Review: NUD NOB

Duality is an illusion; everything contains its opposite. Silence, too, is an illusion, as is wholeness.

But to speak of opposites at all is, again, an illusion; there is no real polarity. Rather, there is only mixing, conflict, and confusion – there is only the border. Sarah Lucas knows this; hence, she created NUD NOB.

Lucas’ sculptures challenge duality, security, and “common” knowledge. Indeed, Florian and Kevin are both vegetables and phalluses; they are both mundane and shocking; they jog our binaristic thinking.

What is gender? What is a body? For Lucas, identity is itself amorphous; art, too, is a fever dream, and bodies are experiments, formulas, mixtures. The body is really anything we want it to be – that is, if we dare.

Sarah Lucas' NUD NOB. Picture from www.gladstonegallery.com.

Sarah Lucas’ NUD NOB. Picture from www.gladstonegallery.com.

Luca’s smaller sculptures are also fascinating; here, we encounter indeterminate figures in passionate poses. Are they fighting? Caressing? Who is in charge? Is anyone in charge? We’re not sure, and yet, we’re drawn in; we feel in those glistening half-limbs a sense of freedom, fragility, and destruction.

Lucas’ exhibition is one of extremes – of small sculptures and vast forms, of image and blankness, of shock and rest. Definitely go visit – Lucas is a master not only of sculpture, but of space, silence, and mind.

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Comments? Suggestions? Let me know!

Art for Friday, Saturday, *and* Sunday!

Hey all!

My trip to The Center for Book Arts was fantastic; I’ll be posting about that on Saturday. Until then, here are some great upcoming art events; in fact, I’ve listed one for every day of the weekend!

Enjoy, and keep creating!

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Small Works Show

Where: Greenpoint Gallery.

When: Friday, March 7, 2014; doors open at 8:00 PM.

What: An whimsical exhibition of “micro” works. Check it out!

Sarah Lucas: NUD NOB

Where: Gladstone Gallery.

When: See site for daily hours.

What: Lucas works with found objects and readily available materials to create provocative, genre-blurring works. This one can’t be missed!

SPRING PREVIEW

Where: PS1 MOMA.

When: Sunday, March 9, 2014 from 12:00 – 6:00 PM.

What: Come and see PS1’s latest exhibitions, which feature Christoph Schlingensief, Maria Lassnig and Korakrit Arunanondchai! Lassnig is a master painter; Schlingensief is a fearless crosser of boundaries; and Arunanondchai is a riveting installation artist (among other things). I will definitely be there!

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Questions? Comments? Let me know!

Another trip! (And art news!)

I really, really enjoyed my last trip to Manhattan; I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I’m doing it again!

This weekend, I’ll be covering Silence Unbound, an exhibition and talk on silence, writing, and book art at The Center for Book Arts.

But what, you ask, is book art? Basically, it is any sort of art which takes on a book format, or which incorporates books. For example, you might create a book object consisting of both painting and poetry, or you might incorporate a book into a larger, mixed media installation (a sculpture with books, perhaps, or a mound of torn papers).

Book art is incredibly versatile; indeed, it can take on any format, and incorporate any muse. Take, for example, Jen Bervin’s work:

Detail. Jen Bervin, The Composite Marks of Fascicle 28. Sewn cotton batting backed with muslin. Taken from www.jenbervin.com.

Detail. Jen Bervin, The Composite Marks of Fascicle 28. Sewn cotton batting backed with muslin. Taken from www.jenbervin.com.

Indeed – through cotton, thread, needle, and mutilated book, Bervin explores Emily Dickinson’s fractured, passionate world. To see more of this fascinating project, click here. 

I am really, really excited about this trip; I’ve always wanted to create book art. Who knows – maybe I’ll get inspired!

The exhibition will be up through March 29, 2014. Definitely go check it out! And remember: Manhattan is only a 7 train ride away!

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To learn more about The Center for Book Arts, click here. 

Comments? Recommendations? Ideas for a trip? Let me know!

Review: Double Vision

I know, from my training, that drawing is a play of light and dark, of shadow – drawing, ultimately, is the flicker of light on planes. Hence, when I draw, I am sensitive to tonalities, to shades of pale, of dark; ultimately, I follow light, and I create a play of differences, of gradations.

Every figure, and every body, is different; every pose is a different play. This, indeed, is what Christian Johnson captures in his work; this is his tonal game.

From The Red Room's Facebook page.

From The Red Room’s Facebook page.

At Double Vision, works are arranged, fittingly, as plays, as variating flickers; as the eye moves, trembles, and stops, the shapes collide; slowly, the mind wanders, and the fingers grasp, if but for a moment, the rough arc of the charcoal stub.

I am intrigued by Johnson’s knowledge of bodies, and by his warping of planes. The works are elegant, yet disturbing; the forms are voluptuous, yet spare.

Christian Johnson, Untitled, 2014. Charcoal and Graphite on Paper. 25 x 19 inches. From The Red Room's Facebook page.

Christian Johnson, Untitled, 2014. Charcoal and Graphite on Paper. 25 x 19 inches. From The Red Room’s Facebook page.

How, indeed, does one create a contradiction? How does one match differences, variations, and textures? How does one capture bodies? If Johnson’s work is any indication, the key is abandon – total, playful artistic abandon.

I felt abandon, too, in that crowd, in that tiny space – that is, I felt the joy of eyes, the reel of minds, the tick of dreams. This, I feel, is the why of art shows; this is why we gather.

I strongly, strongly encourage you to visit Double Vision; it is an absolute treasure. I, for one, will absolutely visit again.

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Check out The Red Room here and here. Johnson’s works will be on view through March 22, 2014.

Comments? Questions? Want to suggest an event? Let me know!

Stay Tuned… (A trip!)

While I do love Queens (and, of course, art in Queens), I think that I am in desperate, desperate need of change. And by change, I mean… a trip to Manhattan!

This weekend, I will be covering Double Vision, an exhibition featuring drawings by the very talented Christian Johnson. And, even better, it’s curated by one of my former art teachers, the wonderful, glorious, and ingenious Bonnie DeWitt!

I really can’t wait; Johnson’s work is brilliant. And, in a way, Manhattan energizes me – I look in to its bright steel-eyes and I am pushed forward, ever forward.

So, if you can, definitely come to Double Vision – it’ll surely be fantastic. Remember: it’s just a 7 train ride away!

I’ll probably post my review on Sunday. Until then, keep creating!

Stay Tuned: Ballet Hispanico!

As you may know, yesterday’s poetry reading was cancelled due to snow – yikes!

I, for one, hate the winter. It’s just not in my blood. I do, however, enjoy the fact that I get a lot of work done – I guess cabin fever has its perks!

That being said, stay tuned – I’ll be covering the Ballet Hispanico performance this weekend.

Haven’t heard of it? Definitely check it out! Ballet Hispanico is a gorgeous and passionate celebration of Latino/a culture and dance; I’m really, really looking forward to going.

What’s your favorite type of Latino/a dance? For me, it’s got to be Cuban mambo. Take a look:

There goes my childhood!

Anyway, I strongly encourage everyone to check out Ballet Hispanico. Cheers, and don’t fall on the ice!

Reflection: Brazilian Choro Music at Queens College

I love hip-hop; I like pop, alt, and rock; I appreciate classical, and I can, in fact, tolerate country. Ultimately, I’m pretty open-minded, and I’ll listen to just about anything once – anything, that is, except for Justin Bieber.

However, my favorite genre is, and always will be, salsa. La Lupe, Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, La India, Tito Puente, Hector Lavoe – these are my idols, my teachers.

Salsa, for me, is soul-music – it strengthens me, inspires me, and challenges me. Salsa is my childhood, my grandmother, my summers and my winters; salsa is rose-tone, a trumpet, a fire, and drums, drums, drums. Ultimately, salsa permeates every aspect of my work – it is my cadence, my flesh-rhythm.

Lately, I’ve been exploring other types of Latin music; I want to broaden my horizons. Thus, I’ve dipped my toes into bachata, and I am now absolutely obsessed with cumbia. However, I am woefully ignorant of Brazilian music – or, better put, I was woefully ignorant of Brazilian music until the night of November 20.

Indeed – that night, I attended the Ernesto Nazareth 150th Birthday Tribute, a Queens College Year of Brazil Event. Here, I got a taste of Brazilian music – and what a taste it was!

Ernesto Nazareth. Image from wikipedia.com.

Ernesto Nazareth. Image from wikipedia.com.

Ernesto Nazareth (1863 -1934) was a Brazilian composer and pianist; he is best known for his choro compositions. His influences were many – he drew from African, European, and American traditions.

He served, during his lifetime, at the boundary between classical and popular worlds; now, his repertoire is a critical part of any Brazilian’s musical training. The Tribute, then, was an eclectic mix of Nazareth’s compositions – a primer of sorts on choro, Nazareth, and on the vibrant foundations of Brazilian music.

The New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble was simply fantastic; they played with sensitivity, with silvery quickness and heat. The music is itself fascinating – florid, yet languid, and absolutely ripe with improvisational wit. It is a music of mixing, of webs and crossings and meeting places; it is Brazil as rhythm, as the furtive plucking of strings.

The Ensemble. From qc.cuny.edu.

The Ensemble. From qc.cuny.edu.

On my way home, I wondered: how would I incorporate this beguiling new rhythm into my work? How would it mix with my internal salsa? I am not sure; nevertheless, I am inspired, energized, and excited. Also, I am incredibly excited about the Year of Brazil – there is much, much more to come. To learn more about the Year of Brazil at Queens College, click here; to see a calendar of events, click here.

Choro, like Brazil, and like Queens, is a mixture, a rhythm, and a movement; I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s in store.

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For more information about Ernesto Nazareth, click here.

For more information about choro, click here.

For more information about The New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble, click here.

Looking for an excuse to stop studying? Look no further!

Tired of studying?

Need some art in your life?

Never fear – there’s plenty do to in Queens this weekend!

Oh Bernice! Reading Series: This charming, intimate, and always interesting reading series is currently housed at the Astoria Bookshop. Come by, sit down, and listen to some great words! The Series, by the way, is the brainchild of students from our very own MFA program.

When: Saturday, 7PM.

Art of Ink in America 2013/14: This exhibit is currently housed at our very own Godwin-Ternbach museum! Stop by during a study break and let your eyes feast on the ink paintings! I, for one, will definitely be visiting.

When: Study breaks! Check the website for museum times.

Two Solo Shows at The Greenpoint Gallery: I know, I know; Greenpoint is not in Queens. However, it’s very close – and The Greenpoint Gallery is absolutely fantastic! Take a break from your toils and soak up some fascinating art at this neighborhood favorite.

When: Friday; doors open at 8PM.

Have any other suggestions? Let me know! And remember – there’s always time for art, even during finals!

5 Pointz Is Gone – Is Queens Next?

5 Pointz is gone.

5 Pointz, today. Image from nypost.com.

5 Pointz, today. Image from nypost.com.

White paint, dead art. Gentrification at its finest.

5 Pointz was desecrated as we slept; the words, the colors, and the faces, defiant, were wiped away as we curled into our dreams. We are left with a dry, bleached shell of a museum; we are left with a sanitized emptiness.

The destruction. Image from stupiddope.com.

The destruction. Image from stupiddope.com.

But soon, even this will be taken from us; eventually, the shell will be torn down, and a luxury condominium will take its place. A bruise on top of a bruise.

I’ve lived in Queens my whole life; I’ve watched it grow, change, and ripen.

Now, I am witnessing a sort of disintegration – that is, a wiping away, a banishing of art, of unruliness, and, most importantly, of working class neighborhoods, institutions, and landmarks.

To whom does this borough belong?

I am no longer certain.

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For more information about 5 Pointz, click here.

For more information about the demolition, click here.

Stay tuned: I will be following this story closely over the coming weeks.

Angry? Sad? Unaffected? Have any ideas for action? Let me know!

Reflection: The New Salon at Queens College – Carl Phillips Reading

I love writing. Words, for me, are energy; words are oxygen, light, music, touch. Thus, I write obsessively, read obsessively, and edit obsessively; I pour over every syllable, every metaphor, and every clash of letters. Sometimes, I will even read in my dreams.

Ultimately, I am totally addicted; I am always and already writing. This, for me, is a poet’s life – this is what it means to be dedicated to the word.

However, I am terrified – mortified – of reading my work aloud. This, I believe, is largely due to my infamous shyness; I hate crowds, and I am a poor public speaker. And what, indeed, could be more frightening than sharing your work – your soul! – with a group of strangers? What could possibly be worse? How, indeed, do poets manage?

Readings are an integral part of a poet’s life; eventually, I will have to read. But how will I manage? What will I do? And why should I have to speak, anyway? What is so special about reading a poem aloud? Does anything really happen?

The crowd at Monday night’s Carl Phillips reading was large and energetic – and rightfully so, as Phillips showed us the how, and, more importantly, the why of reading. He taught us the power, the art of the spoken word; he showed us what a reading can be, should be, must be.

Indeed, when Carl Phillips reads his poetry, something absolutely happens; the flesh-tones of the voice mix with the ink, the curves of the written words, and the air of the room thickens; new meanings emerge, and sounds bloom; suddenly, the poem has blood, eyes, a body. This, indeed, is the magic of reading; this is what I had failed to understand.

Phillips has changed my perspective entirely; now, I am fascinated by the prospect of reading. I am even beginning to practice – that is, to mutter poems, to test them on my tongue. I am still nervous, of course; Phillips did not provide me with answers, but rather the sort of questions which are fruitful, which grow and thrive. How can I better myself as a speaker? How can I best perform my work?

At the end of his reading, Phillips began taking questions from the audience; one in particular has stayed with me. The student asked Phillips how he wrestles with the necessity of production – that is, how he manages to keep writing, keep innovating. Phillips answered, in short, that he does not see it as a wrestling or a battle; rather, he sees it as an engagement, a working-together, a project.

This, indeed, is how I will approach reading – as an engagement, as something to be worked with, learned from, and built upon. Now, I will engage with sound – I will add a new, exciting dimension to my work.

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For more information on Carl Phillips, click here.

Phillips’ new book of poems, Silverchest, is out now!

For more information on readings at Queens College, click here!