Thursday Nite, November 14: What a dope I am sitting and waiting for the arts panel discussion at Moore to get to a tangible point. The topic is CITYWIDE, the collaboration of over 25 loosely connected co-operative spaces who are exhibiting together, sharing spaces. Sounds like a great idea. I was convinced until I heard benevolent curator from NY/UK, Matthew Higgs talk down to the audience. There is nothing like an English snob to make your own elitist tendencies take stock. I have lived in London and know what I am talking about. He trashed the likes of Damien Hirst (who made mega art careers in Britain possible) then went on to flatter a short period in New York where seminal artists were falling off the sidewalk – does Gordon Matta-Clark matter these days? – and signing up for shows at the vintage White Columns Gallery, the alternative New York space. Pardon me? “We don’t use the word alternative anymore,” stated Higgs. Is it now Indie-Galleries? Higgs began with an analogy to his interest in small Manchester record labels that “changed the world.” Excuse me? I love Joy Division and New Order too (Factory Records) but we are talking about art galleries. Specifically, local mom and pop co-ops. There was little discussion of the actual state of the Philadelphia playing field and why these collectives are so crucial in a city of down market murals. His last comments about how, "artists have all the power,” was BS at best and incredibly patronizing. This discussion was a wasted opportunity for dialogue and an example of curatorial (institutional) obfuscation as if his audience was a collection of eager beaver dolts.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
James Turrell may well be the grandfather of light-installation art. What a pleasure to have a local piece by such a renown and influential artist. I've been to see it twice now at dusk. Not sure if I'll ever visit during the dawn hours. That is real dedication. In working on a review, I have discovered his obvious influence on artist, Olafur Eliasson whose work was shown a few years back at Arcadia University Gallery. That was a mind blowing piece where the colors of an entire room shifted and pulsated leaving the viewer wondering how their eyes functioned. At one point I looked up through a window and was amazed to find a dark purple sky.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
I have to admit I'm annoyed today. As soon as I make a foray into art research for a review, I stumble upon doings in Philly that I was completely unaware of. Now, you could say that is a blessing but in this case it is me being out of the loop. Today, I will attribute it to the fact that I am not a member of a co-op gallery so I am excluded from another citywide campaign to show art. Oddly enough, this exhibition is called CITYWIDE! Imagine my dismay, folks; I'm all dressed up with no where to go! So, I will continue my next cosmic review about James Turrell and hope for the best. How can local artists care to be mavens for contemporary art – a good thing – when they are so busy getting themselves noticed by elitist Tyler MFA grads and their hopeless mentors.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Just because I have been busy with a book doesn't mean I don't have eyes on the Philly art scene. Well, maybe one eye. It only rates one eye if you think about it. I visited a few friend's studios today (part of POST) and discussed the state of art and galleries. The highlight (no pun) of the week was seeing James Turrell's new Skyspace at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House and it gave me quite a crick in the neck. One is meant to lie down and watch the large square window in the ceiling change as the sun sets (or rises) and the lights in the room play with your head. Do not drop acid, friends. It would be a waste of time! Although magical to witness – there were oohs and aahs from the audience – I kept thinking I was being messed with and wondered how Turrell made it look like he pasted huge pieces of matt color aid paper on the ceiling. Some of the color combinations were cosmically inspired but I went home looking for aspirin.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
I have been trawling through art listings looking for a decent Fall show to visit or review but can't find anything of interest. I could say the same thing about rock bands. Have I grown up at last or are we coasting? I hope it isn't the former. There are always young bucks making defiant music (Sleigh Bells) and I enjoy that but art is mediated somehow and thin on the ground. My fall back will have to be the Leger show at the museum. Perhaps, I can muster a review of classic modernism. Distance makes this easier. Or I can buy a case of beer and settle in and watch the MBL playoffs in the comfort of my own home. Caught a homer in the ninth last night in Boston by chance. These guys are still sporting full scale beards and I find this fascinating. Are they looking for the (steam punk) good old days?
Monday, September 23, 2013
I feel a little guilty about my last post. Don't get me wrong. Some outsider art I quite admire. What I want people to realize is that it takes an interfering curator to get the ball rolling in order for an artist to develop cred. In fact, it takes an art world village. For some reason they prefer trawling through obscure archives for the rare outsider with good provenance. Hopefully the artist is dead and already has a few admirers; minor collectors interested in buying the work. Even better if the work is discovered in an old garage and no one knows who the artist is. This creates mystery, as in the Philadelphia Wireman. I have also been making comparison to success in literary worlds. It seems the artist is in a terrible position to be of status from the get go, the work standing tall as if by magic. This isn't required from an author. An author doesn't need the physical space to show work like the visual artist.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
There was a great article in the recent Atlantic Monthly about how popular Outsider Art has become on the global art market. I know it well. Philadelphia is full of these guys and there is a gallery or two that specializes in the work. Why everyone gets snagged on the definition is odd, even hinky. You are not included as an outsider if you went to an art school! That is the main prerequisite, no formal training. And you are only let in if you have an invitation from an insider, either a collector or a gallery. It doesn't matter that there are plenty of practitioners of Outsider art who went to art school and know a Debuffet when they see one. I recognize the skateboard and spray can. The niggling part is that plenty of dead folks with mental problems are now accepted into an exclusive club due simply to fashion and collector's money.