A Better Time Signature: Stacy Rosende at Gallery 221

In a way, I was glad I had missed the opening reception.  Instead, I walked the gallery for an hour alone on a Monday afternoon.  Stacy Rosende‘s solo exhibit subSURFACE speaks slowly and would likely rather wait patiently than shout over the din of a crowded art party.  This reveals something about the work itself – there is a peculiar sort of temporality running through it.

Initially, some of Rosende’s new work is reminiscent of the paintings of Todd Chilton.  However, the two artists tackle very different concerns.  Unlike Chilton’s opaque painterly style, Rosende creates a sort of abstract foreground and background.  Geometric patterns of color cover the panels.  Underneath, an arrangement of decorative flourishes can be dimly seen at times and disappear completely elsewhere.  This was inspired by a recent stay in Venice, Italy as the texture, patterns and layers of the city’s walls clearly influenced much of the work in subSURFACE.  The play between foreground and background does add a sense of depth to Rosende’s paintings.  However, a clear and strong sense of rhythm still dominates Rosende’s work.  The paintings may have come from an interest in surface, but seem to be very much about rhythm.

Vertical lines of color, irregularly sized and multi-colored without a discernible pattern, suggest a complex beat and a certain musicality.  Rosende doesn’t offer the eye a place to rest, instead forcing it to play through the composition, dancing over the colors left to right and back again.  In her statement, Rosende draws comparisons between tones in music and color, waves of sound and light, and arrangements both musical and visual.  Perhaps all of these comparisons are most easily discerned in Fertile.

At the center of the space, the sculpture occupies a significant amount of the gallery floor.  Twenty-nine differently sized stone-like objects (they’re actually plaster mixed with natural materials) are arranged in a ‘V’ formation from largest to smallest.  One side of each object is smooth and painted, the largest orange and gradually darkening with each piece down to the smallest painted black.

Fertile contrasts severely against the paintings and prints in the exhibit while offering a sort of respite.  Unlike the paintings which produce a sort of visual syncopation, the size, color and arrangement in Fertile all work in accord to produce a specific rhythm, a particular movement.  The piece draws your eyes front to back to front.  The movement is almost sexual.  The work’s title coupled with the movement suggest the womb, birth, or even the ascension and descent explored in the Cremaster Cyle of Matthew Barney.

Though I may be swayed by my particular gallery visit, what may be most valuable about this show is its slower pace.  Conceptual one-liners, needlessly showy and large work, parties badly disguised as art exhibits: each often coddle and cater to a critical laziness.  Rosende’s solo exhibit doesn’t do this.  Instead, the show makes apparent that it’ll take time.  If you are to honestly like or dislike the work, it’ll be after spending some time with it.  Ultimately, it may be this sort of “time signature” that is key to taking art seriously again.

A Better Time Signature: Stacy Rosende at Gallery 221

Through the Code and Back Again: Santiago Echeverry’s Self E-Portraits

The proliferation of digital and New Media Art is not entirely surprising.  Arguably, art makers have had a collective fascination with developing technology for the larger part of the twentieth century.  Insofar as computer-based work, Andy Warhol hopped on an Amiga as early as 1985.  At the risk of calling it prematurely (along with the whole of the New Aestheticians) there is something different with recent developments.  Portions of Santiago Echeverry’s new solo exhibit Modern Saints effectively illustrate them.

Santiago Echeverry, Self E-Portrait Series 2, Processing/Webcam, 6000x3375px, RGB

His Self E-Portraits in particular nearly work as a metaphor for this idea.  There is a subtle but important difference in the way Warhol and artists such as Echeverry (and by extension us) use a computer.  Echeverry’s Self E-Portraits are a series of self-portraits.  Upon initial inspection they seem to be taken in a dark room or at night, and are built up of many small three-dimensional shapes.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAEcheverry didn’t create the Self E-Portraits as much as create the conditions for their rendering.  Perhaps initially artists sought digitized versions of IRL counterparts in creating art using a computer.  Remember the spray paint, paint brush, paint bucket, and pencil of MS Paint?  This is rarely the case with current relevant digital art, and certainly not in the case of Echeverry’s work.

Instead, the art is in the underlying lingual structure of the series.  Echeverry wrote code using the programming language known as Processing.  The images of himself pouring in through the webcam were manipulated by the Processing code – some images were saved, and a few were printed.

It is tempting to think of the images on the walls of HCC’s gallery as art objects.  However, they may perhaps be more accurately thought of as documentation, visual evidence of the unseen code.  Echeverry nearly alludes to this in his statement saying that he had intentionally left “room for randomness in a mathematically constructed scenario.”

Santiago Echeverry, Self E-Portrait Series 2, Processing/Webcam, 6000x3375px, RGB

Of course, this “mathematically constructed scenario” was constructed by Echeverry.  Still, it’s in this way that he created the work – not with a computer, but through one.  In a very literal way, Echeverry is looking though computer code and back at himself.  It doesn’t take much to see how this may extrapolate from art making to a general way of living.  As Michael Betancourt mentions, in this new mode “the machine does not augment but supplant”.

Admittedly, I hate the sci-fi sound of this.  However, there is hardly a way around it.  Echeverry is careful to mention  “no Photoshop or digital retouching was done to any of these prints”.  That is to say, the prints are not the result of a steady and expressive hand – the process is much closer to supplanting the hand and eye than augmenting it.  Maybe on some level that’s the point.

This may be tangential, but the name of a series seems to be a pun – Self E-Portraits or Selfie Portraits.  Even the way we depict ourselves (and perhaps view ourselves) is fundamentally different than it once was.  High five to anyone who brings up Santiago Echeverry’s Self E-Portraits during the 10/17 #TwitterCrit.

Santiago Echeverry: Modern Saints is on view through 10/29 at HCC’s Performing Arts Building Gallery.  There will be a reception and gallery talk on 10/17 beginning at 5pm.

Through the Code and Back Again: Santiago Echeverry’s Self E-Portraits

Sweets and Bombs – Kirk Ke Wang’s Newest Installation

Kirk Ke Wang Sugar Bomb5Though not a strict fit for the ‘-ism’, Kirk Ke Wang has the endearing optimism of a Conceptual artist. A project’s plausibility is irrelevant; the idea is everything.

Wang related the idea for his current installation to me a few months ago in his Seminole Heights studio.  However, it was clear to me at the time that, lest it be hung simply as a written description on an index card, the project would almost certainly require some revisions and compromises.  Meanwhile, its less plausible aspects illustrated exactly how comprehensive his concept is – little in the installation Sugar Bomb is incidental.

To that end, while Wang’s installations are perhaps becoming more ambitious in size, it is these little and seemingly incidental details that may be the most effective components.  A “bomb” papered with tobacco leaves are as much a wave to Cuba as they are a nod to Ybor city, where the gallery can be found.  They hint at the laborers that harvested them and the immigrants who rolled them.  It’s likely the tobacco leaf would only operate with such potency in Ybor City.  Still, it’s a rare object that at once wields subtlety and power while navigating away from cliché.  The bombs scattered through the installation are literally filled with such symbolism – bomb casings contain toy soldiers, Skittles, sugar.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe playfully colored bombs and their pleasant payload imply that they are not weapons of firepower but weapons of desire and information.  It is unclear who the bombs are intended to target or who dispatched them.  In some way, perhaps, the bombs are from and for everyone.

However, Wang’s foremost talent isn’t with these symbols.  Really, the metaphor would be a bit heavy-handed if it weren’t so carefully and complexly layered.  Rather, Wang shines in his ability to present conversations ready to be had.  He continues in his statement, “I hope the paradox and irony of “bombs” made of “sweets” would instigate a debate about our mental state of fear in today’s seemingly dangerous world.  What about things that appear lethal yet taste good?  What about real threats disguised under the sweetness?”

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAHis installations avoid dogmatizing, instead revealing an issue’s complexity and asking for its careful consideration.  In Sugar Bomb, Wang presents global politics as seen by a Chinese man moving through America, and an American man moving through Cuba.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to discern what is right (morally) or even right (correct) in any viewpoint.

Wang isn’t being reckless here with his installation’s concept: complexity shouldn’t be mistaken for ambiguity.  When the works asks “Should we fear?”, it isn’t looking for “I don’t know.”  Its looking for the beginning of a discussion that leads out of the gallery doors and on to Ybor’s brick streets.  With that objective, Sugar Bomb definitely hits its target.

Sugar Bomb will be on view through September 30.  A reception an artists talk is scheduled for Thursday September 12 5pm-8pm.  All events take place at the HCC Performing Arts building gallery.

Sweets and Bombs – Kirk Ke Wang’s Newest Installation

Tampa Art Events 2/06 – 2/12


Hillsborough has a lot worth your time this week!  At the moment I’ve got a few really exciting projects eating up all of my time (I’ll elaborate on them later this month) so I won’t be able to detail these events.  However, this is not a listing – these are my earnest recommendations.  Of the all of the events happening outside of Pinellas county this week, these are the ones you need to see.

Gallery 221@HCC – Ruby C. Williams: Farming, Family and Folk Art

Ongoing through 2/28

MAZE Gallery – Happily Never After

Opening Reception Wed 2/06 4pm

Bleu Acier – Thom O’Connor: Polymer Prints

Opening Reception Thur 2/07 5pm-9pm

USFCAM – SYCOM: Music for Open Score

Thur 2/07 6pm-8pm

Ringling Museum of Art – Ringling Underground

Thur 2/07 8pm-11pm $10

Tempus Projects – Love Lit

Sun 2/10 6pm-9pm

Tampa Art Events 2/06 – 2/12

How to Make Art and the Gallery For It

J. Alderiso, Untitled, Charcoal

The aesthetics of artwork in any exhibit carries the burden of an art critic’s reckoning.  This reckoning, though, generally glosses over the endless business of art: lighting, insurance, contracts, pricing, delivery, labels, publicity, refreshments.  Further, artists are independent thinkers by nature, and organizing them into a group exhibit can be a challenge in itself.  It’s not unlike Moses leading the exodus… if the Israelites were feral cats.

This underscores the importance of student galleries.  Many, perhaps even most art students never grow up to be artists.  Rather, a great number somehow muster enough rationality to opt for a more level-headed career such as curating, consulting, dealing and so on.  A student gallery not only shows how to produce gallery-worthy art, but also a gallery worthy of art.  While student galleries are standard on most University campuses, they are often conspicuously missing from junior and community colleges.  Thus the opening of MAZE Gallery, Hillsborough Community College’s new student gallery, is especially welcome.  Further,  EMERGE – the gallery’s inaugural exhibit – seems to suggest that the students are getting the lesson.

Stephanie Julianna Wadman, untitled, mixed media encaustic

In regards to the art: as with most student group exhibits, artists still in development, the offering was a bit of a mixed bag compared to typical commercial galleries.  However, a number of pieces stood out as especially mature.  For example artist, J. Alderiso exhibited work in charcoal as well as video.  Though two very different mediums, the style was consistent and well thought out.  Her untitled abstract charcoal pieces particularly display a familiarity with the medium as well as composition.  The pieces use a mix of abstract and figurative styles that is beginning to get tired in painting but feels fresh in charcoal.

Another example are the prints of Jeffrey Agno Chin.  The work seems to reference maps or diagrams which in turn feel to lend a spacial-temporal anchor…or maybe I’m just a map-nerd and couldn’t stop staring at them.  Seriously, the prints carry some sort of attachment to a time and place that communicates itself effectively.

It’s telling that I nearly forgot to ask if the students also set up the gallery for the exhibit.  It takes a considerable amount of work to build something as meticulously unobtrusive as a gallery setting.  Selecting work to include and where to hang it is an art in itself.  When done well, these things aren’t conspicuous.  Rather, as was the case, they only make themselves plain when sought out.

Mixed media print/drawings by Jeffrey Agno Chin

EMERGE was a good exhibit and MAZE Gallery a promising venue.  What’s particularly significant is that the exhibit and gallery are also a reason for optimism.  While at times artistic talent can be had naturally or by self-instruction, the practical skills needed for an art-world career are a bit more scarce.    Real life experience in making art as well as preparing a gallery around it is invaluable.  Public praise to HCC for making that opportunity even more accessible.

How to Make Art and the Gallery For It

Tampa Art Guide 10/03, 04, and 05!

Sometime in the early ’90’s I constantly wore several slap bracelets on each arm.  I did this to maximize the use I could extract from the bracelets before they inevitably fell out of favor with fashion. The Tampa Art scene seems to be packing events into the first half of October as if it were similarly about to go out of style, so to say.  Seriously, though, its only an expression: good art will never go out of style.  But just in case, you better head to all of these.  Consider the line-up for the next three days.

MAZE Gallery, HCC – EMERGE Art Exhibition

Opening Reception Wed 10/03 4:30pm-7:00pm

Gallery 221 at Hillsborough Community College has emerged to be an important gallery in an art scene that feels like it’s just picking up steam.  University galleries can often and easily be dismissed, with community college galleries hardly receiving any consideration at all.  At HCC, though, skillful curating has kept the gallery relevant and interesting.  Wednesday the school celebrates the opening of a brand new venue: MAZE Gallery.  The space will exhibit the work of current students and HCC alumni.  The importance of student galleries in colleges deserves a blog post unto itself.  I’ll just say that this space was a surprising move for a school of this size, but a great decision.  Stop by Wednesday evening to catch some student work in the gallery’s inaugural exhibit.

Tempus Projects – REDUCED5

Closing Reception Thur 10/04 6:30pm-8:30pm

The REDUCED5 juried exhibit ends this Saturday with a reception to close things out.  the black and white themed show is juried by its creator Kurt Piazza.  Honestly, in terms of quality, juried exhibits in our area are usually hit and miss at best.  Perhaps it’s the parameters set on the work, but there is nary a weakling in the bunch here.  Further, much of the work comes with a price tag that could likely fit your budget.  While you’re there keep an eye out for the witty work of freshly gone Ryann Slauson among others.

Box on 5th – Vince Kral: FanAddict

Opening Reception Fri 10/05 7:30pm-10:00pm

The new gallery’s fourth exhibit is a solo exhibit featuring the work of local artist Vince Kral.  Though I haven’t spotted an artist statement yet, I’m familiar with his art.  Kral’s work often deals with complex ideas of pop-culture, consumption of images, authorship, and so on.  However, his art is delivered with an intelligent humor making his work accessible.  Kral often treads some conceptual ground that we don’t often see from local artists.  For example, check out his Sponsor Vince Suit.  Anyhow, you can expect to see an especially engaging exhibit at a venue that has been bringing crowded receptions since its opening.

Tampa Art Guide 10/03, 04, and 05!

Tampa Visual Art Guide 8/30 – 9/05

Alright, I’m sorry.  I haven’t been doing the best job of keeping you apprised of art happenings in Tampa.  Not to worry, though: I’m getting my head back in the game and you back up to date.  Here’s the best going on in Tampa right now.

The Elephant in the Room

CL Space – The Elephant in the Room

There’s only one thing I don’t like about the CL Space and I understand it’s unavoidable: exhibits don’t hang around for very long there.  Generally if you missed the opening reception to a show, such as the current The Elephant in the Room, you missed the show entirely.  Not so today!  The art deities have considered you’re plight and shown you favor – you’ve given a closing reception!  Seriously, with its brick walls and floating dry wall, the CL Space is a beautiful art venue.  The Elephant in the Room is a politically charged juried exhibit.  You’ve likely seen several of these types of shows recently as a result of the RNC.  This show is especially worthy of your attendance because of its more subtle but well thought-out work, and its interactive Silverfish Revolution.  Read more about that here.  – The closing reception is Friday 8/31, 7pm-9pm at CL Space.

Taking Place: Drawings by Josette Urso

Josette Urso

Gallery 221 at HCC is now presenting work from New York based (and Tampa native) artist Josette Urso.  Urso produces intricate ink drawings that are at once claustrophobic like the cityscapes they depict but also playful in a way.  A number of these drawings are currently being exhibited.  However, Urso’s enormous (7.5 x 20 feet) site specific installation, a vinyl rendering of a drawing, and a six-minute video work titled Taking Place really make the show worth a visit.  She plays effectively with ideas of place and information, giving the viewer a bit to untangle mentally and visually.  – Gallery 221@HCC will be hosting an artist talk and presentation Wed 9/05, 3pm and an opening reception the following evening at 5pm-7pm.

The Importance of Being Photographed

It was a cross-medium mash-up waiting to happen: Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde.  The playwright and the pop artist expressed some eerily contemporary and similar concerns in their work such as celebrity, sexuality, beauty, and wealth.  The exhibit doesn’t actually feature the work of either artist, but rather takes its cue from the Polaroids in the exhibit down the hall, The Andy Warhol Legacy Project.  This is a photography show about being photographed.  Many of the subjects are entirely aware they are standing in front of a camera.  It’s this self-awareness that’s really fascinating and give many of the pieces a voyeuristic feel.  I would love to know what Oscar Wilde would think about this show.  The exhibit includes artists Tina Barney, Dawoud Bey, Katy Grannan, Jason Lazarus, Malerie Marder, Ryan McGinley, Catherine Opie, and Alec Soth.  – The Importance of Being Photographed is open at the USF Contemporary Art Museum through 12/15/13.

Tampa Visual Art Guide 8/30 – 9/05