Art Thinks: Art On Campus

“Art Thinks” is a weekly column that chronicles the cut-throat NYC art world with the hard-hitting journalistic integrity of Woodward and Bernstein and the classiness (and sassiness!) of the Countess LuAnn.

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think, “If anything requires me to put on a bra today, I’m not doing it”? I know I sure do! Today is one of those days, so why don’t we check out some art in our own backyard? C’mon! (This would really work better if we were in less of a “blog” and more of a Dora the Explorer episode.)

Unfortunately, art never has to put on a bra and so it never takes a day off. Fortunately, there are several shows that have just opened right here on campus, so you can fill your cultural quota for the afternoon with minimal effort and get back in bed ASAP.

TONY CONRAD: Doing the City: Urban Community Interventions at 80WSE

Tony Conrad is an avant-garde multidisciplinary artist and activist who has been making work in New York since the 1960s. He has also made music with the band Faust and The Dream Syndicate. This exhibition, his first solo show since 1990, focuses on the work for which he is best known, namely his experimental films. He’ll also be performing some of his early music in the gallery, dates TBA. None of the films at 80WSE have ever been screened before, but you can see several of his classic works – including his famous 1966 film The FliCKER – in several screening at Anthology Films. The films in the gallery were all made in New York City, several in the ’70s when Conrad was living in the pre-Disneyfied wasteland of Times Square with his young family. One especially stunning piece is Loose Connection, wherein Conrad walks around his neighborhood with his camera mounted to a “space shutter,” or what the press release describes as “a specially designed rotating camera mount that radically interrupts the viewer’s spatial orientation.” Filmed on a sunny day, the screen flashes white every few frames and then comes back to earth with a shot of street life: somebody riding a bicycle, a truck moving away. It captures the city, even a fairly desolate part of it, bursting with light and motion.

Through November 3rd at 80WSE (80 Washington Square East, between Washington Place & West 4th Street)

FRANK MOORE: Toxic Beauty at Grey Art Gallery

Frank Moore was a painter/performance artist whose career took off in New York in the 1980s. At the gallery are his made candy-colored oil paintings which fall under the banner of Pop Art, as well as numerous drawings, prints, and personal journals. His style varies: The work is alternately photorealistic, and highly stylized, or Schnabel-esquely crude. The overall compositions can feel Katz or Bosch, but his paintings are consistently bright, glossy, and seductive, and make use of symbolism in a mashup-y Surrealist fashion. He’d often use antique gilded frames and glass beads to go a little overboard– a clever choice, given the difficulty of his chosen themes. Moore’s earlier work concerns themes like the environment and, quite before its time, the danger of GMOs. As he was diagnosed with AIDS in the 1980s and became active in the activist group Visual AIDS, his work became increasing autobiographical and dealt with the everyday reality of his struggle with the misunderstood illness. Two 1986 self-portraits, Mehboy and Easter Basket, show the artist at bust length with a neutral, nearly vacant expression, sliced into pieces which slide off center.

Through December 8th at Grey Art Gallery (100 Washington Square East, between Waverly & Washington Place)

ANNA KATHLEEN, Earth+Beyond at The Gallatin Galleries

This show on the ground floor of Gallatin shows garments and the artist/fashion designer’s process in an art context (fashion art?! Ouch, my brain!!!). Kathleen graduated this past spring with a BA in Fashion Theory from Gallatin. Her chosen fabrics are cool-toned, space-y prints, somewhat similar to those in Alexander McQueen’s final collection. According to her statement, Kathleen’s interest in fashion stems from an interest in body politics. She sees the act of wearing clothes as an opportunity to challenge social norms, and describes her role as a designer as giving her “an opportunity to give a voice and a face to social sentiment.” The pieces in this show are intended to be worn either by men or women, which Kathleen hypothesizes would affect the social relationships we have with one another relative to gender. Her work reflects her desire to show a “ relationship outside the body,” in other words described as an “extraterrestrial bodily relationship.” Kathleen, who has designed for brands like Catherine Malandrino, clearly knows a thing or two about both theory and practice: It’s clear is that the pieces at the Gallatin Gallery are impeccably made and very current, both thematically and sartorially.

Through October 11th at The Gallatin Galleries (1 Washington Place, at Broadway)

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