Art should always ask more questions than it answers. At least that is what I was taught in my Introduction to Painting course, and I tend to agree. This holds true for the art of GREATeclectic. Working on the same wavelength, stylistically and idealistically, as Jean-Michel Basquiat, his work is a critique of our obsessions with celebrity, fame and political scandal.
GREATeclectic employs the familiar icons of today’s tabloid culture including Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Mitt Romney, Kanye West, President Obama and Amy Winehouse. He throws pop-culture and politics into a blender with representations of morality, greed, lust, love and envy and presents it in such a raw format that the viewer must confront and, on some level, come to terms with his/her own standing on these subjects. Bright, bold and sometimes shocking, the work has an aggressive undertone which almost dares the viewer to look away. He seemingly defaces his subjects, but at the same time you can see he idolizes them.
While his style definitely harkens from urban street art roots, he handles his work with the deftness of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, some of Pop Art’s greatest figures, and two of my personal favorite artists. Even though the subjects in his pastiches are immediately recognizable, his works are abstract enough to push the viewers to question their own thoughts, insecurities, hopes and shames.
QUIK, a short film, is a collaborative project between The Berrics and Quicksilver directed by Colin Kennedy, featuring music by We Barbarians and some epic skating by Austyn Gillette. It was filmed in LA’s historic eastside and downtown neighborhoods and shot entirely from moving vehicles. Using a series of quick snippets that have been masterfully woven together, the final product has a building energy that is hard to take your eyes off of.
Gillette’s pedal-to-the-metal skating is top-notch. And the way his skating is interlaced with shots of the city allows it to become more than a skate film. It really is like seeing the city out your passenger window, which is entirely appropriate for LA and its car culture.
This series of paintings by artist Adam Daily is stunning. Measuring 9’x9’ these works really pack a punch. They caught my eye from a distance and upon closer inspection I was surprised to find no brush strokes. The color is perfectly flat and smooth and the edges are wonderfully crisp. I spoke with Daily about his process. He said it took a lot of trial and error to get this effect and finally found that applying the colors with a spray gun did the trick. I thought for sure they’d been silkscreened.
Each painting is constructed with 2 pieces of Sintra that are then mounted to a frame. After taping off the desired areas, Daily uses an acrylic spray to apply the colors one at a time, working from dark to light. The result is a print-like smoothness.
This body of work has a really nice graphic quality to it. Bold colors and geometric shapes come together in an almost pattern-like fashion. While each piece uses a different motif, they complement one another nicely. The dimensions and angles used create a very dynamic feeling for a look both modern and inviting.
Let’s talk politics. No, not about what issues are important, who you should vote for or who hates Big Bird. But about the fact that whatever side you’re on, you should get out there and vote. Brooklyn-based Apartment One teamed up with Rock the Vote and Simon Issacs to design and implement a non-partisan campaign urging the budding generation to do just that.
Mac Premo is an NYC-based collage artist. He has collected things for decades—things like paper pirate hats, baseball cards, action figures, unused ticket stubs, Whopper coupons and pagers. He collects these pieces of ephemera with the intention of eventually turning them into art.
So what did he do when he needed to move into a smaller studio and didn’t have room for more than 400 of those items? He certainly didn’t throw them away. Premo decided to meticulously photograph, document and write about each individual item. He then went out and bought a 30-yard dumpster and retrofitted it to be a traveling display for his collection. He calls it The Dumpster Project. The objects in Premo’s wandering gallery are carefully grouped into like categories, colors, textures and eras. They are then arranged, hung and displayed on the walls of the trash receptacle. Each item in the collection has a unique story, but it’s when they’re brought together that they begin to weave the story of a life.
The Dumpster Project migrates from place to place on the back of a flatbed truck. Once unloaded, visitors are invited to step inside and explore his creation of a world within a world. I saw it this weekend on Governor’s Island where it’s on display as part of the 5th annual Governor’s Island Art Fair.
If you’re in the NYC area you should check out the Dumpster Project in person. It will be open for one last weekend on Governor’s Island this Saturday and Sunday.
This week I stumbled across the work of Los Angeles-based photographer and filmmaker James Minchin. I was particularly enthralled by his series of photographs behind the scenes of AMC’s hit show Mad Men. At first I was just excited to catch a peek behind the curtain of one of my favorite shows. But upon further review found them to be not only a beautiful set of images, but a careful study of the nature of duality. They were surprising to say the least.
The series is presented in black and white, which adds a sense of nostalgia while at the same time giving the series a very modern feel. Minchin manages to marry the past and present in a way that is culturally relevant. The stark contrast of today’s America and the idealized US of the 60s is extremely engaging. They’re very delicately executed mashups.
I especially love the shot (below) of Harry Crane and Ken Cosgrove in all of their Madison Avenue, New York City in the 60s, misogynistic glory, huddled around a MacBook Pro. As well as the shot of Burt Cooper rocking a pair of awful Nike running shoes while wearing an impeccably cut, two button suit and a bow tie. It’s almost like watching these characters time travel. The effect is simultaneously disorienting and comforting.
In these images I see an interesting look at our tendency to be discontent with the present and fool ourselves into seeing a past that’s greater than we remember it to be. But maybe it’s just a cool collection of pictures about the making of Mad Men. Who’s to say?
On Saturday, I attended the opening of Jenny Sabin’s My Thread Pavilion for Nike’s Flyknit Collective. Sabin’s work focuses on the intersection of art, architecture, design and science, often starting at a molecular level and building into works of a much grander scale. Employing this process, Sabin started by gathering data from the Nike FuelBands of a select group of New Yorkers. After analyzing and mapping the information gathered, she created a visual structure by weaving together threads into cylindrical segments, which were stitched together to form the Pavilion.
The result is a large, hive-like dome. Upon first look, I immediately found myself getting lost in the maze of intricately woven threads and small tunnels. But after ducking through one of the 2 openings into the pavilion I found myself in a spacious cavern with cellular-looking walls.
The Pavilion was constructed using two different types of thread, one that is solar active and the other reflective photo luminescent. Every five minutes the lighting in the Pavilion changes, representing the light in the early morning, afternoon, twilight and midnight—the most common times people run. As the lighting changes, the Pavilion undergoes a transformation from stark white into a glowing green, to a beautiful intense blue (my personal favorite) and ending with an amazing red/orange. These changes in lighting give the piece drastically different feels.
My Thread Pavilion was created as part of Nike’s Flyknit Collective—a group of six artists from around the world commissioned to create works of art based on Nike’s new Flyknit technology. Flyknit debuted in the London Games and employs the use of simple threads woven together into complex patterns to create shoes that are formfitting, lightweight, sustainable and, most importantly, performance-enhancing. My Thread Pavilion will be on display for the next six weeks at Nike’s Bowery Stadium.