Culture: October 2003 Archives

The press release with the list of artists is out. Am I too connected, or is the Whitney being insufficiently daring? Should there really only be a couple of names I don't know on the list? This isn't even my line of work.

One more thought. I was amused when the Times article said this.

Two years ago, while Ms. Iles was in charge of its film and video and Debra Singer, the Whitney's associate curator of contemporary art, selected the performance and sound art, the biennial was primarily put together with one pair of eyes, those of Lawrence R. Rinder, the Whitney's curator of contemporary art. Critics felt it tried too hard to look for little-known artists whose work turned out to be unremarkable.

I thought that show had too many people I had heard of already, rather than too many "obscure" ones.

That's an odd bit of casting. Worth Street Theatre is going to present Lea DeLaria as Winnie in Beckett's "Happy Days."

For other Beckett, I highly recommend seeing Beckett/Albee with Marian Seldes and Brian Murray. For discount tickets, use this link, or call 212-947-8844 and mention code: BATMC79.

Also, the BBC did a very interesting set of films of Beckett works, including the three monologues in Beckett/Albee.

Daniel Reich finally has a web site!

On a somewhat unrelated note, Christina Mazzalupo has updated her web site. Check out the recent collages.

I'm still busy coding, so here are some art recommendations:

tom-sanford-defosition.jpg Tom Sanford
The Defosition, 2002
Oil and acrylic on panel
60" × 80"

Tom Sanford at 31 Grand in Williamsburg. He has a weblog called dedicated to his transformation to Tupac, but it seems a bit messed up at the moment. We started following him after picking up a work on paper by him at a benefit for Groundswell.

paul-mullins-sugar.jpg Paul Mullins
Sugar (Hood Up)
acrylic on panel
48" × 48"

Paul Mullins at lyonswier - think Lucien Freud meets Nascar. Really brilliant painting technique.

chris-ballantyne-split-double.jpg Chris Ballantyne
Untitled (Split Double), 2003
acrylic and ink on paper
12 × 16"

Chris Ballantyne at DCKT Contemporary - beautiful suburban/landscapish show recommended to me by Andrew LaVallee.

Joe Ovelman's wall piece (search my site for other discussions of his work) at Apartment 5BE Gallery. Also, I have a gallery of one of his outside wall installations.

The inaugural exhibition at a new new media-oriented gallery called Bryce Wolkowitz is definitely worth a visit. Here is a work by John F. Simon made from an Apple Titanium PowerBook:

john-f-simon-lifescreen.jpg aLife
Software, Apple G4 Titanium Powerbook, Acrylic Plastic
21 × 17 × 3.5 inches

For $20 tickets to "Gone Missing" by The Civilians, use this link, or call 212-868-4444. To get the discount on the web site, choose "Use Discount Code" in the Select Price pull-down menu and enter FWEML.

On Friday night we saw "Gone Missing" by The Civilians. James provided a preview in July inspired by an article in the NY Times about Steve Cosson, the artistic director.

"Gone Missing" is a theater work, with original songs by Michael Friedman, about things lost and found. It's very clever, and manages to go from silly songs and stories to very profound ones about loss and memory. I think the way it is wrapped up by the end is pretty brilliant, all the more so from being a collaborative project rather than a work by a single smart playwright. To give you a sense of what the songs are like, here are MP3s of two of the songs from the show. I don't think the CD is as good as they are live, in case you're wondering.

  • Lost Horizon - sung by Trey Lyford, a kind of mini-epic
  • Etch A Sketch - a somewhat silly song sung by the brilliant Jennifer Morris. I have talked with her about it, and she admits she is more of an actress than a singer, so she is lucky to be working with a composer who can write for her. Live, she is such a charismatic performer you don't think about whether she is a great singer, and she pulls it off. Actually, listening again to the recording -- she sounds great on the CD. How can you go wrong with a song that begins, "Once I was a Lockean tabula rasa"?

I would like to add one more MP3 - of the French song "La Canaille" (English translation and arrangement by Michael Friedman) from their show "Paris Commune". I talked about it here. This performance is by a lovely young woman named Quincy Tyler Bernstine. I sat next to her at Joe's Pub a few months ago and blurted out "I love you!" when I recognized her.

There is a nice article in the latest Brooklyn Rail about them and "Gone Missing."

I want to point out to those reading this that I'm normally not a fan of musicals, so I rarely recommend musical theater. The Civilians produce very out of the ordinary works.

The show runs through November 2 at the Belt Theater on West 37th Street.

Christian Holstad by Joseph Maida

While some people have written justifiably snarky things about the Times Magazine's neo-70s issue, it has its moments, including the selection of artists in the photo essay, beginning with Christian Holstad as a 70s roller disco kid.

Christian Holstad, 31

His art consists of knitting, quilting, collage, drawing, sculpture and, here in the foyer of Studio 54, himself, in full roller-disco regalia. In group and one-man shows this year, Holstad exhibited the following works: an installation of all the images he found filed under the label ''homosexual'' in the New York Public Library's picture archives; photo collages based on White House interiors (one is of a faunlike nude boy peering out from behind a sofa in a reception room); and, at the Daniel Reich gallery, a plastic-enclosed bedroom, which was an homage to David Vetter, the ''bubble boy'' whose weakened immune system required him to live in a germ-free plastic bubble. Holstad, whose work will be included in the next Whitney Biennial, says:

''When I came to New York City from Minnesota, I cried. I'd found my home, and I knew it. I got involved in the Williamsburg scene right away, and it was great.

There were these events where everyone would show up dressed in costumes; people would come with cardboard on their heads. And then it all died, and I left. Now I live in Greenpoint. Recently, I've gotten interested in the disco era, a time, like now, when New Yorkers were not afraid of darkness, and when the music was so inclusive everyone was dancing to it.''

The same literary agent represents Britney Spears, Jayson Blair, and the Pope.

I forgot to mention a couple of other items in my earlier post on our trip to Chinatown and the Lower East Side to see art. There is a cool show of almost photo-realistic oil on plastic paintings by Dan Colen at Rivington Arms -- the gallery that disdains the idea of a website. I once asked whether they were going to get one, and they said, "that's not really the audience we're aiming for." This comes from people who were chatting with trucker-hatted visitors who were explaining that one simply cannot live comfortably in NYC with an apartment worth less than $1 million.

The other thing: there was a street fair on lower Crosby that was a real one -- not one of those awful fried dough and sausage cart things that pass for most street fairs. There were quite a few artists who also do work with clothing there. I bought a scarf made by Emily Noelle Lambert.

View of sign from Maccarone window (Kunst is German for art)

My work projects are keeping me too busy to write much, but I wanted to mention two shows I saw today in Chinatown that are very much worth seeing.

The first is Phil Collins (the brilliant young English artist I last saw at Apex Art, not the musician) at Maccarone on Canal Street in Chinatown. Their web site is barely there, so check out their e-flux announcement. They now have all three floors of their building, formerly occupied mostly by Kunst Electronics. The first floor has large photographs of the Britney Spears poster that appeared in the subway stations in late 2001, only to be immediately defaced, plus a video of the BBC arriving to photograph a family of Kosovar refugees in Kosovo -- including having a 15-year-old boy take off his shirt to show his bullet scars.

The second floor has photographs of his lover, his circle of friends, and people in Palestine, Belfast, New York, Belgrade, and various places in England. The third floor consists of photos from a project called "real society", where he placed an add in San Sebastian, Spain to ask people to come be photographed naked in a luxury hotel suite.

It is a very powerful show.

The other show is a solo exhibit of (mostly) abstract paintings by Wallace Whitney at Canada on Christie Street. I don't think the images on the web site do it justice, so you'll just have to go. Think a young Louise Fishman.

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from October 2003.

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