ARTEZINE

-- A Cyberspace Review Of The Arts

Volume 21.1
April 14, 2014


IN BRIEF

Vivian Maier Documentary


See the Vivian Maier Newsletter for the story about the new documentary. Our review of Vivian Maier's work is here.


(title)

The Draughtsman's Congress

[permanent link to this article]

There are three parts to this story.

First, there is the official statement about what was going on, in the larger, abstract, institutional sense: http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/pawel-althamer. I will not say any more about its history, origins, or intentions, since that is all I know about them.

Second, my personal account, which follows immediately below.

Third, Minerva Durham's account. She is, of course, the proprietor of Spring Studio, and we (see her article for all the names) were invited to this event as habitués of Spring Studio. Most of us draw there; some are models.


Congressing with the Draughtsmen

by Gordon Fitch

I was invited to participate in the 'Draughtsman's Congress' through Spring Studio. The announcement and URL were about all the information I had. (I imagined the instigator, a Pole, whose language has some oddly decorated letters, which yet more or less follow the sounds they represent, rather savouring the irrational English spelling of 'draftsman', whose gh bespeaks an ancient guttural which, failing to disappear like its sisters in caught and taught, has migrated to the front of the mouth and, hanging from the teeth, turned into a mysterious f waving at the outer world. I noticed also that the imagined draughtsman was supposed to be manly and singular, approaching the 'Congress' as an individual, rather than some horde of indeterminate collectivized draughtsbeings. Between that individual and the concepts of congress, of collaboration, then, there was a certain tension.)

Among other things, the prospectus specified that all sorts of materials would be supplied and we were not to show up with any. Hence, I dutifully appeared without supplies or preconceptions at the New Museum at the appointed time. Wandering around the museum's slick lobby -- a strange environment for those who knew the Bowery in the bad old days -- I eventually found the other members of my group, and after some bureaucracy, we made our way to the 4th floor where we found the general project in full flight. The walls and floor had been covered with pictures and words; the noise level was high. There were a lot of people of all kinds there, including small children, chance visitors, artists, students, and so on; some painting or drawing, many wandering around, many merely looking on. In the center of the room was a round table with some painting and drawing materials on it, and a teepee, which provided additional surfaces inside and out. Nearby there was sculpture of a cubistic standing man or humanoid being, also providing many paintable surfaces.

Draughtman’s Congress, about 2:30 p.m.
Draughtman’s Congress, about 2:30 p.m.
As noted, the literature promised a great variety of painting and drawing materials, but unfortunately these had not been put out, or were considerably depleted by the time our group arrived. There were pint containers of what I guess was tempera, mostly weak grays and browns and what I call 'landlord green', a profusion of rather crude and hard-used small brushes, and some colored pencils and crayons. Paper was also available if one wished to tape some to the wall over existing work, but this was not much done, as the walls generally remained damp and the paper tended to fall off. I felt somewhat impeded by the lack of ample supplies of black and other dark colors, to which I am partial, and of highly saturated colors. Eventually I was able to get hold of some fairly uncompromised white and a cobaltish blue, which, while not possessing the electric quality I would have liked, sufficed me for most of my visit; more about that a little below.

Draughtsman’s Congress: Painting the Floor
Draughtsman’s Congress: Painting the Floor
I first tried to take in the environment, which buzzed with past and present energies unleashed pretty randomly on the walls, floor, teepee, and sculpture, wondering what I could possibly do with them. (I am used to working by myself.) Others flung themselves headlong into the maelstrom. Two of my colleagues were soon at work on a six-by-six section of the floor. (I speak of feet, not inches or yards. And indeed, feet participated in the painting from time to time.)

Draughtsman’s Congress: Green Demon Tranformation, early stage
Draughtsman’s Congress: Green Demon Tranformation, early stage
Not all was chaotic.

In some cases, a number of layers could be discerned in spite of overpainting. For example, I observed a large green demon sort of creature grimacing upward toward the stratosphere. It had been painted over an area covered with some sort of op-art paper. When I first encountered this painting, there was also a deftly painted male torso including legs (but not feet) within it, but rather subtle and obscure. I called attention to it by painting a white outline around it and some rays shooting off in another direction from it. I implied, but did not paint in, head and feet, and backed off. Before very long, a young woman came along with some bright red paint and painted a larger, rather raunchy female nude around and over, but not obscuring, the torso, also within the demon. She omitted the head; maybe the demon's head was supposed to suffice. Somewhat later an older man came along and supplied the body with a vigorous tough-babe head in the same color. At this point that section of the wall had become a fully legible palimpsest of six different artists and at least three figures, all rather synchronized to one another; certainly a collaboration of sorts.

Draughtsman’s Congress: Green Demon Tranformation, later stage
Draughtsman’s Congress: Green Demon Tranformation, later stage
Most parts of the room were not so treated. In some areas, a bold or clever design caused the art to be left alone, seemingly in respect; in most, anything painted was soon modified or overpainted and obscured.

There were exceptions to this rule of effacement. I found that it was possible to slide under the table in the center of the room; its underside was mostly unused. Pretending I was Michaelangelo working on the Sistine chapel, I painted a large, soulful eye; then, feeling it might be lonely, a sensuous mouth with full lips not too far away. At this point I noticed someone had written 'IS THIS PLACE SAFE' and responded in the words of Rilke's famous poem Herbst (Autumn), 'Und doch ist einer, welcher dieses Fallen unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält' -- 'Yet there is one who holds this falling forever safe within his hands.' (The project started in Germany, so a little German was only reasonable.) An earlier line in the poem reads 'And in the night, the heavy earth falls, down from all the stars, into aloneness' and when I emerged a woman was painting the word 'LONELINESS' on a part of the tepee. I told her about the poem under the table. She paused and gave it some thought and after a moment or two suggested that I go write another poem there, perhaps mistaking me for Mr. Rilke, and in any case evidently wishing to remain consistent in her specialty. Instead, I wandered off. Later I came back and painted a circle over 'LONELINESS' with a single small dot in it. (Miss Loneliness had departed.) Not long after that someone drew more circles within the circle around the dot, forming a target; indeed, often the lonely are targets. But then it was joined by other targets. One imagined they could gang up on something. Transformation transformed!

Draughtsman’s Congress: Neuron
Draughtsman’s Congress: Neuron
The rest of the time, wishing to steal an uncharacteristic march on virtue and prove not domineering but eager to serve, I busied myself drawing 'neurons' in spaces between others' objects, by which I mean I made small blueish-white round radiant things with one soulful eye in each, and long threads or dendrites emerging from them and flowing between the various images and words near them, connecting some with others, and calling attention to items I particularly liked. These constructions, being small in themselves and economical of paint, yet spread over a wide area, proved more durable than many of the more forthright designs. I had sneaked up, not on virtue, but endurance, if not immortality.

Needless to say, quite a few people chose to project their egos (What? Egotistical artists?) or business interests, and wrote their names, web sites, comments and slogans on the walls. A rather dignified gentlemen whose long white hair testified to his age and indefatigable hipness inscribed a large, crude obscenity in brilliant red across a ghostly Lenin, revisiting perhaps some long-gone junior high of the mind. As one can see in the pictures, some of this work was quite grandiose. Typically, most of it soon got decorated or obscured, just as in graffiti country. (Actual graffiti writers may have participated, but as spray cans were not permitted, they would have been unable to employ their tools of choice, and the distinctive styles of their world were not much in evidence. I think, though, that most hard-core graffitists would have found the scene a bit tame.)

One of the Spring Studio group, Magic (see below), was not a primarily a painter or draughtsman here but a model. Nearly nude, he posed in many interesting and rather difficult postures (he is very good at this) until the authorities intervened; it seems that 'performances', at least by those not conventionally dressed, were forbidden. Before that, my colleagues painted aspects of him on the nearby wall and floor; after all, we do Life Drawing. We may have been frustrated in this, but at least, we had pushed the sacred envelope and obtained the rewarding experience of being told to stop doing something.

Draughtsman’s Congress: Cat (artist unknown)
Draughtsman’s Congress: Cat (artist unknown)
Draughtsman’s Congress: Elephant (artist unknown)
Draughtsman’s Congress: Elephant (artist unknown)
Some rather coherent works, recorded here, were not overwritten or modified (much) during my stay. These included an Africanish elephant, a portrait of Ah Weiwei, and a cat. Ah Weiwei did acquire zombie eyes before the end of the day, however.

Draughtsman’s Congress: Ah Weiwei with Zombie Eyes (see below)
Draughtsman’s Congress: Ah Weiwei with Zombie Eyes (see below)
As the afternoon declined, a man appeared playing a French horn and wearing a cape bearing slogans which questioned capitalism. It was about 5:30 p.m. I took this to be a sign to depart, and departed, although not before I suggested to the performer that the horn might be modified to spray paint as well as music and thus become part of the grand work. He was amused but doubtful about the overall effect of such a method, especially on the instrument.

On the whole, the event had the air of a children's party more than some kind of serious engagement between artists about collaboration and competition as indicated in the announcement. Many of the participants were probably not artists in a professional or serious-amateur sense, so while the experience of doing art may have been entertaining and enlightening for them it was not tremendously striking. Indeed, many successful events of this sort have been held in public parks in New York City with similar but more down-home purposes in mind. The higher level of discourse proposed by the 'prospectus', the discussion and interaction between art-committed practitioners, could not be achieved, at least not within the limited compass of my brief witness.


An Afternoon at the Museum, or Pure Magic

by Minerva Durham

"Are you going to time me?" Magic (Paul Distefano) asked me as we walked along Spring Street towards the New Museum of Contemporary Art to participate in the Draughtsman's Congress on the fourth floor. For over two months now the public and groups assigned a time slot, like us, had been painting and drawing on the walls and floors of the fourth floor with any imagery that they wanted, newcomers essentially obliterating the work of previous participants. The project had originated in Berlin, the idea of an avant-garde and political Polish artist, Pavel Althamer, whose work is on display in the Museum.

"Sorry, I didn't bring a timer. Do you mind timing your poses yourself?" I asked.

"Can I do anything I want? Any length of pose? Because I can try out lots of things that I couldn't do if there is a time limit."

I hadn't told the Museum people that I was bringing a model. Magic draws too, so he could participate as artist or model if there were any objection. "I didn't bring the dance strap," he said., "I'm going to pose in black under-shorts instead."

Seventeen artists from Spring Studio met at the reception desk and checked jackets and bags. We were told that the person who was to greet us and take us upstairs was too busy, so we were on our own. Easy enough.

As we entered the room we were surrounded by color, layers of paint everywhere on the walls and the floor. Luca Mosca, Christa Pietrini, Harumi Osawa, Joseph Schwarz, Anne Simmons, Serge Strosberg and Catrin Treadwell put on paint-stained painters' coats and suits provided by the Museum.

THE FOURTH FLOOR (Photo: Audrey Ganz) The pea-green thing is the elevator.
THE FOURTH FLOOR (Photo: Audrey Ganz) The pea-green thing is the elevator.
I saw right away that there were very few materials to work with, although we had been promised "a great range of materials available to work with and these include: acrylic paint (range of colors), gouache, watercolor, charcoal, charcoal pencils, crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils, chalk, chalk pastels, many kinds of pens and markers" and we had been told not to bring any materials with us. All that was available were about twenty pint-size containers of tempera paint with thin worn brushes, mostly light colors. I grabbed the only container with black paint that I could see and a container of yellow. I have been a socialist all of my life, but I found myself thinking "Oh, so this is what socialism is really like. You are promised that you will be provided for and then you are left to fend for yourself and to make do, ill-equipped." But I cheered up as Magic stripped to shorts and began a continuous performance of acrobatic poses of varying lengths that lasted well over an hour. I painted on the floor a few feet away from him. Soon Chuck Connelly and Audrey Cohn-Ganz joined me on the floor and we were all transported to Degas' "magic circle" that artists inhabit. (You are either in the circle or outside of it.)

MAGIC POSING (photo: Gary Katz)
MAGIC POSING (photo: Gary Katz)
MAGIC POSING (photo: Gary Katz)
MAGIC POSING (photo: Gary Katz)
Serge had brought a photo of Ai Weiwei to copy. He painted Ai Weiwei‘s face in black and white a little larger than life with his shoulders held up and out in a crucifixion pose. "Is this OK to do?" he asked me. "Yes, it's beautiful," I answered. He was running out of black paint. There was no more black paint to be had because so many people had shown up in the morning, and the Museum enforced a daily quota on supplies. I gave him the small amount of black that I had left.

SERGE STROSBERG WITH HIS PAINTING OF AI WEIWEI (Photo: Gary Katz)
SERGE STROSBERG WITH HIS PAINTING OF AI WEIWEI (Photo: Gary Katz)
Luca used the light colors to good advantage making a Zen Batman.

LUCA MOSCA’S ZEN BATMAN (Photo: Gary Katz)
LUCA MOSCA’S ZEN BATMAN (Photo: Gary Katz)
Around 3:30, the head of Security for the Museum came on his rounds, and seeing Magic in shorts demanded that he get completely dressed. I talked with Security and politely asked how many complaints had been made, and if there was a written record of the complaints and if the Museum administrators had been alerted and if they had made the decision to stop Magic from posing. He was insistent that Magic get dressed. I said to Security that we were all very happy to have had at least an hour and a half in the presence of the most beautiful thing in the world: a young acrobat of pure heart in motion, full of love and compassion. (Think kouros and the murals in Knossos.) Then I said, "Put your clothes on, Magic, as the man insists."

Photo: Gary Katz.  NOTE the scroll with lots of little black figures on the wall at top, seeming to touch the ladder, is by Anne Simmons.
Photo: Gary Katz. NOTE the scroll with lots of little black figures on the wall at top, seeming to touch the ladder, is by Anne Simmons.
I sat down next to Magic. ""But I had lots more to do. I didn't want to stop. I could have gone on much longer." A true and pure performer.

All along Charles Johnson was taking thousands of photos. I will send some of his masterpieces after we download them.

Here is a group photo of most of Spring Studio's delegation:

Photo: Anne Simmons via a stranger. ARTISTS NOT SHOWN NOR MENTIONED IN THE TEXT ARE Peter Allen, Joe DiNapoli, Kenny Ross, Phoenix, Elizabeth Hellman, Sara Edkins
Photo: Anne Simmons via a stranger. ARTISTS NOT SHOWN NOR MENTIONED IN THE TEXT ARE Peter Allen, Joe DiNapoli, Kenny Ross, Phoenix, Elizabeth Hellman, Sara Edkins

More at http://minervagoesnew.lucamosca.com/....




E A R L I E R     A R T I C L E S



Announcement and Preview
by Susan Roecker

Read the PDF here....

Exhibition opening
Sunday, November 17th, 2013 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
at
368 East 8th Street, NYC (between C & D)
or see
www.kellyglassstudio.net





Sara Schneckloth

Sara Schneckloth, 2013 (detail)
Sara Schneckloth, 2013 (detail)

at Soho20 and the
Fowler Arts Collective

In late June and early July of this year, Sara Schneckloth, an artist currently working in South Carolina who should be known better here (and in the world) visited the Fowler Art Collective in Greenpoint to do several days of intense work (ten hours a day, according to the artist) on her characteristic drawing. A few months previously (in March) she had a brief show at Soho20 in Chelsea, sharing the space with some other artists.

(more....)





Minerva, Model (Elizabeth Hellman), and Artist Demonstrate in Petrosino Square Plaza
Minerva, Model (Elizabeth Hellman), and Artist Demonstrate in Petrosino Square Plaza

The Battle of Petrosino Square

A war of sorts has broken out between two improbable belligerent parties around a little-known pocket park in Lower Manhattan, Petrosino Square. On the one side are some of the immediately local residents of the rather unusual neighborhood that surrounds the park; on the other, the Greenwashing Department of Citibank. The central issue is the Citibike installation in the park's plaza, which has preempted a space intended and used for large public works of art.

(more....)





JUDITH SCHAECHTER IN NYC

Battle of Carnival and Lent (detail)
Battle of Carnival and Lent (detail)

Judith Schaechter: Battle of Carnival and Lent At Claire Oliver Gallery, NYC

This is not a review, but a pointer to the announcement of Judith Schaechter's upcoming show at the Claire Oliver Gallery in New York, where you can see the works we reviewed while they were still at the Eastern State Penitentiary site in Philadelphia. The show will be there from May 23d until June 29, and there is a reception with the artist on May 23d from 6 to 8 p.m. The Claire Oliver Gallery is at 513 West 26th St. in New York.

For more information, see the announcement, http://judithschaechterglass.blogspot.com/2013/05/esp-work-on-exhibit-opening-may-23.html; see the Artezine article for an idea of what to expect.

(permalink)




S H E L L    G A M E

Molly Crabapple: Great American Bubble Machine (detail)
Molly Crabapple: Shell Game / Great American Bubble Machine (detail)

'Shell Game': Molly Crabapple At Smart Clothes Gallery

This is not a review, just a pointer to this show and artist, whose most recent works have been noticed in Wired, The New York Times, HuffPo, The Village Voice, and so forth. The public show opening is at 7 p.m. April 14th (this evening as I'm writing this) and is to be an Event. It will be up for only a short time. I strongly recommend it; the artist's combination of a sensuous, indeed luscious graphic style, sharp wit, surrealism, humor, and political consciousness are not to be missed.

See the artist's web site for further information.

The gallery is at 154 Stanton Street (corner of Suffolk Street in the Lower East Side) and the opening is at 7 p.m. April 14.

(permalink)





Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt at MoMA/PS1

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among The Junk (installation)

Entering this exhibition, which occupies one of the larger spaces at MoMA/PS1, was overwhelming. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. The entire space is filled with numerous, mostly shiny artifacts, made of the most diverse materials, mostly things one might obtain from a 99-cent store or a trash pile. Several themes and concerns come together: formal pictorial and plastic values; religious sensibility and aesthetics; Gay and general sexuality; class politics; diverse cultures; the conflicts and cross-pollination between these elements.

(CONTINUED....)

Buying viagra for sale you should pay attention to the date not to buy the expired medication.





Judith Schaechter

Judith Schaechter: Andromeda
Judith Schaechter: Andromeda

at Eastern State Penitentiary

   by Gordon Fitch

On a chilly day late in November, as the sun was already declining towards the horizon, I found myself within the heavy, gray stone walls of a prison, or rather the ruin of a prison....
Read about it here!





Susan Roecker's Cat(s)

Susan Roecker
Susan Roecker

at Avenue C Gallery

-- read about them here --





Vivian Maier: detail of book cover self-portrait

Like a figure in a dream, Vivian Maier begins to disappear even as we catch sight of her. With one ambiguous gesture she points out our world and shows us things that were always there, but which we had never seen; with another, she declines our questions and steps back into the darkness. We want to call out to her to wait, but the dream silences us, and then she is gone forever. We turn and, scattered all around us, see the objects of her work, an enormous treasure we will spend years, even lifetimes, trying to order and decode. About Maier herself, we can mostly only guess. ... -- more --





click

click


 

ETAOIN
April 14, 2014