Workshop-as-Collaborator: Uncommon Practice at the Tampa Museum of Art

1660596_10151870842296447_802949080_nUncommon Practice sees an overdue collaboration between two of Tampa’s principal art institutions: Graphicstudio and the Tampa Museum of Art.   Opening its doors over forty-five years ago, Graphicstudio is a workshop and studio based on the University of South Florida campus that has developed a reputation for making advancements in printing and innovative approaches.  A number of legendary artists – from Rauschenberg and Rosenquist to Mapplethorpe, Marclay, and Close – have collaborated with the studio to create their artwork.  It’s this important word – collaboration – that proves to move the exhibition beyond a simple survey of an atelier.

It’s thus that Uncommon Practice, curated by Jade Dellinger, avoids all of the potential pitfalls. Though it includes some of the latter half of the twentieth century’s most recognizable artists, it never simply becomes a parade of art celebrities. Neither does it afford undue attention to Graphicstudio’s boast-worthy technical skill and expertise. Rather, Uncommon Practice sharpens its focus on the products and potential of great collaboration.  The atelier works at expanding on an artist’s vision and giving it new vehicles through which it can evolve.

While perhaps not as dramatic as the larger pieces within the exhibition, this role of workshop-as-collaborator was especially striking for me in the work of Iva Gueorguieva.  Her particularly complex compositions can often be tied to her work’s process and materials, her mix of painting and collage.  However, Gueorguieva’s pieces that are included in the exhibition feature some techniques new to her work, some even new to her.  Smartly, they don’t appear as impositions on her overall body of work but instead add depth to it.  Gueorguieva’s 51 ½ inch by 35 ½ inch print collage piece Rolling Anvil, for example, is distinctly hers.  Yet, it has textural qualities (as well as color choice) unique to this work, thanks in part to its direct gravure, woodblock, and silkscreen components.  (See the piece here.)

On the other hand, printmaking in a more conventional form plays a sort of conceptual role in Allan McCollum’s Each and Everyone of You.  Created in 2004, McCollum researched the 600 most common female names and 600 most common male names according to the US census bureau, printed each name individually as white text in a black field, and finally framed all 1,200.  The names hung as an enormous grid at the center of the museum’s second floor galleries.

Though the digital ink jet printing process is fairly straightforward and common, it plays an integral role in the artwork’s conceptual weight.  Walking beside Each and Everyone of You, the installation quickly reveals a strange contrast.  The pragmatic challenges met by the artist and studio in creating a large number of pieces that are unique yet mass-produced perhaps reflects the much more personal sociological challenge of asserting and holding onto individual identity within an ocean of others.  You can see this on a smaller and comparatively trivial scale hearing others invariably whisper “I can’t find my name” while scanning the prints.

Elsewhere in Uncommon Practice the work of Christian Marclay seems to interact with Abstract Expressionism – a style not often associated contemporary art nor print workshops.  Still, the pieces feel as if they are executed with both wit and weight.  This visual connection to Abstract Expressionism is most explicit in the two pieces Splorch Splash and Whoop Swoooosh Spish.  The pieces are two proper abstract paintings on paper.  However, printed over the paintings are onomatopoeias  as the act of painting may have sounded had the work  been vocalized; these are works of art if they had existed in a comic book universe.  Further, here we may find Marclay’s clever way of giving a nod to both a school of thought and its antithesis.  Further, like in much of Marclay’s work, the artist explores ways in which sound can be incorporated in visual art, and maybe unintentionally highlight how much it had been overlooked in the past.

For many, a highlight of the exhibition will likely be Christian Marclay’s Allover (Rush, Barbara Streisand, Tina Turner, and Others) [see the image featured in the TMA banner above].  At over four feet high and eight feet long, Allover is an especially large cyanotype – a bright blue and white composition similar in appearance and process to blueprints.  Cassette tapes and their insides of musicians listed in the title are strewn about the composition.  The artist names on the cassettes (some of them visible in the print) and the physical means playback definitely recall the music behind the print (and personally remind me of sitting by my stereo, lovingly creating hours of mixtapes.)  However in some ways, this piece to seems to vaguely point back to Abstract Expressionism.  The long strips of magnetic tape criss-cross the print as if confidently flung off the end of brush.  Allover’s imposing size is also reminiscent of the style’s expansive canvases.  Yet, instead of pained and personal brushstrokes, Marclay’s print is made from layers of unexposed paper left over from pop music cassettes.

These are only three artists of the forty-five included, just few of the artworks of over 100 in Uncommon Practice.  Yet, the examples of Gueorguieva, McCollum, and Marclay illustrate Graphicstudio’s inventiveness, not only in terms of craft but conceptually as well.  They also demonstrate the potential of artists and artwork tapped when provided great collaboration and support.

Four Art Books: Tampa Connections

We love art books, but we love them even more if they are written by/feature fellow Tampanians. Following Tampa Museum of Art’s big opening of Graphicstudio’s Uncommon Practice at USF exhibition (a show that was directly inspired by Tampa curator Jade Dellinger’s book about USF’s Graphicstudio), we decided that it would be interesting and inspiring to do a little research and find some more books that feature local art ‘celebrities’.

Here is a small but impressive list:

imageThe Next Thing: Art in the Twenty-First Century 

Pablo Baler

Fairliegh Dickinson

USF’S College of Art and Art History Assistant Professor Cesar Cornejo, was featured in The Next Thing: Art in the Twenty-First Century. Cornejo’s multidisciplinary installations and conceptual developments were complimented by philosophical and theoretical essays that attempt to ” anticipate the aesthetic mood” of the 21st century. The book,  predominantly written by Latin American artists, lecturers and thinkers about art, creates interesting conglomerations and curations of ideas and contemporary art works that provide a distinctive insight about the future of artistic thought and practice in the digital age.

Tim Fitts 46-45 Verandering

Tim Fitts: 46-45 Verandering

Tim Fitts

Tim Fitts/University of the Arts

The graphic art book 46-45 Verandering, created by USF Alumni and senior lecturer at The University of the Arts Tim Fitts, contains images of objects, textures, structural icons and screen-print designs that belong to the fruitful results of  Commotion neighborhoods,  a series of art-related community activities enacted within Philadelphia’s projects. The images, taken and arranged by Fitts, are representative of the history of this successful community project as well as stories that were shared by community participants during workshops held at the Zion Hill Memorial Baptist Church and the William A. Barrett Nabuurs Center.

fundamentals of interactive designThe Fundamentals of Interactive Design

Michael Salmond and Gavin Ambrose

Fairchild Books

Michael Salmond, a USF MFA alumni, co-writes The Fundamentals of Interactive Design, a book that introduces the essentials of digital design and its top practices. The book is aimed at designers who have never worked within the interactive medium as well as those who have some digital knowledge but are looking for application across a wider spectrum of media. Salmond and Ambrose make their best efforts to provides a core skill-set and an invaluable insight into the world of interactive design.

9781907804359_p0_v2_s260x420

Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practice at USF

Jade Dellinger

GILES

Jade Dellinger, an independent curator living and working in Tampa, authors Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practice at USF.  Dellinger, a key player within some of our most  beloved local art institutions  (Tempus Projects, TMA, and USF’S CAM) presents a beautiful, colorful and informational book that serves as an expansive ‘catalogue’ of GS’s  most notable artworks. The  expansive volume highlights over one hundred works of art by more than forty prominent Graphicstudio artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Jim Dine, Alex Katz, Christian Marclay, Vik Muniz and Theo Wujcik. It also features interviews with current and past Graphicstudio directors as well as reflections on experiences while working with some of the most influential artistis of the 20th and 21st century.  Consequently, today, February 1st, 2014,  is the opening day of Tampa Museum of Art’s Graphicstudio: An Uncommon Practice at USF ,a show that compliments Jade’s book. Dellinger, together with USF’s CAM and the TMA, highlights both technical and conceptual breakthroughs of Graphicstudio’s repertoire through displaying pieces that showcase some of the most celebrated artists of our time( Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Allan McCollum, Louise Bourgeois, Jim Dine, and others).

The show will be on view at TMA until May 18th, 2014.

If you are interested in purchasing a book, you can now pre-order them at Amazon through here.

Art@Bay’s Best of 2012 – Best Museum Exhibit

The Prestigious ART@BAY Cyber-Trophy

The Prestigious ART@BAY Cyber-Trophy

December brings with it the obligation of every critic to put forth in list form an unfair reductionist look-back on the year that was.  Being a responsible art blogger, I won’t beg off.

Now, I realize the ‘top-10’ list is generally the accepted format for these types of articles.  Tampa Bay, however, is not New York City – a top ten list here is nearly large enough to be called a ‘bottom ten list written in reverse order’.  For this reason I opted for the ‘Best in Category of 2012’ format.  Take heart if you or your exhibit is not mentioned here: if it makes you feel better you can assume that you would have come in second or third on my top ten list.  First we’ll tackle the year’s best museum exhibit.  That said, on with the judgements!

Best Museum Exhibit

Contemporary Prints by American Women: A Selection from the Gift of Martha and Jim Sweeny – Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

Perhaps this decision is easier to understand when I emphasize that it isn’t the artist(s) under scrutiny in this category, but rather the exhibit itself.  (Although, I should mention a lot of the work was simply amazing; prints from Louise Nevelson, Vija Celmins, and Pat Steir (excuse the academic jargon) blew my mind)

There is only one aspect of the Contemporary Prints exhibit that ended up on the wrong side of my pro/con list: it was small.  The MFA’s upstairs gallery that housed the exhibit is about the size of a typical commercial gallery.  This wasn’t entirely surprising, though – the exhibit is effectively a preview of a collection in progress.  A larger exhibit is expected to be hung when that collection is complete.

This exhibition set itself apart as this year’s best by effectively accomplishing two things.  The first is its excellent presentation of the medium. The exhibit offered the prints as a medium unto itself rather than simply a means of replication.  The medium carries a tendency to be culturally undervalued, seen merely as reproductions of originals.  Contemporary Prints underscored the nuances of individual prints, the craftsmanship involved, and even the fact that some original artwork was intended to exist only as prints.

The second is highlighting women artists in the post-war period.  Women are still terribly underrepresented in museums nationwide and Bay Area institutions seemed to sadly make peace with the situation.  Thus, an exhibit that exclusively highlights the talent of contemporary women is especially welcome.  Further, the exhibit was tastefully curated emphasizing each artist’s work rather than their gender – not qualifying the art by sex in a misguided attempt to be politically correct.

In short, the exhibit was based on a thoughtful concept rather than shallow novelty, highlighting an underrepresented and often undervalued medium and artists.

Honorable Mention:

John Cage 33 1/3 – Performed By Audience, Tampa Museum of Art

John Cage 33 1/13 – Performed by Audience was by far the most fun museum art exhibit this year.  Although I may have annoyed a few museum guest, I happily sat on the couch listening to the cacophony of the four turntable I set into motion.  The exhibit is a musical score of sorts ‘written’ by John Cage.  Cage stipulates that about twelve record players be arranged in a gallery along with two to three hundred records.  Visitors are then encouraged to participate by playing the records as they see fit.

Perhaps Tampa Bay’s best curator, Jade Dellenger, organized the TMoA exhibit (as well as a corresponding show at Tempus Projects that ran concurrently) as part of the centenary celebration of John Cage’s birth.

Art@Bay at Sarasota Visual Art: Things Not Seen Before

Nearly 100 years after his birth and 20 years since his death John Cage’s relevancy to the current creative world is as strong as its ever been.  To be sure, Tempus Projects’ John Cage: Things Not Seen Before isn’t so much an exhibit of work by Cage as it is a display of his continuing reach and influence.

read the rest of the article at Sarasota Visual Art

Art to Check Out Saturday

Tempus Projects – Things Not Seen Before: A Tribute to John Cage        Sat. 1/14 – 7pm-10pm

I have a special place in my art-heart for Tempus Projects, and their exhibition set to open Saturday typifies why.

Things Not Seen Before: A Tribute to John Cage is hosted by Tempus Projects in cooperation with a companion exhibition John Cage 33 1/3 – Performed by Audience, to open later this month at the Tampa Museum of Art.  Both exhibits are being presented by independent curator Jade Dellinger as part of the John Cage centennial celebration.

Showcasing both exhibits in such seemingly disparate venues is an extremely smart curatorial call on the part of Dellinger.  This comes as no surprise – Dellinger has been behind a number of great exhibits featured in the Bay area.  No doubt, John Cage would’ve approved of an intimate artist-run space (trust me, we were tight) like Tempus Projects.

The name of the exhibit is based on a line Cage wrote in a letter to Dellinger as a student in the 1980’s: “I’m not interested in the names of movements but rather in seeing and making things not seen before.”  The exhibit will feature several original pieces by Cage including work that’s never been exhibited.  Among Cage’s artwork will be trial proofs from his Mushroom Book and a monotype from his “String” series.

An overwhelming list of overwhelmingly imaginative people will also be featured such as David Byrne, Christian Marclay, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Stephen Vitiello, and a gaggle of original(!) Fluxus artists among many others.  Check out the full list at Tempus Projects’ site.  Additionally, well-known Bay area artists Joe Griffith and Theo Wujcik (my favorite local painter) will be producing site specific artwork for the space.

The amount of creativity Tempus Projects and Jade Dellinger are able to organize and fit into the Tampa gallery is impressive.  Considering a little garage in Seminole heights could muster the gumption (or moxie) to present an exhibit worthy of a museum warms the DIY-soul.  More importantly, though, it illustrates the importance and potential alternative spaces can have in the Bay area arts community.

I won’t be able to make it on Saturday (please don’t remind me unless you want to see a sissy-man cry).  If you’re going and would like to be featured on the blog write about your visit to the show, take pictures, draw renditions, record the ambient sounds, etc. and send it to me at dannyolda@hotmail.com