*My new years resolution is to go to one art gallery a week for 2014.
Something I love to take photos of: workspace messes. Wires, circuits, tools and coffees, torn apart squirt guns and cell phones, the sprawl of tinkering.
Since I started in robotics and hackathons, hanging out all weekend in a suspended state of excitement, I’ve been photographing the mess we make. For a maker, an engineer, a tinker, taking something apart is about finding out how it works. But sometimes it doesn’t work. And usually it takes a very large mess to make something new and create it from scratch.
This week, I went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California. A stone’s throw from Google and LinkedIn and the grounds of silicon valley’s first giants like Fairchild Semiconductor.
Computer History you say? That’s not art, that’s not an art gallery! Well, I throw exceptions, you can handle them appropriately.
IBM System/360 Model 91 Console, 1968
1. This is art.
2. I love it.
3. I happened to be at the museum anyway, for a conference/launch of Google’s “Ara” a modular phone. #aradev #ara
Well designed systems contain surreal beauty. The above IBM system, like a nervous system and spinal column, speaks to order out of chaos, like the best photos of the natural environment. This series of photographs, adorning the halls of the Computer History Museum, gets my gears going.
Here are photographs, the first set is my own. These photographs highlight the messy thinking process that precedes beautiful, elegant engineering. The second group of photos taken from the Computer History Museum, are more traditional - the symmetrical, highly patterned, highly organized, idealized anatomy of technology.
@kyelxn twitter / instagram
Totally still onboard with this New Years Resolution. One Gallery A Week.
Definitely haven’t been to one gallery since I last posted.
I have however, been to LACMA twice for director screenings, wandered antique expos, sublimely hung out in art collectors homes in the Malibu Hills. And anohter whole slew of activities that involve ‘art’ but not art galleries, such as fashion happenings.
I feel a bit guilty, not making time to go into a small gallery, but I still have been exploring my resolution and developing a sense of the art world.
True art collectors can’t find gems at flea markets or garage sales anymore. With the internet, people use ebay and do Google research, wanting to find more about their unusual attic treasures. So good art collectors need the gallery, it offers the freshest crops of new young artists, and stable exposure for more experienced artists.
You might find beautiful gems in antique markets, flea markets, garage sales….even gift shops. Your finds might soar in value, or be priced much more cheaply than what they are ‘worth’ on the global market. But it is more unlikely. Good art, 2D, 3D or somewhere in between, is very likely to end up in a gallery or in a private home very quickly. Because someone loves it, someone doesn’t want to part with it, someone with an eye says, “No way am I just giving this away!” So go on a gallery walk in your area, check out the latest offerings from the art world. I know I will!
Photo: Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years
Director Penelope Spheeris talk and screening at LACMA
Spheeris is the director of Decline Parts 1 2 and 3, and Waynes World! This is an amazing look into the metal music culture of Los Angeles in 1987-1988. Coming to Blue Ray someday soon!
My New Years Resolution is to see more art, by visiting an art gallery or seeing an art event each week in 2014.
In Albuquerque New Mexico, I found an answer to my recent question: Is it a gallery or a gift shop?
This place was both. I almost didn’t walk into the shop, from the barred windows it looked like a tacky collection of Mexican and Mexican-American art, a tourist trap. I walked past, turned around, and walked in. Yep, it was a tourist trap. Pieces made en-masse, skull and day of the dead art in all forms: magnets, marionettes, masks, jewelry, greeting cards. Some of it was really interesting, authentic Mexican work. But even though much of it was hand made it felt mass made, and the title of “art” didn’t hang so easily.
Enjoyably hovering throughout the shop, I entered a side room. Suddenly I was wowed. I looked at the walls, oil paintings throughout: this…is….art. What the hell is this doing here? I turned to one-of-a-kind leather masks, plaster of paris angels and devils, goblins painted in glorious colors. I told the shop keeper, wow, these are really great!
"Oh you like the gallery!" he said.
"So this room is a gallery? Where do you draw the distinction?"
"Well the room you’re in is mostly full of local artists."
So I stood on the border, one room a gift shop and one room is a gallery. Both full of artistic handmade pieces, but only the gallery had a connection to each artist and their work.
I was impressed, that this little shop in Albuquerque New Mexico could create a little polarization between art gallery and gift shop.
Paper mache goblin in the Albuquerque Gallery, Masks y Mas.
A funky motel sign on the same street! Ya!
My new years resolution is to go to a gallery or art event once a week in 2014, continued.
Pat Hobaugh, Sweet Symphony in Pink.
After my initial shock, walking into a boutique that called itself ‘Gallery,’ I started wondering, where can we draw the line anymore? Prints on postcards, t-shirts and fridge magnets can be even more profitable for the artist, and much more reproducible. I’ve started asking gallery owners and artists what was profitable, and where they would draw the line between a gallery and a boutique in today’s art world.
One shop owner in New Mexico was very upfront, “I wouldn’t call this an art gallery, but there is art.” The Santa Fe shop was stuffed with Indian jewelry, cowboy paraphernalia, blanket weavings and even French inspired home decor…it was a boutique. There was traditional art on the walls and 3D sculptures or textiles throughout, but it was not highlighted in anyway. The focus was not to ‘find a new or unique artist’ but to ‘find something to buy at every price point.’ It was all artistic, maybe even art, but this is not an art gallery.
However, after walking along the row of heavy-hitter art galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, it can be refreshing to walk into an approachable store where one can take something artistic home.
In a hotel lobby near the center of town I met an artist-in-residence Ricardo Gutierrez working on oil paintings and water colors. Colorful abstract grids that looked like Chanel tweed, New Mexican sunsets and horizons, crucifixes done in pastels I associate with Easter eggs. The artist wasn’t featured in a gallery currently, but said that his best sales have come along in situations like this, painting greeting cards and 8x10” paintings, and selling them right to the hotel guests and passersby. Any of his pieces could be framed — - hell I might frame the three little greeting cards I bought, each hand painted with a certain New Mexican nod.
Back on Canyon Road, where the majority of the “galleries” can be definitively called art galleries, I found something so unaffectedly man-made it could only be called art. ”Sweet Symphony in Pink”, shown above. One of a kind, oil on canvas, It neither solved nor highlighted any of the world problems, and to ask it to would be a crime. It is sheer hollow delight. Pop art at its best, complete with bubble gum balls, cotton candy and cartoon characters. The flower piece painted in the center is worthy of its own painting, but the scene surrounding it is something of imagination and whimsy. I let it lift me up to some pink joyous cloud and I decided to let myself stay there.
This is a great kind of art, one that invokes strong emotions, but trembles and pops when one tries to explain or justify it. It takes a lot of self confidence to say, “I need that. I need this thing I don’t need.”
The art gallery, Canyon Contemporary, is definitely an art gallery. No blurred lines. It was well curated, delightful to walk through, none of the pieces were pegged for tourists or as easy gifts. Like other great Canyon Road galleries, this is art for collectors and art lovers, highlighted in true gallery form.
Finally I went gallery hunting. And a ‘real’ gallery was harder to find than expected. The first three galleries I found on Yelp were closed or non existent. Eventually I found a ‘gallery.’
Well it had Gallery on the sign out front at least.
Entering this gallery on Lower Haight street, I almost turned around and walked right out. It looked like a gift shop! I had it in my head that this year of visiting art galleries would be sparse well curated spaces, run by New York-esque women in scandinavian cat-eye glasses and their masculine yet sensitive bearded life partners. And here I was, in an indie gift shop.
I decided to stay, trying to break down the idea of an art gallery. There was art. A few paintings, graphic tees and scarves, stamped greeting cards, photographic prints.
Is it just a boutique or is it an art gallery? An art gallery full of new easily commoditized art, at approachable price points, almost entirely unframed.
I bought this photo print, an artist playing with light trails and long exposures out at the Sutro Baths. The 30- something woman running the shop looked at me like, “Hmmm, he found some art. He wasn’t just coming in for some San Francisco kitsch.”
The artist, NoMe Edonna in San Francisco works in surrealism, using 2D oil or pencil, 3D found art sculptures and more recently these light photographs. I feel lucky to have found such an interesting piece at this little boutique I almost walked out of.
I’m going to sum up weeks 2 through 4 with a single comment on instagram. Take that long-form writing.
1. Go to one or more art galleries each week.
2. Read, research and record. Don’t scratch the surface.
After hunting around for galleries, I realized that the traditional idea of gallery is being eroded. Galleries, calling themselves “galleries” are becoming like gift shops. Graphic tees, hand stamped greeting cards, ephemera and jewelry. We are a wearable shareable society, so its understandable.
The traditional art gallery still exists, but art is becoming more accessible. And we haven’t even touched on digital art and replication yet.
The idea of the art gallery can go as far back to ancient civilizations, with wealthy private art collectors. But the first public art museums opened from 1300-1600, and even these museums were largely restricted to the upper classes.
Printing presses and stamping methods sped up production of prints in both Asia and Europe after 1500. Paris In the 1700’s gave rise to salon culture, which created the gallery style and art cycle we have today: display, give criticism, buy.
Photography exploded from 1900 to 1950, soon even the talentless had the ability to capture the world. Mix this with easy printing methods and new digital sharing, we have the cheap art overload of today. Capturing and sharing the human experience has become as integral as actually having a human experience. The lines are blurred.
This year I will explore this story of the gallery, of art for sale, of blood and bone artists. I’ll search galleries and museums and reinforce my experience with online art, street art and critical literature.