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Archive for the ‘Modern Art’ Category

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As thousands of people made the trek home from SXSW armed with a cadre of musical experiences designed to put them on the cutting edge of what the masses won’t be taking about musically for another 6 months from now, I took a trek back into time.  A couple of weeks ago I was record shopping with my favorite producer, who gave me a challenge.  He asked me to pick one album from an artist I had never heard of before based solely on the album cover.  No advance listening, no Googling of the album or artist.  We would take the album home and find out what we’ve got.

Many of our vinyl excursions end up like this and always we’re surprised by what we get.

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The album I picked stuck out to me for a few reasons.  First off there was so much going on here with the Chairmen of the Board with the Flute, Maracas, blue polyester suits and hexagonal glasses.  Then I looked at the back cover and the graphics reminded me of Ellsworth Kelly.  So I had a musical hodgepodge featured on the front and cool color blocking on the back.  It spoke to all of my creative sensibilities!

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Ellsworth Kelly, “Red, Green, Blue”. Photo Credit: Walker Art Center

“In Session” was produced on Invictus Records in 1970 and was the second album by Chairmen of the Board.  Invictus was the first label to first spin-off of Motown and their sound was heavily prominent in this album.  The Chairmen of the Board was the label’s marquee group, who had their first album hit with “Give Me Just a Little More Time”, (which was tragically resurrected in a Swiffer ad).  “In Session” fused bluesy gritty guitar riffs with classic Motown R&B strings and psychedelic baselines. Turns out this second album produced 4 chart topping singles, but none of them eclipsed the popularity of their first hit single.

I think my favorite song was the “Everything is Tuesday”, with “Hanging On to a Memory” being a close second.  I learned much more about Motown and Invictus Records than I had known before, and got an interesting peek into the record industry in the 70′s. There’s a Documentary called “Band of Gold” that gives a deep dive into the industry that spawned Invictus.  Interesting stuff.  So this album took me on a musical journey that I would never have embarked upon.  Trust your creative instincts and take a chance on something you might not normally listen to, you just might be surprised at what you learn.

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IMG_5165Whew!  Before I look forward to 2014 (and I must say, it cannot come soon enough), I thought I’d take a quick look back on my digital footprints and share my favorite CultureShockArt moments of 2013.  So I picked 5 posts from Twitter, Instagram, WordPress and Pinterest that were either popular, or made me squeal, “Eep eep! Such and so acknowledged my existence!”  Yes, I find that these situations render me as a 12 year old girl wearing 3 Swatch watches and L.A. Gears but hey, such is the magic that is the internet.

#5- HuffPo and my MOCA musings

For the most part on Twitter I feel like that one crazy aunt or uncle who sits in the corner at family gatherings shouting bizarre non-sequiturs to nobody in particular.  Once in a while a random post will illicit a response from someone, and I go completely starstruck when it is a celebrity, museum or a blogger I admire (yes, I get starstruck over museums and bloggers too).  So back in March when I wrote this post about some Los Angeles MOCA drama (and we had our fair share of it this year), little did I know HuffPo Arts would post it in their “Twitter reactions” gallery at the end of one of their articles.  The Art Girl geek in me came out when I saw my snark displayed amongst some of my favorite arts writers.

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#4  Orange Crush

I was extremely late to the Instagram party, but once I dove in I took to it like a fish to water.  Strange enough, IG has taught me to keep my eyes open, not for photo ops, but to be more observant of my surroundings.  I now find my head in the clouds…appreciating them more than daydreaming.  At one point I had color phases when I would be obsessed with certain hues that would dominate my wardrobe, nail polish, handbag selection, you name it.  First orange, then lilac, then red… On this particular day in April I was laughing at the budding collection of all things “Orange” on my desk and snapped a pic of it.  Well, when Caroline Issa, editor of Tank magazine (and one of my style ICONS), emoji’ed her reactions to some of my pics, I was thrilled beyond belief!  I still really love this photo, but not as much as the oodles of shots I take of my napping dogs who deserve their own Instagram account.

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#3  My 15 Minutes Seconds of Fame

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The Warhol Museum is responsible for driving the most traffic on a single day to my humble little blog.  In August when I posted a reaction to an op ed piece about how a writer hates museums, the Warhol Museum noticed and linked my article to their website and Tweeted it to their followers.  I was forever grateful for pub and encouragement.  There are so many museums out there that are using social media to engage with their audiences in smart ways and the Warhol is near the top of the list.  THANK YOU Warhol Museum for taking the time to notice and show some blogger love.

 

#2 “What’s Your Bag?”
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If I had a nickel for every time I got this question this year, I’d be able to afford 3 more of her bags!  This by far was the most talked about handbag in my collection this year.  It started many a random conversation in stores, restaurants, airport security screening lines, meetings, and an awkardly funny encounter with actor, writer and producer Issa Rae (we have the same bag).  So I wrote a post about bag obsession–not necessarily the bag itself, but what’s inside it.

When the designer pinned this picture on their Pinterest site, it drove crazy amounts of traffic to my blog.  Nice!  It’s also one of the most pinned photos on their site. (Really nice). Everybody wins, right?!

 

#1 The Sphinx and the Cronut

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Of all my posts this year, this one cracks me up the most!  The Banksy mania that overtook NYC in August was slightly outdone by the city’s obsession with the Cronut.  I had to find a way to mash these two phenomena together.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who got the connection.

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Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold sent me a message on Twitter saying he loved my Banksy post!  I have to say it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Despite all this name dropping and validation seeking, what I find most rewarding are the new experiences this blog has shown me.  I saw some wonderful exhibits and met some amazing artists, writers, designers and bloggers this year who took me on an inspirational journey beyond the keyboard.  For that I am truly grateful, and I am especially thankful for all of my readers who have shown their support and encouragement to me in 2013.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I wish you all the best in the New Year.

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I love transparent resin sculptures, and I particularly love Fred Eversley’s reflective optical lens work.  They are so striking.

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Fred Eversley, Untitled. Photo Credit: ArtSlant

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Fred Eversley, Photo Credit:            Fred Eversley Sculpture

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Photo Credit: Fred Eversley Sculpture

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Photo Credit: Vogue Italy

Fantasy is powerful…everybody can’t handle it in big doses, but you can try little bits at a time.”-Iris Apfel @ the Met.

I’m not one to follow starlets, but as a self-proclaimed “Geriatric Starlet”, Iris Apfel has such a unique, self-aware, no-nonsense point of view, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit.  Maybe it’s because she grew up an only child, like me…Plus, I admire her love for accessories paired with simple, impeccably styled, architectural clothing, and she knows how to wear some glasses.  The 90 year old’s iconic black specs (that look like hula hoops on frames) inspired a generation of art world aficionados (my husband and I like to count the Apfel look a likes at art shows).  I secretly covet a pair but amazingly enough, my eyes are just too big for glasses like that.  Trends aren’t for everyone, and was one of her tidbits of style advice given during a fascinating panel discussion moderated by Judith Thurman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Apfel shared some lovely stories about personal style, inspiration, and self-confidence.  “Personal style is curiosity about oneself.” (source unknown).  She also discussed the importance of not being a slave to trends.  “You can’t be trendy and have personal style” when you look like everyone else.

This interview is a good glimpse into Apfel’s history. She’s having one hell of a year, and I think it’s great to see the fashion world embrace and respect the living history that inspires generations to come.

Update 8/24/2012:  So, I’ve decided it’s a good week to be a stylish 90+ year old!  Check out this post/interview by Garance Dore today. The resemblance is uncanny!

http://www.garancedore.fr/en/2012/08/24/doris/comment-page-2/

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The Los Angeles Art Show is one of many events scheduled during LA’s Arts Month. This January, visitors and natives alike partake in the city’s many cultural offerings from Photo LA, the LA Phil, the Affordable Art Fair, Pacific Standard Time and the much-anticipated Los Angeles Art Show.  Perhaps it is the heady variety of cultural offerings competing for patrons, but sadly this year’s show was sparsely attended.  While this fact was slightly disappointing to some of the Gallery owners in attendance, it meant that if you were lucky to go to the show not only did you have direct access to some great galleries spanning the globe, you were more likely to strike a deal or two on some pieces.

The show was divided into two sections:  one Historic/Traditional and the other Modern/Contemporary.  I spent the majority of my time in the Modern/Contemporary wing during Wednesday’s Premier Party and on Saturday afternoon.

I sat in on a very interesting panel discussion about the Los Angeles Art Market and collecting, and I was very interested in Dean Valentine’s take on collecting.  Valentine has been an avid collector since 1996 and focuses his acquisitions on young emerging talent vs. established blue chip artists.  While he certainly has the resources for both types he focuses on works that connect to him emotionally vs trying to build an investment portfolio out of his collection.  Valentine is also a member of the Board of Overseers at the Hammer Museum and has recently acquired space at the Pacific Design Center to highlight select works from his collection (which I am looking forward to see very soon).

I decided that if I had the opportunity to curate a small museum or gallery, I would have gone for the following pieces I spotted yesterday at the LA Art Show.  Here’s a virtual tour of my “little” dream museum. It would have 3 galleries:  “La Rue” (for Street and Neo Pop), Four Corners (Global Contemporary), and Industrial (for artists that choose to produce their art using apprentices-this will be a subject of a much longer post in the future). Ok here we go:

LA RUE:

"Temptation", Speedy Graphito c/o Denis Bloch Fine Art

I was immediately drawn to this piece at the show.  I love fusions of street art and pop culture references.  Speedy’s work is filled with this amalgam of styles.

Cameron Gray, c/o Segal Projects

Cameron Gray is a Los Angeles artist whose background is in computer graphics.  Digital representations of his work do not do them justice as each piece is composed using a collage of individually painted square blocks.  In this series of work, Gray recreates classics (as in the Van Gogh portrait above) using this technique.  His technology background is useful in this medium, as each piece is mapped out on computer before it is finally composed.

FOUR CORNERS (Global Contemporary):

"Everyday Saints", Young June Lew c/o Andrew Bae Gallery

"Crowd", Elisabett Gudmann & Kirk H Slaughter

"Meditative Mermaid", Cecilia Paredes c/o Salt Fine Art

I had the great pleasure of meeting Artist Francisco Bugallo who I raved about last year.  He recently created some stunning resin w0rks that appear to be floating in the frame.  The grouping was a study on Michelangelo and I adored the work shown by Galeria Moro from Venezuela.  They were one of my favorite galleries (my camera fails to capture the essence of his work).

Francisco Bugallo Resin series

INDUSTRIAL (Art as Machine):

The artists I would showcase in the “Industrial” wing of my virtual museum would be those artists who are/were known for utilizing assistants to create their work.  This is a subject of great debate as recent stories have been published about David Hockney’s very public criticism of Hirst’s practice.  Love them or hate them they have all reaped critical and financial acclaim as shrewd businessmen and artists.  This camp includes Warhol, Hirst, Koons, Shepard Fairey and Takashi Murakami to name a few. It’s a dynamic that fascinates me, so I naturally was drawn to these works:

"The Souls" series, Damien Hirst, c/o Paul Stolper Gallery

"The Souls", Damien Hirst, c/o Paul Stolper Gallery

Seen individually, the foil-block butterfly prints stand on their own, but the way Paul Stolper grouped them in his stark white, brightly lit space on the show’s floor was absolutely stunning. The space looked like a semiconductor cleanroom, it was impeccable.

Hirst, Warhol, and Koons, Denis Bloch Fine Art

Last but not least, I spent a great deal of time in the Denis Bloch space.  They had an incredibly diverse representation of work but on this one small unassuming wall contained the trifecta of Contemporary powerhouses.  I simply wanted to just cut this wall and transport it to my home.  Hirst’s diamond dust skull is so oddly captivating.  The Warhol was a copy of one of his early shows at the Leo Castelli Gallery in NY.  Lastly Koons’ Balloon Dog is a recreation of the larger scale piece that is at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

That’s it for my virtual tour and recap of the show.

I met some amazing artists, gallerists and art enthusiasts over the last 3 days.  I learned a lot and had a ball!  Of course, now I’m thinking about how I can get to NY’s Armory Show in March… :)

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I came across a cute video from MoMA today. This video and the writers at Hyperallergic really crystallize what CultureShockArt is about, so I will simply post the video. Be sure to read Hyperallergic’s comments.

For just a moment, I’d ask that you abandon trying to figure out the meaning of the installation in the video and just take a look at the unbridled joy and delight this toddler takes in looking at his reflection.  This reaction to art is just priceless.

To learn more about Yayoi Kusama, click here.

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"Child's Tastel", Mingjia Gallery

PART I of II

If the Los Angeles Art Show taught me anything, it’s that when it comes to art, there’s something for everyone.  Global art took center stage at the 16th annual Los Angeles Art Show where over 100 Galleries showcased a diverse collection of genres and mediums.

It’s virtually impossible to discuss all my favorites, but I’ll attempt an overview:

This year’s featured program was “China Today” which was a carefully curated representation of works, films, discussions and symposiums designed to give attendees a glimpse into the burgeoning contemporary art scene in China.  Twelve galleries showcased artists at the show, many of which are making their U.S. debuts.  It was a unique opportunity for collectors to expose themselves to new work.  The interesting thing about many of the artists from China is that many expressed strong ties to their cultural past while juxtaposing that history against cultural evolution and change.

The most optimistic of these works were in the charming panels of playful children painted by Wang SangQian represented by the Mingjia Gallery.  The series of taupe colored panels featured textured paintings of happy children whose bodies seemed rooted in sheer strength, heft and gravitas while their faces radiated lightness, joy and.   Many of the works from China showcased this form of duality albeit in different ways.

The next stop in my artistic travels took me to South Korea where I had the opportunity to meet artist Han Sang-Yoon who was represented by the Art Company Missolsidae.  His body of work appears to be heavily influenced by cartoons and manga but in reality his paintings belie a far more sinister/sobering commentary on consumerism.

"Vuitton man", Han Sang-Yoon, Art Company Missolsidae

Next up, Latin America.  Stay tuned for part II…

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Photo Credit: Art Institute of Chicago

In October I visited Chicago for a brief overnight trip, and was determined to make my way to the Art Institute.  I had exactly one hour.  Clearly my ambitions were outweighed by the sheer size of the Art Insititute’s collection, but luckily a docent was prepared to take my challenge head on by giving me a “one hour guide” to the museum’s legendary works.

I decided to forego the guide and headed straight to the Modern Wing which is a perfect vessel for containing the museum’s 20th and 21st century collections.

Upon entering the museum I was struck by a unique installation contained within the Grand Staircase.

Photo Credit: Culture Shock Art

Jitish Kallat’s Public Notice 3 is a series of embedded LED lights displayed in the risers between the stairs.  The installation is a commentary on religious tolerance providing a fascinating juxtaposition between the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and a poignant speech delivered by Swami Vivekanda at the first World Parliament of Religions held on September 11, 1893.  The text of the speech is displayed in LED lights corresponding to the Dept Homeland Security’s color coded terror threat alerts.  This piece challenges viewers to contemplate how religious tolerance continues to be buffeted by religious fanaticism.  Public Notice 3 is a sobering commentary on the religious polarization of our society and is further punctuated by the current state of political discourse today.

Photo Credit: Art Institute of Chicago

The Modern Wing, is an airy, open expansion of the museum designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 2009.  The architecture of the wing is an aesthetic departure from the neo classical Art Institute, but is an appropriately designed building for the Modern and Contemporary Art showcased here.  Renzo Piano’s theory on design is that “architecture must fly:  it is made of emotions, tensions , transparency.”  The building’s design and the layout of the interior of the space provide a cohesive bond with the works on display.  Curatorially speaking this wing is smart in it’s linear and clearly categorized layout.  The Abstract Expressionist works of Ellsworth Kelly and my favorite painter Mark Rothko were placed in a gallery space flooded with natural light.  I have seen both of these artists displayed in very different museums but in the open, natural light the works look completely different.

I was surprised to see that the representative works of Contemporary artists were a bit sparse, but the Museum was able to compensate for this by curating their Contemporary collection in an encyclopedic  manner.  It gives novices of contemporary art a good overview of the dominant players in the genre.  Warhol, Pollock, Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman and Philp Guston are all displayed with one or two pieces. It is almost as if the curators were challenged to distill the essence of an artist into one or two pieces.  Their selections are reflective of the artist’s essence.

I was particularly consumed by the work of Martha Rosler in “Bringing the War Home:  House Beautiful”  which is a photomontage of ads, Life magazine spreads and photojournalism that force the harsh realities of war into the utopian homes of middle class, suburban families.  It’s a shockingly clever social commentary on the effects of war.

An hour in the Modern wing only scratches the surface of what the Art Institute has to offer.  I was very impressed by the collection of work by Renoir and I spent a considerable amount of time with Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”.  My brief visit was a pleasant surprise and I look forward to a return visit to experience the artistic diversity on display here.

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It has been months since my visit to MoAD and I’ve been slightly preoccupied with this museum ever since. It wasn’t necessarily the gripping portrayals of the unimaginable horrors of the middle passage portrayed in the “Slavery Passage Gallery”. Nor was it the beautifully imposing glass encased portrait of a young African child greeting visitors from 3rd Street as you approach MoAD. I left the museum wondering why there wasn’t more. The task of distilling an immensely complex subject such as the African Diaspora into comprehensive and cohesive topics is a daunting one at best, however upon leaving MoAD I had more questions than answers. MoAD has so much potential; what’s missing here? Outreach? Budget? Lagging funding? The Curatorial Staff? Perception? I now realize that part of the problem was my own expectation of what MoAD was prior to my stepping foot in the space. I was expecting an Art Museum; instead I was introduced to an experience.

MoAD’s mission is to be a “first voice” museum connecting all people to the culture and history of the African diaspora through universal themes of “origins, movement, adaptation and transformation”. The diaspora represents the forced and unforced scattering of Africans throughout the world and their influence in culture, music, art and food. MoAD’s permanent collection educates visitors on these subjects and more. The entire museum is 20,000 square feet with a small fraction of the space dedicated to their permanent collection which includes interactive multimedia exhibits with the most powerful being the Slavery Passage Gallery. Here visitors enter a dark room and sit on benches and written accounts of slavery come to life told in first person narratives. These stories provide emotionally rivoting accounts of individuals stripped of their lives, families, culture and dignity.

Equally impressive is the two story child’s portrait at the museum’s entrance. The portrait is a photograph by Chester Higgins, Jr.

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Upon closer view of the work you’ll see that the portrait is comprised of a mosaic of over 2,000 photographs of families and individuals. This piece celebrates the African Diaspora in all its diverse forms. For more on this beautiful piece, click on the “Photographs of the African Diaspora” link.

Their temporary exhibit features crafts, textiles and photography of various themes. There is also a Heritage and Cultural center equipped with computers where visitors can sit and further their learning on the Diaspora. The room is fairly hidden and the hours for the Cultural Center are quite limited. Again this cements some of the challenges MoAD faces as it vies for visitors to the Yerba Buena Cultural Center. I think the museum has struggled to hone a cohesive curatorial point of view that bridges the small permanent multi-media collection and the temporary collection. The most successful museum exhibits I have visited achieve two things : they tell a linear story for visitors who want a comprehensive overview of the topic or artist, and they also provide an engaging, fulfilling experience for the casual visitor taking a free form approach to their visit.

I see a bigger issue looming with MoAD: funding.

Background: The museum and the St. Regis Hotel are housed in the beautifully restored 1907 Williams Building, a vacant historic site that had been damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. The building was owned by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency who partnered with a developer responsible for the building’s restoration. As part of the sale in 1999, the developer of the hotel had to commit 20,000 square feet to cultural uses and a gallery; subsequently MoAD was chosen to lease the space. The SF Redevelopment Agency provided funding for Improvements and Betterments, Programming and Concept Planning through 2013. In turn, the developer leased the space to MoAD at no cost. The SF Redevelopment Agency has contributed approximately $16M in funds to subsidize the operating costs of the museum. This amount includes a $1M bailout given to the museum in 2007. Funding is reported to continue through 2016 but that consists of an annual operating costs grant of $500,000. The museum’s budget is at least $2M annually. I’m sure that managing the upkeep of the building to match the opulence of the St. Regis is hard for a museum of this size. This brings me to MoAD’s challenge.

I imagine that Capital Campaign efforts have been lagging as the state continues to suffer in this economy. As endowments shrink due to diminishing contributions, directors are forced to slash budgets; these cuts impact the ability to sponsor temporary exhibits and keep the museum alive and relevant to audiences. Despite these dire circumstances that could inevitably lead to MoAD’s future financial challenges, I think there are some steps they could take to manage a lean budget while infusing new creativity and content.

Given the fact that MoAD is right in the middle of the museum triangle, I’d like to see them capitalize on the synergies that exist between fellow cultural institutions. Are there parallel subjects relating to the African Diaspora and the Jewish Diaspora that could be addressed in a joint exhibit with the Contemporary Jewish Museum? The Museum of Craft and Folk Art partnered with MoAD in February 2010 for collaborative study of folk art from Mali. These partnerships allow both institutions to capitalize on and share limited resources. I would really like to see the museum continue to grow and reflect the richness of the Diaspora.

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"Woman with Fan"-Modigliani

Today, five works of art were stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.  Among the stolen art were masterpieces from Matisse, Picasso and Modigliani, all valued at over 100M euros.

Police taking away an empty frame from the Museum of Modern Art, Paris

The attached article in the Economist provides an interesting glimpse into the underworld of art crime.  The real crime is that we will be denied from seeing these works as they go underground.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2010/05/art_theft_paris

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