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Archive for June, 2009

Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

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Rebecca Ward, Shiver installation shot

Two reasons I am looking forward to Information Is Incidental, the collaborative exhibition of Kansas City’s Emily Sall and Austin’s Rebecca Ward at Paragraph Gallery in KC :

1.  It looks like it’s going to be super visually stimulating— a night of stripes, bands, zig-zags, bends, criss-crossing, depth, flatness.  We’re getting individual works from both artists—-paintings by Sall and an installation from Ward—and a collaborative installation by the two artists exploring common ideas of new, old and renewed spaces.

2.  This idea of synchronicity is really interesting.  The two artists apparently didn’t know each other at all before this process got started.  The project was set up by a local curator who saw some affinity between Ward’s and Sall’s work.   Both artists agreed lay ego aside and take a risk here.

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Rebecca Ward, vector drawings

I asked the two artists how they were preparing for the project.

Rebecca Ward:  “In preparing for the show I’ve ordered 183 rolls of tape, made a bunch of vector renderings of the space, emailed back and forth with Emily, played around with isometric graph paper, and rearranged color palettes. I’ve also been drinking lots of tea, wearing my boots, frequenting swimming holes, and I carry my journal with me wherever I go just in case I get any new ideas.  That’s pretty much it. I’m super psyched about the show, I can’t wait to meet people in Kansas City and make some art there.”


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Emily Sall, detail of painting

From Emily Sall: “Rebecca Ward and I have been corresponding with each though email over the past several months, so in a sense our collaboration has already begun. Our conversations have centered around our ideas and process…and what we are looking to achieve with the collaboration.  We are both interested in the idea that our works come together in such a way that is reactive, not only in terms of how we will respond individually to the space and architectural elements of the gallery, but also how our works will respond to each other.  We have been sending sketches back and forth, but nothing is set in stone!  I think the real magic will happen once we are in the Gallery together and yes the intuitive process will be a big part of how the piece will finally come together.”

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Emily Sall, Betwixt and Between

I also asked Sall about her project for the Mo Bank Billboard initiative, which places work by artists on a billboard in Kansas City’s Crossroads District:  “The Mo. Bank billboard was created by taking an existing drawing and tracing it in illustrator.  From there I was able keep the elements that I like and change a great deal of it.  I was thinking about ever changing cityscape’s especially in terms of our city and the great change to the landscape downtown.  The drawing reveals it’s history through it’s layers old and new and suggests movement and a playfulness and speaks to the idea of the recycled!  The title of the piece “Betwixt and Between” is an English idiom meaning-In an intermediate position; neither wholly one thing nor another.”

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Robert Colescott RIP

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Lipstick Lightening from the Indiana University Art Museum.  Robert Colescott’s obituary from the New York Times.

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Jaimie Warren:  You Are So Beautiful In The Face, June 5-October 3, 2009.

(link to artist’s site)

There is one sentence from the Kemper’s synopsis of this show that I think is critical:  While her portraits and close-ups of food invoke photographers Diane Arbus, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and Nikki S. Lee, among others, Warren’s photographs are uniquely her own in their strategic balance of artifice and authenticity, subtly conjuring all of the inconsistencies, ironies, and hilariously awkward moments that permeate everyday life.

So here’s how I’m reading this, Jaimie Warren works within a received aesthetic, and she takes on the topics and  issues of this aesthetic but there is this idiosyncratic re-shuffling of the deck that happens, just because she is her and she is not Cindy Sherman or Nikki Lee.  The artwork is worthwhile because Warren is building her own house of cards with someone else’s deck and it’s not built quite the same way—it’s a similar shape and structure, but not identical.  Just what is gained or lossed working this way, I wonder?

Admittedly, the lo-fi quality to this work is probably responsible for make the questions of  uniqueness and originality so relevant to me.  I do recommend reading the essay by James Yood on the first link; he’s able to get to the slightly trashy, sometimes icky fun of these while wrangling with the question of influence.

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The Re-enchantment of the World

In the studio lately I’ve been catching up on podcast listening.  Here’s one that stood out.  This discussion between Stanford University professor Joshua Landy and UC-Davis professor Michael Saler aired on a recent Entitled Opinions (about Life and Literature) with Robert Harrison on KZSU-Stanford.  (Harrison is out of the studio for this one.)  It’s thoughtful, devoid of cliche, and touches on a lot of themes that come up in discussions here:  Rationalism, Romanticism, spirituality, Pragmatism, Romantic Irony vs. Slacker Irony, villiany, scientific discovery as a form of Wonder, and Star Trek.  It’s an absolute must-listen.

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