Thrilled to share my personal essay just published in the Huffington Post, entitled
‘How An Encounter With The World’s Most Famous Vagina Painting
Changed My Life’
WHAT’S EVERYONE STARING AT? READ MY ESSAY TO FIND OUT!
Juan Gatti’s over-sized paintings in the luxurious Faena resort’s lobby are so…Miami. Big, brash, over-the-top, oozing with fabulous detail and dripping with gold. They are pretty fabulous and apparently each mural panel cost one million dollars! As you stroll through the lobby (referred to as ‘The Cathedral’) towards Faena’s private beach, the path splits when you get to ‘The Mammoth’, Damien Hirst’s gold-dipped and encased mammoth skeleton. It’s quite a sight.
Every detail at the Faena has been tastefully curated to create a seamless blend of art, architecture and design. Even the hotel doors are glitzy.
And then there’s the Jeff Koons work upstairs at the entrance to the resort’s signature restaurant. But just up the road on Collins Avenue, the Bass Museum of Contemporary Art offers a more serene and contemplative style of art in the form of Sheila Hicks’ fiber art.
Born in Nebraska in 1934, Hicks has had an expansive career. Her resume reads like an artist’s wet dream – Yale University, Fulbright Scholarship, Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, solo shows in Tokyo, Korea, Israel and on and on. Impressive to the point of intimidating. Oh, and she divides her time between Paris and New York just for good measure. But you can’t begrudge Hicks her success because she deserves all the accolades and more. The current exhibition is loosely centered around the theme of landscape. Her creativity with her medium knows no bounds.
You don’t have to wait for Miami Basel to see some great art in Miami. Hicks’ exhibition, Campo Abierto (Open Field), is on through the end of September, 2019. It’s a winner.
Having to cut down a dying, 90-foot tree in my front yard yesterday was a sad event. But it brought to mind a mixed media artwork I created several years ago entitled ‘Life after Death’ that touches upon the cycle of life.
Looking at this artwork reminded me that I often use chairs as an evocative motif in my art. Discarded chairs by the side of the road have always saddened me for some reason. The chair is a uniquely human object – an empty chair is a powerful signifier of the absence of people just as a chair can elevate the person sitting on it. A chair can take on human qualities and convey a wide range of emotions.
Many artists have used chairs as a conceptual vehicle to make political statements. One of my favorite artists, Ai Wei Wei, created a series of works whose fundamental building block was a simple wooden stool that was symbolic of China’s past.
By re-configuring the stool to make it non-functional, he challenges China’s push for modernization at the expense of its traditions. By using multiple stools, the artist also visually expresses the loss of the individual in China’s rapidly industrializing society.
Another famous conceptual artist, Christo (1935-2009), renowned for wrapping buildings, bridges, and even islands in swaths of fabric, similarly wrapped a chair to distort its purpose and to ‘reveal through concealment’ according to art critic David Bourdon.
One of the first artists to use ready-made objects as art was Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). He is credited with being one of the fathers of modern art in so far as he upended all conventional notions of what constitutes Art. In the example below he uses a simple kitchen stool as a pedestal to elevate a bicycle wheel into an object worthy of being called Art. When it was first displayed it was met with outrage and incomprehension. Today it is an iconic symbol of Modern Art.
At the Milan Design Fair this year, an 8-meter high installation paying homage to Italian designer Gaetano Pesce’s Up Armchair, was installed in the central Piazza del Duomo in Milan. Fifty years ago, it was conceived as an industrial design project that heavily implied his support for women to start standing up for themselves and to fight for equal rights.
Check out the latest New York exhibition ‘The Chair’ at The Future Perfect. In a similar vein, look at all the chairs on show at Brooklyn’s newly launched Object & Thing, an art fair blending art and design with a non-curatorial approach to the 200-plus gallery objects.
So next time you plop your behind into a chair, realize that a chair is not necessarily only a chair..
Whether you’re celebrating your spouse, significant other, your offspring or your pet, who’s to question the healing power of Love. Here’s a quick slideshow of a few of my more romantic works to put you in the mood.
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 and obligations 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!