I’ve been working with Larry Bob Phillips for a couple of months now on an installation scheduled for CCA in Santa Fe next month. The show, called The Big Hoot, will be up for three weeks and will form the backdrop for a performance by CHERYL, a dance group based in Brooklyn, NY. The images (which should total around 75), are painted on sheets of luan, cut out, then stitched together to form a large composition. Go to CCA Santa Fe for more info.
Catherine Harris will be leading a discussion of R. Lee Montgomery’s “Sprawl” video at the University of New Mexico Art Museum today. The work is part of the museum’s current exhibition The Transformative Surface, which features nine UNM art faculty members and 6 guest artists. As far as I can tell, “Sprawl” was made with a camera attached to a small weather balloon or something similar. The balloon was launched and tethered above The Tan (formerly The Normal which was formerly Donkey Gallery) on 4th Street in Barelas. It’s a jittery piece of footage that documents the epicenter of one of the oldest communities in Albuquerque. While Barelas wasn’t the bellweather for the city’s growth–owing mostly to the family bonds that determined its development–in “Sprawl” it serves as a middle point from which the viewer can experience the city either growing out or pushing in upon itself.
Similarly, (Hear) by the River, a video mural installed at the Albuquerque Convention Center, is a convincing investigation of the city’s history and culture. Co-created by Mark Anderson of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Working Classroom artists and Eric Garcia of the National Museum of Mexican Art (also in Chicago), the mural compiles found footage, interviews, documentary film-making and audio tracks in order to create a balanced, socially-conscious portrait of Albuquerque. You can check out a clip of Hakim Bellamy, Albuquerque’s Poet Laureate here.
“The human being has two opposing organs, the head and the belly. [...] The head thinks much too slow and the belly much too fast.” –Rudolf Steiner
I made it up late to see Jessamyn Lovell’s show at Caldera. This was after stopping by the Center for Contemporary Arts to see Tamara Wilson’s Stitch Thought, an installation of felt domestic objects in the Spector Ripps Project Space.
Felt light bulbs hang from the ceiling. Pencils dot the wall. There is a soft couch with a soft lamp. The show is primarily about use value. The light bulbs don’t work. The pencils don’t work. The paper doesn’t work. The couch would collapse under your weight. The couch, with its stains and signs of use, pushes this idea furthest; the fact that it retains a history of use seals it off more immediately, in a way. We see that it once had a life but now sits empty, its present significance lying in its beautiful, disused cicada-shell of an existence.
Dropping in to Dust in the Machine in the large Munoz Waxman space. The show developed in conjunction with ISEA 2012 and features Chris Ballantyne, Lisa K. Blatt, Adriane Colburn, Bethany Delahunt, Jamey Stillings, Lucy Raven, Jesse Vogler and Shirley Wegner. It’s a slight copout to say that I didn’t spend enough time in the exhibition, but…I didn’t spend enough time in the exhibition. In a nutshell, themes of construction wind through works about mapping, videos that document the residue (steam) and sublime beauty of the construction process, large photographs of the Hoover Dam Bypass (the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) during its construction, a watchtower structure by Bethany Delahunt and a few wondrous combines and sculptures by Jesse Vogler. A slightly sinister vibe runs through the exhibition, perhaps set off strongest by Delahunt’s surveillance structure and the near-Mad Max quality of the cold objects that dot the nearly 5,000 square foot warehouse space. I highly recommend checking it out before it closes in late November.
On my many visits to Las Vegas (my wife is from there), while passing over the Hoover Dam or further on into Boulder City, I would imagine the workers entombed in the 3 million plus cubic yards of concrete that had been poured for its construction. There’s Lake Mead. There are salt deposits. When I was seventeen, I sent postcards from the Hoover Dam to friends back in Arizona to let them know that instead of camping in Payson, I was now driving to Multnomah Falls near Portland and back again–in a five day stretch. My tax refund from my dishwashing job at work.
Unfortunately, Lovell’s show, A New Age, was cast in darkness when I arrived, not because the gallery was closed, but simply because a performance by Treemotel was about to begin in the small space. Lovell’s installation consisted of scanned objects and photographs–some reminding me of Joyce Neimanas’ work–placed in rows across the largest wall. The objects–cool talismanic charms–rest in a scanned blackness, cut off from the context of their use. A little statue of the virgin, a smudge stick, pouches, feathers, become characters in a pataphysical study that acknowledges their significance while simultaneously questioning the power they cast.
The image-objects were more compelling to me perhaps because of my recent (and near-constant) listening to Che Chen’s music in late summer, as well as compositions by other musicians he works with that tread in the realm of new age-y-ness. Drone music. The idea of getting lost in a pattern. Getting lost or giving over–in Lovell’s case–to the potential for new knowledge or power. It doesn’t always work, but it’s significant for the recognition of the walls and habits that define what we allow into our world view as artists and people.
Jessamyn Lovell/A New Age/Caldera/closed; Tamara Wilson/Stitch Thought/CCA/through Dec. 9; Dust in the Machine/CCA/through Nov. 25
Next post: Education/West Virginia/Cody Lee Berry at SFUAD/Wells Park Murals
Here is a link to my interview with Che Chen from this summer. Chen and Sherlock Terry performed a piece for Issue Project Room last month.
It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything to this site. Reasons came and went over the course of the last year, but it was mostly due to losing interest in writing about art. But, now I think it’s important to reinvest some time and energy into The Milk Wax, even if it’s to comment on my long-delayed restoration of my Triumph Bonneville or to lay out general thoughts on painting and drawing–as I see it happening in my studio practice.
I’ll probably go back and discuss the various events surrounding ISEA 2012, specifically my first hand account of the creation of the murals along the Wells Park railroad corridor. Nani Chacon and Larry Bob Phillips really pounded out some killer pieces, and I was lucky enough to see various parts of them get thrown up. Additionally, my solo show in West Virginia was amazing. Morgantown was cool. Pittsburgh was cool. Seeing Fallingwater was pretty mind blowing–regardless of my constant fear of falling into the creek below. Anyway, I’m back to this, so we’ll see what falls out of my head.