Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lonnie Holley

I have a great deal to write about Lonnie Holley later as I have seen his work quite awhile and know him not to be a familiar name in New York. However at this time I will let the reproductions of works from the eighties on up delight those who may find them delightful, and in the heart of the spirit of Ad Hoc as I have been delineating it here starting with the Rauschenberg and the Quilts of Gee's Bend on up through the latest series of postings. It is actually seeing his work in 1991 I believe for the first time that originally started me on a certain train of thought that first laid the groundwork for this show.

This is the last paragraph from an article Raphael Rubinstein wrote on Lonnie Holley in Art in America, May 2004:

Holley's work is compelling not only for its inventiveness and social implications but also for the way it brings together various traditions and precedents. This gathering of sculptures summons up much 20th-century assemblage, from Picasso to Richard Stankiewicz to Jean Tinguely (in particular, the latter's Homage to New York, in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art in 1960), and at the same time references the African-American tradition of the yard show. Holley's bent-wire heads recall Calder's early sculptures, while his bold informality has much to do with scatter art. Let's hope that in the wake of this exhibition and a survey show--recently at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, England, and scheduled to come to Birmingham, Ala., this summer--his work, which is too often restricted to the ambience of vernacular or Outsider art, will become more widely seen

Joe Fyfe

Joe Fyfe's exhibition at James Graham is coming down March 7th and so I would urge anyone who has not seen it to go.

From the last paragraph of the James Graham press release:

Traveling to other countries expands ones color repertoire, other countries have different 'palettes' and use color differently. I access that palette by shopping in a given country's fabric market and making my work with that colored material. Overall is the idea of the painting as a physical object that addresses the body as intently as it does the eye through an emphasis on its physicality, what better way than to utilize the material that covers the body?

Willie Bell

James Hyde

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sarah Braman

Sarah Braman from Canada, a gallery that has built up quite a reputation in the new Lower East Side. They had a group of artists working with ideas that ended up in Unmonumental back when I was in graduate school with Phil Grauer in the mid nineties.

(this posting is currently under construction, as is Jim Clark's.)

James O. Clark

Jim Clark's most recent exhibition was at Elizabeth Harris Gallery:

James O. Clark : There is nothing blue under the sun / Thornton Willis: Recent Paintings Nov 16 - Dec 22, 2006

(Thornton Willis has an exhibit opening at Elizabeth Harris soon.)

Noah Purifoy and John Outterbridge

I want to thank John Mendelsohn for sending me this press release and drawing my attention to the artists in Los Angeles I had not heard of mentioned in this press release to a show at Jack Tilton several years ago to follow. (I have seen a major retrospective of Betye Saar in Florida in the last year and had long been familiar with both her and Alison Saar's work). Ed Bereal is more of a painter, however I am delighted to post both of these artists, especially Noah Purifoy who was born in 1917 in Alabama. this is just the beginning of his bio, on his website he has entire folk environments and bodies of work;

Born August 17, 1917, Snow Hill, Alabama.

B.S. Alabama State Teachers College. Montgomery, Alabama, 1943
Master of Social Service Administration. Atlanta University. Atlanta, Georgia, 1948
Bachelor of Fine Arts. Chouinard Art Institute. Los Angeles, California, 1956

John Outterbridge has a little of his bio in the image I captured from his website, and here is the press release from the 2006 exhibition at Jack Tilton in its entirety.

October 17 - November 18, 2006

NEW YORK – L.A. Object and David Hammons Body Prints will be on view at the Tilton Gallery from October 17 - November 18. The exhibition features assemblages by Los Angeles artists of the 1960s and 70s, and early work of the American sculptor David Hammons. An opening reception will be held October 17, from 6 - 8 PM, at the Tilton Gallery located at Eight East 76 Street.

This exhibition will feature a broad overview of the L.A. assemblage movement of the 1960s and 70s, including the most important West Coast artists often seen as the core of this genre. In addition, L.A. Object will seek to re-examine works by artists often left out of mainstream gallery and museum historical exhibitions. In particular, it will explore the important role of African American artists within this period. We will present works by Noah Purifoy, Ed Bereal, Betty Saar and John Outterbridge, among others, alongside works by their better-known contemporaries such as Ed Keinholz, Wallace Berman and George Herms.

L.A. assemblage grew out of the historical context of Dada and Surrealism at a moment when the poetry and underground films of the Beat generation, of which Wallace Berman was a member, were an influential force in California. Walter Hopps had brought important exhibitions of Kurt Schwitters (1962), Marcel Duchamp (1963 – his first comprehensive show in the U.S.), and Joseph Cornell (1966) to the Pasadena Art Museum, where he was director. And MOMA’s Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage had traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1968. However, the L.A. art scene of the 60s and 70s was far more removed from the New York art scene, and from
what was happening in the rest of the country, than it is now and than it has been since the 1980s when it began to play a more prominent national role. Within the scope of L.A. art of this period, those who were concerned with assemblage were a distinct group. Partially due to the dispersed nature of the city, culturally as well as geographically, there were separate networks of artists even among those making assemblages. African American, Asian and Chicano artists were often isolated from the gallery and institutional art scene and may be looked at both as part of distinct artistic communities, and in conjunction with the larger movement. This was also the era of civil rights, the 1965 Watts riots, and general social and cultural change. These events, along with the influential presence of Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, built from 1921 to 1954 out of scrap metal and found objects, had an important impact on the work of African American artists.
In addition, Tilton Gallery will present for the first time in New York a selection of early body prints by David Hammons. Often considered a New York artist, Hammons created his first major body of work, including these unique body prints, from the late 60s to early 70s while living in Los Angeles. Although his work was often exhibited in Los Angeles, because of the separations among the various art communities, Hammons was seen mostly in the context of African American L.A. artists, and only after his move to New York did he become internationally known for his assembled sculptures and installations. In his body prints, Hammons, by applying oil and pigment to his body and ‘printing’ the forms on paper, created nuanced, ironic and humorous commentaries. As in his sculpture and installations, Hammons was always concerned with making work relevant to the African American experience. This mature body of work has rarely been presented within the art historical context from which it arose. We are pleased to exhibit these works alongside those of his contemporaries working within the assemblage movement in Los Angeles.
The Tilton Gallery is located at Eight East 76 Street, between Madison and Fifth Avenues. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 – 6 and Monday by appointment. For more information, please visit our web site at, or call 212-737-2221.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Julianne Swartz

I do believe I have seen every show of Julianne Swartz's beginning with the earlier location of Josee Bienvenu's interesting gallery and following Bienvenu's various solo shows and curatorial projects (Bienvenu is a very good writer and has a degree in philosophy, and her press releases and essays in publications she has put out have always been worth reading). From the very beginning when Swartz combined lenses and optics to look through and see small ribbons and collections of objects moved slightly by fans, and her magic with hardware store items and magnets, and the sound pieces also, this is quite a body of work - I encourage a visit to her website, but most importantly both the Jewish Museum before March 15th and Josee Bienvenu at 529 West 20th Street before March 28.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hannah Weiner

Hannah Weiner is one of the guiding spirits of the Ad Hoc Shop as introduced to me by Lee Ann Brown. There is a video in three parts on You Tube posted by the tireless James Kalm, the photographs of Hannah with her cat were shown amongst others that evening by Carolee Schneeman. I have been searching the internet for photographs of her semaphore poems but will have to settle for excepting an article here.

poem as code

From the moment she took up writing, as Weiner related to Bernstein in a 1995 interview, it was never a matter of self-expression, but a means of displacing the self. She began to write poetry in 1963, and upon receiving a scholarship to the New School for Social Research, she took writing classes with Kenneth Koch and Bill Berkson, although, as Weiner notes, she "could not write New York School poetry" (LINEbreak). [8] Weiner recalls, in fact, that she felt compelled to work with found texts (a discovery she made through her association with "talk-poet" David Antin). [9] Weiner's Code Poems, a compilation of poems and performance pieces written in the mid-1960s, is one such result of having encountered a sufficiently alienated form of language with which to compose. The texts in Code Poems are based on a synthetic, nineteenth-century set of given messages comprising the International Code of Signals for the Use of All Nations, "a visual signal system for ships at sea" (3). Code Poems should be considered a landmark collection in the American avant-garde for a number of reasons. As Jackson Mac Low writes, "Weiner's Code Poems are notably original. Outside of a small group of aleatoric poems I made c. 1963 ... I know of no other code-book poems written in the 1960s. I also know that Weiner, when composing hers, knew nothing of mine: I have transcribed none of them from my notebooks" (97). [10] The significance of her poetic experiment lies not only in the novelty of employing this medium, but in the way she tests the limits of the material to comment on language. John Perreault observes that Weiner was "asking certain questions before it was fashionable to ask them. Is language a code? Is poetry a code? Can you use one code to describe another code? Can personal expression be avoided?" (8). Code Poems makes the compelling case that the official messages encrypted in the code harbor secrets hidden only from themselves as self-identical: within them lie communiques of an alternate totality, heterogeneous and cohere nt.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Forrest Meyers

Most famously known for his bright blue wall on the border of Soho with aqua girders that has with much press coverage and fanfare been reconstructed and permanently installed back where it belongs, Forrest Meyers has been around and continued to make an ongoing series of bodies of work in all kinds of categories, the ad hoc spirit being the one I chose two pieces from in visiting his studio and apartment right in my neighborhood. I don't have images of the pieces yet to upload here. The cover of his catalogue to a show from Art et Industrie and some excepts from the review in Art in America following the exhibition in the mid nineties will have to suffice for now:

There is nothing new about the effort to meld art and function, In our century, it was an important mission of such modernist movements as De Stijl, the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism. What Forrest Myers brings to the genre is a cheeky irreverence that places more emphasis on the furniture-ness of art than on the art-ness of furniture. Thus, while some of the art-furniture sculptures exhibited here remain marginally usable, for most the spirit of functionality seems introduced so as to disable the art-for-art's sake mentality of more serious modern and contemporary artists.

Picnic Table is an excellent illustration of this process. Installed so that the viewer entering the gallery gets a full frontal view of this work, it resembles at first glance a three-dimensional Sean Scully. Alternating upright planks of rusted and polished steel suggest a dialogue between light reflected and absorbed, between rough and smooth, between warm and cold. Only when one walks around the piece does it become clear that it is actually a full-sized, functional picnic table set on end, a realization which immediately deflates such high-flown formal responses.

Other works make sly reference to other modern and contemporary masters. Smokin' offers a red, buckled car hood (a la John Chamberlain) equipped with a flickering fake fireplace. Something Like a Good Armchair takes Matisse's chestnut and realizes it by shaping an overstuffed chair out of steel bedsprings. Mesa Double makes a nod to David Smith with a pair of polished steel plates affixed to an undulating black steel pipe in such a way that they could serve as seats. Such works tweak art history while hinting that the exalted status of high art is only a convention deriving from its apparent distance from function.

Other works relate to popular culture. Toon is a bright orange armchair fashioned out of a tangle of coated aluminum wire which indeed suggests a cartoon doodle brought to life. Ornette, a testament to the artist's lifelong interest in jazz, is a wire bed frame outfitted with pink plastic bottle caps and hung against the wall in such a way that its shadow suggests musical notation.

Myers has been interested in the intersection of art and technology since the 1960s, when he was a member of E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology). While many of his fellow artists went awry because they invested too heavily in a utopian vision of technology, Myers has continued to infuse his productions with a strong sense of whimsy. They refuse to allow us to take any polemic seriously.

David Hammons

Here I would like to recognize Katharine Gates on my forum as the artist and Gallery Director of Key Gallery in Richmond Virginia in the early nineties, one of the first new people I met in Richmond after moving back there from Paris. She organized a show for Key with Hans Haacke's sculpture dealing with Phillip Morris, which he was quite happy to show just down from where the Tobacco Festival had its yearly celebration in Shockoe Slip, along with work by Paper Tiger, Dyke Action Force, and notably David Hammons' Whose Ice is Colder. There was a panel discussion with some local art historians and instructors notaly centering on the large mural David Hammons did of Jesse Jackson in pinkface, with blond hair that was quite memorable - especially for Richmond, former capitol of the confederacy.

Later when I was in graduate school at Tyler Stan Whitney arranged for the full graduate student class to come up to New York and get a walking tour of Harlem with David Hammons. In the Richmond Public Library back visiting from graduate school I found a book on David Hammons where he wrote about Aime Cesaire and the way things are made and constructed by the folks in Harlem, this is why I posted the Adhocism book, Aime Cesaire and David Hammons today as the one major lineage of the show Ad Hoc Shop.

The broken Piggy Bank with the cowrie shells is more timely than ever.

Aime Cesaire

Martinican poet, playwright, and politician, one of the most influential authors from the French-speaking Caribbean. Aimé Césaire formulated with Léopold Senghor and Léon Gontian Damas the concept and movement of négritude, defined as "affirmation that one is black and proud of it". Césaire's thoughts about restoring the cultural identity of black Africans were first fully expressed in Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Return to My Native Land), a mixture of poetry and poetic prose. The work celebrated the ancestral homelands of Africa and the Caribbean. It was completed in 1939 but not published in full form until 1947.
my negritude is not a stone
nor a deafness flung against the clamor of the day
my negritude is not a white speck of dead water
on the dead eye of the earth
my negritude is neither tower nor cathedral
it plunges into the red flesh of the soil
it plunges into the blaxing flesh of the sky
my negritude riddles with holes
the dense affliction of its worthy patience.

Aimé Césaire was born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, in the French Caribbean. His father, Fernand Elphège, was educated as teacher, but later worked as a manager of a sugar estate. Eléonore, Césaire's mother, was a seamstress. In Cahier Césaire described his childhood in a harsh light: "And the bed of planks from which my race has risen, all my race from this bed of planks on its feet of kerosene cases, as if the old bed had elephantiasis, covered with a goat skin, and its dried banana leaves and its rags, the ghost of a mattress that is my grandmother's bed (above the bed in a pot full of oil a candle-end whose flame looks like a fat turnip, and on the side of the pot, in letters of gold: MERCI)." Césaire's family was poor, but his parents invested in the education of their children. To faciliate the studies of their talented son, they moved Basse Pointe to Fort-de-France, the capital. Among Césaire's classmate at the Lycee Schoelcher in Fort-de-France was Léon Damas, who later contributed to négritude.

During his years in Paris Césaire met other Caribbean, West African, and African American students, but the most important acquaintance was Léopold Senghor, a poet and later the first president of independent Senegal. Senghor's Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache (1948) became an important landmark of modern black writing in French.

The photograph is from the New York Times obituary honoring Cesaire when he died in April at 94 only last year.


This is the book I found in the Richmond Virginia downtown Public Library in the room on all the Arts in the midseventies and would look through - although I didn't read anything that I remembered inside, it was a book I used a little as an image bank and was fascinated with as part of the tenor of the times, and the images were so compelling as drawn from so many periods and new ideas just currently developing, a well of past and possible future Ad Hoc accomplishment. I have refound it at the New York Public Library in downtown Manhattan. It certainly still speaks to the DIY spirit still pertinent to countercultures, subcultures and cultures still dealing with colonialization everywhere, however it does lack a certain recognition of what preceded it in the most latter category, dealing more with class origins rather than roots of DIY.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Luca Buvoli, Marisa Merz...and Futurism

I had met Luca Buvoli in 2001 at the Greater New York show by standing in front of the monitor showing an animated work of his and trying to explain by describing in detail to my then poet boyfriend, who was new to the art world, Buvoli's show I had seen in the Drawing Center with its wires with wiry objects coming off of them encrusted with tin foil and cellophane, that when one got to the right angle spelled out "Not a Superhero." I was then telling my boyfriend how when I saw Marisa Merz's word piece at the Guggenheim of Italian art from the mid forties to mid seventies coming off the wall with wires spelling out B E A and wondering if he had seen her work before having the show when a tall young man stepped from behind the monitor and said in very Italian accented English, "I am Luca Buvoli." He said he had not seen her work before but when he did it made him very happy.

The reproduction is from the current issue of Modern Painters, just one page of a piece he did based on Marinetti's car using the painting ideas based on collating stop action photography into a depiction of movement on canvas, sculpturally achieved.

At the Futurist event he had an animation of profiles of people speaking very much slowly and more strangely the Manifesto that Marinetti would perform in theater halls; the speakers are aphasic - in his interview in Modern Painters there is a lot of discourse on why he used aphasic speakers, however experiencing the video makes these words haunting in the most moving way and was an excellent contrast to Charles Bernstein's magisterial re - interpretation right next to the monitor's ongoing loop of the animation.

After leaving MoMA around 2 pm for the Futurist Event I walked through Central Park and stopped at the Metropolitan and then the Guggenheim bookstore on the way to a panel discussion much later in the early evening at the National Academy (including David Diao, Mona Hatoum, and Amy Sillman as exhibits to be discussed) and found the catalogue to the Italian exhibition and looked at the three pages on Marisa Merz and especially at the B E A piece again. I had stopped in the Museum of Folk Art and found a book on another woman Italian artist there. Her name is Carol Rama and it was the catalogue for her retrospective which was in Trento and then in Gateshead in the UK - funny to purchase the book in that bookstore, I can assure you Carol Rama is no self taught or outsider artist.

Another Futurism: Mina Loy and Papini's Journal Lacerba

Mina Loy drew a portrait of Papini while living in Florence - she was fascinated by the editor of the journal Lacerba, an Italian neologism for Acerba with the French article as it would be in French, L'acerbe.

This is the really brief Wickepedia entry for Papini which doesn't even mention Lacerba:

Papini was born in Florence as the son of a modest furniture retailer (and former member of Giuseppe Garibaldi's Redshirts) from Borgo degli Albizi, Papini was baptized secretly to avoid the aggressive atheism of his father, and he lived a rustic, lonesome, and precociously introspective childhood. From that time onwards he felt a strong aversion to all beliefs, to all churches, as well as to any form of servitude (which he saw as connected to religion); he also became enchanted with the impossible idea of writing an encyclopedia wherein all cultures would be summarized.

Trained as a schoolteacher, he taught for a few years after 1899, then became a librarian. The literary life attracted Papini, who founded the magazine Il Leonardo, together with Giuseppe Prezzolini, in 1903, then joined Enrico Corradini's group as co-editor of Il Regno. He started publishing short-stories and essays: in 1903, Il tragico quotidiano ("The Tragic Everyday"), in 1907 Il pilota cieco ("The Blind Pilot") and Il crepuscolo dei filosofi ("The Twilight of the Philosophers"). The latter constituted a polemic with established and diverse intellectual figures, such as Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche - Papini proclaimed the death of philosophers and the demolition of thinking itself. He briefly flirted with Futurism and other violent and liberating forms of Modernism (Papini is the character in several poems of the period written by Mina Loy).

So much for Wickepedia.

Apollinaire himself wrote one of the many Futurist manifestoes which appeared in Papini's Lacerba, then temporarily the official organ of Futurism. For graphic designers and historians of typography, Giovanni Papini's 'Lacerba' introduced free typography in Italy . Most interestingly is how Papini ends up in the discussion of philosophy via William James, excerpted here:

" A constant and colorful feature of William James's writing is his generous appraisal of those individuals who left their impression on his mind. James's pages abound with cameo portraits of philosophers and scientists both famous and obscure, religious mystics, Viennese peasant women and Brockton murderers; these are major actors and anonymous bit players in life's drama. One of most intriguing of these supporting figures is Giovanni Papini. Best known, perhaps, are the references in Pragmatism where he emerges as the originator of the famous "corridor" metaphor. This scant evidence gives little indication of just how controversial a figure Papini turns out to be in the history of pragmatism in Italy. While James praises Giovanni Papini in the most extravagant terms for his originality, rhetorical flair, and uncompromisingly militant pragmatic spirit, this enthusiasm is not shared by others who have subsequently written on Italian pragmatism. Writers on both sides of the Atlantic have questioned whether Papini truly deserves the lavish praise that James so readily bestows upon him. "

This is from an article by Paul Colella from the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. I leave it to others to track down the Corridor metaphor to change the subject to the giant Mina Loy herself, the author of the only surrealist novel I was ever not only able to finish, but permanently impressed by titled Insel (Black Sparrow Press), who participated in New York Dada, Futurism, and Surrealism and for whom Duchamp wrote the catalogue essay for her exhibition in New York at Julien Levy gallery - they had maintained a friendship nearly their entire lives, when intersecting geographically. Her role in Futurism was at the center of a triangle of Marinetti and Papini's collaboration and rivalry in the earliest days of Futurism, but Papini was not to get alon with Marinetti much more on class differences as Marinetti was pampered son of a wealthy family in Milan and Papini had no such money or origins.

Specifically, Mina Loy had Marinetti as a frequent visitor when he was in Florence from Milan and he pursued her for quite awhile while she was more intrigued by, and felt Papini to be, her kindred spirit - Papini befriended her but withheld from anything further, so she did accompany Marinetti on a train trip and they were lovers for a time, but she thought his big theater entertaining but never took it terrifically seriously. Loy preferred Papini's knowledge of philosophy, and his poetry, and his acerbic rather than bombastic style. Papini and Loy were entirely kindred with her reading and English poetry and acerbic wit, and that other "Village Explainer" similar to Marinetti, Ezra Pound, proclaimed her one of the three poets worth reading in English very early on. (Gertrude Stein, who called Pound the Village Explainer, "fine if you are a village, if not, not" was a friend of Loy's in Florence where they were often found walking around together, and met Alice Toklas' approval as a close and enthusiastic reader of Stein's work.)

Futurism: February 20, 1909

I am breaking into Ad Hoc shop for several postings on that great Cabaret and big theater spurred by Marinetti, Futurism. The current issue has a campy cover and interview with Maurizio Cattelan but more importantly Luca Buvoli, and other Futurism discussions are happening everywhere in this centenary year of the foundations of the movements, led or successfully interpreted and promoted for the first time by poets as was often the case in those days, but filled in visually and conceptually by exhibitions of painters. In Marinetti's case it was definitely a case of being led.

The day before yesterday I attended Poetry Magazine's Futurism Event at the Museum of Modern Art, where Charles Bernstein kicked it off with a powerful and forceful reading of the manifesto, with the delightful ironies of his reading "none of us is over 30" (Bernstein is a few years past thirty) and when he got to the lines on museums, in the Museum of Modern Art, the irony was quite enjoyable to the gathered audience, it was time to laugh out loud: - "Museums, cemeteries! Truly identical in their sinister juxtaposition of bodies that do not know each other. Public dormitories where you sleep side by side for ever with beings you hate or do not know. Reciprocal ferocity of the painters and sculptors who murder each other in the same museum with blows of line and color. To make a visit once a year, as one goes to see the graves of our dead once a year, that we could allow! We can even imagine placing flowers once a year at the feet of the Gioconda! But to take our sadness, our fragile courage and our anxiety to the museum every day, that we cannot admit! Do you want to poison yourselves? Do you want to rot?"

This performance was in the lobby on the steps in front of the sculpture garden with streams of visitors going by, not quite registering as they glanced over to get on to the second and further floors. When Bernstein got out a hammer at the part about blows he approached the Miro with a savage gesture bearing an ordinary hardware hammer, and then went over to the free issues of Poetry Magazine carefully stacked on a table and swept a large group of them violently across the floor, it was more of an attention getter for the passersby, some stopped to see what it was all about and some to pick up free copies as the floor seemed to make it more clear that one needn't pay for them.

I had especially gone to see Luca Buvoli's animation, to meet Lee Ann Brown there who is my cohort and founder of Ad Hoc Shop and see her colleague Charles Bernstein read, but had emailed her asking if someone would be reading Mina Loy's Aphorisms on Futurism, which are included in her collected work entitled The Lost Lunar Baedeker. Here is the posting from a little more than a year ago on James Geary's website. James Geary has written an excellent history of aphorisms entitled The World in a Phrase, and the most globally oriented compilation of aphorisms ever attempted in English, (and incidentally has published my aphorisms twice on his website). Here is his posting:

All Aphorisms, All The Time

A blog by James Geary about Aphorisms

Aphorisms by Mina Loy
Posted on January 31, 2008

Mina Loy always considered herself more of a visual rather than a verbal artist. She was born in London in 1882, and first established a reputation as a post-Impressionist painter. She lived in Paris during the early years of the 20th century and was involved in all of the artistic movements of the time: dadaism, futurism, surrealism. She moved to the U.S. in 1916, and in 1921 Ezra Pound wrote to Marianne Moore, editor of Poetry magazine: “Is there anyone in America except you, Bill [William Carlos Williams] and Mina Loy who can write anything of interest in verse?” One of Loy’s verses, “Aphorisms on Futurism,” is an aphorism sequence as much as it is a poem. My thanks Lori Ellison for alerting me to Mina Loy. Excerpted aphorisms:

THE velocity of velocities arrives in starting.

LOVE the hideous to find the sublime core of it.

LOVE of others is an appreciation of one’s self.

MAY your egotism be so gigantic that you comprise mankind in your self-sympathy.

TIME is the dispersion of intensiveness.

THE Futurist can live a thousand years in one poem.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Christopher Stackhouse

I met Chris working at the animation studio the Ink Tank the summer of 1997, my second job in New York, and he told me about his interest in poetry (especially early interest in Hart Crane), his music and visual arts projects then - and we have kept in touch through running into each other and email since then: he has organized several ongoing poetry reading series through galleries and was included in a show that Rose Burlingham and Lindsey Brown did together several summers ago, with these clipped collections from things found walking around.

Tamara Zahaykevich

The artist's statement from her website:

I create sculptures using foam core, paper and paint. I use the low-tech materials of model making for their association with the mundane and their lack of pretension. I also include studio detritus such as scraps of foam core and paint mixing palettes, which reflect my fondness for frugality and jerry rigged construction. My sculptures accrue meaning from this reuse and reassignment of materials. They are reformed and juxtaposed to be seen anew.

My late grandmother, Babcia, was an immigrant from Western Ukraine where my mother was born. She spent many years living in Poland with the family until coming to Newark, NJ in the 1960’s. My mother told me that when my grandmother was a young girl, her family owned a business, she rode horses, had a seamstress, and someone even braided her hair! During the war, her family lost everything and was very poor.

My Babcia had to become very resourceful to survive which is one of the qualities I most admire about her. She could take any old scraps in her refrigerator and cook up a delicious soup on request; clothes that didn’t fit came back to life with minor alterations; embroidered tablecloths and doilies spruced up the saddest furniture. Despite being frugal, she was also very generous. Everything she created made those around her feel special.

These admirable qualities are my artistic heritage from my Babcia. We both create beauty and nourish our bodies through our creative activities. I often think when I am in the studio that the scraps of foam core, with their random shapes and accidental drips of paint, that I use in my art, are as nourishing as the bits of carrots, beets, and onion skins used in making Babcia’s soups.

This is Tamara's statement from her website: it goes very importantly with the text of Femmage, by Melissa Meyer and Miriam Shapiro, with their emphasis on Waste Not, Want Not, and Rauschenberg's description of growing up on a farm, and David hammons' writing about the way things are made by Blacks in the city, in Harlem, and the Great Migration to the cities in the north - immigration from rural parts of Europe, or changing fortunes due to revolutions and similar upheavals. I had seen her work in a show in Feature titled Lost Sock Drawer.

Shinique Smith

SHINIQUE SMITH Born 1971, Baltimore, MD. Lives and works in Brooklyn,
NY EDUCATION 2003 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture,
New York, NY 2000 Summer Studio Arts Program, Wackers Kunst Academie,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2000 Tufts University & The School of
the Museum of Fine Arts, Medford, MA 1998 MFA, Maryland Institute
College of Art, Baltimore, MD 1992 BFA, The Maryland Institute
College of Art, Baltimore, MD

Excerpts from an article in the Washington Post by Blake Gopnik on Shinique Smith:

Shinique Smith is as fine a mixture of street and salon as any artist could be.

For decades, her family lived in the genteel Baltimore neighborhood of Edmondson Village. Except that by the time Smith was growing up, she says, that gentility was lost and by now it's "totally the 'hood."

She was born to a teenage single mom who left Shinique (rhymes with "Clinique") behind to be brought up by her grandmother. This young mother, however, had "abandoned" her daughter to study fashion in New York and Paris, then came back to push culture and education on her kid.

Smith went to storied public schools in Baltimore: The Baltimore School of the Arts and later Frederick Douglass High. In between those two schools, she got arrested, for what she calls "ridiculous" graffiti crimes, and was bounced to Southwestern High, where metal detectors were de rigueur.

All along, this has been what Smith has had to reckon with: A complex negotiation between the "high" culture of the art world, for so long steeped in whiteness, and the black "street" culture of the city she grew up in.

Smith is proud of her brief flirtation with graffiti as a member of TWC, The Welfare Crew. "For a minute, I was the only girl writer in Baltimore," she says. But press her for details about her teenage arrest, and she just laughs it off as youthful foolishness, long since scrubbed from her record. That was more than 20 years ago, she points out. Her street-art past may be something "people like to glom onto," but she has spent decades moving on from it.

(In the show in DC covered in the Post, Smith included new verses from Nikki Giovanni, as part of the sound collage mix. Giovanni is in her sixties - there were students at the high school I went to in Columbia Maryland who wanted Nikki Giovanni at our 1976 commencement, but as the second only graduating class of Oakland Mills High School, we didn't have the budget. We were excited about reading her poetry then, the very young high school women.) Giovanni's verses include such phrases as "You are Just / If there is any / Justice / Trying to find a way of not / Just surviving but living" and "You are just / trying to say 'I'm Alive.' " They inspired Smith to include the following in her assemblage, which cascades from one corner of the room: A torn Tupac Shakur T-shirt, collaged photos of dead hip-hoppers such as Aaliyah, Jam Master Jay and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (along with similar homages to dead fine artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Harding), images of roses torn from a movie poster for "Youth Without Youth," a cardboard-cutout butterfly, a plastic "Heavyweight Wrestling" trophy belt, gold plastic beading hanging from the ceiling, swirls of illegible writing done right on the wall (in that sumi ink), lengths of red ribbon, blue shoelace and yellow caution tape stretched across a window embrasure as well as a pair of high-heel pink mules that sit demurely in the middle of the mess.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nancy Shaver

Nancy Shaver is currently in a group show at Feature in its new location on the Bowery that opened February 19th. I had seen her work first in the back room at Hudson's Chelsea space, then more recently a large front room exhibit with her constructed, and painted work and found objects together, so much in the spirit of Ad Hoc Shop, which these postings are all delineating.

Chakaia Booker

From Grace Glueck's review of her last show at Marlborough, which I had the pleasure to see, and then an acquaintance had her work in a well curated show at Henry Street Settlement a few months more than a year ago.

"Black rubber tires, cut up and recycled into sculptures, are Chakaia Booker's tough, aggressive signature medium, and in this show they are given even more expressive power. She uses patterned treads, thicknesses, textures, subtle differences in color (steel radials give the most chromatic effect) to different advantage in each object.

To Ms. Booker, black symbolizes the strength of African identity, suggests Charlotta Kotik of the Brooklyn Museum of Art in a catalog preface to the show, but her stress on the color's nuances is meant to evoke the complexities of black's human application."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Joe Overstreet

The paintings to the left are, from top to bottom,,

Origins, 2003

Chocktaw Fields, 2003

Morning Vines, 2003

Joe Overstreet is the impetus behind the Ad Hoc show idea - and certaInly someone knowledgeable enough for me to have learned from; he of course has lived the postings on Jazz cadence, Hilla Rebay and the Museum of Objective Art, and also Harry Smith with his "Injuneering" (early teenage recordings of Pacific Northwest potlatches) and rural roots recordings, and celestial and Pythagorean interrelationships. would be all very familiar to him from his own studies and experiences.
I had visited his studio just following the opening of High Times Hard Times hoping to put a show together of what some of the same artists were doing currently, a temporal bookend if you will, and include someartists who had not been in especially Gerald Jackson and Thornton Willis, and Ronnie Landfield who I met just a little later. The show fell through, but the first thing I told Joe and Corinne was that I was born in Montgomery Alabama, but that it was on an air force base, but looking at the screens built on to the stainless steel structures reminded me of going to family back in Crockett, Texas or Charlottesville, Virginia in the warm to hot months and looking through the screen door or porch at the birds or squirrels and trees and landscape outside. The idea of Ad Hoc, painting and assembling, and just plain assembling work, came out of my wanting to do a show with Joe Overstreet as one of the guiding spirits. This is from his website and says it all much better than I could. Also several summers ago there was an exemplary show at Zwirner titled "a point in space is a place for an argument." It was such a good show where all the work could have a dialogue in the tradition of the French verb "jaser" and Joe's piece was a nice extended solo interweaving with work by artists Lynda Benglis, Forrest Bess, Alfred Jensen, Lee Lozano, Niki de Saint Phalle, Katy Schimert, Al Taylor and others. Here is some of the accompanying text to Meridian Fields:

In the mid 1970s I understood my reality by looking into the deep. Where it was clear and not murky, from the surface 30 or 40 feet above, I could view the ocean floor.

In effect, this reminded me of looking out from the screened door of my grandparent's porch as a child, out at the fields near Meridian in 1940.

The screen paintings have a strong structural base, and incorporate geometric shapes such as whirling squares, logarithmic spirals, and patterns of organic growth, along with rhythmic waves found in music.

In the mid 1970s I made more than 100 screen paintings, but at the same time I was enjoying painting on canvas, and I continued to be occupied with that into the 1980s and 1990s.

At one point I realized that the canvases and structures I was working on were nothing more than surfaces. The way I work now the shadow is a part of the structure and as such, very much a part of the painting itself.

Open spaces, celestial observations, and the suggestion of the rhythms of nature reflect the rural, northeastern territory once ruled, and still inhabited by Mississippi Band of the Choctaws.

"Overstreet's oeuvre has remained dedicated not exactly to the idea of a black esthetic but to African-American art history, and at the same to the broader stream of Western modernism and post-modernism of which it is a part.

Overstreet is an artist in the American tradition. . . His work demonstrates a courageous determination to somehow be true to both."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Harry Smith and the Anthology of American Folk Music

A monochord is an ancient musical and scientific laboratory instrument. The word "monochord" comes from the Greek and means literally "one string." In the monochord, a single string is stretched over a sound box. The string is fixed at both ends while a moveable bridge alters pitch.
(...) In 1618, Robert Fludd devised a mundane monochord (also celestial or divine monochord) that linked the Ptolemaic universe to musical intervals. An image of the celestial monochord was used on the 1952 cover of Anthology of American Folk Music by Harry Everett Smith and in the 1977 book The Cosmographical Glass: Renaissance Diagrams of the Universe (p. 133) by S.K. Heninger, Jr.

See both the original etching and the Harry Smith cover using it in the background, left.

The diddley bow is an American string instrument of African origin. It is typically homemade, consisting usually of a wooden board and a single wire string stretched between two screws, and played by plucking while varying the pitch with a metal or glass slide held in the other hand.
The diddley bow is significant to blues music in that many blues guitarists got their start playing it as children, as well as the fact that, like the slide guitar, it is played with a slide.
A notable performer of the instrument was the Mississippi blues musician Lonnie Pitchford, who used to demonstrate the instrument by stretching a wire between two nails hammered into the wood of a vertical beam making up part of the front porch of his home. Pitchford's headstone, placed on his grave in 2000 by the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, is actually designed with a playable diddley bow on the side as requested by Pitchford's family. Other performers who use the instrument extensively are New York City-based jazz pianist Cooper-Moore, and American bluesman Seasick Steve.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sideshow, Mary Hambleton and Margrit Lewczuk

This is first of all a reminder that next weekend is the last weekend to see It's A Wonderful Life at Sideshow. I no longer work there however it is around the corner from where I live, and Saturday when I went in there I saw Stephanie Frank, who showed me where her two paintings were in the 300 plus salon style two rooms, hers are on the wall facing one as you come in the door, near the bathroom door, looking up. Also on Saturday I encountered Jenny Landfield talking to Jeanne thomsen, who is currently in a group show at Nurture Art, a nonprofit space in Williamsburg open to curatorial projects of all kinds. I had wanted to revisit a certain familial notion at Rich's group show that expands on and goes beyond the community / communal feeling of the big group show, after writing about the daughters of American painters earlier in the blog, and Jenny was able to show me her mother Lenore Jaffe's collage work hung just to the left and above of Ronnie Landfield's painting and their son Noah Landfield's which I had seen as part of a series of wildly colorful volcano paintings, however the nicest surprise was Noah's wife Nagha Wada, a large rhythm of tiny petals coming down on a white field which was next to my small drawing and Gelah Penn's small framed sculpture in thin plastic filaments, we remarked on how well rich had hung the three together. (Gelah is one of the many couples included in the show; her husband Stephen Maine has a painting in the first room.) Rich has his daughter Cheyenne and son willy included in the show and is quite glad to point them out, and another important visitor to the gallery that day the filmmaker and chronicler of artists for PBS and other venues was showing rich on the PC his DVD of Nicholas Carone - who has a haunting as can be painting in the show and Claude Carone his son has a painting worth seeking out over the door to the hallway.

Sunday I was sitting chatting when my friend Leslie Roberts, who is a favorite fellow notebook artist of mine, came in to see work by friends and said how sad it was that Mary Hambleton had died, either two days or the day before the opening. I had not known this at all, having been in Los Angeles for another opening that night. So I am posting two artworks from the Mary Hambleton website which I hope everyone will visit. She had cancer for six years and yet never stopped working. This was a bit of a shock so I am afraid I may do Mary Hambleton more justice later. The two reproductions are from bottom Topsey Turvey 2006 and next upwards, Tall Dots with Orange Stripes 2006.

The next three reproductions are by Margrit Lewzcuk, who had a painting in an exhibition entitled The Color Imperative at N3 Space on North 3rd, that I thought for a second might have been by Chris Martin but more interesting in a certain way, before I read her name on the exhibition checklist. Then I saw her small exhibition at the Bowery Poetry Club while there for a reading, and the reproduction at left with the squares entitled Fire Fly was a large painting I was so happy to look at while gallery sitting for the Shapeshifters group exhibition at Sideshow. I am very excited by this work and in the stages where I haven't begun to form anything to write or frame it with - a very enthusiastic stage for me and one I am actually inclined to prolong at the moment.

The reproductions are Orange Cross from 2003, Fire Fly 2003 and Moondog also from 2003.