Posts filed under ‘ASU Art Museum’

Big Al is Definitely ‘Larger than Life’

“I don’t really have a style. I just do it. I love lines, I feel lines. I see something, I say, ‘Man, that’s nice!’” – Allen B. Carter
This month the ASU Art Museum is presenting the work of the talented but humble Allen “Big Al” Carter, and looking at the legacy he left behind, I admire many characteristics of his work.

Photo by Tom Story

Photo by Tom Story. 

Sketched and painted with thin to thickened lines, he expresses a variety of emotions through his artwork, as well as through his dominate color choice of green and blue tones. In the exhibition of work currently on view at the ASU Art Museum, titled Big Al: Larger than Life (now through Aug. 22, 2015), each painting depicts African American life as Big Al saw it —from portraits of both the rich and the poor to art made on wooden chairs, lamp shades, and even on a wooden room divider —reflecting his compulsive habit to make art on and with almost anything. Comparing one artwork to another, Carter has a style that is distinct and I am able to notice the difference in emotion, energy, and scene which I feel is what makes his art “larger than life.” He is a painter that paints from the heart, for the world, for freedom of his expression, and seeks to illustrate how he views individuals in society, including many people in his own life that he’s known.

Allen B. Carter, "Carp." Mixed media, 29 x 50 in. (Image courtesy Vanderbilt University / Steve Green)

Allen B. Carter, “Carp.” Mixed media, 29 x 50 in. (Image courtesy Vanderbilt University / Steve Green)

In this exhibition, one work titled Carp showcases his unique technique and style. Viewing this piece, I found that it was different from the rest because of the combination of two separate artworks combined as one. It’s one of several works that depicts an individual fishing. Through my research about Carter, I found that his art often recaps some of his life experiences; his love for fishing is incorporated in many of his artworks. He also utilizes different types of unconventional materials — including using Popsicle sticks that adhere to the canvas and are painted over to add a unique texture.

The texture he creates in these depictions of fisherman at sea draws you in the painting. In the top portion of the painting, he uses the Popsicle sticks in place of the sky, and then transitions into creating a more monochromatic and sketch-like picture. Most of his work seems to leave the viewer open to their own ideas. Through his sort of playful approach you can tell he had compulsive desire to make art with anything he could get his hands on. Even though Big Al was a classically trained artist, he did like to refer to himself as an “outsider” artist. He focused on making his art speak for itself, which I think he achieved.

Photo by Tom Story

Photo by Tom Story. 

On another piece, a painted wooden room divider titled Intense, his usage of color depicts different types of emotions. The color selection perfectly describes the title of this painting. This piece is only painted on one side, perhaps so that all viewers stand in front of it together. I had the opportunity to take a group of second grade students on a tour of this exhibition, and as we gathered in front of this piece, I asked them what emotions are associated with the colors in the painting. In response, the kids were able to distinguish the shades of blues and greens associated with the feelings of sadness and despair.  They were energetic and very eager to get close to the art, and I know that this colorful exhibition heightened their excitement.

Photo by Tom Story

Photo by Tom Story

As a viewer, looking at Big Al’s artwork, you are encompassed by his life, the people in it, and his passion to create art on objects you would have never think to paint on. I hope that everyone will make a visit to the ASU Art Museum and leave with an idea of who Big Al was, his personality, and the artistic products of his unique way of living.

— Leilani Solema, Public Relations and Marketing Intern 

Big Al: Larger Than Life is on view in the Kresge Gallery at the ASU Art Museum through Aug. 22, 2015. All works in this exhibition are on loan from Flora Stone and Cecilia Carter. This exhibition is supported by the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Evelyn Smith Exhibition Fund. Big Al: Larger than Life was curated by Dana and Steven Tepper and was designed by Stephen Johnson, chief preparator.  

June 30, 2015 at 6:01 pm Leave a comment

Evolving Interpretations of Family in ‘Family Matters’

“Like mother, like daughter.” I’m sure most of us have heard this saying before and even I tend to use it extensively to describe the profound impact that my mother has had on me. In looking around the Family Matters exhibition at the ASU Art Museum, on view now through Aug. 1, 2015, I see that I am not the only person who shares this sentiment. In many ways, the things that we learn from our parents leave a lasting impression on us and the things that we hold important in our lives. From being taught manners at the dinner table or inheriting a profound strength from a lost relative, the past struggles and lessons that prior generations leave behind surround the things that we value in our lives.

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In the exhibition, in a work by artist June Mayer, Leaving 1907 (Plate 1, the Dorothy Series), the artist references her mother’s strength. After her mother, Dorothy Kline, passed away, Mayer produced a portfolio of prints entitled The Dorothy Series that told her mother’s life story. Mayer is a printer and founder of Tamarind Lithography Workshop that first opened in Los Angeles and is now based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The work featured in the exhibition shows a print of her mother and her family leaving their home country for America — a difficult feat. The artist breaks barriers on her own as a woman artist pioneering in her medium and with her business; much like her mother did in traveling to America.

June Wayne,

June Wayne, “Leaving 1907 (plate 1, the ‘Dorothy Series’), 1976. (detail) Lithograph, 12 1/4 x 16 7/8 in. From the ASU Art Museum permanent collection, gift of Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm Dorfman.

Another standout work is a print by Miguel Palma, Untitled (Neil Armstrong), which touches on some different, but important family matters. The print features a photograph of Neil Armstrong and his family from an old magazine. The baby in the picture was cut away from the rest of the family and placed above, as a sort of tribute to the next generation of space explorers. The print was also designed in response to the jump by Felix Baumgartner in October 2012, as a tribute to human endurance. Outfitted in a specially designed space suit, Baumgartner jumped out of a space capsule at 24 miles above the earth, diving back down to earth at speeds up to 800 miles-per-hour, breaking the sound barrier. The print was created while Palma was an artist-in-residence with the ASU Art Museum, participating in a Desert Initiative project and creating work for his exhibition that was held at the museum in 2012. Palma was interested in “the history of Manifest Destiny and colonialism in populated places, strategies of adaptation and the role of technology in desert survival” as well as the “decreasing terrestrial exploration and increasing extraterrestrial exploration.” This print was one from a monoprint series through which Palma probed these concerns and celebrated the beginning of the space exploration.

Miguel Palma,

Miguel Palma, “Untitled (Neil Armstrong),” 2012. Monotype, collage, 22 1/2 x 30 1/4 in. From the ASU Art Museum permanent collection; acquired through the Desert Initiative Monoprint Project sponsored by Eddie Shea and Ridge Smidt.

While this may seem like it relates more to science than to family, this print touches on the idea of consecutive generations either equaling or surpassing their successor’s feats and accomplishments. Neil Armstrong was at the frontier of space exploration in his day when he took the first steps on the moon. While walking on the moon is still a huge step in extraterrestrial history, breaking the sound barrier while falling 24 miles back to earth definitely has its own place in the history of the exploration of space and human limitations. While the two men were not family, Palma decides to feature them in the same print to attest to the idea of them as two different generations of explorers with one building off the advances and accomplishments of the other.

Miguel Palma,

Miguel Palma, “Untitled (Neil Armstrong),” 2012. (detail) Monotype, collage, 22 1/2 x 30 1/4 in. From the ASU Art Museum permanent collection; acquired through the Desert Initiative Monoprint Project sponsored by Eddie Shea and Ridge Smidt.

The same theme is present in other works in the exhibition, as well. Like Father, Like Son by Patti Warashina is one example. In this case, what the new generation inherits is physical characteristics. The piece was created after the birth of the artist’s grandson and represents the discussions surrounding a child’s birth about which parent the child resembles, a discussion that many families today like to have. It also attests to those things we receive from our parents and grandparents that we may not necessarily have control over.

Patti Warashina,

Patti Warashina, “Like Father, Like Son,” 2000. (detail) Ceramic, 68 x 16 3/4 x 12 1/2 in. From the ASU Art Museum permanent collection, gift of Sara and David Lieberman.

The exhibition Family Matters features work that seeks to bring to light the evolving interpretations of family and the things that matter to them. It has also brought to light where we receive these values from and why. This collection of works speaks to what type of impacts the past generations have upon us. Families can make all the difference in who we choose to become or what we choose to do, but chances are with the advancements and new things that time brings, it’s never exactly the same and cannot always be controlled. However, these effects are important in the present and will continue to be important in the future. Family truly does matter, even when they aren’t around anymore.

— Hannah Weston, Public Relations and Marketing Intern

Family Matters is on view through Aug. 1, 2015 in the lower level galleries at the ASU Art Museum. The exhibition is supported by the Evelyn Smith Exhibition Fund, members of the ASU Art Museum and the Stulgaitis Family Scholastic Award in honor of Helen Flecha Polina.

All photos by Hannah Weston. 

June 1, 2015 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

Sneakers and Capri Sun at the ASU Art Museum

You don’t normally find a large illustration of sneakers and Capri Sun when you walk into an art gallery, but Brooklyn-based artist Katherine Bernhardt’s style and bold choice of colors was hard to look past. After I discovered her painting titled “Sneakers, Computers, Capri Sun,” included in the Unfixed: New Painting exhibition in ASU Art Museum’s Top Gallery, I did some research and found that Katherine Bernhardt was not only an artist, but someone who is obsessed with fashion as much as I am.

Katherine Bernhardt, "Sneakers, computers, Capri Sun," 2014. Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 96 x 120 in. Image courtesy of the artist.

Katherine Bernhardt, “Sneakers, computers, Capri Sun,” 2014. Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 96 x 120 in. Image courtesy of the artist.

A recent exhibition of Bernhardt’s work at the Canada Gallery in New York titled “Stupid, Crazy, Funny, Ridiculous, Patterns” showcases similar bold and random artworks. With acrylic and spray paint, Bernhardt is able to turn coffee and cigarettes, hamburgers and French fries, and cassettes tapes into masterpieces.

Bernhardt uses a similar technique in the piece on view at the ASU Art Museum. I am especially drawn to the large-scale Nike sneakers illustrated on the canvas. Perhaps this is a reference to style statements of the ‘90s or a youthful expression of her obsession with sneakers — but I loved it, from the color scheme to her unmodified brush style. Other objects including Apple desktop computers and silver pouches of Capri Sun, outlined in silver spray-paint, are both a representation of time and life. If you grew up in the ‘90s, this may give you a feeling of nostalgia to the days when you actually brought your lunch to school or did not have the luxury of taking your laptop to class. Large brush strokes of yellow paint that fill the background, making these objects a strong focal point.

I admire Bernhardt’s sense of humor in her artwork and the way she incorporates fashion and pop culture. She combines subjects you would never think go together to create cool patterns. She’s also known for her fascination with models, something that is seen in her earlier works. Brands such as Chanel have even included her work in their stores.

Katherine Bernhardt, Nomad, installation view, 2012. Image via Loyal Gallery.

Katherine Bernhardt, “Nomad,” installation view, 2012. Image via Loyal Gallery.

Personally, I am drawn to artists who use art to share their voice in fashion — and I feel though fashion is overlooked as art form. I have a deep appreciation for their ability to illustrate their own sense of style and ideas on canvas other than constructing or photographing the latest designer fabrics or collections. Viewing Bernhardt’s piece, I was reminded of fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, who conveys a similar style. He takes objects such as lips, models, or even pink flamingos and draws them in repeated patterns, similar to the way Andy Warhol would have done in the 1960s. Robertson, like Bernhardt, has collaborated with companies and designers, including Kara Ross and J.Crew for major fashion campaigns.

Katherine Bernhardt x Maria Brito "Coffee and Ice Cream" Clutch. From Out There NYC.

Katherine Bernhardt x Maria Brito “Coffee and Ice Cream” Clutch. From Out There NYC.

I love that these artists are able to make a handbag or outfit ten times more interesting and unique! They are able to create some of the most original patterns and textiles but with paint. Whether you are into fashion or not, I think anyone can appreciate the ways that artists such as Katherine Bernhardt can produce such a variety of work.

— Leilani Solema, Public Relations and Marketing Intern

 

Unfixed: New Painting is on view through June 6, 2015 in the Top Gallery at the ASU Art Museum. This exhibition was made possible by generous loans and support of the Ovitz Family Collection, Los Angeles. Additional support from the Helme Prinzen Endowment.

April 13, 2015 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

Introspective Elements — Tan Ping’s ‘Follow My Line’

Walking into the Kresge gallery at the ASU Art Museum, the visitor is confronted with several charcoal drawings installed on pedestals at various heights. The pedestals are placed sporadically throughout the floor and lack a sense of guidance, venturing from the conventional means of displaying artwork. Toward the back of the room, we can enter a space created to show a documentary of Chinese artist Tan Ping’s process in making the drawings as well as an interview with the artist. The screech of the charcoal against the paper may be a bit much, but it is here that you can begin to understand the artist’s intention in the odd but interesting display of his exhibition, Tan Ping: Follow My Line.

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Many art galleries and museums have a structured way of exhibiting their pieces. The artwork is framed, hung on a wall and placed in a specific spot that coincides with the visitor’s path through the space. If a piece is placed on a pedestal, there is a certain amount of distance created between the object and viewer using a covering or extra space around the piece. Tan Ping breaks this standard by displaying his work on a flat and uncovered surface. This sort of decision is not only to break the typical methods of exhibition; it also relates to traditional Chinese art presentation and engages the viewer in a much more dynamic way.

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Chinese scrolls are laid down flat and unrolled to reveal the artwork within. Although Tan Ping’s charcoal drawings are far from scrolls, they do connect with this aspect of Chinese art by being viewed from above and from the same position that the artist had during its creation. Another traditional aspect of Tan Ping’s charcoal drawings comes in the way that we can see the variation of pressure and direction of each line. These traits are important in the production of Chinese art and calligraphy.

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“The end of an exhibition is to communicate with the audience.” Tan Ping’s display helps viewers to not only view his drawings from various angles, but also from the same perspective that it was created. The pedestals in the room are specifically measured to match the height at which they were created. This helps to adjust the visitor to the artist’s viewpoint in order to analyze and understand each piece. While looking at paintings or drawings hung on a wall may be a standard, Tan Ping’s horizontal display invites the viewer to cross the distance created between the art and the viewer. The pedestals used in the exhibition are uncovered and measured to fit the sizes of the drawings perfectly, leaving nothing to distance the viewer from the drawings.

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With these stimulating and introspective elements put into the ideas of this exhibition, trying to subscribe them to standard museum and gallery set-ups might take away a significant amount of meaning attributed to the show. Tan Ping had a substantial amount of input into exactly how the show was set up. He indicated measurements of each pedestal down to the millimeters length of each drawing, decided the exact colors of the pedestals, and planned out the arrangement of the pieces. His involvement in the layout of the exhibition was extensive and left almost no detail unexplained. The preparator did have some freedom in deciding how to adjust the lighting and nudging the pedestals to comply with ADA standards, but little aside from these minor details.

Apart from the layout of the exhibition, the pieces are quite abstract. Each drawing is different but without titles or any particular switch or change in medium or color, the drawings can blend together. Overall, I wasn’t able to focus on the drawings themselves but more on how the exhibition invited the viewer to see things from the artist’s perspective. The two documentaries were my favorite parts of the exhibition because they explain the artist’s intention. After watching one, it becomes more apparent what you are really looking at and why.

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In many exhibitions, visitors arrive ready to gaze at paintings and drawings and learn about art. Follow My Line adjusts the visitor’s experience to engage the artwork that they view with his precision in presentation and depth in meaning. I think that this exhibition surprised me with its arrangement, but who wants to walk into an art gallery and see something that they would expect?

— Hannah Weston, Public Relations and Marketing Intern

Tan Ping: Follow My Line is on view through May 16, 2015 in the Kresge Gallery at the ASU Art Museum. This exhibition is generously supported by Tan Ping Studio, the Helme Prinzen Endowment and Pifo New Art Gallery.

All photos by Hannah Weston. 

April 6, 2015 at 4:54 pm 1 comment

New Sergei Isupov work added to the collection

The ASU Art Museum is thrilled to add its first Sergei Isupov sculpture into the permanent ceramics collection thanks to David Charak, Ferrin Contemporary and the artist. Isupov’s piece, Firey, created from stoneware, stain and glaze, is a beautiful new addition to the collection. It was given to the museum from a series of Isupov’s large-scale heads and appeared at the NCECA 2009 conference at the Mesa Contemporary Arts.

Sergei Isupov, "Firey," 2009. Stoneware, stain, glaze. 25 ¾ x 19 ½ x18 in. From the ASU Art Museum collection, gift of David Charak, Ferrin Contemporary and Sergei Isupov.

Sergei Isupov, “Firey,” 2009. Stoneware, stain, glaze. 25 ¾ x 19 ½ x18 in. From the ASU Art Museum collection, gift of David Charak, Ferrin Contemporary and Sergei Isupov.

Russian-born artist Sergei Isupov is quite often called an erotic Surrealist for his bold depictions of sexuality, relationships and human encounters. He uses his own experiences as well as human observation to create a unique approach to the world of sculpture. “My work portrays characters placed in situations that are drawn from my imagination but based on my life experiences,” said Isupov. “My art works capture a composite of fleeting moments, hand gestures, eye movements that follow and reveal the sentiments expressed.”

Various narrative themes are conjoined together to create Isupov’s sculptural ceramic forms, inspired by particulars from his life. Personal interpretation is very much expected with his work.

Isupov states that, “Through the drawn images and sculpted forms, I capture faces, body types and use symbolic elements to compose, in the same way as you might create a collage. These ideas drift and migrate throughout my work without direct regard to specific individuals, chronology or geography…Through my work I get to report and explore human encounters, comment on the relationships between man and woman, and eventually their sexual union that leads to the final outcome — the passing on of DNA which is the ultimate collection — a combined set of genes and a new life, represented in the child.”

Sergei Isupov, "Firey," 2009. Stoneware, stain, glaze. 25 ¾ x 19 ½ x18 in. From the ASU Art Museum collection, gift of David Charak, Ferrin Contemporary and Sergei Isupov.

Sergei Isupov, “Firey,” 2009. Stoneware, stain, glaze. 25 ¾ x 19 ½ x18 in. From the ASU Art Museum collection, gift of David Charak, Ferrin Contemporary and Sergei Isupov.

Firey, alongside numerous other ceramic works from the ASU Art Museum’s collection, is on display now at the Ceramics Research Center at the Brickyard, located at 699 S. Mill Ave, Suite 108, Tempe, Ariz. 85281. If you haven’t seen our beautiful new space yet, you’re missing out! Plan your visit today, or call 480.727.8170 for directions and hours.

— by Nicole Lechner, ASU Art Museum intern 

June 26, 2014 at 9:42 pm Leave a comment

Artist Eduardo Sarabia talks treasure hunting, painting, and “Moctezuma’s Revenge”

Eduardo Sarabia is no stranger to the art world—his latest exhibition, “Moctezuma’s  Revenge,” which opened this season at the ASU Art Museum, is just one in a long list of successes for this emerging Mexican-American artist. Sarabia’s work has been shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Whitney Museum of American Art, L.A. Louver and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as at the 51st Venice Biennale, the 2nd Moscow Biennale and the Istanbul Biennial, among others.

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Sarabia, who grew up in Los Angeles and presently lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico, uses his artwork to make reference not just to a physical border, but to a dividing line in the identity of one who feels at once familiar with and distant from his or her cultural heritage.

“Moctezuma’s Revenge,” the first comprehensive solo exhibition of works by Sarabia, features more than 40 works of art from both previous and new bodies of his work in a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, video, fiber and works on paper. It is on view at the ASU Art Museum’s 10th Street and Mill Avenue location on ASU’s Tempe campus through April 26, 2014.

Before the exhibition opened, Sarabia sat down with the curator of the exhibition, Julio César Morales, and Brittany Corrales, Windgate curatorial intern and master’s candidate in art history, to talk about his influences, dreams and new work.

JCM: One of your earliest works dealt with the investigation of your grandfather’s treasure map of the mythical hidden treasure of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Can you talk about the research and events that led to your search for the hidden treasure?

ES: I started researching companies and people who do treasure hunts. There are a lot in the United States, and I was interested in having this set up as a business. I talked to a lawyer friend of mine, who helped me write up a joint-venture agreement for potential investors. I met with them and talked about the project, the evidence and everything that my grandfather left me. They bought shares in my company, which was called Pacific Discovery Group of the Americas. I made stock certificate venture drawings that they purchased. It was an edition of 10 — I figured it was a rough number of what I needed to start the search. I did a round of fund-raising and bought some equipment and just went down to Mexico and started. I was a little bit naïve about going down there and what I was going to find. I met up with a friend of my grandfather who had gone with him on one of his searches, so he pointed me to where we thought the treasure would be, and that’s where we started looking.

BC: You often infuse elements of humor into your work to deal with darker issues. The exhibition title, Moctezuma’s Revenge, is a phrase often used to describe a traveler’s digestive complications upon entering a new country, thought to be a lingering curse from the conquered ruler of the Aztec empire.  What were your reasons for choosing this title?

ES: I think it is a funny phrase, but it is a very strong phrase. For the exhibition, I wanted to make a connection between what has been happening in Mexico in the present, to what happened in the past, using these traditional languages to bring meaning to contemporary culture. I use an anthropological approach to the work that gives it a connection with Moctezuma and the Aztecs — what we know about them and how we are living now. There are beautiful parts of the culture and violent aspects to the culture, as well. So, at one point the title just made sense to me. It was something that I had thought about years ago and was waiting for the right moment to use, and it made sense to do it at an exhibition in Arizona. There is so much friction with the politics with Mexico here in this state. The title will hopefully trigger some kind of emotion. Once you come see the exhibition, you will notice that it has nothing to do with what you thought it would be about.

JCM: In the last year, you have been in residence at the ASU Art Museum’s artist residency program and have traveled several times to Phoenix, developing a new body of work that is influenced by Arizona. Can you describe your findings and how you worked these experiences into your new body of work and artist practice?

ES: One of the first trips I took was during the Turn off the Sun (2013) exhibition [at the ASU Art Museum]. Our friend took us to a ceremonial Yaqui dance in Guadalupe nearby, and it was amazing. It seemed like a mix of various cultures put into these elaborate ceremonies. It gave me a starting point for me to investigate. It had a lot to do with subcultures — the Catholic Church, Yaqui indigenous beliefs, border culture, American popular culture and a mix of things that blew me away. I convinced our friend to do a scouting trip to come back and visit sacred spaces here in Arizona, to look at cave drawings and to explore a little bit within the reservations. We visited a place called Painted Rock. This all inspired my ideas for this show, mixing and matching these traditions with pop and contemporary beliefs that maybe date back a long time ago, maybe not. I was also impressed with the Arizona landscape and its colors. It was a good starting point for some of the drawings in the exhibition.

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JCM: In 2007 you participated in the now-seminal exhibition Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA, the first post-Chicano contemporary group show that defined the production of Mexican-American art in the United States. Do you feel the exhibition’s impact changed the perception of your work and if so, how?

ES: I liked the exhibition because I got to meet other artists working in different mediums that I am somehow connected to. Although they are not all defined by their identities, they were doing interesting work that I could relate to, by having a connection within our backgrounds. That was important for me to see — how other artists were dealing with their identities and identity issues.

I was recently asked how my work relates in a Mexican contemporary landscape. I feel that I have a unique point of view because I am very close to both cultures, having grown up in Los Angeles and moved to Mexico. In the United States, I am constantly defending the things happening in Mexico and vice versa. I have to be honest with myself and what is happening. It’s a very particular situation, to be able to defend both sides.

BC: The basis of the paintings in this exhibition are painstakingly detailed photorealist images, which you then drown with daubs of paint, in what some might perceive as a violent defacing of the original images. Can you talk about what inspired this technique? 

ES: My projects are really elaborate. They usually start with a small, simple idea that leads to a trip or adventure — trying to find a treasure, or a feather or a shaman. I document these trips for personal reasons, to remember, and I take a lot of photographs. I have so many photographs in my studio — some are bad photographs that I can’t use for anything else. I started using them as palettes, accumulating these painted images in my studio.

For the Phantom Sightings show, I wanted to create a secret tomb in the museum space. I wanted typical oil paintings hung outside. Oil paintings made sense, because it is what people think of as low art and high art. A giant photorealist painting made sense as a prop, and to have the door to this tomb hiding behind one. I was trying to get the museum to hang a Picasso or something, but they wouldn’t let me, so I made my own paintings. They took on a life of their own. They are completely personal: a representation of my trips, people I met and talked to. They speak to the themes of illusion and reality that I play with in my work. It made perfect sense to make them part of a larger body of work.

BC: Your work often comments on the romanticizing of drug culture to young people. Growing up in LA, did you ever feel a desire to belong to this culture yourself? 

ES: I grew up in Boyle Heights in the projects, so being part of a gang — a romanticized street family — was a big part of growing up. It starts with the simple idea of your friends being protective of their neighborhood. This escalates until you get to larger things. I understand this idea. Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, rap music was a big part of our lives. Surviving, making money [and] having nice things was what all our friends wanted in this neighborhood. It made sense to me.

When I was young, I was a bit of a nerd. I was always the first one to finish my work in class. My teachers gave me a pen and pencil to distract me and they realized I had some kind of drawing gift. They convinced my parents to take me to an arts conservatory on Saturdays. I didn’t have time to hang out with my friends on the street. I was either going to art classes or playing on the chess team. Some of our close friends growing up have passed away from being in gangs and getting into the drug culture. When both of your parents are working and you grow up in a bad neighborhood, it is easy to get caught up in these things. Art saves lives.

What was surprising when I went to Mexico was that in the narco culture, it wasn’t just little kids growing up listening to the music. When I was growing up, my parents didn’t listen to rap music or grunge. But in Mexico, everyone, young and old, listens to the folk songs. It’s a big part of the broader culture. I’ve never tried to glorify it, but it was a part of a very specific time when I grew up.

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BC: If you were not working professionally as an artist, what would your career be?

ES: With my personality, I am very open to doing and trying new things, and having fun doing it. When I first graduated from school, I was producing a TV show. I directed a few commercials. But I always went back to working on my personal work. There is a lot that I like to produce and share. I opened a restaurant in Guadalajara and a restaurant in Berlin. I have a tequila company, and I am a partner in a Mexican craft beer company. I like to play with a lot of things — it keeps me busy. I have an entrepreneurial sensibility that translates to my work. When I started looking for treasure, it was important that it be a business, a joint venture. The tequila bar in Berlin was modeled after a business. That’s the way I work — my interests move me forward.

All images courtesy of the artist.

February 19, 2014 at 7:02 pm 1 comment

Crafting Your Weekend: Art, Craft and Fun at the ASU Art Museum

We’re sure you’ve all been eagerly wondering since the start of the school semester, ”When is the ASU Art Museum going to have another awesome art party? And when are all their cool new shows going to open?”

Well, wait no longer, for the time has come! Hope you’re resting up this weekend, because we’ve got a full schedule lined up next weekend, Sept. 26-28 at the ASU Art Museum, and we want to see your faces there.

If you’re looking for something to do between now and Sept. 26, both Christine Lee and Del Harrow will be in the Museum creating site-specific works for the Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft show.

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Christine Lee, “Piece by Piece,” 2013 (detail). Wooden shims, graphite.
Photo: Elizabeth Kozlowski.

Christine Lee started today and will be working through Sept. 26. She’s become a part of our community over the past couple of years as a Windgate visiting artist; she has taught in the School of Art and lived at Combine. She studied furniture making with the legendary Wendy Maruyama, whose show opens at the Museum on the 26th, and takes an innovative approach to working with wood. And ceramic artist Del Harrow will be installing in our lobby from Sept. 24-26, adding to Cabinet #3 (2012).

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Del Harrow, “Cabinet #3,” 2012. Ceramic, luster, wood. Photo: Craig Smith.

Here’s a rundown of all the happenings and can’t-miss events that we’ve got planned for the weekend of the big opening:

Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013: Kick off the weekend with what’s sure to be a great lecture from an internationally renowned artist. Jessica Jackson Hutchins will be at the ASU-Tempe campus as a featured speaker for the Jan Fisher Memorial Lecture Series, which brings established and emerging women ceramicists to the Phoenix community.

Hutchins, who currently lives and works in Portland, Ore., makes reference to everyday rituals and family life in her work, whichplaces her in the rich tradition of artists who combine the personal and the cultural. In her assemblage sculpture, she teases out notions of function and display by creating richly glazed vessels and locating them on top of or inside used furniture, such as armchairs, couches and tables, or balancing them on plinths of her own devising.

The lecture will be held in COOR 174 and begins at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. A reception with the artist will follow at the Ceramics Research Center.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins, "Venus," 2013. Photo: Nick Ash. Courtesy the artist and Laurel Gitlen, New York.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins, “Venus,” 2013. Photo: Nick Ash. Courtesy the artist and Laurel Gitlen, New York.

Friday, Sept. 27, 2013: Visual artist and Arizona native Paul Nosa joins the ASU Art Museum for a  two-day sewing performance with his Solar Sewing Rover, a portable sewing machine powered by a solar panel or a bicycle with an electric generator. Nosa will create original images, which are machine sewn on fabric patches, using word associations provided by our guests. Nosa’s goal is to inspire people’s creativity and to demonstrate alternative energy sources through his performances. This performance is co-sponsored by the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.

Nosa will perform twice on Friday: from noon-1:30 p.m., in the GIOS Breezeway and again from 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the ASU Art Museum front entrance. His second performance will kick start the fall season opening reception, which we’d like to think of as Tempe’s art celebration of the season. The party is from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., with a special member’s preview at 5:30 p.m. Full details here: https://asuevents.asu.edu/season-opening-reception-fall-2013

Image: Paul Nosa,"Glow-in-the-dark piano on fire." Courtesy of the artist.

Image: Paul Nosa,”Glow-in-the-dark piano on fire.” Courtesy of the artist.

When you’re in the museum for the reception, you’ve got a lot to check out, and you don’t want to miss any of it. Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft, Wendy Maruyama: Executive Order 9066 and This Is Not America: Protest, Resistance, Poetics are all new and on view. And, if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to duck into the Multi-Purpose Room for Plate Silk Stone: Impressions by Women Artists from the ASU Art Museum Print Collection to see a show co-curated by one of ASU’s undergraduate students and research interns, Emma Ringness.

Wendy Maruyama, "Tag Project," full installation view at San Diego State University. Paper, string and ink. Each approximately 11’ x 2’ in diameter, 2012. Photo credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki.

Wendy Maruyama, “Tag Project,” full installation view at San Diego State University. Paper, string and ink. Each approximately 11’ x 2’ in diameter, 2012. Photo: Kevin J. Miyazaki.

Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013: Don’t stay too late at the Museum having fun on Friday, because the day starts bright and early at COOR 174 with the “Flashback Forward: Rethinking Craft” Symposium, which will explore and discuss critical issues facing the field of contemporary craft.  Our keynote speaker is Jenni Sorkin, with a presentation by Guest of Honor Wendy Maruyama, and lectures by artists Garth Johnson, Christine Lee, Del Harrow and Erika Hanson. There’s too much cool stuff (and it’s all free!) happening to list here, but you can view the full schedule, as well as RSVP, for Saturday’s symposium on the event page: https://asuevents.asu.edu/flashbackforward-rethinking-craft-symposium

And, if you missed him on Friday – or just can’t get enough of Paul Nosa — he’s back again on Saturday with another performance from noon – 2 p.m. in the COOR breezeway.

Whew! What a weekend! We can’t wait. And while you’re out enjoying yourselves, don’t forget to tweet and Facebook us your photos.

Jarbas Lopes, "Cicloviaéra," 2006. Osier (natural fiber vine) over bicycle. Photo by Craig Smith.

Jarbas Lopes, “Cicloviaéra,” 2006. Osier (natural fiber vine) over bicycle. Photo by Craig Smith.

September 20, 2013 at 10:44 pm Leave a comment

This Is (Part of) America

This Is Not America: Protest, Resistance, Poetics, on view now at the ASU Art Museum, gives a startlingly fresh look at the intersection of art and social change through allowing works to converse with one another. Curated by Julio César Morales, with assistance from ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduate student Indira Garcia, the three-part exhibition pairs works from the museum’s collection with those of emerging and established artists in a sort of “question and answer” format.

Part 1, on view now through Nov. 9, 2013, marries a painting by Cuban collective Los Carpinteros with an animated video by contemporary Seattle-based artist Paul Rucker, in an effort to “explore the power dynamics and political implications of oppression,” according to Morales.

“The exhibition title takes a cue from Alfredo Jaar’s seminal 1987 public art video intervention at Times Square in New York City, A Logo for America, a three-part video animation that plays off the notions of ‘America’ and its relationship to citizenship, homeland and borders,” says Morales.

Alfredo Jaar, A Logo for America, 1986

Alfredo Jaar, A Logo for America, 1986

On the east wall of the gallery hangs Dominar Bestias/How to Dominate Beasts, the watercolor painting by Los Carpinteros, whose name “derives from the historical term for skilled slave laborers,” according to Morales. Within the painting we are shown a number of household objects, such as dressers and chairs, shackled to a fence that corrals them, as though they were animals in a paddock. It is unclear whether they are being chained to the fence so that they do not escape, or whether it is the fence that is tied down to these material goods. One begins to wonder who or what is being dominated, and, beyond that, who or what the beasts are.

Across the darkened gallery is Paul Rucker’s video piece Proliferation, projected on the wall opposite the painting. Rucker was inspired to create the piece while at a “prison issues” residency at the Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks, when he discovered a series of maps created by researcher Rose Heyer that showed the growth of the United States prison system over time. Rucker, a musician as well as visual artist, created the durational piece from the maps and also composed the original score.

Paul Rucker, Proliferation, 2009

Paul Rucker, Proliferation, 2009

“A word that can refer to healing of a wound through rapid growth of new cells, Proliferation explores the evolution of prisons in the United States through an animated series of colored dots indicating location and number of prisons from 1778-2005,” says Morales. “The incarcerated are a relatively invisible aspect of American society… [but] the United States leads the world in the number of people behind bars.”

To Rucker’s score, each new prison appears on the projection as a dot of color, starting first as green specks and escalating in intensity into brilliant red and orange flashes. While viewing “Proliferation,” one is struck by how quickly the outline of the United States is formed, beginning first with New England, but quickly springing across the map to the West Coast. The colored dots, illuminated against a black background, echo other, similar maps, such as those illustrating light pollution from major cities, or urban sprawl.

As the piece goes on, the green dots begin to merge, turning yellow, and the music takes on a more ominous tone. The dots appear in faster succession, sprawling across the map, until there is no one section that is free of color. They evolve from isolated flashes of yellow into orange and then red masses, joining together with sharp, jolting regularity, like explosions. One feels like a cat, mesmerized, watching a laser dart around a wall. But with this feeling of not being able to look away, to stop chasing the flashes of light, the music suggest something darker, a sinking feeling in the pit of one’s stomach. This is not a game. This is serious.

The two pieces, poised opposite each other in the Americas Gallery on the second floor of the museum, both face off against one another and speak to each other. Their conversation occurs in the space between, where the viewer is invited to sit, to pace and to contemplate.

–Juno Schaser , Public Relations Intern

Part 1 of This Is Not America will close on Nov. 9, 2013, with Part 2 on view Nov. 16 2013 – March 15, 2014, and Part 3, co-curated with ASU MFA students, up from March 22 – June 6, 2014.

Artists include Facundo Arganaraz, Sandow Birk, Los Carpinteros, Juan Capristan, Enrique Chagoya, Binh Danh, Kota Ezawa, Eamon Ore-Giron, George Grosz, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Jon Haddock, Alfredo Jaar, Michael Lucero, Carrie Marill, Sanaz Mazinani, Ranu Mukherjee, Georgia O’Keeffe, Gina Osterloh, Raymond Pettibon, Michele Pred, Ken Price, Jerome Reyes, Paul Rucker, Rene Francisco Rodriguez, Fernando Rodriguez, Lorna Simpson and Adriana Varejão.

 

August 14, 2013 at 11:24 pm Leave a comment

Self-described “printmaking nerd” finds paradise and a perspective shift at the ASU Art Museum

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ASU student intern Emma Ringness at work in the Jules Heller Print Study Room at the ASU Art Museum, Spring, 2013.

ASU School of Art senior Emma Ringness, who will graduate this December with a degree in printmaking, worked with ASU Art Museum curator Jean Makin to put together the exhibition Plate • Silk • Stone: Impressions by Women Artists from the ASU Art Museum Print Collection, which is on view at the Museum through Dec. 8.

In these figurative prints selected from the permanent collection, women artists take on social and domestic issues, as well as themes of history, culture and identity. For more information about the show, click here.

Here’s a post from Emma about her experience working on Plate • Silk • Stone:

For printmaking nerds like myself, there is no denying the thrill of sitting down to work next to a famous print by the French satirical printmaker Honoré Daumier, or viewing Roy Lichtenstein’s interpretation of the Oval Office on a daily basis.

But enough with the nerdiness: Last year I had the pleasure of serving as a research intern in the ASU Art Museum’s Jules Heller Print Study Room under its director, Jean Makin. This glorious place is home to the museum’s print collection (including that Daumier and Lichtenstein), and is heaven for print nerds and art appreciators alike.

As part of my internship, my job was to curate an exhibition of prints by women artists in the collection. This meant going through the many drawers and cabinets in which the collection is stored and getting hands-on with prints from the 16th century to today. It was a humbling experience, and for the first time made me feel connected to something bigger than myself as an artist: both to a long line of female printmakers, and to a cultural discourse in which I am a participant.

Through the process of handling the work, selecting pieces for the show, researching and writing about the artists, I was also given a perspective other than that of the creator — of someone who maintains artwork for future generations. I now fully understand the long-term care and storage required by the print medium, as well as the amount of time and energy invested by museum professionals and art historians to research and share with the public the history and social relevance of work created through the print processes. This perspective shift has, in turn, altered my approach as a creator. The beauty of having an institution like the ASU Art Museum is that this unique learning experience was available to me on campus, and during my undergraduate education — rather than during graduate school or beyond.

I am so grateful to Jean Makin for giving me this opportunity, and to the many people who make the museum’s collection available to the public on a regular basis.

–Emma Ringness

June 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm 1 comment

Let there be light — and dark: “Turn off the Sun” at the ASU Art Museum

tos 7

Each piece in the exhibition Turn off the Sun, on view at the ASU Art Museum through Sept. 7, packs tremendous heat, power and impact. Drawn from La Colección Jumex in Mexico City, an incredible private contemporary art collection of about 2,600 works, Turn off the Sun displays two dozen of these searingly honest and beautiful pieces. This is only the second time that any of the Jumex collection has been shown in the United States.

The exhibition title did not come about from a concentrated brainstorm though, but rather from joking about the weather. During Jumex director Patrick Charpenel and curator Michel Blancsubé’s site visit to the ASU Art Museum in the summer of 2012, the two started an ongoing joke about how someone needs to “turn off the sun.” When curator Julio César Morales joined the staff in the fall and heard it, he pointed out how that’s not necessarily a joke—that’s a great name.

“When I heard this phrase, I thought it was a brilliant title, and the more it was discussed by myself and Heather Sealy Lineberry, the more we thought the title really connected with artworks in the exhibition and addressed ideas of site, adaptability and physical displacement,” Morales said.

ASU Art Museum senior curator and associate director Heather Sealy Lineberry said the museum staff became interested in the social and political implications of brining the contemporary art collection from Mexico to Arizona and how the content of the work would shift just by the very nature of having it here.

The artworks address several types of issues between Mexico and the United States, among them borders, landscape, lines, labor, politics, economics, faith and awareness.

One example is “Cuando La Fe Mueve Montañas” (“When Faith Moves Mountains”) by Francis Alÿs, a conceptual performance artist. In the multimedia installation, the artist has a group of people move a mountain with shovels to create a line, like a curious border. Another is “Security Fence” by Liza Lou, which explores dark psychological spaces of violence and confinement. Santiago Sierra’s artwork “3000 holes of 180 x 50 x 50 cm each” is a triptych of three photographs and a performance piece that he created while in southern Spain, looking across to North Africa where many immigrants come into Spain. On video Sierra highlights matters of struggle and immigration by showing the 3,000 shoveled holes, mostly dug by Senegalese and Moroccan day workers over the course of a month with a Spanish foreman overseeing the labor.

“These three pieces pulled at our imagination and were tremendous anchors for what we wanted to do with the exhibition,” Lineberry said.

tos 22

liza lou smaller by craig smith

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In an interview with San Francisco Arts Quarterly, Blancsubé also explained, “I generally don’t choose a theme and then look for artworks to sustain or feed it… I am seduced by artworks and imagine funny games between them. The theme or the discourse comes after or during the construction, and in a way it is suggested by the artworks themselves.”

Along with the choosing of the exhibition title, another unexpected aspect of Turn off the Sun is that there are no labels next to the pieces. Instead, there is printed material at the entrance of every gallery space that includes technical information, biographies and further text about the artistic process of all the artworks. This allows people who want to make their own relationships with the work to have that possibility. With each exhibition, the museum experiments with how to provide information for the visitor, and different kinds of exhibitions warrant different information systems.

Blancsubé said the information related to the artworks is accessible for curious visitors, “but not having plaques plugged on the wall near the artworks allows visitors to have a first approach of the artworks on their own without receiving from the beginning glasses that oriented their viewing.”

“We thought the design and artworks look so clean and beautifully installed that labels would interrupt the artwork itself,” Morales said. “I was more interested in the audience having a visceral experience of the work and engaging with it without any other materials to distract from that experience.”

Though some visitors are more comfortable with text panels, many are pleasantly surprised and enjoy the practice of making their own connections with the works.

Lineberry said she sees people relating to the artworks and broadening their thoughts about the border: “I think a lot of people are coming away with a pretty amazing experience of the works individually and the process of piecing them together as a narrative in their minds.”

–Mary Grace Richardson

Images, from top: “Overpass,” by Jeff Wall; “Cuando La Fe Mueve Montañas” (“When Faith Moves Mountains”), by Francis Alÿs; “Security Fence,” by Liza Lou, and “3000 holes of 180 x 50 x 50 cm each,” by Santiago Sierra. All photos by Craig Smith.

June 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm 2 comments

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