I'm the President and Chief Executive Officer of Art+Culture, Inc. If I had a manifesto, it would say: I. Art is really important. It gives us not only amazing visions of beauty and diverse ways of seeing the world around us,... [more]
I'm the President and Chief Executive Officer of Art+Culture, Inc. If I had a manifesto, it would say:
I. Art is really important. It gives us not only amazing visions of beauty and diverse ways of seeing the world around us, but also helps unlock our own creativity.
II. Artists constitute an important foundation of creative culture. These incredible people not only produce the art we love, but are also often great citizens and educators, mentoring the next generation of visionaries, advocates of imagination.
III. We are subversive insiders. We have access and we are using it to democratize access. Not that we don't have high standards. We do. But we're optimistic, too. If you think we should pay attention, let us know. We will.
IV. We support cross-disciplinary collaboration. We think that visual arts people should get together with the performing arts people and the literature people and the film people and the design and music people.
V. We want Art+Culture to be a place where artists, organizations and people who enjoy all the arts can explore, discover, connect and collaborate. We want to sustain and enhance the journey. Our objective is to create a global platform that helps great artists and organizations extend their audiences while enabling art lovers to explore, learn, discuss and share the artists and areas of art practice, they care about.
This mission extends a vision of supporting artists directly that has guided the growth of Artadia - The Fund for Art and Dialogue, for the past decade. Artadia is a New York-based non-profit organization that I founded in 1999 to provide direct support to visual artists working in communities around the country. We provide direct financial support - over $2.5 million in 10 years - but also mount exhibitions of artist's work, produce catalogues and, most importantly, have assembled a national network of curators, artists, collectors, dealers, non-profits, museums and foundations that we activate to create relationships that matter for artists in communities ranging from San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Houston and New York. We think it's a great privilege to be able to enter an artist's world and get close to their practice. To learn more about Artadia, please visit our website at www.artadia.org.
El Anatsui is a Ghananian artist currently living in Nigeria. Throughout his career, he has utilized found objects and transformed them into objects of great beauty; objects that reflect not only African traditions but also western contemporary influences.
We had an opportunity to visit with El during his visit to Houston where he installed a show at the Rice Art Gallery. The show incorporated his tapestry-like sculptures made from found bottle caps, bands from liquor bottles and other scrap metal. Newer sculptures reveal an airyness not found in previous work.
El Anatsui at The Rice Art Gallery (click HERE for exhibition details)
El Anatsui at Jack Shainman Gallery 513 West 20th through March 13th (click HERE for details)
Jack Shainman recently opened a show of El's wall sculptures. They are incredibly beautiful, monumental works.
To read Alexi Worth's New York Times Magazine article on El Anantsui's work...Click HERE
Guy Overfelt is a San Fransisco-based conceptual artist and 2001 Artadia Award recipient. His practice is heavily invested in car culture, a focus of his upcoming exhibition at the Oakland Museum which opens Thursday January 21, 2010. There will be an opening from 5:00 - 7:00pm at the Museum.
A video of his signature 'burnout' can be found on vimeo HERE
Guy Overfelt utilizes language embedded in American car culture. Specifically originating with that established in 1977 with the release of the Universal Pictures film Smokey and The Bandit starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.
This film (to anyone who hasn’t seen or doesn’t remember it) personifies archetypal role of Modern blue-collar American masculinity. Prevalent in late 1970s and early 80s media and television, the typical associations were a penchant for anti-authority behavior (e.g., boot legging is the film’s central theme), material obsession (car centric focus) and sexually heroic behavior (rescuing a runaway bride from the sheriff’s son).
Overfelt is interested in the mechanisms and outcomes of the embedded social codes expressed by the film and subsequently mass marketed through film sequels and merchandising.
The artist uses a 1977 Smokey and The Bandit-replica, Pontiac Firebird (and concepts associated with the movie) to explore social archetypes and the contextual relevancy in the crossover of gear-head culture into the fine arts environment. The objects seen in the gallery (i.e., photographs, tire burnouts on linen or Arches paper) are but evidence to the experimentation, planning and purposeful mark-making present in Overfelt’s work.
Overfelt builds and handles the maintenance of his Firebird (he is at work on his second) and works to tirelessly repair and perfect the functionality of the car to achieve peak performance. Documentation of the process of making (e.g., greasy rags, notebook schematics, garage photographs, etc.) often accompany his work to indicate the action unseen in this process of making.
The artist describes the projects as
“a 13 year degenerative process at work that address failure of achievement and the dissolution of the American dream in real time. What started out as a fully functional classic muscle car has dissolved into a deflated wrecked poetic and prophetic carnage of the US car industry and the phoenix which once brilliant stood upon the hood of this Hollywood icon, The Smokey and The Bandit Pontiac Trans AM.”
His performances, like Video documentation of the creation of Burnout Drawings, Pier 70, San Francisco, CA, 1998(below), illustrate the performative actions and purposeful mark making that is largely unseen by or recorded for gallery audiences.
While Smokey and The Bandit is but a mere memory (if at all) to most, Overfelt uses the film to trace a specifically American pursuit of freedom through the cult of the automobile. This concept of automobile as process, performance and mark making tool that can be viewed as a codex of which the pages are the wide open asphalt of the American road.
Currently the second incarnation of Overfelt’s 1977 Trans Am is in the process of being built. However, if you’re in California you can see the artist’s original vehicle on display (in its current form), as well as an inflatable version, at the Oakland Museum of California at City Center on exhibition January 21 - April 30, 2010.
This spring the Metroplitan Opera will present "The Nose", the Shostakovich opera inspired by Nikolai Gogol's 1936 short story about a man whose nose leaves his face and develops a life of its own. William Kentridge, the South African artist guiding the adaption, see the nose as a metaphor for the parts of our selves in conflict - when the protoganist catches up with his errant olafactory organ, it refuses to return to its former position.
The opera is a particularly satirical, particularly Russian work. When it premiered in Russia in 1930, the Rusian Association of Proletarian Musicians deemed it "too formalist" and it closed after 17 performances and was not shown again in Russian until 1974.
Kentridge, well known for his amazing drawings, animation and performance work will present the Nose on stage, in archival film footage, his own animations and films.
The last performative work by Kentridge - a production of Mozart's Die Zauberfloete - proved to be the artistic event of 2008 (I, sadly, gave my ticket away and once the reviews came out from the first night, there was no chance of gaining another). We're excited to see how Kentridge transforms this piece.
Where: The Metropolitan Opera (co-produced with the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and the Opéra National de Lyon, France)
When: opens March 5 for six performances (March 11, 13, 18, 25)
The art world converges on Miami this week for a constellation of fairs centered around Art Basel | Basel. We had a chance to preview works and catch up with collectors, curators, artists and dealers. Overall, there is renewed vitality at the fair this year, a great deal of work on display seemed either recent work or historically relevant - not quite so much secondary market repetition. While we like to visit with friends, we focus on exploring new galleries with whom we are unfamiliar and want to highlight two great installations and give a shout out to specific works presented by old friends.
Gallery Lia Rumma / Milan: Booth T5
Shame on us for not being familiar with the program of this gallery from Milan. At the entrance to three well-curated section were placed two important documentations of Marina Abramovic performances including 'Breathing In / Breathing Out from 1977.
Entering the booth, we found interesting Pistoletto mirror paintings presented alongside late 1970s examples of Gino De Dominicis' work and that of Enrico Castellani.
The second room featured two large-scale Thomas Ruff photographs from the Nudes series flanking an industrial landscape.
In the last room, a series of William Kentridge drawings rounded out an outstanding presentation of new and historical work. Bravissimo!
Carlier Gebauer / Berlin: Booth A5
This Berlin-based gallery presented new and iconic erasure works by Paul Pffeifer, new work by Amy Sillman, intimate watercolors by Julie Mehretu along with strong work by the South African artist, Robin Rhode.
Two further shoutouts to:
Alexander Gray Associates / New York. S1. Alex's excellent program is rooted in a keen curatorial eye. Well-earned, this spot at the most important art fair in the United States and impressive given the relative youth of the program. Gray is showing an outstanding installation by the artist, writer and critic Lorraine O'Grady. We had a chance to meet this great artist at the fair; this work is both beautiful, conceptually important and moving.
Lastly, there is an amazing new Anish Kapoor sculpture at Lisson gallery. Executed in 2009, this untitled piece is stainless steel, with a concave surface of hundreds of squares which serve as an acoustic amplifier, allowing whatever is said nearby to be perfectly discernible across the room. It's really great.
More to come from the satellite fairs...send your observations/shout-outs/picks/pans to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll feature them at
Interview with Breda Kennedy / Executive Director of the Dumbo Arts Center
CEV: Breda, first of all, thanks for taking the time to talk with Art and Culture, I know you're in full gear preparing for the opening of the festival on the 25th. Could you talk a bit about your background and the genesis of this great event?
BK: Thanks Chris. I came on board in August 2006, just before the 10th festival was about to begin. The previous director (and Founder, along with Rodney Trice, Margaret Champagne, Tyson Daugherty, and others), Joy Glidden, had just resigned and so it was a sink or swim situation for me. I had previously been the program manager at ISCP so had a lot of experience working with artists but not as much working at the community level and had certainly never produced an event of this scale before. The festival had started ten years before in 1997. At that time, there were thousands of artists making art and thereby doing what artists do to blighted neighborhoods - they improve them. The festival was a guerrilla adventure with live performances, open studios and music throughout the neighborhood. Today, although the population of artists living and working in Dumbo has drastically diminished because they can no longer afford to be here, the neighborhood remains vibrant through the cluster of arts non-profits and the stimulus of young artists who participate in visual arts residencies e.g. Smack Mellon, the Marie Sharp Walsh Foundation and Triangle. This year, we'll have 77 open studios and over 80 artist projects.
CEV: The term 'public art' is oftentimes a pejorative, connoting a kind of watered-down, consensus driven, politically-correct expression. That doesn't seem to be the case here at all.
BK: No, this is public art presented in a different way. First, it's temporary so doesn't go through the same type of consensus building you reference. It is dynamic, risk-taking and unpredictable and happens in every sort of site imaginable - the waterfront, in the streets, in store fronts and gallery spaces. It's really quite amazing. We do however, go through a process. Every proposal is carefully considered - we received nearly 300 applications this year. We go through a dialogue with the artist during a two month review process and then work with landlords, businesses, the Departments of Transportation and Parks, among others, to determine the best fit. Local business has been incredibly supportive; the festival brings over 100,000 visitors to the neighborhood. In addition to the artist projects, open studios and performances, Caspar Stracke and Gabriella Monroy have curated a video festival with 50 video artists.
CEV: How much influence do outside people have on the curatorial process and do you, internally, seek out a particular thematic thread for the projects that are included?
BK: We do not approach the projects with a particular bias in mind however, our objective is to give artists total freedom in an urban space for this one weekend and so the projects do tend to reflect the moment. For example, for the 12th Festival, there were projects that dealt with the elections and the political climate of the day.
CEV: So do you see a 'recessional aesthetic' emerging atthis year's festival?
BK: There are projects that deal with the current economic climate. Ryan Rhodes, for example, has created a performance that features an untamed businessman werewolf-like creature. The environment is also very topical. John Monteith is doing a street installation of oyster shells that recalls their use as an industrial material while celebrating their current deployment to clean up the environment. There is an incredible range of projects here reflecting the diversity of artistic practice in Brooklyn and around the city. this is not a biennial, it is not cube art. We are attempting to create an oasis where anything can happen. I think that is very very important to preserve here in New York.
CEV: We totally agree. Thanks for taking the time Breda and congratulations on building a fantastic showcase for artistic innovation.