Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Art, Commerce and Damien Hirst

A recent opening reception at Offramp
As we begin the mad consumer dash to the holiday finish line, I thought I would share a few thoughts on the commercial side of running an art gallery.

The art business is a business like no other -- we are held to a different and sometimes double standard. Case in point: At an opening here at Offramp Gallery last year, someone complained about how crass it was to have a cash register at the front door. (It was a laptop, and we were selling a humble catalog for $10.) It was one of those things that really got under my skin and made me wonder how many free art openings this guy goes to a year, how many glasses of wine, how many plates of crackers and cheese he consumes -- without ever dropping a dime to support the gallery -- and on top of it, he feels justified insulting the host. This malcontent would probably be the first to call us elitist if we acted like we were above making money and paying the bills!

Don't get me wrong -- receptions and the buzz they create are an essential and fun part of the gallery business. But it isn't galleries like Offramp, that are struggling to show honest, quality work, that give the contemporary art world its bad reputation.

For that, one need look no further than Don Thompson's The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art. A fascinating look into the machinations of the high-end of the contemporary art world, this book is a real eye-opener. What exactly possesses someone to pay $12 million for a stuffed shark? It's all here, from the personality and ego-fed branding of gallerists, artists and auction houses, to the collectors who blindly follow them, competing for the right to pay millions for work they neither like nor understand. I highly recommend this book as a must-read for artists and art-lovers alike.

I found this video of art critic Robert Hughes, who isn't buying the hype about Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol or Richard Prince. He chats with billionaire collector Alberto Mugrabi, reducing him to babbling inanities about why Richard Prince is a great artist.
What do you think? Does Hughes speak truth to power and money? Or is he a bitter, washed-up art critic living in the past?

* * *

Congratulations to Offramp's Myron Kaufman for the profile published about him in the Pasadena Star-News! Click here to read it.

Click here for more information about Myron Kaufman.

* * *

Image of the Week

Chuck Feesago
ART LIES, A Contemporary Art
Quarterly #1, No. 60/Winter, 2008,
Theatre As Metaphor, 2010
paper, string & acrylic
approx. 64" x 64"

Upcoming Events at Offramp Gallery
The opening reception for ArtZone will be on Sunday, December 12, from 2-5pm. The exhibition is at Offramp for eight days only with these special hours: Saturday & Sunday (December 11, 12, 18, 19): noon-8pm; Monday - Friday (December 13-17): 4-8pm. ArtZone is a joint venture between Project 210 and Offramp Gallery, a one-stop holiday shop for affordable art. Twenty-seven artists from both galleries have been invited to submit art work priced at $500 or below.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tempus Fugit: Observations on Time

Myron Kaufman, The Ride of Your Life, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 25 1/2" x 16" each
of three panels

This week's Image of the Week is Offramp Gallery artist Myron Kaufman's The Ride of Your Life (right). One of the hallmarks of Myron's work is his gift for witty narrative -- in this case, an amusement park-like ride of your life that ends with "EXIT ALL" through the ominous jaws of death.

Thanks to artist Gary Raymond who recently returned from a trip to England raving about Christian Marclay's 24-hour video "The Clock" that was showing at the White Cube in London. The film is a fully functional 24-hour clock made up of clips from several thousand films referencing the time. It also has the critics raving. Here is a BBC news video about "The Clock".  I'm dying to see it and hope it makes it to this side of the pond soon.

Speaking of artists with too much time on their hands, here are two other 24-hour video clocks by Dutch designer Maarten Baas: the grandfather clock and the sweeper's clock.

I found this thought-provoking video "The Secret Powers of Time." Professor Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus in psychology at Stanford University, talks about our individual perspectives of time and how they influence our work, health and well-being.  He describes the six major time zones that humans live in: two focusing on the past, two on the present and two on the future. Which time zone are you operating in?

Congratulations are in order for Offramp artist Quinton Bemiller, who is included in the soon to be released The Open DaybookOver 300 contributing artists have created work especially for this book that is designed to be used as a daily journal, sketch book or admired as an art book.  

To launch the book, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is holding The Open Day Book Party on December 5 from 4-6pm which will feature drinks and appetizers, astrology readings, and speed drawing to fill your calendar for the years to come. The event is open to the public -- I hope to see you there!
Upcoming Events at Offramp Gallery
Gwen Samuels, Springs,
2010, mixed media, size
varies, from ArtZone at 
Offramp Gallery, Dec. 11-19 

The opening reception for ArtZone will be on Sunday, December 12, from 2-5pm. The exhibition is at Offramp for eight days only with these special hours: Saturday & Sunday (December 11, 12, 18, 19): noon-8pm; Monday - Friday (December 13-17): 4-8pm.

ArtZone is a joint venture between Project 210 and Offramp Gallery, a one-stop holiday shop for affordable art. Twenty-seven artists from both galleries have been invited to submit art work priced at $500 or below.

Artists include:  Lea Anderson, Quinton Bemiller, Wilhelm Bleckman, Anita Bunn, Elaine Carhartt, Marilyn Cvitanic, Joyce Dallal, Chuck Feesago, James Griffith, D. Jean Hester, Stanton Hunter, Myron Kaufman, Bianca Kolonusz-Partee, Nicholette Kominos, Linsley Lambert, Megan Madzeoff, Kristan Marvell, Caroline Maxwell, Dan Taulapapa McMullin, Richard Osaka, Gwen Samuels, Susan Sironi, Francesco Siqueiros, Erika Suderburg, Theodore Svenningsen, Ruth Trotter and Megann Zwierlein.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Art and Technology: From Eadweard Muybridge to Evan Grant

Anita Bunn, untitled, 2010, halftone photolithograph,
18" x 14" framed, included in Offramp's ArtZone exhibition,
December 11-19, 2010.
I'll start by introducing a new feature, this week's Image of the Week (right), by Offramp artist Anita Bunn. The photo, along with many other works by 27 artists, will be featured in our upcoming exhibition, ArtZone, from December 11 - 19. The opening reception is on Sunday, December 12, 2-5pm.

The sepia tones in Anita's photo got me thinking about the photos of Eadward Muybridge, often referred to as the Father of the Motion Picture. There is a Muybridge exhibition currently in London (through January 16), Muybridge at the Tate Britain. Highlights include a seventeen foot panorama of San Francisco and recreations of the zoopraxiscope, a method he developed of projecting animated versions of his photos.

For the occasion, the Tate is offering a free iPhone app, called . . . wait for it . . . the Muybridgizer! Users of the app can "Muybridge-ize their frames with grids and sepia tones, transforming their moving images into striking vintage-style pictures."

If you want to see more of Muybridge's images without traveling to the UK, I recommend his classic books, Animals in Motion and The Human Figure in Motion.

Skipping from 19th century technology to 21st, I came across this interesting BBC news video about light artist, Evan Grant, and his amazing 3D architectural projection mapping. Grant is the founder of "collective seeper," where he works as "director, developer and producer with a self-applied remit for innovation led wonderment."

Screen capture from Evan Grant's Battle of Branchage.
A little research led me to these videos of Grant's work: the Battle of Branchage, projected onto the walls of the third-century Gorey Castle, and this one, projected on Frank Gehry's  IAC Building in New York City.

What do you think? Art? Spectacle? Both? Feel free to comment below.

Upcoming Events at Offramp Gallery


Don't forget the closing reception & artist's talk for Lea Anderson: Membrainchain this Sunday, November 21, 2-5pm. The artist's talk will begin around 3pm.

Lea's show got a great review by James Daichendt in the Weekend edition of the Pasadena Star-News.

* * *
Offramp artist, Myron Kaufman, will be reading from his illustrated children's book, Jack and Kate, this Friday, November 19 at the studio of Offramp artist, Quinton Bemiller.  Myron and Artist/Poet Jackie Tchakalian will read aloud while the book's images are projected in slide format. For more information and to RSVP, contact Quinton Bemiller via email (quinton.bemiller at gmail.com) or telephone 626.590.5584.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Musings on the Brain, Oliver Sacks & Hieronymus Bosch

installation detail, at Offramp Gallery
through November 21, 2010.
Living with the beautiful chain of morphing brains in Lea Anderson's Membrainchain installation has given me the perfect excuse to revisit the books of Oliver Sacks -- especially his tales of visual artists.  For those of you not familiar with Sacks, he is a neurologist who writes compassionate and fascinating case studies of patients with neurological disorders.

"The Case of the Colorblind Painter," from Sack's An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales tells the story of a mature, accomplished artist, who after suffering a concussion in a car accident, becomes completely colorblind -- not your red/green garden-variety colorblindness, but completely unable to see any color whatsoever.

"The Landscape of His Dreams" involves a man who becomes a painter after a strange illness. He is suddenly compelled to paint from memory every nook and cranny of his childhood home in Italy. It is as if he has a 3-D model of the town in front of him and can turn it to whatever perspective he wants. The obsession takes over and becomes his life.
Not all of the case histories in this book are about artists (there's one about a surgeon with Tourette's syndrome!) but all are fascinating. 
* * *
How can you not read an article with this title: "Shocking news from Oxford: you can't play a flute with your bottom: Musicologists in Oxford have made exact replicas of instruments featured in The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch." It's guaranteed to make you smile.
* * *
Thanks to Heather Lowe who filled me in on the artist's name I couldn't remember last week: Patrick Hughes. His "reverspective" paintings are fascinating. Here's a video of him talking about his work. 
Upcoming at Offramp Gallery
The closing reception and artist's talk for Lea Anderson: Membrainchain will be held on Sunday, November 21 from 2-5pm. The artist's talk will be at 3pm. If you haven't seen the installation yet, try to make it on the 21st.
Offramp Gallery and Project 210 are merging for the holidays with a joint venture, ArtZone, a one-stop holiday shop for affordable art. 27 artists from both galleries have been invited to submit art work priced at $500 or below. The exhibition will be held at Offramp Gallery for eight days only, December 11-19, 2010.  The opening reception will be held on Sunday, December 12, from 2-5pm. Please note Special Holiday Hours: Saturday & Sunday (December 11, 12, 18, 19): noon-8pm, Monday - Friday (December 13-17): 4-8pm

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Musings on the Brain, Optical Illusions, and Membrainchain

Lea Anderson: Membrainchain, 2010, detail
As you can see in the photo on the right, the hundreds of links that make up Lea Anderson's installation, Membrainchain, currently on display at Offramp Gallery, are transparencies, each derived from the same MRI image of the brain.

With brains and intense visual experiences on my mind, I went web surfing looking for interesting new info on brain research. As often happens, I got sidetracked -- by some very interesting optical illusions that I thought I would share with you. Some of them you may have already seen, but if you haven't they're worth a look.

Here's a test for schizophrenia called the mask test. While relieved to find that I am not schizophrenic, I was determined to see the rotating mask the way a schizophrenic would: no luck, no matter how many times I tried. Let me know if you can bypass the illusion.

Next I looked for artists who used optical illusions in their work. I came across
this video of Roy Lichtenstein's House I at the National Gallery of Art's sculpture garden.

That reminded me of another work I had seen a while back at a gallery in Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Here's a shaky video of it at Art Basel Miami 2008. I can't remember the name of the artist or the gallery at Bergamot, so if any of you know who it is, let me know. 

My all-time favorite is a Mental Acid Optical Illusion. Be sure to look at this one full-screen and stick with it to the end -- it's worth it for an amazing visual experience!
After the intensity of the "acid trip," I was happy to find this calming little video of Animated Optical Illusions.
Lea Anderson
Magnetic Resonant Imagining 11, 2010
drawing on digital print on Mylar
14" x 18" image size, 22" x 26" framed

But back to Membrainchain . . . I just posted a slide show of Lea Anderson's drawings on Offramp's website. Click here, then scroll down on the left until you see the thumbnails. Click on one to start the slide show and have yet another intensely visual experience!