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Random stuff I saw in NYC – part I

September 29th, 2014|Travel|Comments Off on Random stuff I saw in NYC – part I

Adams-MOMA

Lately, when thinking about the idea of blogging, I’ve had a big mental block about doing it.  It just seems like a lot of work when there are so many other fun and exciting things to be doing. I have seen a lot of things in the last few weeks that I want to share, though, so I’ve decided to make it easy on myself and just do this in a loose way without thinking so much about how to make it interesting. If people find this less than compelling, well, at least I’ll have my own record of it for posterity.

I have been in New York for most of September, thanks to the generosity of some wonderful friends. Among the many art-related things I did while here were the mandatory visit to MOMA, a wide-ranging survey of Chelsea galleries, the Jewish Museum, Pioneer Works Center for Art & Innovation (twice!), Museum of Arts & Design (MAD), the DUMBO arts festival (withing walking distance of where I’m staying), and visits with some artist friends in the area.

I’ll start with MOMA. I thought I’d blogged about this before when I was here the first time, but apparently not. The most exciting thing about this place the first time you get to come here is seeing so many things in their permanent collection that before you’d only had the pleasure of seeing in books. This includes Rauschenberg’s Bed, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory (surprisingly tiny!), numerous Picassos, Cezannes, Warhols, Kandinskys, and so on and so on.

I’m only going to post a few specific objects  I’d never seen nor heard of before that caught my attention.

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Georg Herold
German, born 1947
Muttler, 1985. Wire, underpants, and glue on base with lettering

(no further information on the wall label) — I found myself unable to contemplate this with the gravity it probably deserves because my mind was busy obsessing on what had happened to the waist band, or if there never was one to begin with, how would the thing stay on?

 

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Sam Gilliam
American, born 1933
10/27/69. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

“Gilliam is best known for works such as this one: unstretched abstractions that he draped from the ceiling, pinned to the wall, or slung over sawhorses. Ranging in size from a single sheet hung like a towel on a doorknob to giant, mural-sized canvases, Gilliam’s ‘drapes’ were reportedly inspired by the artist’s observation of laundry hanging outside his window. … The delicacy of the work’s improvisational image belies the momentous political context in which it was made: Gilliam was an African American artist living and working in Washington, D.C., in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement and not long after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Adams-MOMA-4Another view for scale. I wonder how they store this when it’s not on display.

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Pino Pascali
Italian, 1935-1968
Bridge, 1968.  Steel wool and wire.

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“An Italian critic coined the term ‘Arte Povera’ in 1967 to describe the work of Pascali and other Italian artists who worked with ‘poor,’ nonart materials. These artists renounced the separation between art and life and aimed to expand or dissolve the traditional parameters of painting and sculpture: ‘I do not believe you make shows in galleries,’ Pascali said, ‘you make the gallery, you create the space.’”

 

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Simryn Gill
Singaporean, born 1959
Where to draw the line, 2011-12, typewriting on nine sheets of paper

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“Gill’s photographs and installations have often taken books and the printed word as source material. In 1992, she began a series of pieces that appropriate and transform books, often rendering them indecipherable. For Where to draw the line, Gill hired a typist to copy on a manual typewriter five essays she wrote (and revised with the assistance of an editor) over the preceding year, titled “Women,” “Work,” “Snake,” “House,” and “Copycat.” The typist was instructed to omit spaces, overtype any errors, and repeat words as necessary to fill nine long, scroll-like sheets.

“These highly personal texts are enormous, densely printed, and virtually illegible. In Gill’s words, the work poses the question of “how much . . . we really give away” by putting such stories into the public sphere. Gill’s text-based works allow her to experiment with the medium while maintaining a degree of privacy. They invite close looking, but remain inaccessible, and when seen from a distance they read as an abstract, variegated textile.”

I absolutely loved this piece. Sorry my photos aren’t great. The subtle variations in tone and texture that could be achieved by such a simple means is a great lesson for me. It looked like a beautiful weaving. Typing seemed to be a recurring theme I saw multiple times on my art scouting adventures. Another example or two will be forthcoming.

 

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Charles Gaines
American, born 1944
Manifesto 2

Manifestos 2 consists of four large graphite drawings of musical scores—each a transcription, as it were, of an abridged version of a revolutionary speech or political manifesto, made by assigning a note to each letter and a rest for each space—and four video monitors that display Gaines’s variants of the original texts. The four texts are “An Indigenous Manifesto” (1999), by the Canadian activist and educator Taiaiake Alfred, addressing the history and future of indigenous peoples; Malcom X’s last public speech, from 1965, in which he advocated unity among oppressed communities; Raul Alcaraz and Daniel Carrillo’s “Indocumentalismo” (2010), which calls for rights for undocumented immigrants; and the “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen,” written by Olympe de Gouges in 1791, which champions equality of the sexes.
In the videos, recordings of each piece of music accompany each gradually scrolling text; once all four have played on their own, they all play simultaneously, allowing the manifestos to act both individually and together. The resulting work considers the ways in which, in Gaines’s words, “the activist posture [of these texts] is complicated by the affect of music.”

Although this work is notable for the important nature of its content as well as for the obsessive nature of the process, which involves meticulous hand drawing of each individual note and other musical notation, would it be terrible of me to say that I thought the most interesting thing about this presentation was the handsome museum guard who made a point of explaining and discussing the work with all the visitors to his area?

 

September 29th, 2014|Travel|Comments Off on Random stuff I saw in NYC – part I

Peru, Part 14 – More Lima

February 7th, 2013|Travel|Comments Off on Peru, Part 14 – More Lima

Lima-Huaca-Pucllana –©Deidre AdamsHuaca Pucllana ruins, Miraflores, Lima, Peru – ©2012 Deidre Adams

Our last day in Peru was spent back in Lima, land of unrelenting gray skies. Lima is such a huge city, it would take another whole trip to do it justice. We stayed in the Miraflores district and just spent the day seeing what we could on foot. Fortunately, there was another spectacular archaeological site within walking distance of our hotel.

Huaca Pucllana is an ancient site built somewhere around 400-500 A.D., long pre-dating the Incas. The central feature is a very large pyramid surrounded by other rooms (?), all constructed of adobe bricks. The bricks were laid in special “bookshelf” technique designed to withstand the frequent earthquakes experienced then as now. Archaeologists have discovered weavings, ceramics, mummies, and other objects indicating that this society, referred to as the Lima Culture, was quite sophisticated. Several of the rooms had lifesize figures demonstrating various tasks – these were a bit on the creepy side. The site also features an area dedicated to raising crops and animals which would have been part of the domestic activities of the time.

Also in the Huaca Pucllana complex is a fabulous restaurant of the same name. We had a delightful lunch here.

We also spent some time walking the streets and just taking in the flavor of the city.

Next: Back to the studio and lots of new paintings!

February 7th, 2013|Travel|Comments Off on Peru, Part 14 – More Lima

Peru, Part 13 – Machu Picchu

February 6th, 2013|Travel|Comments Off on Peru, Part 13 – Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Collage –©Deidre Admas

If you don’t have the time or inclination to hike the 26-mile Inca Trail to Machu Picchu on a particular trip, you can instead take the train and ride in comfort, enjoying the scenery and complimentary beverage service on your way from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.

Ollantaytambo Station – ©Deidre AdamsAlong the train ride, the environment changes abruptly from the dryer high plains to rain forest. The trees close in overhead, and you feel as though you are traveling back in time.

We arrived in Aguas Calientes late in the afternoon, with the plan being to get up very early to ride the bus up to Machu Picchu. The large, comfortable buses travel up a very steep one-lane dirt road with lots of switchbacks, and when two buses going different directions meet, one has to wait for the other to pass before going on. Looking out of the window, we could see the very sheer drop-off below.

There are no restrooms available inside the ruins, so you must make sure you take care of matters at the entrance complex. Once inside, you are greeted with a scene you many have seen many times in photos, but being there in person is a transcendent experience.

Machu Picchu was built in about 1450, and it’s an engineering marvel especially when you consider that the Incas didn’t have iron or steel, nor wheels. How the large stones were transported and put into place is a mystery. After the site was abandoned roughly 100 years later, the rain forest vegetation grew back over it and it was lost for several hundred years until the archaeologist Hiram Bingham arrived there with his guide in 1911. What we see now has been reconstructed. The fast-growing plants are always trying to cover the structures again, so workers are constantly on the job removing it. Because it’s an important archaeological site of such extraordinary beauty, things can get pretty crowded after the very early morning. You can get away from the masses of people by doing one of the hikes to other nearby landmarks.

We chose to do two hikes, one before lunch to see the Inca Bridge. Access to the Inca Bridge is controlled, and the guard keeps track of all who enter and when they come back out.

Inca Bridge registration –©Deidre Adams

This hike is pleasant, not too long, with the usual spectacular scenery. The culmination of the trail is a fence that blocks access to the bridge itself, but viewing it from afar should be enough for all but the most daring. The bridge itself is nothing but a couple of logs laid across a sheer, steep drop.

Inca Bridge – ©Deidre AdamsAfter hiking back down, we had worked up a good appetite and were ready for lunch. Food is not allowed in the park, so we walked back to the visitor’s center to see what was on offer there.

“Meet” pie, anyone?

Meet pie –©Deidre AdamsAfter lunch, we hiked the trail to the Sun Gates. It’s a bit longer and more strenuous, but the views are worth it. On the way back down, we were surprised to see a line of several porters charging up the hill from the other direction, each carrying two large mattresses on his back. At the end of the line, there was a guy with an apparently very heavy box who had set it down to take a moment’s rest. I asked him what all this stuff was for, and he said it was for the tourists who were going to camp up there that night. Sounds pretty cush, but I couldn’t help wondering what the porters think of those campers – are they disdainful, or are they just happy to have the work?

Mattresses for the tourists –©Deidre Adams

 

If you want to see the iconic view shown on virtually all the postcards and posters, this is the hike for you.

After all that hard work, you should treat yourself to an ice cream cone before you get back on the bus.

Ice Cream at Machu Picchu –©Deidre Adams

 

February 6th, 2013|Travel|Comments Off on Peru, Part 13 – Machu Picchu