From our recent road trip from Texas to Providence: the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile getting gas at the New Jersey Turnpike.
This week we’re busy painting and readying the new live / work space before move-in day this weekend. Yesterday Murray installed a medicine cabinet in the bathroom that I picked up for a dollar at a yard sale, and we tie-wired a pole from the ceiling to serve as our closet. Although the space we’re moving into is huge, it’s quite affordable because it’s missing a few of the amenities most dwellers take for granted: lights; a working bathtub; closet rods; shelving.
Our new place is totally DIY and we couldn’t be more pleased.
Alison Owen, Untitled, 2008, installation, adhesive, dust, lint, animal hair
Installation artist Alison Owen, a former New Yorker now living in Providence, uses the existing elements of an environment to make sharp and witty tromp l’oeil works with conceptual heft. In previous bodies of work, Owen has painted shadows behind architectural oddities, extended lines, and otherwise ever-so-slightly modified the palette of a room.
In her current work, she has branched into creating “decorative” motifs out of the invisible contents of an environment. Her most recent installation is a faux floral wallpaper pattern constructed out of the dust, animal hair and detritus she harvested from the corners of the room.
From a safe distance, the material seems velvet-like and tactile, and the color shifts from flower to flower in each iteration. Yet as soon as you’re close enough to see what it’s made of, the experience changes from aesthetic pleasure to mild disgust coupled with the voyeuristic interest piqued by seeing somebody else’s “dirt.”
Up indefinitely and viewable upon request.
Folkert de Jong, Mount Maslow, 2007, (detail), styrofoam, polyurethane foam and pigment, [source]
Any exhibition where the organizing factor is as straightforward as material runs the risk of reading like a treatise on variation and the artists’ ingenuity of the material’s exploited uses. With a material as ubiquitous and malleable as styrofoam, the title and basis of RISD museum’s current exhibition, the risk of catalogued variation seems a pitfall hard to avoid.
Yet, in this quirky show, the stuff the artwork is made of stays in the background, allowing the works to speak to one another in surprising ways by using the properties of the material as a point of conversation.
Richard Tuttle’s carved arrowhead-shaped works play at the crossroads of high / low art and old / new technology. B. Wurtz’s photographs of the contours of packing material are a humorous take on modern landscape. Heide Fasnacht’s Exploding Plane, which hovers in the airspace above the other works, though made in 2000, draws the conversation into a possible political commentary on exploited natural resources and the lead-up to the terror attacks of 2001.
It is Folkert de Jong’s dancing figures that inspired curator Judith Tannenbaum to originally propose the exhibition. Carved into kilted totems of leprechaun-like hilarity, these creatures pose defiantly under the deadly plane, just, you know, keepin’ it light.
March 14-July 20, 2008
Heide Fasnacht, Exploding Plane, 2000, Graphite Acrylic over Neoprene, Dimensions Variable (approx 20′ sq), [source]
Styrofoam presents art made of the commonplace material known for its light weight quality and wide application. Opening to the public on Friday, March 14 (opening reception on March 19, see below) in the lower Farago Gallery, Styrofoam highlights both the earlier and current uses of this material by artists in a wide range of styles and approaches. Styrofoam (extruded or expanded polystyrene) is a material whose intended uses range from building insulation and construction models to product packaging and coffee cups. In recent years, artists have used styrofoam in a variety of new and ingenious ways. They carve into it, mold it, and assemble it into entirely new forms and images that often contrast with its original functions, at times implying environmental concerns about use and reuse. Artists represented are Folkert de Jong, Heide Fasnacht, Tony Feher, Tom Friedman, Steve Keister, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Pearson, Shirley Tse, Richard Tuttle, and B. Wurtz.
Opening Reception: Styrofoam
Wednesday, March 19
5:30 pm: View the exhibition
6:45 pm: Artist panel discussion with Heide Fasnacht, Steve Keister, Bruce Pearson, Richard Tuttle, and B. Wurtz. RISD Auditorium, Canal Way. Free and open to the public. More info here.
I’m curating a outdoor video space on the campus of Roger Williams University that is now featuring Vertical Blinds (2) (2007) from Kansas City artist Barry Anderson. Vertical Blinds (2) employs animated strips of people’s faces. The strips are animated separately creating a space in which faces appear and disappear.
The outdoor screen is active Monday through Thursday from 7pm to 1am. Vertical Blinds (2) closes March 21.
We’ve been snowed in! It’s a forced break, which is nice to make sure we’ve crossed our t’s.
We started looking for a new studio when we moved to Providence in August. After a few months of cramped quarters at home and using our parking space to store art crates instead of a car, we finally found a studio and started moving in this past weekend. It’s good timing for us: we’ve got a show back in Los Angeles this February and are getting to the point with the project where we need the space to build the set for the video that will be part of the installation for that show.
This past weekend was also our first trip down to NYC since we moved out east. We went with some of Murray’s digital media students to PS1, MoMA, the Whitney, Cooper Hewitt and the Met. Murray and I have a lot to say this week about what we saw, in particular, the Kara Walker and Martin Puryear shows.
Nick Cave, Soundsuits, 2006 [source and source]
At RISD Auditorium, 6:15pm
Carolee Schneeman, Body Collage , 1967, performance on 16-millimeter film [source]
At RWU (CAS 157), 6:00pm
Press releases after the jump.
Slater Mill, Pawtucket, RI [source]
We just finished our move to Providence. Everyone here thinks we have an accent. This week we’ll be touring the Rhode Island School of Design, which is down the street from us as well as Brown University, also down the street. One of my faculty perks is a library card to each.
My first impression of Providence is that it’s dominated by the visual arts. Apparently, Providence has the second highest artists-per-capita in the States. This is underlined by the numerous mills in this city that have been converted to artist studio spaces. We know of at least 5 mills that have more than 100 studios each.
Providence is an artist paradise in a way. It’s close enough to Boston and NY to have reasonable access to large exhibitions while being small enough to afford studio rent and a high standard of living. BTW, this is also a “foody” town because of the prestigious Johnson and Whales Culinary School — down the street, yet again.
We’ve been lucky enough in the last few years to stumble upon some pretty great studio spaces in both Los Angeles and St Louis. Los Angeles has the infrastructure of a well-established art community, which can anticipate artists’ studio needs and provide for those needs accordingly: but you generally have to pay big bucks for a space. St Louis has great unused industrial spaces that are rough, raw and cheap, but you have to put up with wearing snowsuits in the winter while working (no heat) and you have to be willing to improvise when it comes to those important studio elements such as walls.
Providence seems to be unusual blend of both ends of the spectrum: plenty of huge, affordable industrial spaces, in addition to a thriving artist community well-schooled in resourceful adaptive real estate solutions. We were at first hoping for some sort of live/work situation — there are plenty around — but have instead opted to live and work separately. We’ve signed a lease on a place to live and are now turning our attention to finding a cheap, big, work-only studio space. Any leads?