Articles by

<Corinna Kirsch>

11/06/13 9:30am

gladstone hotel toronto snapshot room art

Being an art critic means getting to travel; it’s a nice perk. While in Toronto a few weeks back for an art fair, I was put up at the Gladstone, an “art hotel.” All 37 rooms in the ornate, woody 19th-century hotel have been designed by local artists; these include the “Biker,” “Canadiana,” and “Teen Queen” rooms. There’re artworks lining the lobby, stairwells, and each of the hotel’s four floors; all are accessible to the public. Now, I like art and all, but it’s my job; after a long day of looking at art, I doubted that I’d want to cuddle up with it, too.


And so I held my breath as I checked in, then rode the rickety elevator up to the fourth floor to Room 415. I creaked open the old door and there was the art; it was awful. Above my headboard were plexi-covered photographs of fall-colored leaves jutting out down accordion-pleated stairs. It was an Instagram-lover’s dream; You like simple, pretty pictures of nature? Here you go! Unsurprisingly, it’s called the “Snapshot” room, and the leaves were photographed at Toronto’s High Park, a 400-acre city park with playgrounds and a zoo.

From a design standpoint, those leaves didn’t offer much. All those sharp lines bulging out of the wall made the already-small room feel even smaller. And I felt noticeably colder; the leaves made my room seem planted down in the great northern woods. I was nonplussed, but spying four pillows floating like buoys on the double bed, I plopped down, and quickly fell asleep amid all four of them. (Very possibly, the pillows were my favorite part.)

So maybe I got a lemon. There were, after all, 36 other rooms to explore. With the help of the Gladstone’s marketing manager Andi Larocca, I set about on a tour of the other artist-designed rooms. “All artists are told to do whatever they want,” she told me, “but they need to include three things: a bed with a headboard, and room for a TV and a desk.” Any local artist can approach the staff, Larocca added, in hopes of implementing their wacky dream-designs. That experimentation surely accounts for some variation within the rooms. And although you never really can tell what you’re going to get when you tell someone to “do whatever they want,” I appreciate that can-do attitude. There’s even a long line of conceptual art that follows this game logic, from exquisite corpse to Fluxus sports, each of which is more interesting for the game than the art itself. At the Gladstone, I entered rooms where artists interpret that game loosely; one room contained vintage hand luggage, stacked up Jenga-style with a TV placed atop of it.

By far the strangest room I saw was a work-in-process, a Fruit Loops-colored room by Bob Blumer, an artist, chef, and host of the Food Network’s The Surreal Gourmet—every few years, the rooms get switched out and artists are given a budget to create new work. Blumer’s room features a slice of Swiss cheese suspended mid-air from the ceiling, a Pillsbury Dough Boy painting hiding a flatscreen TV, and a rainbow sprinkle-covered doughnut above the bright blue toilet paper, and an artist-designed armoire filled with, of course, Fruit Loops wall paper. It was Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and it seemed to have very little to do with art. But that silliness—a word that could end up describing most of the rooms I visited—is often missing from blue-chip art, so kudos to the Gladstone for that. (Although, honestly, I can’t imagine anyone staying in that room without getting junk-food nightmares. Beware anyone planning a romantic getaway in that room; that’d be nearly impossible with the Dough Boy’s beady blue eyes staring down at the bed.)

Contrast this rampant silliness and experimentation with New York’s “art hotels.” The art inside the Ace Hotel’s rooms sticks mostly to wall work; and from the website, there seems to be a lot of street art-inspired graffiti. The artists aren’t local—but you wouldn’t necessarily expect that from a global chain of hotels. Then there’s the Jane, a boutique hotel that does host art events, but I’d be hard-pressed to call it an “art hotel.” I do see the Gladstone’s model as one that could work in New York; it’s another way to give artists a budget to produce new work, and I’m sure there’s plenty who could dream up some never-before seen models. Here’s hoping some of them might be cozy.

03/12/13 10:43am


We like to scour Craigslist during the art fairs. There’s something about a shopping mall for art that turns people on, and that fertile, sexy ground placed before us makes our job easy. We often find a bacchanalian chorus of missed connections, personal encounters, and all types of insipid passion. With this year’s 2013 Armory Show though, the postings were slim.

Sure, the trumpets of desire were tooted, but the songs were flat, deflated, and they were often sung by…your aunt and uncle. That’s right, most of the postings were made by middle-aged men and women in need of platonic dates to the fair. Nobody wanted to get laid! That’s not sexy, and we’re not used to that. Still, we managed to find some gems within these chaste offerings.

Men Seeking Women

This “Who wants to go to an art show?” guy cropped out two ladies he’s cradling on each arm. Then, he reposted this two more times with different pictures. Here’s the one with his cat. Here’s the one where he’s actually wearing a shirt.

“Novice seeking Art Show companion” wants to “discover art” at The Armory Show, but only at Pier 92. That’s not difficult to do when you’re surrounded by hundreds of artworks at one time.

This m4w wants art and heavy petting to get out of his chores. How responsible!

Strictly Platonic
Down to stroll.

Casual Encounters
This guy got drunk at some after parties and wants to kiss on someone. Aw.

03/08/13 11:39am


Sexting requires skill. Quality photos take time and effort, so it’s surprising to hear Snapchat, an app that lets you take self-destructing snapshots, referred to as a “sexting app”. Other than erasing a potential trail of nudie pics, the app’s sexting abilities are overblown.

In Snapchat, all photos must be new, and that’s a problem for sexting’s artifice. Putting your best-looking self forward requires, at the very least, good lighting, proper staging, and some advance planning. That’s why devoted sexters often store up their best pictures to send off later. Fakery ends up being sexier than anything else; to paraphrase Roland Barthes, we want the image of passion, not passion itself.

The best Snapchats I’ve received aren’t sexts. In one, my friend sent me a video from a laundromat, a plainly beautiful shot of washing machines rolling in sync. While it wasn’t all that deep, it was captivating in its simple, mechanized choreography. In another, my friend sent me a behind-the-scenes video of his band getting ready for a music video. He was goofing around, wearing a dress, and looking absolutely tired; it was not his most flattering moment. Neither of these videos were memorable enough to hoard memory on a phone, but they did end up capturing casual, creative moments that would otherwise go undocumented. They were more like art than anything else.

Someday, someone will send me a great dick or boob on Snapchat, but for the most part, that’s not what the app does best. It’s much better at quickly sharing random, fleeting—and unsexy— moments with a select group of people. Sexting needs artifice, and Snapchat (and newcomer Vine) can’t fulfill that need with its devotion to immediacy. But for those who need to send nudies, there’s always good ol’ Photo Booth for that.

03/05/13 9:33am

A very adult cowboy on DrawQuest

  • Courtesy Mashable
  • A very adult cowboy on DrawQuest

4Chan founder Christopher Poole (aka moot) has repeatedly referred to running his site, which receives roughly 20 million visitors per month, as a “hobby”. He’s not making money off a site for sharing images and generating memes, but rather than making 4Chan more family-friendly, he’s trying his hand at a handful of other start ups.

Those projects, Canvas and DrawQuest, revel in the same type of crowd sharing and remix culture of 4Chan, but with greater mass-appeal. DrawQuest, an iPad-only app and the newest addition to Poole’s projects was launched two weeks ago, and already it’s received over half-a-million downloads. That’s not bad for 4Chan-lite.

What sets DrawQuest apart from other drawing apps rests in how users are given a daily challenge. They’re called “Quests”, and they’re given to “Questers”. Those tasks, like “Draw a Superhero” and “Help Sir Knight Get to the Princess” don’t require much technical skill—draw a lasso, googly eyes, whatever you want. You can share those pics with your Questing buds, making drawing social in a way that 4Chan does with image sharing and captioning. With a 9+ rating on the iTunes store, the cartoony princesses and superheroes might be too cutesy for most adults, but that’s not all the app offers. In keeping with 4chan’s open ethos, anyone (read: adults) can draw anything (read: dicks). Hooray!

While we’re not sure how many of these downloads came from 4chan’s inbuilt fanbase or new users, it may be a good sign for the future of social gaming on phones and pads. While popular, these type of games still haven’t captured the public’s imagination to the extent of, say, Angry Birds. It’s too soon to tell if DrawQuest is going to take off, or if it’ll leave Poole with yet another hobby on his plate.

That hobby, 4Chan, has never been about money, but its legacy looks far more interesting than riches anyway: it’s teaching gaming how to be more social. That’s better than being stuck in the middle of an endless saga between birds and pigs.

02/28/13 11:19am


This week we’ve learned that horse meat has snuck its way into Irish grocery-store burgers and IKEA meatballs. Now most of Europe suffers from a collective hangover, plagued by the thought of accidentally ingesting such a regal creature possibly full of hormones. They didn’t know! Well, most people can’t tell the difference between a beef burger and a horse burger just by looking at it.

And just like we don’t know what’s gone into those burgers and meatballs, there’s countless works of art that don’t specify the meat they use. Holy hell: We don’t know if Carolee Schneemann used beef or ham in Meat Joy!

In response to this, we’ve come up with “The Horse Meat or Meat in Art Quiz” to help suss out what we do know. The answers are in upside-down text, revealed after the multiple choice questions.

1. Jana Sterbek, Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, 1987


Is it ___?
a. Beef
b. Horsemeat
c. Whale meat
d. Rabbit


02/26/13 10:25am

Park Avenue is about to receive the gift of eyesores. Spindly, shiny eyesores that reach 20 feet into the sky. Beginning today, Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea will install mini-versions of New York landmarks including the Chrysler, Empire State, and Flatiron buildings along the six-lane roadway between 54th and 67th. They’re bound to be a distraction, so wayward drivers and pedestrians, you have been warned.

He calls this series No Limits, just like the powers of the imagination. Arrechea could’ve done a better job stretching those limits; there’s crazier things to dream about than the Empire State building. Many of these sculptures are whimsical—some of the buildings appear coiled like firehoses, and some look like spinning tops. The tops (Citigroup and MetLife buidings), are mounted to ball bearings, so anyone can spin them from their base. Woo hoo?


We’re fairly certain art does not need to pay more attention to Citigroup and other large corporations, but we’re sure some employee will find Arrechea’s sculptures charming. Lucky for him or her, Arrechea’s gallery has smaller versions of No Limits offered for sale.

02/22/13 11:28am


All hail cats. For better or worse, Nyan Cat, Kitler, and LOLcats have burned their way into our Internet-based memories. They’ve been nuzzling their way into our lives for ages, and for one such historical reminder, look no further than Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers’ performance “Interview with a Cat”.

“Interview with a Cat” is an audio clip (Boo!) and it’s in French (Boo!), but it’s still pretty great. Broodthaers asks a cat what he thinks about a certain painting—Is it innovative or just academic crap? In true cat behavior, all the artist gets in response are several brackish meows. That cat’s got a motor on him, more than most people when discussing matters of conceptual art, and for that, I’m envious.

Broodthaers isn’t the only conceptual artist who talked to animals. But his performance sure is more lively than other examples. The best known example of “artists-talking-to-animals” involves a rabbit that’s already pushing up daisies, in Joseph Beuys’ 1965 performance “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare”.


You’d never see a cat being coerced into a performance like that; they’re too vocal, too lively, and not prone to being carried around like a limp baby for a long period of time. But interviews, yes, they’re always down for doing that.


02/19/13 12:42pm


Painting is a great actor. It has to be more than what it is, or else it’s just colored goop on canvas. When painting achieves this end, it’s sometimes difficult to talk about; it’s always changing, even when you’re standing still. Hello, Darling, a group painting show at Southfirst—Williamsburg’s hidden gem of an art gallery—features six artists (Patrick Berran, Jamison Brosseau, Amy Feldman, Tamara Gonzales, Brooke Moyse, and John Szlasa) whose works seem unassuming, but tinged with a bit of strangeness.

The type of painting in the show ranges the gamut from Patrick Berran’s “Gerhard Richter abstraction” to Brooke Moyse’s “kitchen abstraction”. It’s mostly abstraction, and mostly good. Jamison Brosseau and Tamara Gonzales’s paintings were the exceptions; they were the flattest and most derivative out of the bunch.) But those were just a few exceptions in what was an overall solid show, especially for what you’ll find around the Bedford L.


I didn’t want to like Patrick Berran’s heavenly, clouded landscape—it was what I imagine a Helen Frankenthaler would look like painted over with white. Then I spied the strange yellow stain in the lower left-hand corner and the painting was transformed. It was like a spot of urine found in heaven. So. Weird.


Then there was this silly painting by Brooke Moyse. At first maybe too silly: it’s a small painting made with large, shabby brushstrokes. I thought the painting looked like string beans on a kitchen table. There’s no good reason, other than association, for me to think these green strokes look anything like the bright green pods in the produce aisle. But that’s a wonderful, actorly trick Moyse pulled out. Bravo.

Making new shapes out of our “old” ones might not sound all too deep, but that’s what painting does well. It’s hard to make that sound too interesting, but thankfully, there’s a few works in this show that, while hard to pin down at first, become something else entirely.

02/15/13 12:22pm

From K-HOLEs latest issue.

  • From K-HOLE’s latest issue.

New York-based art and design collective K-HOLE (Greg Fong, Sean Monahan, Emily Segal, Chris Sherron, and Dena Yago) is the Deep Throat of the corporate marketing worlds. Since 2011, they’ve been publishing K-HOLE, their self-titled mag as a free PDF and on fancy schmancy USBs. In its pages, the group exposes what marketing departments don’t want customers to know, things like “The job of the advanced consumer is managing anxiety, period.” All that could come across as overly preachy, (i.e. corporate marketing is bad), but K-HOLE’s glossy, playful design gets rid of that vibe.

Now, with K-HOLE’s most recent issue The K-HOLE Brand Anxiety Matrix, they’ve paired up with fashion label Eckhaus Latta to bring the world a potential solution to all this anxiety: deodorant.

Neither one of these high-end deodorants will leave you smelling powdery fresh. First off, there’s BRAD, which smells like Old Spice, a reliable—and not too shabby—favorite; and then there’s YOU, a hurricane-like cocktail of dirt, Marlboro Lights, saliva, and counterfeit Chanel No. 5, among other backroom scents. Both deodorants probably smell like the Jersey Shore, and while you won’t smell like sweat, there is no stick powerful enough to mask the smell of shame.

This may not be the first time deodorant’s popped up in the art world (Christopher Chiappa) or the first time an art collective’s infiltrated marketing (Bernadette Corporation), but K-HOLE’s ethos is in the right place. For them, life is about managing worry, but the right products can (mostly) help.

02/12/13 2:16pm

The Internet is vast but it’s getting harder and harder to find new stuff when everyone’s sharing the same videos, following the same Tumblrs, and going to the same blogs. We’re using the Internet like there’s only a few options out there; everyone’s ordering cheese pizza, but there’s plenty of other toppings. It’s kind of boring.

In lieu of growing complacent with what’s on the Internet, I’ve started looking for videos on YouTube with less than 100 hits. That’s a hard thing to do. Most of the videos I’ve found are dry, amateur, and most importantly, they’re not popular. But I like them for the simple fact that they’re unlike most other things circulating the Internet. Here’s several of my current, mostly art-related finds:

1. An Internet Dweller – Nam June Paik

This video confounds me. The late video artist Nam June Paik was a technophile, and ended up paying attention to various changes in industry throughout his life, but I was completely unfamiliar with his Internet-related work (Thanks, YouTube!). After doing some Googling of my own, I found several other versions of “Internet Dweller”, but none exactly the same as the one in this video.

Another odd note: I’m not not sure why Nam June Paik’s sculpture would be featured inside a wood-panelled room next to a sofa. I want to find that rec-room styled museum.

2. Hedgehog in my house eating catfood 1

From this video, I learned that you can feed hedgehogs catfood and they’ll stick around your house. This guy named his hedgehog “Timothy”, and he doesn’t seem to mind all sorts of adults making noise and walking around him.

3. VID_20111231_222212.3gp

Here, Constant Dullaart organizes some dishes into a circle, like an ajax spinner. His version’s noisier, with a lot of clicks and clacks.

4. Artwork Unboxing: Broken Image Icon Cross Stitch by Kacie Kim

Look at this art that arrived in the mail for artist Anthony Antonellis.

5. My horse art

Ah, the joy of knowing there’s people out there who do things—like draw horses—without needing an online audience for confirmation. (Similar to Antonellis’s project.) Still, nobody can get away from the thought that somebody’s bound to be watching. The video’s user explains:

“Well i am apperently better at drawing horses than wolves or any other animals so far XD”