New Orleans

Meow Wolf: Moving Still at the Front

Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based art collective, explores the persistence of collective memory in their deeply introspective exhibit, Moving Still, at the Front in New Orleans. A twelve-person-core collective of artists, Meow Wolf has developed a following around their sensorial and immersive installations that have previously taken the form of a 75-foot ship from the future, The Due Return (2011), built in the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, and a misshapen world of glittery cities, Glitteropolis (2011–12), at NMSU in Las Cruces. Moving Still, Meow Wolf’s first exhibit in New Orleans, was created by collective members Golda Blaise, Corvas K. Brinkerhoff II, Vince Kadlubek, Leo Brown, Mat Crimmins, Justin Crowe, and Jake Snyder. It is a reflection on the group’s mutual history and how the memories of their time together can persist.

Moving Still, 2014, Room 1 Installation View. Courtesy of The Front. Photo by Jonathan Traviesa

Meow Wolf. Moving Still, 2014; Room 1 Installation View. Courtesy of the Front. Photo: Jonathan Traviesa.

In a collective, there is an essential dissolving of the individual in order to be part of the shared experience. One of the benefits of this dissolution is the creation of a group culture—and a group memory. Meow Wolf explores their history in the first two rooms of the Front. A timeline reveals important moments in the collective’s past, and short texts are interconnected by dark gray lines. For example, there is the creation story of Meow Wolf: “Birthed from previous social and creative incarnation (Meg’s house, Warehouse 21, The Quadraplex) Meow Wolf comes into being on the night of February 1st, 2008. 10 people attended the first meeting, discussed splitting the cost of the space on 2nd Street, and chose the name ‘Meow Wolf’ by pulling it randomly out of a hat.” While these texts are interesting—especially when Meow Wolf explores the fractures and failures of working in a group context—at times the two rooms become overly nostalgic and didactic. Videos projected onto the wall show past installations, and mementos from different members are placed throughout the room. The timeline ends with a short text stating that Nucleotide (2013) was the last group installation with David Loughridge, a member who died tragically in 2013.

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New York

Self-Taught Genius at the American Folk Art Museum

Self-Taught Genius seeks to frame the collection of the American Folk Art Museum as an archive of the culture of self-education in the United States. The exhibition’s organizers draw their interpretation of the word “genius” from roots in the Enlightenment and Romanticism, embracing a definition that underscores the potential in all human beings for exceptional creativity, intuition, and insight. The use of the term “self-taught” embeds the works in a continuum of self-actualization outside of formal educational structures, calling up the resistance to hierarchical institutions and indoctrination that is foundational to the spirit of the American narrative. This premise is satisfyingly inclusionary and long overdue.

Marino Auriti. Encyclopedic Palace/Palazzo Enciclopedico/Palacio Enciclopedico/Palais Encyclopédique or Monumento Nazionale. Progetto Enciclopedico Palazzo (U.S. patent no. 179,277), 1950s. Wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair  combs, and model kit parts; 11 x 7 x 7’. Collection American Folk Art Museum,  New York. Gift of Colette Auriti Firmani.

Marino Auriti. Encyclopedic Palace/Palazzo Enciclopedico/Palacio Enciclopedico/Palais Encyclopédique or Monumento Nazionale. Progetto Enciclopedico Palazzo (U.S. patent no. 179,277), 1950s; wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair combs, and model kit parts; 11 x 7 x 7 ft. Collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Colette Auriti Firmani.

For artists whose work has been ghettoized within fraught categories like Outsider Art, Vernacular Art, Psychotic Art, and Intuitive Art by patronizingly simplistic or exploitative analyses and mythologies, the American Folk Art Museum’s framework is incredibly validating without being over-compensatory. Those who have followed the historicization of Folk Art and its many overlapping fields and terminologies will find it deeply refreshing to see these artists rightfully recast as key players in the shaping of American visual culture. To experience the use of the word “genius” in an art context without its application solely to white men is also a gratifying bonus, to say the least.

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Los Angeles

Joan Quinn Captured at the Brand Library and Art Center

The portrait is arguably the clearest illustration of the roles of status and patronage in the arts. Historically, portraits were reserved for the great men (and a few women) who shaped society, religion, and culture—or who had the money to pay for it. They proclaim of their subjects: “I exist and I am important.” In an era when many feel that art should remain above and separate from commerce—it should be available to all—the portrait, with its connotations of class and wealth, and its singular focus, often seems archaic and outdated.

Don Bachardy, Joan Agajanian Quinn, 1977, graphite on paper, Joan and Jack Quinn Collection.

Don Bachardy. Joan Agajanian Quinn, 1977; graphite on paper. Joan and Jack Quinn Collection.

The exhibition Joan Quinn Captured at the Brand Library Art Center aims to challenge this viewpoint by presenting dozens of portraits of one woman, Joan Agajanian Quinn, from “what is perhaps the largest portrait collection by contemporary artists in the world,” according to the organizers. For over forty years Quinn has been a passionate supporter of the arts in Southern California and beyond. A Los Angeles native, she was introduced to the Ferus Gallery group in the 1950s through artist Billy Al Bengston, who would race his motorcycle at a track owned by her father. This began her decades-long role as patron, promoter, and chronicler of contemporary art, fashion, and culture. In 1978 Quinn was chosen by Andy Warhol to be the West Coast editor of his Interview magazine, and she held positions at numerous other publications, including as L.A. editor of Germany-based Manipulator magazine and senior editor of Stuff. Since 1993, she has hosted “The Joan Quinn Profiles,” a show on cable television that features interviews with artists, designers, actors, and musicians—two per episode, for 400 episodes and counting. She has served on numerous arts, film, and architecture organizations, including a stint as the longest-sitting member of the California Arts Council. The exhibition is not only a composite portrait of Quinn; it also offers a personal and subjective lens focused on various artists and movements. Through one face, viewers see many stories.

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San Francisco

Artist Project: Mediated Morandi

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you Mediated Morandi, a project by Will Brown—the moniker of the San Francisco-based collective of Lindsey WhiteJordan Stein, and David Kasprzak. This essay was commissioned by guest editor Jonn Herschend as part of Issue 5.5, Slapstick and the Sublime, and originally published on July 10, 2014.

Michelangelo Antonioni. La Notte, 1961 (film still); 02:02:00. Courtesy of Nepi Film and Lopert Pictures Corporation (USA).

Michelangelo Antonioni. La Notte, 1961 (film still); 02:02. Courtesy of Nepi Film and Lopert Pictures Corporation (USA).

Will Brown is a collective that experiments with various modes of exhibition making while researching and manipulating histories as a part of their practice. After mounting an exhibition of Giorgio Morandi reproductions, Will Brown became acutely aware of how often facsimiles of these paintings appear in various outlets of popular culture—particularly film. Mediated Morandi is an ongoing search for Morandi paintings inserted into film backgrounds, and it investigates how the context of an artwork evolves through various levels of mediation at the hands of multiple authors.

Born in Bologna, Italy, in 1890, Morandi is often considered the greatest master of Natura Morta (still life) in the 20th century. His distinctly subtle paintings depict the modest arrangement of bottles, vases, boxes, and pitchers stripped of all detail except light and color. As the painter’s popularity grew toward the end of his career, his work became synonymous with class, wealth, and refined sensibility.

Read the full article here.


Help Desk

Help Desk: Group Crit

Help Desk is where I answer your queries about making, exhibiting, finding, marketing, buying, selling–or any other activity related to contemporary art. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

I’ve been accepted to an MFA program that begins this September. As the month approaches, I find myself getting increasingly nervous and anxious (as I always do on the first day of school). It’s been a few years since I’ve participated in group critiques, and while I’m excited about this program, I also feel very vulnerable right now. Can you offer any advice to new MFA students? I wonder what former students “wish they’d known” before going into a program.

Beatriz Milhazes. Sinfonia Nordestina, 2008; Acrylic on canvas, 96 7/8 X 144 7/8 inches

Beatriz Milhazes. Sinfonia Nordestina, 2008; acrylic on canvas; 96 7/8 x 144 7/8 in.

There are so many things I wish I’d known before I started my graduate program that I could answer your question with a book. Work hard, show up for everything, and say thank you are timeless tips, of course, but you’re looking for other suggestions calibrated to the specifics of the MFA. First, make friends with the Graduate Program Manager (or whatever they call the initial line of defense in your grad office). This individual will be your conduit to advisor selection, the assignment of teaching assistantships, and much more; woe betide the student who cops an attitude and treats the manager rudely. Second (and this is related to the above), the most bureaucratic rules only apply to students who don’t apply themselves. I’m not suggesting that you engage in risky behavior, but all fences have gates. If you are kind and polite and work diligently, someone may show you where they are. Also, if you are moving to attend school, consider staying in that city for a few years after graduation. You will make a lot of friends and contacts in two years, but if you move away immediately, you will lose them. (This last piece of advice was given to me by a colleague who still regrets that he moved away a week after receiving his degree.) Finally, stay away from drama queens, bastards, and bullies, even the ones who are powerful and who seem to hold the potential for your future professional advancement. If I were dying right now and had to give counsel with my last breath, it would be this: Assholes only ever help themselves.

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Interview with Mario Zoots

Today from our archives we bring you an interview with artist Mario Zoots, conducted by Daily Serving‘s founder, Seth Curcio. This article was originally published on February 15, 2010.

The mysterious and psychologically challenging images created by Denver-based artist Mario Zoots are produced by applying a visual barrier between the viewer and the appropriated image. Each work carefully alters an existing picture and challenges our perception of and relationship to everyday mundane imagery.  Zoots opened his first public show this month, offering viewers the unique opportunity to engage his images in person. I Miss Mystery is the title of the artist’s new exhibition, which is currently on view at Illiterate Gallery in Denver. Daily Serving founder Seth Curcio recently spoke to the artist about how he interrupts his found images, the advantages of working online and in print, and his sound project Modern Witch.

Seth Curcio: When did you first begin to create collages and prints? What was the initial idea that got these series going?

Mario Zoots: I began making collage because I didn’t have enough space in my apartment to paint anymore. Brian Bamps was living in an attic apartment in Denver for a short time. I visited his house and saw his small American school desk that was attached to a chair where he made all of his drawings. He had a box that he’d place the finished drawings in. I knew I must work smaller because I was at risk of losing my living space. So I began to make collage and pen illustrations. We’re not artists with studios, we’re artists with homes. I consider myself an appropriation artist and a network artist. I am interested in making pictures reflect contemporary feelings by subtracting and distorting them. I’ve been preparing for my first solo show, I Miss Mystery, which opened in Denver at Illiterate Gallery on February 5th. I printed large giclee reproductions of my collages for the show. In addition to original and printed collage, I’m showing an experimental video and creating an installation out of hundreds of pages of porn, all slightly altered. It feels cinematic. My ideas for the work come from movies, long internet conversations with my contemporary girlfriend, and my own studies of archives.

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San Francisco

Slapstick and the Sublime: Michelle Grabner with David Robbins

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you a conversation between artist/curator Michelle Grabner and artist/writer/concrete comedian David Robbins. This interview was commissioned by guest editor Jonn Herschend as part of Issue 5.5, Slapstick and the Sublime, and originally published on July 10, 2014.

David Robbins. Open-Air Writing Desk (Italian Version), 2012; Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Raucci/Santamaria, Naples

David Robbins. Open-Air Writing Desk (Italian Version), 2012. Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Raucci/Santamaria, Naples.

Michelle Grabner: As you know, I am frequently visiting university art departments and art schools. In the past two years, it has become routine for me to find a copy of your book, Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy, in the miscellany of resource material that compose many students’ studio libraries. Why do you think that developing artists gravitate to this history?

David Robbins: [I speculate it’s because] they’re in the material-culture business, and likely they welcome another way to think about material culture. Some want to better understand their comedic instincts, and it’s a happy affirmation to learn there’s a tradition to those instincts. Others suspect that thinking in the terms laid out by the visual-art context may not be, for them, the right path. All would be seeking [the invigoration] that any secret or invisible history provides. At this point, both the art and the comedy systems are awfully [predetermined] and careerist, whereas my book charts a course of inventive behavior for which no career path has been identified. Concrete Comedy suggests that wiggle room is still available. Wiggle room is always attractive.

Read the full article here.