Native Art And Culture In The Spotlight

Native Art And Culture In The Spotlight

This is shaping up to be a great year for Native American art. I know I’m a tad biased on this, but I’ve never before seen so much interest and enthusiasm for the native arts scene. Looks like the beginnings of a paradigm shift.

What’s happening?
  • Native artists and performers are being featured in major museums including the Whitney Biennial, The Met, Crystal Bridges, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and many more.
  • Collectors are discovering contemporary Native artists, especially those who are breaking with convention.
  • Native art is being considered for public spaces e.g., Brookfield Place is working with Native artists and performers.

Every curator, academic or collector is telling me the same thing: Keep an eye on contemporary Native Art, it’s shaping up to be the next big thing.

Of course, all this new attention creates an element of trendiness which in turn, creates opportunities for blunders, e.g., Dior’s new Sauvage fragrance commercial starring Johnny Depp has been roundly panned as being culturally insensitive. However, Rag & Bone’s new mural at their Houston Street store by Diana Garcia and Alexcia Panay is beautiful (pic below).

Scroll down for photos/images from recent shows plus those opening later this year.

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Puma x Jahnkoy Streetwear Launch: Whoa! THIS Is Fabulous!

Puma x Jahnkoy Streetwear Launch: Whoa! THIS Is Fabulous!

I can’t imagine any other NYFW show delivering as much feel-good energy and unique style as this one. What a great experience. I haven’t hooted and hollered as much in a long time. Thank you, Cynthia Nelson, for the invite.

JAHNKOY (Maria Kazakova) is a Brooklyn-based visual artist who was born and raised in Siberia. This “craftivist,” as she calls herself, has entered into a partnership with PUMA to launch ME$$ENJAH, a premium ready-to-wear capsule collection of hand-crafted garments, accessories, jewelry and shoes embellished with beading, hand stitching, and vinyl application.

The project “ME$$ENJAH” aims to re-establish cultural wear and reintroduce traditional ways of dress in contemporary language. The artist wishes to raise public awareness on the necessity to restore artisanship and sustainability of the way that we consume and produce our clothes to inspire the World’s population to wear and cherish cultural clothing as well as to remember the importance of adornment and spiritual role of the garment in the human life.

Bravo to all involved but major shout out to Nathan Trice for his spectacular choreography!

Scroll down for pics and video from this inspiring, high-energy show!!

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ARTECHOUSE NYC. Best Digital Art In The World

ARTECHOUSE NYC. Best Digital Art In The World
ARTECHOUSE is a new age art mecca dedicated to groundbreaking artists who work at the intersection of art, science, and technology.

I visited on Saturday. Highly recommend. Not sure where I would place it in the pantheon of art. I’m currently thinking it might be the next generation of street art with tech replacing wheatpaste!

Every city has a destination for fine arts, theater, music, and film. Our goal is to be the home in those cities for innovative, 21st-century art. A place where one can always get inspired, educated, and empowered by exploring the latest and the best works of art and tech.

Sandro, Founder and Art Director

After opening in Washington DC in 2017 and Miami last year, ARTECHOUSE has finally made it to NYC.

Their first exhibition, Machine Hallucination by Refik Anadol debuted this week in the former Boiler Room space in the Chelsea Market.

“Machine Hallucination” introduces New Yorkers to Refik Anadol, the Turkish-born, LA-based media artist, who has pioneered the aesthetics of machine intelligence. His body of work positions creativity at the intersection of humans and machines.

  • Machine Hallucination is an immersive, digital experience utilizing machine learning and algorithms built on a data set of more than three million images representing various architectural styles and movements.
  • As the machine generates a data universe of architectural hallucinations in 512 dimensions, it begins to explore the ways in which knowledge can be experienced spatially.

Know Before You Go

Order your tickets ($24 per person) online and be on time but be prepared for tech glitches (see below). After waiting for 20 minutes for the first slot of the morning, I asked them to rebook me for 12 noon which they were more than happy to do (and they gave me a free drinks ticket good for a mocktail at their bar).

  • The exhibition is not recommended for individuals who are sensitive to bright or flashing lights. I’m not especially sensitive to lights but there were a few times when I had to shut my eyes so as not to get dizzy.
  • Due to the complex technology employed, the installation may require unplanned maintenance; this may result in delays for visitors or in the cancellation of a visit (but you’ll get a refund).
  • Participants thought to be unstable or under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be admitted and will be requested to leave!?!

Scroll down for videos and photos from my visit.

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Governor’s Island Art Fair: A Must-See This September

Governor’s Island Art Fair: A Must-See This September

Governor’s Island is one of my favorite “getaways” and it’s right in Manhattan. A hidden gem for biking and walking, it also has the best views of the city.

For the last 12 years, I’ve always headed to Gov Island for what I consider to be one of the best art fairs in the city – one that’s run by, and for, artists.

This year it opened on Sunday, September 1st and will run through September 29th (weekends only). If you’re in NYC this month, put it on your calendar, you’ll thank me.

The fair is held in several of the Colonel’s Row Buildings with each artist assigned a dedicated space allowing them to create a totally immersive experience.

I checked it out on the opening weekend and although I went specifically for the art fair, there were so many other random discoveries, e.g., the Queen Mary 2 was docked in Red Hook, with Candace Bergen and Meryl Streep (celebrating her 70th) on board. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus was also hosting its/ annual Unicycle Festival.

Scroll down for a look-see of all that Governor’s Island has to offer.

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2019 Whitney Biennial: Is This The Most Lackluster Show Ever?

2019 Whitney Biennial: Is This The Most Lackluster Show Ever?

 

What happened this year? Obviously, PC-washing art makes for a dull show. And with activists now running the museum, this may very well be the last Biennial (and if not, it should be).

 

As a long-time member of the Whitney, I am annoyed and nonplussed that the museum has allowed this to happen. No backbone. I’d like to see every trustee and board member resign in protest against this “tainted money” witchhunt. Let’s see how the provocateurs manage to keep this, or any museum, afloat.

And I wonder if the artists who asked to withdraw their work will now allow the activists to vet all their future (and past) collectors to make sure only those deemed pure enough will be allowed to acquire their work?

At the moment, it feels more than a bit hypocritical, like having their cake and eating it too. Once the artists milked the biennial for everything it had to offer, they dropped out. They’ve gotten their press, their Instagrams, their sales.

UPDATE: As of Sunday morning, all the artists were back in since Kanders had resigned.

I predict, however, that given how easily the activists were able to manipulate the Whitney to do their bidding, this is not the end of their protests. Ken Griffin, the trustee and hedge-fund billionaire who resigned for a nano-second last week, might yet get another chance to resign, this time perhaps he’ll not waffle on his decision! Giving money, giving time, serving on boards, philanthropy in general should not end up being an exercise in humiliation.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m agitated about this! Warren Kanders is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s coming.

Any trustee or company whose wealth comes from doing business with the government or the US military should consider themselves fair game. As is any company supplying police cars (watch out Ford Foundation!) or consumer goods companies like Coca Cola who use plastic bottles or make sugary, unhealthy beverages. The list of targets goes on and on.

Very challenging times ahead for cultural institutions. I see pink slips coming.

 

In the meantime, scroll down for photos from this year’s bland biennial (with three notable exceptions).

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Beyond The Streets New York Is Epic: An Absolute Must-See

Beyond The Streets New York Is Epic: An Absolute Must-See

 

Forget about the Whitney Biennial, the show to see this summer is “Beyond The Streets.” Brilliant and impeccably installed. Kudos to all involved but especially to Roger Gastman.

 

It opened yesterday (June 21) on two floors of a still-under-construction building on the Brooklyn waterfront. (And yes, I get the irony of having just written that Brooklyn was over and here I am raving about this show that’s not only in Brooklyn but smack dab across from that horrid William Vale Hotel.)

Be that as it may, Beyond The Streets blew me away. It was curated by Roger Gastman, the renowned graffiti historian. It comes to us from LA. and will undoubtedly travel to other cities once its run in NY is over at the end of August.

Even if you are not a street art fan, there is much in this show to appreciate. The way Gastman connects the artists, their style, the politics with the urban environment itself, is thought provoking and utterly enthralling. And it’s installed beautifully over two floors (100,000 square feet). Money was clearly not an issue.

Also fascinating to see how street art has evolved. Major culture shift evident with many of the 150 artists featured in this show now in major contemporary art collections around the world, e.g., Barry McGee, Jose Parla, Swoon, Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Mark Gonzales.

Even the gift shop through which you must exit is fabulous, and sales were brisk while I was there. Many of the guys I spoke to, made the gift shop their first stop to make sure they were able to get the limited edition items they wanted.

Sponsors for the show include Adidas, Perrier, Modernica, Montana Colors, NPR, NTWRK, Twenty Five Kent and WNYC.

The show is too good to pick favorites, but three standouts include the functioning tattoo parlor by Bert Krak & Alexis Ross, the entire gallery representing a group of Japanese artists including Madsaki and Takashi Murakami, and Bill Barminski’s re-creation of an entire living room and its contents in cardboard (absolutely bonkers!!!).

Get your tickets online ($25). It runs through August. And if this is your thing, make sure you follow Beyond The Streets on Instagram.

 

Scroll down for photos of my best of the best.

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Nordic Art In The Spotlight In NYC And At The Venice Biennale

Nordic Art In The Spotlight In NYC And At The Venice Biennale

Nordic Impressions at Scandinavia House

 

“Nordic Impressions” is up until June 8 at Scandinavia House – absolutely stellar show. Several of the artists are also representing their countries at the Venice Biennale.

 

Janine King and I toured this show recently with a Scandinavia House curator which added immeasurably to our understanding and appreciation of the work. Those Nordic artists are a quirky bunch, to put it mildly.

But even without an in-person tour, I highly recommend this show. Especially since several of the artists have been getting rave reviews for their installations at the just-opened Venice Biennale.

The show at Scandinavia House has been culled from a much larger and more comprehensive survey of Nordic art recently exhibited at Washington DC’s Phillips Collection.

This show features only contemporary works. Artists include Olafur Eliasson, Ragnar Kjartansson (video), Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter from Iceland but currently living/working in Brooklyn, Israeli-born Danish painter Tal R, Danish artist collaborative SUPERFLEX, video artist Tori Wrånes and Sámi artist Outi Pieski.

The show is up for only two more weeks so if you are into art and happen to be in NYC, I suggest you hightail it over to Park Avenue to check out. And if you have time, stop by their café for lunch or dinner. The Nordic fare is quite good even if the restaurant design and vibe is a little peculiar.

 

Scroll down for more photos and videos.

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Met Gala 2019: And The Award For “Worst Look” Goes To…

Met Gala 2019: And The Award For “Worst Look” Goes To…

 

Loved this year’s theme and picking the TOP 10 MOST FABULOUS is easy. But try coming up with a tight list of the most egregious looks – it’s much harder.

 

In part, because everyone brought their A-game and with a theme like “Camp,” it’s more challenging to figure out the intent of each get-up. For example, I did not know that Natasha Lyonne (who I thought was just wearing a hideous outfit) was channeling Klaus Nomi.

But I will say, in working on who belongs on which list,  I am clearly not a fan of Vegas showgirl looks, mullet dresses (i.e. short in-front, long in back), that whole jacket with no pants thing that Dapper Dan is into. And, most importantly, gold really turns me off (I had at least 5 women decked out in gold who I whittled down to one – sorry Julianne Moore, you’re the token gold wearer).

 

Scroll down to see my top 10 “Not Making The Grade” looks – hard to pick who would be #1 – but have to give Kim K top honors, in a tie with Amber Valletta.

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