Thursday, January 20, 2011

Contemporary Art Shafts Me Again

Winners of the 2011 West Prize Announced.

It’s time for me to go on a tangent! For those of you who haven’t heard of the West Collection or the West Prize, here is the long and the short of it:

The foremost goal of the West Collection is to meet young artists who are creating challenging and inventive work and to present an experience of this new art to the public. Since the mid-90’s, the West family has loaned most of the collection to SEI Investments, which Al West founded in the late 60’s and runs today. Curator Paige West has actively grown the collection to extend beyond SEI, to include loans to museums and university galleries. A major goal in collecting has been to visit artists in the studio and to understand their reasons for making art. In presenting the artwork to the public, our goal is to impart an experience of the artist’s studio to the viewer through our installations and accessible traveling exhibitions.)

So to find all these new young artists, the West Collection has an annual competition and artists from all around the world submit work for consideration. Ten finalists are given $10,000 each, their work is purchased for the permanent collection and one lucky person is awarded the West Prize which is $25,000 plus inclusion in the collection.

Considering over 2000 people worldwide entered into this competition, considering I am not currently enrolled in or have attended grad school, or that I don't live in a trendy part of Brooklyn NY, the chances of me just being a finalist were almost nil.

One of the things you need to realize as an artist, or really any type of creative person, is that you are going to fail much more than you succeed. And that’s ok, in fact, creative or not, failure is required for growth as a human being. But when you do succeed, the achievement is that much sweeter because of all the times you fell flat on your face.

I entered into the competition, wasn’t chosen, game over, try again next year.
Maybe third time is the charm?

The frustration, the “Is this what I have to do to get noticed” sentiments came when I saw what work was crowned Worthy of the West Collection. I’m sure all the rejected 2000+ artists from around the world feel like they deserved to get in, but when I saw what beat me in the painting category, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was robbed.

Before I launch into why I want to punch this dog, I will say what I enjoyed about the 2011 winners:


I know he’s adorable and I would never do something like punch a dog, but remember I’m just venting.


THUMBS UP

Michael Beitz


What if a table was able to do break dancing moves and you took a picture of that table at the exact moment said move was taking place? You know, just before the table moved its’ way to the ground for a sweet windmill?

I know badass right!?

But it’s not about merging furniture with dance moves, it’s much deeper. It’s also surprising in the contemporary art world, because it is work that is relevant and meaningful.





“My current work is concerned with parallels between human emotional states and the mass produced design objects we live with and within. I explore ideas through drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. My experience as a furniture maker working in various shops for the past ten years has started to influence my present work, as I have started to use furniture design itself to discuss and interpret my own interpersonal relationships.”

Having only taken woodshop in junior high school and barely passing the basics of woodworking, I can’t imagine the kind of skill and patience needed to pull something like this off.

But aside from the skill, how many of us have felt miles away from the person sitting directly in front of us? Exactly, all of us. I can recall something that I said to my ex girlfriend years ago that was very hurtful and I would never forget the look on her face when she internalized what I had said. Our relationship at that moment changed for the worse and I could physically feel a wave form between us, much like the physical wave you can see in this piece, shifting us apart. I admit, I tend to be biased about painting and that’s because I’m a serious, hardcore lover of the art form. I even admit that I sniff tubes of paint because good quality oil paint smells good to me! But powerful, quality work deserves it’s due, thus I mentioned Michael Beitz first.

Billie Grace Lynn



This is just fucking rad, especially the tiny license plate that says “Mad Cow!”



The artist writes:
“This has always been the work of art: to inspire the senses-to make the body feel-without necessarily direct experience, through signs, colors, sounds, movement, and so on. At its highest, the experience and the making of art are identical. Accordingly my work is usually interactive and kinetic in nature. I strive to make pieces in which the viewer interface is both the form and function of the piece. I want people to remember themselves, in much the same way that babies discover their fingers.”
Yes. In addition to self-discovery as a main component of the artists thinking, the work has something you don’t find too much of in the contemporary scene, humor. Most people think of artists as dark, moody, brooding, fly off the handle at the drop of a dime, type of folks. Truth be told, most artists I know are that way, you can see it in their work. They can't manage their emotions well and it shows. The ones that aren’t, consciously work VERY hard to appear and maintain that persona because society tells them to be that way. Same way 99% rappers invest small fortunes in jewel encrusted grills, and diamond filled whatevers, we as a society tell them that’s what we expect of them; so they watch waayyy too much MTV and abide.

So when an artist can put the “I’m a tortured, creative soul” routine aside for a bit, I appreciate it.

Troy Dugas



Usually people who make found object, or “ready made art” are just intellectually lazy, trust fund brats that have been told from day one that EVERY idea they have ever had has been brilliant.

Google Dash Snow to see what I mean.

Or if they don’t originate from influence, they suffer from some sort of OCD, and their art ends up looking like something from an episode of Hoarders.


If this was in a gallery it would be called "art."


Or if the world is “lucky” enough, we get a combination of the two. Either way, 99% of the time I have to call bullshit.

The work of Troy Dugas makes it enjoyable to wrong once in a while.




“My work is made from product labels I purchase in unused bundles. I cut and arrange this material onto flat surfaces (paper, canvas, or wood) to produce artworks that appear woven. I use repetition and pattern to distract from the original purpose of the label to sell a product. The labels are often leftover from defunct products and can be from as far back as the 1930's. The material is seductive, and the thrill of finding and collecting is an exciting part of the process.”
I suspect that Troy might suffer from a little bit of OCD, hell even I have pack rat tendencies, but the man knows to channel his energy in a constructive manner. Look at that detail! And all from found product labels!

I don’t know his economic upbringing, but I would bet a crisp c-note this guy wasn’t raised by nannies from Belize because his parents were out being corporate titans. This is the focus of someone who came from a blue-collar/middle/lower class household. Rich kids almost never have the kind of work ethic or discipline it takes to make art like this.

I know I’m generalizing, as I know plenty of middle and lower class people who are lazy as fuck. And I can remember a few people from SAIC who came from wealthy families that weren’t utter pieces of shit. They had parents that made lots of money AND tucked them in at night.

I don’t even know why I’m even choosing to focus on the unrelated topic of money and class. Maybe it’s because I just saw the Kardashian Sisters on television talk about how difficult it is to run a business, and now I want set them all on fire, but not before I have sex with all of them, even the one who is old enough to be my mother:



NO THUMBS UP OR DOWN. JUST SORT OF “EHH”

So this was the work that made me say, “Well of course I didn’t get in, I’m not contemporary enough.” As this blog post is almost over, the anger I wrote about above has morphed into just “blah” and “That’s how it goes Jeff, let these assclowns have their moment in the sun, your time is coming.” Well maybe a bit of the anger is still there, just a sprinkling maybe.

And calling the remaining artists “assclowns” isn’t fair, I’m sure some of them are nice people, I just think their work is boring, and I’m not just saying that because I’m bitter about not getting in. From my view, it’s worse to feel nothing at all when you see something, rather than the immediate reaction of negative/positive. But the artist below just didn’t make an impression on me either way. Obviously the West Folks see something I don’t and maybe I would feel differently if I saw the work in person, but sadly that is impossible, so I will just use their words and pictures, and let you make up your own conclusions.

Rachel Sussman



For the past 5 years I have been researching, working with biologists and traveling the world to photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old an older. The project, called "The Oldest Living Things in the World", is part art and part science, with an underlying environmental component. It's also intended to provide a lens in which to consider Deep Time. The Oldest Living Things are a celebration of our past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.



Jordan Griska



I like to playfully reveal the shortcomings and failures of contemporary technologies, industries and lifestyles. In my work I modify and repurpose specific objects such as newspaper boxes, propane tanks, or a gas pump. These now comment on the cultures and industries that produced them. Industrial design and engineering constantly inspire my works, co-mingling with influences of Pop and minimalist explorations of color, form and space.



Caroline Lathan-Stiefel



The idea of piecing-together disparate elements (pipe cleaners, plastic bags & pins) strongly informs my work. The installations take various forms: parasitic-like growths that cover interior architectural elements & outdoors structures; hanging tents that immerse the viewer; suspended walls that curve & divide spaces; excessive, organic masses that transform room into caves. Monumental in scale & intensely colored & textured, the work aims to physically affect the viewer.



Taro Hattori



I am a multi-disciplinary installation artist. I create installations and sculptures based on my understanding of how the idea of violence and power is constructed through symbolic objects and information in our society and history. Often, my art practice becomes a way of measuring distances between myself and things that are personally unacceptable. I am interested in how those symbolic motifs from our contemporary society and history evoke personal stories and issues in viewers mind.



Blane De St. Croix



My work explores the geopolitical landscape through drawing and sculptural installation. I conduct extensive research on each project -through site visits, documentation, interviews, and satellites. I am interested in articulating humankind's desire to take command over the earth, revealing distinct conflicts with ecology, politics and ourselves in large-scale installations that utilize architectural space in a distinct, powerful and imposing manner.



Alex Lukas



Creating works on paper that incorporate a variety of media, my depictions of a near-future strive to explore the fragility of our current society and the physical infrastructure built to support it. Through scenes of devastated landscapes, crumbling foundations, overturned trucks and telling signs of human despair, I look to examine our cultural fascination surrounding our national mortality as well as the desensitization to the aesthetics of destruction.



Aurelia Gratzer

*This work is especially boring as shit* I also have to fill this under, "Are you fucking kidding me with artist statement?"



"The imaginary world of Aurelia Gratzer is a purely pictorial one. The various tasks in the history of painting are reflected in her paintings and find their execution in a very subjective manner. For centuries the art of painting solely existed in order to ban reality on the canvas – the so-called view out of the window – yet Aurelia Gratzer intentionally questions (its possibility) copying itself. The basis of her work are photos, partly taken by her, partly taken from magazines. The space confronting us, are the means to the end. Her central perspective projection of the rooms is divided into single fields. By working carefully along she achieves the advancement of her pictures, similar to a film script, by splitting the copy (template) into painting quotations of areas and changing it in her own exciting three dimensional way. There is no room for pure chance, even though Aurelia Gratzer recently tolerates a variation from this self set plan." -- Eva-Maria Bechter



And that’s it. I know kind of a boring way to finish, but at least I put the good stuff first! Of course I will try again next year, and you can look forward to another blog post about it, whether I get in or not.

Until then, puppies and rainbows!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Hoods Drive Off With a $6.5 Million Truckload of Art by Picasso and Others in Spain!

Ay Dios Mio!

By ARTINFO
Published: December 6, 2010

MADRID— A truck ferrying 28 artworks worth $6.5 million that included pieces by Picasso, Fernando Botero, and Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillada was stolen over the weekend from a warehouse in the Spanish town of Getafe, just south of Madrid. Footage from security cameras shows three hooded men making off with the vehicle, the keys to which had been left inside the glove compartment, according to the Associated Press. The art was being transported back to the six galleries in Madrid, Barcelona, and Cologne, from which they had been on loan for an exhibition in Germany.

A police statement describes how an alarm alerted officers that the door to the warehouse had been forcibly opened. By the time authorities arrived, however, the truck was gone. Last Tuesday, the vehicle — owned by Spanish transport company Crisóstomo — was found abandoned and emptied of its art cargo in the southern town of Alcorcon.

Representatives of the galleries, which included Stefan Röpke gallery in Cologne and Juan Gris gallery in Madrid, have been ordered by authorities not to discuss the case or publicize the identity of the specific missing works, for fear such information might impede the investigation of the art theft special unit. However, the art dealers continue to speculate to the press. "It has all the hallmarks of an inside job," the director of Stefan Röpke told the Telegraph.

Besides the Picasso drawing and the Botero and Chillida pieces, missing works include lithographs, sculptures, and paintings by Spanish artists Gonzalo Gonzalez, Julio Gonzalez, and Antonio Saura, as well as Slovenian artist Cveto Marsic. Several of these artworks were not insured. "Nothing like this has happened to us in 40 years," David Fernández, of the Juan Gris gallery, told the Guardian. "At a bad time like this some galleries are not insuring their work, which is mad. 

It never happens until it happens."

As of yet, no arrests have been made, and Fox News reports that the only person questioned in the case has been the Romanian truck driver whose vehicle was stolen. And the outlook is bleak: only around 15 percent of stolen artworks are recovered, according to one policeman assigned to the case. The officer told the Telegraph that art theft had become the third largest black market trade, following drugs and arms trafficking.