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Articles by

<Corinna Kirsch>

02/08/13 12:52pm

Jeff Wall, Picture for Women, 1979.

  • Jeff Wall, “Picture for Women,” 1979.

Brooklyn’s New York Transit Museum is throwing a Missed Connections-themed Valentine’s Day party. It looks to be festive, with cocktails, poetry, and art, all set in the turn-of-the-century elegance of Grand Central Terminal. The Transit Museum’s the perfect place to host a party for Missed Connections, as most of these moments past take place on the subway. Aw, all that sounds nice, but we think it’s a little too nice. Sure, there might be a few couples there to regale partygoers with tales of romance on the tubes, but for the most part, we assume the event will be full of lonely types; and we hope the party won’t ignore that, the true spirit of Missed Connections.

That true spirit’s found a soft spot in the heart of many critics. We’ve written plenty of posts dedicated to missed connections at museums, galleries, and art fairs. Maybe it’s because we see ourselves in these posts. After all, we’re some of the least visible art worlders ourselves, and sometimes we’re more comfortable making our opinions heard online than in real life. It’s no wonder then, that we’re interested in a museum party dedicated to Missed Connections.

Of course, we don’t exactly know what the party will look like, but it will include a poetry reading by The New York Times’ Metro writer Alan Feuer. He’ll bring words of wisdom to the crowds in the form of couplets, dactyls, and rhyme with Craigslist-inspired poetry. From time-to-time, he re-publishes posts he’s found in Missed Connections, but adds stanzas and line breaks of his own. Here’s an excerp from “Tall, Glasses-Wearing Man Who Sat by Me on the Train”, a poem Feuer composed right around the time of Hurricane Sandy:

I was on my way to stock up
for the hurricane,
so I didn’t look
particularly enticing.
I think you got off at 79th,
but I’m not sure
since I didn’t want
to be weird and stare at you,
even though I’m weird enough
to write you a missed connection.

We’re all “weird enough,” dear w4m, and for that, we are grateful.

02/05/13 11:31am

I spy two dildos in Henry Avrils lithograph.

  • I spy two dildos in Henry Avril’s lithograph.

Over the centuries, dildos have made many people happy. Dildo art hasn’t made such an impact, but it’s not for lack of trying. Today, the most common dildo art remains in the world of Etsy, like this “tentacled horror”, or in Williamsburg, where you can purchase these “glamorous towers of strength” featuring powerful women throughout history like Indira Ghandi, Marie Antoinette, and worst of all, Margaret Thatcher. These are not attractive things to plug up a hole, leading me to believe we’re in a downtime for dildos in art. Still, like all good things in the world—food, philosophy, animals, color, sex, and the like—there’s always been a place for them in art.

To review: we’ve got 19th century lithographs, like this one by illustrator Paul Avril, whose illustrated erotica belongs in plenty of museum collections.

Then we’ve got some Japanese woodblock prints showing dildos, too. Whatever their quality as art, they’re at the very least cultural documents, showing what the works’ commissioners liked. Read into these works what you will, but commissioned by men, it’s no surprise dildo art features lots of girl-on-girl action.

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The best-known example of using dildos in art, and to convincing effect, belongs to Lynda Benglis. There’s her infamous 1974 Artforum advertisement, and Smile, a cast-lead version of the double dildo used in the photograph.

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It’s hard to land a good follow-up to such a memorable charade, which resulted in upset critics, frantic librarians, and at least one irate museum-goer. It’s been almost four decades since a dildo’s caused such an uproar in art circles, but it’s not like they’ve died out. Since Benglis’s boom, Claire Fontaine’s used dildos in art—they filled a dishwasher with dildos of variable skin-tone—and then, just leave it to jokester Rob Pruitt to create a self-portrait with a strategically-placed dildo.

With all these examples, dildos appear to be used for one purpose in contemporary art: a joke. Maybe that’s all dildos are good for in art; it’s probably all you can expect from a jiggly, rubbery cylinder. But for all their silliness, they’re one of the few cultural tokens that can offend.

When a Jesus-with-a-dildo sculpture popped up in the Philippines, the show was closed down, but not before some vandals ran off with the dildo in question. That moment almost ruined dildos in art for the rest of us. Why? Because it took itself too seriously. The form, the structure, the punctum, whatever, of dildos isn’t about keeping a straight-face. When we start taking dildos in art too seriously, that’s when they fail.

02/01/13 11:09am

This GIF is on Megapolis homepage. Were not sure why.

  • This GIF is on Megapolis’ homepage. We’re not sure why.

Soundlovers rejoice! The nation’s best audio art festival and conference, Megapolis, will land in New York this April, and they’re looking for submissions by February 10th. Festivals of years past have included sessions that run the gamut from how to make your own Atari punk console to presentations involving an abandoned mental health ward (by Nick Van der Kolk of Love and Radio). This year, festival organizers have already lined up several sessions, performances, and workshops by Nina Katchadourian, Andrea Seabrook, Fluxtronix, Anna Friz, Eric Leonardson, Emch, and Live Footage.

Keeping with the festival’s DIY ethos, they’re seeking submissions from anyone or any group who’s got a love for audio. If you like to perform, talk, or show-and-tell about anything that falls into three categories: build, create, or experience, this venue is for you.

Specifically, they’re looking for people to lead daytime workshops and tours. If you know how to use an arduino, make an app, 8-Bit music, or the like, and feel like sharing it with the world, they’ll love you.

Just one more thing from Megapolis festival organizers’ mouths: no hippie drum circles. There’s Burning Man for that.

Now submit!

01/29/13 11:44am

Michael Pybus Pikachu Plant Pot (2) is a close call.

  • Michael Pybus’ “Pikachu Plant Pot (2)” is a close call.

When gophers overrun a patch of green, park rangers root them out. Art critics aren’t like park rangers; when we see too much of the same type of art, we call it a trend. Then if there’s meaning behind that trend, we call it a movement.

Here are 11 examples of “live plants in galleries” and a couple of close calls thrown in for good measure. As I mentioned in The L Mag last week, everyone’s making indoor plant art, so it’s a trend. But a movement? It’s hard to tell at this point if we’ve grown uneasy with the stolid white cube, or if we just wish art was more like a Chia pet.

1. Martin Roth

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01/25/13 11:36am

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Get ready to get busy for the spring because this year’s Bushwick Open Studios dates have been announced. From May 31st-June 2nd, the city’s curators, critics, and curious will set eyes on Bushwick, and last year’s BOS was its biggest yet; there was even Bushwick Basel, the neighborhood’s first art fair. We here at AFC and The L Magazine will be out there, too. Last year, AFC profiled over a dozen artists in the weeks leading up to the event, spotlighting the neighborhood’s emerging artists.

Let’s just say if you’re at all serious about being an artist and you live in Bushwick, you’ve got to take part in Bushwick Open Studios.

But you’ve got to register first, and you’ve got to attend a Bushwick Open Studios’ mixers in order to do that. Thankfully, you can get all that administrative stuff out of the way this week instead of last minute.

This year’s first in-person meeting will take place this Monday, January 28th at 7 PM at the Bathaus Co-working Space (279 Starr Street, off the Morgan L). Registration for the festival will open on March 22 and close on April 24. As a reminder, if you’re registering with a group or a studio, only one person needs to attend a session. Now go do it!

01/22/13 12:32pm

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I saw a Cheetos-bucket-plant-mirror sculpture at Regina Rex. That strange object made my day. It’s small, strange joys like this that make having a job in the arts worthwhile. But strangeness alone won’t keep me coming back to art: there has to be more than a Cheetos thrill. That’s why Corey Escoto’s Volume for Volume succeeds; the Cheetos sculpture was just one part of the artist’s mostly photography exhibition. It wasn’t the strongest work, but like any good marketing tool it got me hooked.

Mostly, the exhibition’s filled with photographs of photographs and sculptures of photographs. There’s a pyramid made up of photographs, and along the walls there’s framed “Polaroids”. The images caught on film vary from scenes of vague landscapes to close-ups of cracked bricks. They look like they’ve been Photoshopped, but the process is a bit more handwrought, involving stencils.

Corey Escotos Polaroids

  • Corey Escoto’s “Polaroids”

What’s being emphasized here is the physical nature of photography. Even that Cheetos sculpture is kind of a photograph: with a mirror underneath the bucket-Cheetos-plant object, it captures a fleeting image of the thing. It’s an uncomplicated experiment showing how photography’s all around us.

Photographers have been making any variety of “physical” photographs for some time, and it’s been evident in recent exhibitions like the Met’s Faking It: Manipulated Before Photoshop or even Derek Eller’s Thomas Barrow retrospective. Both get at the heart of digital manipulation by looking back to the past, something Escoto’s doing here, too.

The problem, though, is that while Escoto’s photographs look great—he has a keen eye for geometry, balance, and color—the exhibition has an air of familiarity. Even the New Museum had an upside-down plant sculpture in its recently closed Rosemarie Trockel show. Lisa Cooley showed several plants as part of Daren Bader’s installation in its current show, Air de Pied-à-terre. Still, Escoto does a good job at making photography seem down-to-earth, even whimsical. And for that he’s done well.

01/18/13 1:18pm

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Are you gay? Do you like to draw hot men? Are you good at it?

If you answer “yes” to all these questions, then you’re qualified to participate in the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art’s life drawing studio.

Over time, figure drawing sessions have become a nearly lost art, but the city still contains pockets of devotees to this seemingly old-school pursuit. Among the city’s ateliers, you can count the Leslie-Lohman Studio, which advertises models “posed in sexually provocative ways” and “chosen for their beauty and sexual energy.”

As proven by the museum’s online gallery of images made during the drawing sessions, their sexiness is not in doubt:

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If you’re into hot gay men with large dongs, then this is the place for you. Instructions on applying for the studio course are located here, on the Leslie Lohman site.

01/15/13 12:26pm

gertrude_stein_was_a_serious_bitch.jpg

Gertrude Stein, the esteemed poet, Modernist matron, and, according to little-known fact, pot brownie chef, gets the full Triple Canopy treatment this weekend. The online magazine is hosting a marathon reading of Gertrude Stein in its Greenpoint offices for a second year in a row. It must have been fun the first time around.

Anytime between the hours of 7 PM on Friday through 11 PM on Sunday, you can drop in and listen to writers like Sasha Frere-Jones and Andrew Russeth, and artists such as Lisi Raskin and B. Wurtz. You can even hear artist’s offspring Rainer Judd read from Gertrude Stein’s tome, The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress. Triple Canopy has affectionately referred to the book as an “enormously long and allegedly unreadable novel”. Looking at the schedule, there’s still a few open reading spots left.

Gertrude Stein, very likely a genius, wrote in her autobiography that “It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing”. This event appears to be modelled after this sentiment.

That’s great and all, but let’s be honest: does sitting around for hours, doing practically nothing, sound like hell? Well, yes. But like us, you’re probably not a genius (even though I do read Heidegger for fun), so this event won’t be for you.

Even if you’re not going, anybody who wants to tweet about nothing can do so. @Triple_Canopy has already started it with #makingofamericans.

They’ll need it.

01/11/13 2:43pm

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first-ever Armory Show in New York, and it’s turned out to be a big deal. That fateful day brought modern art to New York and we haven’t kicked it out since. To celebrate the awesome art party that happened before any of us were born, everyone’s coming out with all types of commemorative tchotchkes to celebrate the event. We expect more to come in the months ahead, and we’ll alert you as they come out.

This week, the post office is giving you modern art stamps. Yep, for the very few people who still mail things, the United States Postal Service has unveiled “Modern Art in America 1913-1931”, featuring teensy, sticky versions of Georgia O’Keeffe, Marcel Duchamp, and Man Ray, among others. Personally, I’m a fan of the Marsden Hartley’s stamp; it shows Portrait of a German Officer, a cubist-inspired portrait of Marsden’s German lover, killed in battle. That’s not the type of thing you’ll usually find on a stamp, and I’ll gladly lick that over a run-of-the-mill liberty bell any day of the week.

01/08/13 11:30am

adam_parker_smith_storefront.jpg

Storefront Bushwick has never looked better. This past weekend, the two-room gallery, tucked inside a space that, at one time, could’ve been a barber shop, opened a show of work by Adam Parker Smith. Whenever the gallery ends up showing more than a handful of works, it overwhelms the small gallery space. This time around, the gallery held back, helping Smith siphon his talents down to just three artworks. It paid off.

We ended up going to the show this weekend because Smith has been on our radar since Bushwick Basel, when he brought out some cloud-like butts, tied up in gentle S&M trappings. Of course, that type of joke can only go so far, and we wondered what else he had in store.

At 9:4:1, the artist seems to have movies, and movie culture, on the brain. In the main gallery space, there’s a mirrored slab, modeled on the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey (it’s supposed to have the exact same dimensions, 9 feet by 4 feet by 1 foot, as the prop used in the movie), and an L.A. landscape painting, purchased from Viola Minasian, an elderly weekend art hobbyist. Smith elevated the floor to give the plinth some height, and installed some black carpeting, temporarily ridding the front gallery of its tile flooring. From the press release, Smith wanted to combine 2001: A Space Odyssey with California-style minimalism. What all this narrative and backstory means, well, we’re not quite sure; it’s a little vague.

Our best guess lies with one of Smith’s favorite tactics, and current super popular art trend, the trompe l’oeil. That mirrored sculpture looks like it’s covered in steam, but, surprise, it’s not! It’s just resin painted oh, so meticulously to suggest steam, like someone showered right inside the monolith. (That effect’s pretty similar to what Tony Matelli’s been doing with dust on mirrors over the last few years.) When I was out at Storefront Bushwick this weekend, it was hard for people to not touch the plinth, just to make sure it wasn’t steaming. I guess the same could be said for the painting Smith acquired from Viola Minasian: you’d assume, walking into a solo show, that it’s probably made by the artist, but nope, it’s not. If you look closely, there’s a detail of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, but it doesn’t look quite true-to-life; Viola Minasian turned Hollywoodland into a rather classically-inspired Greek pastoral. In effect, Smith just wants you to look closely, even if that extra step doesn’t reveal any secrets, just another chapter added to the narrative. Not all art strives to do so much.