Monday, March 1, 2010

End of Boston/NYC art extravaganza

Hi dear readers/true believers,

While I'm certain there will be times such as now where I'll not hit my personal goal of posting once every week to ten days, I'm going to give myself a break because I've been playing host to an international friend of mine. Showing her the best and brightest of northeastern America's art has taken precedence.

Wow. In the past ten days I went to about a total of 40 galleries, an "opening", two concerts and the WHITNEY BIENNIAL. I'm not going to even begin to try and dissect or analyze what I saw because it was just too massive and if art is food, I'm stuffed. All I'll say is that this year's Whitney is a massive improvement from 2008. I pat the curators on the back because the majority of pieces I thought were thought provoking, significant, timely and even at times (god forbid) aesthetically or stylistically beautiful. I'll also run off a list of artists who I think deserve particular attention from the Whitney's website.

Ari Marcopoulos
Kate Gilmore
The Bruce High Quality Foundation
Nina Berman
Roland Flexner
Jesse Aron Green
Aki Sasamoto

There's more (I told you it was an exciting show!) but I'm tired of cutting and pasting. Also on the fifth floor is a collection from past Whitney's including what were my 2 favorite pieces of my NYC trip, a Mike Kelly and a Paul Pfeiffer (not to be mistaken as the kid from the Wonder Years).

I want to write, but honestly my head is spinning, so I'm coping out with some photo essays, or as we'd say in high school "humanities visuals". These are reference photos for my next comic book and series of work - "SUBURBAN CYCLOPS HUNTERS". Enjoy!


The Amy Bishop Case


Artemis/Joan of Arc Study; Reference for Suburban Cyclops Hunters

Alright, I lied. I need to write a little bit.

The model in these photos is Isa Sundell. Ms. Sundell and I met about 10 years ago while I was in high school on a foreign language French trip in Paris. We were staying in the same hostile. Online social networking, instant messaging and blogs were in their infancy. We wanted to stay in contact, so we did it the old fashion way and exchanged addresses, her in Glimmshammar, Sweden, me in Ipswich, Ma, USA. We've been writing ever since.

This past week Ms. Sundell visited me in America for the first time since we began writing. Along with doing a whirlwind art tour of Boston and New York City, I showed Isa highlights of the small New England town where I was born, Ipswich. Being one of the oldest established towns in the United States, Ipswich also has THE most beautiful beach in Massachusetts, Crane's Beach. For my money, it is one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.

Isa Sundell is one of the strongest people I know. She has battled many hardships in her life while still maintaining a grace and serenity that is noteworthy. Simultaneously gentle and honest, and at times, frank, I am honored to call her a friend and a fellow artist.

Along with being an artist, Isa Sundell is half way through medical school. She is taking a year off from medical school to practice art in Uppsalla, Sweden. She is thinking of going into Neurology.

We did two trips to Crane's Beach to get these photos. The first time it was sunny and on a weekend so there were horseback riders, men with metal detectors and many black labs running around. Crane's Beach in winter is silent, even amongst the beeps of men looking for silver and the barks of eager dogs waiting for tennis balls to be thrown. As we walked around catching up and informing one another of how our lives have altered since we last saw one another (which was almost five years ago), I had a transcendental moment. The pieces weren't all put together in my mind and maybe I've just watched one too many Bergman films, but I knew then and there we needed to return to the Beach. Ms. Sundell needed a sword.

The sword was owned by my father who passed away this summer due to a series of minor strokes that occurred over the course of about a week and a half. The experience was traumatizing for me; I had to quit my day job in New York City and move home to take care of my mother (and myself). My father was an unbelievably selfless person who I loved dearly, but he could be very mysterious. My father worked long hours at a Boston law firm where his title was administrative director. One day he returned home with a sword in his hands. My family asked him where the sword came from and he simply replied "I bought it!". The only clue to the sword's mystery was a small, translucent sticker at the sword's shaft that read "Pakistan".

I don't pretend to be Scott Schuman, "the Sartorialist", but I was a C average textile designer in Manhattan for six months, graduated from RISD and I've watched enough Project Runway to know when I see something I like.

Ms. Sundell's fashion style personifies her personality. When I asked her if she was comfortable doing the photo shoot she said "Should I wear these leg warmers?" I calmly replied "yes" but inside I was thinking "Are you KIDDING ME?! The leg warmers ARE your outfit!".

It is significant to note that Isa's gloves and leg warmers are HAND KNIT by her mother. The patterns, if I am not mistaken, are traditional Swedish textile patterns. I didn't get a good photo of it because I'm NOT Scott Schuman (and this being my first fashion shoot I was a little nervous as photographer) but the leg warmers go up about mid-thigh, thus creating a new and exciting length to co-exist with Ms. Sundell's layers.

I took the photos as reference shots for my upcoming graphic novel "Suburban Cyclops Hunters". I'm taking a short break after I complete "The Invasive Exotics" from graphic novels because, frankly, graphic novels are a lot of work and it takes a lot out of me. Sundell is playing a part and the photos are not meant to be seen as literally her, but I thought she'd be the best model for the job. She is playing the part of a spiritual bouty hunter, a woman similar to Joan of Arc or the ancient Greek goddess Artemis.

I juxtaposed these photos with Diptychs of Amy Bishop and Anton Chigurh from the Coen's Brothers Film adaption of Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" because they represent two different forms of feminine power. Amy Bishop's power stems from desire and bitterness. Joan of Arc's power stems from grace and serenity. While I find Bishop and Joan of Arc to both be captivating, Bishop is captivating like a train wreck is captivating and Joan of Arc is captivating like a wolf or cougar seen in its natural habitat is captivating.

Somewhere in connection to these two types of power is the video art of Kate Gilmore. I'm not saying Gilmore is a psychopath OR Joan of Arc, but I am saying there is a connection. I will not comment on the meaning of her work as I am not the artist myself and no description of her work is necessary because I think the Whitney does a very nice job summing it up in a paragraph.

Cheers everyone! Spring is upon us. Next week we return to graphic novels and comics (maybe ... I'm still thinking it all over).

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