Tag Archives: art

The Insistent Image

My hometown of Charleston, SC never ceases to surprise me when it comes to arts, food, and culture.  As far removed as it is from art hubs like NYC and LA, Charleston serves up some southern heat with exhibitions like The Insistent Image: Recurrent Motifs in the Art of Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns.  I caught the tail end of the exhibition, which will leave the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art on July 12. Split between new work from Shepard Fairey and survey of prints made between 1982-2012 by Jasper Johns, the exhibition’s aim was to highlight both artists’ usage of the repetition of imagery.

Fairey, a Charleston native based in LA created works for this exhibition under the theme of “Power and Glory.”  At a time when our country is celebrating its history and freedom, his propaganda-like pieces call American hegemony into question.  He takes the “insistent images” of iconic symbols and phrases and turns them on their heads, so that our stars and stripes no longer signify freedom and justice for all and “America’s Favorite” brands no longer seem so appealing.  One piece that struck me was his Empire State of Mind, 2014 which departs from Jay-Z’s version by presenting an oil rig spewing toxins into the atmosphere from the peak of the Empire State Building.  By repurposing phrases like, “The Land Where God Saves,” and “Lifeguard Not On Duty,” Fairey addresses political issues and makes you think twice about that last vacation you took.  All of this ultimately to show that while we have come a long way toward being a great country, we still have work to do.

Do the One Thing

For an artist, life will almost always be difficult when you are starting out.  The artist has to rise above the fear of being isolated from their peers, sacrifice any luxuries they may have previously been afforded in order to pound out a living, and keep going despite the intense competition in the field.  To be an artist is not just about being creative—you must be resilient, extremely hardworking, and above all, fiercely determined.  And that is just for artists in general—the artist of New York City is on another level entirely.  Because rent is so expensive in NYC, the artist of New York City has it extra hard.  They must be able to balance the demands of working a stable job (or three) and still devote time to nurture their artistic vision.  Sometimes, the artist must choose between the two pursuits (art/ work), and the answer is harder than you would think.  At this point, the artist must think back to the very question of why they are in a city like New York in the first place.  They are here for their art, not for the stability of the job that they are far more than qualified to be doing.  Still, it is hard to let down colleagues and shirk work responsibilities for one’s own dreams.  I have to say that while being in a full-time, stable job position is nice on my bank account, it is much easier to choose art when you have less responsibility at work.  For this reason, I advise any aspiring artists to start small with their job search—part-time, low responsibility positions are ideal.  This will allow you to always choose art and not have such difficult decisions about work interfering in your goals.  A little hackneyed, but don’t let your job keep you from your career.  

Pierogi Gallery: Idiom I

Pierogi Gallery, 177 North 9th Street, Williamsburg

Idiom I

10 January- 9 February, 2014

            Idiom I is the first of two consecutive exhibitions at the Pierogi Gallery in Williamsburg.  According to the write-up by the gallery, Idiom I is designed around the concept of “willing suspension of disbelief,” meaning that even if the narrative of the piece is fictional, the viewer can will it into reality because it also contains “human interest and a semblance of truth.”  It’s like when someone points out the implausibility two people getting together in a movie and you tell them to shut up because it’s so beautiful.  It’s getting lost in a fantasy and believing for just a moment that it could be true.  This moment becomes the second part to the idiom that is revealed when viewer collides with work.

So, with this philosophy in mind I entered Pierogi ready to eat up some disbelief.  Unfortunately, I did not achieve the desired feeling with all of the works.  Everything was stunning, but perhaps too fantastical for me to will forward a moment of belief.  Actually, let me rephrase.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t will it forward, but that I didn’t want to.  I didn’t really want to believe in a green blob with eyes or a vagina in a hillside sprouting with trees.  Reason for the former: aliens, robots, and green blobs seem to be popular right now, but I just can’t get into them.  The latter:  I think the suspension of disbelief for this piece would simplify the imagery it invokes and I personally would rather question why the artist feels the female genitalia is as such than believe in the fantastical landscape.

I was, however, quite taken with Ryan Mrozowski’s paintings, Orange Painting #1, #2, and #3.  Suspension of disbelief was easy with these three works—the more I looked at them, the more I felt like I was in Florida in the summertime.  I believed there were oranges (or reproductions of oranges) in the painting before I realized that there actually weren’t—what I had perceived to be oranges were just orange circles amidst leaves.  I also enjoyed Mrozowski’s work, Untitled (Small Audience), 2008, which was a painting of the backs of heads in an audience.  It made me recall times when I have been a part of a weirdly related community of theatre or moviegoers.  The piece also provides some comic relief, though it is mingled with a touch of discomfort as emphasis is placed somewhere it typically wouldn’t be.

So, the cat’s out of the bag.  Or maybe the cat’s still in the bag.  You decide—check out http://www.pierogi2000.com or visit the gallery on your next trip to Williamsburg.

Kirsten Deirup, Green Blob, 2013

Ryan Mrozowski, Orange Painting #1, #2, #3, 2013

Ryan Mrozowski, Orange Painting #3, 2013

Ryan Mrozowski, Untitled (Small Audience), 2008