Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Gift: Art as exchange/participation in collaboration with the public

Participant in the "Chalkboard Collective" as part of
Heather Hart's Bartertown, People's Economy held
at the Brooklyn Musuem in October 2014
For our final reading group meeting of 2015 we will look at a few artists who make work that offers an exchange or participatory component to the public as part of their art practice. This work falls under the larger theme of socially engaged art, a form of art that I practice.  Although my own practice is not object-based anymore, I am essentially a maker. The act of making something for someone (though now this might be intangible or even dialogical,) is a natural impulse for me.  I think this is true for many artists, at least at the starting point of their careers.  For this reason I have also included a review of The Gift by Lewis Hyde.  This is a very interesting book all creative types may find interesting and is available through our library.

The artists we will look at are: Lee Mingwei, Heather Hart, and Pablo Helguera.  We will focus on specific projects by each artist that mesh with our theme of the gift. All three artists have made many other interesting works that diverge from our specific theme, so check them out!  There are many more wonderful artists and projects we could have looked at, but there simply isn’t enough space or time here.

The good news is I was asked to teach an Intro to the Visual Arts course at Siena College and they have given me free rein to develop the course.  So the title of this course is: Introduction to Socially Engaged Art.  For those of you interested, I will continue our monthly meetings into 2016, using the same curriculum I have developed for this college course. We will be using a small but very thoughtful book by Pablo Helguera titled: Education for Socially Engaged Art: a materials and technique handbook.  Since he is also one of the artists featured for the gift, I have include a pdf of the first chapter to wet your appetite. You can purchase this slim volume for just $9.95 through amazon (or I can loan you a copy.) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Soil: The grass, leaves, and dirt on the artists who make art out of it!

November’s topic was inspired by a long time Contemporary Art Reading and discussion group member Glenda (and Joanne even though she can’t attend the meetings just now.)  And while doing a little research I discovered that 2015 is the United Nations International Year of the Soil. I am not really exactly sure what this means but it dovetails nicely with the idea of looking at artists who think about, work with or otherwise engage with the dirty stuff to make their art.  Some of these artists use living materials as metaphor, others for how we interact with the natural environment.  All are making work that is interesting to look at.  For a historic perspective on art that engages with or “uses” nature and natural materials, I have included two artists who made their mark several decades ago in Land Art.  I think you will find the works of Robert Smithson and Agnes Denes both very interesting.

Our meeting for November will be held on Wednesday the 18th, 6-7:45pm upstairs at the Chatham Public Library.  And don’t forget to check the blog in the beginning of December for an updated reading list for our meeting on 12/16/15.  The topic for this meeting will be The Gift: Artists that offer an exchange or participatory component to the public as part of their art practice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What's Happening Next: Oct-Dec 2015 schedule

Madison presented her talk in Julie DeLisle's office
(better acoustics!)
So, for all of you who did not get to come out and hear Madison LaVallee's talk titled: Material Sandwiches presented on Sept. 23, you are in luck.  Click here to listen to the entire talk. (Please note: a video excerpt from Woman house of about 4 minutes is included. The audio for Judith Butler is available through a link to the right.)

For our upcoming October meeting (10/21, 6-7:45 upstairs at the library,) we will listen to brief excerpts from Madison's talk and have a discussion.  Her readings are still available to the right of this entry.  Looking forward to catching up.

Our November meeting will have a theme of Soil: artists that use soil/dirt metaphorically or literally in their art practice.  The date for this meeting is November 18, same place, same time!  Check back here about one week before for the readings to prepare for our conversation.

And then in December the theme will be the Gift: artists using an exchange or gift component with the public as part of their art practice.  Seems like a good fit for this month of gift-giving.  This meeting will be on December 16, also same time/same place at the Chatham Public library.

And what will come next, in the dink and the dank of winter, you might ask?  Come to one of these fall meetings and participate!  Your questions and ideas are the fodder to be transformed into the next topic for a 2016 meeting!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It is Re-starting......Reboot after summer

Chatham Art Agency, in all its permutations on view at Greenarts.
So, what did you do over the summer?  I hope you had a chance to see some of the great cultural happenings the season is known for.  This image shows the Chatham Art Agency on the road and on display as part of an exhibit at the Greene County Council for the Arts titled Give and Take: A Collection of Past Individual Artist Grant Recipients.

Our contemporary art reading and discussion group will be getting underway this month with a bang.  Artist Madison LaVallee will be offering a talk about her work on Wednesday, September 23, (6:30 - 7:45) at the Chatham Public Library (upstairs.)  Hope you all can make it and please, spread the word!

Madison LaVallee Installing 
Maddi will be installing her work in the window at Stone House Properties this Saturday, September 12, where it will be on view through November.  Stop by on Saturday from 4-6 pm for a little meet and greet and enjoy the other TWO art openings happening on Main Street at the Joyce Goldstein Gallery and Thompson Giroux Gallery.  

Jaymee Harvey's work on through Friday, Sept. 11, 2015
Over the summer Maddi and another friend from graduate school, Jaymee Harvey and I developed a new theme for the window at Stone House Properties that began in July. 

This theme: “Labor and Fantasy in the Domestic Sphere” will celebrate and reclaim or question and reassert themes around home, inside/outside, and domestic space.

The office of Stone House Properties at 9 Main Street is it’s own kind of transitional domestic space.  Nicely appointed with comfortable seating that could be found in a living room, one can sit and have a conversation while searching for a new home.  Thanks so much to Nancy Cuddihy of Stone House Properties for her continued support in allowing a little art to happen in the window!

Check out Word of Mouth at Second Space, started by Sheri Bauer-Mayorga.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The artist’s hand: its role and relevance today.

Damián Ortega Controller of the Universe, 2007

This month’s topic is brought to us in part through a collaboration with  Katie O’Keefe, a recent graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, from our area (Tivoli.) Her suggestion of reading from the book The Hand by Frank R. Wilson has sparked the theme of the role of the artist's hand.  The other readings present a counter point that I hope you will find  interesting and will stimulate the discussion.  OR, perhaps YOU will offer a reading suggestion!? She hopes to be  join in the conversation at our next meeting, Monday June 8th, 6-7:45pm at the Chatham Public Library.  

Inviting Katie to collaborate in developing our topic will connect to another ongoing local project.  The What I Collect window at 9 Main Street in Chatham, NY will be undergoing a shift in the coming months.  Katie and a few other artists from the area will each be creating an installation in the window with the themes of: home, domesticity, or inside/outside, showcasing their own work.  Each artist will have a bio/artist statement posted at the window AND will collaborate with me on readings for upcoming topics for our group.  June will be our last meeting for the summer and then when we return in September, there will be something to look forward to seeing in the window on Main Street too.  See, read about, and talk about Art!  What could be finer?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Open Engagement and going to Jail...

City of Asylum Home
As always the Open Engagement conference on Socially engaged art was excellent, offering lots to think about.  Please take a look at the page with the link to the right of this entry to see some of what I saw and heard.  Pittsburgh was a wonderful, hilly surprise (with over 147 bridges,) and lots of other wonderful people and cultural happenings to recommend it.

What's next?  Going to Jail of course!  Much harder to get in than I would have imagined! We have been working on the scheduling for several months and now things have finally fallen into place.  I will be working with ReEntry, an organization based in Hudson that offers a range of services for folks just getting out of prison.  This program, a create arts workshop, will be offered for women at the Columbia County Jail in Hudson.

Hope to see you at the opening for the Thompson Giroux Gallery exhibition: PASSAGE PATH ROAD ROUTE WAY Saturday, April 25, 4-6pm.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Socially Engaged Art, in words, pictures, and sounds.....

During the month of April something I look forward to every year is happening, besides the coming of spring!  Open Engagement, a conference that looks at, discusses, theorizes and embraces socially engaged art, happening this year in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University.  This free, three day event is the most exciting, thought-provoking and uplifting event I try to attend each year. This sense of excitement lasts long into the year and becomes a resource for many of my future projects.

So this year I plan to bring the conference back to YOU!  We’ll start now with some links to last year’s event which was held at the Queens Museum in Queens, NY and one of the Key note speakers: Mierle Laderman Ukeles.   Or click here to get to the special Open Engagement page.

I am also including some links to projects started by one of this year’s key note speakers, artist Rick Lowe and Project Row houses.  Plus Conflict Kitchen, by artist Jon Rubin, a cafe that only serves food from countries that the U.S. is currently in conflict with.  While I am there I will post some new links and images on the blog as the events unfold. Plus I will record all the workshops and talks I attend for you to listen to later! Because April is quite busy with travel (visiting family early in the month and then on to Pittsburgh later,) we won’t meet again until Monday May 4, 6-7:45pm, at the Library. 

Here are two very interesting upcoming local events I plan to attend and would love to have you join me:

Thompson Giroux Gallery
Passage Path Road Route Way - an exhibition featuring artists in the early stages of their career. 57 Main Street, Chatham, NY April 25 - May 31, 2015 (opening date info to follow)

Jack Shainman Gallery
Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary of The School with an exhibition of El Anatsui Sunday, May 17, 2015 at The School, 25 Broad Street, Kinderhook, NY 

Greg Skochko with the money...this case
weighted 36 lbs!
A final note on last month's blog topic of Art and Money:  While at the Armory Art Fair with some grad school chums early March, something funny happened.  My friend Greg Skochko discovered an artist piece that addresses just this topic.  A large metal case was on display filled with ONE MILLION DOLLARS and if one put their cell number down, could win the opportunity to carry the case around the show, hand-cuffed to the case and with an escort.  The subject of how much money was moving around during the art fair was made literal.  Well, here is a snapshot of Greg hand-cuffed to the money!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Art....and Money.

Left: Incommunicado, M. Sarris 2015, Right: Special Edition Silver Dollar, Tim Noble and Sue Webster 2007
The readymade concept was tossed around and enjoyed by all who attended our last meeting.  What came out of this conversation was the thread that will lead to our next discussion topic: value and the commodification of art or more simply put, “Art and Money.”  

One could argue that this is an incredibly large and multi-faceted topic.  The readings included offer a range of ideas to think about including: the effects of money (sometimes very large sums,) on the art world, finding alternative methods of producing art to avoid this trap, and art made of money, to name a few.
I am including several articles and some that are quite long.  Dig in and see what you think.  It’s cold and snowy out there, why not settle in to a long read or two!  The next meeting will be: 
Monday, March 9, from 6 -7:45 at the library upstairs.  See you there!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Readymades/made by you

Our last few meetings have been very interesting with new members participating and heating up the conversations (despite the weather!)  We keep swirling around issues of how to evaluate what is happening today in the art world and how it relates to us back home here in Chatham.  The last time I was down in the city I saw a show titled:  The Thing and the Thing-In-Itself at the Andrea Rosen Gallery.

This show, curated by noted art historian Robert Hobbs focuses on the limits of human understanding that Immanuel Kant contemplated in the Critique of Pure Reason.  Ideas about how humans can only know things in the world by referencing their own experiences or “constructed views.”  Somehow these ideas and the artworks featured seems like a really interesting place for us to pick up the conversation!  By chance I also had the opportunity to see a show called By Proxy at the James Cohan Gallery.  This show brings into the conversation different tools and techniques the artist may use to create work that goes beyond what they can do with their own hands.  Between these two shows there is ample art historical information and innovative ideas we can have fun discussing at our next meeting: February 9, 2015 6-7:45pm, at the Chatham Public Library.

Readymades/made by you: to make the discussion even more interesting YOU are invited to bring in three everyday objects (or images of.) In honor of Marcel Duchamp (with work featured in both shows mentioned above,) and the notion of “readymades,” arguably one of the most important twentieth century ideas about art.  Brainstorm a list of titles for your readymades. Display or take snapshots of your readymades along with their titles. 

Did wordplay or humor play a role in the titles you selected? How do the titles affect the way these everyday objects are perceived by yourself and others? (Take a look at the links to read a little more about this artist and concepts.)

Here is a little questionnaire I found on the MoMA website to help with the process:

What Makes a Work of Art?

Make a list of your criteria for what art is by considering these questions:
  • What should an artwork provide to both the maker and the viewer?
  • Who is it for?
  • Where does one encounter art?
  • What is the role of the artist?
Some very fine quotes by Marcel Duchamp:
 “Art is not about itself but the attention we bring to it.”
“Do unto others as they wish, but with imagination.” 
“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.
“I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.” 
“I don't believe in art. I believe in artists.” 
“I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”