May 8, 2014

Jim Hodges — Give More Than You Take
@@ Dallas Museum of Art

Jim Hodges has said a lot in the past 25 years. “Give More Than You Take,” is a collection of some of those statements, spanning numerous forms of media and installation.  With a focus on individual voice, it’s no wonder this collection incorporates such a varied cast of characters.  Chains, flowers, nerve-racking expanses of space, and pieces of mirror on canvas are just a few recurring components that crop up regularly.  The thing that really makes it, though, isn’t the number or range of voices – but their unmistakable clarity despite the extraordinary volume of their projection.

The webs of chains ensnare you, from charm necklaces to the kind of thing you’d use to pull a car.  Linked silk flowers and hand-stitched denims form walls of texture as big as a house.  Light, rebounding off the countless deconstructed disco balls, through the chains, past the aperture of spikes, that pierces your perspective.  You’re going to need to move around a little bit for this exhibit – you’re going to need to be moved.  Inside the dimly lit room inside the pitch black room, past double doors a-la a spaghetti western saloon, past the sign warning “DANGER: SHARP OBJECTS” – this is the perfect place to reflect on the rest of it. Know that you aren’t alone, though – and peek around back before you leave.

Hodges currently has a couple of video pieces on his website (1), which make an excellent aperitif to “Give More Than You Take” – as well as a couple of permanent outdoor installations in the northeast U.S. if you happen to find yourself in that neck of the woods.  “Don’t Be Afraid” at Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. (2) and “Look and See” at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo NY (3) – both adopt similar strategies to “Give More Than You Take” in discussing personal issues, and both adopt not-so-quiet voices to do so.

Jim Hodges:  Give More Than You Take

October 6, 2013 to January 12, 2014 @ DMA

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(1) Jim Hodges - http://jimhodges.com/

(2) Wikipedia - Jim Hodges  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Hodges_(artist)

(3) Albright-Knox Gallery: Look And See http://www.albrightknox.org/collection/collection-highlights/piece:look-and-see/

(4) Jim Hodges:  “Look and See” - http://www.worcesterart.org/Exhibitions/Past/hodges_brochure.pdf

April 4, 2014
Tonight! April 4, 7:30 – 9:00PM: Creative Growth Runway Event @ the Berkeley Art Museum | Creative Growth Art Center

Come out for an inspired night of radical fashion from Creative Growth. This is your one chance to see this show for only $7 - I suggest buying your ticket online, they will definitely sell out!

February 13, 2014

Hudson

I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Hudson at his gallery, Feature Inc.,during the summer of 2012 with Linda Geary’s California College of the Arts New York course.

He was one of the twelve artists we visited that June, along with B. Wurtz and others who knew him well. He was an incredibly generous individual who taught me what it was to be a passive viewer, to let the body absorb the visual cues around you on an unconscious level. Art was not something to be fact-driven and explained, but something to look at and investigate, a place to find your own path to meaning. This past Sunday at 63 Hudson unexpectedly died of natural causes.

Hudson thought it was a compliment when a person stayed with a work, scrutinizing over details. In an interview with artist Dike Blair with The Thing, Hudson tells a story of critics reviewing a work, “I once overheard two critics chatting about an artist, and the more noted critic mentioned that he loved the work being discussed, yet he would not write about it, as he found it too difficult to explain!” Hudson remarked, “To me, that seems all the more reason to write about it, or in my case, to exhibit the work.”

A lot of work in Feature Inc., he told us, relies on the artist’s touch. At the time he was showing Todd Chilton’s hard edge abstractions and Alan Wiener’s organic stacked sculptures. I remember he admired in Chilton’s paintings how all the weak points in the painting were also the strongest, and loved and appreciated how Wiener’s sculptures developed over the years he followed the work. In a Rack Room interview on ArtSlant.com with Nicholas Weist, Hudson talked about finding failure, success, and one’s identity within the work.

The art is, or should be, the measure. Sometimes good ideas that look bad are worth looking at, enjoying, and/or owning. Sometimes good ideas that look bad can be very good. The appearance of bad has been important to the contemporary art world for at least half a century. There is something interesting in confronting bad: just why exactly is it bad? Some artists are able to make good ideas, that look bad at one time, be seen as good ideas that look good at another time. But someone with an open mind will see and appreciate the good in the bad or whatever before the silly art world recognizes it.

Nicholas Weist later asked, “Speaking of other times, you recently announced the imminent demise of Feature in 2018… What excites you about death?” Hudson replied:

This will be the last Feature I have in this lifetime so I want to be especially certain to use all that I have learned and experienced to structure the gallery so I enjoy it thoroughly and get all that I want to do done before I retire to a more contemplative and leisurely life. The last few years I’ve been watching my parents and a few friends accelerate in age and die. Engaging process. It’s not so cut and dried. Life and death are inextricably mixed, and it’s very unsettling when one actually witnesses them both being acted out at the same time in the same person. I’ve been wondering about those “golden years” that are often alluded to. What does one have to do to allow that to occur? I’ve decided to act out that investigation through Feature, and be rather strict about enjoying the art and the business as much as possible. It’s sort of a challenge to myself, to keep it vital and alive while the end is in sight: more reason to push it and live fully.

"Let it come to you," he told our small class of about 10 people, filling the space at Feature Inc., "perception is key." After visiting his gallery that day we all walked together in a kind of euphoric daze and we meandered on over to the New Museum chatting about the things we heard and saw all around us, taking in all the over-zealous drivers laying on their horns and dirty pigeons attempting to bathe in leftover rain on the sidewalk. I realized how much in life there is to look forward to after hearing how much he was able to accomplish with determination and an open mind.


Hudson will be missed.

September 12, 2013

William Emmert — A lot of People Do This @@ Guerrero Gallery

By Eric Dyer

Organize; cherish. Sentimental value; utility. There are small objects in studio shelves on the walls housing VHS tapes (1), packaging tape, two used foam brushes, a notebook, sticky Post-It’s notes (2), a battery charger for a Walkie, among other things. On the floor in the corner sits a used or in use paint tray. In the middle of the room, a wooden pallet, covered by a hand sewn moving blanket. Paintings hang on the wall, reading, “This Is Stupid” “I Know It Is” another “I’m not good at this” (3).

After slowing down, upon further inspection of the Project room at the Guerrero Gallery (4), things are not what they seem. What appear to be common items, ones artists use every day (5), turn out to be paper recreations. Objects meticulously crafted and painted to further their realism, but also lifting the objects weight of their previous lives.

What items that have been chosen are just as important as how they have been transformed. David Foster Wallace once said, “the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, this is just a banal platitude. The fact is that in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.” When I look at these paper sculptures, I no longer see the things they once were, but how the artist willed them to become.

William Emmert

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(1) E.T., Metro, something from Blockbuster, and The Land Before Time. I love The Land Before Time.

(2) With the number for Purple Heart Patient Center.

(3) Emmert beating people to the punch with some self-deprecating humor or a conversation between gallery goers or no one and I’m not good at this is a diptych of two felt paintings, the one on the left looks like it had been blank until the right one was (seemingly) haphazardly sliced from its home then delicately sewn onto the left. It’s pretty clear that he’s freaking great at this.    

(4) 2700 19th Street. San Francisco, CA 94110. The show ran from August 10, 2013 — September 07, 2013.

(5) Measuring, cutting, scraping, listening, distracting, messing my carpet up with.

September 12, 2013

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

By Eric Dyer

I met with Mia Christopher on Monday, June 8th, at her studio near Franklin Square. I hadn’t sat down and talked to her since last summer when we had taken a New York Studio class with Linda Geary. Since then she’s been up to a lot —  awesome work, a solo show opens Saturday October 12th , titled “Maybe Forever” coming up at Littlebigspace in Albany, CA that, has had a line of clothes in Anthropologie, making bomb temporary tattoos and selling stuff on Etsy.

What I found in her studio was a dense and incredible collection of materials organized in their own unique chaos by Mia. The studio is rife with experimentation; through this exploration, Christopher is attempting to understand her own decision making process as well as see where her ideas wander. She finds many of her materials on daily walks around the city (her apartment is close by and it’s nice to have the air.) One of my favorite items she allowed me to see was a jar of dust and remnants from late projects and floor-scraps she keeps. It reminds me of sedimentary layers; layers of the past; an insight to what goes on when no one is watching.

Reading previous interviews with Mia, I became aware of her fascination in keeping numbered notebooks, similar to my own. I had the opportunity to meander about a few and they were such a treat! The books are ordered and organized but littered with found tape, glitter, colorful objects of the streets. They seem to serve as a catalog of immediate experiences and thoughts. One of her sketchbooks contains a dirty old piece of colored tape she found outside on a walk. In an interview with Make-Space, Christopher states her sketchbooks are an important and significant part of her practice, which allow accidents to happen, exploration to take place, and different methods of recording to be used. Sketchbooks allow her to think quickly and become inspired by forgotten scribbles and color relationships.

Currently Christopher is prepping for her upcoming show which will consists mostly of paintings with sculptural elements, mini photo-zines of collected images that she has taken over the past year (Things on the sidewalk, things on the grass, funny face things found in outlets and street signs. The enjoyment of strange text things and ice cream cones.)

After talking for a while Mia gave me a manicure with her unending collection of nail polish, along with one of her sick temporary tattoos. I brought Mia stickers, because I know she’s been forming a huge collection. I don’t know if the one’s I brought  were as fabulous as hers, but they reminded me of my childhood putting school supply orange dot stickers on paper while waiting for my parents to finish work. You should check out one of her sticker iPhone case designs! A wild box appears. Mia pulls it out of her stacked organizer and this one contains scraps of old dried paint chips all different colors and sizes. I asked Mia how she went from her more figurative work to what she is doing now, and she told me it has been a natural progression. The ideas of her more figurative work are still there, they’re just shown in a different way. There is less of an emphasis on narrative and more of focus on color relations, orientation of shapes, and openness to new ideas, which can be seen in works such as The Misfortune Of Knowing How Your Brain Works (2013), Brief Nudity (2013), and Maybe He Can Read My Mind After All (2012). In her studio space, Mia is making work that feels intuitive and focused, operating on both a conscious and unconscious level.  

During an interview with mintdesignblog Christopher notes a couple artists that have influenced her work, Monique Prieto and Leah Rosenberg. Prieto’s big shape paintings tell a story that is not revealed to the viewer. Prieto is interested in how the shapes represent themselves and interact with one another. While this hidden narrative isn’t what Mia is necessarily aiming at, the time she spends collecting and gathering materials I feel inserts her own stories within the work that many viewers may not notice. In the article Mia also mentioned Leah Rosenberg’s “gorgeous paint confetti and stacks of acrylic paint peels” and I can see how she is drawn to these paintings with their similar choices and pairings of color.

Christopher’s process also shares similarities with Tony Feher. Her work reveals a certain attention to perception and its role in our daily lives.

You do have to pay attention, calm down, and look. You have to be willing to find that sparkle of color. An early piece I made of different-size jars with different fluids I called Look See. And the point is, I think people are looking all the time, but I don’t think they’re seeing anything. And I think that’s true not just with a piece of art that’s in front of them, but in a larger cultural sense. Our lives are shrouded in myths and superstition and prejudice. If you can accept a soda bottle with condensation on the inside as a work of art, then maybe that’s a way of seeing a broader picture, or of seeing the world from a different point of view (1).

— Tony Feher

Mia Christopher also has a wonderful Instagram documenting interesting, sometimes perplexing objects and happenings around San Francisco; I couldn’t help but think of this David Foster Wallace quote from The Pale King after viewing it.

It had something to do with paying attention and the ability to choose what I paid attention to, and to be aware of that choice, the fact that it’s a choice … I think that deep down I knew that there was more to my life and to myself than just the ordinary psychological impulses for pleasure and vanity that I let drive me. That there were depths to me that were not bullshit or childish but profound, and were not abstract but actually much realer than my clothes or self-image, and that blazed in an almost sacred way—I’m being serious; I’m not just trying to make it sound more dramatic than it was—and that these realest, most profound parts of me involved not drives or appetites but simple attention, awareness.

Interestingly enough in her interview with Make Space, Christopher said something very similar.

For me, work and life are not separate. Everything informs everything else. Constantly working brings me the most pleasure; I would rather be working in the studio than doing almost anything else. Making is the most exciting experience for me.

Christopher’s work is the minute to the whole — which is why the many aspects of her practice seem unseparated. It seems as if she is attempting to see the world for the first time every morning and she enjoys being busy. I asked her what strategies she uses, or maybe what approach other people could use, to help slow things down and to pay closer attention to their day-to-day surroundings. Her response reflects the practice of meditation, and Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” Feel like you’re stuck in a technology loop (2)? Christopher would take a moment to find something beautiful or funny around her, directly in her sight of vision. It’s not a surprise to find she also practices yoga, which reminds her to focus on her breathing. She told me, “Ever since I was a very small child I have been very observant. Finding beautiful or ugly or funny things as you go through your daily routine makes life more interesting and stimulates your brain to make connections. I stare at the sidewalk a lot when I walk so sometimes I have to tell myself to actively look up. I like to look for cats in windows (I consider them to be good luck), and what kinds of shadows the sun is leaving on buildings. There is so much to see, everywhere, all of the time.”

Glitter and neon, pools of paint glisten; nail polish flashes and life sits and listens. People promenade and follow internet memes. These are a few of my favorite things.

http://www.miachristopher.com/

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(1) Arning, Bill, Amada Cruz , John Lindell, and Adam Weinberg. Tony Feher. New York: Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, pp 49-50. 2001.

(2) Armisen, Fred, “Portlandia,” Mind-FI, Web, http://vimeo.com/39784948.

September 12, 2013

Mia Christopher — Dust Jar

September 12, 2013

Post Communiqué

By Alex Redmon

The whole thing seemed like a “need-to-know” operation, something out of the alley between too-far-gone and not-too-far-gone-enough.  Merely getting your hands on it was a feat alone given the hours they kept.  Like a wrong turn on a road trip to nowhere that made the whole affair worthwhile - the kind of idea that’s been romanticized for long enough that it immediately dissolves dispersion.

 One night, I approached - edgy but ready.  The whole mess was roped off - but seemingly not closed.  More than once, I’d seen it closed with someone “cleaning” it before, something I can assure you was really “them” at work.  This time though, there was a crowd gathered at the ropes.  Immediately, immutable: meat.

 "They" were gathered around the table, eating.  The only thing you could think about was the smell.  Some sort of wretched roast, carved and confined to this room, every way you turned.  Still, people walked up to the ropes, mused at the cubby-hole rooms shrouded in darkness behind the table, and walked away.

 That’s just how these things go.  Countless scraps of paper jotted on to be promptly discarded - an enormous edifice in the sand burned at the end of the weekend.  Drunkenly engage, actively and intelligently engage. Just engage.  Feel like you’re not just reading the messages, but somehow actively contributing.  Watch the wall of T.V.s.  Imbibe the distraction, because you control it.

 What, in this context, can you believe?  The messages, however tongue-in-cheek, seem empowering - until it’s apparent that you’re not changing anything in this miniature world.  It’s a board game gone awry that hits damned close to home.

There’s so much to interact with - it always feels more at home to be filmed, that shouldn’t inhibit much.  So many people punched in on the time clock, red hotline phone pulsing, absolutely nothing in the “DO NOT OPEN” envelope.  Never forget that you’re being followed by the people in the pictures at every turn - it was, after all, “them” that set it all up.

 This place felt like a film, but played like a choose-your-own-adventure, something dynamic each time.  Something like a weekend bender.  Whether you’re a supporting actor or an extra is never entirely clear - just don’t expect to be handed a speaking line.  You’d already seen the headshots of the stars - they were taken like mugshots.  8x10s on the table, enormous prints on the wall.  You were told who to look for.

So then, am I to believe, that all of these other faces are just happenstance?  Unlikely.  This whole scene was corroborated by a corrupt collective - it goes deep.  They’ve laid out their recruitment material, the propaganda and weapons that they’re leveraging.  You might drive away if the car parked in the hall wasn’t full of books, or if the cafe racer at the end of the hall wasn’t made of glass.

Post Communique was part of the “Available Space” component of DMA’s “DallasSITES” exhibit - http://www.dallasmuseumofart.org/PressRoom/dma_528370

 It was produced by HOMECOMING!, an assembly of artists - http://homecomingcommittee.com/

September 12, 2013

Em Meine, The Next Screening Will Begin In 15 Minutes

September 12, 2013

It borders on the edge of nothing, but even nothing is about something!

By Eric Dyer

I met with Em Meine back in July of this year outside of Velo Rouge Cafe for some coffee and art talk. She had recently sent me her thesis A Pigeon Passing As A Duck, which is also available on her website. It is a hilarious piece of art theory that I see critically examining Meine’s own practice while discussing why artists make things at all in the first place, and the tactics used by them to create an “original work of art”. While we sat down, we discussed her thesis, her work, what life after grad school had been like and will be like and where we all go from here.

 In her thesis Meine discusses the reasons some artists generate work, the value ascribed to what was created, and the validation of the community which supports work. Her goal? To poke the “art world”, to laugh in the face of the toiled-over artistic genius, to be able to reflect on these things that she sees in herself and in the world around her, and to make light of it all. The idea of it reminds me of the title of David Foster Wallace’s collections of essays, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” To me, both imply a separation from the world in order to understand it. Not so much an unwilling participant trapped and trained to make, and read, and be, but attempting to understand and view the world from a dual perspective — one that you are a part of and one you are apart of. You’re in someone’s studio. There are a lot of things but none of them have context, a reason. The artist is standing there looking at you. Are they real, are they an egotistical asshole? Do they believe they have something “meaningful and constructive to contribute to the contemporary discourse surrounding art” (1)? Do they grasp something you can not? Through the looking glass we go.

Many of Meine’s works give the appearance of simplicity. Take for example, Suggestion Box. In an ingenuous move, Meine hangs an electric paper shredder on a wall, fabricates a wooden box to hold it, adds the writing “Suggestions for the artist”, and leaves some pencils and paper for people to fill out. Of course, these suggestions are never read since they are put into the hole in the top of the box, feeding it through the shredder to a pile of lovely bits of suggestions no one but the author will ever read.

 One day I walked to her studio, only to find out her floor had been raised 3.5 inches and almost tripped over it. I wasn’t used to the elevation of her practice.

 If you give a mouse a cookie it will inevitably ask for a lot more, but I’m still staring at the talking mouse. It is about strings of questions which lead to other questions. She writes with sumi ink on paper — “If you give a mouse a cookie, it will want to sleep with you so please keep your hands above the waist.” This relates to much of her practice; not the sleeping with mice part, but the string of never ending questions.With Things I’ve Done Instead Of Working That I’ve Called “Thinking”, Meine continues to wrestle with “what it means to be an artist” and what the stereotypical imagining of an artist could be. If you give a mouse the means to procrastinate… Yet still, it is relatable. Everyone has those days, or weeks, or forevers. Questions upon questions, copies of copies. These works inspect the expectations of people, whether realistic or unrealistic.

It was about that time, while we were sitting outside of the Arguello Super Market, that we saw what I could only describe as a strange but small skirmish taking place inside the market. A man pushes another man into a stack of food. It fell. The man attempts to leave, but fails. People stare. We don’t know what’s going on but there is a lot of commotion and hubub. We are distracted by nothing — well it’s not nothing, to someone else, but we have no idea what has transpired in the interior of the complex until the police arrive. Then a man and a woman are pulled out of the market, sat down on the stoop outside, and handcuffed. Em and I continue our conversation. A huge bird lands on the trashcan next to us. Nothing can not distract us (2).

 You could have an Em Meine sitting on your coffee table. She made a book full of “congratulatory” remarks for her MFA show at California College of the Arts. A person leaving a comment would flip to a random page, be presented with a comment, and sign their name. The things she wrote in that book are so absurd that none will appear in this article (3).

Eight and a half minute video in which nothing happens, aptly describes what is (or isn’t) happening in the video. It cuts to different shots of Meine, close up on her face, different angles, further away — all the the dead air silence white noise buzzing in your ear, with an occasional sigh or breath let out by the artist. If one video of nothing wasn’t enough for you, there are more here! This brings up an interesting point made in Meine’s thesis, “If an artist is making work about work, or work about ‘nothing,’ or work about the work not being important or the artist being average or decidedly un-genius or whatever, does the work (‘work’) then in an attempt to contradict a myth actually bolster it” (4)? I don’t think this question is supposed to have an answer, only thoughts either which way. It’s a conundrum that I believe the artist is unable to answer, but viewers can form opinions. The author can be dead, the author can be alive, or we could not give two shits about anything Roland Barthes said. It’s up to you!

Meine says, “Many of my works ask the audience to make an inconvenient and often excruciating time commitment before I allow them in on the joke.” The next Screening will begin in 15 minutes the plaque on the wall reads — so you sit there for 15 minutes and wait for the curtain to open. You distract yourself in many ways while waiting (5) till that 900th second goes by and the curtains finally open, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived! We can now read that the next screening will most certainly begin in 15 minutes. You can read this for about 15 seconds and the curtains close; the show is over.

Where is there a line? Does there have to be a line?

http://emmeine.com/

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(1) P. 5. Meine, Em. A Pigeon Passing As A Duck. MFA., California College of the Arts, 2013. http://emmeine.com/files/thesis.pdf.

(2) The Nothing Pitch

(3) Truthfully it’s because I don’t have a copy of my own. But someone did, since they borrowed the book during the opening, only to return it later. Just a random fact.

(4) P. 25. Meine, Em. A Pigeon Passing As A Duck. MFA., California College of the Arts, 2013. http://emmeine.com/files/thesis.pdf.

(5) I heard Beyonce might have done something new

September 12, 2013

Em Meine — Nothing Happens I

A part of her video series, Eight and a half minute videos in which nothing happens