Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Art Teachers and Leaders of Art Groups Exhibition

The Art Teachers and Leaders of Art Groups Exhibition, sponsored by the Association
of Hawaii Artists will be at Pauahi Tower, Lobby Level, 1001 Bishop Street and runs
from August 10 through September 4. Gallery hours are M - F 7am - 6pm and Sat.
8am - 2pm. This is an artist's invitational event.

An Artist's Reception will be Monday, August 17, 5pm - 7pm
Info call 234-0585

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why I Can't See a Painting: The Semiotics of Jon and Kate Plus 8

[Editor's Note: I wrote this when the Jon & Kate brouhaha first broke, but never got around to finishing it. It's still not finished, but I'm running it just because I still think the issue (whether context is necessary to understand art, not Jon & Kate per se) is interesting and because perhaps the context of the article itself has changed from it was first written and, if so, what does that do to one's understanding of the article . . . or Jon & Kate?]

"The law of trainwrecks—hard to watch, harder not to watch—was in full effect during last night's Jon & Kate Plus 8." - Joal Ryan, Eonline, on Yahoo!

Just to be clear: I (that is, your Paint Rag editor) don't watch "Jon & Kate Plus 8," TLC's reality show about a couple (the eponymous Jon and Kate) with eight kids (fraternal twin girls and fraternal sextuplets, three girls, three boys). I do, however, have a fascination with the commentary about the scandal that surrounds the show. As Chandler Bing might say, ironically, "Could I be more post-modern??"

For those who don't know, allegations recently arose that Jon was having an affair, then allegations arose that Kate was having an affair (with one of the bodyguards on the show), then there were renewed questions about the welfare of the children on the show, including whether child labor laws are being violated. In short, the reality of the situation is that the attention and celebrity occasioned by their status as television stars has, in the usual course, morphed into a tabloid fascination with their foibles.

Against this backdrop, the season premiere was, shall we say, a trainwreck. There's plenty of general criticism and kibitzing out there, including speculation that TLC will make the "will they get divorced?" question part of a season long arc that will end in a cliffhanger finale. Like I say, perversely fascinating.

But the reason I bring this up is this quote by Time's TV Critic, James Poniewozik, in his blog entry: Jon & Kate Plus 8: This Would Be the 'For Worse' Part:"

"It's clear what Jon & Kate has become now: It's The Hills for old people. Like MTV's reality show, it's less a TV series than a media environment, where the broadcast itself is only the starting point. You need to follow the coverage in the tabs and on the gossip shows in order to get the full storyline and the context.

Watching the confessional interviews themselves last night—with all those publicist-managed phrases about "my choices" and "this situation"—would have been near-unintelligible to someone who hadn't followed any of the wider media coverage of the show."

This was interesting to me . . . does one now need to know the broader societal context in order to understand a television show?

The proposition sounded familiar to me and finally I placed it . . . Tom Wolfe's "The Painted Word." Wolfe's skewering of contemporary art (circa 1975) begins with him reading New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer's review of show called "Seven Realists" one Sunday. This passage catches his attention:

"Realism does not lack its partisans, but it does rather conspicuously lack a persuasive theory. And given the nature of our intellectual commerce with works, of art, to lack a persuasive theory is to lack something crucial—the means by which our experience of individual works is joined to our understanding of the values they signify."
Wolfe goes bananas:

"What I saw before me was the critic-in-chief of The New York Times saying: In looking at a painting today, "to lack a persuasive theory is to lack something crucial." I read it again. It didn't say "something helpful" or "enriching" or even "extremely valuable." No, the word was crucial.

In short: frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can't see a painting.

Then and there I experienced a flash known as the Aha! Phenomenon, and the buried life of contemporary art was revealed to me for the first time. The fogs lifted! The clouds passed! The motes, scales, conjunctival bloodshot, and Murine agonies fell away!"

Damn! All I wanted to know was, what the hell kind of theory do you need for realism??

Do we really need to know context for a painting? What about Jon and Kate . . do we really need to read People Magazine as a prerequisite for watching a television show?

Art in a Warehouse with No Lights

[Editor's Note: Click the title link to go to site for video and photos.]

By Valarie Tan, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 26 July 2009 0251 hrs

SINGAPORE : Most of us would be used to viewing art pieces in a gallery or museum with lights to highlight the works.

But a group of artists went off the beaten path recently - by showing off their works in an industrial warehouse with no lights.

And the response was overwhelming - over 2,600 people ventured into the dark and enjoyed the show.

Organisers of the exhibition titled 'Blackout' wanted visitors to step out of their comfort zone.

"When the lights go off, what happens is your senses come alive - your sense of touch, the way you look at things, the way you walk. So that's why the works are so interactive," said Alan Oei, curator for 'Blackout'.

And visitors got to step on eggs, for example, in an art piece that's about challenging people to do what they normally wouldn't.

Another piece has dozens of paper planes dashing out from one single point. The artist wanted viewers to feel the sudden rush of flight when the light flashes.

Then there's a piece that addresses consumerism. It comes in the form of a sculpture made up of junk food wrappers and in the shape of a man puking over toilet bowl.

"This is a big difference from what normal art exhibitions are like. (It's the) first time I'm seeing something like this... The kids love them," said one exhibition-goer.

"It’s very new, to have an exhibition in the dark, and it’s quite groundbreaking," said another.

Organisers said the idea for a free art show in the dark at a warehouse came about when the building owners had a gap period.

13 artists then got together over three months to present their take on darkness with a space slightly larger than a football field.

Over 1,000 visitors turned up the night the show opened.

Following the overwhelming response, organisers now have plans to do similar exhibitions in other locations in Singapore. Talks are also underway to bring the concept overseas to places like Japan. - CNA /ls

The art of a recession: Gallery owners struggling

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Art gallery owners across the country are finding they have a tough sell these days.

With houses going up for auction, unemployment continuing to rise and the threat of layoffs seemingly ever-present, many gallery owners in art communities such as Scottsdale, Ariz., Santa Fe, N.M., Portland, Ore., and New York City are closing shop, going broke to stay open or drastically changing the way they do business.

"Art is a very discretionary sort of object, and we are in the worst recession arguably in the postwar era," said Jay Bryson, a global economist with Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, N.C. "Obviously somebody who has lost their job in a factory in Indiana probably is not buying art."

Even people with plenty of discretionary money aren't spending much on it.

"You're a billionaire and you took a 40 percent hit on your portfolio, now you only have $600 million left," Bryson said. "That's still pretty deep pockets, but 40 percent is 40 percent."

In the gallery district of downtown Scottsdale, at least a half dozen galleries have closed in the past year or are in the midst of closing. Others still are wondering how much longer they can make it.

One recent day, Leslie Levy sat quietly amid the contemporary art she sells in her gallery, which was just as deserted as the streets outside, where the temperature was in the triple digits.

The summers here are always slow because of the heat, but this one is much worse than usual. That's partly why Levy is closing her doors at the end of August after 32 years in business and becoming a private art dealer online.

"I'll tell you what — if I was younger, I'd just keep at it knowing we've not seen times quite as bad as this before," Levy said.

Longtime customer Marylyn Gregory of Bernardsville, N.J., came in the gallery that day to see it one last time and check out what pieces Levy had left of her and her husband's favorite artist. Gregory told Levy she was surprised and upset when she heard the gallery was closing but added, "You're probably doing the right thing."

Gregory didn't end up buying anything that day, saying she needed to check with her husband. Before, she might have been more spontaneous.

"Sometimes you'd go to an opening and have a glass of wine, and you're like, OK," she said. "It's certainly the method to get everyone to open their checkbooks."

But like many other art lovers, the Gregorys are more conservative with their money these days.

Levy understands. "People are watching what they spend — cutting back and spending on the necessities of life. That makes sense to people."

Becky Smith knows that all too well. She owned the Bellwether Gallery in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood for a decade, but closed at the end of June after watching her revenue plummet to $80,000 gross in the first quarter of 2009. She had $40,000 net, and $10,000 of it went to rent each month.

The $80,000 figure was down from about $350,000 the same quarter in 2008 and about $600,000 during that period the year before.

"I was really startled," Smith said. "It was the spring of '08 where I saw three shows that should have been blockbusters underperform, and I was in shock.

"Things were booming so intensely a couple years ago and the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction, it was impossible to know where I stood," she said. "And I didn't want to be paying for a storefront while I was figuring it out."

In the past two years, at least 24 galleries have closed in Manhattan, mostly in Chelsea, according to New York City-based Artnet magazine, which covers the fine art world. "That's really dramatic," said Artnet editor Walter Robinson.

In Santa Fe, N.M., between 10 and 15 galleries have closed this year, said Christy Walker, managing director of the Santa Fe Gallery Association.

"A lot of people have this idea that running a gallery, the owners make a lot of money, when it's just a lot of effort to make a living off of it," she said. "It's a hard business to be in, and when things are good, things are good, and when times are tough, it's a really tough business to maintain."

Kraig Foote of art one gallery in Scottsdale has done everything he can think of to avoid shutting down.

His house is about to go up for auction because he hasn't made a payment in seven months, he has laid off his two employees and he has resorted to selling his own beloved art collection for a fraction of what it's worth.

"I have given up everything," he said recently in the very empty gallery, which sells work by local high school- and college-age artists.

And still, the threat of closure looms.

"I'm trying to make it to December," Foote said. "I think people will start spending again once they get to the next holiday. They'll say, 'We've saved, let's get something.'"

He paused. "I don't know."