Friday, June 27, 2008

The Met tries its best to have a Turner exhibit with no relevant work

(above, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Sunrise with Sea Monsters,
courtesy of

Thanks, Metropolitan Museum of Art. No, really-- I mean it. I have never liked you, though I have tried. Repeatedly over the years, I have tried. But last night you sealed the deal. I don't think I'm coming back for a very long time.

Admittedly this comes from an art fiend who primarily values contemporary artworks created from 1990 onwards. I'm not a big fan of the "aged," so there's not many times I feel the need to go to the Met-- antiquities be damned. But last night they opened a retrospective of one of my favorite artists of all time, J.M.W. Turner. But in this case, the Met has taken a disastrous turn, singlehandedly focusing room after room on one of the few reasons most afficionados enjoy him-- for his early to mid-career landscape and neoclassicist work.

Apparently the Met hadn't noticed that Turner is continously held up as one of the precursors, or forefathers of modern art; how, perhaps, maybe... just maybe... the soft hues of his backgrounds was singlehandedly the greatest influence on the soon to appear Impressionists; and how his stormy seascapes en flambe were Rothkos well before their time. Perhaps his "unfinished" works, (as they are continously referred to, but rarely shown), were perfection just the way they were.

This has to be one of my all-time biggest letdowns for an exhibition. I honestly don't know what they were thinking, other than, "Let's make sure to make this the most academic focused exhibit of all." I am well aware that Turner was a magnificent landscapist, but the drama is lacking. For one, where was "Rain, Steam and Speed: The Great Western Railway." (depicted at right). I'm guessing the National Gallery of Art in London was not having any of it in terms of the risks of shipping this overseas. Part of what made Turner's later works so great was his focus on the industrial landscape vs. the previously stated naturalist one. There were few and far between works to rally 'round at this show.

Go for the Houses of Parliament burning-- (depicted at left) in the great Westminster fire of 1834. These numerous watercolors are truly worth seeing. It is action in observation, and thrilling. You truly feel at one with the artist-- in terms of the sheer horror of the destruction he witnessed firsthand. The works are awe-inspiring for their quick brushstrokes and rapid narrative quality.

My own personal favorite is depicted at the very top of this post-- "Sunrise with Sea Monsters." Interestingly enough, it is from 1845, still a full six years from the artist's death. A precursor for what was to come after, and a haunting piece for eternity. The creatures' gaping mouths wide open, tails thrashing about-- Odysseus perhaps facing the mouth of Scylla itself. This was Turner at his best. It's very unfortunate that the Met doesn't see this. This was literally the very last piece as you exited the show. Far from a focus being placed on what possibly could be his best work-- it was a complete afterthought. Sad, indeed. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bone crushin' hugs n' harmony

The biggest lesson to take away from the Affordable Art Fair-- price your work at affordable prices (*like, duh*) and make sure they're really cute. Anything outside of that realm didn't fare too well. So whether it was the discount robots of R. Nick Kuszyk of Brooklyn's McCaig-Welles Gallery, ($30-$300 range) or the previously mutliple mentioned squirrels of Macha Suzuki of L.A.'s Sam Lee Gallery ($600 framed, $500 unframed), the game was anted up to new levels of almost queasingly cute.

Take one Ross Bonfanti, pictured at left, displayed by AWOL Gallery in Toronto. Stripping the stuffed animals of their stuffing, he disembowels them with a vengeance, then fills them with wet concrete, leaving them to harden. Suddenly, they have been HULKED. Yes, that's a word-- HULKED. Highly NOT recommended for the nursery, these "toys" could pack a whollop if used for purposes of evil. I also wouldn't recommend them for the nightmare-challenged. Attack of the Killer Stuffed Animals could certainly be a Troma pictures new release at any moment.

Either way, I love how the pieces of felt are still left behind on the violated bodies, clinging for dear life, as well as the sweet little eyes and noses still intact. It's an interesting take on transformation, as well as a nice look into how what we view as "innocent" or "safe" might really be something quite different underneath its exterior. And at only $500 a pop, these things were flying off their pedestals.

Definitely one to watch.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sure enough, the squirrels are almost sold out

Only a few are left, and they are priced to sell at only $500! The artist is the brilliant Macha Suzuki.

Click here for his website.

Some very interesting work.

Suzuki comes courtesy of Sam Lee Gallery of Los Angeles, CA.

One more day left of Affordable Art Fair.

It's seriously worth going this year.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Affordable Art Fair worth checking out for wood and squirrels

Truth be told, in past years this has usually been a hit or miss fair, but certainly one where serious bargains can be found. This year, though-- there's some great surprises to be had. Soon to come on the Musings, the name of the artist and photos of the best work of the show--HECK, the YEAR-- the pen and ink drawings of the deviant Mexican wrestling mask squirrel. He's a cutie, and ready for a dirty fight. Watch out for wicked claw marks!!

But in the interim, please check out Brooklyn's always fantastic Like the Spice Gallery. Not only is Marisa Sage, the owner, one of the most genuinely cool people in the art world, but she displays some seriously kick-ass artists. Anna Druczc is another of my faves of hers, but to me this event is all about optical illusionist Rachel Beach. If the undulating ribbons of color don't get you, the flower power cutouts will. Sure to be a main draw. Check it out. Tonight from 6-9 is the preview party, then the fair runs till Sunday.

Go to for more details.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's too hot to care about art

I mean, seriously.

Oly's Musings is currently on hiatus until she gets her Hofstra University Catalogue essay completed.

Until then, for your enjoyment... At right, future Whitney Biennial artist known as the garbage out front of 19 West 26th Street.

Pretty interesting stuff, actually.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Peter Sarkisian at I-20

Show of the summer, hands-down.

The still images will never do it justice.

Just go, and make sure to give yourself plenty of time at each work.
There's just so much going on.

It's on view through July 26th.