San Francisco

Context Is Everything: Visiting di Rosa

Today from our partners at Art Practical, we bring you an excerpt from author Maria Porges’ essay on the di Rosa in Napa, California. Porges explains: “Other museums may bear the name of a founder, but as far as I know, there really is no place quite like this one—historic home museum, contemporary white-walled space, and sculpture park rolled into one.” This article was originally published on December 4, 2014.

Viola Frey. Studio View— One Man Splitting, 1983; alkyd oil on canvas; 72 x 96 in. Courtesy of di Rosa collection, Napa.

Viola Frey. Studio View—One Man Splitting, 1983; alkyd oil on canvas; 72 x 96 in. Courtesy of di Rosa collection, Napa.

On my most recent trip to di Rosa, I had questions about the future of the collection on my mind. How will this collection be displayed, conserved, promoted, and carried forward into the uncertain future that institutions face today? When I arrived, curator Amy Owen was looking at one of the works damaged in the recent Napa earthquake with a group of conservators from the Oakland Museum of California. While they conferred, I studied the two exhibitions in the Gatehouse Gallery: a selection from the di Rosa collection of two-dimensional works by the noted sculptor Viola Frey, and a group show of three younger Bay Area painters titled The Presence of the Present. Frey’s works on paper and canvas, featuring figures and objects set up in her studio, reveal her command of these media as well as her interest in exploring the same themes addressed in the monumental ceramic sculpture for which she is known—most notably, gender roles and ideas about power. In Studio ViewOne Man Splitting, a large canvas (72 x 96 inches) from 1983, Frey paints the three male figures with assurance, outlining their blocky, suit-clad forms with strong, dark lines. In a short essay, Owen describes the scene as possibly referring to the artist’s frustrations with the art world—collectors coming and going from her studio, ostensibly interrupting the flow of her work. But it also suggests the sculptor’s eye refusing the limitations of two dimensions by capturing the figure from three points of view at the same moment. In two nearby drawings, Frey focuses instead on monumental female figures, powerful rather than enticing, evoking her unflinching position regarding the status of women in a sexist profession.

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Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Marc Newton

The waning glow of the warm desert sun hangs in the air around a lone female figure. She sits nestled atop a rock formation amid yellow grasses and low, twisted trees. As she gazes lovingly toward the fading sun with trim arms folded over her legs, a sense of hard-earned and well-deserved calm settles in, as though this communication with the landscape has rejuvenated her weary body and mind.

Marc Newton. Constructed Paradise: Untitled 4, 2013; archival inkjet print; 17 x 21 inches.  Courtesy the artist.

Marc Newton. Constructed Paradise: Untitled 4, 2013; archival inkjet print; 17 x 21 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

This characterization, derived from Marc Newton’s Constructed Paradise: Untitled 4 (2013), conjures a familiar and easy romanticized image. An idealized woman—trim, tall, natural, athletic, soft, gentle, and somehow at leisure—communing with a powerful and idealized landscape that is at once navigable, forgiving, epic, unspoiled, verdant, endless, and promising. Marc Newton’s series of photographs Constructed Paradise critically navigates the juxtaposition between the idealized, aspirational human figure of men and women, and the natural landscape as it becomes increasingly fetishized while paradoxically disappearing due to human influence.

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Houston

William Kentridge’s Poetic Cinema

Today from our friends at Glasstire, we bring you a review of William Kentridge’s five films that are part of the exhibition Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence at the Menil in Houston. Author Terry Mahaffey notes, “Kentridge’s use of celluloid film projection and traditional drawing methods feels unconventional, even avant-garde, lending the work a cinematic quality that intensifies the evocative response to the politically charged subject matter.” This article was originally published on December 6, 2014.

William Kentridge. Drawing for the film Other Faces, (Crowds in city streets), 2011; Charcoal and colored pencil on paper, 27.5 x 48 in.

William Kentridge. Drawing for the film Other Faces (Crowds in City Streets), 2011;
charcoal and colored pencil on paper; 27.5 x 48 in.

As part of the meticulously curated Menil exhibition Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence, five animated short films from William Kentridge’s Drawings for Projection series are on display. Four of the five were made between 1989 and 2003, and the fifth is a more recent work from 2011. All feature the post-apartheid South African industrialist and land developer—Soho Eckstein—as protagonist.

Born in Johannesburg in 1955, Kentridge is perhaps South Africa’s best-known artist. His early education was in politics and African studies, and he later studied at the Jacques Lecoq International School of Theatre in Paris. As an artist, his background in theater is obvious, performing Shostakovich’s operatic transposition of Nikolai Gogol’s The Nose to wide acclaim in New York and Lyon, France. But his continued interest in politics is evident as well, not only in that production, but certainly also in his film works.

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Oakland

But What You Want Is Far Away at the Oakland Museum of California

Today from our partners at Art Practicalwe bring you a review of But What You Want Is Far Away, a series of readings and performances that coincide with the exhibition Fertile Ground: Art and Community in CaliforniaAuthor Melissa Miller notes that the performance God Sees Everything “unfolded into an intuitive, poetic, and humorous portrait of contemporary California.” This article was originally published on December 2, 2014.

Phoebe Osborne. God Sees Everything, November 7, 2014 (performance still); Courtesy of the Artist and the Oakland Museum of California. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

Phoebe Osborne. God Sees Everything, November 7, 2014 (performance still). Courtesy of the Artist and the Oakland Museum of California. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

In God Sees Everything, directed and choreographed by Phoebe Osborne, a complex weave of everything Californian coalesces. It is, in certain moments, “so L.A.” as dancers wearing the same blonde, bobbed wig move robotically across the stage. With glitter and glow sticks, God Sees Everything references the music-festivals scene, and with synchronized yoga postures and carrot eating it reaches toward new age. It also emerges from the numerous engagements with extraterrestrial life chronicled by individuals and cults within the state. God Sees Everything is all over the (western) map in terms of references, but each one of them is spot-on in terms of what epitomizes California. Osborne’s careful and sometimes absurd juxtapositions are both humorous and insightful; they point to a contemporary Californian identity that has been informed by a lengthy history of utopian projects.

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New Orleans

José Antonio Vega Macotela at Prospect.3

“My eternity has died and I am waking it.” –Violence of the Hours, Cesar Vallejo

It sounds like a riddle: No one can buy more of it, and few have enough of it; it wears on the rich and poor equally; loss of it produces deep fear. Time’s ability to be transferred and manipulated is at the heart of José Antonio Vega Macotela’s mixed-media series Time Divisa, part of which is on view at Longue View House and Gardens for Prospect.3. Throughout history, humanity has meted out punishment by taking away an individual’s time. Imprisonment is the physical demonstration of divided time. Macotela’s work provides an alternate source of time, a jailbreak of sorts.

Jose Antonio Vega Macotela. Time Exchange 331 (From Time Divisa), 2010; human hair and paper; 22 x 17 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Prospect.3

Jose Antonio Vega Macotela. Time Exchange 331 (from Time Divisa), 2010; human hair and paper; 22 x 17 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Prospect.3.

Macotela trades his time with convicts held in Mexico City’s Santa Marta Acatitla Prison. On a specific day, a task requested by a prisoner is performed by the artist concurrently with the prisoner creating a work of art. “What they usually want me to do is to literally take their place in the outside world. I’ve visited the tombs of their brothers and said a few words. I’ve asked their fathers for forgiveness. I’ve gone dancing with their mothers. I’ve met their sons and acted as their father for a day. I’ve read a letter out loud to a dying relative in the hospital. One prisoner even asked me to go to his girlfriend’s house and watch her masturbate so that I could describe the scene for him, bit by bit.”[1]

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Help Desk

Help Desk: Participatory Project

Help Desk is an arts-advice column that demystifies practices for artists, writers, curators, collectors, patrons, and the general public. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

I’m an artist working with a poor family on a participatory project at a local museum. They are Latino. The project is about their perceptions of art. Who might I talk to or where might I look for similar projects, or even guidance on working with this population? I’m not Latino or poor (or low-income, opinions vary widely on terminology).

Joav BarEl. Installation view of Center of the World, 2014 at Tempo Rubato Gallery, Tel Aviv.

Joav BarEl. Center of the World, 2014; installation view, Tempo Rubato Gallery, Tel Aviv.

The Thanksgiving holiday is just behind us, but I want to begin by stating my sincere appreciation for this question, because it supplied me with the opportunity to contact some of the most generous people in the Western Hemisphere. Given the events of the last few weeks, the following warm and thoughtful responses are especially welcome right now, and it’s the right time (is there ever a wrong time?) to be talking about socially aware art projects and communication between groups of people.

Because of his extensive practice and his knowledge of working within institutions, it seemed only right to reach out to Pablo Helguera first. This is his response:

“I think this artist would be best served by working with the education department of that museum—usually people in the education department are professionally trained to work with various groups of people, and regularly do outreach and other programs that involve them in a conversation about art. But first the artist perhaps needs to define the goals for this project, and exactly the kind of participation he/she is aspiring to get. Second, if the project is about [the family’s] perceptions of art, there are an infinite amount of programs that involve communities in that. The artist would need to determine why or how this is not an education program versus a socially engaged art project (i.e., Is the family going to learn something about the museum, or is this artist going to work with them to develop a new project?). Depending on what this artist is hoping to achieve, there are many successful programs at other museums that may be of interest, such as SFMOMA, Queens Museum, etc. Not being ‘Latino or poor,’ as this artist says, should not be a limitation if one is working as a professional in the field. It is more about the recognition of difference and how this is communicated that matters.”

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Shotgun Reviews

José León Cerrillo and Ilja Karilampi at Kiria Koula

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Marion Cousin reviews  José León Cerrillo and Ilja Karilampi at Kiria Koula in San Francisco.

José León Cerrillo and Ilja Karilampi, 2014; installation view, Kiria Koula, San Francisco. Courtesy of the Artists and Kiria Koula.

José León Cerrillo and Ilja Karilampi, 2014; installation view, Kiria Koula, San Francisco. Courtesy of the Artists and Kiria Koula.

Founded by Colombian curator Juana Berrío and Mexican duo Leticia Vilalta and Rodrigo Peñafiel, the new Mission district art space Kiria Koula is both a gallery and bookstore. With two distinct platforms, Kiria Koula’s focus on contemporary art and critical research charts new territory. Kiria Koula’s debut exhibition features works by Mexican artist José León Cerrillo and Swedish artist Ilja Karilampi.

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