Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Nose at The Metropolitan Opera

As the curtain’s closed on the final performance of this fall’s run of The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera,  the audience was brought to their feet in a lengthy ovation.  I always get soaring sense of pride seeing actors take a bow on stage, as if I had, in some way, contributed to the work–a “yes, WE did it” feeling. In this particular piece, this feeling was even more pronounced than usual, and in retrospect, I blame Kentridge’s lecture I attended earlier this month. Much of the artist’s work is concerned with the uncertainties of sight and perception–individualized, varied in perspective.  Just as the lecture provided several options for viewing a single piece, The Nose was constructed in way which encouraged the audience member to make their own viewing decisions which produced alternate readings of the narrative.

If one were to approach The Nose as a seasoned opera-goer with the expectations of any production characteristic of the Met’s slightly conservative production history, disappointment, confusion, irritation, or similar emotions would certainly ensue.  For example the white-haired woman seated to my left in head-to-toe fur who whispered to her friend, “Are there any famous arias in this opera?” was in for a bit of a shock.  Similarly, the ancient man to my right fell asleep in the first act.   A little rukous and a lot absurd, The Nose disturbs, topples, and haphazardly/masterfully re-constructs opera for all willing participants.

Kentridge’s  signature style dominates the production: consistent red, white, and white pallet, generous use of animation and collage, political themes balanced by humor.  Shastakovich’s adaptation of Gogol’s short story of the same name, lends itself beautifully to Kentridge’s touch, and is allowed to venture further into the absurd.  Several screens are used to create flattened space and to break up scenes, also providing a surface for animation.  As if the extensive used of projection is not enough of a stand-out element in the world of opera, the animation acts as characters itself similar to a live action/animation combination on film.  The title character is often depicted in projection, leaping up onto physical sets in direct contact with the protagonist, Kovalyov.   A projection of a torn-paper animated horse is a recurring character used to appear to pull the sets on and off stage– synching up with the performers.   This constant relationship between real and un-real, 2 and 3-D worlds, relates to the themes of non-sensical hierarchies.  “Why do people go crazy over nonsense?” a character proclaimes towards the end of the performance.  Select lines are projected on stage, some translated to English from the origianl Russian, some translated into 5 languages at once, flickering in time with the music.  The chaotic nature of the design is riveting but, as it is impossible to take all aspects in simultaneously, the viewer must take sides.   If one chooses to follow the subtitles, the projected lines are lost and vise versa.  Everything happens at such a pace that no two viewings could be the same. I think that Kentridge is fueled by confusion and the idea that only upon extraction and digestion of select elements can the event begin to accrue meaning.  Isolation of a way of understanding.  Humor as a perspective for acceptance.

Jonas Wood at Shane Campbell Gallery


After a long day gallery hopping by bike, it was a pleasure to step inside the serenity of Shane Campbell gallery and find such a treasure trove of paintings. Jonas Wood certainly knows his medium. There’s something so appealing about the simplicity of paint on canvas; of completely flat matt areas behind chunky brushwork with bristle traces undisguised. Lush colours too – vivid and inviting without being day-glo.

The pieces share elements of both Matisse and Rousseau’s style with their focus on bold patterns and jungle-esque pot plants. Wood’s paintings are intimate, exquisite and 100% covetable.



Another Fashion Exibition

Recently I had the priveldge of visiting The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk At the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

In the past few years I have seen quite a few fashion exhibitions at art museums. I saw Savage Beauty (Alexander Mcqueen)"Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" Costume Institute Exhibition At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art - Preview

and Superheroes: Fashion and FantasyRUCOSTUME at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Fashion in Color73805035_833413aa86_z

at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to name a few examples.

Fashion as a medium encompasses a lot:  2D process works,  fashion photography and video, performance, garments etc.

I can’t imagine how curators go about organizing and conveying all of this information in these large fashion exhibitions.

Something I have come to dislike about fashion exhibitions is the theatrics that accompany them.  It seems that fashion bridges the gap between the fine art world popular culture.  Fashion exhibitions bring people to museums that might not frequently visit museums.  My experience is that museums tend to cater to that.  They bring a level of theatrics through sets, sound, and accessories that just bombard the viewer, and try to tell them what they should be experiencing.  Instead of giving the viewer a chance to form their own opinion, and letting the great fashion works, stand up for themselves.  (the Cooper Hewitt Did a great job of not bombarding the viewer with too much other stuff)

I wish that curators could give the space and breadth to the garments we are observing that you would give a painting, sculpture or installation.  I can’t imagine building a set and or adding music to display a sculpture.

I also am consistently let down to observe fashion on mannequins.  Clothing was meant to be worn, to have movement.  I dream of an exhibition that hires live models or finds some other creative way to bring garments to life instead of sitting there motionless.

That being said, I think the Jean Paul Gaultier was closer to this dream than the others I mentioned.  All the mannequins had faces projected on them and they were speaking as you walked by.  The projection over a mannequin with a nose distorted the face a little and made it almost alien like.  But it made the still models more active and interesting than any other fashion exhibition I’ve seen.  There were still a lot of unnecessary theatrics that compete with what I was actually there to see.  But as usual to see such exquisite examples of fashion up-close, I am willing to try and block out the distracting additives.



Still, Gaultier has an impressive lifetime of work on display, and it is worth investigating.



Jonas Wood at Shane Campbell Gallery

Jonas Wood detail2

Went to Jonas Wood’s show this week. Was great to finally see his work in person – once again proved that viewing images of paintings on a computer can’t compare to the real life experience, as scale, texture, physicality, space, color, etc. is often lost in the digital translation. So don’t trust my image, go see the show!

Labels for an interdisciplinary world.

Today in our super connected interdisciplinary world we seem to all a jack-of-all-trades on some level.  In the past, people would pick a trade and learn everything they could and become an expert.  Today, fashion designers direct movies, painters are curators, actors make art etc.

There is a certain amount of expectation to have a huge trick bag of skills, especially, in my opinion in art related professions.

We are expected to do it all.  But when you meet someone  and they ask you what you do – – What do you say?

In my case I land somewhere between art, costume, fashion, performance and community work (this is the shortlist).  Sometimes I just tell people I make performative wearables that multiple people can activate at one time. But both of those are pretty long to put on a business card and still doesn’t give someone an idea of what my work is.  I am actually quite jealous of people that fit under specific descriptive categories: painter, teacher, doctor, actor etc.

Since I can’t sum up my genre in a few words or less I think I come across really confusing on paper and it’s hard to apply for things like residencies, competitions, and programs since those are usually under a specific categories themselves.

So for now, until I come up with something that I think adequately describes what I do, I look for other people doing similar things and how they label themselves.  The closet thing I have found so far is Hibino Kod(z)ue, who calls herself a “Costume Artist.”  Her work falls somewhere between art, fashion and costume.

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While I continue to develop a label, I will have a super crowded business card.


Mike Andrews and Thomas Baumann at The Suburban



Opening: Sunday, OCTOBER 20, 2 – 4pm

The Suburban
125 N. Harvey Av.
Oak Park, IL 60302

ph: 708-305-2657

Meow Wolf at Thomas Robertello Gallery


I’m a frequent visitor to Thomas Robertello Gallery, but nothing could have prepared me for Meow Wolf’s all-encompassing multi-media installation which currently engulfs the entire space from the ceiling down.

Meow Wolf are a collective of 18 artists based in Santa Fe who have been collaborating since 2008. Nucleotide is described as an ‘immersive oceanic environment of a personified collective consciousness’ and took three solid weeks to create. Toothpicks, Q-Tips, false nails, mirrors, spray foam, christmas lights and oodles of hand-applied plaster are just some of the plethora of materials used.

It feels like a underwater Christmas grotto and simply has to be experienced first hand – such a breath of fresh air amongst the crisp white west loop galleries.

Nucleotide runs through December 14, 2013.
Thomas Robertello Gallery, 27 N Morgan Street, Chicago 60607


Jonas Wood at Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago

JW159Jonas Wood

October 12 – November 23, 2013

Shane Campbell Gallery

673 N Milwaukee Avenue

Chicago, IL 60642


Jeffrey Deitch on the leveling of Contemporary Art

The Brooklyn Rail, in their InConversation section, sat down with Jeffrey Deitch, former director of LAMOCA to chat about his views on contemporary art, where it is and where it is going, or more so, where he would like it to go. The interview is based around an ideology of today’s art world is continuing to break down the walls between insider and outsider using street art and disco as examples as support. Follow the link below to get there

Light and the Unseen, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL (Curator: Julie Rudder)

Olivia Schreiner Kennedy Overcast, 2013 Acrylic on canvas 24" x 30"

Olivia Schreiner
Kennedy Overcast, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
24″ x 30″

Olivia Schreiner Evening Windows, 2013 Acrylic on canvas 36" x 48"

Olivia Schreiner
Evening Windows, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
36″ x 48″

I was pretty taken aback with Olivia Schreiner’s paintings when i showed up for the Midwestern Appropriation opening on Sunday. Without delving too far into it, I was initially taken by the use of the neon colors in a seemingly “classy way.” There was nothing stark about the paintings leaving them in a comfortable, approachable state. Even in their neonness, None of the paintings were screaming “LOOK AT ME.” A statement one can rarely make.