Tag Archive | "artists"

Whether Legal or Criminal, Street Art Brings Art to the People

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"Structures of Thought II," 2013, unique handcut stencil and spray enamel on canvas, by Chris Stain. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

Chris Stain, “Structures of Thought II,” 2013, unique hand cut stencil and spray enamel on canvas. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

By Tessa Raebeck

An image by Los Angeles street artist becca in Sag Harbor Village. Photo by Michael Heller.

An image by Los Angeles street artist becca in Sag Harbor Village. Photo by Michael Heller.

A few years ago, Chris Stain was arrested for spray painting graffiti in a public space. While on probation for the crime, he was commissioned $60,000 to paint a mural, also in a public space. As the line between “graffiti” and “mural” gets thinner, the public is beginning to catch up in understanding the common thread—art.

Mr. Stain is one of 13 street artists featured in East Hampton art dealer and curator Karyn Mannix’s new show, “For the People: Beat of the Street.” Years in the making, the opening reception for the pop up art show will be held at the Atlantic Terrace Motel on Saturday, August 23.

Long miscategorized as the work of vandals and heathen teenagers, street art seems to finally be earning recognition for what it is: bringing beauty to public spaces and art to those with no private collections or museum memberships to speak of. In New York City, Baltimore and London, streets without galleries and apartment buildings with bare hallways are being decorated and enlivened with giant murals and powerful stencils of social commentary created neither for profit nor recognition, but for the culture of the people.

The show’s artists include: Mr. Stain; Andre Woolery of New York City and Jamaica; becca of Los Angeles, who has stencils on walls around Sag Harbor Village; Billy Mode of Baltimore; DOM from the United Kingdom; Brooklyn’s gilf!; Jason Poremba of Southampton; Karen Bystedt of Los Angeles; Leon Reid IV of Brooklyn; Harlem’s Ruben Natal-San Miguel; and T.Wat, also from the United Kingdom. Peter Tunney and Rolland Berry also collaborated.

The latest way these public artists show their work is through an “art drop,” in which an artist takes a painted canvas and leaves it without any publicity or fanfare in a public space.

Mr. Poremba has been doing art drops around the East End one or twice a week for the past few months, his most recent drop was last Friday in East Hampton.

Most of the pieces included in the show, which the artists prefer to keep affordable, were originally done on the street.

For Mr. Stain, an urban kid who started painting graffiti when he was 11 years old growing up in Baltimore, decorating the street was the natural artistic development.

There were no subways to speak of in Baltimore in the early 80s, but the book “Subway Art” by Martha Cooper, which documents the paintings being done during the graffiti movement of the 80s in the New York City subway systems, nonetheless inspired the young artist.

“They were being made by kids, for the most part, and when I saw the book and when I found out that it was kids making the artwork, I got really excited,” Mr. Stain said. “Because I was already into art, a little bit, but that really piqued my interest and art became a way of self-expression for me.”

He took a class on printmaking and learned to make stencils in high school and, around 1998, Mr. Stain’s art evolved from graffiti lettering to more figurative work “because I wanted to tell more of the story of the person and what was going on around me and my life and my neighborhood—the people I knew.”

"Corporate Greed" by T.Wat. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

“Corporate Mugging” by T.Wat. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

When he moved to the city in 2006, “I just transferred my putting stuff on the streets in Baltimore to putting stuff on the streets in New York.”

“I want to tell the story of common people and by putting the work on the street, everyone gets to see it, it’s not just those people who go into galleries,” Mr. Stain said, before being interrupted by a question from “one of the kids in the neighborhood.”

Mr. Stain’s commitment to depicting the “struggles of the unrecognized and underrepresented individuals of society” has garnered him classification as an American Social-Realist.

Started in the 30s and 40s during the time of the depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal, social realism is an international art movement comprised of artists of various mediums united in their desire to draw attention to the conditions and everyday struggles of the common people, painting narratives of the lives of the working class and the poor. Naturally, it takes on political and social criticisms of the social structures and powers that be that keep those conditions in place.

Those included in “Beat of the Street” vary widely; The line-up includes sculptors and photographers, street art pioneers and those new on the scene, and paintings of Hollywood Stars by Mr. Poremba next to “Corporate Mugging,” an image of Mickey Mouse brandishing a broken Coca-Cola bottle by T. Wat.

The only common ground is that their art is, first and foremost, for the people. As Ms. Mannix explained, “Their work goes out on the streets, that’s the only thread between them all.”

Often an illegal art form, subversion is inherent to street art. Political commentary is a natural extension of a means of expression that often lands the artist in jail.

“You do the crime, you gotta do the time,” said Mr. Stain. “The first time I was arrested I was 11—and it didn’t really stop me.”

Mr. Stain was arrested again as a teenager and a third time as an adult, each time with different fines and implications. His most recent imprisonment was when he would leave meetings with his probation officer to work on the large-scale—and legal—public mural for which the artist was commissioned.

“It’s pretty funny, it’s pretty ironic,” he said, adding, “It’s kind of ridiculous.”

The opening reception of “For the People: Beat of the Street” is Saturday, August 23, at the Atlantic Terrace Motel, located at 21 Oceanview Terrace in Montauk. From 5 to 6 p.m. a special preview for ticket holders and collectors will offer a first glance at the work, which Ms. Mannix expects to be sold out quickly. The gallery is open to the public from 6 to 10 p.m. and will be on view through September 7 by appointment only. For more information, visit karynmannixcontemporary.com.

On View in East Hampton: FAPE Fills American Embassies with Art

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"View Points" by William Wegman, with his dog Penny, 2005.

“View Points” by William Wegman, with his dog Penny, 2005. Part of the FAPE collection now on view at Guild Hall.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art needs no language to be understood; it communicates without spoken word.

This is the idea behind FAPE, the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, which aims to promote unity and open communication across cultures and countries by putting artwork in United States embassies across the world.

Honoring the long connection between American artists and the East End, the first comprehensive exhibition of FAPE’s collection is opening Saturday, June 28, at Guild Hall in East Hampton. It will be on view through July 27.

FAPE started in 1989 with Frank Stella’s donation of enough prints of “The Symphony” to be sent to every American embassy. It has grown to include the work of noted artists such as Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg.

“For the first time, the public will have the rare opportunity to view works commissioned by and donated to FAPE by some of this country’s most iconic artists in a concentrated setting,” said FAPE Chairman Jo Carole Lauder in a press release. “We celebrate these artists’ generosity and the places they hold in the history of American art.”

“Jo Carole Lauder asked me if I wanted to do something and of course I said yes, because it’s a really good thing,” said William Wegman, a FAPE artist known for his books and photos of his pet Weimaraners, the tall and thin gray dogs that were originally bred and used by royalty for hunting. “Also, Jo Carole is a really good supporter of the arts and anything she recommends tends to be worthwhile.”

Mr. Wegman is currently focusing on geometric shapes and sculpture in his photos.

“One of my dogs, Topper, is such a magnificent piece of sculpture and he likes being on top of things,” he explained. “So, I’m accommodating him—I usually do change according to the dogs.”

The first dog he photographed was Man Ray, who became so popular the Village Voice named him “Man of the Year” in 1982. Since then, he’s photographed Fay, her daughter Batty who “was very narcoleptic and could care less,” and an assortment of other Weimaraner personalities.

Batty, he said, “was willing to do anything, but had this sort of whatever attitude, was very comic where Fay was kind of scary and serious.”

“So, when I was casting my first children’s book, Fay became both the Fairy Godmother and the Evil Stepmother and Batty became Cinderella,” he added.

Fay’s firstborn son, Chundo, resembled a prince, but could also be a wolf, as in Mr. Wegman’s well-known 1993 book, “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Chundo, said the artist, was “named after the biggest person I ever met in the south of Chile on a trip I made back in the ’80s.”

After that came Chip, Batty’s son, who was “incredibly handsome and kind of sad looking, so in a lot of my books he became this kind of wistful boyish figure that things happen to.”

Chip’s son Bobbin was “much more scary looking and looked really quite evil, even though he wasn’t. He just had a very severe, humorless face.”

One of Mr. Wegman’s current dogs, Penny, who is featured in the FAPE exhibition, was on the cover of National Geographic. He was asked to create a photo to accompany a February 2012 article on the dog genome.

Penny, who wore dozens of wigs and costumes for the photo shoot, was his best worker, “probably the only dog I never once had to reprimand,” he said.

“She was really remarkable, very still and had this sort of inner quiet to her,” added Mr. Wegman. “Unless there was a thunderstorm and then she disappeared.”

Throughout the exhibition, Guild Hall is hosting panels with the artists, curators and FAPE personnel. Guest Curator Robert Starr, chairman of FAPE’s Professional Fine Arts Committee and dean of the Yale School of Art, is moderating the opening panel on Saturday, June 28, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Panelists include artists Tina Barney, Lynda Benglis, Mr. Close, Joel Shapiro and Carrie Mae Weems. Two additional panels will be held Sunday, July 20, and Sunday, July 27, at 11 a.m.

Lynda Benglis. Untitled (Half Sphere). 2007. Cast bronze. 37.5 x 36 x 17.5 in. Part of the FAPE collection on view at Guild Hall.

Lynda Benglis. Untitled (Half Sphere). 2007. Cast bronze. 37.5 x 36 x 17.5 in. Part of the FAPE collection on view at Guild Hall.

Ms. Benglis first made waves when she burst onto the art scene in the ‘70s. In an ad for Artforum in 1974, she posed naked with a giant fake penis, aiming to mock both artists and feminists who take themselves too seriously, as well as the idea of sexuality. Needless to say, it caused some backlash.

Today, Ms. Benglis splits her time between several art studios from India to New Mexico, working on different projects at each and returning to her home in East Hampton for grounding.

“This is my thinking place and my home,” she said Friday, sitting with her dachshund Pi surrounded by a green jungle of trees on her back deck in the Northwest Woods.

“Their mission,” she said of FAPE, “is to get arts into the public sphere—particularly for peaceful means—to encourage a kind of communication with other countries and embassies and make things more relaxed.”

“We’re a small world now and art is nonviolent, nonpolitical,” she said, adding, “The art’s really about communication and that’s why we have an embassy project, that’s why we have FAPE.”

The opening reception of FAPE’s exhibition is Saturday, June 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call (631) 324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.

Understanding the ACA for Artists

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By Tessa Raebeck

East End Arts in Riverhead is hosting a free workshop for artists, “Every Artist Insured: Navigating Healthcare Reform,” at the East End Arts Carriage House on Monday, March 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Hoping to provide unbiased counseling on healthcare reform, the workshop will include a question and answer session as well as individual consultations. It is aimed to help artists of all disciplines understand the Affordable Care Act, what it means to them and what options are available for artists.

Questions that will be addressed include: What are the new options? How much will it cost? Am I eligible for a subsidy? Who is eligible for Medicaid? How do I apply? What is the new SHOP Exchange for small businesses? I’m a freelancer – how will this affect me? What are the penalties if I don’t have insurance?

For more information and to register online by the March 16 deadline, visit here and select the March 17 event “Free Workshop: Every Artist Insured – Navigating Healthcare Reform.”

Embroidering the Famous and Infamous at Guild Hall

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Christa Maiwald installation at the Museum at Guild Hall; photo by Gary Mamay.

Christa Maiwald installation at the Museum at Guild Hall; photo by Gary Mamay.

By Tessa Raebeck

What do Courtney Ross, Bernie Madoff and Osama bin Laden have in common? They are all subjects of the political commentary — by way of embroidery — of artist Christa Maiwald, on view now at The Museum at Guild Hall.

In “Short Stories and Other Embroideries,” Maiwald, who was named “Best in Show” at the 73rd annual Guild Hall Members Exhibition in 2011, highlights local artists, world leaders and celebrities through five series of stitched portraits, covering highlights from the last five years of her work.

Maiwald derives her work from her natural reactions to political goings on and personal relationships.

“If you ask me the name of this person, that person,” said Maiwald, “and about policies and really specific stuff, I don’t think I could talk about it. Because it’s more of a gut reaction to a situation — that’s what I work from.”

Maiwald explains that she has used creativity to capture her gut reactions her whole life. Before moving permanently to Springs, she tackled a variety of mediums, ranging from street performance to cooking school in Los Angeles, New York City and even Italy. She has tried her hand at sculpture, photography and video, children’s book illustration and writing screenplays.

“Finally,” she said, “I just decided, that’s it — I’m going back to art.”

Maiwald returned to painting and, following a practical decision brought on by the expense of transporting large canvasses, switched to embroidery.

For the past 13 years, the traditional “women’s work” has been her medium of choice.

She began with “sexy stuff” like body parts to work against embroidery’s classification as “this women’s thing.” After her daughter reached adolescence, she moved away from the sexy and instead focused on capturing the “crazy energy” of the teenagers now filling her house.

“It was a perfect medium to catch that energy,” Maiwald said, adding that the threads lent itself to the vitality of her daughter and her daughter’s friends, capturing the constant movement and unrelenting fervor of adolescence.

Although completely devoted to her art throughout the creative process, Maiwald finds she is often surprised by the outcome. Everything is done by her hand, which dictates the piece as much as her head.

“I just start working,” the artist explained. “I don’t have any preconceived notion of what color to use or stuff like that.”

Cultural commentary is her only constant.

“In most of my artworks,” said Maiwald, “my idea is to always have this kind of subversive quality to them.”

That subversion is prominent throughout “Short Stories and Other Embroideries.”

“Servitude,” a series of French maid aprons with portraits of public figures notorious for mistreating “the help” sewn onto them, portrays the likenesses of people like Ross, Martha Stewart, Thomas Jefferson and Naomi Campbell.

"Servitude" by Christa Maiwald, photo by Gary Mamay

“Servitude” by Christa Maiwald, photo by Gary Mamay

Stewart and Ross have homes on the East End and could very well visit Guild Hall, but Maiwald is not afraid of ruffling any feathers.

In “White Guys,” a selection from her 2008 “Dictators” series, Maiwald stitched portraits of Joseph Stalin, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Benito Mussolini — and George W. Bush, together.

“Musical Chairs: Economic Crisis in G Minor,” a 2009 series, has portraits on the seats of 13 children’s sized chairs arranged in the fashion of the popular game. The portraits represent prominent figures in the American economic meltdown of 2008.

“I picked musical chairs,” said Maiwald, “because it just felt like everything that was going on was a ‘pass the buck’ kind of thing. I pictured kids — or these economists — moving from one chair to the next and saying, ‘Well, no it wasn’t me — it was him!’”

“As one sort of left or committed suicide or whatever,” she continued, “because of what a mess it was, someone else would always be there to take his seat. And it didn’t seem like it was any better from the other, so it’s roughly that kind of structure that I found appealing.”

There is a portrait of former Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, a chair with Alan Greenspan shouting and another with Ben Bernanke holding his head in his hands.

Wearing an incognito hat and trench coat, Bernie Madoff is featured twice.

“I have a few facts that I find out before I start something,” said Maiwald, “but it’s more like, the world’s a beautiful place, if only mankind didn’t mess it up….It gets me all riled up—– and then I end up doing a piece.”

“Short Stories and Other Embroideries” is on view at The Museum at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton, through January 5, 2014. For more information call (631) 324-0806 or visit GuildHall.org.

Holiday Show Brings Newcomers and Returning Artists to Grenning Gallery

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"Antique Grasshopper Weathervane" by Sarah Lamb, 2011

“Antique Grasshopper Weathervane” by Sarah Lamb, 2011

By Tessa Raebeck

Some 20 years ago, Maryann Lucas brought her two young toddlers to visit Laura Grenning at the Grenning Gallery, then located next to the Corner Bar on Sag Harbor’s Main Street.

“I’ll never forget,” said Lucas, flanked by materials and colorful oil paintings in her new studio behind the Romany Kramoris Gallery in the Carruthers Alleyway off Main Street. “When I walked into her gallery for the first time and thought, ‘Some day.’”

Over two decades later, ‘some day’ has arrived; Lucas will join seven other artists in the Holiday Show at the Grenning Gallery this Saturday. Celebrating the gallery’s most successful year since its 1997 opening, the Holiday Show features a range of carefully selected artists, coming from as far away as Sweden and as close by as Lucas’ studio. While Lucas is showing her work for the first time, headliner Sarah Lamb is returning to the gallery after years of success.

Grenning gave Lamb her first show in 1998, when the artist was in her early 20s. After showing with Grenning for a little over two years, Lamb entered into an exclusive deal with the Spanierman Gallery in New York City. The Spanierman Gallery, which is still open today and continues to show Lamb’s work, no longer has an exclusive deal with the artist, allowing her to show with Grenning once more.

“I’ve been calling her every six months for five or six years now,” Grenning said Monday. “I have clients that want her work.”

After years of waiting, Grenning is excited to exhibit ten new works by Lamb in the Holiday Show.

“What she’s doing is she does these amazing still lives,” said the gallerist. “She’s very prolific. The thing she spends most of the time on is setting them up and deciding the composition. She’s got an excellent eye for design.”

Lamb puts more time into designing her work through the composition than she does with the actual execution, which Grenning says usually takes just a day or two.

“The irony of the classical realist movement,” says Grenning, “is the classical realists paint but they don’t extract themselves to remember why they’re painting and what they’re painting. They don’t think of the composition too much – the abstract design of the painting.”

Since the early days of the gallery, when Lamb was a recent art school graduate looking for a break, she has grown tremendously as an artist. In her first show at Grenning, her works sold for $6,000 tops. This weekend, they will sell for up to $25,000.

"Wherelwork" by

“Wherelwork” by Joe Altwer, 2013

As evidenced by the Holiday Show line-up, Grenning excels at finding and mentoring new artists. She found Joe Altwer when he was an assistant to Mark Dalessio, one of her gallery’s featured artists.

“He actually came to his first opening here on a skateboard,” she recalls of the young Altwer, adding that his paintings in the show are “very beautiful, very well done, very bright light…It’s all about the light reflecting around the room, it’s not so much about describing the objects in the room.”

"River View" by Daniel Graves

“River View” by Daniel Graves, 2013

In the Holiday Show, Daniel Graves will exhibit four new landscapes “inspired by the most lyrical and relaxed tonalists.” Work by Michael Kotasek, who has been likened to the prominent realist painter Andrew Wyeth but is, according to Grenning, “a lot more refined as a painter,” will also be displayed.

The show will feature a “very beautiful” piece of a glass of beer and a musical instrument by Kevin McEvoy, paintings of farmhouses at twilight and a moonrise by Kevin Sanders and an original nocturne of Sag Harbor by Greg Horwich.

And then, of course, there’s Lucas.

“I didn’t realize all the times I was talking with her that she was an avid artist,” said Grenning. As Lucas’s talent developed, she began bringing her oil paintings to the gallery for Grenning to critique.

“I find when Laura critiques my work,” said Lucas. “I really come away with clarity of how to make it better and at the same time, she makes you feel really good about what’s right – she’s a wonderful mentor.”

"Duck Walk" by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“Duck Walk” by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“I, for whatever reason, tell people exactly what I think of their paintings,” said Grenning. “Unless you’re really open to a serious critique it can be unpleasant. She took every observation that I had and responded like an unbelievable student. She had talent but she kind of reorganized herself aesthetically. It’s kind of exciting and apparently this is a longtime goal for her.”

Apparently. After bringing her work to Grenning last spring, Lucas made some changes, landing herself a spot in the Holiday Show, her first exhibit.

“I used to say to my daughters, we would say, ‘Do you think this painting is Grenning worthy’,” said Lucas. “Being in her gallery, this is my first – I guess it’s like a wish list…I’m thrilled and excited for the opportunity.”

The opening reception for the Holiday Show will be held at the Grenning Gallery, 17 Washington Street, on Saturday, November 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 725-8469 or visit Grenning Gallery.