Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Wedding Project (The Wedding of Ben + Carolyn)

I'm taking some time as 2011 winds down and the new year of 2012 begins to recall some of my favorite art of 2011 that I have not already posted.  In September, Rusty and I answered an open call from our friend Carolyn Sortor to participate in her wedding project.  We choose to be Ministers of Guidance which translates as 'ushers' in more traditional weddings.  Naturally, I took my camera to document my point of view.  I am very honored that Carolyn has chosen to use some of my photos, among many others, as documenation of the event on her website.  See photos on her website through this link.  I've been receiving visitors to my blog via Carolyn's website, www.c-cyte.com, and so I thank her for that!

me and Rusty at The Wedding Project, September 17, 2011
my camera, but photo taken by professional photographer Carolyn McGovern McWeeney

No, Rusty and I did not get married also.  You can clearly see the Dallas skyline in the background with the new Calatrava bridge under construction to the left of me, so you know this was certainly not a gay wedding! All participants and all guests were asked to wear white, extra points for an ill fitting wedding dress, so that video could be easily projected on all in attendance which was also being recorded on video. While we didn't get married, all guests were requested to kiss each other at the point in the ceremony when the minister invited the newly wedded couple to kiss each other.  Carolyn McGovern McWeeney did capture a pic of me and Rusty kissing with her camera before the festivities began.  That photo is in catalog on c-cyte.

One gentleman in his 'ill fitting' wedding dress.

First duty as Ministers of Guidance was to direct guests to the veiling station where everyone was given a veil to wear.

After veils were in place, we directed the guests to stand in the area defined by a projected grid.  Once the ceremony began, video was projected on the screen behind the minister (seen in the middle background) as well as on the backs of the guests.  Video cameras were then recording all of the proceedings. 

Above: the bride dressed in black sits while reviewing project plans with one of the cameramen prior to the ceremony.

Carolyn quotes Andy Warhol for the beginning text on her More About the Wedding Project page, "I don't know where the artificial stops and the real starts."  Appropriate for any wedding ceremony, really, IMHO.

We didn't make it to the reception afterwards.  Frankly, we missed the info on the mailed announcement plus it was time to get our 'early bird' selves back to the studio once the wedding ceremony was over.  Continue to check in at Carolyn's website www.c-cyte.com for updates, more pictures, guest comments, and someday soon, the final edited video of the BEST ART WEDDING of 2011!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hadar Sobol: "Go" at McKinney Avenue Contemporary

This exhibition ended on December 10, and I had seen it a month earlier.  But oddly enough, it is stuck in my mind. Odd, because this is not the type of work that usually appeals to this 50-something gay guy - and some video, no less, that I usually never even notice.

Hadar Sobol was born in Israel and earned her Bachelor degree at The Israeli University for Fashion and Textile Design.  She was quite pregnant during the creation of some of these works, and still very much so on the day I stopped by The MAC to see the galleries.  The director of the gallery asked me to wait a bit before viewing the show while Sobol made some minor adjustments.

So I went through the Robert Polidori exhibit and viewed large photos of the restoration of the royal palace of Versailles.  Next I gazed upon very large charcoal drawings on paper by James Drake and this one sculpture:

James Drake, Snakeskin Engine, motorcycle engine, python snakeskin, 1994

I have no idea how this one sculpture that was sixteen years older than Drake's newest drawing related to the drawings, but it did resonate, at least to me, with Sobol's work that I moved toward next.  As I stated earlier, it is unusual that I am still considering this work.  But since it is the first day of winter, and the third night of Hanukkah, and two days before I will be celebrating another pregnant Israeli woman's gift to the world, I am documenting Sobol's works and my thoughts about it.

The first thing I noticed was a rather permanent looking, though temporary wall, that created a long narrow entry way.  Two light tables with short loop videos were playing beneath a thin veil of embroidered cloth.  More embroidery hung along the walls, and several of these were hung on top of small lines of LED lights that caused the cloth to radiate a warm glow.  The wall helped me to feel a new sense of being in the small New Works Space in which I had seen a show earlier in the year that felt more like a day spa lobby.  Sobol's exhibition was decidedly different, more intimate, more of a story. 

Another difference of this exhibition was that while there was a page long artist's statement available, there was no list of titles of works, or dimensions, media, or dates created.  There were no wall plaques, either, except for this:

And "the work to the right" mentioned refers to this massive wall sized hand stitched labyrinth:

We have a labyrinth at church.  I understand a labyrinth to be a sacred space, a tool to pray and meditate, and as a metaphor for a life's journey or a journey into one's deepest self.  For some reason labyrinths feel feminine to me.  Perhaps it is the curves, or the non-linear approach to a journey, or maybe it is my association with the first four letters of the word.  But in this case we are told that this work was created by a gathering of 20 women.  We see stitched figures moving around the labyrinth in an overall "X" pattern.  Upon closer inspection we find interesting text stitched into the fabric.

A beautiful massive work created by a community of women in relation with each other for at least as long as it took to make this.  So there is part of the key to why I keep thinking about this work - community and relationships.  But then there is this that I can't stop thinking about:

My gay self keeps screaming that I should be repulsed by this.  Strangely I'm not.  Is it the iridescent threads that glitter?  I do love shiny sparkly things.  Sobol has displayed this work beautifully.  The cloth rests in a valley created by the way the table is constructed.  We see this as a vessel for receiving that which will eventually cause the same vessel to bring forth new life.  What is the sparkle?  Post coital secretions - his, hers?  Perspiration as the labor begins to expel the living contents? Layers of meaning and context via simple shiny threads.  Indeed!

And then this:

Mine's not a great video - shouldn't be, it's just my documentation.  Sobol has the original and it should be seen. But mine provides a visual reference.  We see a very pregnant women seemingly quite capable of providing amble nourishment for her imminent offspring.  We view the video under an embroidered linen.  The video is a very short loop and the action is simple.  She seems to be gathering thread and then stitching it into place on a line in the linen in front of the video.  The action is repetitive just as sewing and embroidery are.  Just as the actions of our daily lives are that eventually accumulate into the journey of our lives.

Sobol said this in her artist's statement: "My other source of inspiration involves both the visual and spiritual idea of the Torah Wimples (a cloth used to bind the Torah during a bar/bat mitzvah and a cloth used to swaddle a baby boy during his circumcision). I was fascinated by the symbolic way it provides an opportunity for a mother to connect her baby with the family, the community, and the Jewish nation.  My intent was to embrace part of this tradition and create for my daughters a personal and unique version of the wimple as a way to pass on a woman's legacy; insight and wisdom gathered by life experience through generations."

I've only attended one bat mitzvah in my life.  My third grade Catechism class loaded up on a Saturday morning for a "multicultural experience", probably while they thought we were too young to jump ship.  But I still remember the experience.  Temple Emmanuel is a gorgeous synagogue in Central Dallas.  I still think about that time as I drive by.  Temple Emmanuel is next to the cemetery where my first partner, Dennis, is buried.  I have a wonderful view from his grave through the trees of Neiman Marcus at NorthPark Mall.

I thank you, Hadar Sobol, for sharing your journey through your art.  You've given this gay goy much to think about. Shalom

Hadar Sobol is represented by Valley House Gallery in Dallas.  Her next exhibition opens January 27, 2012 at Ein Harod Museum of Art, Israel

The 'Art' of Blogging

There are some idiosyncrasies to Blogger that confound me.  I had written the first draft of text for my previous post in an email.  When I was ready to write the post, I was using my netbook without a word processing app so I edited in the original draft email.  I then copied the text from the email to the post I was writing here on Blogger.  I could not make the font in the post match the font in all of my other posts.  Once I was back home, I tried in vain to change the font.  I copied the text out to Word, made note of the fonts and size, and then copied back to the blog.  No luck.  I was being driven to a level of distraction that became quite unproductive.  I finally came to the conclusion that the only solution to matching the font was to retype the text in Blogger on my home pc.  But I know that I would have to be cautious to use new lines to avoid picking up font instructions that may still be imbedded which also means that I would probably have to delete some pictures and then add them back in. Basically, start from scratch!  Finally, I decided to live with it the way it is and move on.
So if the different font in that one post annoys you, know that it did me as well, but then I let go and moved on.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rusty Scruby: "Memory Bytes" at Cris Worley Fine Arts

Self Portrait, photo reconstruction, 2011

Photography has allowed the average person to capture moments of their lives to hold as souvenirs or markers of important events. Some photos are intended to simply document a moment in time or the image of a loved one or even ones self. The understood application of capturing these images is to enable one to reconnect with that memory at a later date in time. The photographs are stored in albums, scrapbooks or digital files for future reference. This common practice of image capture, filing, and later recovery sets up the dynamic for Rusty Scruby's latest exhibition "Memory Bytes" at Cris Worley Fine Arts.

Scruby delves into his family photo album once again to create new works that challenge the viewer to consider the loss and recovery of visual information. Prevalent thought claims that traditional photographs accurately depict reality. However, photographers such as Susan Sontag argue that a photograph fails to capture enough information about its subject to fully represent reality. Scruby takes Sontag's thought a step further as he utilizes processes which subtract visual details from the original photos.

 Dad - River, photo reconstruction, 2011

Learning to Fish, photo reconstruction, 2011

Scruby does not attempt to present straight forward photographs. Rather, his images take a backseat to the mathematical and musical concepts he is portraying with each work. He chooses images that have a universal commonality, such as family members out for a day at the river and photos from school yearbooks. In doing so, he opens discussion regarding at what point is an image recognizable, to a degree, without being a literal representation.

Dock Instalation detail

In "Memory Bytes" Scruby plays with the full range of scale that he has created to dissect these ideas. In "Dock Installation" Scruby utilizes specific selected sections of an in-focus photograph of a boat dock on the island of Kwajalein. The viewer can see the recognizable elements of the original photo - the horizon line, boats, the silhouettes of two people, and clouds - while the majority of the clouds and sparkling waves have been lost only to be recovered by the viewers subconscious.

Diver, photo reconstruction, 2011

Scruby works the other end of the spectrum in "Diver". The original photo has been reduced to pixels approximating the average color for each facet that he then painstakingly handcuts and subsequently reassembles using his own simulated knitting process. The colors of the mid twentieth century objects reverberate in the hexs and circles that dominate the surface of the piece.

 Mom, photo reconstruction, 2011

Dad, photo reconstruction, 2011

The same process rings true in pieces such as "Dad" and "Mom" even though the colors used in these works is only a range of sepia tones. 

 Red Blouse with White Flowers, photo reconstruction, 2011

Lisa, photo reconstruction, 2011

Again, the viewer confronting "Red Blouse with White Flowers" or "Lisa" is left to their own devices to recover enough visual information to discern the image, which in turn sets up multiple paths of information recovery in the viewer's mind. The viewer may begin to believe that the original image was pulled from their own family album.

Touch, photo reconstruction, 2011

"Memory Bytes" is on view at Cris Worley Fine Arts throught December 21.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rusty Scruby and Sara Pringle: Identity Rediscovered

We drove out to south Fort Worth earlier this week to pick up Rusty's art works from the Carillon Gallery at Tarrant County College South Campus.  This was one of the three exhibitions in Texas that showed Rusty's works this month.

The brochure alone has raised the bar for Rusty's expectations of college shows.  Joshua Goode, who is the Chair of the Fine Arts Department, and his printmaking proteges created the tri-fold brochure on heavy card stock.  It includes pictures of most all of the art works of both artists, bios, artist statements, and an exhibition summary written by Goode.

 Pringle, Three Quarter Torso, Mountain Lake, oil on canvas, 72" x 49", 2011

This was Sara Pringle's first visit to Texas. She is from California and currently lives and works in New York City.  Sara collects images that she finds on the internet and then adds an image of herself to arrive at the compositions for her paintings. The text in the brochure tells us this about Pringle's works:

"She examines photographs of herself.  A photo being the primary source of idea, the apparition and the dream that becomes Sara Pringle.  At times she compares herself to others, placed in imagined situations, alternate contexts, in an attempt to examine her real response and purpose. She reassembles all of the unique characteristics found into a truer version of her."

Pringle standing next to her paintings
Alpine Meadow, oil on canvas, 15" x 20", 2010
Snowy Mountain Tony, oil on canvas, 15" x 20", 2010

During Pringle's artist talk we learned that "Tony" is also an appropriated image, not a person that she knows or interacts with in her daily life.  I find it interesting that she paints Tony in black and white tones as we see her in this imaginary relationship with him and their surroundings.

left to right:
Pringle, Alpine Osprey, oil on canvas, 42" x 36", 2011
Scruby, Water Tower 1, photographic reconstruction, 64" x 57", 2003
Pringle, Alsaska, oil on canvas, 36" x 48", 2011

The brochure has this to say about Scruby's work:

"Rusty Scruby discovers his place in the world at large by breaking down everything around him into basic parts and elements, playing games to deal with reality.  He freezes and unfreezes objects and moments.  These are reanimated with scientific precision and systematic destruction. He documents these unbiases investigations and reveals the laboratory results for analysis, discovering his true positions."

Scruby on left, Orange and Lemon, photographic reconstruction, 33" x 33", 2011

left to right:
Scruby, Premium Country Style, orange juice jug reconstruction, 9" x 4" x 4", 2011
Scruby, No Artificial Growth Hormones, milk jug reconstruction, 10" x 4" x 4", 2011

Scruby examines time and repetitive actions and motions in our daily lives with these two sculptural reconstructed works.  Scruby uses six to nine original juice and milk containers to create these.  He collects the containers as he uses them over the six to nine week time period in which he consumes the products.  Then he begins to cut the pieces, using overlapping sections from the different originals, and then "knits" them back together.  The process itself becomes a further examination of time and repetitive action.

Scruby, fruit installation, plastic fruit, dimensions variable, 2011

fruit installation detail

Scruby used plastic fruit to re-imagine his faceted imagery, taking this idea from the 2D into 3D.  The viewer is left to reconstruct in their own mind the possible original combination of the few fruits from which Scruby modeled the resulting faceted wall sculpture.

Pringle received her Bachelor's Degree in Art and Biology from the University of California and later earned her Masters in Fine Art in Painting from Boston University.  Scruby studied aerospace engineering for four years out of a five year degree program at Texas A&M and then transferred to University of North Texas where he studied music composition for two years.  During this time, Scruby began to apprentice for the sculptor Arthur Zenon and later went on to work with ceramic artist Margaret Furlong. With each bringing educational backgrounds of art as well as science to the table, these two artists provided the TCC academic viewers with means to examine their own identities.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"timesteps" Debra Barrera and Norberto Gomez, Jr. at Lawndale Art Center

This was my first visit to the Lawndale Art Center. I have heard so much about the Center through the years as friends have had shows there and via coverage on Glasstire. I really enjoyed experiencing the large well lit galleries and the outdoor lawn exhibition space. I saw four of the exhibitions on view that day, and I truly appreciate the printed brochures that accompanied each exhibit.  

Naturally, I had a biased motive for arriving at the Center to see Debra Barrera's work.  However, I had never seen her work before this day, and was, therefore, pleasantly relieved to find that her work appeals to my collecting aesthetics.  Don't get me wrong, the work by the other artists in the other galleries was all top-notch and well curated in their respective spaces.  But I adore well crafted drawings and sculptures, and Barrera's work fits that sensibility. I am also attracted to relationships between people and seeing what makes them tick, and this two-person exhibition embodies this.

foreground: Debra Barrera's Timesteps (for Wendy Carlos), plexiglass, Moog synthesizer, resin, graphite, water, 48" x 24" x 18", 2011
background, blue reflection on Timesteps: Norberto Gomez, Jr.'s Buddy's, looped video projection, 2011

From the Lawdale Art Center's website I learned this about the exhibition:

Debra Barrera and Norberto Gomez, Jr. participate with the viewer in
opposite formats to create a convergence of ideas that are rooted in
the investigation of manipulating the passage of time through their
respective mediums and influences. Norberto Gomez Jr. critiques and
reveres his friendships and acquaintances through time-based mediums
by utilizing chat rooms, film, and drawings. Interactive exhibits and
projected film will replicate for the viewer a sense of
acquaintanceship with Norberto himself in real time. Debra Barrera
turns toward time based mediums like the Hollywood film, music, and
performance to influence her sculptures and drawings. Although
seemingly timeless in their appearance, Debra investigates how static
objects can be imbued with the essence of the passage of time.

Gomez was born in Alice, TX. He is currently living, working and attending Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA as a PhD student in Media Art & Text. Barrera was born in Corpus Christi, TX and currently lives in Houston where she works at McMurtrey Gallery

I had not been to the opening reception nor did I attend an artist talk, so I sent Barrera a few questions via email:

Hampton's Court: What is the relationship between you and Norberto?
Barrera: Norby and I got our master's in painting together at UofH and the overarching theme for the show was about time based mediums and how we each would deal with the issue in our work.
HC: What is the intended dialogue you two have set up between your works, if any?
B: Like I said above we were interested in time based mediums and how to respond to them. Norby took a more personal approach and dealt with it by revisiting personal memories of favorite films and hangouts (The looping video Buddy's was a hometown bar). I dealt with time based issues by revolving the show around American and British film and books. My major influences were Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and J.D. Salinger. Every piece has something attached to it (usually found in the titles)

 Norberto Gomez, Jr.'s Buddy's, looped video projection, 2011

Gomez, an apology, ink on graphing paper, 2011 

Gomez, Cannibalism in 46 Movements (After-Baxandall part 3), ink on graphing paper, 2011

Gomez, savage rite, three-channel television set up with Cannibal Boom Is This Holocaust soundtrack, 2011

Hampton's Court: Your <website> pics of Timesteps (for Wndy Carlos) show a lid on the plexi vitrine. Yet when we visited the lid was absent and the sides were bowed out from the weight of the water. That left us with a queasy unstable feeling, and I'm wondering if that was an intended emotional reaction to the work or not?
Barrera:  I'm glad that there was an emotional reaction but sadly none of this was intended. I originally wanted the water to remain in the plexiglas with little interference, alas gravity made this impossible. Yet, looking on it all now, I welcome what happened with the piece, it is truly the only time-based piece in the show from my part of the exhibition and I did intend for the work to be a bit sad, more akin to a memorial than any other piece in the show.

Physics aside, I'd say the piece works due to the illusion of the double imagery caused by the refraction of the water.  Also, given the overall professionalism evident in the Lawndale Art Center, I was not too worried about a watery accident occurring while I was there.  It was Barrera's fine drawings that quickly drew my attention away, though.

 A Night to Remember, graphite on paper, 2011

Bonnie Blue Butler, graphite on paper, 2011

Game Show Microphone, graphite on paper, 2011

On Days Like These, Lamborghini Miura, graphite on paper, 2011

While Gomez's drawings are immediate and work in conjunction with his text, Barrera's drawings reveal time intensive marks employing painterly techniques of light and shadowing. She focuses on a lyric, a passage, or a frame and presents us with a distillation of the original story.

Snow White, polyester resin, Valium, pure pigment, cultured pearl necklace, ink, 2011

Sleeping Beauty, liquid silicone, needles, thread, 2011

Patriotic colors that caused me to consider American ideals of beauty.

Les and Bessie, vintage glasses, epoxy resin, pure pigment, ink, 2011

Seymour, vintage glass, epoxy resin, pure pigment, ink, crushed spotlight glass, 2011

Zooey, vintage cobalt glass, epoxy resin, Yves St. Laurent mascara wand, glitter, 2011

In much the same way Barrera distills time in her drawings, she captures pure moments of lusciousness in her sculptures.  Pigments, needles, bits of glass and glitter are caught in layers of resin forever trapped in space and time for us to consider ourselves and our relationships with others.

This exhibition will be on view at the Lawndale Art Center through January 7, 2012.