American People, Faith Ringgold’s first exhibition outside Harlem, opened at Spectrum Gallery on 57th Street in December 1967. The exhibition featured her three murals, including U.S. Postage Stamp Commemorating The Advent of Black Power (1967). Despite Ringgold’s determination to exhibit her paintings throughout the mid-1960s, she initially met with little success. The white-owned commercial galleries on 57th Street were dismissive, and Spiral, identified affectionately as the “old men of Black art“ by the painter Vivian Brown, declined to admit her into the group. But following public displays of her work in Harlem in 1966 — including in a traveling caravan exhibition organized by Amiri Baraka “(then LeRoi Jones) and Betty Blayton-Taylor for the Black Arts Repertory Theater — she was invited to join the cooperative Spectrum Gallery, where New York school abstraction was still prominent and every artist on the roster except Ringgold was white.
This past weekend, Geoffrey and I finally made it to Surround Audience, the Triennial at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibit fills nearly every floor of the museum and, as such, is a bit overwhelming with all of its fabulous, arty things to take in over just one visit. Rather than recap the entire show, I decided to write about a few of my favorite individual pieces, one of which is this aquarium-like sculpture creation called Distant Feel, by NYC-based French artist Antoine Carala.
Distant Feel (2015) features a new symbol for empathy — E3, or two Es facing each other — and a communication campaign for a message with no product except feeling. Recognizing how an inundation of the various causes that are blared on the news and on social-media feeds can inure us to the pain of others, or the urgency of issues and movements around the world, the artist set out to rebrand Empathy and devise and distribute a more effective expression of this feeling. The project was inspired by the genesis of the peace sign and conceived as a potential generational update.
There are no fish in this tank, but the organic sculpture closely resembles a coral reef, supporting an assortment of live plants in pastel shades of pink and violet. It’s really lovely and calming to look at. I don’t remember if this piece is on the second or third floor of the exhibit, but I am pretty sure it is adjacent to the gallery with NSA Teletubbies — which is a must-see..
Find out more about the Triennial, on through May 24th, 2015, at This Link
The Linda Benglis retrospective opened at the New Museum back in February, but I just got around to seeing it this past weekend. I’m so glad I can give everyone a head’s up in time to see this exhibit, because it is fantastic. This current exhibition is the artist’s first retrospective in twenty years – and the first one ever in New York. Works displayed span the range of Benglis’s career including her early wax paintings, her brightly colored poured latex works (the Fallen Paintings), the “Torsos” and “Knots” series from the 1970s, and her recent experiments with plastics, cast glass, paper, and gold leaf.
You’ll also get to see a number of rarely exhibited historic works including Phantom (above, 1971), a dramatic polyurethane installation consisting of five monumental sculptures that glow in the dark, and the installation Primary Structures (Paula’s Props), first shown in 1975 – all very, very cool.
One teeny word of warning that I’d like to put out there: although there were lots of kids visiting the museum with their parents, the exhibit also includes a collection of the artists “adult themed” photographs and erotic sculptures (read: dongs) which aren’t necessarily my thing, but whatever. Although Benglis’s sculptures are kid friendly, if I were a parent I’d be cautious about kids seeing what I’d call “Adults Only Material,” unless you really want to have that kind of conversation with your 10 year old. It’s easy enough to avoid that particular gallery, however. You’ll know which one it is when you enter it.
Linda Benglis is on Exhibit Through June 19, 2011, in the Lobby and Second floor Galleries of the New Museum, Located at 235 Bowery (Below Houston), New York, NY. Hours are Wednesday 11 AM – 6 PM, Thursday 11 AM – 9 PM, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11 AM – 6 PM