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Tag Archives: Swoon

Chelsea Gallery Crawl

Chelsea is a neighbourhood on the west side of Manhattan Island that is currently the main gallery district in NYC. It has been three years since I did a gallery crawl through Chelsea.

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Walking back and forth between 10th and 11th Avenues, up and down the streets: West 25th, 24th, 23rd. It is so easy to find a gallery on these blocks, just go to the next door, the next room on the floor of a warehouse, they are in almost every space.

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In Chelsea you have to put up a sign to say that it is not a gallery.

Often my gallery crawls are endurance walks, hours of the touring around galleries, climbing up stairs in old warehouses and in newly furbished gallery spaces. Often I was looking at third rate commercial art, or second rate work by established artists. At times I wonder why am even here looking at pointless commercial art suitable only for the lobby of a three star hotel. I’ve never heard of any of the artists exhibiting at the Agora Gallery’s “Out from Down Under & Beyond – Fine Art from Australia and New Zealand.” My guess is that Agora is renting the wall space by the metre.

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James Turrell installation at Pace

Wondering is Cindy Sherman too old to play dress-ups and what will happen if she lives into her 90s? There are other veteran established artists continuing to blandly do their trademark thing; David Hockney is drawing Yosemite National Park on his iPad, Richard Serra has large pieces of steel, and James Turrell working with space and light. Then I see art that really works and I know why I am on this gallery crawl.

The highlight of visiting all of these galleries had to be an installation by a duo of Canadian artists, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, “The Marionette Maker” (2014). The installation, at Luhring Augustine, included a caravan with robotic marionettes, audio, and lighting. It was such stuff as dreams are made of; amongst the miniature scenes in the caravan was a tiny scene of the caravan in a field by a lake. (For more see Hyperallergic’s review.)

Another exhibitions that caught my attention was Anthony Adcock, “Marks of the Trade” at Lyons Wier Gallery, has painted aluminium to look like sheets of plywood and carved wood that looks like steel, it is very impressive while remaining almost too subtle.

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Aiko at HG Contemporary

And at HG Contemporary a group show of street artists from around the world; Retna, Swoon, Olek, Aiko, Pixelpancho and Jay West. There is so much variety in styles, and techniques from Aiko’s stencils to Olek’s crochet world.

There is some good street art on the streets; street artists like to put up work near art galleries, perhaps because there they find an appreciative audience. I see a couple of low relief panels by Kai (tying in with my special interest in street art sculptures).

I pause briefly for lunch but then I keep going until 5pm as I don’t know when I’ll be going around the Chelsea galleries again.

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Poster Bombing 2011

Graffiti creeps up along the Upfield line bicycle path and in recent years there several quality pieces north of Moreland station. Paste-ups have now reached the shoe factory on my block with a well-placed piece by Shark, who appears to be specializing in images of birds.

Shark, flying ducks, Coburg

As if there weren’t enough fly-posters for bands and concerts all over Melbourne there has been a big increase in paste-ups in the last year. Paste-ups maybe popular with street artists but are not highly regarded by the general public, unlike the public reception to the stencil art scene. This is because there often there isn’t much to this poster bombing. An unoriginal black and white photograph is enlarged on a photocopier and pasted on the wall doesn’t impress the general public even if it is really big. Part of the problem is often the only consideration for paste-up placement is access and visibility. The content of many of these paste-ups is just bland selection of sampled photographs images. Many people want the instant fame of street art; years ago Happy commented with his “Instant Fame” series of paste-ups.

Happy, "Get Instant Fame"

Quality paste-ups are cut around the outline of the image, or include, even more paper cutting, like those of Miso and Swoon. Paste-up specialists like Phoenix mounts his paste-ups on cut MDF panels that have been designed withstand the weather.

Baby Guerilla, floating nude women

Many artists and illustrators are using paste-ups to show their work on the street; I keep seeing Baby Guerilla’s floating nude women along on the streets. The Melbourne paste-up artists that I most admire are Phoenix, Urban Cake Lady and Happy. (There are others who I have not been able to identify.) I admire their work because they are produce interesting content; the message and content of the paste-up is more important than the wheat paste technique. Phoenix is interested in the politics and meaning of signs. Urban Cake Lady mysterious red draped woman with stripped stockings along with wild animals. And Happy had a cynical take on both street art and advertising.

Phoenix

Suki

Urban Cake Lady

unknown artist, clothes line

Happy, "toy!"

unknown artist

Who is your favorite wheat-pasting street artist?


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