Oh, those melancholy Danes. Despite the truly awful title, 2D or Not 2D: Danish Artists Flirt With Space (at the UCMO Gallery of Art & Design) is actually one of the better shows in the area right now. These are mostly smallish, shy paintings; some a little obtuse, some a little too pleasing. A little too warm, a little too cool, yes, but never lukewarm. It’s all balance. The real discovery for me has been Leif Kath, a mid career academic just starting to show in the US. Kath’s thin, soft paintings wear Formalism lightly. It’s a slightly-complex-board-game-you-play-with-your-family-on-the-day-after-Christmas formalism. Nothing Puritanical. Possibly transcendent nonetheless.
Stephanie Pierce grew up in Memphis, TN, and has lived in Boston, MA, Asheville, NC, rural Tennessee, and Seattle, WA. Right now, she lives in Fayetteville, AR. Her paintings are currently showing in Sound and Vision: Circuit, Tube, and Prism, an exhibition at the Space Gallery in Portland, ME, which was curated by Gideon Bok. Later this spring, she will have a solo exhibition at Wynn Bone Gallery in Annapolis, MD.
Usually MWC interviews are conducted at a bit of a remove, but Stephanie and I actually live in the same town, so I went over to her house and recorded a conversation with her.
When did you know you were a painter?
I actually intended on becoming a painter when I was a little kid. I think I was in the 6th grade. My dream was, I’m going to be a painter and I’m going to live in the mountains. I would draw pictures of what my house would look like, and I had this image of painting next to mountain streams. What’s funny is I wasn’t surrounded by artists. I knew one artist, my friend’s mom.
Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth at the Chicago Art Institute, February 14-April 26, 2009. Roberta Smith’s Review.
Matthew Choberka: New Allegory at Central Utah Art Center, February 13-March 11, 2009. More Matthew Choberka.
If anybody has any lingering doubts about the happening vs. happened status of experimental filmmaking, I believe P.S. 1 (and/or MoMA) is un-fogging the view: they’re kicking out the Film-makers’ Cooperative. They’re handing the space (a floor in a building in TriBeCa owned by legendary quasi-museum and, more recently, MoMA arm, P.S. 1) over to Alanna Heiss, who founded P.S. 1 and ran it for many years, and who, incidentally, also was given the boot after P.S. 1 merged with MoMA, so she can set up headquarters for an internet radio station. Alanna Heiss is a pioneering figure for alternative-space exhibitors, who created the top-tier version of the alternative-space show–or maybe more correctly, the big-ass art hipster party spectacle (see Charlie Rose’s 2002 interview at about 13:00). Back in the day, it was where you’d see some of the most enduringly with-it artists, and it was entirely Heiss’s baby. John Baldessari said last year, in the NY Magazine article about her rather coerced retirement, “She is P.S. 1 and P.S. 1 is her.” While partnered with MoMA now, P.S. 1 itself is not a space with a collection, so in one way it’s no surprise that they’d prefer to foster publicity over preservation (especially considering it’s for the cause of its former visionary-boss)…but damn. That film collection is special. Heiss told NYT, “When it moves, it should move very carefully.” Anybody feel a draft in here?
This is a tough headspace to navigate. I’m really in awe of Heiss’s achievement (and a bit disappointed it wound up being absorbed into MoMA, which I suspect had more to do with P.S. 1’s having been on the cutting edge than its being on the cutting edge today), and I’m also in awe of the Film Co-op‘s experimental filmmakers, like Brakhage and Deren, whose work consistently overflows with the energy and vitality that I’m sure P.S. 1 events also had in the space’s heyday.