Incarnations of Belphegor, 2015, collage, 10 x 12 in.
Developers have set their sights on the South Bronx, seeing it as the “next” neighborhood, an artsy enclave ripe for the taking. Their vicious cycle of urban colonization rejects truth in order to create a myth that will sell luxury condos to transplants while displacing a community that has been long neglected.
South Bronx native and multi-disciplinary artist Shellyne Rodriguez’s Incarnations of Belphegor illuminates this myth created by the gentrifying forces. Belphegor, seen in Rodriguez’s collage as a seven headed horned beast (resembling a leopard), is one of the seven princes of hell. His Modus Operandi is to seduce people by suggesting to them “ingenious inventions” that will make them rich. A critical analysis of predatory gestures drives the visual narrative in Shellyne’s work. The demon Rodriguez envisions has been summoned onto an empty plot of land within the neighborhood, which is ripe for the taking by prospective developers who will then push out longtime residents in order to lure their new mega rich patrons.
– While many artists eschew the suggestion that their presence in a neighborhood spurs gentrification, Lucian Smith isn’t helping that discourse. The young painter was recently was the host of a controversial party in the South Bronx, a neighborhood on the cusp of displacing long-time residents in favor of bougie high-rise condos akin to almost everywhere else in the city. The party’s theme of was a huge affront to the neighborhood . via Artinfo
– Speaking of gentrification and the arts, Art F City’s Paddy Johnson reports that artists are not happy with the “Real Estate Summit” that’s being planned at the Brooklyn Museum. She is among the many artists and cultural people that are petitioning the museum to reconsider their efforts to support continuing real estate developments throughout the neighborhood that are making Brooklyn unaffordable for the long time residents and communities that have given Brooklyn its true culture. Without these vibrant communities, Brooklyn will just be another generic city of the rich much like Manhattan has become. via Art F City
– Then again, maybe living in New York shouldn’t always seem like a major factor for artists. Lauren Palmer gives us some examples of why young budding artists should reconsider the Big Apple. She also suggests the most affordable schools in New York, for those of you who can’t fathom the thought of being elsewhere. via artnet
– Why limit yourself to one place anyways? Alec Soth’s Winnebego Workshop is putting art education on wheels. The often nomadic photographer will embark on a road trip in a repurposed RV, which will act as a classroom for students to learn from a variety of professional artists that Soth meets along the way. via Hyperallergic
– I really love Erasing the Border, a public art project by Ana Teresa Fernández and a group of volunteers. Fernández and volunteers from the U.S and Mexico got together along the Mexican side of the border fence in Nogales, to collectively paint it in a similar color as the sky. By doing so they’re imagining a “borderless society.” The artist and company plan to do more of these actions along the border in different locations. Fernández also has her sights on the US side and is hopeful that she can bring the project to Texas someday. via Hyperallergic
– No Longer Empty has been bringing significant exhibitions to abandoned or neglected public space throughout the city. The themes of the exhibitions are usually socially engaged and take on issues of poverty, inequality, and gentrification. Their latest exhibition, “When You Cut into the Present, the Future Leaks Out,” will be on display in the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse at 878 Brook Ave. from April 23 until July 19. The large scale exhibition in the South Bronx is bringing the debate on gentrification to the forefront. via DNAinfo
– A Blade of Grass has announced their 2015 Fellows for Socially Engaged Art. The artists include: Sol Aramendi, Adaku Utah, Kerry Richardson and Steven Ciampaglia, Nigel Poor, Laura Chipley, Mary Mattingly, Suzanne Lacy, and Dread Scott. via A Blade of Grass
– Strikes are continuing at The National Gallery in London because the museum is planning to outsource jobs, which would affect over 400 current employees. via The Art Newspaper
– One artist is taking to the streets to protest Google’s access to information in the digital age. via artnet
– Corinna Kirsch reviews the 2015 Open Engagement conference. via Art F City
– There is a petition going on for all gender bathrooms to be put into place at major NYC museums. via Change.org
– Take the quiz by Carolina A. Miranda “Coachella or Art Basel?” via LA Times
Jason A Maas, “Mounted Patrol,” 2011, Charcoal on paper, 38″ x 30″
– In the light of the dark events surrounding the recent wave of police brutality, Smack Mellon, a non-profit art space in Brooklyn, held an open call in what they describe as a means to “channel our outrage into actions that can facilitate systemic change.” Check out socially engaged work by Jason A. Maas, Nona Faustine, Hank Willis Thomas, Elliot Brown, Kurt Steger, Dread Scott, and many others in the group show Respond. via Hyperallergic
– “As the 2 train runs through neighborhoods of varying income, this musical data viz changes its tune and tempo.” Listen to this sound piece that expresses New York City’s income inequality. via City Lab
– “A silent war of stylized words is raging on the walls of rapidly changing Bushwick, only this time the culprits aren’t rival gangs but artists with dueling cultural agendas.” Through tagging popular local murals, one Bushwick artist wages war on gentrification. via Metro
– A public art installation by artist Andrea Polli called “Particle Falls” uses scientific data to create a virtual waterfall illuminating the threat of air pollution. The waterfall uses real-time air quality data and reflects the results by changing its colors. via UPR
– By dressing up as Captain America, it is this man’s goal to foster a national conversation about what it means to be American. Meet Captain America, with a Turban. via WNYC
– GIVING UP IS NOT AN OPTION: An interview with Dread Scott. via Africanah
– With many pressing and dire social issues to take on, two cities have made it their priority to quash free lending libraries. via LA Times
The artist and the developer have a very complex relationship. Often the artist relies on commerce either to provide them patrons for their art, or to fund ambitious public art projects. The latter was the case in Kara Walker’s renowned installation at the now demolished Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The project met with some critique for choosing Domino, which is a site with a dubious history of generating and propelling large scale gentrification and displacement in the former working class, industrial neighborhood. One name that stands out amongst the patronage is that a member of Creative Time’s board, Jed Walentas, is the driving force behind this massive condofication project that will turn the former sugar plant into a massive luxury condo neighborhood a la Battery Park City. Art critic Carol Diehl wrote: “One could also make an issue of the extensive advertising Walker is providing for another sponsor, Two Trees Management, owned by Creative Time board member Jed Walentas, who worked for Trump before taking over his father’s real estate business, and will have 1700 luxury apartments to sell in his massive waterfront development on the site (as well as 700 affordable units, the number bumped up under pressure from Mayor de Blasio).” This weeks suggested reading takes a look at recent clashes between artists and developers.
– “Of the mainstream curators and critics Judith E. Stein has been among the few to deal with issues of the emergence of the figure in the 1950s. The niche between the dominance of Abstract Expressionism and its replacement by Pop Art is the movement of Figurative Expressionism.” Charles Giuliano interviews Art Historian and Curator Judith Stein about her past projects on Figurative Expressionism, as well as her upcoming book (Eye of the Sixties, A Biography of Richard Bellamy which will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux early in 2016) on Richard Bellamy (1927–1998), a seminal gallerist (founder of the Green Gallery from 1960 and 1965 at 15 West 57th Street in Manhattan) who introduced many important artists onto the scene in the 1960s. via Berkshire Fine Arts
– New York City has just launched their Municipal ID Card Program. The program is intended to help those who are undocumented immigrants, homeless, among others. One of the many perks is that those who sign up for New York City’s Municpal ID Card Program IDNYC get free memberships to 33 cultural institutions. via New York Times
Well folks, 2015 is just days away. But of course, there is still a lot to see before then in the art world. The holidays are always a nice time to take in some museum exhibitions that were lingering on my list. This year was memorable for monumental public art exhibitions, climate marches, and social protest. There were some great moments and some very low points across the nation. Here is the final suggested reading of 2014 (and to hoping for more peace and understanding going forward):