A blog of personal reflections, adventures both close to home and far away, political musings and commentary, and thoughts on negotiating life as a twenty-something, queer Mainer transplanted to New York City hoping to write, inspire, teach and change the world.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I love spring!

not at all posed
Originally uploaded by keight
Another photo stolen from Keight...

New Hair

eleanor @ miriam
Originally uploaded by keight
This is stolen from Keight's flickr stream, showing my new pink hair which has faded a lot and is not so new anymore. We were brunching with our old skool zine friend Sandi. Thanks for the picture Keight!

Making It Together vs WACK

In the past week I (finally) went to see the related, but very different, shows featuring feminist art from the 1970's and 80's, WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at PS 1 and "Making It Together" at the Bronx Museum. While WACK! is a and sprawling show taking up two floors of PS1's rabbit warrens of galleries, Making It Together occupies a small, pink room of the Bronx Museum's North Building. WACK! has been heavily critiqued since it's opening in LA last spring and I don't want to regurgitate those critiques here. My main beef with the show was this: if I came in knowing nothing about feminism or feminist art, I certainly would not leave with any clear idea about what it was, is, or could be. The show feels static and dried out. There are very few wall labels or didactics that discuss who the artists were or the context in which the art was produced. While PS 1 and the LA MOCA had many public programs exploring these themes, there is no evidence of them in the galleries. WACK!'s installation at PS1 has sucked the energy, anger, messiness, collaboration and hope out of feminist art. It is very white and looks, well, very 1970's. While it was fantastic to see some works in person, the "why" was completely ignored and I left feeling like I might of well have just stayed home and read the catalogue.

By contrast "Making It Together," curated by Carey Lovelace, explores the moment where feminist artists collaborated to create no only art, but social change. Of course they featured Heresies, Womanhouse, and the founding of galleries such as A.I.R. They also included collectives I did not know about such as Spiderwoman Theatre, the Waitresses (shown here marching), and Judy Baca's large community mural project in downtown L.A. Each section of the show included a clearly written wall label (in both English and Spanish) and the catalogue was a free, takeaway, so you could take it with you in case you didn't want to spend your whole time in the gallery reading. While the collective projects features were still overwhelmingly white, the Bronx Museum show did a much better job of contextualizing feminism and feminist art. It showed women responding to pertinent issues of the day (sexism, the wage gap, war, violence against women, racism, poverty, the roles given to women in society, etc...) with creativity, rage and humor. It begs the question what is being done now to continue this legacy. A little bit of an answer is given by the large mural that you see when you enter the museum collectively painted by women graffiti artists including Lady Pink and Too Fly, and behind this, selections from the museums' permanent collection including work by Adrian Piper, Ana Mendieta, Tania Brugera and Carrie May Weems. The Bronx Museum has done what WACK! did not, which is emphasize that feminism is a living breathing entity, and it, like revolution, must be rooted in community, collaboration and exchange.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aiko Nakagawa at Joshua Liner Gallery

Art work by Aiko Nakagawa
Originally uploaded by killerfemme
Aiko Nakgawa is an artist about town (I suppose quite literally, since she is a street artist as well as making works of fine art like the one pictured here). Sometimes I wonder when she has time to paint, especially as she has been having so many awesome shows lately. I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of the group show she is part of, "Locked and Loaded" at the Joshua Liner Gallery in Chelsea. This is the gallery's inaugural show and includes work by other artists such as Crash One, Shawn Barber, Kenji Hirata, Jessica Joslin, and Tomokazu Matsuyama. Much of the work in the show was too slick for my tastes (I think Aiko Ishigawa, a new writer friend, called it the "Juxtapoz style" in reference to the magazine). I was quite taken, however, by the acrylic painting "3Rip Horse" by Tomokazu Matsuyama, the delicate yet creepy sculptural constructions of Jessica Joslin, and of course, Aiko's work. I love how her large canvases look like work that has been put up on the street and had layers of wheatpasted fliers and other artwork put up over it. Her paintings and stencil work has texture that keeps you engaged in looking, while their graphic boldness immediately catches the eye.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Serial Meditations at Nurture Art

Nurture Art is one of my favorite galleries, and yet it has been over two years since I have been there. On Friday I attended the opening of "Serial Meditations" at the new Nurture Art space at the edge of the Williamsburg/Bushwick industrial area. This show was curated by Melissa Messina and Amy Brandt and includes the artists Ju Young, Ban, Judith Braun, Janice Caswell, Richard Garrison, Bridget Lewis, Rita MacDonald, David Pierce, Patrick Schmidt, Tina Schneider and Eliza Stamps. I first met Melissa and Amy in the context of the Brooklyn Museum's show Global Feminisms, which they both worked on. In contrast to that very in your face, political show, Serial Mediations, as its name implies, is quiet. Most of the pieces are black and white, monochromatic or use color in a very subtle manner. Looking at the work has a calming effect and while they often simply use lines and shapes, I felt like I could continue looking at the works and seeing more in them. This was certainly true of Richard Garrison's spirograph drawing, which created a thick, black line on creme colored paper. By repeating overlapping circles with a ball point pen Garrison created a texture and depth to the image that almost looked like it was produced by an etching. In contrast, Birdget Lewis' piece of delicate strings of glue suspended from with silver pins is as much about the shadow it creates on the wall and it's interaction with the light than the actual object itself. In its tranquility this show is very exciting because instead of leaving feeling nothing, despite the minimal nature of the work, I felt revitalized.
I also posted this on the riffrag blog.