a montage of footage that conveys a loose narrative of loss, of people packing up and leaving. Ms. Baker is off to graduate school in Massachusetts in the fall.


freakin' weekend in three states.

so there's been a lull here on the blog. when you start finding my articles in upcoming issues of City Beat, Aeqai, and another magazine that i'm too excited to tell you about quite yet, you'll understand that my writing attentions have been elsewhere. But I wanted to give you the skinny about this past weekend when I and a friend went down to Saint Louis by way of Louisville and returned through Indianapolis, allowing us to see five museums in three states in two days. ! ! !

I will be writing about a number of the things we saw for magazines and don't want to give it all away here. But this is the rundown in list form:

-Speed Art Museum, Louisville: The Vogel's have been bequeathing their collection in packets of 50 works to different museums. The Speed is one of the recipients. Along with the stunning number of Richard Tuttles from different periods (which one would expect as the Vogels have been major collectors of his throughout his career), I was delighted by Lynda Benglis, Jene Highstein, and Peter Halley. Outside of the Vogel pieces, I also greatly enjoyed a lithograph by Ellsworth Kelly and a large horizontal painting by Helen Frankenthaler. And I always LOVE the Hans Arp pieces there (one wall piece, one bronze sculpture).

-21C, Louisville: Will Morrow, a delightful fellow, works at putting together surprisingly current exhibitions of cutting edge contemporary art that coincides with permanent installations throughout the museum/hotel. (What I mean by museum/hotel is that this luxury hotel's 'theme,' if you will is contemporary art. it is a weird, but well done venture). One of Nick Cave's sound suits that were just described in the New York Times was one of the highlights. A piece that wasn't fully installed (i don't think) seemed to be a nearly life sized papier mache sculpture of Madonna or some other female rock star in fishnets, pink, + purple, donning sunglasses and blonde tresses.

-Moonlite Bar-B-Q, Owensboro: Along with museums on this trip, we used Jane and Michael Stern's Roadfood Guide to eat regional specialties along the journey. Owensboro has several claims in the form of a set of restaurants as being the international capitol for mutton. Another popular dish at Moonlite is burgoo, a stew with shredded meats, vegetables, and a red saucy consistency. One of the platters we split came with two vegetables; among our choices were macaroni and cheese and dressing (not really vegetables, why not call these 'sides'?). Service was fast, welcoming, and pretty fun to experience.

-Napoleon's Retreat, Saint Louis: We decided at the last minute to stay in an historic bed and breakfast. It was a nice change of pace from the hostels of our college years and larger chain hotels. It was located in a very quaint, picaresque part of the city in close proximity to the museums we were in town to see.

-Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, Saint Louis: Our main intention for this trip was to catch the tail end of Gedi Sibony's solo museum exhibition here. It ranks among most important exhibitions I have ever seen: sparse, spiritual, and playful; mostly whites and grays drawn from vernacular, recovered materials. Lagniappe was the small Bruce Nauman exhibition also on display and, upstairs, one of Polly Apfelbaum's huge + adorable relief prints. This one in fact:

-Robust Wine Bar, Webster Groves: In an outlying area beyond the edge of Saint Louis, we found one of the nicest wine bar cafes in this breed of restaurant. Compare to Lavomatic locally, but with a lot more investment, love, and attention to detail (not to knock Lavomatic, whose sunday brunch has currently stolen my heart). Every item on the menu is numbered to correspond with one or two sections that they demark their wine menu with. Basically rough sorted wine pairings for cheese courses, charcuterie (the pate de campagne was astounding and was paired with cornichons, dates, and an insane horseradish and hot mustard spread), salads, main dishes, and desserts. The creme brulee du jour was a cherry and vanilla, which rounded off the evening beautifully.

-Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis: We have heard great things about the SLAM's permanent collection, especially their choices in the contemporary wing. I was not disappointed. The main pieces I wanted to see were the four gray mirrored pieces by Gerhard Richter that I've read about and considered an inspiration (without having seen them) for a couple of years. But also: a couple of additional Richar Tuttles for the trip, hung near a Dan Flavin. A Joseph Beuys gray felt suit, a WHITE Louise Nevelson built in units that contrasts quirky, curvilinear forms (think Arp) against decorative mouldings from frames, chair legs, etc. The Kiefer in the lobby space was also striking and got me thinking about the development of my aesthetic, having seen work like Kiefer's in early high school.

-Ted Drewe's, Saint Louis: This frozen custard stand has sold its famous "concretes" as well as christmas trees in the winter for decades. We got a concrete apiece just before we headed out to Indiana. E's = the "bunny-rete," an Easter special that imitates carrot cake with shredded carrot and brown sugary bits. Mine = fresh banana and black walnuts whipped into the vanilla custard. Freaking fantastic!!!

-Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis: We barely made it here in time. My main purpose was to see the two Robert Irwin pieces that are a part of the museum's permanent collection. We got to dash through the contemporary wing, and the guard that escorted us (they allowed us to stay after museum hours) showed us his favorite piece, a James Turrell installation. Seeing these works only builds on my understanding and research of the life and work of Robert Irwin.

-Mug 'N' Bun Drive-In, Indianapolis: Our last stop took us to a wonderful old fashioned drive in that really manages to avoid much change from time as well as I can tell. The highlight here is there homemade root beer. We could talk about it like a red wine- it's creaminess and body, with notes of vanilla, clove, and nutmeg. Our first serving was in the frosted mugs they keep at the restaurant, but we got seconds to drive with.

the food and company were easily as important as the museum trips themselves. i needed this weekend getaway; everyone does come to think of it. i wanted to mention too that we listened to two very good audiobooks, both by NPR contributors: Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount, Jr. and The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell both employ semantics and history to look at lives and culture. Blount's book is a series of humorous and purist notations about grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Etymologies abound, as do Blount's delight in cultural idiosyncrasy. Oddly appropriate to follow up is Vowell's history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, that also incisively examines the wording and intent in the writings of early puritan settlers. both were engaging travelmates.