I am very pleased that I had two works accepted into the Artisphere 2016 Artists of the Upstate Juried Exhibition.  One of those works, Portrait of Juile, won the Award of Excellence, and was announced at the opening reception on the first day of Artisphere, Friday May 13th.  My work was a 32″ x 40″ archival pigment print on Epson cold press paper.  The image is from one of my original wet plate collodion tintypes.


The award was presented by Alan Ethridge, Director of the Greenville Metropolitan Arts Council.


Julie’s parents, Rev. Bob Chiles and Christine Zimmerman Chiles, were at the reception along with my wife, Debbie Rice.  Julie posed for my tintype on location at Tigg’s Pond in Zirconia, NC.  Julie is a very talented musician in The Buck Stops Here, a bluegrass band that just released their first album.  She had her fiddle with her in the shot and was wearing her mom’s wedding dress.

My latest tintype portrait work is featured with the work of three other artists in “New Faces 2016” at the Upstairs Artspace Gallery in Tryon, NC.  The exhibition opened on March 12, 2016 and runs through April 22nd.


At the Opening of New Faces 2016.  Photo Credit:  Anthony Milian


At the Opening of New Faces 2016.  Photo Credit:  Anthony Milian


In researching artists whose practice combines photography and constructed landscapes, I found some interesting work by Vanessa Marsh.  Last May, she had a solo exhibition, Always Close But Never Touching,  at Ampersand International Arts in San Francisco.  One of her pieces from that exhibition was Incomplete Highway On-Ramp, Seattle, WA.


Incomplete Freeway On-Ramp, Seattle, WA


Installation View: Incomplete Freeway On-Ramp, Seattle, WA


Vanessa Marsh’s Artist Statement

It was in high school that I began to find my true artistic vision. It started with a basic photography class and my mom’s old Nikon E series camera. The next year I had my first car and would take long drives out onto the edges of the Seattle suburbs. Wandering through the damp richness of Washington State, I rediscovered a landscape I had grown up with; flooded fields and medians overgrown with blackberry bushes, evergreens dripping with water and rivers always at capacity. I found myself fearless with my camera, exploring defunct industrial sites, climbing past “no trespassing” signs, keeping my eye out for security guards and taking as many shots as I could. I’d let myself into abandoned houses decaying with mold and half heartedly boarded up, looking for the perfect pile of detritus to photograph; an open fridge in the backyard or a baby carriage overgrown with blackberry vines. These buildings were all on the edges of fields that within a few years would become Wal-Marts or a sea of cookie cutter houses, not yet torn down, but no longer functioning as they were originally intended. They were places where I shouldn’t have been but where there was no one left to tell me to get out.

The idea of spaces between meanings became a fascination for me whether regarding the physical landscape, in considering memory or in making art. I think about ways that my art can tell a truth and yet be rooted in imagination simultaneously. My practice of model building began as a means to create a certain kind of photograph, an image that was at once real and surreal. As I worked more with miniatures I realized that the experience of looking into a model was similar to the feeling of being in abandoned places: of being an unintended visitor in a place that is at once somewhere and nowhere.

The models are built referencing snap shots and many details are filled in from my own imagination. When I build the models I am thinking of the places I’ve explored on the outskirts of Seattle, places on the brink of evolution and extinction – between meanings.

Building the models is an attempt to fully embrace my own sentimentality of where I grew up; the home where I no longer live. The environment where I feel the most comfortable yet choose not to be. The models are about recreating something important again that has been deemed unusable and outdated. In building them I am creating on a miniature scale a part of my own history, exploring the ways in which memory and identity are tied not only to location but also to one’s own imagination.

For  an interview with Vanessa Marsh by Matthew Hughes Boyko:  Click Here

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Manhattan) 2009 by Peter Edlund

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Manhattan) 30" x 60" Oil On Canvas.


Peter Edlund is a painter who uses a split canvas technique to juxtapose contemporary and ancient views of the same landscape.  One of his latest works, Hilly-Island-in Wolf Country, is on view through November 29th at Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery in an exhibition entitled, The Muhheakantuck in Focus.   Edlund presents a simultaneous view of lower Manhattan island near Trinity Wall Street and the same area as a pristine wilderness before Henry Hudson’s arrival in 1609.  The title of the painting is derived from the original Lenape Indian name for the place:   “hilly island.”

For this exhibition, senior curator Jennifer McGregor chose artists whose work explores the importance of the Hudson River to native peoples before and after  the arrival of European settlers (Muhheakantuck is Lenape for “the river that flows both ways”).  Edlund’s work is about more than the name of a place.  His historical juxtaposition raises difficult questions about the political and military power dynamics that brought the island under European control, eventually displacing the native population.


Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

From "The Generational:  Younger Than Jesus"


‘Jesus’ Saves

God bless the New Museum’s tantalizing triennial.


by Jerry Saltz

New York Magazine

In the last years of the boom, numerous artists came to the fore who have their aesthetic heads up the aesthetic asses of Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, Cady Noland, and Christopher Wool. They make punkish black-and-white art and ad hoc arrangements of disheveled stuff, architectural fragments, and Xeroxed photos. This art deals in received ideas about appropriation, conceptualism, and institutional critique. It’s a cool school, admired by jargon-wielding academics who write barely readable rhetoric explaining why looking at next to nothing is good for you. Many of these artists have sold a lot of work, and most will be part of a lost generation. They thought they were playing the system; it turned out that they were themselves being played.

I just read the press release for Swimming Pool, an installation by Leandro Erlich currently on view at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City.  I’m going to see Erlich’s work as well as the Kenneth Anger retrospective also at P.S. 1. All photographs below are by Matthew Septimus.  Text of the press release follows:


Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich.  Photo: Matthew Septimus.

Leandro Erlich: Swimming Pool

On view October 19, 2008 – October 5, 2009


P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center presentsLeandro Erlich: Swimming Pool, an extraordinary and visually confounding installation by the Argentine artist Leandro Erlich. Leandro Erlich: Swimming Poolwill be on view in P.S.1’s unique, double-height Duplex gallery from October 19, 2008 through April 13, 2009.

Leandro Erlich is known for installations that seem to defy the basic laws of physics and befuddle the viewer, who is introduced into jarring environments that momentarily threaten a sense of balance or space. For this exhibition, Erlich presents one of his most well-known and critically acclaimed pieces, Swimming Pool. Speaking about the project, Erlich says: “When I first visited P.S.1, I remember thinking how perfect the Duplex space would be for the installation ofSwimming Pool. This space divided the experience of seeing the work perfectly, and in the correct order. Almost ten years since its creation, Swimming Pool is finally in the exhibition space for which I have always felt is so perfectly suited.”


Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich.  Photo: Matthew Septimus.


Erlich has constructed a full-size pool, complete with all its trappings, including a deck and a ladder. When approached from the first floor, visitors are confronted with a surreal scene: people, fully clothed, can be seen standing, walking, and breathing beneath the surface of the water. It is only when visitors enter the Duplex gallery from the basement that they recognize that the pool is empty, its construction a visual trick fashioned by the artist. A large, continuous piece of acrylic spans the pool and suspends water above it, creating the illusion of a standard swimming pool that is both disorienting and humorous.


Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich.  Photo: Matthew Septimus


Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich.  Photo: Matthew Septimus


Leandro Erlich (b. 1973, Buenos Aires) has been exhibiting his work internationally for over ten years. He has had solo shows at the Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona (2003); MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (2006), and Le Grand Café, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Saint-Nazaire (2005). He represented Argentina at the 49th Venice Biennale (2001), where he showed Swimming Pool, and was also featured in the Singapore Biennale (2008), the Liverpool Biennial (2008), 7th Havana Biennale (2001), the 7th Istanbul Biennial (2001), the 3rd Shanghai Biennale (2002), the 1st Busan Biennale (2002), and the 26th Bienal de São Paulo (2004). His work will be shown in the upcoming Prospect.1 New Orleans Biennial in 2008. He lives and works in Buenos Aires.


Organized by P.S.1 Director Alanna Heiss.

The exhibition is made possible by David Teiger, Estrellita B. Brodsky and Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.

 I missed the opening of Myoung Ho Lee’s exhibition of large format color photographs at Yossi Milo last night.  But I hope to see the work this weekend.  The press release and images below are from the gallery website.


Tree #5, Archival Inkjet Print by Myoung Ho Lee (2007)

Tree #5, Archival Inkjet Print by Myoung Ho Lee (2007)




March 19 – April 18, 2009


Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of color photographs by Myoung Ho Lee, entitled Tree. The exhibition will open on Thursday, March 19 and close on Saturday, April 18.  This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States. 

 Myoung Ho Lee photographs solitary trees framed against white canvas backdrops in the middle of natural landscapes. To install the large canvases, which span approximately 60 by 45 feet, the artist enlists a production crew and heavy cranes. Minor components of the canvas support system, such as ropes or bars, are later removed from the photograph through minimal digital retouching, creating the illusion that the backdrop is floating behind the tree.  


Tree #2, Archival Inkjet Print by Myoung Ho Lee (2006)

Tree #2, Archival Inkjet Print by Myoung Ho Lee (2006)


The series includes diverse species of trees photographed with a 4×5 camera in a variety of seasons and at different times of day. Mr. Lee allows the tree’s natural surroundings to fill the frame around the canvas, transforming the backdrop into an integral part of the subject. Centered in the graphic compositions, the canvas defines the form of the tree and separates it from the environment. By creating a partial, temporary outdoor studio for each tree, Mr. Lee’s “portraits” of trees play with ideas of scale and perception while referencing traditional painting and the history of photography.

Myoung Ho Lee is the recipient of awards including the first Young Photographer’s Award from the Photo Artist’s Society of Korea in 2005, Korea’s Photography Critics Award in 2006 and a grant from the Culture and Art Fund from the Arts Council of Korea in 2007. Mr. Lee was born in Daejon, South Korea in 1975 and currently lives and works in Seoul, South Korea.



Gallery Information


Tuesday–Saturday 10 am–6 pm


525 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001

phone: 212-414-0370
fax: 212-414-0371




Committed Explanations in Geograph

Pablo Helguera: Committed Explanations in Geography

Press Release:  Committed Explanations in Geography, a solo exhibition by New York-based artist Pablo Helguera, is an upcoming show at the School of Art at The Cooper Union that showcases his recent artworks highlighting cultural and linguistic gaps specific to the Americas (January 27-February 21, 2009), curated by Sara Reisman. 

Helguera’s four-week, multi-disciplinary exhibition brings together a number of works produced between 2003 and 2009 around the subject of geography, cultural memory and social and political change in the American landscape. The subjects of the works range from works about an enclave of Veneto speakers (an italian dialect) in Puebla, Mexico, the history of the first Shaker settlement in America, the 1916 expedition by General John Pershing through the Sonora desert to kill Pancho Villa, the last speaker of the Eyak language in Alaska, and the life story of Wallace Nutting, the inventor of Americana.  Helguera’s artistic practice incorporates pedagogical mechanisms, performance, musical composition, multi-linear narrative techniques and minimalist display strategies. The opening will include the performance of “Manifest Destiny”.


The Cooper Union School of Art

7 E. 7th Street

Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Gallery, 2nd floor

Free and open to the general public


Tuesday, January 27, 6pm (opening reception)


On View:  Jan.  27 – Feb. 21; gallery hours: Tues.- Sat., 11am-6pm 


"Pour Your Body Out"

Pipilotti Rist: "Pour Your Body Out"


I was at The Museum of Modern Art today and finally got to see Pipilotti Rist’s massive – and much talked about – video installation, “Pour Your Body Out.”  Sculptural seating in the center of the atrium encourages the public to linger and, in fact, produces an informal, relaxed environment.  Rist’s 25 ft. high projections on three walls are visually stunning and function as surreal dreamscapes of gorgeous color.  I’ll have more to say about the work in another post.  The third wall of the installation is not visible in my cell phone photos.


From the MoMA Website

Pipilotti Rist’s lush multimedia installations playfully and provocatively merge fantasy and reality. MoMA commissioned the Swiss artist to create a monumental site-specific installation that immerses the Museum’s Marron Atrium in twenty-five-foot-high moving images. Visitors will be able to experience the work while walking through the space or sitting upon a sculptural seating island designed by the artist.

I’m a fan of  Amy Stein‘s photography blog.  It’s one of the best around.  Her latest solo show, Domesticated, opened on December 11th at The Print Center in Philadelphia and will be up through February 14, 2009.   Amy graduated with an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York and teaches at SVA and Parsons.  Not the standard photo background, she received her undergraduate degree (BSc) in Political Science from James Madison University and went on to earn an MSc in Political Science from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.      


Watering Hole (from Domesticated) by Amy Stein.

Watering Hole (from Domesticated) by Amy Stein.



Trash Eaters (from Domesticated) by Amy Stein.

Trash Eaters (from Domesticated) by Amy Stein.



Hillside (from Domesticated) by Amy Stein.

Hillside (from Domesticated) by Amy Stein.




Free and Open to the Public
11:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Tuesday through Saturday

The Print Center
1614 Latimer Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215 735.6090
215 735.5511 fax


Excerpt from Alison Nordström’s introduction to Domesticated, a new book of photographs by Amy Stein, published by Photolucida:


“Amy Stein crafts photographic allegories set simultaneously in a number of different liminal spaces. Her sure and realistic color works manifest the place where the human-built meets the wild, but in addition they show us where the factual descriptive image meets fiction. Despite their apparent realism, her images are posed and constructed, sometimes using models and taxidermy props, sometimes using the bodies of dead or living animals to re-create, record and perform actual events that occurred in the small Pennsylvania town of Matamoras, which Stein has claimed as surely as Faulkner invented and limned Yoknapatawpha County. What at first appears to be a series of photojournalistic decisive moments is revealed, at a second look, to be a powerfully imagined vision that establishes its strength through its very artificiality.”

— Alison Nordström is curator of the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY.


Emily Bicht recently showed some of her Ready to Rumble series at Fountain Art Fair in Miami (Dec. 3-7).  This mixed media series explores the power dynamics of gender through male vs. female wrestling depictions.  Fountain Art Fair is an alternative exhibition venue that is willing to show artists who do not fit the conventional gallery mold and who are willing to take risks with their work.


The Takedown (Mixed Media on Panel, 24" x 24")

Ready To Rumble: The Takedown (Mixed Media on Panel, 24″ x 24″)


Pieta by Emily Bicht (Mixed Media on Panel, 24" x 24")

Ready to Rumble: Pieta (Mixed Media on Panel, 24″ x 24″)


Set against a decorative backdrop, the male and female adversaries in Bicht’s panels occupy a rather compressed space, which intensifies the struggle at hand.  After seeing her work online, I recalled attending the Sigmar Polke retrospective at MoMA in 1997.  He achieved the same sort of compressed space in his ballpoint pen drawings and paintings from the 60s.  One of Polke’s drawings from that retrospective was Damen-Ringkampfe (“Lady Wrestlers”), which assumes the vantage point of the male gaze (looking upon women combatants for entertainment).


Damen-Ringkampf by Sigmar Polke (1968).  Ballpoint Pen, Watercolor and Silver (11 5/8 x 8 1/4")

Damen-Ringkampfe by Sigmar Polke (1968) Ballpoint Pen, Watercolor and Silver (11 5/8 x 8 1/4)


Bicht’s work is more compelling in that subverts the expectations of the gaze.  Male and female are engaged in a contest that is just as much symbolic and psychological as it is physical.  Will one gender or the other prevail; or will some equilibrium ultimately be achieved – a draw?  Jungian psychology, which has been informed by alchemical  texts, suggests that each person’s psyche has both masculine and feminine attributes.  We seek balance, which is only achieved after a long struggle of our inner opposites.


Engraving from an 18th century version of the Rosarium philosophorum.

Male/Famale Unity: Engraving from an 18th century version of the Rosarium philosophorum.


Ready to Rumble taps into the theme of physical struggle for power that can be dated by millennia, as the depictions below from ancient Egypt and Greece demonstrate.


Egyptian Depiction of Wrestling (2500 B.C.)

Egyptian Depiction of Wrestling (2500 B.C.)



Depiction of Wrestling from Greece (500 B.C)

Depiction of Wrestling from Greece (500 B.C)



The Greek forms look similar to those in Bicht’s Domestic Wrestling animation below.





Bicht’s work also reminds me of Wrestling Ladies, a theatre piece developed by Tory Vasquez and performed at P.S. 122 back in March 2003.  Vasquez received a supporting grant for her project from the Creative Capital Foundation.



Wrestling Ladies Promotional Photograph (2003)

Wrestling Ladies Promotional Photograph (2003)



Project Description from the Creative Capital Website


Wrestling Ladies transforms a theatrical venue into a wrestling ring. In a visual style inspired by contemporary underground comics, the work depicts characters as combatants, superheroes, and saints who all struggle to transcend their given and created identities. The audience is witness to both their public battles and private histories. The primary character is an eleven year old girl Chasity a.k.a Devilish Angel who is obsessed with wrestling. The other characters include: Her mother, Maria Elena Vazquez, a ruthless champion; her soon to be stepfather, Louis, manager/coach of the ring; and her friend Lizard, a wrestler who keeps her company and protects her from evil. The action moves fluidly from fight scenes to surreal dances to moments of unexpected tenderness.



 Fountain Art Fair Press Release 

Fountain Miami, the alternative art exhibition known for presenting cutting-edge and independent art galleries, sets up shop in an industrial warehouse located at 25th Street and North Miami Avenue for its latest installment this December. Fountain is a guerrilla-style art event, dubbed by many as the “Anti Art Fair” for its brash, off-the-wall offerings of non-traditional art exhibitions in the art fair environment.

Recruiting avant-garde galleries who showcase progressive primary-market works, Fountain breathes fresh life into the Miami Beach “Basel Frazzle,” giving gallery-goers and art enthusiasts the opportunity to see new works without traditional booths or selection juries. While most fairs have fallen into the hands of corporate management, Fountain remains independent, and as such presents work in a forward-thinking manner. Unencumbered by the strict presentation guidelines and parameters found at other fairs, Fountain preserves the visions of galleries and dealers to provide an environment reflective of the artists and their works.

Fountain’s venue, a large and dramatic 16000 square-foot complex with both interior and exterior exhibition areas, is adjacent to all the major Wynwood fairs. Participating galleries receive approximately 1200 square feet of exhibition space, so visitors can expect massive installations of contemporary painting, sculpture, performance and new media art.

Artnet – the most widely read art site on the web – describes Fountain: “Likeability and chutzpah used to be what art was about. That, and a little guerrilla mentality, which you had at Fountain in spades. This is the place where you reminisce about the good old days, when you did it yourself, when inspiration and magic struck like a bolt from the blue. Here at Fountain, the artists and dealers are hungry and they welcome all visitors warmly. They are having fun and that’s the vibe. I felt like sitting down, having a beer, and hanging.”

Fountain Miami 2008 participating galleries include:

Glowlab – New York
Leo Kesting – New York
Open Ground – Brooklyn
Radau – Miami
Jonathan Shorr Gallery – New York
Yum Yum Factory – Brooklyn
Dada Art Gallery – Philadelphia
Briceno Gallery – Miami

Fountain was launched in March 2006 in New York in an effort to leverage support for independent galleries overlooked by the larger, corporate-sponsored art fairs. The name “Fountain” is a nod to Marcel Duchamp’s controversial sculpture which shook up the art world when it was rejected by the Society of Artists’ exhibition in 1917. Similarly, in defiant contrast with The Armory Show, Art Basel Miami Beach, Pulse, Scope and the numerous other international art fairs, Fountain has received wide public support and critical acclaim for its experimental slant. In form and spirit, the artwork exhibited at Fountain reflects the avant-garde attitude of the Dada art movement, while attracting the attention of the international clientele and top collectors who attend the more traditional fairs.


Oval Office by Thomas Struth



 Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are delighted to present the first solo exhibition of new work by German artist Thomas Demand in the UK since his acclaimed Serpentine exhibition in summer 2006. Following an invitation from the New York Times, Demand has created a timely and unnerving body of work which examines the literal and metaphorical seat of global power in the twenty-first century – the Oval Office in the White House, Washington, D.C. 

The Oval Office, the official workplace of the President of the United States of America, is one of the most instantly recognisable interior locations in the world, its image a symbolic shorthand for the exercise of ideological and geopolitical will. Yet Demand’s photographs, rather than capturing the original Oval Office in all its formal opulence, instead depict a meticulously recreated life-size model, fabricated from paper, cardboard and confetti. Each of the five images of this near-perfect reconstruction of the most powerful room in the world is articulated through a complex compositional language, making the reading of each photograph an aesthetically and conceptually troubling experience. 

Demand’s photography has long focussed on painstakingly detailed reenactments of specific and familiar places, public or private sites often loaded with social and political meanings. His models are highly detailed, yet they retain subtle but deliberate flaws and anachronisms to disrupt the viewer’s comfort with the scene. This series also renders an immediately recognisable scene alien through an innovative attention to perspective and formal composition. The oval shape of the Oval Office is not usually a prominent feature of the multiplicity of images of this iconic space, yet in Demand’s rendition, the eye is fascinated by it. Similarly, the viewer’s expectation is that this room will be inhabited, either by politicians or actors pretending to be politicians, and that it will be experienced on a human scale and at eye level. However, Demand’s Oval Office is conspicuous in its human absence, an emptiness that is heightened by the ground-level and bird’s eye perspectives from which the room is viewed. 

The effect of Demand’s work has been to challenge any complacent assumptions about photography’s claims to verisimilitude, and to complicate conventional notions of authenticity and artifice. However, in the context of this new body of work, Demand’s practice gains an ever more politicised momentum. Blurring boundaries between believability and pretence in the Oval Office necessarily points to a critique of power as it has been wielded in the White House. Photographing a near-exact replica of the US President’s office suggests intriguing connections between statecraft and stagecraft, and the disposability of the construction materials (each of Demand’s models is destroyed after it has been photographed) undermines any naïve faith in the permanence and unshakeability of American, or indeed any, political authority. 

This new exhibition marks a distinctive counterpoint to a number of Demand’s recent major works. Tavern (2006), currently on view at Tate Modern, is, like this body of work, a suite of five images which take a media-saturated location, in this case the site of a horrific murder in Germany, and powerfully evoke a sense of ambivalence and the uncanny in how images of such memorable and familiar places are received. It can also be viewed as a companion piece to Demand’s Embassy, part of his presentation at the Fondazione Prada at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, in Venice in June 2007. Embassy centred on the reproduction, physically then photographically, of Niger’s consulate in Rome, which was the ultimate destination of a trail of political intrigue involving the recent history of nuclear proliferation, and the basis of America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. These photographs depict a highly politicised and geopolitically significant space, but one which was cluttered, dark, unknown and locked away from view. This contrasts with Demand’s image of the Oval Office – an eerily airy and instantly recognisable political environment which is defined by its public accessibility, and whose image is so widely dispersed it looms ever-present in the collective visual vocabulary of contemporary Western culture. The connection between the two works, in political and aesthetic terms, is confirmed by the presence in these photographs of a framed image of a black figure that appeared in Embassy. Not only does this intervention jar with the viewer’s visual expectation of the Oval Office, but it reifies the problematic ways in which race, history and the Third World might be located within the American political order. 

Thomas Demand studied at the Düsseldorf Academy and Goldsmiths College. Solo exhibitions include the first solo exhibition by a contemporary artist at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, following its reopening in 2005, which was followed by an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2006. Recent exhibitions include Fundación Telefónica, Madrid and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany. In 2004 he represented Germany at the São Paulo Biennale. Demand lives in Berlin, and in 2009 he will have a major exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. 

Yossi Milo, one of my favorite galleries in Manhattan, will participate in the PULSE Miami Contemporary Art Fair (December 3-7).   I’ve seen work by two of the artists representing Yossi at the event,  Sze Tsung Leong and Loretta Lux.  Leong is perhaps the best landscape photographer working today.  Last summer, I viewed some of his large format color prints from the gallery’s  flat files.  Those prints are part of his series History Images, which Steidl published as a book under the same title.  The work is a stunning depiction of China during rapid urbanization, as ancient aspects of the culture seemed overwhelmed by contemporary structures. Moving to Lux, the press release for PULSE speaks of her digitally manipulated portraits referencing Velasquez and Goya.  Her work could also be seen as a more innocent version of Balthus with a twist of Magritte:  generally restrained palette occasionally bursting with bright color, stillness and spare composition, yet with a psychological tension and eerie quality that linger.   You will not pass quickly from one of her photographs to the next.  They tend to keep you invested.  The descriptions below are from the gallery press release.

 Shanghai by Sze Tsung Leong

Shanghai by Sze Tsung Leong


Sze Tsung Leong’s ongoing series of color photographs, titled Cities, depicts urban overviews from around the world.  The artist uses repetition in composition and viewpoint to reveal parallels and differences between the disparate constructed environments of various cities.  The artist’s book History Images was published by Steidl in 2006, and a catalogue for his ongoing series Horizons was published by the gallery in 2008.  Sze Tsung Leong was born in Mexico City in 1970 and currently lives and works in New York.





Loretta Lux creates imaginary portraits which address the idea of childhood as a paradise lost.  The artist utilizes photography, painting and digital imaging to execute her compositions, creating scenarios of isolation and distance that occur in an ambiguous time and space while referencing paintings by Old Masters, such as Bronzino, Velasquez and Goya.

Loretta Lux was awarded the 2005 International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award.  Her work is included in numerous museum collections, and a travelling retrospective of her work has been exhibited in venues such as the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico; and the Fotomuseum den Haag, The Hague.  Loretta Lux was born in Dresden in 1969.


I am pleased to have my work included in Sanlun Yishu, a mobile gallery project designed and curated by two American artists currently living in Beijing:  Lee Somers and Elisabeth Pellathy.  Art selected for the project will be transported through the city in a Sanlun (a compact three-wheel motorized vehicle).  In various neighborhoods, the driver will stop and set up viewing opportunities for the public, many of whom might not ordinarily visit galleries.  Somers and Pellathy envision Sanlun Yishu as a way to bridge art and everyday life, which I find very appealing.  The project is made possible with a grant from the Black Rock Arts Foundation.


From the  Sanlun Yishu website:  Shifting art viewing from a passive to active interface with the community, Sanlun Yishu creates a space for interactive art. Instead of paying a fare, participants take a work of art with them and make a creative contribution of their own.  This transaction is the basis of a conversation between artists and passengers, examining urban life from multiple perspectives, forging unlikely connections across the globe. 


Sanlun Yishu


General Information

Artists are asked to submit their work to Sanlun Yishu in the spirit of collaboration. No work will be bought or sold while in the mobile gallery. It is a purely non-profit, public and global art project to promote contemporary art-awareness.

Works selected for exhibition will be reproduced in editions specified by the artist in dimensions appropriate to the vehicle. These reproductions will be taken by the passenger/participants in Beijing, who will in turn leave a creative response or a piece of ephemera in exchange for the work. These responses will then be forwarded electronically to the artist, who may choose to continue collaboration with this feedback.

Selected results of these dialogues will be published in a catalogue and exhibited in a Beijing gallery at the end of the project. When the exhibition is completed all work-specific feedback will be mailed to the artists for their keeping.

All participants will be invited to show their original work or works pertaining to the project at a gallery in Beijing at the end of the project. Details will be provided as they become available.



三san (three) 轮lun (wheel) 车che (vehicle) – a versatile, cheap and compact  tricycle made from modified motorcycles or bicycles. Small yet mighty, the workhorse of Beijing moves everything from lumber to passengers.  Often employed as a low-budget, local taxi.

三san (three) 轮lun (wheel)  艺术yishu (art) – a mobile gallery, a custom-made sanlun che housing an exhibition of print, drawing, sound, and video selected specifically for this context.  The primary function is to facilitate personal interaction with art for an audience outside the scope of the traditional gallery.

The sanlunche is one of the most popular ways of getting around the city. Our project, Sanlun Yishu, will retrofit the standard sanlunche, turning it into a mobile gallery. This gallery will house artworks from people around the globe working in various media and carry them into the stream of daily transportation.

William Eggleston is even more colorful than his groundbreaking photographs.

By Rebecca Bengal

New York Magazine, Nov 2, 2008

William Eggleston

William Eggleston

‘Bill Eggleston has a show at the Whitney?” asks a woman at the bar of the Lamplighter Lounge in Memphis. She practically spits out her Budweiser. “I hate his shit!” Sam Cooke is on the jukebox, which plays real 45s; place mats are spread along the wood veneer, and the complimentary matchbooks are from D&D Bail Bonds in Wichita Falls, Texas. The bartender, Shirley, slices potatoes in the kitchen. A young couple are making out at a back table.

“I’m from in the same town as him,” says another woman, who hails from Sumner, Mississippi. “I know his cousin Maudie. She’s a photographer, too.”

“I like Weegee’s photographs,” the first woman cuts in. And again: “Bill Eggleston at the Whitney?”

There’s a snapshot of William Eggleston at the back of the Lamp, displayed by a vase of unnaturally colored silk flowers, a dish of peppermints, and a cutout of James Dean. If this sounds like an Eggleston photograph, it’s close. That same day, in fact, the Lamp turns up in a box of proofs at the Eggleston Artistic Trust. There in supersaturated color is the EAT MORE POSSUM sign.

Eggleston has a precarious relationship with the Lamp, one of his favorite haunts. In fact, he’s barred from entering. “I got really drunk one time,” he admits, “and I threw a hamburger at Shirley, who had just made it. But we’re still friends.”

Shirley concurs. “He calls me up every now and then, asks how I’m doing, and I say, ‘Good,’ ” she says, fond but firm. She is pleased to own an Eggleston photograph at home and proud of his success, but, like the Lamp’s regulars, her feelings for her famous neighbor are complicated. “I like Bill, but he can’t come in here. Will you be sure and tell him I said hello?”

The consummate insider-outsider, Eggleston remains aloof in the many worlds he inhabits-including the art circles of New York and the dive-bar culture of Memphis. Those intricate relationships will be on full display at the Whitney when his first comprehensive retrospective, “William Eggleston: Democratic Camera,” opens Friday-his most prominent return to the city since his MoMA debut in 1976.

We met recently at the offices of his archive, a few miles east of the Lamp. As always, he’s dressed sharp: off-white lace-up oxfords, dark tailored pants, an undone bow tie over a blue oxford shirt monogrammed with a large orange B. “Got it at a yard sale. It had my name on it: B, for Bill.” He laughs. Eggleston has been known to wear the occasional knee-high Austrian riding boots and, according to Lamp regulars, “Zorro capes.” “Sometimes, yes,” he says. “It’s comfortable, and it looks good.”

In 1967, when Eggleston arrived in New York from Memphis bearing a box of slides that would redefine photography, he was an anomaly. Not only was he one of the first photographers to wholeheartedly embrace color, but he embraced exactly what made color photography so controversial in highbrow circles: He treated the commonplace as art. Eggleston shot “democratically,” meaning anything-parking lots, shopping centers-was a worthy subject. “I thought I was doing the right thing, put it that way,” he says now. “And if someone told me something otherwise, I just put it aside.”


Eggleston Images


He was soon befriended by a small “club” of artists-equally groundbreaking photographers Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand. “Though our work was different, we felt that we were compatriots,” Eggleston says. “Somehow I knew we were, attitude-wise, doing the same thing.”

Eggleston’s 1976 MoMA show launched his career and proved a turning point in the history of photography. Scorned at the time for being vulgar and banal, the show has since been revered for exactly those reasons. The exhibit was accompanied by a cheekily titled book, William Eggleston’s Guide, misread by many as an artistic travelogue to his native South. In truth, it was a Michelin guide to Eggleston’s singularly heightened way of seeing: His use of supernatural dye-transfer color, which implied that the ordinary was not at all so. His startling compositions directed viewers to look as closely as his camera, to recognize the grace, violence, and humor implicit in the mundane. A dog walking down a street. A fire burning in a barbecue grill. A red ceiling.

The New York art world became fascinated with Eggleston’s southernness, and he, in turn, immersed himself in the scene, setting up house in the Chelsea Hotel with Warhol star Viva. But he never really became a New Yorker. Eggleston maintained a life in Memphis and a marriage to his wife, Rosa (with whom he has three children), while openly having other relationships.

Evidence of this double life shows up in the Whitney retrospective, which highlights the museum premiere of Eggleston’s foray into filmmaking. Stranded in Canton is a full-length video vérité, shot in New Orleans and Memphis and navigating a seventies Delta netherworld of quaalude-popping dentists, soliloquizing transvestites, cryptologists, geeks, bluesmen-a southern equivalent of the Chelsea. His parallel lives, he says, are necessary: “It does get confusing sometimes. But each of these things allows the other. It creates a state of mind.”

During his time in New York, Eggleston would roam the city with cameras, but he rarely shot pictures. “Those streets were Garry Winogrand’s world,” he says. Since then, his style of working has loosened so that he never knows where he will end up each day. A few years ago, he returned to New York and photographed a crushed-car lot in Queens. Recently he completed a Fondation Cartier commission to photograph Paris. “Years ago there, working in black and white, heavily under the influence of Henri Cartier-Bresson, I just didn’t see any pictures,” he says. “Now, once I start working, it’s no different from anywhere else in the world. Sometimes I have to ask, ‘Are we in Paris?’ ”

The Whitney retrospective certainly demonstrates Eggleston’s mastery in depicting the place of a place. But it is equally possible to see the show as just the opposite: a career-long meditation on how the particular can reveal the abstract-the composition of light and its reflection.

It’s four o’clock, and Eggleston, sitting on the stoop outside his office, smokes another in a long line of cigarettes. The late sun striking the cars in the lot recalls his first real color photograph: a bag boy pushing a row of carts. “This is beginning to be my favorite kind of light,” he remarks, his words precise but elegantly drawn out. “It brings out a spectrum that appeals to me, warmer colors that I don’t always notice at other times. It’s like when a thunderstorm moves through and the light changes swiftly from cold to warm.”

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Mother and Daughter. Image by Klaus Enrique Gerdes (2007)

Mother and Daughter. Image by Klaus Enrique Gerdes (2007)


Yesterday, I was looking back through some work by my previous students; and I came across this wonderful image – Mother and Daughter – by Klaus Enrique Gerdes.  Klaus was in my photography class at Parsons during the summer of 2007.  He and I spent time editing images for a submission to the 2007 Photographic Portrait Prize Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.  Of all of his images, this was my favorite.  I later learned that the image was accepted for the exhibition.


Alfredo Jaar’s “Power of Words”; and images from Wendy Ewald’s “Towards a Promised Land.”

ABSTRACTIONS From “Framing and Being Framed: The Uses of Documentary Photography,” from left: Alfredo Jaar’s “Power of Words”; images from Wendy Ewald’s “Towards a Promised Land.”



October 12, 2008

Not Quite Documentary Art


Despite its title — “Framing and Being Framed: The Uses of Documentary Photography” — the exhibition at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University contains many artworks that are not, strictly speaking, documentary photographs. Some of them are not even documentary in nature. They are more conceptual projects that employ photographic material ranging from snapshots of everyday life to portraits and conventional documentary imagery.

But this in no way negates the show’s powerful premise, which is to encourage viewers to think about the ways in which artists and photographers use and abuse documentary principles. Nina Felshin, the gallery’s curator, has done a terrific job assembling interesting and provocative work in this vein, the best of which invite viewers to consider issues of agency, context and interpretation in documentary-based art.

Take, for instance, Wendy Ewald’s “Towards a Promised Land” (2004-2006), a collaborative conceptual project comprising photographs, banners and sound recordings. For 30 years, the artist has put cameras in the hands of children all over the world to record their impressions of life and the world around them. The present installation documents her work with 22 children living in the English seaside town of Margate, all of whom are asylum seekers and refugees.

Ms. Ewald spent 18 months interviewing children in Margate, taking their photographs and teaching them to use a camera. Showing here are installation shots of her photographs of the children, displayed as public banners around the streets of Margate, along with the project’s 2006 book, “Towards a Promised Land.” There is also an audiotape including snippets of the children’s personal accounts of their experiences. It is quite moving.

Employing elements of self-representation, participation and collaboration, Ms. Ewald departs from standard documentary conventions in which the artist is at arm’s length from the subject. Her project is less a documentary than a kind of testimonial. The same goes for Eric Gottesman’s “Sudden Flowers,” an ongoing installation of photographs and video made in collaboration with children in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in an effort to improve the public image of Ethiopia abroad. Here the participants are openly trying to reshape an image of themselves.

Much of this work illustrates a simple point: The way in which subjects are perceived depends on the lens through which they are viewed. Emily Jacir toys with this idea in her photographs of the annual Israeli Day Parade in New York. On the one hand, several images emphasize bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel, with parade participants carrying flags from both countries and wearing T-shirts with pro-United States slogans emblazoned across them. On the other hand, other images contain nasty anti-Arab references.

Artists also complicate traditional assumptions about documentary imagery by restaging, rehearsing, or simply evoking past events for the camera. Matthew Buckingham’s “Will Someone Please Explain It to Me, I’ve Just Become a Radical” (2008), consists of 12 photographs of the interior of a building at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where in 1967 a sit-in against recruitment on the campus by Dow Chemical, manufactures of napalm, used in bombs during the Vietnam War, ended in a violent police action against the protesters. The artist invites us to project our own thoughts onto these now empty interiors.

By contrast, An-My Le is a more conventional documentary photographer, using a large format camera to create richly detailed black-and-white photographs of young American marines doing training exercises for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at a military base in the Mohave Desert in California. Her accurate and engaging rendering of simulated battlefields evokes the harsh reality of soldiering in desert conditions, but also, in a quite profound way, brings the war home.

Also bringing the past back to the present is Kota Ezawa’s “Simpson Verdict” (2002), an animated projection based on the actual courtroom footage of one of the most widely publicized legal cases in history, O.J. Simpson’s 1997 murder trial. Focusing on the emotionally-charged final minutes, as the defendant and his legal team awaited the jury verdict, the footage is simplified and abstracted to focus on Mr. Simpson’s movements and gestures. The result is a case study in body language.

“Framing and Being Framed: The
Uses of Documentary Photography,”
Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Center
for the Arts, Wesleyan University, 283
Washington Terrace, Middletown, through Dec. 7. Information: (860)
685-3355 or http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.



Sunburned GSP#206, (Mojave, full day), 2008, 3 Unique 10"x8" Gelatin Silver Paper Negatives © Chris McCaw, 2008

image: Sunburned GSP#206, (Mojave, full day), 2008, 3 Unique 10"x8" Gelatin Silver Paper Negatives © Chris McCaw, 2008




New Photographs from the Sunburn Series


Opening Reception Thursday, October 16, 6PM-8PM


Michael Mazzeo Gallery is pleased to present Chris McCaw, New Photographs from the Sunburn Series. The artist’s first solo exhibition in New York will be on view from October 16 through November 22. A reception for the artist will be held at the gallery on Thursday, October 16, from 6PM to 8PM.

Working amidst the historically sacred and timeless landscape of the American West, Chris McCaw’s latest works in his Sunburn series reveal an intimate relationship with the primal nature of photography and an unprecedented interpretation of its usage. Each piece a necessarily unique work, these serene images transcend the established conception of the two dimensional photograph, embracing the physicality of light and inspiring awe and reverence.

Employing only the most basic elements of the medium: camera, lens and paper, McCaw documents a celestial and terrestrial landscape transformed by long exposures of the sun traversing the sky, scorching, and often burning its path completely through the photographic paper. The intense light further alters the image, paradoxically turning day into night. While recalling cosmic anomaly and prophetic revelation, each emotionally charged work remains a vivid graphic record of the rhythmic and potent forces of nature. The large-format Gelatin Silver Paper Negatives, each created in-camera, range in size from 8 x 10 inches to 20 x 24 inches.

Chris McCaw’s work has recently been acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMoMA, The Philadelphia Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Princeton Museum. His photographs are in the collections of the George Eastman House Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Harry Ransom Center of Humanities at the University of Texas, and many corporate and private collections. He has received numerous awards, including an Alternative Exposure Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. Born in Daly City, California, McCaw received his BFA from the Academy of Art, San Francisco. He currently lives and works in San Francisco.


                     For more information about the artists and their work, please contact the gallery.

Michael Mazzeo Gallery / 526 W.26 Street / Suite 209 / NYC 10001

212.741.6599 / info@michaelmazzeo.com


Mobile Chapel, 16 x 16 Acrylic on Canvas by Jim Zellinger (2003)

Mobile Chapel, 16 x 16 Acrylic on Canvas by Jim Zellinger (2003)


Jim Zellinger, whose work I first saw in 2007  at The New School, is in an upcoming two-person show at GoNorth in Beacon, NY.  At The New School, he presented a single acrylic on canvas painting of a semi-trailer set against a brightly colored background; and his paintings at GoNorth continue this theme.  

While the semi-trailer evokes industrial scenes that are very familiar to me, Zellinger’s typological treatment and relative abstraction of the form tend to inhibit any cursory judgment.  He elevates the ordinary industrial subject matter for aesthetic contemplation on its own terms and in comparative relation to other images in the series, a strategy perhaps informed by the photographic work of Bernd and Hilla Bescher.  I look forward to seeing more of his work at the opening next week, while also taking in Frederic Church’s Olana and Dia Beacon enroute.


Painting by Kirsten Nash

Painting by Kirsten Nash



Press Release from GoNorth


GONORTH – a space for contemporary art

Kirsten Nash / Jim Zellinger

October 11 – November 2, 2008

 Reception: Saturday, October 11, 6 – 9 pm.


GO NORTH is pleased to present our two person exhibition of paintings by Kirsten Nash and Jim Zellinger.  The exhibition runs from October 11, to November 2, 2008. A reception for the artists will be held on Saturday, October 11, from 6 – 9 pm.

 Kirsten Nash began painting her landscapes several years ago while spending a lot of time in the Hudson Valley.  Wanting to acknowledge the importance of the area’s history within American painting, she found inspiration in 1970’s American landscape photography, especially Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places.  

 The suburbanized landscape, specifically shopping mall parking lots, seemed the perfect reflection of our time. Familiar, generic, and loaded with cultural significance, this archetype of a contemporary environment served as a starting point for Nash’s exploration of the dialogue between image and abstraction. References to abstraction and process echo the collision of the natural and artificial.

Jim Zellinger’s work rests heavily on his Midwestern upbringing, which has left a significant mark on his character and interpretation of the world around him.  Zellinger is constantly comparing the common threads, rituals, customs and personality of his home with wherever he lives.  In his most recent series of paintings, Zellinger draws on his experience to capture a Midwestern constant, the semi-trailer.  Eliminating the noise and placing the semi center on unmarked fields. The semi trailers are neither anchored nor glorified.  The icons of the central United States, their position in theme and tradition, are the foundations of his work.



469 Main Street

Beacon, NY


Gallery hours: Saturday and Sunday 12 – 6 pm and by appointment.



Bill Max - Civil War Reenactor (4th US Regular Infantry) 

Bill Max - Civil War Reenactor (4th US Regular Infantry)


Allison Smith, whose historically based installations I have followed for a while, is showing the photograph above in Ethnographies of the Future at the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in New York City (Sept. 10th through November 24th).  The exhibition was curated by Sara Reisman.  Viewing is by appointment only – details below.


From the press release:  


Ethnographies of the Future takes into account the vast geographies impacted by colonial rule by bringing together artists whose works present a critical relationship to postcolonial identity politics. The artists in the exhibition, with their diverse historical reference points, make clear that the terms of cultural identification are unstable. In installations, videos, and mixed-media works, they suggest an ever-shifting discursive field where the possibilities for defining ethnography are unending. Drawing on histories of the Caribbean, South Asia, Israel, China, Korea and Japan, the South Pacific, Europe, and the Americas, the exhibition addresses colonial rule from a contemporary, global perspective.


                                            September 10 – November 24, 2008
                                            Ethnographies of the Future
                                            Starry Night Fund of the Tides Foundation
                                            Thoreau Center for Sustainability, New York
                                            55 Exchange Place, Suite 406, New York, NY 10005
                                            (between Broad Street & William Street)


Viewing of exhibition is by appointment only between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm Monday through Friday. Please call 646.747.2053 or 646.747.2248 to schedule your visit. 


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