Miami: Hub of the rich and famous, home of art deco, Cuban-style hot rods, Latin culture, palm trees, blue skies and blue waters. It is also one of three international cities to host Art Basel. For the uninitiated, Art Basel is one of THE most important annual events in the artworld. Galleries, artists, collectors and art lovers from all over the globe descend for a week of intense – and I mean intense – art immersion. I’m talking about hundreds of exhibiting galleries and over 100,000 visitors. If you get saturated after visiting a museum, you might want to think twice about visiting Art Basel!!! For me, though, it was Heaven.
It would be impossible to relay the scope of paintings of every type, size, and subject, sculptures big and small of every material conceivable, photographic works and digital compositions. So for digestibility, I will focus on artworks that use unconventional materials. It’s a trend I found incredibly interesting and one that demonstrates the infinite creativity that artists bring into our lives. I challenge you, my readers, to guess what medium the following artworks are made from. (NB My sincerest apologies to those artists whose names I failed to record.)
Nice nostalgic scene, right? Well, there’s a bit more to the artist’s method: used jeans!
This next artist creates large and beautifully composed abstract compositions from….
…collaged pieces of chipped paint collected from crumbling buildings all over the world!
By far one of my favorite work was by Italian artist, Andrea Salvador. These gorgeous works below blew my socks off – wait till you see what they are made of…
The big reveal:
Salvador creates his photorealistic works from hand-chipped glass mosaic. I met the Venetian glass blower who created the custom glass colors ordered by the artist. Wow.
There were numerous artists whose works used traditional craft methods like quilting and embroidery to create fine art works that took the craft to a totally new level:
I’m pretty sure you’ll never guess what material the next artist used to create this huge watercolor-like painting that had me stumped until I got the lowdown from the gallerist:
Give up? Plastic bags fused onto a huge canvas…
And another head scratching work…
Cuban artist Jorge Otero’s lifesized work was striking and fascinatingly unique. Venture to take a guess at how he achieved this beautiful effect? Woven photographs!
I’m willing to bet that no-one recognizes the elements used in the following wall hanging:
Used and stained computer keyboard keys…
If you aren’t wowed by now, I don’t know what to say. I’ll leave you on a lighter note with an artist who has playfully and successfully ($2500 a piece!) re-purposed vintage bowling pins.
Check out my next blog post ART BASEL MIAMI PART II where you’ll find a broad range of art that caught my eye. In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season. You can find out more about all the satellite art fairs here and here.
Like many, many people living in the US right now, I am experiencing great anxiety about the state of this nation. It’s hard to believe that we will ever extricate ourselves from this free-for-all bog of lying, fear and hatred. A recent visit to the MOMA exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria comforted me by reminding me of my mother’s wise words: ‘This too shall pass‘ – words that got me through some tough times. Hundreds of iconic artworks created over the past 130 years were on display, portraying the challenges that each new decade brought with it.
Walking through the highlights of New York’s Museum of Modern Art collection was like a visual walking tour of history. The impressionist, cubist, surreal, abstract expressionist, fauvist, modernist and contemporary works revealed the artists’ responses to wars, culture clashes, political upheavals and inner turmoil.
I won’t even begin to attempt to walk you through such a content-rich and complex exhibition – I’ll leave that to the NGV’s curated site. But I will share a few teasers.
I also enjoyed the ephemeral contemporary installation by Roman Ondak, Measuring the universe. This dynamic installation was created by marking the height of individual museum visitors, creating a panorama of human height variables.
On site volunteers stand you up against the wall (just like your mom or dad did then they marked the kitchen doorway to check your growth) and mark your height along with your name and date. The names scribbled by the volunteers one on top of another become a black mass of jumbled individual names ultimately unreadable but representing all of humanity.
Ondak’s goal in this work is to unite people in a shared action. After all, we inhabit the same universe – that comes with privileges andobligations to treat one another as equals.
(Oh, by the way the Belgian artist’s name was Magritte and the famous Dada artist’s name was Marcel Duchamp).
NEWS UPDATE: I will be teaching a three-day collage workshop at the Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs to accompany my exhibition there in November. Stay tuned!
I love discovering new art experiences in far-flung places. Sometimes, though, I need to remind myself of the wonderful museums right here in Washington DC. I was fortunate to catch two major exhibitions at the National Gallery that are polar opposites in every way. I began with the blockbuster show Vermeer and the Masters of genre painting. (A twitter-style primer: Johannes Vermeer is the most celebrated painter of 17th century Dutch Golden Age painting. ‘Genre’ painting captures scenes of everyday, domestic life).
These paintings are miniaturized, highly detailed glimpses into life in Holland in the late 1600’s. Apart from appreciating the beauty and skill, two things stood out for me: First, the care taken by the artists to provide narrative clues. For example, look at this brothel scene by Frans Van Mieris.
Did you notice the dogs going at it in the lower right? The artist threw that in there just in case the viewer was in doubt as to where this scene was taking place…!
Likewise, in Samuel van Hoogstraten’s View of an Interior (below) we see what appears to be an empty room. But somebody is definitely in there even though we can’t see them – note the shoes on the mat, the keys still hanging on the door…
Or in Gabriel Metsu’s Woman Reading a Letter, the maid is pulling back a curtain to reveal a painting of a stormy sea, connoting that the letter could be bringing bad tidings.
This painting brings me to my second take-away from the collection of paintings in this exhibition: There was an awful lot of letter-writing taking place, which made me realize that texting obsessively is just a natural extension of our intrinsic need to communicate.
I was just in awe of the fabulously elaborate clothing and the sumptuousness of textures that seem to leave our contemporary, minimalist aesthetics lacking in some way…
Keep this in mind for my next blog post that will feature minimalist sculptor, Anne Truitt’s solo show, also on exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington DC.
(The Vermeer exhibition closed last weekend. More on the National Gallery website)
Art Basel Miami is THE North American art event of the year. It’s hard to overstate its hype and importance in the art world. Over 250 international and US galleries are represented, drawing more than 70,000 visitors to Miami. Every establishment in the city hitches a ride on this massive event. It’s an opportunity for anyone involved in art, food, culture and fashion to shine. I got a sneak peak at one small sliver of Art Basel at Wynwood Walls.
Wynwood is the artsy/funky/upcoming neighborhood in Miami that boasts wall art that goes way beyond graffitti. In fact some of these magnificent wall paintings are protected 24/7 by uniformed guardians. I came across a number of selected artists for Wynwood Basel hard at work completing their giant commissions.
There were some truly magnificent walls. Here is a small selection.
One of my favorites was a clever take on Picasso’s famous bull composed of found objects:
Another 20′ wall was painted to advertise an exhibition at a nearby gallery. Impressive.
Next year I hope to get more than just a tiny taste of this global art destination.
Let’s welcome the New Year in with a smile. Say cheese!
According to one influential art critic, “Go big or go home” was the underlying theme at this year’s FIAC – the French International Fair of Contemporary Art, celebrating its 40th year in Paris. Anxious to re-establish its relevancy, FIAC seems to be making a comeback on the global art map. Judging by the oversized artworks on display, I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s FIAC showstoppers could be seen from space.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree (above) is a good example of FIAC’s supersized sculptures. Weiwei is by far one of my favorite contemporary artists. He likes to think big – very very big.
However, while talking to a talented fellow ceramicist today, I was dismayed by his blanket statement about there being no point in his trying to get into galleries because “they just want big”. I take issue with that. Artists these days have to be wary of falling into the trap of thinking that ‘bigger is always better’.
One successful artist who has followed his passion for the other end of the size spectrum is Thomas Doyle who, in his own words, sculpts in “1:43 scale and smaller” (see image below):
Publications such as Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal laud Doyle’s illustrious international career based on his tiny worlds. I was naturally very excited to have him select one of my 4″ high figurines (see below) for the upcoming Small Worldsexhibition opening December 7th at the Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory, Alexandria.
Likewise, my tiny 5″ x 5″ portrait entitled Le Parisien (below) just won second place in the small format section of the Mortimore Prize for Realism in Australia.
Thinking on a gargantuan scale often means that the artists cannot possibly produce the works by themselves. They need to hire a team of assistants to create their masterpieces. I personally would miss making things with my own hands – after all, that’s what drew me to art in the first place.
So for those of us artists who often enjoy creating on a small scale, and for those art appreciators who like to experience artwork of an intimate size, let it be known that we are notgoing home!
Last night was the opening reception of Double Vision, at Luke & Eloy Galleryfeaturing fourteen multi-disciplinary artists including myself! You can pan the various works in the exhibition, including my ceramic book and video (still image on left) thanks to gallerist/curator Brigitte Martin. Just take note that the sound of maddening laughter is the audio part of an artwork, not a member of the public laughing at the art! This show underscores the multidisciplinary direction taken by many contemporary artists today. I myself found a richer, more expressive palette when I stopped trying to box myself into a particular artistic category. CHECK OUT THE REVIEW IN THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE !http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/s_617770.html