“Hey, look at those upside down trees!” I shouted to my friends as we approached the entrance to Mass MoCA, the coolest contemporary art museum in the Universe. The trees turned out to be a work of art by Natalie Jeremijenko called Tree Logic (1999) in which six live trees are inverted and suspended from a truss made up of a metal armature, stainless steel planters, and telephone poles. In Tree Logic, the art of the piece is not found in its condition at any single point, but in the change of the trees over time.
Trees are dynamic natural systems, and Tree Logic reveals this dynamism. The familiar, almost iconic shape of the tree in nature is the result of the interplay between gravitropic and phototropic forces: the tree grows away from the earth and towards the sun. When inverted, the six trees in this experiment still grow away from the earth and towards the sun — so the natural predisposition of trees might well produce the most unnatural shapes over time, raising questions about what the nature of the natural is. I would love to be able to observe the trees as their foliage changes with seasons.
A docent the museum told me that the trees are replaced and replanted in adjacent green areas every four to five years due to their tendency to “grow upwards.”
Mass MoCa is Located at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in North Adams, MA 01247
John Clement, Fireflies, Painted Steel (All Photos By Gail)
De Buck Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition by New York-based sculptor John Clement, entitled Fireflies. Clement’s artistic language, which entails a spirited geometry of curving forms and gaping voids, embodies an evolving interest in capturing and interacting with both viewers and the environment which has been a cornerstone of the artist’s work since the 1990s.
For Fireflies, Clement has created a large-scale site-specific installation for De Buck Gallery, bringing what would typically be an outdoor, public work into the white cube of the gallery space. Juxtaposed with small and medium scale sculptures, the exhibition provides a compelling overview of the transformation of Clement’s vocabulary through size, scale, color and shape.
Installed together, the effortless and endless variation of curves and negative space on multiple planes seen throughout Clement’s works implore further exploration on the part of the viewer. In the artist’s hands, the thick tubes of steel with which he works seem weightless and even mobile, molding the perception of the surrounding space.
See a slideshow of John Clement’s related painted steel sculptures at This Link.
Tailpipe and Oscar
John Clement’s Fireflies will be on Exhibit Through July 25th, 2014 at De Buck Gallery, Located at 545 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Surfboards and Boogie Boards By Barry McGee (All Photos By Gail)
Cheim & Read is currently hosting an exhibition of new work by Barry McGee, which is the McGee’s first solo show with the gallery and his first show in New York in eight years. McGee is arguably among the most well-known and influential artists from the San Francisco Bay Area to have international success. His boldly graphic, colorful work incorporates a multitude of influences (including graffiti, American folk art and Op Art), but especially the urban street culture he knows well.
Translating the city’s unique vernacular into artistic imagery, McGee celebrates the diversity, distinctive characters and neighborhood communities of the inner-city. His work critiques consumerist culture and the constant backdrop of commercialism in everyday interactions; rejecting the billboard and chain store, McGee instead finds inspiration in the seeming randomness of graffiti, the endless uploading of images on the internet, and the creative styling of misfits. McGee’s work succeeds in its sensitive balance between anarchy and collaboration, resulting in environments which immerse the viewer in his singular, yet inclusive, vision.
The multi-image, whimsical commercial style of his work reminded me every much of artworks by Jim Houser and also Rebus Puzzle artist Stephen Powers.
Potato King Detail from Larger Painting
Directly involved with the installations of his shows, McGee organizes his multi-layered compositions on-site. For the Cheim & Read exhibition, assembled clusters of framed drawings and hand-painted wood panels accompany loose stacks of embellished surfboards, fetish-like wooden objects and specially-made furniture.
Drawings, paintings and sculptures are treated equally; echoing his anti-establishment sensibility, McGee refuses hierarchies of material or subject matter. His recent work is comprised of flat-surfaced, brightly-colored geometric motifs, serial images and caricatures of cartoon-like characters, and recurring monikers, like the pseudonym “L. Fong,” and the acronyms “THR” (The Human Race or The Harsh Reality) and “DFW” (Down for Whatever).
Click on Image to Enlarge for Detail
Interspersed among the abstract panels (which sometimes expand along bulbous walls and around corners en masse), the images and words provide an enigmatic but individualized narrative in an otherwise vibrating, tile-like field of intense pattern.
Visually stimulating, perceptive, and seeming to channel the various rhythmic beats of urban culture, McGee’s work addresses issues of identity, mark-making, authorship and autonomy within the bustling, constantly changing tableau of city life.
This is one of my favorite new exhibits of the season. Don’t miss it!
Barry McGee will be on Exhibit through October 26th, 2013 at Cheim & Read, located at 547 West 25th Street, NYC, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Aten Reign at the Guggenheim (Stealth Photos By Gail)
Any Blogger who’s ever tried to photograph an exhibit at The Guggenheim will tell you it’s no easy task: what with their strict “No Photography” rules coupled with the numerous Art Nazis (aka guards) strategically placed throughout the galleries. And that just blows; because, to me, if you can’t photograph the art, it’s like it never existed. That’s why I only managed to capture a few good shots of James Turrel’s epic light installation, Aten Reign, as it transformed the Guggenheim’s Rotunda from various shades of purple to numerous hues of blue on its way through the entire color spectrum. But these few photos probably serve as a sufficient teaser, because this is one of those exhibits that you have to experience in person to really “get.”
For Aten Reign, the entire rotunda has been re-imagined to serve as a canvas for this intensely site-specific work of art. All open space between the rotunda and the museum’s spiraling ramps has been sealed off with white scrim, which reflects the colored lights and creates a meditative, open-sky effect. Visitors can best experience Aten Reign either by sitting on provided seating along the walls of the rotunda’s ground floor, or actually laying flat in the center of the floor on provided mats — though this space seemed to be in fairly high-demand, and was not prone to frequent vacancies.
There are a few other, minimalist exhibits of Turrel’s light work along the ramps and in a few of the upper galleries, but trust me, Aten Reign is the money shot, so spend as much time as you can just enjoying it. Find out more about the exhibit and see a video of how they put this thing together at Guggenheim Dot Org.
James Turrell At The Guggenheim (5th Avenue at 90th Street in NYC) Runs Only Through September 25, 2013, so don’t wait too long before planning your trip!