Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lobster & Canary On Summer Hiatus-- But Visit Us At MOUSE

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Harald Sohlberg, Flower Meadow In The North (1905)

We're going to take a break for the summer, after five unbroken years (322 posts) of musings and observations.  Just to gather our thoughts, let the flowers grow, the fruits ripen... 

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Giovanna Garzoni, Still Life With A Bowl Of Citrons (1640)

We hugely value you-- our readers-- and thank you for reading, and for the many notes and comments you send.  We will resume right after American Labor Day this September.  In the meantime, we invite you to follow our other blog, at MOUSE

[As always, all images displayed here are copyrighted to the artists and/or their legal representatives, or are within the public domain.  Used here exclusively for non-commercial purposes.]  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Long Island City Open Arts-- Taking Wing

Photo: New poster for the upcoming LIC Arts Open festival! I'm happy to be part of this year's program with an exhibit of theatre work. If you are in NY, don't miss the festival's opening night and enjoy some great music with blues legend Vince Johnson! More info coming very soon!
Art © Luba Lukova

[Poster by Luba Lukova , copyrighted to Ms.Lukova; displayed here solely for non-commercial purposes of commentary.]

In the kaleidoscopic world(s) of the visual arts in New York City, the community of artists in Long Island City is rising.  (My wife and artistic collaborator, the woodcarver Deborah Mills, has her studio in LIC's Diego Salazar Building-- so I acknowledge my lack of objectivity on the subject!).   Long home to many artists (and housing museums such as MoMA PS 1 and The Noguchi Museum -- and, until it was painted over late last year, the graffiti edifice 5 Pointz), LIC has recently seen even more creatives arriving as rents continue to rise in Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn-- not to mention in Manhattan.

Symptomatic of LIC's growing stature as an arts center was the fourth annual open studios event last week.  While helping Deborah at her wonderfully crowded carving demonstrations, I took a quick tour of what colleagues had to offer, especially in the Juvenal Reis building across the street.  A few highlights from among many, more evidence of LIC's increasing prominence in the arts (as always, copyright held by the artist and/or his/her legal representatives; displayed here solely for non-commercial purposes):


Kathy Ferguson, "Gravity Goes Awry"

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Atto Kim

Robert Badia  

Suzanne Pemberton  "Sagaponack"

Maria Liebana "Speedy"


Eric Rue  "Interface I"

Kinuko Imai Hoffman  "Buff"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tegene Kunbi: Making Colors Speak

Contemporary art and design flooded NYC this week, with Frieze and a dozen-odd smaller art fairs now rivaling the Armory Show week in March.  The lobster and the canary visited two of the fairs-- PULSE and the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) --and have this to report.

PULSE and NADA were each gems of thoughtful curation, possessing a warmth and intimacy that invited genuine interaction with the works, the gallerists and the artists.  Booth after booth called us in with playful (but not precious or cartoonish) pieces, work that demanded attention without being shrill or bombastic, wielding instead a quiet authority.  If one can speak of a sensibility common to a hundred artists working in a wide variety of media and styles it would be a striving to highlight the physicality of the work-- perhaps a response to the digital and the virtual.  The artists at these fairs emphasized the gesture with kneaded impasto, splotches, drips, bold painterly approaches.  They highlighted the textures of their materials, crumpling, dimpling and pebbling their surfaces, streaking india ink on canvas, embedding bb pellets in resin, braiding and taping, using nails, bits of glass, wood, ripped paper within the painting.

PULSE and NADA feature smaller, younger galleries who in turn discover new talent.  I encountered several artists for the first time whose work I look forward to following for years to come (*), but the "whoa! stop-me-in-my-tracks" moment was seeing from a distance the luminous color-field paintings by Tegene Kunbi in the Margaret Thatcher Projects booth at PULSE.  Call it the instantaneous seduction of artwork, the hunger to throw oneself into the art-- I cast fair decorum aside and nearly jogged into the Thatcher booth to see Kunbi's paintings. poster for Tegene Kunbi “Melting Pot”
All images here copyrighted to Tegene Kunbi and/or his legal representatives-- displayed here solely for non-commercial purposes of commentary, no copyright infringement intended.  

The images here do not convey the richness of Kunbi's color schemes, how the colors jump into the eye, how he sets one block in conversation with another and with the viewer.  Kunbi layers and articulates, and unabashedly shows us the artist's hand with his brushwork.  He evokes worlds--he is an alchemist like Klee, Rothko, Mitchell, Diebenkorn, Frankenthaler.  Kunbi had me thinking of Kandinsky on the spirituality of art.  Kunbi reminds us how powerful painting can be in the hands of a confident practitioner.  And, in an age wedded to irony and pusillanimous when it comes to any talk of artistic verities, Kunbi unironically presents us with Beauty-- surely still one of the main points of Art.

(*)  Check out Lisi Raskin,  Graham Collins, Retna, James Hoff, Rachel Foullon, Benjamin Horns, Charlie Billingham, Matthew Stone, Scott Treleaven, Emanuel Seitz, Ana Bidart, and Katherine Bernhardt.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

"The flight of the constellations returns hope to us."

Miro is one of my touchstones...or perhaps more like a spring bubbling exuberantly from the rock.

The painting above I have never seen before-- Sotheby's auctions it this week, so I am happy we get a look via the Web before it goes most likely to a private collector.

Another happiness is the title Miro gave it:   L'espoir nous revient par la fuite des constellations.

[Photo above copyrighted to shown here solely for non-commercial purposes of commentary; no infringement intended].