Monday, August 27, 2012


Under the Radar, 2012, located at Camp Hero, Montauk

Alice Hope
Under the Radar
Parrish Road Show 2012

detail, Under the Radar, 2012
Invisibility is not the most typical of aspects functioning within contemporary art, but for
Alice Hope, whose enigmatic Montauk installation Under the Radar is on view through August 31, it is often central to her work. It could be said, in fact, that Hope colonizes areas of meaning more than she creates site-specific art, inserting systems of thought, reactivity, growth and mutability into situations that are driven, at least in part, by a very silent -- sometimes dizzying -- scientific imperative. 

At Camp Hero in Montauk, the results are expansive, meditative and somehow, in spite of complete inaudibility, decidedly symphonic.

What's it all about? When Hope was invited to participate in The Parrish Road Show 2012, a tour de force series of off-site installations organized by curator Andrea Glover, she selected a derelict cement pad due north of the hulking AF/FPS-35 Radar tower that presides over the Atlantic at Long Island's southeast tip. Located inside Camp Hero, a reportedly not so defunct military station now operated by the National Park Service, the tower is key to the weirdness of this place and should you go there, it will surely be one of the stranger excursions you undertake this summer. 

I highly recommend it. 

Built in 1962, the radar tower remains the only one of some 12 of this kind that is still in existence. In its heyday it served as part of a state-of-the-art Air Force base that operated through the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis under the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) network and NORAD through which it conducted surveillance of the highest order.  Given Hope's interest in magnetism and electromagnetic fields, the seductions of this place were incalculable.

In the long shadow of what the artist referred to as a "monument to technological obsolescence," she assembled some 300,000 ferrite magnets on steel plates at a distinct north/south tangent off the radar. The organizing principle -- precise, rhythmic, architectonic -- structured the magnets like building blocks that stretch out in long lines spelling the word "NO" in binary (01101110 01101111) and Morse code. It's a grand shout-out that recalls other communication markers that face upward like the Nasca lines and those mysterious crop circles, the authorship of which has never been determined. 

Taken as a whole, at first glance the installation looks like the interior of a massive Steinway concert grand, its intricate, serial architecture unfolding like a Saturday night at the New York Hypnotic School. Minimalist and elastic in concept, the installation and its chain link parentheses evokes a meditation on nature and science, presence and absence, secrecy and codification.

The sense of oscillation, attraction/repulsion and the magnetic field created here commingle with language and embedded meaning. The results are almost operatic, splaying outward with the sort of "spooky action" that Quantum physics employs to address the space-time continuum.

Speaking of spooky -- conspiracy theories abound about this place, some 278 acres of a lot of "Do Not Enter" signs, concrete bunkers, artillery casements and underground tunnels. The rumors range from experiments in psychotronics to electromagnetic mind control to time travel and beyond. Follow the links to The Montauk Project, and I guarantee you won't sleep tonight.  

Back to Alice Hope...concurrent to Under the Radar and on view through October, the artist also assembled three separate but related works at one of East Hampton's favorite watering-holes, Nick and Toni's

Nick and Toni's on North Main Street, East Hampton

The scrims that hang in the restaurant entrance, visible from North Main Street, create shifting Moiré patterns that seem to modulate into various optical patterns with every movement. Flanked by a wall of beaded curtain in varying hues of green (below), the effect is a little hallucinatory -- chimerical -- like a counter-culture primer on particle physics.

Last, but most emphatically not least, in the outdoor dining area nearly 100 "lamps," each one handmade by Hope, are fitted with motion detecting lights that slowly flicker throughout the evening. Hovering above the heads of unsuspecting diners, the lights react to wait staff, walkthroughs and other movement as they sprinkle flashes of brilliance downward.

You don't want to miss these extraordinary works -- believe me. And bravo to Alice Hope for embarking on a summer journey of thinking and working outside the margins. 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Senegal Oyster and the modern parlor

the surfboard as body
Neoteric Fine Art

Artist, curator and inveterate surfer Mike Solomon has redefined the hybrid at Neoteric Fine Art in Amagansett with an exhibition of collaborative and reconfigured surf boards that pay homage to the Surrealists and their history-making parlor game, the exquisite corpse. During the show, on view August 23-25, visitors can bid on one of seven surf boards. With opening bids starting at $1,000, the boards are bound to be snatched up post-haste. 

Don't miss the reception and silent auction (bidding until 10pm Saturday) on August 25 at 208 Main Street!

Proceeds go to local charities that include the wonderful Hoops for Hope, Citizens for Access Rights and The Surfrider Foundation.

The show, co-curated by gallery owner and artist (also a surfer-extraordinaire!), Scott Bluedorn, includes artists Chick Bills, Mark Wilson, Bettina Stelle, Bluedorn, Michael Halsband, Eileene Roaman, Michael Rosch, Mike Solomon, Peter Dayton, Matt Satz, Bill Komoski, Bryan Charron, Steve White, Joni Sternbach, Casey Dalene, Peter Spacek, Andrea Shapiro, Dalton Portella. Matisse Patterson, Lutha Miller and Charles Ly

When I asked Solomon for a primer on surf culture, he offered this: 

"It's a broad term covering everything from the wolf pack phenomenon -- localized gangs in which a hierarchy is established by who surfs the best or bravest -- to the surf fashion that has invaded the international imagination. It was sort of under the radar until the late 90s when some of us realized there's a large creative community of artists, writers, musicians, dancers, etc., with broad cultural aspirations."

In 2001, Solomon and the late, great, John McWhinnie co-curated Surf's UP, the first exhibition of this kind that anyone seems to remember, at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in East Hampton. 

The breakout show had a phenomenal roster of artists including Ashley Bickerton, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Julian Schnabel, Ken Price, Michael Halsband, Solomon and more -- all surfers -- and it generated the exhibition catalog, Surf's UP.

The exquisite corpse (Fr, cadavre exquis), of course, is a concept owed to the Surrealists, chiefly Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, Tristan Tzara and Benjamin Peret, whose intellectual parlor games included a sort of verbal collage or experimental poetry. 

Members of the group would write a phrase on paper, fold the paper so the phrase could not be seen, and then pass them to the next person for their contribution. The results:

"Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau."
(the exquisite corpse will drink the new wine

 "The Senegal oyster will eat the tricolor bread."
Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, Yves Tanguy

 The game was adapted to drawing and collage, with participants blindly producing heads, torsos and legs independent of one another. A favorite past time of Paris's cafe set in the early 20th century, the game yielded some of the century's most provocative broken synapses, in both the visual and literary worlds. But there was a more profound aspect to the ritual. The point was to identify the personality of the group -- the collective consciousness -- if you will.

It should be noted that the Surrealists left a dramatic footprint in the Hamptons, with artists Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Matta, Breton and more setting up camp here in the 1940s.

Art historian and curator, Phyllis Braff, put together the show of shows on Dada and Surrealism on the South Fork at Guild Hall in the landmark exhibition, The Surrealists and Their Friends on Eastern Long Island in Mid-Century.

Max Ernst liked to say that art is made by groups. His dictum is alive and well at Neoteric Fine Art.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

being there

Jill Musnicki's what comes around, Parrish Road Show

Jill Musnicki
what comes around
Parrish Road Show

Jill Musnicki grew up on the East End in a family that has worked the land here for four generations. Her installation, what comes around, on view inside the Engine Barn at the Bridgehampton Historical Society through Sunday, examines the (heretofore invisible) intersection where wildlife and humankind crisscross. The results are poignant, fleeting, and, dare I say, Warholian, harkening back to his landmark films like Empire.

From May to August of this year, Musnicki monitored five motion-activated digital cameras that she placed strategically in locations across the East End. She was especially interested in how the landscape had morphed over time, especially in the areas she played in as a child, and even more so where they had survived more or less free from developers. The results: over 150,000 still images of things that move in and among the wild -- deer, mice, trains, humans, foxes, and, of course, that ubiquitous opossum.

Well known for her paintings of earthly and aquatic things, when the Parrish Art Museum's Curator of Programs, Andrea Grover, invited Musnicki to participate in The Parrish Road Show this summer, the artist was excited to implement an idea based in photography that had been brewing for some time.


In what comes around, Musnicki dabbles at the edge of voyeurism, leaving out the sorts of pre-texts -- ironic detachment, politics, cultural criticism, artifice -- that often accompany contemporary art installations. In doing so, she manages to elicit one of the most unmodern dispositions, sincerity, with rigor, acuity, and not a shred of sentimentality.

There is, however, a deep sense of nostalgia at play in Musnicki's reconnaissance mission. It speaks to the interface between kingdoms -- the one we occupy as humans, often with tremendous imperiousness, and the one in which animal habitats are subject to us, to civilization, and to the march of time.

Musnicki's "truthcam" presides over this schism with a delirious clarity.

Don't miss what comes around -- on view only today and tomorrow, 11am - 5pm.

Bravo to the Parrish for once again thinking outside the box in The Parrish Road Show!

Monday, August 13, 2012

paradigm shift

Amagansett: suddenly the coolest place in the world

Mary Heilmann, Kurt Gumaer, Seating Arrangements

ILLE Arts Seating Arrangements
curated by Mary Heilmann

Don Christensen, Songster, 2012, acrylic on wood table

It's nice to be surprised -- especially when it seems like there's no possible way to get it on in a way you haven't already considered a thousand times. Witness the transformation of sleepy little Amagansett, now the reigning champion in what is -- at least for this moment -- the East End's own Bushwick. It's fun and fresh and worth the long lines of beach traffic to get there.

Tucked inside a brief driveway off Main Street, Sara De Luca's new venture, ILLE Arts, offers crazy fun and varying degrees of comfort from this summer's break-out curator, Mary Heilmann. Selections here include Daniel Wiener, Don Christensen, Diane Blell and Kurt Gumaer as well as Heilmann's own hybrid seating units and succulent, crispy clear paintings.

Below, Daniel Wiener's weird and wonderfully incongruous painting/sculptures morph in between dimensions, Mandelbrot sets, and those trippy oil spills we used to watch before Uriah Heep concerts.  

Daniel Weiner, Plumbline of Disaster, 2010, Apoxie-Sculpt

Don Christensen's table paintings are a revelation -- so simple and perfect, and offering such satisfying solutions to the conundrum of 2 vs. 3 dimensions.

Don Christensen, Chicago Hoops, 2008, painted wood, furniture, hoops, wire

Kurt Gumaer, Webby Single bench, 2012, Pex tubing and painted plywood

Dan Colen at Karma

Dan Colen, 2012


And then! On to the newest of the new, book store and gallery, Karma, reincarnated from their west village location at Downing Street. Here, they are also tucked away, just a few steps from Main Street in a space that is big, flexible, and filled with cool.

And to cool off even more, check out Dan Colen both in Karma's gallery space and the adjacent lawn (above), dotted with chunky, sittable M&Ms -- hulking rocks painted in rich, candy-coated color.

More candy inside...

Dan Colen, Dead Flowers, 2012

Not unlike the confetti paintings he initiated after the death of his friend Dash Snow, here Colen provokes a literal mash-up -- in this case of mashed fresh flowers that are ground into the canvas. The results, a sort of visual epiphany that mingles aroma and detritus, violence and beauty, sweetness and despair. Colen is a balladeer -- given to poetics -- and, as such, well suited to the bookish Karma, one of those one-of-a-kind places for one-of-a-kind books and art, now in Amagansett. 

Dan Colen at Karma, 2012
Colen picks through the disenfranchised -- sifting through cultural throwaways and things in which any inherent significance has been eroded or disconnected from its origins -- and reconstitutes a visual language. His works can be transformative, elegiac -- even somber. (No somberness here!) 

His readymades possess the sort of urban poetry where meanings shift from ambivalence to certainty and from the poignant to the precarious. Above, his torqued park bench is an ode to imbalance -- urban, and a little madcap.

Not your typical bookstore

Watch for Adam McEwen's book signing at Karma on Sunday, August 19, 2 - 5pm 

Scott Bluedorn's 
Neoteric Fine Art
And then there's Neoteric Fine Art, now exhibiting Design + Function which includes works by the owner and curator Scott Bluedorn, surfboards by Stephen Jumper, as well as skate decks, textiles, jewelry and other outside the gateway buyables:

Neoteric Fine Art, Design + Function

Bluedorn is a surfer-traveler-artist-entrepeneur-jack-of-all-trades sort of guy whose gallery occupies a storefront on the highest order -- a vintage building situated directly on Main Street in Amagansett.

Victor-John Villaneuva, 2012, beads, resin
Below, Bluedorn addresses a chair with fisherman's nets and ropes -- all found among the marinas, streets, and beaches here. 

Scott Bluedorn, 2012

In the sister space across the hall, Bluedorn and co-curator Mark Wilson (check out Wilson's and partner Claudja Bicalho's awesome variety store, Lazypoint, just up the street) have assembled works that are cheeky, inventive and super seductive. 

Mark Wilson, Bear Medallion, 2012, digital print on canvas

Wilson works in a range of materials and idioms that bounce from the giant bear above, (a boy scout badge decal) to the sumptuous 17th century Persian carpet inspired oil paintings (below) he hangs on the wall or lays directly on the floor like actual rugs.

Mark Wilson, Persian Painted Rug, 2012, oil on canvas

Other works are equally sympatico, darting from artist-designed tables and chairs to driftwood configurations and oddly useful objet of all manner.

Ryan Bollman, Buoy, 2011, ceramic

Amagansett Sunday afternoon in a while.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

boy philosopher, white on white

big white cock, 2012, neon tubing and wire, Ed of 3, 69 x 60 x 3 inches

Terence Koh
yes pleased
The Fireplace Project

It's not that you don't expect to see a neon chicken hovering between earth and sky in's just that this neon chicken is upside down, hanging as if from a lynching or caught in a Chinatown restaurant window. That the original asianpunkboy a.k.a. Terence Koh has plugged in this particular chicken on the heels of the "Chic-Fil-A" melee -- yet another gross miscarriage of civil rights from the right -- is probably coincidence. Or...not?

On view at The Fireplace Project through August 12, the exhibit yes pleased features the above mentioned along with an installation of gold, marble, and au natural eggshells in a slightly ascetic and utterly surreal exhibition. 

Among these minimal subjects, symbolism abounds.

my mother destroyed me and still the tea iz the hope of my ship, 2012, eggshell gilded in 22 karat gold, Ed of 3

Of course, the proverbial golden egg came from a goose, not a chicken. Still, it's true that Aesop had the goose summarily executed -- an act of allegorical shortsightedness and greed in the extreme. Sound familiar? 

But for Koh, an artist whose body of work is both reverential and gleefully cultish, all allusions to meaning, metaphor, allegory, or semantics are purely conjecture. 

He's like a boy philosopher from a Jerzy Kosinski novel -- obtuse, poetic, obliquely political, and somehow, unequivocally divine.  Koh's surrealistic titles here, such as 
my son ate my family knot knowing about beauty, read like absurdist ballads or second cousins to Bob Dylan lyrics.

Koh is a consummate myth-maker, with one foot in the digital universe and the other planted squarely on terra firma. His website, books, and zines are a treat, his performances now stand alongside Chris Burden and Marina Abramovic, and his installations and projects feast on alchemy, fetishism, ambiguity, and comicality.

Witness his 2011 exhibition nothingtoodoo at Mary Boone, where he circled an immense salt pyramid on his knees during gallery hours -- nearly all day every day -- for five weeks. The margins of his pain threshold within reach, on occasion he was prostrate.

Much has been written about Koh -- Vito Schnabel has perhaps the best handle on this exhibit, featured on his Huffington Post page. Check it out here.

And by the way, stay away from those chicken sandwiches.