Ensor, Jones

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James Ensor, The Bad Doctors, 1895 (top), Dylan Jones, unknown, 2016 (bottom)
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Saturday June 2nd

Elaine Buss: Excavate / Sean Christopher Gallery

I am intrigued by the human compulsion to measure and quantify the world. This impetus signifies our desire to comprehend our existence through empirical processes. By deciding how to measure, we are simultaneously determining what information is made available. I question what knowledge has been left unrevealed because the tools or formulas necessary are simply not available yet. Excavation practices are one mode through which revelations are made about human history, culture, and ontology. My installation at Sean Christopher Gallery will allude to an archaeological field site or a space of anthropological inquiry. Environmental transitions will be utilized to represent the building of information and comprehension resulting from these and other discovery-based practices.

 

Stephanei Parnes & Brittany Bergamo-Whalen: Quiet Fold / Skylab

 

 

Brittany Bergamo-Whalen, On Your Line, 2018 / Stephanie Parnes, unknown installation from Quiet Fold

Unmaking raw, physical materials from Parnes, while Bergamo-Whalen makes crisp digital architectural forms. As with most Skylab shows, the arrangement and presentation of the works is pleasurable enough while also having a certain sense of familiar distance and empty post-modern mimicry.  Bergamo-Whalen’s vector drawings were pleasant, rigid elements of unfinished architectural mockups but with a comfortable softness from their color palette. They look nice on a wall and have a kind of accessibility that works in Skylab don’t often have, you could imagine having a few hanging in a hallway at home at not having guests question them. Parnes contributions were more opaque: a towel in a plastic bin, a projection of a slice of bread lain over a flickering light. Two photographs used the wide curved corners of the space that often go unused, one showing two soft fuzzy cubes laying in grass and the other showing a swatch of carpet picked almost clean. Beneath the photo sit a variety of carpet-thread filled tupperware. The photo was almost insect-like, an almost transparent soft plastic grid with squiggling, rounded forms curling around the scaffolding. Perhaps it is the fault of an absence of text or explanation, the title of the show and even the artists own names seemed entirely absent but for a Facebook event page, which also failed to offer any contextual information, but I ultimately left feeling cold and questioning what exactly it all amounted to.

 

Ben Yacavone: Not For What You Do / Corrugate

 

 

Ben Yacavone, unknown works from Not For What You Do

Highlight of the night. The title comes from the artist’s father telling him “Get paid for what you know, not for what you do.” Warped raw materials – cement, lumber, absent traffic cones and barrels – the idea of “real construction” / “real men’s work” in a gallery setting and tone. The punch-outs in the lumber were at first mysterious until large beams with very slight curves revealed cuts that went almost all the way through, allowing the lumber to bend while also closing the open end of the cut. Hard work, heavy lifting, for simple things. Large gestures with seemingly small outcomes. Tire-smashed plastic cones made permanent as “found molds” for cement sculpture. The (classist) divisions of labor, creative against skilled, gallery against industrial, never overlapping and never seen as equals.

 

Also:
Spring Salon / Hammond Harkins Galleries
Morris Jackson, Katie Kikta, Terry Klausman: Drawn / Lindsay Gallery

Shifting Cycles: Miloti Program 2

 

From top row down, left to right: Liz Roberts, Fair Brane, Roger Beebe, Dani Restack, Crystal Beiersdorfer, Cameron Sharp, Tess Elliott, Jeff Hazelden, Jason Annas, William Randall, Kellie Bornhoft, Calista Lyon, Claudia Esslinger, Jonathan Johnson, Jason Younkman, Andrew Wood, Michael Stickrod, Axel Cuevas Santamaría

 

Liz Roberts, Marty’s .44, 03:56
Fair Brane, Centered, 01:00
Roger Beebe, A Metaphor for the End of Just About Everything, 03:06
Tess Elliott, 77 Genesee Bay Boulevard, 07:17
Jeff Hazelden, i a b d, 05:41
Jason Annas, Common Knowledge, 03:03
William Randall, Protest Notes: At War with the Sky, 10:00
Kellie Bornhoft, Portage, 04:00
Calista Lyon, The Space Between Us, 08:46
Claudia Esslinger, Distant Tracing, 03:00
Jonathan Johnson, River Ghosts, 04:42
Jason Younkman, Shadows of Summer, 10:00
Andrew Wood, prince bishops, 06:14
Michael Stickrod, Our Plans, 07:35
Axel Cuevas Santamaría, sueño profundo, 01:00
Dani ReStack, Shayne’s Rectangle, 05:04
Crystal Beiersdorfer, Public Perspective, 02:00
Cameron Sharp, searching with lanterns in the dark, 01:53

 

Miloti, an Ohio-focused program of experimental short films organized by Cameron Sharp, has returned for a second edition. Many of the artists from the first iteration have returned and a few new faces have shown up alongside them. In watching this new program, there was a sense that Sharp’s own work from the first Miloti program, the beautiful and elegiac Some Things (Ineffable Reverie) in three parts, served as an influence on the submissions this time: familial relationships and nostalgia were reoccuring themes and the extravagant color saturation of cheap media and fumbling sounds of cell phone video were stylistically pervasive.

Tess Elliott & Roger Beebee each presented works that dealt with architectural destruction. Beebee gave us a “reflection on morality and ephemerality” through footage of the 2016 demolition of Long’s Book Store. Long’s had served OSU students from 1909 through 2005 (when Barnes & Noble became the “official” OSU textbookstore) and it’s destruction is another in a long list of campus-area erasures in the service of chain-retail and luxury student housing. Beebee’s iPhone flips and spins, disorienting and underlining the cyclical nature of Columbus’s endless construction/destruction. There’s a cynicism here, understanding what purpose this construction/destruction serves and who it serves. Are we truly progressing? Capturing this moment on a phone is a small gesture but one with a potentially eternal lifespan, unlike nearly everything else in these spaces.

In contrast, Elliott’s film presents the demolition of a residential property in long, gazing black and white shots from after most of the the erasure has already happened. Shots wander across shards of the house covering the ground like hay. One of the longest points of focus is a backhoe tearing a tree down, branch by branch. It’s difficult to watch but it precedes the film suddenly filling with color, flicking through static shots of a vibrant assortment of flowers, gently bobbing in the breeze. The camera pulls back and reveals that we’re actually looking at landscaping in the yards of lavish houses. Nature in service of domestic pleasure, torn apart when in the way. The film returns to black and white, passes through a gate in the fence and documents the remains of the tree, laying in rough pieces in a now empty lot. Again the cyclical nature of progress feels on display but there is such pleasure and beauty in the colorful middle passage that it feels more ambivalent than Beebee’s damnation. Perhaps the artist’s child, cooing along in the auditorium during the screening, added an unplanned perspective but the destruction almost felt like tragic necessity, an unfortunate stage in renewal.

Jeff Hazelden’s crisply digital film felt particularly jarring after the quiet, grainy Super 8. Hazelden’s work is beautifully colored and lit, horrifying and psychedelic. Snippets of political statements and speeches, temporally near and far, comfort and explain a certain kind of mass violence while a gently lilting melody carries the work forward without any noticeable propulsion. Hazleden has taken familiar images of modern terror and projected them onto a series of mirrors and sheets of glass. There are looks of disbelief, slow rolling clouds of smoke, and bodies moving away. The physical structure Hazelden has created disappears into the footage at points but the camera often rolls smoothly across panes and pulls back, exposing the structure anew, revealing the mirroring in these scenes of terror and confusion. It is easy to be tricked when there are only slight manipulations, only moving a few steps at a time. It might seem like simple repetition, familiar and digestible, a known quantity. As the cycles progress, you forget where you began and lose touch with the ground shifting beneath you. You cannot see clearly and cannot linger, but it all feels so familiar and just out of reach. The film ends with Robert Oppenheimer’s remarks regarding the first detonation of a nuclear bomb “We knew the world would not be the same,” he begins. Hazelden steps into the frame, literally into the structure, and shuts the whole thing down.

Also in the program: Andrew Wood’s throbbing stone castles & apartments, Axel Cuevas Santamaría’s Google-tribal psychedelia, Jason Annas’s dark/light nostalgia, Michael Stickrod’s (hilarious) recollection of an art project gone wrong, Jason Younkman’s blurry fluorescent washes, Kellie Bornhoft’s ASMR portrait of an Alaskan lake, Dani ReStack’s day-in-the-life/year-in-a-minute rural reverie, Crystal Beiersdorfer’s mirroring and refracting bodies, Liz Robert’s violent “love,” Fair Brane’s looped tension, Claudia Esslinger’s topographical dance, William Randall’s essay on the Narita farmer uprising of the 1960s, Calista Lyon’s slow moving and silent journey across a ridge, Jonathan Johnson’s genealogical essay, and a lightning fast, emotional jog from Sharp.

As with anything that features a contributor list this long, there are obvious highs and lows, but Sharp has arranged the program with a natural propulsion that pushes away phone-glances and encourages thoughtful engagement with each of the works presented. Miloti has tapped into a community of artists different enough to be dynamic for the viewer but like-minded enough to work naturally alongside each other. It’s easy to see the program continuing ad infinitum, and here’s hoping it does.

Supports, Cartoons

Inherent Structure / The Wexner Center / Richard Aldrich • Zachary Armstrong • Kevin Beasley • Sam Gilliam • Channing Hansen • Arturo Herrera • Eric N. Mack • Rebecca Morris • Carrie Moyer • Sam Moyer • Angel Otero • Laura Owens • Ruth Root • Thomas Scheibitz • Amy Sillman • Stanley Whitney / curated by Michael Goodson

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Sam Moyer, Cherry blossoms fall on half eaten bun, 2017
marble, stone, acrylic on canvas mounted on MDF panel, 11′ 1“ x 18′ 6 1/8”

Massive, room dominating pieces fighting each other in tight angles. A few small pieces quickly swallowed.

The beautiful, stiff draped Gilliam across from the messy floor scraps of Otero. Simple, domineering in scale but calm in mood, throwing distance from ragged, neverfinished, improvisatory trash quilts.

Sam Moyer’s broken stones and patchwork canvas. Repair and reassembly as rebirth. A gentleness in stone. The incredible weight disappears into a softness.

The (perhaps empty) internet-adjacent trickery of Owens. Tromp l’oeil stickey-noted desktop.

The soft, dry marker drags of Morris at an unexpected size for someone unfamiliar.

Dripping graffiti inflected pieces, more street art than Cy, from Herrera and Carrie Moyer. Lines almost digital in their algorithmicly smoothed curves. A few spots of spraypaint carrying over into Scheibitz and his crossing guard colored cubism.

Cartoonish legs from Aldrich. Lungs, balls. Round lace-less Mickey shoes.

 

As if a field could become some dream / No Place / Yevgeniya Baras • Jaqueline Cedar • Erin Dunn • Ted Gahl • Kristina Lee • Martin Lukáč • Rebecca Morgan • Keith Allyn Spencer • Michael Swaney • Cody Tumblin / curated by Brian Scott Campbell

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Erin Dunn, Sad Cockalina, 2018
watercolor on canvas, 16 x 20″

Across the field a compendium of hallucinatory matter – the field, where things happen: battles, thought, conflict, play, dreams. Am I dreaming? Oh, heaven forbid!
[…]
“Some Dream,” a kind of fog in which imagery may pass through, eroding particular features and presenting a unique and unwieldy space.

Unrefined, unafraid of ugliness. Imperfect gestures are “good enough” in their capture of a brief moment or thought – and infinitely more satisfying than searching for a perfect gesture. A certain kind of drug-addled recollection, millennial reflection, pre-PC morning cartoons and copy paper marker drawings. The flatness of a straight green line for ground.

How silly everything seems, if you think about it long enough. Overrunning with fragmentary references and half-remembered images, all fodder for a new piece of work. Borders between life and work have eroded in the gig economy.

Cedar’s storybook humanoid, reaching for something more. Passing across a shimmering bronze (not silver, not gold) field, hoping to get somewhere higher. An audience of passive dots aside.

Spencer’s crayon-like car covers turn the sleek modern vehicle into a painted rock. A lump taking up so much space.

Dunn’s bad-trip mirror realization of the state of the party. Sad Cockalina – a Cockette perhaps? Sparkling, elegant, big hair’d trickster. A little disenchanted.

When Artists Become Merchants for a Day: An Art Book Affair

In the wake of the first Columbus Art Book Fair, here called An Art Book Affair, I found myself feeling ambivalent. I’ve wished for such an event in Columbus for as long as I’ve been following Printed Matter, their NYABF, and the myriad offshoots that have since popped up.

Local publishing house Two Dollar Radio organized the Flyover Fest last year, which gladly welcomed tiny DIY producers (myself included) and though it had a decidedly more literary-paperback flavor, it seemed to be getting closer to the roomful of artist-made-publications that I was looking for. Now, new Beeler Gallery director Jo-ey Tang has brought the real deal, gathering a selection of artist-run galleries (MINT, No Place, Skylab) alongside curated selections from Detroit Art Book Fair, Copenhagen’s One Thousand Books and Mexico City’s Index Art Book Fair.

What was most off-putting when it came to browsing many of the tables was that seemingly all effort had been put into presentation & curation over approachability & accessibility.

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 Nice art school Villa Arson went so far as to place their books on a blanket on the floor (courtesy of @thenotarypublic on Instagram)

 

I get it. Many of the people behind tables at this event are artists, not publishers in the traditional sense and certainly not salespeople. They’re used to presentation and curation, they’re used to a certain kind of distance. The DIY gallery isn’t so much in the game of price-lists and schmoozing buyers. It’s a strange thing, wanting to create works that are accessible to the average person, to make artwork that is reproduced and affordable and easy to disseminate. Surely the average DIY-space artist is feeling pretty hostile toward the entire concept of capitalism right now and to sit at a table, talking to “customers” and offering up the fact that you accept credit cards with a Square reader is an uncomfortable position to be in.

There are elaborate displays like the treehouse-like room that No Place built in a corner, complete with a thrifted TV and stacks of VHS tapes, but the space is unapproachable. Zines are hanging on a wall of clotheslines, none seem to have prices, all seem to be single copies. Are they for sale? Is it just part of the display? The same question would be asked at table after table. Is someone working this? How much is it? (An awkward question in the land of $15 10pg b&w zines) Often there was no one to ask and no signage to hint. Some of the ‘tables’ were so abstracted and disconnected that they bordered on antagonistic.

Perhaps this is all part of the show. Playing with preconceived notions of what a gallery show is or should be (the name of the game at Beeler right now) but also playing with the ever popular art fairs and art book fairs, too. It’s not quite a Columbus Biennial, it’s not quite an art book fair.

Which isn’t to say it was an unappealing situation. Presses like Monster House, Ugly Duckling, Black & Red had fantastic tables packed with beautiful editions, helmed by welcoming hosts. Index was even able to get away with an extravagant, stimulating display (books on a series of scaffolding) while still remaining approachable and browsable.

In the end it wasn’t entirely satisfying as an exhibition or a book fair – but it was a suggestion of something coming. After all, this is only Season Zero and I’ll be eagler awaiting the second Art Book Affair.