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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Aimee Doran's BFA show opening

Here are some pics from Aimee's talk and show. I think she succeeded in creating a real atmosphere in the gallery, complete with its own saran wrap weather. She said her work was concerned with neglected or abandoned spaces. A horizontal tornado made of clingfilm is suspended from the ceiling, with an array of lights trained on it, and a trio of lenses set hanging on the far side. My favorite part of the show is the shadow of the tornado/chrysalis/cloud, which the lenses attenuate, congealing bits of it into sharper relief, like clumps of hair or clusters of ganglia emerging from the blurred cotton candy adumbration. Under a slanted bedlike structure, a video shows images shot from within the saran wrap vortex. At different times, the video seemed like it was shot from the vantage point of an fly's eyeball, being wrapped in spiderweb; from an angelic transit between this world and the next; or from (and I mean this as a compliment) some ectoplasmic colonoscopy.

James Nagel-BFA exhibit, looking ahead

James Nagel at work (and some other guy got in there). Nagel's BFA show is coming up in a few weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Keith Knight Interview in "The Believer"

The issue of "The Believer" that's currently on the stands has an interview I conducted with the cartoonist Keith Knight. A teaser/excerpt from the interview is online, but for the whole thing, you need to actually buy a copy.

If you have a strong need to get a taste of Keith's sensibility and his drawings right this very second, I interviewed him a while ago for the online magazine The High Hat, and the entirety of that exchange is still up on the internets.


This article on painter and former Placerville resident Thomas Kinkade is an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel, though it does suggest, in an aside describing Kinkade's disruption of a Siegfried and Roy show by the repeated shout of "Codpiece!", that Kinkade could profitably fall back on performance art if the whole oil-paint-as-marzipan thing ends up not panning out.

It's also worth reading for the revelation that Kinkade is apparently obsessed with Barry Lyndon, though judging from his comments he saw the movie broadcast on a television sunk in an aquarium filled with vaseline. I eagerly await Kinkade's series of stargate paintings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dance Sketch

While Kristin's dancers, Anna and Patrick, were still in town, we went down 4th street looking for a good alley to shoot some video in. Kristin's been thinking of doing a dance video project -- this is some of the footage I shot, and J. did some shooting as well. This is just the dance/video equivalent of a sketch -- Patrick and Anna were improvising, sometimes bouncing off ideas suggested by Kristin. We'll see if any of the movement ideas or visual ideas get developed further. For me, it was interesting to see two performers who relate to each other very well feel their way through a variety of relationships, negotiating one moment to the next. The way the ambient sound related to the visuals was also pleasing. If trains never existed as a form of locomotion, some musician would've had to invent them as a form of instrumentation.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Ashes of Time" at the Century Riverside

Starting tonight, one of my favorite movies is playing at the Century Riverside in Reno. It's "Ashes of Time," directed by Wong Kar-Wai. I originally saw it a while ago, at the 4-Star Theater in San Francisco. The 4-Star was showing a seemingly endless supply of Hong Kong martial arts films, riding on the coattails of the success of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The owner of the theater was able to get his hands on all sorts of obscure prints, and I couldn't get enough of the stuff -- most of what I saw was visually inventive, nonsensically plotted, and full of terrifically charismatic actors. Even the duds were weird enough, and had enough comically inept subtitling ("Why must you kill so wantonly!"), to keep me thoroughly entertained.

One of the real highlights of that run (alongside the opportunity to see a bunch of films by Ching Siu-Tung, who was just as deserving as John Woo and Tsui Hark to cross over into the US market -- though looking at the results of the Woo and Tsui crossovers, maybe it's just as well it never really happened for him) was "Ashes of Time." The print that the 4-Star had access to was a little pinkish around the edges of the frame, but even so, the thing was gorgeous -- moody, gauzy, drunk on light (the cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, is one of the greats). This is a movie that realy aches to be seen on the big screen.

Wong Kar-Wai made his name, in the West at least, with films that seemed strikingly contemporary, of the moment -- "Chunking Express" was his international breakthrough, and it seems to float through the projector on the surface-tension of the "now." "Ashes of Time," in contrast, plays around in the genre of the martial arts wuxia film -- but in the same radical manner that Peckinpah re-cast the western in "The Wild Bunch" and Welles bent the shadows of noir in "Touch of Evil." "Ashes" wears the conventions and tropes of historical fantasy, but the story is populated by the kind of dreamy, regretful romantics that can be seen in his other films. It's fun to see these mythic, heroic characters saddled with a stuttering heartbreak and neurosis that feels quintessentially "modern." The action scenes manage to be both abstracted and genuinely exciting, and it's stuffed to the gills with mid-90s HK talent: Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin -- and Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, who would go on to make such a memorable duo in Zhang Yimou's "Hero." If there's another film with such a surfeit of gorgeous faces and soulful eyes, it's not coming to mind.

There's a review from the Village Voice that captures some the film's qualities. If you have a weakness for the kind of movies that get described as "pure cinema," you owe it to yourself to catch this while it's being projected large and loud.

Ian MacKaye Q&A in Reno this Sunday

Wolfpack radio and the Holland Project are sponsoring a Q&A with former Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye this Sunday at 6pm, on the UNR campus. More info on the flyer below (click it for a larger version).

"The issues are in the tissues"

Jonah gave his artists' talk last night. He partly talked about how his training as a massage therapist prepared him as a painter. As part of his training, he had to assemble muscles onto a skeletal model, giving him an understanding of their relations, insertions, etc. Part of his interest in the subject of his paintings, Mary, was an interest in the way the body posture in older people seems more transparent and revelatory -- the body seems to express itself more plainly, with less self-consciousness, as it ages.

He said the bust portraits were more about Mary as a person -- the full-body paintings were more about "using" Mary as a model to express some of his own ideas and obsessions.

The image of Mary in the trunk is an interesting re-visiting of an image in a painting Jonah had done before. The previous painting was of a young woman either emerging from, or being closed into, a suitcase. That image was lusciously painted, but I found something almost callow about it. Having Mary in the trunk struck me as being a far more interesting confluence of figure and luggage. There's a lot more empathy to the image of Mary in the trunk, even as if retains a somewhat jaundiced, absurdist vantage point on the efficacy of prayer. The trunk seems like a minimalist ark, set out on a sea of matte black infinity.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dynamic Fine Arts or Fine Arts and Performing Arts buildings

Above is a cozy image of students (I presume) and others in the micro compact home, the "m-ch." The image is a link to more about this project at Technical University in Munich. Seven of these were designed and built for both faculty and students to live in for a time. You can buy one. Different architects were involved on this project. 75 square feet! It is completely self contained.

-Opening salvo-
In case many of you are not aware the Fine Arts Dept. is essentially currently housed in a temporary situation- albeit long term. The next building that has been planned for the SNC community is a performing and visual arts building.
The Fine Arts Dept. faculty has discussed, among ourselves and to others here on campus, the incredible possibilities for an intelligently designed building that could serve our needs at Sierra Nevada College- the needs of visual and performing arts as well as other academic needs. (The Tahoe community wants and needs a legitimate, state of the art performing arts facility.) We also feel that the building can be built with sustainability in mind. Other schools, Sarah Lawrence College, are committing to innovative and timely buildings that also take into account simple building principles that we like to now call sustainable. These buildings can offer healthy work places for students and faculty. One of my desires for the SNC Fine Arts Dept. is to have BFA candidate studios. This would set us apart from many undergraduate programs- not to mention function as an effective draw for art students. My professional and personal interest in innovative architecture over the years have also involved giving attention to dynamic buildings within academia and the arts because, in part, of our needs here at SNC. Below is my initial sharing of notes I have taken regarding building and designing for Fine Arts and Performing Arts.

Dynamic Fine Arts or Fine Arts and Performing Arts buildings

I will be introducing different examples of intelligent design for Fine Arts and Performing Arts needs in an academic environment. This the first in a series of notes I will post.
Perhaps the most noteworthy building recently completed is the Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Visual Arts Center (2004) at Sarah Lawrence College. This building first came to my attention in Architectural Record before the project was completed. You can see more images of this project at the Polshek Partnership Architects' website or by clicking the image above. (They also built the Fine Arts center for Smith College in 2002.)
This building is particularly in line with the thinking we (in the art dept. at sierra nevada college) have about create flow between different disciplines/mediums. The Visual Arts Center uses dynamic walls that allow for flexibility and that flow. Also, there is a film theatre in the building that also functions as a lecture hall.
Please note that it was awarded LEED certification- the first in America.

(You can read a New York Times article about the Sarah Lawrence College Fine Arts Center as well.)

From the Sarah Lawrence website: “This Center combines all of the visual arts, art history, and film history curricula and facilities under one roof. Its 60,000 square feet houses fully equipped facilities for painting, sculpture, photography, filmmaking, printmaking, drawing, visual fundamentals, and digital imagery. There are six studios available interchangeably for sculpture, painting, and visual fundamentals; one has large garage style doors that open to the outside. These studios are clustered around support spaces, with access to technical support. The open space of the Donnelley Film Theatre studios is designed so that students can see the work of their peers. There are also facilities for printmaking and photography, including an artist’s book studio and a photography support suite, as well as a common darkroom open by permission to students not enrolled in a photography course. Additional spaces are dedicated to welding, woodworking, ceramics, mold making, and papermaking. Filmmaking and new media facilities include a soundstage, animation and editing rooms, and a digital imaging lab. Also included is the 188-seat Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Film Theatre with a screening room/lecture hall (in addition to a Film Viewing Room located in the Performing Arts Center). Access to digital technology is available in all studios and classrooms. A visual resources library, individual ateliers, critique rooms, general classrooms for Visual Culture courses, and a large exhibition area are all part of the Heimbold Center. The Center was designed to be an environmentally responsible visual arts building. It is heated and cooled by a geothermal system; special venting systems reduce exposure to chemicals and vapors; and the College is committed to using alternatives to toxic materials. The Heimbold Center is the first LEED-certified visual arts center in America.”
From the New York Times article:
‘Boundaries within the visual arts have been removed and old assumptions about the separation of disciplines in the studio are being abandoned,'' said Michele Tolela Myers, the college president, in an e-mail message. ''Yet the structure of higher education buildings where artists learn have not caught up with this trend. This center attempts to embrace those changes.’

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pictures at a Dress Rehearsal

At the dress rehearsal for the upcoming dance show at UNR, I managed to take some pics before I had to go up to the booth and start my video. Here are a few:

Jonah Harjer's BFA show

There's a preview showing tonight, and then Jonah will give his talk tomorrow evening. Here are a few images. There was that Burning Man show for a few days in between, but I'm kinda happy my "woman of a certain age" show is being followed up by another woman of a certain age show. Long live the septugenarians!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jon Winet talk and crit

Last week, Jon Winet gave a short talk, and administered a crit to a half dozen or so students. Jon, as well as being an artist and a Professor of Intermedia in the School of Art & Art History at The University of Iowa, is the Program Director for the Capital City Arts Initiative, and seems to do most of the heavy lifting for the CCAI's blog. A major project he's been working on for the past year is The Electoral College, which took the 2008 US Presidential contest at face value as a vast state-hopping piece of theater. Not merely as theater -- but certainly attuned to its theatrical qualities. That's the rub about elections -- they often play out as third-rate theater that, despite the ineptitude of the players and the hollowness of their lines, still manage to change people's lives. This past election cycle was the first time I found the play capable of producing scenes that actually managed to move me, beyond the default responses of annoyance, anger and disgust.

The below is an image from The Electoral College's flickr set:

And here's Jon talking about the project, and how it allows him to wander through an enormous, multimillion-dollar stage set for months at a time: