Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Florida

I recently took a nine-day trip to Florida. While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit numerous galleries, tour a house museum, and dine with some fascinating people. The first stop on my itinerary was the Keys. In Islamorada, I meet up with David Denick, a family friend and artist. David is an avid fisherman, who utilizes the Japanese Gyotaku process to immortalize his catches. Dating from the mid- 19th century, Gyotaku prints are made by inking or painting the fish, placing a piece of paper over the fish, and then rubbing the paper to transfer the fish’s image to the paper. Traditionally, Gyotaku was done with sumi ink; however, David uses water colors to bring his prints to life. David kindly took me on a bike tour of the galleries (and beaches) on the island. Galleries visited included the Matecumbe Studio Gallery, the Bluewater Potters, and the Redbone Gallery. Just south of Miami, I visted Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. American businessman James Deering built the European-inspired main house from 1914-1916 and ultimately created a 180-acre estate that included gardens and farm. Upon walking onto the estate, I felt transported back to Venice, as the house opens up to views of waterways. Also, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Vizcaya and Winterthur – both are large estates with farms that were created by eccentric collectors and ultimately turned into museums. From a conservation standpoint, Vizcaya must be a nightmare to maintain, as it is so close to the ocean (with its salty breezes) and in a hurricane zone. Fortunately, the originally open central courtyard now has a glass roof. I was happy to see conservators working on the outdoor statuary as I roamed the gardens. My Florida adventure ended with a stay at the home of my friends in Palm Beach. While I was working with Wilson Conservation (before graduate school), I had washed and waxed a number of sculptures in Palm Beach. It was such a different experience being an invited guest, as opposed to an employee. As we took a boat ride around the island, I pointed out many of the sculptures that I had worked on and explained why one should have his or her bronze sculptures waxed on a regular schedule and not keep them directly next to the waterfront. (The salt from the sea is very corrosive.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cindy Sherman at MoMA

I attended the opening of Cindy Sherman’s retrospective at MoMA. I was surprised that this was Sherman’s first retrospective at MoMA, as she has been a major fixture in the art world for over thirty years. In the creation of her images, Sherman plays the role of photographer, model, makeup artist, and prop-maker. The 170 photographs that comprise the exhibition highlight Sherman’s chameleon-like ability to transform herself into different characters, ranging from an aging socialite to a disturbing clown. Though I did not spot Sherman at the opening, I did see Chuck Close!

Katie Zazenski at Gallery Bar

My good friend Katie Zazenski is currently featured in a group show titled We Feel Like **** at Gallery Bar on the Lower East Side. Gallery Bar is a gallery by day that features both emerging and established artists. At night, the space transitions into a bi-level cocktail lounge. The group show focused on “acknowledging the bad days and the accompanying emotions.” I went to the opening of the show and enjoyed seeing how differently the artist addressed the theme.

Katie prepared the following statement about her work:

Geometry of Thought: Visualizing Binaries

This work explores the complexity and the possibility that exists within words. It explores the dynamics of emotion touches on the relationships that allow us to define, categorize, and relate abstract notions. It is about exploring a new visual system for words and creating the opportunity to re-see and experience these symbols in new ways to highlight their inherent fragility and mutability. This work is part of a greater investigation into the conscious and subconscious influences on our thoughts and movements, inspired and affirmed through cultural and societal norms, embodied within language and communication.
To create these forms I developed a list of human emotions and character traits then paired them with their opposing forces. The pairs were then plotted on a traditional x-y graphing system. The letters of the alphabet replace number values on the x and y-axis and are arranged both in traditional order along one axis and then according to frequency of usage on the other. Frequency was calculated from the list of words used in this series. The words are then plotted one letter at a time and are connected by a line in the order that they assume to form the word. The word pairings are plotted together and then this shape is mirrored to create the final drawing.
Through my work I explore the duality of the vital yet completely arbitrary nature of the systems present in our daily lives. Applying new parameters to existing histories I investigate the fragility and mutability in notions that appear staid. I am interested in how culture influences the way we physically and psychologically maneuver through the world, and through employing various methods of making I explore the roles that culture, tradition, and ethos play in the way we communicate and interpret relationships.

For images of Katie’s work, I encourage you to click the following link: http://www.kathrynzazenski.com/