If an apocalypse befell the globe, I reckon the contemporary art world would leave few ruins. Many contemporary pieces conclude their existence at the conclusion of the performance, the end of the video, or the dismantling of the installation. Don’t misunderstand me: I sympathize with an artist’s skepticism of the art object. However, in a Facebook world that is increasingly losing its thingness and placeness, it’s easy to see why at her gallery’s latest artist talk, Mindy Solomon would quote art critic Roberta Smith – Ceramic art is the new video art.
For the second week in a row my recommendation is split by the bay. Some feasible public transportation would make seeing both exhibits so much easier. Have you ever tried taking the bus from Pinellas to Hillsborough? It’s a perilous journey that could last days or even weeks. Please just drive in your car to both shows – I don’t want to hear a month from now that you’re camping out on the Courtney Campbell.
Tempus Projects – VISIBLE/INVISIBLE Fri 3/09 7pm-10pm
Tempus Projects has been busy with two receptions in the space of a week. This Friday the art space shifts to the multidisciplinary work of three artists. Kurt Piazza’s moody high-contrast video art is somehow at once slick and gritty. This makes for the kind of ambiguous image-play that can make video work particularly engaging. The abstract painting of Edgar Sanchez Cumbas will also be featured at the exhibit. Past work, though thoroughly abstract, seem to imply a hint of a whisper of figuration (yeah, that subtle). Cumbas’ current work that will be displayed departs a bit from his past paintings. Large hard-edged fields of color cover the canvas as if Cumbas cleared a space to begin working or is covering over work he has already done. Daniel Williams is an artist working out of my hometown of C-Water (as we all affectionately call Clearwater, though it’s confusing because it sounds like “sea water”). I don’t know as much as I should about Williams – a good reason to head to the exhibit. From what I can gather, his work is generally mixed media with strong geometric abstraction that would definitely look at home over at BOOOOOOOM. You may have seen some of his recent work at The Bricks in Ybor. Any of these artists alone is worth the visit to this trusty Seminole Heights gallery, but the interplay between the three of them is what will make the show.
Salt Creek Artworks – Dual Show: Steven Kenny “Layers of Intention” and Kirk Ke Wang “Last Meal” Fri 3/09 6pm-9pm
I knew the name Kirk Ke Wang sounded familiar. It isn’t because he’s a professor at Eckerd College or his various shows at major galleries and museums – I walk past his studio every time I need a beer and head to Independent Bar after a show at Tempus Projects. Kirk Ke Wang is one half of a dual show opening this Friday at St. Pete’s Salt Creek Artworks. He’ll be presenting an installation titled Last Meal. Though the exhibit has been open since March 5th, I haven’t had a chance to see the installation yet. I’m interested in seeing if he draws from the idea of a prisoner’s last meal or the last meal of Christ. Though both ideas (and particularly the latter) are wildly overused, Kirk Ke Wang’s art has a wit that I’m confident will steer him clear of any clichés. His work is consistently impressive, that I anticipate will materialize well as an installation. Painter, Steven Kenny composes the other half of the dual show. Kenny’s paintings can be described as “surrealistic, symbolic”. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers here, but I’m really not that into Surrealism. To be honest, I really don’t like it at all past the 1930’s. However, I’m sure there’s a good percentage of you, readership, that do dig “neo”-surrealism. If you do, there’s a strong chance you’ll appreciate Steven Kenny’s work – he utilizes the style very well. Kenny’s technical skill is undeniable. With smooth and often imperceptible brush strokes as well as an expert depiction of the human form, the prevalence of the genre and his work is easy to understand.
Optimus Prime: automaton or automobile? An ancient (c. 1983) philosophical question, not unlike that of the increasingly complex role of the artist. Speaking to Roger Beebe the role of artist as cultural mediator comes into focus (pun unavoidable).
Beebe is a professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Florida. However, he’s also a very active filmmaker screening in locales as varied as the MoMA, the Sundance Film Festival, the Times Square Jumbotron, and even Antarctica. However, if you attend his show at C. Emerson Fine Arts on Friday 1/06/12 you’ll notice he’s not the average moviegoers’ average filmmaker.
In fact, watching Beebe’s films you get the feeling that not only is he aware of this, but it may be one of his starting points. “Because of turning the cinema experience into this multiplex experience you go there and it has this kind of generic quality to it”, he says. That isn’t to say, though, that he is attempting to turn cinema back to some golden age.
Many may consider Beebe’s work to be part of a tradition of expanded cinema (a term I was glad I could have a UF professor of film explain to me – and tuition-free, nerds!). Expanded cinema is often taken out of the Muvico and into alternative spaces, often experimental or made with unconventional equipment and/or techniques. Really, expanded cinema deserves its own blog post. Beebe’s approach and tools to film making are as diverse as the places he’s shown them. His films glow from 16mm film, Super 8, and digital video, often all simultaneously.
“There’s an interesting democracy to this recycling aesthetic and picking up stuff that nobody wants anymore”, he says. “Using 16mm is interestingly democratic in how it has that DIY production method”. Beebe was specifically referring to the democratic nature of outmoded tools such as 16mm film (actually, a class he teaches is called “16mm film production” – what’s more democratic than teaching someone?). However, in a way this can also apply to much of the content of Beebe’s work. His use of familiar language and imagery as well as actually re-appropriating other films adds a democratic (and DIY) character to his work.
It seems one of his films that will be shown Friday, AAAAA Motion Picture, indirectly touches on this. The description for this film on Beebe’s website reads: The Manhattan phone book has 14 pages of companies jockeying to be at the start of the alphabetical listings. Capitalism triumphs over linguistic richness yet again. Our challenge: to learn how to write poetry when there’s only one letter left. There’s hardly an art form that can be as commercial as film (what would be the art world’s version of Michael Bay? Jeff Koons?) Regarding AAAAA Motion Picture Beebe says, “I think I was very specifically thinking about the way words and phrases get turned into trademarks and slogans”
He goes on, “Even the neutral phrase ‘it’s the real thing’ – you can’t think of that without thinking of Coca-Cola or the way that Donald Trump tried to trademark ‘You’re Fired’ or Paris Hilton tried to trademark ‘That’s Hot'” With words and phrases losing meaning by being turned into commodities and visual phrases turning into visual clichés, work like Roger Beebe’s becomes refreshing.
We spoke about his film Last Light of a Dying Star (that uses eight projectors simultaneously). And though the conversation was specifically about the perception of outer space and space travel, the idea of the artist as a cultural mediator came to the surface, where the role of the artist isn’t to produce a new object but a new experience. “I think there is a level of desensitization and familiarity. So, I guess the task of the artist is to de-familiarize that. To produce the experience anew”
Roger Beebe will be presenting Films for One to Eight Projectors on Friday, 1/06/12 at 7pm
Fine time I chose to start an art blog! The holidays make for quiet art weekends. I suppose galleries have better things to do this time of year than give me free hor d’ ouerves and watch me not buy anything. Anyhow, bear with me – January is shaping up to be a very exciting month. With the galleries quiet for the next two weeks now might be a good time to catch up with some of our museums.
I’m starting with the Tampa Museum of Art because I hear they have awesome falafel. Also, the TMoA has what they call ‘Art on the House’ (or what I affectionately call ‘Poor People Museum Time’): free admission every Friday between 4pm and 8pm. The museum has a couple of exhibitions that you may want to catch before they end in the next couple weeks.
Specifically, the exhibition No Limits: Janet Biggs, ending January 8th, is a survey of video art from the NYC based artist. Biggs’ video work depict people engaged in extreme activities often in grand landscapes. Her pieces present the physical boundaries some push to actively form identity within and without social structure encouraging the viewer to reevaluate gender stereotypes.
I haven’t actually had a chance to make it yet but these two ignorant single star comments on Creative Loafing make me think it might be a good exhibition. If you’re looking for something to do Friday night check out the exhibition before its gone and spend the money you saved on falafel.
Tempus Projects – Pale Blue Dot Fri. 12/16 7pm-11pm
Ok, there’s little art-wise to warm up the ol’ skinnies for this weekend. However, Tempus Projects has once again given me reason to put my pants on and head out the door. If you showed up to Tempus Projects’ last show you probably don’t need to read the rest of this post to be convinced to turn out again this Friday.
Pale Blue Dot is being billed as an art exhibition of the work of Ryann Slauson (of “southern shoegaze” outfit, Sleepy Vikings). While I can say Slauson’s music with Sleepy Vikings is great, I’ve never seen his visual art. However, if Tempus Projects is exhibiting him I’m sure its worth taking a look. (I hate to make blanket positive judgements like that but its true: Michael Bay gives us explosions, Polk County gives us meth labs, Tempus Projects gives us quality.)
The Animal Collective-ish “experimental pop” set Diamond Man will be performing. Diamond Man makes some exciting music that will fit well with the space.
A screening of video work from local artist Kurt Piazza is the real reason I’m lacing up the pants (that’s right, I tie my pants just like my shoes and tunic). Piazza will be showing his video PROJ(01)10:09. Piazza’s work in video conveys the connection between place and narrative strangely well. Not to mention the high contrast black and white work will look awesome projected outside on the wall at night.
In the words of Biggie Smalls, If you don’t know, now you know. The whole show will be free and you may also be able to find some PBR. If that’s not good enough for you, we have a bit of personal evaluation to do.