Raymond Pettibon: Visual Vehemence

rpettibon_1

After Donald Trump was elected as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, several cultural commentators and contemporary artists mentioned the importance of art as a form of resistance. In fact, art has always had the means to provide a powerful rebuttal to the corruption of culture, and Political art has continuously existed within the aesthetic discourse of art. For example, we can observe artists similarly protesting issues like police brutality in Thomas Nast’s 1874 wood-engraving Jewels Among Swine, which depicts the police as swine with batons, engaging affably with gangsters, while arresting female activists protesting against the lack of enforcement against crime; Spain Rodriguez’s 1969 comic strip Manning, a film noir inspired narrative of a crooked detective who takes little issue with using his authority to lie, cheat, steal, and brutalize innocent civilians; and more recently, Dread Scott’s installation A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday (2015), a stark re-appropriation of the NAACP’s banner (which read A Man Was Lynched Yesterday) that was hung from their New York City office during the 1920s. Dread Scott, a self proclaimed revolutionary artist, made the piece in response to the epidemic of black men across the nation being killed in cold blood by police officers.

As a young man venturing out into the (real) world during the George W. Bush years, art, music, and politics became the backbone of my grappling with the human condition in the midst of what I interpreted to be a grave point in the history of Western Civilization. Punk rock music and the revolutionary, anti-establishment charged imagery of underground comix, would have a lasting impression on myself and a generation of contemporary artists, writers, and musicians. It was during this time that I first came across the work of Raymond Pettibon, a major forerunner of today’s counter-cultural scene. He began his career drawing album art and posters for California’s Hardcore Punk rock scene in the 1980s. His most iconic work during this period is the art and the logo for the highly influential band Black Flag (Pettibon’s older brother Greg Ginn was a founding member). Pettibon’s current exhibition, “A Pen of All Work”, at the New Museum on New York City’s Lower East Side is a breath of fresh air in the midst of today’s foul political and social climate.

Continue reading

Nor Any Drop to Drink

nor_any_drop_to_drink_instagram

I am pleased to announce the opening of an exhibition I am curating at El Taller Latino Americano’s Grady Alexis Gallery (215 East 99th Street, NYC).

Nor any drop to drink.

January 6 thru February 3, 2017.
Opening Reception: January 6th from 6 to 8pm.

Curated by Adam Zucker

Participating artists:

Vanessa Albury, Jacinto Astiazarán, Alli Miller, Jay Milder, Rifka Milder, Emilia Olsen, Michael Sheng

While the majority of our planet is made up of water, our water sources themselves are in danger of becoming scarce. In fact, freshwater makes up only 2.5% of the total volume of the world’s water sources. Therefore, it is not surprising that the issue of water has continuously contributed to the rise of many major issues facing humanity.  Many of the poignant conditions that make for water’s scarcity are the effects of water run-off due to fracking, the pollution of water sources, and water rights abuses surrounding making clean water available to all communities.

In the light of the nationwide socially engaged actions in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the themes in Nor any drop to drink are both timely and timeless. The artists in this exhibition represent several unique perspectives on water and its life altering effects. Through the use of both traditional and non-traditional materials, the resulting work is diverse in its aesthetic and conceptual interpretations of water.

Jacinto Astiazarán’s Crash zoom, stay awhile (2015) is poignant symbolism for the violent separation between water and oil, which is a result of the offshore drilling in Long Beach, California. Emilia Olsen’s paintings of bleached coral are at once whimsical and serious. They offer a glimpse of the future where global warming has prevailed and entire ecosystems are altered forever.

Jay Milder’s mystical paintings of the kabbalistic interpretation of Noah’s Ark, symbolize the ‘unblotting’ of the Rainbow, which was covered up by human transgression. The brilliant colors depict the rainbow after the flood, which was the covenant between G-d and humanity. Pollution of the natural and spiritual world is also the basis for Michael Sheng’s The Source of Life (1 and 2). The juxtaposition of the two paintings employ the body as metaphor show Mother Nature’s plight against humankind.

Vanessa Albury’s intimate photographs take melting glacial ice-caps in the Arctic Circle as subject. The ephemeral essence of these glaciers are memorialized in time through the photographic process. Alli Miller seeks to make the Great Pacific Garbage Patch a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Her practice involves the making of ‘trash floats’ wherein recycled constructs of post-consumer waste are in an allusive dialog with ocean gyres.

Rifka Milder’s abstract paintings are inspired by the nature of her Manhattan environment. Taking the time to appreciate the subtleties of form and the emotion and energy experienced from her reflections of the world around her. Often times we forget to notice the natural traces of the city, which Milder sublimely hones in on.

In addition to the exhibition, a printmaking and letter writing workshop, open to all ages, will take place on a date to be determined during the run of the show. The workshop will employ graphic techniques that explore each individual’s unique perspective about water. The results will be unique postcards that will be sent to our local representatives. Individuals will personalize their letters to ask their elected officials to support and protect our environment and our rights to clean water.

 

 

No Fear. Yes Art

This editorial was originally published in alt break art fair‘s Responses to Community Building (2016) publication. It has been edited slightly. To read the publication at large click here: alt_break_responses_to_community_building

Life can be boiled down to two key components: fear and love. After the results of arguably the most polarizing election in our nation’s history, many individuals are expressing either one or the other. Shock turned to mourning, then to anger, and now we must turn our emotions into a unified response. It is as important now as ever that love reigns supreme over fear. We should be emboldened by acts of kindness and compassion and rise above hateful actions and discourse so that the hard fought freedoms so many gave their heart, soul, and bodies for is never in vain.

As artists we have a job to do. Throughout history, the arts have been a means to confront and take on difficult issues. Artists have resoundingly responded to devastating wars, fascist regimes, and social injustices. Participating in the arts allows us to communicate our experiences repletely and expressively. We are active participants in shaping the cultural landscape and therefore we need to come out from our studios into the community. We should learn from others, hear their experiences, and help them to tell their story. Now is not a time for self-righteousness or ego, as artists we can facilitate the kind of change that civilization needs.

The day after the election I revisited and was moved again by the words of Toni Morrison who wrote  a poignant essay about why the arts are necessary, especially when despair seems to outweigh hope:

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.”

We will survive this period and many other moments when the situation seems bleak. The best we can do is to embrace uncertainty and not give in to the fear. Don’t fear failure, because we are all flawed, however, we can challenge the conditions of humanity and push the limits of our creativity to un-chartered territories. My colleagues (Audra Lambert, Kimi Kitada) and I started the alt break art fair because we saw artists as great advocates for change. Through partnering with non-profit organizations that work tirelessly to help those in need, we hope to raise both an awareness and participation in humanitarian efforts amongst the art community and the community at large.

As an artist, curator, and arts educator, I will do my part to impart hope, strength, and knowledge wherever I can. I hope to see you on the frontlines in our community.

Benny Andrews’ Bicentennial Human

bennyandrews_circle

Benny Andrews, Circle, 1973, oil on twelve linen canvases with painted fabric and mixed media collage, 120 x 288 inches. Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery presents a seminal series of collages and drawings from Benny Andrews’ Bicentennial Series (1970-1976). The series’ six thematic groups that are the basis for this exhibition include the Symbol Series, Trash Series, Circle Series, Sexism Series, and Utopia Series. Within these themes, Andrews reflected on his experience as an African American in the post-civil rights era and during the two hundred year anniversary of the United States of America. At the time series was conceived, it was evident that African Americans had made innumerous significant cultural contributions both locally and nationally, yet their role in shaping American history had been vaguely reported and celebrated. Additionally, the national dialogue surrounding the celebratory attitude of the bicentennial seemed naive and dishonest in light of the social and economic conditions across the country.

Continue reading

June Leaf at Edward Thorp Gallery

Many words can be written about the work of American artist June Leaf. She has maintained a visionary style since emerging as a seminal contingent of post-WWII American artists committed to representational imagery through uniquely expressive means. It’s due time that she’s getting recognition on a grand scale with a major exhibition at The Whitney and a career survey at the Edward Thorp Gallery, where she is represented. Below is a visual essay of the current June Leaf exhibition at Edward Thorp Gallery. The show is on view through June 4, 2016.
Continue reading

Broken Grey Wires

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 2.09.03 PM.png

Lizz Brady. Installation view during alt_break art fair 2016 at The Fountain House Gallery. 

The result of the artist making art is the release of that work from the artist to the viewer. Art has the means to be cathartic by releasing the artist’s innermost thoughts and sharing them with the outside world. Once the artwork is released, it is the role of the viewer to make connections from the fragmented pieces that the artist released. Studies have suggested that there is viable evidence for a neurological relationship between visual creativity and language.

Lizz Brady, an artist based in the United Kingdom explores various themes relating to mental health and mindfulness, which yearn to harmonize the expressive and psychological artistic process with the subjective experience of the viewer.

Brady is the founder of Broken Grey Wires (BGW), an art collective that seeks to create a comfortable and welcoming space for creative minds to engage in topics that concern mental health and psychology. Below Lizz Brady and I discuss the benefits of art within the areas of psychology and mental health.

Continue reading

Rhino Horn Artist Updates!

There’s quite a lot of exciting news involving past-Rhino Horn artists. Co-Founder Benny Andrews currently has work in a group show titled Hereat the Arts and Sciences Center for Southeast Arkansas. The show, which runs through October 15, 2016, presents a selection of art by African-American artists from the museum’s permanent collection.

june_leaf

June Leaf, Twin Volcanoes, 1951, Ink on paper, 8.5″ x 9″ Courtesy of Ed Thorp Gallery, New York.

June Leaf has two important upcoming retrospectives in New York City.  The first is Leaf’s major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which opens tomorrow, April 27th. The exhibition will focus mainly on her incredible large scale drawings. The second exhibition, organized by Edward Thorp Gallery will showcase works in a variety of mediums during her career from 1949 to most recently and will open on Thursday, April 28th. The exhibition will run concurrently with the Whitney show. June Leaf has been represented by Edward Thorp Gallery located in New York City since 1985.

Jennifer Samet recently spoke with June at her New York City studio and has published the inspiring conversation on Hyperallergic in a segment called “Beer with a Painter.

milder_13_2016

Jay Milder, # 13, 2016, Oil Stick on Rag Paper, 20″ X 26″, Courtesy of the artist and Quogue Gallery.

Rhino Horn Co-Founder, Jay Milder’s latest work will be on view at Quogue Gallery beginning May 12 and running through June 15, 2016. The exhibition titled Noah’s Ark: Many Views focuses on Milder’s recurring Kabbalistic interpretations of the covenant between G-d and humankind, envisioned through vivid works on paper and canvas that recall spray-can graffiti and embody a brilliant spectrum.