Artist PAUL VILLINSKI discusses his work with viewers . . .
Monday, November 16, 2015
Artist Gina Phillips works in the studio at her home in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Hurricane Katrina “was a completely lifechanging event” for her, she says, but in several positive ways.
Stitches In Time
Artist weaves New Orleans into her narratives
by BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
Gina Phillips might be called a painter: Her work begins with acrylics on canvas.
She might be called a quilter: She uses a long-arm quilting machine to attach fabric to that canvas.
She might be called a sculptor: Her finished work is three-dimensional -- minimally, in a physical sense, but much more deeply in an aesthetic sense.
Phillips, who lives in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, uses words like "hybrid" and "narrative" and "installation" to describe "A Thirsty Switch Still Quivers for Me," the exhibit currently on show at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville. It brings together several bodies of work, she says, "but of course, I can see the thread between it all." No pun intended.
"Most of the work in the show is made out of fabric and thread," Phillips says, "but I almost always start out with an underpainting. I've always worked in two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, and this work kind of bridges those two worlds. It's rooted in painting but like really flat sculptures.
"People are always surprised when they get up close," she adds. "They think it might be a painting, but it's made out of all these appliques, materials, fabrics ... If it's possible to put it through a sewing machine, I probably have!"
It makes sense. Phillips' artistic roots are buried in rural Kentucky, where she grew up sharing a home with her grandparents and her single mother, who was one of seven children. "So I felt like No. 8 in the bunch," Phillips says. Her grandmother was a folk artist -- the title of the exhibit is based on lyrics of a song that Phillips wrote about her grandmother using a dowsing rod to find water -- and her grandfather was an auto mechanic who had his own junk yard on the property. Phillips and her cousins "built our own worlds" in the yard, she remembers.
"We were pretty poor, but it was a great environment to become an artist."
As she grew up, Phillips "put a little bit of pressure on myself, thinking I wanted to find a career that was lucrative." She settled, somehow, on becoming an architect -- but she didn't know she should have been taking art classes instead of drafting classes. Enrolling in one at the University of Kentucky, "I very quickly realized that was my true calling."
A decade after settling in New Orleans to seek an MFA at Tulane University's Newcomb College, Phillips bought a house and spent a year renovating it. And then Hurricane Katrina hit. She was out of town on vacation.
"It was a completely life-changing event for me," she says. "My neighborhood was kind of ground zero. I knew as of that morning, after watching the news footage, every house in my neighborhood was under water 10 feet high."
Phillips spent almost a year in Richmond, Va., before she could go home, another year and a half before she had recovered her house.
"One of the things that did come out of the storm was I started using a longarm quilting machine," she says. "I didn't know there was such a thing as a longarm quilting machine!"
It wasn't the only change that Katrina wrought.
"Some of the first work I made [after the hurricane] were these kind of weird pieces based on my flood-damaged photographs," she says. "This kind of crazy distortion happened on the surface when the chemicals were eaten away."
The "acid yellows and deep magentas and the weird, saturated, acidy colors stayed in my palette," Phillips muses. "Especially with the portrait series. My color choices became more bold and the surfaces more painterly. Now everything is becoming more painterly."
Also enhanced was Phillips' commitment to her city.
"One of the things that came out in my work was the sense of place," she says. "How unique this spot is -- how unique my neighborhood is, right next to the river. I realized how Eurocentric my understanding of history was, and I started to think about the Native Americans who would have been drawn to this spot on the earth. And the Mardi Gras Indians, who have this clear sense of continuity. And how the river will do what it wants to do: Nature will overcome human folly."
Even with that perspective, Phillips has bought in to the Lower Ninth Ward -- literally. She chose a house abandoned since Katrina to renovate as a studio.
"I think the imagery in ['A Thirsty Switch Still Quivers for Me'] really bridges my early life and the life I've had here in New Orleans for 20 years now," she says.
JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY ||| Departure by PAUL VILLINSKI [installation view]
photo courtesy of Mike Smith
Two shows that map the heartland at N.O. gallery
where you’ve been/where you’re going
Certain artists will always be associated with one particular motif.
For many years, and despite a body of work that encompassed everything from Liz Taylor to electric chairs,Andy Warhol was best known for his soup cans. And the late George Rodrigue’s omnipresent Blue Dogs have largely overshadowed the rest of his considerable oeuvre.
In Paul Villinski’s case, it’s butterflies.
Created in the dozens and even hundreds from materials such as discarded beer cans and vinyl records, Villinski’s winged creatures have covered walls and objects in several gallery and museum shows throughout New Orleans over the past decade or so and have created an instantly recognizable signature motif for the artist.
In a broader sense, however, Villinski’s work has always been more about transformation, for which the butterflies served as a succinct metaphor.
And “Departure,” his new show at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, sees Villinski expanding his visual repertoire to further explore the concept.
Two large winged wall pieces in the main gallery explicitly reference the concept of departure.
Made of dozens of found articles of clothing, the objects recall experimental contraptions by Leonardo da Vinci or the Wright Brothers and look ill-equipped for actual flight, which makes them that much more affecting.
The splattered wax encaustic that covers the Icarus-like “Hypothesis” (along with a good part of the adjacent wall and floor) adds a further poignant human element to the piece, and also reminds viewers of Villinski’s training as a painter before he started focusing on sculptural works.
Another piece made of dozens of discarded liquor bottles bound together with lengths of leather belts plays off the different meanings of the word “belt” (as both an article of clothing and a shot of alcohol, as in a “belt of whisky”), and as a kind of self-portrait that represents Villinski’s own experience with substance abuse and addiction.
It’s a powerful visual reminder of the fact that belts are also objects that simultaneously constrain and support, even if that support is eventually revealed to be just a crutch.
But butterflies aren’t absent from Villinski’s new works. In “Fallen” they seem to occupy the hollow armature of a human figure — or are they descending upon it in order to bear it aloft and take it somewhere far away?
That ambiguity is further echoed in “Ghost,” a piece constructed of models of 30 species of butterflies and moths that are endangered or have already become extinct. “Ghost” becomes a somberly elegant meditation on loss and ephemerality. (Villinski worked with a lepidopterist to get the identifications correct.)
Painted white and pinned to a white wall, their shapes are most clearly legible by the shadows they cast: presence defined by absence.
Butterflies also appear in a piece that reads as Villinski’s wry take on the American landscape tradition: Looking through the red, white and blue assemblage of found objects, the view is all police barricades and beer cans. It’s a gently sardonic note in a show otherwise characterized by a restrained sense of hope, and that constitutes Villinski’s strongest and most cohesive body of work to date.
Elsewhere in the gallery, Nikki Rosato’s mind-blowing wall pieces in which roads and highways become the vascular systems of mysteriously twinned human figures are formidable conceptual and formal counterparts to Villinski’s work.
Meticulously cut and reassembled from road atlases, Rosato’s ethereal skeins of paper reflect the ways in which memory and identity continuously inform and shape one another — and are astoundingly intricate works of art in their own right, especially given their large scale.
And viewed in conjunction with Villinski’s similarly deeply considered work, they’re potent reminders of that fact that where you’ve been is just as important as where you’re going.
JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY ||| Merged by NIKKI ROSATO [installation view]
photo courtesy of Mike Smith
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
ARTIST MEL CHIN
Before the Storm Clouds of the 21st Century
by Mel Chin
The artists tried to change us with innovative models of social practice and the democratic socialist revolution laid a clear path in response to environmental change.
With an unexpected irony, the poor, made pariahs as the cause of all ills, sheltered some of these undeserving .01 percent-ers—their skills, honed by outcast status, had made them adept at survival. Things had been bad so long they shrugged off the climate changes, reasoning that their sufferings could not be worse than the systemic violence they had lived through.
Urban basements became ballasted breeding pools, foul cellars fostering new pestilence. Über-drug-resistant infections, and blooms of opportunistic viral agents went riding on explosive puffs of mold spores. Once airborne, that dust fell upon acre after acre of sprawling, suburban conformity. Saturated streets became canals filled with bodies, bloated fatty rafts gently rolling in unison upon fetid waters.
But most people never took on the burden of global warming. Their minds were still collared by a yoke fitted during the last throes of capitalism. Outlawed agents of free markets returned and re-hitched the weak, taking the reins once more to steer things even deeper into the ground. The previous headlock on the overall consciousness of a consuming population resumed, a full nelson, hell-bent on wringing out every last ducat from a whipped, whimpering, depleted world.
Some of the cultural workers broke ranks with do-goody activism, returning to trust the old market-driven drivel. Some, disgusted and busted with the reversal of developments, ditched it all to hide away as creative could-have-beens, eking out their practices in small locales without notice.
The art world was trumpeted as having a hot, colorful return. But that faded at about the same time that widespread temp. sensitive chromalveolata endosymbiont death occurred, prompting the mass coral bleaching in the oceans.
All the politics and economics really didn’t matter; the damage was done.
The waters came early. Alongside smoldering hot acid rains, the oceans, unable to sequester the added carbon, unleashed a last offensive on Greenland’s frail ice. The melt-watered-sea rose, obliterating flimsy, value-engineered coastal protections. The personal jets of now-aged billionaires, who never trickled down into environmental movements and orchestrated the overthrow of the socialist democrats, were unable to take off. They slipped and slid on shit-smeared runways, the discharges of excrement, grease and pharmaceutical waste, boiling out of un-flushable sewers. A few fleeing and unable to board, wallowed in muck. They were engulfed by swarms of sucking and infecting clouds, and choked on the mosquito miasma, as acrid smoke of exploding transformer PCBs further blackened the unforgiving heavens.
Coastal refugees crawled their way up to the Villes. One group led by a museum trustee, once a champion of the preservation of culture, wielded a Brancusi Birdsculpture as a bludgeon and was swaddled in shreds of Christopher Wool. He loudly claimed this high ground, a “promised land, full of good Christian country folk” and was mowed down by an Appalachian child with a sharpened garden hoe. Hill people, spooked by years of unrelenting drought, were already fighting for the last drips of ancient springs.
Hordes of urban enviro-evacuees, hollowed and crazy-eyed, met crazy-eyed hoarders of guns, loaded up and ready. Fueled by paranoid predictions of take-overs and government control, the Ville people unleashed a shredding barrage of Second Amendment justifications, finally fulfilled.
Once-empathetic souls, witnesses to acts so heinous, were muted into soulless self-preserving silence. The fearsome survivors, who reacted without reflection, did not value expression or emotion. Yet these new masters of the climate chaos were hounded by internal voices, whispers howling for meaning and direction. They began their hunt for the former artists, ingenious in their aesthetics of adaptation and abstracted camouflages, to yank them from dark hidey-holes. It was hoped that those with the shattered, frenzied imaginations could predict the next steps.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
ADAM MYSOCK. Having Found the Lowest Threshold (St. George Slaying the Dragon). 2013. acrylic on panel.
after: Nicolas Poussin's "Massacre of the Innocents", 1629
Travellers in Time
YOUNG MASTERS | Focus on New Work
4 – 22 November 2015
Site/109 | 109 Norfolk Street | LES | New York | NY | 10002
We are delighted to announce that Young Masters will exhibit for the first time in New York City, alongside a presentation of works by renowned Catalan artist (and Young Masters runner up in 2009) Lluis Barba.
‘Young Masters: Focus on New Work’ will show a range of work by International artists in a range of media, including painting, photography, textiles and ceramics.
Artists in the exhibition include: Lluis Barba | Adam Mysock | Annie Kevans | Bartholomew Beal | Chris Antemann | Constance Slaughter | Derrick Santini | Eleanor Watson | Elisabeth Caren | Elise Ansel | Fabiano Parisi | Isabelle van Zeijl | Jam Sutton | Juergen Wolf | Lottie Davies | Max Greis | Oliver Jones | Steven Rockefeller Jnr. | Richard Saja | Robert Hodge | Tom Leighton | Yigal Ozeri | Zemer Peled
ADAM MYSOCK is a USA-based painter who reimagines Old Master and Modern works in a uniquely imaginative way. He makes his Young Masters debut in New York City at in the ‘Travellers in Time/ Focus on New Work Exhbibition’ at Site 109, LES.
Adam Mysock was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1983 – the son of an elementary school English teacher and a lab technician who specializes in the manufacturing of pigments. On account of a steady stream of folk tales from his mother, his father’s vividly dyed work clothes, and a solid Midwestern work ethic, he developed an interest in painting and drawing all things Americana from a very early age. Mysock earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Art History by 2004 from Tulane University. He then received an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
After his studies, he became the mural coordinator for the City of Cincinnati’s MuralWorks mural program and worked as an adjunct drawing professor at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. In the summer of 2008, Mysock became a Professor of Practice at Tulane University where he currently teaches and maintains a studio. Mysock’s work has been exhibited in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana and is in private collections across the US, including those of Thomas Coleman and Michael Wilkinson. He was a 2009 jury winner in the annual No Dead Artists juried exhibition. On August 4th, 2012 he was awarded first prize “Best in Show” in the Ogden Museum’s Louisiana Contemporary Annual Juried Exhibition. Mysock exhibited at Pulse Miami Art Fair in December 2012 with Jonathan Ferrara Gallery and he was selected for the 2013 Edition of New American Paintings. Mysock was exhibited in a solo project booth at the VOLTA9 Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland where he was acquired by the SØR Rusche Collection. Mysock’s work is currently featured in a Baroque and Contemporary group exhibition from the SØR Rusche Collection, Oelde/Berlin at Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche as well as in a solo exhibition entitled When Everything Was Wonderful Tomorrow at Galerie Andreas Binder in Munich, Germany.
On his work he says:
I’m a revisionist history painter. Rather than rewrite the narrative of the past to justify an ideology, I repaint yesterday’s imagery in order to rationalize our present circumstances.
Telling stories is a part of human nature; it’s how we relate to one another. The stories we have in common help us create sincere connections to our neighbors and our surroundings. What’s more, storytelling – for better or worse – typically involves hyperbole. We tend to exaggerate; we tend to lie.
Generally, we believe we control our narrative embellishments. What gets exaggerated from one telling to another gets exaggerated to challenge our listeners. What gets repeated gets repeated because it resonates with them. What gets omitted gets left out because it’s lost its meaning. We actively use embellishment to keep our audiences engaged. Given enough distance, however, sources and accuracy fade out and substitutions become the new norms. Quietly, time redefines what is truth and what is fiction. As a painter, I’m preoccupied by the undeniable role that the image plays in creating this acceptance of the fictional. A painting has the authority to make the intangible concrete, and a series of them has the ability to authenticate a fabrication in our collective memory. When I begin a piece, I typically start with preexisting images, artifacts from this collective remembrance. I look for images that shape my pictorial consciousness, that are hard to question because when I first saw them they were presented as the truth. They have to capture my imagination and they have to feel largely descriptive of a greater story. From them, I’m given my task – I have to “disrepair” them. I have to consolidate an earlier world of historical and cultural visual-fact with an evolving understanding of subtlety and gradation. I find that the discrepancies I discover between the absolute and the nuanced inspire me most.The resultant work is largely about storytelling, the ownership and authorship of our culture’s visual narratives, and the parallels between those tales. It’s meant to challenge the truth of “source” and the source of truth. After all, as Franz Kafka once wrote, “It is hard to tell the truth, for although there ‘is’ one, it is alive and constantly changes its face.
JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to present Merged, the latest series of hand-cut road map sculptures by artist NIKKI ROSATO. The exhibition will be on view in the centre gallery from 4 November through 26 December 2015 with receptions on Saturday, 7 November and 5 December from 6-9pm. For her second solo exhibition at the gallery, Rosato will be exhibiting her life-sized, figurative works created in her unique style using maps. On the heels of a very successful showing of the series at VOLTA NY during Armory Week 2015, Rosato continues the exploration of her process addressing form and figure in this suite.
The artist says of her work and this series . . .
The visual aspects of a road map are remarkably human. A map is a symbol of a living, breathing, moving body—the land is just as alive as we are. A map’s lines carve the pathways for the rhythms and movements that undulate across the surface of the earth.
As we move though life, the places we inhabit and the people that we meet alter and shape us into the person that we are in the present day. I am interested in the idea that a place I visited as a child has affected the outcome of the person that I am today.
In the Merged series I’m exploring the duality of human existence and experience. Humans are multifaceted and are constantly affected by pathways traveled. Within one body lies experience in both positivity and negativity – interconnected forces that we continually confront in order to achieve balance. As we strive to become the best version of ourselves, we seek a sense of symmetry; however, the symmetry in this work is handcrafted and therefore an impossible attempt at perfection.
Nikki Rosato earned her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2013 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art and Art History from the University of Pittsburgh. Rosato’s work has received multiple awards, including the 2014 Blanche E. Coleman award and the 2008 A.J. Schneider Award. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, The Harvard Review, Canadian Geographic, The Pittsburgh Tribune Review and Hi-Fructose New Magazine.
Her work has been exhibited (inter)nationally, and is currently featured in the exhibition If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home at the Children’s Museum of Art in New York City. The forthcoming exhibition Demarcate at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art will also be including her three dimensional, self-portrait bust. In 2013, Rosato’s work was featured in Mark of the Feminine at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, as well as, Lovin’ it, Symbol and Contradiction at the Bromer Art Collection in Roggwil-Kaltenherberg, Switzerland and Mapping the Way at Walford Mill Crafts in London. Her work has also been exposed at numerous art fairs including VOLTA 10 in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Project for Art Basel Miami Beach, Seattle Art Fair, Art Market San Francisco and Texas Contemporary.