reviews, artists, Bibliography

Warren Weekend Wandering

What a week, folks. I've been home with the plague, it's supposed to rain buckets tonight, and I'm already wearing fingerless gloves in the house. Ah, well, maybe I'm just getting old...tomorrow is my birthday after all. Hopefully, "Sun-Day" means that the sun will reappear and dry things up to crackly autumn goodness.

Rain or shine, YES Gallery + Studio in Warren is one spot to check out. Artist Tom McAleer will be giving a plein air painting demonstration tomorrow, Sunday, October 26th, from 2-5pm. During the demo, Tom will be painting a portrait of the historic gallery building (which once housed renowned illustrator David Macauley's studio!)

Pure/Play at YES Gallery + Studio through November 2nd, 2008

While you are there, check out Pure/Play, the current exhibition featuring paintings by McAleer and Douglas Desjardins. As additional incentive, 5% of exhibition proceeds will go to benefit the John Hope Settlement House, which provides social services to families in Providence, RI. YES Gallery + Studio is a tax free zone.

YES Gallery + Studio is located at 146 Water Street, Warren, RI 02885

Reclaiming The Big Box

It's no secret that I am addicted to National Public Radio. After all, I can absorb a huge amount of balanced, intelligent news stories, sprinkled liberally with culture, arts and entertainment while doing an equally huge amount of work! Eyes not required!

Every once in a while, I hear a story that I'm compelled to share here. Today's pick, from NPR's All Things Considered, is about the work of artist and professor Julia Christensen. Recognizing the enormous blight that big box stores and their hulking remnants have left on our country's landscape, Christensen set about documenting the fate of those large, rectangular structures that were abandoned by their makers - doomed due to the inevitable outsizing perpetuated by their dominance on our consumer spending. With the sheer number of large footprint stores X-d off of the active storelist by the world's hungriest companies, many communities are attempting to reclaim the disused space.

"on this site... a commentary" - photo by Marc Levin - Creative Commons: some rights reserved

Above: "on this site...a commentary", Photo by Marc Levin, via flickr

Christensen's new book, "Big Box Reuse", published by The MIT Press, documents how (Main Street!) America is taking back millions of square feet through adventurous, mixed-use projects that benefit their communities. While Hormel's homage to SPAM isn't necessarily the most gloriously useful example; Lebanon, Missouri's public library and Route 66 museum is. Just click here to listen to the full broadcast.

Weekly Wandering

Churning out several articles on deadline this week has me posting less frequently to the blog, but it hasn't stopped me from wandering about Providence in search of art happenings and crunchy October leaf drifts to stomp through.

One nice place for a foliage-rich stroll is the Moses Brown School campus on Lloyd Street. Nestled in the center of campus is the Krause Gallery, now showing the work of three New England artists in "Exploring Space", on view through October 24th. This show poses it's most literal question with the work of Laura Shirreff, a textile artist who translates the phenomenon of the solar eclipse into complex, jacquard woven fabric panels. (The devil is in the details, so my photograph certainly does not do this work justice - these merit close inspection.)

Jacquard woven fabric panels by Laura Shirreff at the Krause Gallery

Above: Jacquard-woven fabric works by Laura Shirreff on view at the Krause Gallery.

Another stop I like to make (especially on Gallery Night when the refreshments are flowing) is the secret gem of Above Providence Optical Gallery. Realizing that their digs are too luxurious to simply sell high-end spectacle frames, these nice folks invite the public up their spiral staircase to the well-lit second floor, where ~monthly art shows reign the walls.

Above Providence Optical Gallery

Above: Someday I'll own a fancy light fixture like the one at Above Providence Optical Gallery...

On view this month is textile work by Joanne Luongo of Pawtucket's Paper Girls Studio. Anyone who obsessively stitches thread into muslin for six months to achieve a square foot or so abstract thread drawing, or crochets panties out of plastic bags is someone whose work I can get into. The collection of panty alternatives on the entrance wall is a definite conversation piece...check out this detail of "Victoria's Real Secret". Now that's a thong with a nasty temper...

Joanne Luongo: Victoria's Real Secret - thong, pins

Above: Joanne Luongo - "Victoria's Real Secret", "Peek-a-Boo Panties", "Thread Panties" (installation shot): bikini, pins, tar gel, plastic bags, thread.


Tiny Vices

I'm up to my eyeballs today, (which is why, naturally, I'm off-topic pointing out neato websites instead of getting on-topic). I've been thinking about artist-run online communities lately, and the circuitry (or lack thereof) between them and a wider audience. Musing on this with clicks, apparantly, I rediscovered, an artist-run online gallery out of New York, curated by photographer and publisher Tim Barber. While it's not exactly intuitive to navigate (again, circuitry) there is a deep well of juicy content here, ranging from individual artist portfolios to TV Books, Barber's on-demand artist book publishing service. Leading the virtual racehorse to the actual track, this online venue provides many real world opportunities for the participants, including gallery shows and book launches. Looks like one is coming up next week, if you're in Chelsea:

Tinyvices book series launch at aperture

REVIEW: "A Varied Terrain" Launches New Student Galleries at RISD

A key advantage offered by RISD's new Chace Center is the addition of two gallery spaces: The Gelman Student Gallery and Dryfoos Student Media Gallery, both dedicated to student-run programming. The Gelman Gallery's inaugural show, "A Varied Terrain", is on view through this Friday, October 5th.

Curated by students Mayen Alcantara, Gabriela Salazar and Martin Smick, the group show addresses "critical issues regarding the structure and system of our environments", with 12 participating artists presenting works created from the point of view of artist, naturalist, architect and engineer.

It is a fitting theme for inaugurating this portion of the Chace Center, long anticipated as a main feature to bridge the RISD campus with the main thoroughfair of North Main Street at Providence's Market Square.

In media ranging from video to installation to trompe-l'oeil, the participating artists delve into their own and their subjects' relationships with the environment.

"Hang 'Em Up Roadie" an installation by Thomas Morrill (RISD BFA Painting 2008)

Above: "Hang 'Em Up Roadie" by Thomas Morrill - mixed-media installation with radio transmitter

I first encountered "Hang ‘Em Up Roadie", an installation by painter Thomas Morrill (BFA, 2008). Far from painting, this invented office-cum-pirate-radio-station explores systems of information gathering and classification; boasting a collection of cassette tape recordings of lectures, movies, animals, music, sporting events and conversations, shelved according to a personal taxonomy of geographic place. The person behind the collection is implied by a handmade radio transmitter (tuned to 104.7FM if you happen to be within 575 feet), and the ubiquitous, mostly consumed Dunkin Donuts iced coffee.

Located nearby, a sinisterly low, boxed plywood corridor by Rui Sasaki (MFA candidate, glass) convinced me to overcome my claustophobia by entering and closing the door shut behind me. Other than triggering a motion-sensor bare lightbulb, and causing myself dusty knees and a backache, I elicited no further response from the installation, titled "My Basement". Perhaps I failed to trigger something more gratifying...there were speakers inside.

"Landscape XI", a screenprinted assemblage by Luke O'Sullivan (RISD MFA candidate, printmaking)

Above: "Landscape XI" by Luke O'Sullivan - screenprinted wood and mixed-media

Stretching back out to my full height (1,568 mm!), I took the time to admire an assemblage by Luke O'Sullivan (MFA candidate, printmaking). Like a multi-colored backdrop for a Terry Gilliam animation, and referencing industrial relics like used letterpress blocks, his "Landscape XI" is a model city comprised of a multitude of individually cut and screenprinted "buildings", perched on an exaggerated platform of construction deitritus. Impeccable craftsmanship and a fine eye for materials and scale serves this work well. "Landscape XI"'s proximity to the gallery's single window onto the architecture of downcity Providence further enhanced the work's capacity for self-reflection.

"Memory Floor Plan", an inkjet print by Leslie Kwok (RISD MFA Graphic Design 2008)

Above: "Memory Floor Plan" by Leslie Kwok - inkjet print

On my way out, I was pleased to encounter the familiar work of MFA recipient (Graphic Design, 2008) Leslie Kwok, whose work I reviewed in the graduate thesis show this past May. Kwok explores interpersonal relationships through graphical conventions. Her work is intelligent, accessible and balanced - never overdone or trite in design or execution. For this show she presents an inkjet print titled "Memory Floor Plan". Diagramatically representing each bedroom she has occupied since birth, the floor plan reconstructs an autobiographical, yet imaginary 16-room "house", with each doorway symbol leading into one or more adjacent rooms.

I exited, pondering whether these implied doors should eventually lead to a stairway, or, if they are better represented opening [like Chace Center itself] onto the waiting outside world.

The Chace Center is located at 20 North Main Street, Providence 02903

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