A Conversation: William Cordova at the Boston Center for the Arts

William Cordova, the House that Frank Lloyd Wright built for Fred Hampton y Mark Clark, 2006 (installation view, Arndt & Partner, Berlin, 2006). Wood, books and suspended drawing, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist; courtesy Arndt & Partner Berlin

Born in Lima, Peru and raised in Miami, Florida, William Cordova is an internationally known artist practicing across multiple disciplines. Having earned his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and his MFA from Yale University in 2004, Mr. Cordova has exhibited at MoMA PS1, the 2008 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial and Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston among many other national and international museums and galleries. Mr. Cordova was just awarded $25,000 as part of the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s 2011 Painters and Sculptors Grant Program.

The Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts is currently hosting William Cordova’s first solo exhibition in the city curated by Evan J. Garza—the Exhibitions and Public Programs Coordinator for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  On view until April 15th, this one’s 4U (pa’ nosotros) brings together new and recent works in sculpture, installation, video and works on paper that give meaning to the past in a contemporary context.

On Friday February 10, 2012 an informal conversation was held at the BCA’s Plaza Theater with William Cordova, Evan J. Garza and Jose Falconi, Curator for the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.

Mr. Garza opened the conversation by briefly introducing Cordova’s the House that Frank Lloyd Wright Built for Fred Hampton y Mark Clark, a structure made of two by fours that remakes the apartment layout of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two Black Panther members killed by the Chicago Police. The work, which is included in the exhibition at The Mills Gallery, formed the foundation for this Boston show.

William on his process and the evolution of the House that Frank Lloyd Wright Built for Fred Hampton y Mark Clark:

There are different ways that that piece evolved. In general, I’m interested in architecture and how to represent ideas of resistance through architecture. I’m often gravitating to material history that can represent that or does represent that.

I’m trying to activate certain materials, certain histories for us to reconsider ourselves, how we sometimes are seeing it from a detached perspective. While it may not be happening to us, we assume we have no relationship to that history or that situation, but in actuality, we are probably a lot closer than not.

I tend to create a lot of parallels even in the title, “Frank Lloyd Wright,” “Fred Hampton,” “Mark Clark.” Those relationships may not necessarily be obvious. The way I wanted to approach these projects or art making, was not by limiting myself to making a representation of an image or a situation by making a painting and putting it up on a wall. I wanted to provoke or challenge the way we think and painting can do that, I don’t think it would have been enough for what I wanted to do.

I was thinking about building materials, structures, symbols that represent something in transition.

I am sure everyone is familiar seeing a house—half-way built before there are dry walls; before the electrical parts are installed; before the roof. What I wanted to do was show that first part where you have the foundation and stop there; suggest to the viewer, to provoke them questions. What’s next? Are you going to add something else? Why isn’t there something else in here? Why does it suppose to be revealing?  What does that have to do in relationship to the title, to the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, to the individuals—the activists.

The piece in a way is a transitional piece, is a labyrinth, it’s also a monument, it’s a shrine.  It has different entry points; it’s also very layered. It isn’t specifically about one thing—it isn’t about Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Frank Lloyd Wright—but about many situations or histories.

The conversation then shifted to the idea of forgotten historical narratives and how we perceive monuments. This part of the discussion focused on the installation the House that Frank Lloyd Wright Built for Fred Hampton y Mark Clark. Cordova discussed his interest in language as it develops in his works, in particular in the title piece of the exhibition this one’s 4U (pa’ nosotros)—a video-sound installation that juxtaposes audio from Federico Garcia Hurtado’s  1984 film Tupac Amaru and video from the documentary by Peter Spirer Thug Angel—about Tupac Amaru Shakur.

William Cordova on language, its meaning, and how titles emerge in his works:

I’m interested in language. I am interested in language and how we interpret it. How we communicate. I am interested in presence and how that is represented or how we represent with others. But I am also aware that in our society of the condition of trying to divide things, categorize and separate and so we might not be able to relate to one another because we’re conditioned just to have certain divisions, even though they may not inherently be there.

I’m more interested in the commonalities than the divisions. I am interested in writing and literature; that’s a big influence in my work.

Untitled (geronimo I & II), 2006-2012. Reclaimed paper bag, feathers, aerosol can. Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Mr. Cordova on the lyrical quality in his titles:

I try to appeal to many different groups, many different audiences and a lot of it is through written word. Some of it is more abstract, some of it is more literal—in order to appeal to as many people as possible.

I incorporate popular culture imagery to a certain extent. I don’t want to promote it or rely on it when I question it and slow it down—how we consume that type of imagery or any type of imagery. A lot of times visual art is considered entertainment. It’s like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, you get it?—and then you move on. It shouldn’t be about that.

Certain work rely more on certain titles, but I am not relying on the title to do the work for the visual art.

The work that I do is completely installation based, so all the works and all the components are in conversation and isolated they may not function the same way. It is really important that all the ingredients are in the same bowl. Otherwise certain things might not necessarily trigger the initial idea I had in mind, but it is all open for interpretation. It just depends on how we are conditioned to absorb, receive or interpret it.

this is not 4 U (I miss U already...), 2009 Aluminum foil, cardboard, reclaimed Plexiglas, tape 17 x 29.5 x 7 inches 43.2 x 74.9 x 17.8 cm. Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Mr. Cordova on the concept of temporality and how he treats the life of the object he creates (there is a work influenced by the Nazca lines in the window space of the gallery that was created specifically for this show and for that space—therefore will not exist in any other gallery or museum):

A lot of times we rely on digital cameras or digital recordings and everything comes really quick. We don’t necessarily take time to value that moment. When we see something, we to start taking pictures with our phones—and there is something that is lost when we have so much access. It’s like always having candy in a bowl–you won’t desire it because it’s always there. I did this site-specific piece on the floor of the institution [Mills Gallery] and I wanted to represent something that is very close to me, but at the same time it is not something that can be transported and displayed somewhere else. I didn’t want to put any type of financial or superficial value to it. I wanted it to exist. It is not something that you see at every installation. It depends on the space.

The conversation ended with the concept of constellations and how we form our own ideas of representations. Mr. Garza commented on William’s ability to take points that exist in different points in time and in space and connect them to create bridges between them. These connections and bridges are observed throughout this exhibition at Mills Gallery.

This talk  illuminated many of the works in this exhibition and allowed those in attendance to search for a deeper meaning in Mr. Cordova’s works. William Cordova provided a framework to not only better understand the House that Frank Lloyd Wright Built for Fred Hampton y Mark Clark, but also invited us to draw our own parallels with this and other works within the exhibition. William Cordova: this one’s 4U (pa’ nosotros) is on view until April 15, 2012.

Say You Love Me

Exorcism in January 2009, Laurel Nakadate. Type C-print. Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York.

Exorcism in January 2009, Laurel Nakadate. Type C-print. Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York

Laurel Nakadate thrives off of meeting strangers. Old, lonely, creepy and sexually repressed men fascinate her, to the point of making them the subject of her videos.  She’s had these men beg for their lives, perform exorcisms, sing happy birthday or pretend to have a telephone conversation, all while in the same room with her. The eight video installation Laurel Nakadate: Say You Love Me at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, is bound to make you feel dirty and in need of a shower (at least, the first time you see the exhibition, not so much the second or third time).

Happy Birthday, 2000, Laurel Nakadate

Ms. Nakadate makes exceedingly difficult work that explores and pushes the boundaries of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and vulnerability. The grittiness and raw video quality in her work adds to the discomfort that perhaps many people feel, when confronted with the creepy and awkward situations Nakadate places herself in.

Good Morning Sunshine, 2009, Laurel Nakadate

In “Good Morning Sunshine,” Ms. Nakadate casts three women who play the role of teenagers and coerces each one into taking their clothes off. Nakadate shows us that a little pressure and sweet talking goes a long way. “Stand up and let me look at you…you know you’re the prettiest girl right? Take your shirt off…” she says in a silky smooth, alluring voice. “You know you’re so pretty right? Let’s see your panties…” We squirm and cringe as we watch each woman succumb to the pressure. It is as if we’re about to watch a casting couch video.

With Laurel Nakadate, we hold our breath anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop. We expect something naughty to happen following a situation where some sort of sexual tension is explicit or implied. At times, Nakadate leads us into thinking that what we’re about to see are clips of some sort of fetish sex tape. But it isn’t, which allows for a more thrilling voyeuristic experience.

Beg For Your Life, 2006, Laurel Nakadate

Nakadate is always in control of the situation, but I think she does not always come across as being genuinely interested in her subjects. There are times, particularly in the video Beg for Your Life, 2006 (not the video still shown above, but another segment within that same video) where Nakadate’s body language is that of a person thinking “I’m taking advantage of this old, creepy, emotionally unstable guy and he doesn’t even know what he’s in for.” These men are lonely and they need to be loved. Perhaps they see these performances as a means of being loved, but who knows? Regardless of Nakadate’s true intentions, her work is thought provoking and intense.

Lessons 1-10, 2001, Laurel Nakadate.

Her videos are compelling in part thanks to a great soundtrack that includes songs like ‘Devils and Dust” by Bruce Springsteen, “You Were Always on My Mind” by Elvis Presley, “All I Have to Do is Dream” by Roy Orbinson and Neil Diamond’s “I am,” I said” among many others. These songs further underscore the loneliness, vulnerability and hope that present themselves as recurring themes in Nakadate’s work. Her videos may be uncomfortable to watch for some, but they’re also touching, empathetic and funny. These qualities make all the squirming all worth it.

Anonymous Boston

Photo Courtesy of Joanna Marinova Jones

The last time I saw an exhibition that literally made me tremble was at the Institute of Contemporary Art during the Mark Bradford show (November 19, 2010 – March 13, 2011). This time around, it wasn’t Bradford that almost moved me to tears, but rather an exhibition at Fourth Wall Project on social justice and gun violence in Boston. Words could not even begin to describe the emotions I felt as I read every wall text, looked at every photograph and listened to the desperate pleas of families (a haunting audio piece was part of the show) in Anonymous Boston a multimedia exhibit that focused on life, rather than the devastating effects of gun violence.

Organized by media producer and human rights activist Joanna Marinova Jones, Anonymous Boston directly and indirectly brought to light many issues that have long been ignored by public officials, and people not directly affected by gun violence. Anonymous Boston aimed at empowering those families who have experienced devastating losses—by giving them a voice with which to tear down the derogatory comments left behind by anonymous bloggers on online news articles.

Newspaper clippings with stories on the victims made this exhibition not only interesting, but relevant on so many levels. The headlines are nothing short of sensational, they nurture the anonymous monsters that leave tactless comments that hurt victim’s families.

Fueled by the insensitive, inaccurate and superficial media coverage of violence in Boston, these anonymous bloggers further exacerbate the situation by relentlessly attacking not only grieving families, but an entire race. Their comments, some of which I have quoted above, are difficult to stomach.

It’s much easier to ignore the issue or point fingers and blame the victim’s family, rather than to take a stand to stop gun violence. It is also much easier to say “if it is not happening to me, then it’s not my problem— why should I care about all the violence that is destroying your community?”

Photo Courtesy of Joanna Marinova Jones

What happens in Boston is everyone’s responsibility. I could not help but feel mentally drained and spiritually devastated, but always remaining hopeful—as I was confronted with blatantly racist and ignorant comments left by these bloggers next to a victim’s photograph. It’s easy to hide behind a veil rather than to discuss the real underlying issues as to why these things are happening in our city.

To say that what happens in Roxbury, Dorchester or Mattapan isn’t my problem— is to be part of the problem, as a family member of one of the victims in Anonymous Boston was quoted saying.

Anonymous Boston communicated a powerful message and I sincerely hope that those who experienced it listened. Gun violence is the product of complex cultural issues. We as a culture are obsessed with guns and yet we wonder why there is so much senseless violence in this country. My only regret was not being able to experience this exhibition more than once, as I went on the second to last day before closing. 

All other uncredited images are by Anulfo Baez.

For You I Feel Lucky

Boston painter and performance artist Jessica Gath, known to many of us as The World Famous Secretary, has been exploring performance as a means of making people feel loved. “For You I Feel Lucky,” her latest work in the series entitled “For You,” was performed on Tuesday November 8th at The Hallway Gallery in Jamaica Plain. The goal of this performance was to “create in a room of strangers, a potential for an increased affinity in a short amount of time,” says Ms. Gath.

Strangers formed the core of this work. To participate, personal references were required by the artist who then contacted these via telephone or email. Three fill in the blank questions were asked and at least any one of the three was required from the reference. The answers provided the framework for the performance.

Three rules were also set in place. One, participants were asked to take the time to experience the beauty of what was about to unfold in the gallery. Two, the performance was not to last more than thirty minutes. And three, participants and performers needed to feel comfortable in their own skin. And so it began.

Any anecdotes or insights provided by the references were shared anonymously with the participants. Ms. Gath read these line by line, at times injecting her own remarks to compensate for those people who said similar things about the participants. In the end, For You I Feel Lucky was about celebrating the participants rather than the artist. It was a reflection of the participants and of those that loved them. This performance was also a reminder that each one of us has a very important role to play in fostering a strong sense of community.

For You I Feel Lucky lingered on hours after it had concluded. I felt lucky to have shared this wonderful experience with a friend and with total strangers, because their presence and being makes this world a much better place. Jessica Gath has gained a new fan, and I’m beyond excited to see what else is in the works!

Images of “For You I Feel Lucky” by Mark Sarver, Courtesy of Jessica Gath.

One Gallery I Bet You Didn’t Even Know Existed in Boston

The Fish, Artist: Harbor Arts Team. Image Credit HarborArts.org

Sprawling over the grounds and docks of an active shipyard on Marginal Street in East Boston are thirty contemporary artworks by established and emerging artists from three continents. The Shipyard Gallery, an initiative of Harbor Arts, a collaborative community organization “whose sole purpose is to protect and preserve our oceans and waterways by helping each of us to understand the issues and solutions facing our blue planet” is an outdoor gallery where art meets science. The gallery opened in 2010 and I just recently learned of it while at meeting at the Urban Arts Institute who sponsored the competition juried by Randi Hopkins, former associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

2Ralph Berger/Captured Flight & A Toy For Sisyphus. Image Credit: Anulfo Baez

It was love at first sight for me. I love that it is less than 10 minute walk from Maverick Station on the Blue Line. I also love that behind each one of the thirty works (mostly sculpture) on display is a pressing environmental issue facing our oceans. I also love that I get to learn about the sponsoring organization behind each piece and of the work they’re doing to protect our oceans.

Mark Favermann/Zig Zag Benches. Image Credit: Anulfo Baez

This place is so fantastic I hope more people get to see it and experience its magic (sculptures are on loan for at least a year and new ones are added on a seasonal basis). Head over to East Boston and learn about the fabulous organizations that constitute Harbor Arts and see some neat artworks. You’ll thank me later.

Shahzia Sikander: The Exploding Company Man and Other Abstractions

The Last Post, 2010 (still); HD video animation; 10 min. Courtesy of the Artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Source: ArtPractical.com

A fantastic exhibition curated by Hou Hanru for the Walter and McBean Galleries at the San Francisco Art Institute is currently up at MassArt. Shahzia Sikander: The Exploding Company Man and Other Abstractions (September 19 – November 26) gathers five of Sikander’s most recent animated videos along with paintings and drawings to create an explosion of sumptuous imagery, color and sound. I loved this exhibition so much I cannot wait to return to the gallery and see each video again and again.

With a BFA from the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Shahzia Sikander explores the British colonialism of the subcontinent, the British opium trade with China, military rhetoric, news media, identity and other contemporary issues through an aesthetics that draws primarily from Indo-Persian miniature paintings.  This exhibition is a feast for the senses and is not to be missed. This show has received glowing reviews all across the board; won’t you go see it for yourself? It’s TERRIFIC!

There will be an artist talk on Monday October 3, 5:30PM in the tower auditorium and an opening reception at 6:30PM in the Bakalar Gallery. A musical performance by Du Yun (her collaboration with Sikander can be seen in “Gossamer” also in the exhibition) is scheduled for 7:00PM.

In Retrospect…

I do not write about every show I see, but I do tweet about them (@evolvingcritic). This summer I have seen some outstanding and some not so outstanding shows, here I go:

Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Culture, 1920-1980 at the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. I briefly drooled over this show earlier this summer, but I loved it so much I went to see it again with a friend. I thought it was well researched and the exhibition design by Nader Terahni was truly an artwork in it of itself. If you missed this show, you missed out on some amazing gowns, jewelry, shoes, barware and so much more. RISD published an exhibition catalog which is on my list of books to get.

MassArt had a really great show titled Flourish: Alumni Works on Paper. Sorry, I can’t remember any names, but I did tweet about those works that were interesting.

I thought The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl at the ICA was good. There were some standout pieces by Xaviera Simmons, Carrie Mae Weems, Christian Marclay and David McConnell, but not everything in it was really outstanding.

Catherine Opie: Empty and Full is just that, empty and full. For the most part, I felt like I was in a Roni Horn exhibition with Catherine Opie in the center portion of the gallery. There’s a disconnection between Opie’s landscape images and her images of community and politics. I loved her images depicting sunsets and sunrises, but other than this, the exhibition is empty.

I was extremely disappointed and sad when I saw Eva Hesse: Studioworks at the ICA. Four large cases and a table surrounded by mostly empty white walls display “experiments” by Hesse. Hesse was an amazing and influential artist, but this show doesn’t really do much. It’s sad and It’s boring. This show had been traveling for a long time, and it finally made it to Boston. Sebastian Smee of the Boston Globe sums it up nicely.

Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass. It only took me less than 10 minutes to walk through the entire exhibition. Dale has definitely carved out a name for himself in the glass world, but this stuff isn’t fine art. And for the record, I think craft is underappreciated and frowned upon in the art world, but there are museums out there dedicated to works like these. He’s a crowd pleaser and those who went to see this show at the MFA loved it. The MFA is asking people to donate money to purchase the giant lime-green icicle tower for their permanent collection. That was one excellent move on behalf of the MFA, in my honest opinion.

The one exhibition that truly stole my heart this summer was Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I waited an hour just to get in line and another 3 hours in line to see the exhibition. The gallery was so crowded it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to walk through it. All that said and done, it was one of the most thrilling, moving and memorable exhibitions I have seen this year. McQueen’s designs are breathtaking and the Metropolitan Museum elevated his craft through heart pounding displays, haunting musical scores, seductive lighting and special effects like a hologram of Kate Moss. It was as dramatic as McQueen’s runway shows were known to be. I couldn’t forgive myself, ever, had I missed this exhibition in person but I WILL NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO SEE AN EXHIBITION EVER AGAIN.

I also caught Vienna 1900: Style and Identity at Neue Galerie. I thought it was a very fascinating exhibition and had I also seen it when it first opened, I would have gone back to see it again and again. Otto Wagner’s furniture, Egon Schiele’s drawings and Klimt’s portraits stole the show for me.

Summer is almost over, but I have yet to see the Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism as well as Painting the American Vision both at the Peabody Essex Museum. I’m looking forward to Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture, Degas and the Nude both at the MFA this Fall. I need to head to the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford to check out the Matrix 162 Shaun Gladwell as well as their outstanding collection of American Art. The Portsmouth Museum of Art has an exhibition of street murals which has been driving those who live in Portsmouth crazy, this show is calling my name.

Any must see shows before the summer ends?

Image: Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010). Dress, autumn/winter 2010–11. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen. Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

Review: Close Distance

Raul Gonzalez, Wake up Call (On My Last Nerve), 2011 | Ink and Bic pen, 45 by 65 inches acrylic. Courtesy the artist and Carroll & Sons Gallery, Boston.

I may be too young to remember when was the last time Boston experienced an exhibition that featured the work of Latino artists living in this city or its surrounding towns. I may also be too young to remember Grupo Ñ, an experimental but now dissolved Latino art collective from the 1980’s that became an instrumental force in Boston’s underground art scene.

“Close Distance,” at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Mills Gallery is the first exhibition in nearly thirty years featuring the works of six emerging Boston area Latino artists “practicing across diverse media and national borders.” Curated by Liz Munsell, a local curator with DiscordiaFilms and a Curatorial Research Associate at the Museum of Fine Arts, “Close Distance” is engaging, provoking and riveting.

The exhibition is as culturally diverse and distinct as are the artistic vocabularies presented. From the site specific work of Daniela Rivera, a 2010 Foster Prize finalist to Raul Gonzalez III and others; religion, identity, pop culture, politics, and institutional oppression are all explored, commented upon and richly juxtaposed throughout the gallery and within individual works.

Vela Phelan, Witch Doctor Wrestlers, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Vela Phelan’s site specific performance-installation Deviant Idols in the Black Divine, a work  modeled after a temple and composed of “spiritual idols for a modern world” struck a chord with me. A performance artist, Mr. Phelan’s installation opened up a world of memories growing up in the Dominican Republic. Having experienced the mysticism and the commodization of Santeria and Voodoo practices on a personal level, this installation moved me in ways only the pulsating beats of African drums at a palo ceremony have.

Because of the spiritual relationship that evolves between the viewer and the artist, Mr. Phelan has decided to carry out a 5-part performance that will take place almost every Thursday at Mills Gallery. “What will happen is a bit unknown to me (and to him),” says curator Liz Munsell “but it will be a journey that takes us outside the gallery walls – physically and metaphysically.”

Referencing minimalism and the literal collapse of institutional spaces, Daniela Rivera’s Fatiga material allows for an exhilirating experience as juxtaposed with the dexterous, signature “self-taught” style drawings of Raul Gonzalez.

Anabel Vazquez Rodriguez, Visión Doble, Super 8. 2011. Film. Courtesy of the artist.

In the film Visión Doble (Double Vision), multimedia artist Anabel Vazquez Rodriguez juxtaposes paradise-like images of Puerto Rico with political demonstrations held in and around Boston’s Copley Square. The film is an autobiographical journey that transcends borders and cultural boundaries.

While Boston may not have a tightly knit Latino arts collective like New York, Los Angeles and Miami do, “Close Distance” gathers together local Boston artists who for the most part had known each other prior to this exhibition at Mills Gallery. “Because these artists are all floating in the same “alternative” spaces or artist institutions as other Bostonians,” says Ms. Munsell, “I would say that they have much common, including language and culture, that brings them together.”

With “Close Distance, I hoped to bring them together a bit more” says Ms. Munsell, whose approach to curating is not solely interesting on a formal or aesthetic level – but has social context or a theoretical framework as its backdrop. “I can already see that has happened in a major way, but the show has just begun!” she added. “Close Distance” is rich in talent and abundant in excellent work.

****

Artist and Curator Talk Wednesday, August 3 | 6 – 9pm
Performance with Artists Yassy Goldie and Bru Jø Wednesday, August 17 | 6 – 8pm
These artists’ work touches on the construction of cultural identity. Their guerrilla tactics have been known to simultaneously intrigue and disorient audiences.

Vela Phelan explores the duality “ego/spirituality” through objects and actions found in his performance-installation Deviant Idols of The Black Devine. In his words “a Quest to expand the Shadow my EGO CASTS,” this five-part performance will take place at Mills Gallery Thursdays July 21 & 28, August 11 & 25 at 7pm, and as part of the Artist/Curator talk on Wednesday, Aug 3rd.

Three Exhibitions Not to Be Missed in Boston

William Kentridge, Rumours & Impossibilities, 2010, Screenprint. Image: Boston University Art Gallery

There are three exhibitions I’d love for you to see and if you miss them, then you’re missing out on life.  The first one is at the Boston University Stone Art Gallery, 855 Commonwealth Avenue. Three Artists from The Caversham Press: Deborah Bell, Robert Hodgins, and William Kentridge ( February 8 – March 27, 2011). It features the works of three world renowned South African artists and their impact at The Caversham Press.

The second one is in conjunction with the wonderful Bell, Hodgins and Kentridge exhibit, and is at the 808 Art Gallery. The massive gallery is entirely devoted to South Africa: Artists, Prints, Community, Twenty Five Years at The Caversham Press, an expansive printmaking exhibition that traces the development of the Caversham Press through the incredibly diverse prints produced by the artists in residence at Caversham. If you go see both exhibits in one day (they are practically across the street from one another), allow sufficient time to see the works in the 808 Gallery, there are many, many prints on display.

If you MUST absolutely miss the other two exhibitions and only have time to see one, I would definitely recommend that you see Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection (February 26 – June 19, 2011) at the Peabody Essex Museum. I personally think this exhibition is very well done, refreshing, and so much fun! Bring a magnifying glass so that you can see all the breathtaking details in the paintings (the museum provides magnifying glasses, but there aren’t enough to go around).

Still Life with Glasses and Tobacco, 1633 Willem Claesz. Heda (1594-1680), Oil on panel, 20 x 29 ¾ inches (50.8 x 75.6 cm), The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection, Image courtesy Peabody Essex Museum.

Jennifer Steinkamp will make you smile

Have you ever gone to a museum or gallery and seen a work that just made you smile? I recently went to see a show that did just that, in fact, I was even smiling at strangers on the subway….in Boston (this never happens, EVER)!

Astatic|February 1 – March 05, 2011| Bakalar and Paine Gallery|MassArt highlights the role of animation in contemporary art practice. Lately, I’ve been falling in love with many things and artists, this time, I’ve fallen for Jennifer Steinkamp. Steinakamp’s works explore ideas about architectural space, motion, and perception. Dance Hall Girl 5-Daisy at MassArt is way cool! Check this show out if you’re in Boston!

See some cool examples of Jennifer Steinkamp’s works posted here. If I haven’t convinced you to see the show or even check out Jennifer’s website, do a Youtube search, tons of Steinkamp’s installation videos there.

This first video is an introduction to Steinkamp’s works, she makes an appearance as well.

Go See this: Women Pop Artists

Dorothy Iannone (American, born 1933) I Love to Beat You, 1969-70. Acrylic on linen mounted on canvas, Courtesy of the Anton Kern Gallery, New York, and Air de Paris, Paris

Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-1968 | Tufts University Art Gallery |January 27 – April 03, 2010

Rosalyn Drexler (American, born 1926) Love and Violence, 1963, Acryic, oil and paper on canvas, The Pace Gallery, New York

This is a much needed exhibition in the art world. One hears “Pop Art” and Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Hamilton and other men come to mind. What some of us may not know is that WOMEN were not only part of this movement, but were also highly influential. In the cannon of art history, women Pop Art artists have been ignored and forgotten until now. New scholarship by some of the nation’s leading art historians has brought the names and works of numerous women Pop Art artists to light. I found this exhibition thought provoking and enlightening because I was exposed to incredible artists of the Pop Art movement that I was not aware of for the most part.

The first part of the exhibition addresses male fantasies about women as sex objects with Marjorie Strider’s Triptych II (Beach Girl), 1963 taking the prize for the most eye catching work.

The second part of the exhibition address imagery of political and sexual violence against women and how women Pop artists depicted and challenged the status quo. Dorothy Iannone’s I Love to Beat You, 1969-70 has been haunting me in my sleep since I saw the exhibition. I can’t get enough of it.

The third part of this exhibition addresses the male stereotypes and images of masculinity. It features among other works, Marisol’s fabulous John Wayne, 1963 and Mara McAfee Marvelous Modern Mechanical Men, 1963.

The next two sections explore Pop Art strategies and new materials and new combinations. I learned a great deal about the women represented in this exhibition and now I’ve fallen in love with Rosalyn Drexler, Chryssa, May Wilson, Idelle Weber, Martha Rosler (LOVE HER!!!), and Yayoi Kusama!

I guess I’ll be busy for the next few months learning more about the lives and works of these amazing women Pop Art artists. In the meantime, go see this show, you’ll love it. I’d love to know what you think of these images or of the show in particular. Go see the show and leave your comment or tweet me.

Martha Rosler (American, born 1943) First Lady (Pat Nixon), 1967-72, photomontage, collection of the artist, courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

Go See This!

Every once in a while, you see an exhibition that sticks with you long after seeing it. In spite of being sick, I ventured out to First Fridays and came across a few shows that are worthy of being seen, including a show by one of my favorite video artists.

First up, this show ends soon, so soon that I didn’t really get to share it with people through the blog or on twitter, but I love Denise Marika’s works. I vividly remember an exhibition of hers at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum a few years back, it just gets better and better and better.

Denise Marika |January 7th – February 8th, 2011| Howard Yezerski Gallery

Effaced 1 2010 Video Still, © Denise Marika (Installation View)

Her work is gorgeous, powerful and breathtaking. I love video art and Denise Marika definitely stands out! Sometimes, I wish I’d become a video artist myself.

Jack Schneider|post|February 4-March 19, 2011|Anthony Greaney

BELIEVE (Board), 2010, Watercolor on paper, enamel, push pins and wood panel, 46 x 16 1/2 inches

I can go 100 times to see this Jack Schneider exhibition at Anthony Greaney Gallery and not get bored! I love it and I wish there were more shows like this in Boston. We’re getting there, slowly, but surely, (I think)! Go see this, you have until March 19th, 2011.

Lastly, the other exhibition I thought was interesting is at Carroll and Sons Gallery.

Sheila Pepe|Common Sense and Other Things|January 5th – February 19th|Carroll and Sons

Common Sense in Boston, 2011, Installation View 2, Rope, shoelaces and crocheted yarn, Interactive: work completed by viewers unraveling and re- using. Photo Carroll and Sons Gallery

Sheila Pepe is an internationally known, self-identified feminist artist whose work is held in a number of private and public collections including The Rose Art Museum, The Harvard University Art Museums, and others. The cool thing about this installation at Carroll and Sons is that you as the viewer get to finish it, so if you are a decent knitter head over to the South End and enjoy this show. Well, you don’t even have to knit to see and participate in this installation.

more to come soon..