Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Wayne Thiebaud at 100

 One of the gallery guy's favorite artists, Wayne Thiebaud, nears his 100th birthday.

Saw a show of his work in NY in 2012 (reviewed here), and I've never before or since walked out of an exhibition feeling so happy because of the art. Something about his palette and subject, just so much fun to look at and you can't help but smile.


Friday, November 6, 2020

RIP Elizabeth Rosso, Sohotel Artspace

 I received an email from Catherine Testorf of Insight Artspace that Elizabeth Rosso, who she partnered with at Sohotel Artspace in NYC, recently passed away.

I met Elizabeth at their booth in Miami at the art fairs, I think it was 2012 . We talked at length about the artists they were showing, the art fairs and New York. She was cool, very outgoing and we hit it off right away. I gave her my card for The Gallery Guy blog as well as one for my personal work website, and ended up showing several pieces in 2013 at their gallery, Sohotel ArtSpace, on Broome St. in NY.  Elizabeth was very into fashion and travel, and she wanted to show my "hair" paintings during Fashion Week. It was a wonderful experience, including sales and great exposure, and I also got to meet Catherine and artist Esther Rosa. Later, I also showed w them at the Affordable Art Fair in NY.

My condolences got to Elizabeth's husband and family.


Elizabeth Rosso, me, Catherine Testorf

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Great Kurt Vonnegut story

Saw this posted on Facebook, it's wonderful & want to share it. (above: Kurt Vonnegut, writer)

In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author and ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond - and his response is magnificent: “Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!
Kurt Vonnegut
When I was 15 I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”
And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

More bad news: Art In General is closing


More bad news. Just got this email, posting it below:

Dear Joseph Borzotta,

After careful deliberation and long discussions over the past six months, the Board of Directors and the Executive Director have arrived at the difficult decision to close Art in General, upon reaching the milestone of our 40th anniversary. Although we have taken critical measures to adjust to the new normal, the financial constriction due to COVID-19 has proved formidable, severely affecting our ability to fulfill our mission of presenting new work by emerging and mid-career artists to the New York area.

In this difficult time for us all, we offer our sincere thanks to you our alumni artists, guest curators, visitors, former staff and donors for your passion and dedication, interest and support during the last forty years. You made this amazing journey possible. In particular, we would like to thank our founders, Martin Weinstein and Tereza Liszka, for their generosity over the years, as well as our former directors, Anne Barlow and Laurel Ptak for their innovative programming that defined our organization. In addition, we would like to express our gratitude to Mana Contemporary for offering great support to Art in General, including an incredible lifeline: office space, studio space for artist residencies, and exhibition space.

We would also like to offer sincere thanks to our Board members, Roya Khadjavi Heidari, Mary Lapides and Maria Spinelli for all of their efforts and expenditure of resources in trying to sustain Art in General over the years, and particularly of late. Thanks also to our Executive Director, Irene Mei Zhi Shum, who joined us right at the start of the pandemic, and labored mightily to keep us afloat.

Since 1981, Art in General has proudly shown over 2,000 artists who have gone onto greater success, including Dorothea Rockburne, Joan Jonas, Kay WalkingStick, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Glenn Ligon, Byron Kim, Elizabeth Peyton, Marina Abramovic, Gabriel Orozco, Paul Pfeiffer, William Pope.L, Pipilotti Rist, Francis Alys, Walid Raad, Sharon Hayes, Patty Chang, Allora & Calzadilla, Pierre Huyghe, among many others. Our roster of artists reflects our deep and long-standing commitment to diversity and equity in the arts. To secure this legacy, we have donated our archives to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, where students and scholars may find materials about our past programs, as well as founding documents and the entirety of Holly Block's papers during her 18-year tenure as Art in General's pioneering first director. To complement the papers at the Smithsonian, we also donated a complete set of publications by Art in General to New York University Special Collections Fales Library, Downtown Collection. Our remaining inventory of books and printed materials were gifted to Art Resources Transfer, a nonprofit organization committed to the egalitarian access to the arts and literacy. Through their Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program, A.R.T. will disperse Art in General's publications free-of-charge to rural and inner-city public libraries, schools, prisons, and alternative education centers nationwide.

We are proud to present our last New Commission, Project 270: Signs of Change and online exhibition Dropped By and Found You: #DroppedByAiG.

Project 270: Signs of Change is an ambitious, national effort to increase voter awareness and turnout, particularly amongst Millennials and Gen Z — voters between the ages of 18 to 38 — who represent the future of our country and nearly 40% of the electorate in 2020. By flooding the country with Get Out The Vote (GOTV) images, posters, billboards, and other art in the three weeks prior to election day, Project 270 will get critical information into the hands of individuals and organizations in a creative form that will motivate young voters and reflect the collective consciousness of the United States. To do this, we are partnering with outstanding graphic and street artists from each state, DC, and Puerto Rico to create posters that speak to the issues of their specific locales. To maximize the reach and overall impact of the project, all imagery created will be made available to the public for free, via digital distribution and local voting organizations.

Project 270 is a collaboration between This Is Our Moment, I Vote BecauseMana Urban Arts ProjectGary Lichtenstein EditionsJonathan Mannion PhotographyArt in General, and Murals for Humanity. This group came together in August 2020 realizing the urgent need to compel young voters to participate in the election. Our distribution partners include Vote Save America, Voto Latino, ACLU Ohio, Occupy Democrats, Fair Elections Center, League of Women Voters San Francisco, and the Campus Vote Project. The participating artists are diverse and reflective of the American populace.

Dropped By and Found You: #DroppedByAiG is an archival exhibition published weekly on Art in General's social media accounts. Accumulated from 2003 to 2017, the contents reflect the rhythms and interests of our organization over the last fifteen years. While perhaps not pressing, what remains here was essential and is preserved.

Though our last day of operation will be October 31, 2020, Project 270 and #DroppedByAiG will continue and conclude on their scheduled end dates, November 3, 2020 and December 31, 2020 respectively. Despite our closing, we look toward the future with excitement, because New York City always attracts the best new creative talent. Artists and the arts define and drive our vibrant city.

With thanks and gratitude,
Leslie Ruff
President, Board of Directors
Irene Mei Zhi Shum
Executive Director

Monday, September 28, 2020

Insight into big $ artworld machinations via a new artist from Ghana

This is a fascinating insight into the rise of an artist from Ghana named Amoako Boafo. It starts with a big break from Kehinde Wiley. What follows is like a John Grisham novel full of intrigue, wheelin' dealin', promises made and broken, accusations, and big bucks.

The Lemon Bathing Suit (2019)

If you're curious about how an unknown can meteorically rise in the art world, this'll give you an insight into a situation that's not atypical. Much like the scouring of woods in the deep south for "outsider art" years ago, the same is happening now particularly for figurative art of black people by black artists. 

Much has been written about the long term effects on an artist's career when their prices skyrocket suddenly. But it's difficult not to seize the opportunity and make more money than dreamed possible, especially when it happens fast and the people playing this game are highly skilled at it. It seems like getting swept up in a tornado. Will you end up in Oz, or crushed by a falling house?