Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In Depth: Floating Ocean

Seonglan Kim Boyce, Floating
2010, Oil on Canvas,
18" X 18"
One might suppose that evoking the idea of the ocean might be impossible if all  one had to work with were a series of differently proportioned rectangles, but one would be wrong. In her piece, Floating Ocean, Seonglan Kim Boyce manages to capture the undulating motion of the sea without once using a curvilinear line.

Floating Ocean seems all too simple, at first. Boyce has presented us with a series of light blue rectangles in a seemingly random pattern arranged on a while field. The effect, if one let's one's imagination run wild for a moment, is of droplets, drizzles, and puddles of water floating in the air. The piece is whimsical and fun enough that one can't help but think of scenes from cartoons in which water waits until Elmer Fudd or another hapless type is directly underneath it before falling.

As strange as this cartoon comparison might seem, it isn't very far from how Boyce describes her own work. "My painting starts with a memory of a specific space. It gives me structural references and emotional content. I try to construct a space that is even, balanced, immediate and open. In the painting I want a sense of time, yet still and silent." In Floating Ocean Boyce has suspended a simplified image of ocean water in negative space--the air, perhaps--and, in so doing, gives the impression of a wave on the verge of crashing. Viewers can follow the motion of the wave from the right to the left as the rectangles form the broken line of a tilted "S". The motion, and the time that must pass for the water to form a wave is implied by the "S" curve, but everything is frozen and still. This is the moment right before the water crashes down--whether onto poor widdle Elmer or the shore--and asserts itself as a force of nature.

The thin lines have the potential to adopt the greater weight of the larger rectangle in the upper left corner, but by the very nature of pictorial representation, they never will. The painting, for this reason, is both frustrating and fascinating.


*"In Depth" is a series of posts dedicated to taking a closer look at (and maybe completely misinterpreting) individual paintings exhibited by the DCCA. If you would like to nominate a painting at the DCCA for an "In Depth" feature, feel free to write a comment and let me know!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Special Event: The Dia: Beacon Bus Trip

If you haven't gone on one of the DCCA's bus trips, you, dear reader, have been missing out. Yesterday (Thursday), the DCCA's Fearless Leader and Executive Director Maxine Gaiber took some of the DCCA staff, DCCA members, and other art fans on a tour around the town of Beacon. Put that way, the trip doesn't sound particularly scintillating. But don't be fooled, dear readers. The quaint, picturesque facade of Beacon's small town streets, New England style homes,  and gothic revival architecture hides a shocking secret: Beacon is a thriving hub of contemporary art. Indeed, this sleepy little town is the home of the Starn Twins' studio and Dia:Beacon, a fantastic museum full of conceptual, installation pieces.

Richard Serra, Torqued Ellipse II, 1996; Double
Torqued Ellipse
, 1997.Dia Art Foundation; gift of Louise and
Leonard Riggio. 2000, 2000. Dia Art Foundation.
Photo: ©©Richard Barnes.

After being treated to delicious muffins, bagels, and hot coffee on the trip up to Beacon, our group went on a guided tour of the Starn twins' vast (and I mean vast) studio. Unfortunately, the brothers themselves were not in residence. They are, we were told, hard at work on an installation entitled Big Bambú. This piece is currently housed on the roof of a modest, little-known museum called The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The building that houses the studio is rather unassuming. It's housed in the shell of an old factory and, as such, it isn't exactly a visual smorgasbord on the outside. Once you step inside, however, it's quite a task to keep your jaw from dropping. The first sight to meet your eyes when you enter the studio is an enormous print of a decaying human face that is probably about one third of the size of a football field. Assuming you can manage to close your mouth and look at anything other than that gigantic print, you soon notice smaller, just as enchanting images peppered throughout the studios and along the walls. There are photographs of trees that look like neurons, images of decaying leaves photographed in poetic high contrast, a giggle-worthy alteration of DaVinci's St. John the Baptist, and, perhaps most notably, a prototype of Big Bambú.

In case you haven't gotten a chance to stop by that little known museum and see the finished product of Big Bambú for yourself, I'll tell you a little about it. The Starn brothers have created massive, interactive structures made almost entirely out of bamboo poles tied together with rock climbing rope. The structures are incredibly complex and are sturdy enough that it is possible, if you haven't just watched a broadcast of Vertigo on television, to walk on the ramps that run, like arteries, throughout the pieces. Our group got to do just that and, though yours truly spent most of the time clutching the nearest sturdy-seeming handrail with visions of Jimmy Stewart dangling in her head, I can tell you that it was a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Panoramic View: Tranquility

James Brantley, City Life, 2009, Acrylic
on canvas, 18" X 24"
If you attended the Art on the Town celebration on Friday night, you probably had the privilege of listening to James Brantley talk about his art and the exhibit "Tranquility." Though he and his agent spoke about a wide variety of topics including the obstacles facing African American artists, the vietnam war (very briefly), and convincing young artists that, yes, you do need a day job, I was especially interested in an offhand comment Brantley made about how he hopes the paintings in the exhibit will be viewed.

In case you haven't had a chance to look around the exhibit, I'll give you a quick crash course on the space.  Most of the paintings in the room are of vacant cityscapes with huge and beautifully painted skies. Though a painting here and there might have figures or the occasional tree or shrubbery in it, the majority of the paintings are devoted to showcasing solitary streets and brick buildings.

During his talk, Mr. Brantley remarked that he intended for his viewers to become a part of his paintings and, thus, part of the  urban space. Most of Bratley's works are on a large scale, so it isn't particularly difficult for a viewer to fling him or herself into the canvas (metaphorically speaking, of course. The DCCA does not wish you to launch yourself toward Mr. Brantley's work). One might expect this experience to be disorienting or overwhelming, but even I, a mousy little suburban girl, didn't lose my cool after allowing my gaze to take a stroll along Brantley's streets.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Special Event: Art on the Twitter...

...err... "town." Tonight's the big night, art fans. In case you desperately want to attend our shindig but can't because you're in a sickbed, I'll be tweeting about the event throughout the night. Assuming, that is, that I can get the hang of that weird brevity thing. As you might be able to tell, it isn't one of my strong suits.

You can read all about tonight's event, in real time no less, on my shiny new twitter page. Expect typos and top-notch reporting, 140 characters at a time.

If you aren't on your sickbed, be sure to come by so you can watch me struggle with the intricacies of modern telecommunication. Once you've had your fill of that stirring human drama (or farce, depending upon your point of view), you can enjoy great art, a special Fringe Festival performance called "Crypto-Anthropology," and one of our famous DCCA parties.

See you there!