~LOOKING BACK: THE 9TH WHITE COLUMNS ANNUAL / revised 2/2/2015 & 2/3/15

2/2/15: my bad !!
CLEOPATRA’S is NOT an artist collective, but “more a curatorial project” – !!
NO artists !! – how interesting, you mean us artists are not the only ones that can key in ?
clue in, and rev up. all the better.
you wouldn’t know that . . just looking around at all the big time ‘professional’/’institutional’ curators in this gritty frontier art town, who all seem sadly lacking in vision, devoid of excitement, and just are so lame – well well behind the curve, instead of being face first ahead of it, and most certainly not making any decisions from . . the ground up.

so, again congrats to CLEOPATRA’S, what a great name – for putting together a really tough little big little survey show. catching the trends, and making statements. they held a very tough line, both visually and thematically.
in other words: the curating is very . . on point, and offers up lots of viewing and . . thinking.

2/3/15: White Columns correction . .
so, seems that strange little nymph-like clay ‘garden’ sculpture by Ms.SAM ANDERSON, in photo below – sitting on the floor – in the midst of that huge crushing chaos party of an opening, like a stubborn guest, is quite the . . trouble-maker.
quite the gnome !!
the correct title of the piece is, NOT: ‘Blood on Santa’s Claw’ (!!), but . . rather:
‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ !!!! x !!!! x ahah – that’s so much more cipher-able, metaphor-wise.
‘Satan’s claw’ – too much !! that’s so . . funnie, hardcore, and tragic.
but wow, SANTA vs. SATAN – !!

opened TUES, JAN 13, 2015
the show runs thru FEB 21, 2015

more info: on the exhibit & curators

there are a lot of big group shows circulating in the city this month, meaning lots of options, and lots of bodies at the openings – the better to warm everybody up vs. the big winter chill !!

I really liked this big selection at WHITE COLUMNS the best – mostly for its overall pro-active, steely take on the art trends that zapped the art scene last year, and the dedicated ‘eyeballs’ that these guest curators put on art that: mattered. these four Brooklyn-based women made a point of including art that focused on our world – as it falls apart before our very eyes. even though the show was hung seemingly without a larger thematic or compositional / spatial floor plan, there was a kind of cool, minimal industrial feel to the overall exhibit, which I felt was very on point – as well.

PETER FEND with his text piece: ‘SAVE YOUR SOIL’, 2014.
Aluminum sign with vinyl decal, 42 x 28 x 1 in.
courtesy of the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York

less is more, Mr. Fend becomes the poster boy for new world thinking as his 3 simple words nailed the very potent social and political commentary that papered the scene last year.
interestingly, for such a reduced work, it is also long on resonance. whether conscious or not, Mr. Fend takes the run-away concept of ‘SELFIE’ – and turns it upside-down, on its head, and focuses thought, and attention back to the needs of the REAL world outside us, a world so desperate in its need of some (big) tender loving care.
it’s the ultimate . . ‘un-selfie’, a gorgeous 3 word dig at the ‘selfie / selfish’ – me me me mindset that spans the global culture, and message that needs to go global, along . . with DUMP YOUR GUNS.
though I don’t mean that, bad as it sounds – as on attack on the very valid ‘selfie’ movement. the urge to ‘selfie’ and post it – for all to see (!!) does greatly contribute to global thinking. it makes everybody an artist, and gives everybody a voice, as well it appears to be a great coping mechanism with all the horrible things going down – and of course, selfie is a vibrant first person archive – that adds up to collective dialog – for sure. just it’s good to get the un-selfie in the midst of all that sharing, that nails the focus, as beautifully as Mr. Fend does.

extended version: I’m thinking . . it’s quite strange to ponder how in biblical days when the soil, the earth was rich and un-degraded by modern populations, greed, and chemicals, it was the SOUL that needed tending. now it’s the inverse.

LILY van der STOKKER, ‘Yelling Women’, 2014
Acrylic paint on wood, 108 x 90 x 7.5 in.
courtesy the HALL COLLECTION, the artist and Clinton & Koenig, NY

as befits a show curated by a group of 4 woman – there were some pretty heavy duty feminist . . takes.
interestingly this piece, although big pink and cloudy, even sweet . . brought ‘feminist-y’ up to-date.
both funny and serious, it also reflected the big ‘cartoon’ format that livens up the NYC art scene, while it also indirectly addresses the preciousness of FREE SPEECH, political cartoons, etc. etc.
you know I am talking about: JE SUIS CHARLIE. JE SUIS FEMME.

if Peter Fend’s piece was the ‘poster’, this piece by LILY van der Stokker is the – thought/talk ‘bubble’.

looking at JOSH KLINE’S wall-mounted, industrial-commercial ‘cooler’ – it confronted one directly as you entered the exhibition space. it was aptly & brilliantly . . titled: ‘Problems’ – !!
as it picked up, and carried on the political dialog.
yep, we got . . problems.
it was cool, too – how the show’s planners gave it that great empty space of a wall.
very nice.

as for how it referenced the scene last year ?

DRINK THIS – DEATH BY ART !! / a metaphor, duh !!

JOSH KLINE, ‘Problems’, 2015.
Plexi, refrigerator, LEDS, 42 smoothies containing Mr> Clean, money order, medical scrubs, french fries, toilet paper, phone card, latex gloves, pennies, Dayquil, Red Bull, Ritalin, Claritin, Aspirin, Advil, Aleve, video camera, microphones, pig’s blood, pepper spray, duct tape, and dirt.
74 x 57-1/2 in.
courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, NY
(special thanks to Friends of the High Line)

the toxic colors and ingredients – speak for themselves.

EUGENE von BUENCHENHEIN, ‘Untitled (blue vessel with pink flower)’, n.d.
Oven-fired ceramic and paint. 8.75 x 3.75

switching industrial / tech gears, and smack in the face of the digital revolution, Eugene von Buenchenhein caught that other great trend of last year – aka the YEAR of THE HAND-MADE CERAMIC POTTERY . . WAVE.

SAM ANDERSON, ‘Blood on Santa’s Claw’, 2014 / correction: ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’, 2014 – !!
Epoxy clay, metal, wood, wire, plastic, dirt, lead.
variable dimensions
courtesy of the artist and Chapter, NY

though not kiln-fired, the piece is still hand-formed . . from CLAY !!
but more importantly, it is one of the few pieces in the show that caught that other ‘trend’ of last year: the MINIATURE !!
the fact that it was presented here in such a big show, with a huge crowded opening, in such a small scale & so precariously under-foot, suggests that Ms. Anderson was well aware of that huge . . small scale dynamic that swept the scene so strangely. mini mini mini. it does speak to: everything boils down to singularity, the small individual element, even more so, in our huge inter-connected social media world. less is more, and apparently in NYC 2014, nano-scale is a power player, and a power getter. . from the small gesture: big thoughts.
also referencing . . preciousness of resources, and the also the small scale of who ‘we’ are . . on our planet, a raging out-of-control global world . . and then even further, how small is are ‘we’ – in the face of the ever-closer and way way larger universe(s) – out there, in space.

though I’d love to ask the artist – just what she meant by the title, ‘Blood on Santa’s Claw’ – specifically ?
it seems very: inner-reflection driven ?
even a bit: Peter Pan-ish ? that’s a good . . thing.
magic, for sure.

POLLY APFELBAUM, ‘HWP 10-20’, all 2004
Marker on rayon silk velvet panels, ceramic beads. dimensions variable, ten pieces.
courtesy of the artist and Clifton Benevento, NY

all I can say is 2 key-words: miniature and clay, re: clay beads in the (above) materials !!
and, that other big trending statement: CRAFT SERVICES !!
hand-made, one-of-a-kind, and proud.

POLLY APFELBAUM at the opening . . loving life, and art, but not necessarily a camera pointed directly in her face.
they don’t always go hand in hand.

maybe it takes a fellow media player / a writer . . to welcome the Kodak moment.
WILLIAM SIMMONS, freelance art writer & contributor to ARTFORUM, FREIZE and ART In AMERICA . . with artist STEPHANIE GARLAND.

TREVOR SHIMIZU, ‘Goofy’, 2014
Oil on canvas, 64 x 70 in.
courtesy of Holly Fogle and Jeff Lieberman.

if GOOFY could take a SELFIE . . this would be it – !!
TREVOR SHIMIZU nails . . SELFIE, CARTOON ART & POLITICAL COMMENT – all in one, with finesse, along with freedom of gesture re the traditional canvas painting/rendering. a great wash of lines.

and the last word goes to . . ANNETTE KELM: disarm – !!

ANNETTE KELM, ‘Institut fur Zeitgeschichte-Archiv, Bestand Hannelore Mabry / Bayerisches Archiv der Frauenbewegung, Signatur ED 900, Box 532, Korperuberhang: “Keine Mark, Kein Dollar, kein Rubel fur Waffen!” / “Frauen, Mutter, Feministen fur Entwaffnung aller Lander!”, Body overhang: “No mark, not dollars, not rubles for weapons!” / “Wives, mothers, feminists for disarmament of all countries!”, 2014.
C-print diptych, 34.75 x 31.75 (sic) each, edition 2/6, with 2 AP
courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, NY.

political comment, craft, textiles, skills, function, bare-faced hand-scribbled fonts, in a word: hand-lettered small batch – artisan output. it’s all about . . the word.
in the beginning was .. the word.

from a woman . . to the world of dumb-ass dudes bringing us down:
“Wives, mothers, feminists for disarmament of all countries!”

or WARNING, the EPIC FAIL . . button is lighting up.
Looking back . . at total annihilation is all that will be left.

which, takes us full circle back to that man-artist with a JE SUIS FEMME, woman’s soul – PETER FEND.
(no disrespect – welcome to the sane)



SOS / SAVE YOUR SOIL / USE YOUR HANDS, not just your head / or at least USE your head !!