HOT COMMODITIES Six
By Scott Speh
columns are coming fast and furious now. With the upcoming demise of the 16
Beaver Space, I've got nothing better to do than look at art and report back
you, gentle reader. I might even go out and get a temp job just to keep busy
(the money won't hurt either). don't worry, I'll devote plenty of time to my
beloved readers (all 7 of you).
are some decent gallery group shows out there, some mediocre museum shows
(with one incredible exception), and I've even seen some movies recently, so
sit back, relax and let yourself go (yet another Tribe Called Quest quote).
first three rooms of this retrospective provides such a giddy rush of visual
splendor that the rest of the show couldn't possibly measure up. Maybe there
are too many land and streetscapes and figure paintings. Or maybe it's
because he stopped painting pies. Oh what pies though! Damn fine pies, and
cakes, and cookies and hot dogs and soup and salads and candy. Theibaud's
almost sculptural applications of paint provide a most perfect form/function
relationship in his food paintings: the lush, thick shimmering swaths of
paint mimicking the icing, frosting and meringues of his subject matter. His
approach is almost clinical and systematic as he presents his subjects
frontally, matter of factly against a white ground, using serial repitition
again and again. But the sexiness of his sumptuous color and paint texture
provides a needed tension and buzz (as does his ubiquitous blue halo).
he paints non-food objects (yo-yos excepted), the effect is almost too
illustrational. The colors are too garish, the paint handling, while still
luscious, seems superfluous. The next room of drawings shows off his
incredible draftsmanship, but so what. Then there are 2 rooms of figurative
paintings, a few of which, if they didnıt have the aforementioned have the
blue halo, could be mistaken for Mel Ramos. The show finishes with an
interminable number of streetscapes and landscapes. There are frankly too
many they all look the same. Sure, the food paintings look the same, but
try not to drool in front of them. The landscapes don't make my mouth water.
go look just after dinner and get your just desserts.
DIGITAL PRINTMAKING: NOW
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Talk about a mediocre show. Do we have too? Well I do, being a former
printmaker; I suppose I must add my two cents in.
Yes, I must.
Just who do you think you are?
I'm a Hot Commodities columnist.
Well who appointed you?
Hey, you can go read the crap over at artnet.com
if you don't like this)
Well, being a former printmaker, I should be happy to see a show featuring
real, live actual artist-printmakers. You know, artists whose main output is
prints. When you see a print in most museum shows, it's undoubtedly a famous
(famous by art world standards) painter, sculptor, conceptual artist etc. who
made the thing at a workshop like Tamarind, ULAE, Crown Point Press or
Graphicstudio. I usually hate these kinds of prints (full disclosure: I
volunteered at Tandem Press, a university press supposedly a research
facility in the mid-90s) they're soulless, hollow shells of commerce
masquerading as artwork. Pure marketplace motives often precipitate the
production of these prints Chuck Close only paints two or three canvases a
year and the waiting list is unfathomable, but he churns our countless
editions of crappy iris prints that collectors and small art centers can snap
up for a fraction of the cost of his paintings. DIGITAL PRINTMAKING: NOW did
have many workshop produced print prints, including a crappy Chuck Close iris
print, but ... there is a surprising amount of artists, even younger, non-New
York and "emerging" artists (what an awful term) who are primarily
printmakers in this show folks like Sally Minker, Adriane Herman, Lane
Hall, Oli Watt ... this is good.
not good is the actual work. The problem is that Photoshop is too easy and
iris printing is too easy and collectors and curators and museums are too
easily seduced by technology. Just because a work comes out of a
"printer" and is a piece of paper with ink on it doesn't
necessarily make it a print. Where, dare I ask, is the matrix? Iris prints
are merely nothing more than easily reproducible photography and Photoshop (Claire
Corey and Ellen Birrell excepted) is nothing more than photo collage or
Hollywood special f/x. Whoopee. There is nothing intrinsic to printmaking
about it. In fact Chuck Close rightly considers his iris prints to be
none of this really matters. Who cares but printmakers about what is what?
Should the medium really matter this much? Isn't it the art that matters
the ideas at plays, the visuals that stimulate? Shows like this and
"Bitstreams" again hurt artists by forcing viewers to consider the
technological gee-gaws without necessarily dissecting the implications of
gee-gaws and the ideas the artists are trying portray. Sure process can be
important, especially if process is central to the understanding of the piece
Sol Lewit or early Frank Stella for example.
is why I got out of printmaking process was the be all and end all. Go to a
printmaking show and see a bunch of squinting printers wondering "How'd
they do that?" Go to a print conference and go to demo after demo to
glean new print techniques (new techniques for an antiquated medium how
quaint). Printmaking is so anal, so obsessed with fine paper, perfectly
ground limestone, expertly beveled edges, the sublime amount of plate tone,
archival matting, and acid-free everything that ideas and imagery get lost.
Name a famous (fame, again, being what is in the art world) artist who is
primarily a printmaker. You can't. There aren't any. Printmakers are
seemingly content to stay in their studio, classroom, ivory tower, ghetto
this academic, navel gazing world, rarely peeking their heads out of that
ivory tower to listen and perhaps participate in the larger contemporary art
talk about me now (surprise!). I entered grad school at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison to study printmaking, primarily etching. I quickly tired of
the overly precious world of etching and switched to screen-printing (not
silkscreen another precious print dealers word. Itıs called
screen-printing). I stopped editioning and got my mess on making paintings
basically ultimately leaving UW as a painter. (Funny, after all my ranting
about printmaker's obsession about process, that my current paintings are all
about process). This procedure of printmakers switching into other media was
prevalent at UW in the mid-90s. At this time, the best artists at UW were
printmakers as UW had a solid reputation in printmaking (US News & World
Reports #2, behind Iowa). Invariably, these students would see the
limitations of the print ghetto and would start making paintings, sculptures,
videos, performances along with their prints. This situation has so alarmed
the myopic UW print faculty that they are now going against the trend
mainly breaking down hierarchical walls between mediums, encouraging freedom
and exploration of ideas and techniques - of every other US art school
program. The UW print faculty is forcing their students to take a minimum
number of print courses a semester and to have at least two print faculty on
their graduate committees. You could call this self-preservation. You could
also call this fear. Not surprisingly, many promising students promptly
switched into other, less narrow-minded departments. A prime example of
academic printmaking for you: I had to get out.
to DIGITAL PRINTMAKING: NOW. Maybe this show will signal a rebirth and
re-interest in the print medium. I found it dreary and deflating. I'm tired
of Photoshop collages, tired of inkjet and iris prints masquerading as
photos, frankly tired of the computer, tired of technological wizardry. DP:N
started out with old school prints, positioned as an educational introduction
into the print process. I whined to my viewing partner, "I don't want to
look at old prints." But after all that techno-crap, I think I'll go home
and stare at my Robert Gomez woodcut, my Amy Fincke and Marcy Collins
etchings, my Chris Uhl monotypes for a while. Old school prints aren't so bad
MORE SUMMER GROUP SHOWS
Panasonic presents "MONITOR: VOLUME 1" the Gagosian summer show.
Imagine this, a Gagosian show I actually like: Susan Hiller's "Psi
Girls" rocked with Grrl Power in the back gallery, while videos of
simple gestures inhabited the main space; I could watch Michel Francois'
"Chaise" video of a chair breaking and tumbling down a set of
stairs all day long; you can choose between Knut Asdam's video of a man
pissing his pants (more compelling than Tony Tasset's "I Peed my
Pants" down at Feigen's summer show) or turn around get all offended by
that crapmeister Vanessa Beecroft's video, of what, you might ask? Naked
Girls! Surprise, surprise; I also much enjoyed Grazia Toderi's
"Diamond" a continuous loop video of a packed baseball stadium
with a droning soundtrack of muffled crowd noises and Douglas Gordon's
"Magic Newspapers" which had Gordon performing magic with, well,
Chelsea Arts Building (This building is where it's at in Chelsea. The big box
galleries are mausoleums. These smaller galleries have more energy and edgier
A whimsical and challenging summer show: David Altmejd contributes the
ugliest, most hideous sculpture that I just couldn't look away from. Two sets
of conjoined, Werewolves-in-London-looking heads, crystals poking out from
everywhere, paint splattered and crusty. Pretty gruesome! All on a lovely
artist designed bi-planar pedestal more suited for Kate Spade Bags. Lovely!
Peter Krieder's "House Tornado" at first glance looks like an
inverted of house of cards, but is yeah, a tornado made out of a house of
cards. Impressive and witty. Also witty is Sarah Conaway's video where she
and her brother dress like Wegman's dogs, heads bobbing back and forth as if
watching a tennis match. One of my favorite artists, Jessica Jackson
Hutchins, has a killer installation in the project room centered on Daryl
Strawberry. Crappily poignant, and I mean crappily in all the best
Neil Farber at Clementine:
Chelsea Arts Building
Initially I thought his work was dangerously close to Marcel Dzama's: simple
pen and watercolors of stiffly drawn people and animals. After reading
Farber's bio, I learned he's in a collaborative group with Dzama. So they
share an aesthetic all is forgiven. Farber is a little cuter and less surreal
than Dzama but shares a not-so-underlying creepiness. Farber's obsessions
include kids drinking poison, cats, soldiers, adults mind-fucking little
kids, arrows, ditches, lots of death, ghosts and the savages and ravages of
love. Plus the drawing are cheap starting at $50, most are $100 and $200,
plus a few at $600. I'd have been out $100 if my favorite drawing wasn't
already snapped up: a man discussing his failed marriage with a sentry guard
to an unauthorized area bittersweet - it hit a little close to home.
Chelsea Arts Building
Superimposition is curated by art critic David Hunt. Joan Linden's large,
simple, ballpoint pen drawings of cheesy architectural forms made me smile as
did the title of Jay Davis' sexy painting "Untitled (2 Things
Fighting, 22 Pinstripes and Three Striped Pedestals)." Jeffrey Reed's
"No Future" looked like a futuristic drum riser - a wooden star for
a base, plexi glass, fluorescent lights and Tecate beer cans as load bearing
columns rock on! Jim Lambie's collage rocked on thousands of collaged
eyes in a hide-like shape of a guitar player.
I desperately wanted to touch Stephanie Campos's shiny abstract
Oldenburg-esque, soft-scultpure-y geometric forms made of polyurethane and enamel
over vinyl and wood. Ellie Pyle funks up cheesily simple images of flowers,
palm trees, and cacti with haphazardly applied paint, vinyl and colored
masking tape. Cheezy, breezy summer fun.
Another typically quirky Feature show, the stand-out here being Stephen
Aljian who uses construction paper, masking tape and staples to create
meandering, snake and cloud-like abstractions. Am I just too much of a sucker
for humble materials?
The best piece in this group shows belongs to Carl D'Alvia a resin cast
pedestal that appears to have cartoonily carved hair all over it.
Jeff Dick at Lyons Wier
Chelsea Arts Building
A Chicago figurative painting gallery opened up a branch here and promises to
diversify. A decent start with Jeff Dick's show of gauzy abstractions think
soft edged, patterned Georgia O'Keefe mixed with Emil Nolde with a hazy
surface that proved to be crushed glass.
"Camera Works" is an impressive survey of artists who aren't
primarily photographers. With 31 artists, there are almost too many quality
pieces to mention Jessica Stockholder and Rachel Whiteread's photos left
the strongest impression on me.
what do you want to know about pop culture this week?
Gripping verite film documenting the rise and fall of a dot.com birthed by
two best friends. Hit a little too close to home considering what's going on
at the Beaver.
3 movies for the price of one- some awesome visuals and intriguing ideas are
soured by a Spielbergian ending of mushy sentimentality. Ick.
Recent video rentals
My roommate Claudine has indoctrinated us into her bad movie club. 2 weeks
ago was the gut-wrenchingly horrid "Gone in Sixty Seconds." Utter,
fucking garbage. No kitsch value whatso-fucking-ever. Last week we endured
"Duets" the Huey Lewis-Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle about the karaoke
scene. THE KARAOKE SCENE for chrissakes. Talk about kitsch value. Veteran
character actor Paul Giammatti turns in a devastating performance as a hack
business man who transforms himself into a killer karaoke performer. Andre
Braugher sings an awesome a cappella version of Freebird. And Huey Lewis he
The last two purchases contains a total of five good songs: Ja Rule's
"Between You and Me" and the boombastic "Put It On Me"
and Destiny's Child's "Survivor," "Bootylicious," and
"Independent Women." Why are rap and R&B albums so full of
Do you know what's not full of filler? My turkey burgers (with a recipe
stolen from Colin Beatty) flavored with fresh ginger, garlic, kosher salt,
pepper and Tabasco. Cook them either on the grill or the George Foreman lean,
mean, fat reducing grilling machine. Slap some American cheese (not any of
that fancy cheddar shit) on 'em, and savor the love.
I went to Yankee Stadium last week and saw my beloved Cleveland Indians get
destroyed 15-5. It would have been more palatable had I been able to find
some god-damned nachos. I LOVE stadium nachos. Stale, salty corn chips,
rubbery jalapenos, and that mystery yellow melted cheese-like sauce. What is
the dilly-yo? No nachos at Yankee Stadium! I'm calling Giuliani.
is a dead month for art, so hopefully I can find something to write about
Love ya - Scott
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Valentine's Day 2002
Way too much info on my TV watching habits, plus Daniell Tegeder, Brad Tucker and art in Boston and much, much more...
Best of 2001
Moulin Rouge, Mulholland Drive, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, James Ensor, Wayne Thiebaud, Radiohead, System of a Down redux
Thanksgiving from Hawaii
Serra, Pardo, Katz, Coen Brothers all suck. Grabner, Sienna, Prekop, Jay-Z all rock
Early Fall 2001
The Onion, Rodney Graham, Jim Lambie, Larry King, Music Movie Sundays, sucking up to Jerry Saltz and stuff...
Early Fall 2001
Skinny actresses, Fall Previews, Hair metal (again), and some other crap...
Chicago Art, Radiohead, Tony Kornheiser, another David E. Kelley rip and more...
Wane Thiebaud, Printmaking, movies, more summer shows and more...
Summer Shows, Paul McCarthy, Me, My Sister and more...
James Ensor, Ennui, Journey, New Art Examiner and more...
Late Winter 2001
Dawson's Creek, Jessica Stockholder, David Salle, Albums of the Year and more...
Early Winter 2000
riffs on rock-Roll Singles, the West Wing, Bernard Frieze and more...
The dirt on Damien Hirst, Jibangus, Cable TV and more...
Respond to this blather
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