Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic-Themed Artwork

Vancouver is now almost over, and tonight marks the end of another winter Olympics with another Closing Ceremony. Here and there, I've been watching the ice skating with fascination, snowboarding with awe, the curling with befuddled curiosity (is it like a frozen version of bocce?), and the luge with admiration, sometimes horror. Admittedly, I have much more interest in the Summer Olympics. As a former competitive swimmer, I like to watch the swimming and diving because I understand it, and know what the anxiety and rivalry of a race feels like. Swimming was and is the extent of my athleticism; maybe some tennis here and there. Watching the Winter Games for extended periods also just makes me kind of cold, which is not helpful here in the Northeast. I think New York has had more snow than Canada recently. The unruly weather has definitely given me more time to paint. Below are some of the pieces I've created recently with the Olympics in mind. Congratulations to all of the athletes!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Emerging New Series

By grouping and cropping similar styles within my ongoing series of paintings on old book pages, a potential new series of large paintings has been born. After posting newly-created images online, multiple friends have commented on how I must be running out of space with all of this new work. They did not realize how small they all are in actual scale. Having always worked quite large, they just assumed these latest pieces were just as grand. What an interesting idea! Although they have a reference to collage with the same areas of translucency and opacity with text and pictures peeking through from underneath, I never envisioned them that way. I thought about how a bigger format would look, and I wasn't sure  that they could stand alone as larger versions. By playing with certain pieces in Photoshop, I started to see new paintings emerge.

Every artist undergoes transformation and new styles as they continue to work. And so for the moment, I've put my renderings of circles and cellular forms on the back-burner. I've found an affinity for fresh forms and have accidentally adopted this curved psychedelic/ peacock feather/ lobe shape. I've merged a few samples, and these will become models for my next large paintings. The two bodies of work, small and large, have formed an exciting synergistic relationship.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Snow

There's more snow in Brooklyn today, and that means more paintings! I am working on some new pieces like these below on antique book pages. I found a series of great old science and history books from the 1960's several years ago and started painting on them as an experiment. Since I started working on this paper almost exclusively these days, I've been looking and able to find more books from the same publisher online.

The book pages have been discolored and stained over the years to a nice dark beige. This tint immediately gives the work character rather than just working with a scary, blank, bright-white, pristine piece of art paper. The pages soak up the gouache while at the same time allows the colors to remain bright. Here's a collection of them all together. (P.S. Thanks, Sushipot for the great photo tip!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our City Dreams - Movie Review

Some arthouse films get a lot of airtime when it comes to advertising. I have never heard of this one, but thanks to Netflix, it popped up on my list of suggested titles. And thankfully so. Our City Dreams is a documentary-style glimpse into the lives of five women artists who came from elsewhere, even across oceans, to pursue art careers in New York City (Swoon, Ghada Amer, Kiki Smith, Marina Abramovic, and Nancy Spero). It is a monumental four-year undertaking by Chiara Clemente, herself a transplant living in NYC, and daughter of known painter and art royalty, Francesco Clemente.

Each of the women artists featured in this film is at a different point in her career, working in different disciplines. The film also delves into feminist undertones, and each of the subjects has a different feeling about what it means to be a woman artist. For one, this means everything, for another, it's almost irrelevant.

Swoon, 2006                                                               Swoon, 2004

The movie is a journey of sorts, profiling each artist from youngest to oldest. So, it begins with Swoon, who happens to be one of my favorites. She is a street artist from Florida, who came to New York to attend Pratt Institute in 1997 (as did I in 1995). It was fascinating to see who she is and the process of how she creates her paste-up surprises all over the city. The film traces her career from the streets of the outer boroughs to the prestigious recognition and purchase of several prints by MOMA. I sensed that while she is enjoying the fruits of popularity and success, she prefers the years of struggle and above all, the anonymity. I see her work all the time in my section of Brooklyn. They are ephemeral in nature; eventually destroyed by time, the elements, and other street artists. This cycle only means that there will be more pieces to which I can look forward. Here are more of my photos of her work that has appeared throughout my neighborhood over the years.

2005                                                                         2002

(similar style by Gaia) 2008                                                                   2009

Ghada Amer, who was the original impetus for the film, came to New York by way of Cairo. She wanted to be somewhere where she could blend in and be anonymous, but we join her in her travels back to her native country where her identity is hardly a secret. Ghada's work consists of large, elaborate canvases featuring the colorful embroidered overlapping outlines of women from the pages of porn magazines. She then coverts the embroidered unsupported fabric into large paintings by introducing paint and clear medium allowing the dye from the thread to bleed into a watercolor effect. Some of her pieces are so large, that her working process engages other women in the tradition of a sewing circle.

We also accompany sculptor, Kiki Smith, through a large mid-career retrospective of her work. She hasn't seen some of the work for decades, but still finds it relevant. Her sculptures focus primarily on the female body and biological life processes. She often incorporates social and political issues into her work. As the daughter of sculptor, Tony Smith, she has an instant connection to the documentarian.

Marina Abramovic is a performance artist from Serbia. Her philosophy about physical location in New York, is that "you have to be in places where it's difficult, where you can say something". One of her earlier performances from 1975, entitled, "Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful" made me laugh out loud. The ten second clip shows a woman fitfully brushing her hair and repeating the title as a mantra depicting the pressures and perceptions of living as a female artist. I found it funny probably because it mirrors my own anxieties about my identity as a female artist.

The film ends with eighty-year old Nancy Spero who is now deceased. She was a feminist and activist, an artist, wife, and mother. The other artists in this film had different attitudes towards these roles, but she seemingly had it all. She has lived and worked with her artist husband (painter, Leon Golub) in Chicago and Europe, but eventually found themselves coming to New York. Her work was greatly influenced by the turbulent times and imagery of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. At the end of her vignette, she beams about her recent invitation to participate in the upcoming Venice Biennale. Here are a couple of my photos of her work entitled, "Maypole/Take No Prisoners" at the Venice Biennale in 2007.

This film is a collective "portrait of the artist".  While it touches on the geography of New York, it is more of an initmate look into the processes and inner-workings of these particular women. At the same time, it begs the question whether the artist is feeding upon the city or if the city is feeding upon the artist. I can totally relate.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Walk Around the Neighborhood - Greenpoint and Williamsburg

This past Saturday was a beautiful, cloudless sunny day and warmer than it's been for weeks. With the thought of taxes and other chores looming, I decided to procrastinate and succumb to my cabin fever. I ended up walking around Greenpoint and Williamsburg for hours while enjoying some fresh air (as fresh as it can be in Brooklyn) and one of my favorite activities: taking lots of photographs. Here are some of them.
Works above include: Head Hoods (Michael Jackson on VW bus), Gaia (lambs), ROA (a porcine treat), and Clown Soldier.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

NY Fashion Week - Celeb Sighting, Heidi Klum

Since it's officially Project Runway night, and since tonight officially marks the wrap-up of another New York Fashion Week, I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of the ever-gorgeous, Heidi Klum. These photos were taken at the Elise Overland fashion show last Saturday night at Exit Art. This show was one of those fashion events happening outside of the much bigger and frenzied Tents of Bryant Park. I enjoy the offsite shows (or, as I refer to them, the "Off Broadway" shows) which offer attendees a much more intimate and rich fashion experience. In my opinion, it is the better way to see the clothes. For me, personally, I get much more interesting photos. Heidi stopped to talk and accommodate several spontaneous interviews. The Project Runway host, producer, and judge truly possesses an elfin, almost alien kind of beauty.
After a busy week of buzzing around the city to stacked art and fashion events (plus, making it to the day job too) I decided to blow off a few art events scheduled in Chelsea tonight. I'm taking the night off to snuggle with my laptop and write, share pictures, and watch the show- this time, on tv!
Interviewing with Lauren Ezersky of Behind the Velvet Ropes

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pufferella and Josh McCutchen at Factory Fresh, Brooklyn

This past Friday night, after partaking in a minimal amount of the craziness associated with New York's Fashion Week (photographing the Alexander Berardi show for Plaztik Mag), I found myself in the Bushwick Section of Brooklyn for an art opening at Factory Fresh. Factory Fresh is an art gallery that shows the avant garde and under-appreciated side of what's going on in the artworld; namely, street art. Every month, the gallery undergoes a complete transformation. The current exhibition features the work of Pufferella and Josh McCutchen (running now through February 21st).

Team Plaztik converted the front gallery into a carnival-like atmosphere as an appropriate way to experience Pufferella's hand-sewn panels. Josh's paintings (along with a performance for opening night) were featured in the back room. His fantastic creatures remind me of Basquiat combined with the famous monsters' cantina scene from the original Star Wars movie. I loved one so much, I actually bought it. I am now an official art collector!

The gallery is blessed with a spacious corner location not far from the subway, and an outdoor courtyard that makes for an irresistible party space. The folks at Factory Fresh really know how to draw a crowd in this fairly industrial area, although it is one teeming with artists. The openings are lively; a far cry from the sterile whitewashed walls of Chelsea, where one can experience an art opening the way it was meant to be enjoyed. But don't take my word for it. Go and check out the gallery for yourself!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day - Collecting

This day doesn't hold much significance for me personally in the romantic sense, although I hope to work on resolving that this year. My mom never forgets to send me a card and a little something to mark the day. Thanks, mom! I love you too. ♥

I thought this might be a good day to share my collection of "sacred hearts" or "bleeding hearts". They are religious tokens of thanks left at altars as reciprocation for an answered prayer, or as wish a for a speedy and miraculous healing. These votives are typically made from tin, copper, silver, or sometimes gold and are known by different names to different cultures: milagro in Spanish, ex voto in Latin, and tamata in Greek. They can also made in the forms of various body parts: arms, legs, kidneys, ears, eyes, feet, hands, breasts, etc.

I happen to collect hearts or hearts with hands, and it all started by accident. Several years ago, I bought two or three milagros at a Mexican store in the SoHo section of NYC as decorations for my room. Soon enough, I started seeing them everywhere. I bought some in New Orleans, in Italy, and at a flea market in Athens, Greece. Friends have even brought them back from their trips to Mexico or Peru. Thanks to online auctions, my collection has expanded even further. I now have over 100 of them on the wall of my apartment; all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Each one is different and holds its own charm. Every time I see a new one, it just means that my collection will keep growing.

♥  Happy Valentine's Day! ♥

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Blog Features - The Creative Jar and Sugared Ink

My work was featured in two additional blogs this week:

Please click here to see the post on Creative Jar.

Please click here to see the post on Sugared Ink.

Thank you fellow Etsy friends!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day!

Today, New York City is right in the midst of an enormous blizzard. It seems that no amount of salt and shoveling can keep up with the snow endlessly cascading out of the sky. It makes everything really beautiful and quiet. This unexpected day of relief from life's demands sure tastes sweeter as an adult. I'm taking full advantage of the unusually slow pace of today and enjoying it by making a hearty shepherd's pie, doing some painting, catching up on some reading, and doing an awful lot of looking out the windows! 

Here are some new paintings from this past weekend. They are now available in my shop.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Adornment With An Edge - Jewelry by Joomi Lim

Joomi and I  became fast friends at one of her sample sales a couple of years ago where she featured hair pieces and jewelry. I was immediately taken with her fresh take on all things sparkly. Her creations featured unique shape and color combinations that are guaranteed to reveal every woman's inner good girl/bad girl simultaneously. I always walk away with a new piece of glitter and twinkle, along with a list of must-haves from her upcoming line.

Joomi's collection has been featured in various boutiques throughout the city, in magazines, on Gossip Girl, and even on Rhianna during her New Year's Eve performance in Rockefeller Center. This week, to my surprise, she tucked this gorgeous little nugget (pictured) in with one of my recent orders. Despite the tough-girl appearance of this gold-toned spiked necklace, it looks great with anything from the jeans/t-shirt combo or to offset that frilly dress hanging in your closet. It almost redefines that timeless string of pearls, and is destined to become a new classic. Best of all, it will be available at the one and only Bergdorf's starting this week!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blog Feature and Interview - KLM Photos

Fellow Etsy seller, Kate, from KLM Photos has recently featured me on her blog. You can read my artist interview here!

Favorite Places - Storm King

This weekend, I am happily housebound by nasty winter weather and reflecting on one of my latest roadtrips. This past November, I rented a car and drove upstate to the Storm King Sculpture Park. It's located a little over an hour north of New York City in the Hudson Valley, and is a peaceful, meditative place settled on 500 acres of rolling fields. On nicer days, you can pack a lunch and spend the entire day looking at massive outdoor sculptures by prominent artists (Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Maya Lin, Andy Goldsworthy, and Mark di Suvero) while taking in a breath of fresh air. To us cramped New Yorkers, this is a place where you can run around freely, roll down the leaf-covered hills and dales (guilty), and hear the echo of crows calling to one another in the otherwise silent landscape. I've been to this wonderful outdoor sanctuary for the arts (and the soul) about three times. I often get carried away when I start taking photographs, especially of places as beautiful as this - here are some of my favorites.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Herb and Dorothy - Movie Review

Last week, I saw a quirky documentary about two senior citizen art collectors, Herb and Dorothy Vogel. This activity, typically reserved for the ultra-rich was accomplished by two people living on very modest budgets- Herb a postal clerk, and Dorothy, a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn Heights. Herb, a self-taught art lover with a voracious appetite and a good eye, and Dorothy, his new wife. As a newlywed couple with a budding passion for the arts, they attempted painting and formal training in the arts, but eventually gave up the vision of being artists themselves because of their all-consuming appreciation for what other artists were creating. Over the years, they amassed a collection of about 4,782 works by some of the most significant minimal and conceptual artists from the last four decades.

When it came to making a purchase, they had only two rules: (1) it had to be affordable, and (2) it had to be able to fit in their apartment. Very simply, they just bought what they liked. Among their first purchases was a Sol Lewitt piece which "set the tone for the collection". The rest of it was "built on the generosity of artists". Their now priceless collection was not dictated by the ebbs and flows of Wall Street, what dealers sold them as being "fashionable" or a good investment, or by the latest reviews in Artforum. Their collection developed by attending every possible gallery opening in New York City, by becoming friends with the artists, and by having a good eye for what they wanted. They often bought works on their limited budget because no one else wanted it, or because it wasn't a significant piece in the artist's body of work. It turns out that many of the pieces in their collection were later seen by (now very famous) artists as transitional pieces of great import.

Through decades of collecting, they never sold a piece, and the physical space of the collection has almost run them out of their apartment. In accordance with their wishes, it is now kept whole as part of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. which in all irony, was the first stop on their honeymoon. The Vogels have truly come full circle. "It's just beautiful that's all. And beauty is enjoyable." Yes, admiring, appreciating, and collecting art can be that simple. Right on, Herb. Right on!

As of 2009, the Vogels are still at it; attending gallery openings, buying art, and loving every minute of it. Proving yet again, that slow and steady wins the race. I'll certainly be looking for them at future art openings here in the city.