Art January 31, 2011 By Jennifer Pappas

ks title Kenny Scharffiller29 Kenny Scharf
Last summer, making my way to the entrance of the Laguna Art Museum’s widely popular Art Shack opening, I had to elbow my way past a clump of people standing in line for a taco truck parked at the curb. Past the hungry hipsters, I encountered a second, more excitable line waiting their turn to get into a Pace Arrow motor home, also parked at the curb. I paused for a moment, trying to assimilate the conveyance in front of me with the horde of flashy, Orange County art fans crowding the sidewalks. The RV was nondescript except for a couple of perky looking neon pink faces swooshed on its side. Only when the door swung open was I able to catch a glimpse of its DayGlo interior and psychedelic embellishments, shag carpets and random commodities, all painted and glowing under black lights. The door clicked shut again. I immediately got in line. This acid trip of a trailer was my not-so-subtle introduction to the work of Kenny Scharf.

     Only later did I realize that the man behind “Space Arrow” helped pave the way for 1980s street art, rounded out the New York, Basquiat-Haring pop-art trifecta, and has exhibited his work across the country (and world) since 1981. All the while carving himself a nice little niche almost entirely out of playful and fantastic, yet somehow deviant imagery.

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Art, Fashion, Greenspace January 27, 2011 By Jordan Sayle

title36 Ted Sabrese
There are some with a taste for fashion. And then there is photographer Ted Sabarese. In his world, loafs of challah serve as shoulder pads, artichoke leaves can be assembled into evening gowns, and ravioli is best worn with brown loafers. Shot in early 2009, Sabarese’s “Hunger Pains” series predates Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress, but it may be thanks in part to the pop star’s awards show attire that these flavorful images have found a second life online. Its outfits may seem a bit unusual, but imagine having to explain a fur coat or a leather jacket to someone unfamiliar with either of them.
     Given his experience in advertising, including campaigns for Verizon Wireless, IKEA, and Halls Cough Drops, it makes perfect sense that the photographer is drawn to character-driven portraits best appreciated as components in a portfolio. As in advertising, there are signals to be found just about everywhere in his pictures. PLANET recently spoke to Sabarese about food, fashion, and the controversy that results from mixing the two.

Looking at some of the edible clothing that you’ve assembled, it’s amazing how much it tends to resemble the textured fabrics and layered articles that people might actually wear.
Obviously when you look at the images, you do know that it’s food. But the hope is that maybe for a nanosecond, you look at it and say, ‘Oh, that’s beautiful,’ especially the artichoke dress, which I think is a beautiful couture dress. There’s the waffle pants guy, and his banana shirt was kind of argyled. And the man wearing the pasta – it was supposed to be like a woven sweater.

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Art, Book January 26, 2011 By Rachel A Maggart

title37 Doppelgänger
Splice, cut, burn, sharpen, dismember, Doppelgänger: Images of the Human Being, a new book from Gestalten, asks the question: just how do we mask or reveal our inner selves? Exploring current trends in physical abstraction, each of its seven chapters — Embody, Dissolve, Appeal, Reshape, Perform, Deform, and Escape — signifies a different approach to the technical manipulation we exact on our corporeal façades. Invoking Dada, Surrealism, high fashion, and industrial design aesthetics, Doppelgänger taps into our creative potential and art’s transformative agency (certainly apropos classical conventions). A host of contemporary artists show how digital media has shattered allegiances to da Vinci’s ideal proportions and equipped us with truly radical modes of expression, erasing or positing archetypes we never imagined.
     Highly stylized, Doppelgänger: Images of the Human Being is nevertheless earnest in conveying ironies inextricable to the human experience. We are chameleon creatures, ever morphing and reaching deep into ancient folklore to find our “true” identities. As Phyllis Galembo depicts natives in ritual (Ngar Ball Traditional Masquerade Dance, Cross River, Nigeria, 2004), other artists frame humans in the phantasmagorical and slightly grotesque (e.g. Madame Peripeti’s Pughatory series).

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Art January 25, 2011 By Jennifer Pappas

Ed Ruscha La Brea, Sunset, Orange, De Longpre, 1999 (Click to enlarge)

Ed Ruscha La Brea, Sunset, Orange, De Longpre, 1999 (Click to enlarge)

ed title Ed Ruscha
The lure of the open road is a wily temptress. From Jack Kerouac to Bruce Chatwin to The Motorcycle Diaries, there’s something about life on the road that speaks almost prophetically to the solitary tempers of creative men. Ed Ruscha, one of the most recognizable and profuse artists of our time, is no exception. This week, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth opens Ed Ruscha: Road Tested, a 75-piece personal compendium of the artist’s life (and work) in transit. Conceived by the Modern’s head curator, Michael Auping, the show spans Ruscha’s entire career and every medium as he speeds through no-name towns, past building facades, service stations, signage and all the other random objects that make up the mundane, yet mythical thoroughfares of any American city — creating as he drove, what would eventually become some of the most iconic images of the 20th century.

     Auping, who first met Ruscha as a grad student in the early 70s, was kind enough to share his thoughts on why this show is unlike any other Ruscha retrospective you’ve ever seen.

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Art, Fashion January 24, 2011 By Lizzi Reid

dbs title David Benjamin Sherry
In an age in which Photoshop dominates the photography landscape, it is a relief to have David Benjamin Sherry to bring some of the magic back to analog photography. Sherry’s vividly colored autobiographic photos chronicle a range of personal topics and an even broader and bolder range of sexual fantasies. “If I am romantic of the past for one thing, it would have to be the handwork, feel, emotional content, labor-intensive and traditional printing of photography.” says Sherry. Certainly there is a care and devotion to his process which serves to strengthen the magic of his picture making.
      Sherry received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in and his MFA from Yale and has established himself in New York’s downtown art scene along side the likes of Benjamin Cho, Ryan McGinley, and David LaChapelle, whom he interned for as a teen. Making darkroom pictures in a digital age, Sherry certainly seems to be channeling his Woodstock roots with his blend of fantasy and fashion. Work from his trip around Pacific Northwest radiates with a trippiness similar to aura fields. His work appears strikingly genuine, lacking in irony and contrariness that has become commonplace in contemporary art. Instead, Sherry sticks to the truth, hoping that people will sense in the images the strength of their creator. Indeed, David Benjamin Sherry’s work speaks for itself.

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Art January 20, 2011 By Jennifer Pappas

 The Accident 2010 Embroidery and acrylic on found portrait

The Accident 2010 Embroidery and acrylic on found portrait

title34 Julie Cockburn
I’ll be honest with you: I’m a sucker for nostalgia in all her shapes and forms. I like cassette tapes and old school label makers. I inhale the pages of dusty books, seek out old family photographs taken in bad lighting, and collect cheesy handwritten postcards from back when postage stamps still had to be licked. Hence, Julie Cockburn — a British artist specializing in altered portraits using found photography, images, and paintings has struck a very deep chord in me. Laying plastic game parts, embroidery, collage and oil paint over each found item, Cockburn’s work confounds typical assemblage. Many of her re-imagined portraits resemble the facets of a gem, or crude impasto finger-paintings rather than actual people. Taking great freedom with each article she finds, Cockburn’s abstract manipulations brand her subjects with new identities and distorted histories — skewing their place in the world while simultaneously rescuing them from the trash bins of obscurity. There’s a playful, yet twisted quality to each fractured subject, caught somewhere between absurdity, forgotten memories and diluted grandeur. Altogether nostalgic and forlorn, Cockburn is also adept at using childhood drawings and kindergarten craft materials like popsicle sticks, stickers, beads, and thread to stirring effect.
      Chosen as a selected artist for Britain’s 2010 Marmite Prize for Painting, Julie Cockburn’s work will be shown as part of their traveling exhibition, ending in May. Two solo shows, both in London — at Matt Roberts Arts and John Jones Project Space are scheduled for later this year.

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Art, Events January 19, 2011 By Sarah Coleman

Woodmans The Woodmans
Photographer Diane Arbus once said that a photograph is “a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.” Those words resonate powerfully in the work of Francesca Woodman, whose photographs from the 1970s and 80s are simultaneously mysterious, frank, playful, surreal, delicate and raw.
     The daughter of two successful and accomplished artists, Woodman reached artistic maturity at an extremely young age. At thirteen, she was already making striking self-portraits; by the time she was seventeen, she was shooting haunting, intense images that were uniquely hers. Abandoned houses were her favorite place to work, but she also shot in forests and on beaches, where she placed female figures (often herself) communing with the environment in original, provocative ways. Sometimes, a surreal element creeps in: masks and mirrors hide faces, bodies are obscured by birch bark and peeling wallpaper. Woodman’s frank sexuality and daring enhances her perfectly-balanced compositions. Each image becomes its own little mystery.
     Unfortunately, Woodman’s early work turned out to be her only work. In 1981, aged twenty-two and suffering from depression, she jumped to her death from a window in Greenwich Village. Like Diane Arbus, who also committed suicide, Woodman has become something of a mythic figure: the tortured girl genius whose talent couldn’t save her.

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Music January 18, 2011 By Timothy Gunatilaka

Ba Da Bing!

Ba Da Bing

Sharon title Sharon Van Etten: Epic
Having none other than Kyp Malone as a “mentor” as well as plans to put out an album with Aaron Dessner of the National, it would be easy to discuss Sharon Van Etten preponderantly in terms of her famous (by indie-rock standards) friends. But with the Brooklyn folk songstress having just hit the Bowery Ballroom, where she was joined by another notable ally, the Antlers’ Peter Silberman, Van Etten’s time to shine under the spotlight has arrived. The Bowery show kicked off her first headlining tour across the nation, in support of her second album, Epic, which was released late last year and marked one of our favorite records of 2010. Largely unadorned with nothing more than some guitar strums and piano plunks, Van Etten’s singing marks the doubtless focal point of Epic. Even the pedal-steel-guitar twangs on “Save Yourself” and the atmospheric noise swirling in the background of “Don’t Do It” — as alternately delightful and haunting as they are — cannot compete with the aching yet assured voice that permeates this sadly brief seven-song set.
filler29 Sharon Van Etten: Epic

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Art, Events January 17, 2011 By Jordan Sayle

(Click to enlarge) Burnt wood and lead on wood panels. 243.8 x 313.7 cm. (96 x 123 1/2 in.) Museum purchase, Kathleen Compton Sherrerd Fund for Acquisitions in American Art, and Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund. Photo: Bruce M. White.

(Click to enlarge) Burnt wood and lead on wood panels. 96 x 123 1/2 in. Photo: Bruce M. White.

title35 Nobodys Property
With the recent rise in tensions along the disputed border between North and South Korea, as well as the ongoing debate over Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, the complexities of geopolitics have been front and center. So it’s as fitting a time as any to examine the work of artists concentrating on land and space, and the intersection of these elements with human lives. There is in fact an exhibition currently showing at the Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, NJ that brings conflicts from across the globe off the front page and into the gallery, showcasing some of the most notable land art from the past decade in the process.
      Each of the nine projects assembled for “Nobody’s Property” (open through February 20, 2011) highlights land issues in specific sites. Nature and natural resources are key to the exhibit, but the show isn’t precisely about art and ecology. Whereas past movements in art have treated nature as an entity of its own, curator Kelly Baum explains that “when the artists in this exhibition see land and space, they don’t see dirt and rocks as much as they see human beings and human relationships manifested in the way we use and abuse land.”

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Architecture, Art, Book January 13, 2011 By Nalina Moses

BB title Building Brasilia
The fiftieth anniversary celebrations for the capital city of Brasilia in 2010 were an occasion for many to comment on its operational and design deficiencies, as well as those of the Brazilian government itself. In an earlier piece about the anniversary we noted how demographic shifts have challenged the city’s original master plan. These sorts of discussions, while necessary, tend to obscure the city’s ambitious, Utopian origins. Brasilia’s designers, urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer, had shaped it to embody the most progressive political, social, and aesthetic concepts. A new book of photographs by Marcel Gautherot, “Building Brasilia,” that documents the city’s construction and early years, evokes these ideals with great power.
     Gautherot was a Paris-born photographer who trained as an architect and worked as an ethnographic photographer in the 1930’s, traveling within Mexico and Brazil to document traditional cultures. After serving in the French army in Senegal during World War II, he returned to Brazil and began a photography practice. There he crossed paths with Niemeyer, who would begin working with Costa on plans for the new city in 1956. At Niemeyer’s encouraging, Gautherot visited Brasilia repeatedly as it was under construction from 1957 to 1960, and then again several times in the 1970’s. While the bulk of his photographic oeuvre is comprised of ethnographic work, Gautherot’s photographs of Brasilia offer a thorough, cohesive portrait of the new city.

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