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November 28, 2016

two behind Gordie Howe for eighth in NHL history

Category: multi-media,musiccherry452 @ 4:23 am
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ROME — Ivory Coast forward Gervinho set up one goal and scored another as Roma moved within six points of Serie A leader Juventus with a 3-1 victory at Hellas Verona on Sunday. Gervinho provided the cross for Adem Ljajics goal in the 45th minute then scored himself on the hour mark after Iceland international Emil Hallfredsson had equalized in the 49th. Romas 37-year-old captain Francesco Totti added a penalty in the 82nd. “Winning 3-1 away against a Verona squad that is having a solid season is a good result,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. “Especially after the draws by Juve and Napoli.” Gianluigi Buffon was sent off and Juventus was held to a 1-1 draw at Lazio on Saturday, ending the two-time defending champions 12-match winning streak. Also on Saturday, Napoli drew 1-1 at home with Chievo Verona. Elsewhere Sunday, AC Milan came back with two late goals for a 2-1 win at Cagliari and Inter Milan was whistled off the San Siro pitch after being held to a 0-0 draw by Catania. Inter remained fifth. Milan, which recently replaced Massimiliano Allegri with Clarence Seedorf as manager, moved up to a tie for ninth with Lazio. After Marco Sau had put Cagliari ahead in the 28th, Mario Balotelli equalized with a free kick in the 87th and substitute Giampaolo Pazzini scored the winner with a header in the 89th. “This was a very important goal for me and for the squad,” said Pazzini, who has been slowed by injuries for most of the last year. “We are a squad that can do much better. Seedorf is definitely someone with a lot of experience and charisma and he transmits a lot of serenity.” In the late match, Alberto Aquilani scored a hat trick for fourth-place Fiorentina in a 3-3 draw with Genoa. Alberto Gilardino, Luca Antonini and Sebastian De Maio got the goals for Genoa. In other matches, it was: Livorno 3, Sassuolo 1; Parma 1, Udinese 0; Sampdoria 1, Bologna 1; and Torino 1, Atalanta 0. http://www.teamcolombiasoccer.com/Fredy-Guarin-Copa-America-Jersey/.com) – The Golden State Warriors have started another winning streak and theyll try to pad it Tuesday night when they head to Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers. http://www.teamcolombiasoccer.com/Felipe-Aguilar-Copa-America-Jersey/. Five years ago, Nestor and Zimonjic beat the American twins to win the title. But the Bryans, the worlds top-ranked team, needed 74 minutes to earn the victory Saturday as both Nestor and Zimonjic lost serve in the second set. http://www.teamcolombiasoccer.com/Andres-Felipe-Roa-Copa-America-Jersey/. Detroits powerful offence made that unnecessary. Scherzer allowed two hits and struck out seven, and the Tigers backed their star right-hander with three early homers in an 8-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night. http://www.teamcolombiasoccer.com/Customized/. The Big Man finished 3-1 in Week 19, and sits at 53-24 on the season. Now Schultz is ready for more action. http://www.teamcolombiasoccer.com/Cristian-Zapata-Copa-America-Jersey/. — Ryan Millers debut for the St.NEWARK, N.J. — Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils took a lot of grief considering his scored the first of his career-best three goals just 12 seconds into a crucial game against the Florida Panthers. “He could have had a hat trick in the first 10 minutes, if he paid attention to the puck,” quipped linemate Jaromir Jagr, who added a goal and three assists in a wild 6-3 victory over the Panthers on Monday night. “He missed the net twice. “He should not have had to wait until the third period. He could have celebrated after 10 minutes. He likes it the hard way, I guess.” Veteran forward Dainius Zubrus yelled across the Devils locker room to Zajac that he probably should have had five goals. He then quickly pointed out that he once scored four in a game. It was a rare fun night for the Devils, who are hoping a late-season rally can get them into the playoffs. New Jersey has seven games left. “All we care about is wins at this point,” said Zajac, who added an assist in matching his career high with four points. “The wingers were on it. They were getting me the puck. I think I have more chances this game than I ever had.” Besides right wing Jagr, Zajacs left wing Ryane Clowe added a goal and two assists before leaving the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury. Zajac opened the barrage against Dan Ellis and then netted his second of the night midway through New Jerseys three-goal first period. He completed the hat trick by putting a rebound past Ellis at 9:37 of the third. Jacob Josefson scored the other Devils goal, and Cory Schneider stopped all 13 Florida shots he faced after replacing Martin Brodeur in the second period when New Jerseys lead was cut to 4-3. Brodeur stopped only six of nine shots, but was credited with the win. Devils coach Pete DeBoer didnt blame him. “We needed a wake-up call, and I didnt feel a timeout would be enough of a jolt for us,” he said. Dmitry Kulikov, Brad Boyes and Brandon Pirri scored for Florida, which lost for the sixth time in seven games. Ellis faced 32 shots, including 18 in the first period. “I expected 60 minutes, and we obviously were not ready to play,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “The Zajac-Jagr line scored five of the six goals. I asked them to be aware of where they are on the ice and what was going on, and we turned pucks all over the ice and were not ready to play. &quoot;Right from the beginning we put ourselves behind the 8 ball and it was 3-0.dddddddddddd Youre not going to win too many games that way against a team fighting for the playoffs.” The Devils started as if they were carrying a grudge from their last meeting in Florida, when they blew a 3-1 lead and lost 5-3 on three third-period goals. That led to losses in four of five games. Zajac got the Devils going in this one right after the opening faceoff. Defenceman Mark Fayne took a shot from the point, and Zajac put in the rebound after Jagr touched it. The Devils record for fastest goal is 8 seconds by Kirk Muller and Alexander Semak. Jagr made it 2-0 with a snap shot from the right circle for his 24th goal of the season and 705th of his career. His three assists gave him 1,047, two behind Gordie Howe for eighth in NHL history. The blowout seemed on a little more than two minutes later when Zajac scored during a power play. Things got worse for the Panthers when captain Ed Jovanovski was given a four-minute roughing penalty for taking out his frustration on Ryan Carter with 4:14 left in the period. However, that woke up the Panthers. Kulikov scored a short-handed goal on a nice setup by Nick Bjugstad at 17:22. Boyes cut the deficit to 3-2 early in the second by outfighting Fayne along the boards and beating Brodeur with a top-shelf backhander from the right circle. Clowe restored the two-goal lead a little more than two minutes later by converting Zajacs pass, but Pirri — standing high in the slot– deflected a shot by Dylan Olsen past a startled Brodeur to make it 4-3. Devils coach Pete DeBoer then pulled Brodeur — who seemed blameless on the goals — in favour of Schneider. He stopped eight shots the rest of the period, including a power-play breakaway by Scottie Upshall. Jacobson restored the Devils two goal lead with a short-handed goal at 4:02, and Zajac capped his big night with his 16th of the season. NOTES: This is the Panthers final road trip of the season. They will play the New York Islanders on Tuesday and then return home for their final five games. … Florida G Roberto Luongo missed his second straight game because of an upper-body injury. … Devils rookie D Jon Merrill sat out after being hit in the cheek with a puck on Saturday. Adam Larsson was recalled from Albany (AHL) to replace him. Defencemen Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov sat out with lower-body injuries. Cheap NFL Jerseys China ‘ ‘ ‘

October 11, 2015

Metabolism: Cristin Richard, Detroit Design Festival, 25-Sep-2015

by Jim Welke

Metabolism / Cristin Richard photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

Metabolism / Cristin Richard
photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

Invited to participate in Detroit Design Festival 2015 (September 22-26, 2015), Detroit artist Cristin Richard presented her one night installation, Metabolism, in the c.1927 Detroit Savings Bank building at 5001 Grand River (near Warren; formerly occupied by Kunsthalle). In addition, she collaborated with Simone Else to create delicate bondage implements overlaid with intestines shown in the bank vault. (More about that follows.)

Metabolism comprised the main attraction for this ambitious, moody, soulful, one-night show. The installation consisted of a video projected large–twelve feet or so high–on the rear wall of the bank building main floor. As you entered the darkened room, illuminated only by the projected imagery of the video, you found yourself confronted by a languid, nubile siren (Emilee Burnadette Austin) tearing diaphanous bits of yellow, green, and ochre colored pig intestine from her otherwise nude body. In accompaniment you heard an eerie, raspy soundtrack by Detroit musician/composer Nate Czarling (info on him here & here) that emits scratched phonograph record sounds mixed with a repeating strings riff, alongside a Morse-code-like percussion on a cowbell-ish device.

Metabolism (intro) by TT Moross
The repetition, phonograph-record-skip-like, over and over, hypnotizes the listener, draws them into a receptive, passive, yet enervated state while the girl on the screen peels off the detritus of civilization–her clothing–clothing shattered, extraneous and superfluous. Ms. Richard constructed that clothing, as translucent and feathery as bits of sloughed sunburned skin, from the flotsam of mass-slaughter in our invisible industrial abattoirs. But you might not know this yet–that the enigmatic being on the screen peels off bits of animal offal–as you observe, transfixed, submerged in the cabin pressure of Mr. Czarling’s audio ecosystem. You watch: peel-peel-peel. You hear: skip-skip-skip. And then your eyes adjust to your tenebrous surroundings, someone else occupies the room: a girl, youthful, and naked but for wisps of that translucent intestinal fabric settled on the landscape of her lithe body, dead and laid out in a coffin. At least, she’s dead to you. You feel disoriented, in another country, a strange land with strange customs.

Metabolism / Cristin Richard photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

Metabolism / Cristin Richard photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

Richard, on her website, describes her work this way:

…It transforms and regenerates in poetic and unpredictable ways.  In the majority of her work, she reconstructs animal intestines into tangible objects. Playing on the ambiguity, created by the presence of this material, she develops metaphors loaded with complexities.

…With the idea of fashion as sculpture, Cristin Richard blurs the line between fine art and fashion.  She believes that fashion allows one to create a second skin.  It provides an escape that is rooted in the truth to one’s own identity.

Yoko Ono expressed thoughts on feminism, fashion, and subjugation of women when she created her performance “Cut Piece” in 1964 (excerpt here). While distinctly different in form and intent–Ono performed the piece, with audience participation–Richard’s work does follow from it in the sense that it puts the female form on a stage, not for entertainment as we have done at the expense of women for centuries, but more so as trial evidence. And then Richard brings in the added dilemma of our obsession in Western Civilization with mass-marketed, mechanistic consumerism, in this case our often callous consumption of animals bred, raised, and killed solely for us to devour in a frenzy of overfed fast-food surfeit. Cristin Richard, in “Metabolism” seems to ask that we run the film of our existence in reverse; in fact, that we imagine a reversion to a more primal past when clothing served more for protection against cold and predators. The animals we pursued then sometimes pursued us. And consumed us. Animals provoked us to respect them as physical and intellectual forces. Most pre-historic and modern aboriginal cultures harbor reverence for animals they hunt. They recognize in them spirits to honor. And they squander very little of the animals they fell. They never take them for granted, and they never hunt beyond the needs of subsistence. To do so would imperil the existence of both them and their prey.

But we, in our mechanized, me-first civilization stray from our ancestral roots. We treat animals as lifeless commodities and rather than public reverence we hide away from view the animals we kill in “meat processing plants.” We deny these living, breathing beings the honor they deserve while we dump their flesh wrapped in plastic in supermarket refrigerator bins or Styrofoam take-away packages.

Richard seems to want to slap us upside the head for our arrogance and hubris; to remind us that we share much in common with the animals we consume, that we consume too much, and that we need to peel away, layer by layer, the excesses of our culture. One solution is to regress like Ms. Austin in the video toward innocent disavowal of unneeded attire, toward a less self-absorbed, self-conscious perspective. But between the observer and the projected video, that enigmatic corpse lies in state. Is the video projected here like those melancholy videos created by suicide bombers prior to self-destruction?

Is the girl in the casket the girl in the video? Did she shed her corporeal connection to civilization at the expense of her life? Is Richard telling us that our modern, cultivated entanglements–our overly elaborate food, clothing, shelter, and transportation–imperil us even if we back away from them? Have our material entanglements embedded themselves in our psyches so deeply that to eschew them is the equivalent of suicide? Is it really impossible to get back to the Garden and a place of simplicity and authenticity?

That, at least, is what this writer saw projected on the screen and lying in the casket in that old bank building. Once you removed yourself from the enveloping video with funeral casket and soundscape that Richard and Czarling parachute you into, you moved into a room that housed the Detroit Savings Bank vault. This room presented a soundtrack different from the track in the lobby: Metabolism II. (VAULT) by TT Moross

photo: Jim Welke

Metabolism / Cristin Richard & Simone Else
photo: Jim Welke

Arrayed on two tables in this unventilated crypt-like room Richard and fellow artist Simone Else present their collaborative effort: a collection of everyday, and not so everyday objects, that when observed collectively suggest sexual bondage, or at least sex with a spicy flavor. But these objects take on a more complex meaning, here in this savings bank vault. (Savings bank vault, epicenter of white bread American delusions of permanent security!) What might otherwise offhandedly be construed as sex toys, here appear wrapped ever so delicately, precisely, and carefully in a patina of that same animal intestine that decorates the dead and living women in the grand but decrepit bank lobby. Again, you may not know at first that what decorates, surrounds, and subsumes these objects is in fact that same pellucid membrane adorning those women in the funereal lobby. But you read the text that accompanies the show, and you learn and consider this.

Metabolism / Cristin Richard & Simone Else photo: Jim Welke

Metabolism / Cristin Richard & Simone Else
photo: Jim Welke

Else and Richard might suggest with their work here that those things we consume, those beings that we presume to dominate, in fact dominate us. That we become embedded in our excesses, and by allowing that to happen, we allow ourselves to be altered, controlled by our appetites that ultimately circle back and consume us, like the self-consuming snake, or ouroboros, of which Carl Jung suggests:

This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which [...] unquestionably stems from man’s unconscious.

The self-consuming snake implies renewal, or a nagging desire for it; but a renewal preceded by self-destruction. So following this paradigm, we have a future: a future that does not include us.

Overall, the narrative of Richard’s “Metabolism”–lobby and vault–might be a cautionary tale, a looking outward by this artist who seems to see peril on the horizon of our human political and cultural landscape. Like most hegemonic civilizations, our global, interconnected, technology-empowered, overfed society, with so many pushed to the margins by relentless poverty, will likely founder as our Sumerian, Egyptian, Mayan, Aztec, Chinese, Greek and Roman predecessors did.

At a more basic level, as most top of the food chain mammals go, one million years seems to be about the limit before extinction unceremoniously knocks them from the tree of life. We humans, at least as a genus, are these days at about 2.5 million years–a bit past our prime. Then again, humans anatomically and behaviorally identical to us have been around for only about 200,000 years. So statistically, we may have a while to go. Still, there’s nothing to say we moderns don’t break out of the rut of tradition and statistics and extinct ourselves much sooner than our mammalian brethren.

So, if you cast your interpretive net wide, as this writer does, you see that the work shown in the old Detroit Savings Bank by Ms. Richard and her able collaborators, Else, Czarling, and Austin, takes on, if not kicks out, the very underpinnings of modern consumerist society. For that, the artist deserves an extra accolade: she looks inward first, but then outward at the cultural milieu that created her. Rather than being self-absorbed, she presents socially aware work. She offers an indictment of us all for blithely perpetuating the self-destructive world we live in. A slick attorney could submit numerous defenses to this indictment–it’s not a conviction after all–but Ms. Richard demands reflection followed by answers from all of us. And that takes courage on both a personal and professional level.

We might slip through on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, but unless greater society pays more attention to the evidence that such insightful artists and scientists present, and then change our self-destructive ways, the art and science may survive, locked away in vaults, but we humans will not.

Metabolism / Cristin Richard & Simone Else photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

Metabolism / Cristin Richard & Simone Else
photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

 

Metabolism / Cristin Richard & Simone Else photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

Metabolism / Cristin Richard & Simone Else
photo: Bruno Vanzieleghem

Metabolism: Cristin Richard, Detroit Design Festival, 25-Sep-2015

 

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June 11, 2013

Christopher Samuels :: New Works and Short Films

Christopher Samuels: New Works & Short Films opened on Saturday, 8-June 2013 at Popps Packing in Hamtramck.

For the show, Mr. Samuels divided the gallery into three rooms, one for film screening, one for dance, and one for installation work. For the latter, Mr. Samuels transformed the gallery itself into an installation. When you enter, your first thought might be, “What the hell?” The works make use of artifacts of the room to cloud the distinction between artwork and gallery. The gallery is the artwork. You will not see a white cube with objects and title cards beside them. In fact, the work here verges on participatory in the sense that the visitor feels disoriented, uncomfortable, unsure how to react — at least this one did, as did others asked for their reaction — visitors mill about, searching for landmarks in a strange dance of their own.

The room feels spare and industrial, unfinished. A sense of the place, Mr. Samuels said, dictated what happened in the room. He looked around at the odd shaped walls, with alcoves and doorways, and tweaked them with objects he placed thereabout. He hoped the objects would feel organic, he said. They do, but at the same time they are jarring — like a tumor, organic but indicative of illness. An LED light down under a sewer grate, glows upward like a compound-eyed alien trapped beneath the iron bars.

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A set of clinical white curtains across a wide doorway to an alcove, backlit with harsh florescent light, forms another work. That streaming glare from between those curtains, like an operating room dropped into this high-ceilinged former industrial space feels spooky; it almost makes you shudder, and it might if you were alone in that room.

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A semi-circular florescent tube set on top of a pipe outlet inset into the battered concrete floor, the electrical parts of the lamp concealed by a rag, glowed like a strange interface to some unseen, menacing machine.

Nearby, prints of three prismatic color smears in various orientations and resolutions hang beside a simple gray scale transition; all unlabeled, as though readily interpretable or usable to those in the know. But you are not in the know. At least not when you enter this room.

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A projector down near the floor shines the image of a hand, index finger extended, pointing to something unseen on the floor. A piece of glass, propped between the projector and the wall at a forty-five degree angle redirects a washed out facsimile of the moving, gesturing, imploring hand onto the adjacent wall.

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Shreds of foliage adorn an apparently functional gas meter, pipes projecting from a wall and disappearing through the concrete floor. The foliage might be reclaiming this room for Mother Nature, except the foliage is dead and desiccated. Reclamation aborted.

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A black and orange plastic spool rests inexplicably in the center of the room, in peril of stray kicks by passersby. No matter, its relevance, or irrelevance persists.

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Black plastic netting drapes the corner of one wall. Remnants of a former purpose that now only form patterns.

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Up high, concealing a row of windows, Mr. Samuels installed a semi-transparent mural comprised of multiple sheets turned out to the street. During the day, you see the mural in the room, but reversed, like a window sign. At night, the image fades and the sheets take on a pale blue due to insufficient light penetrating from outside.

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In the next room, Mr. Samuels ran his short films in a continuous loop. They are: Indian Shield (4:56), Loosie (4:00), Indian Jim (5:24). All of them projected a haunting sense that disaster lurked around the corner, but all imply disaster might yet be averted. The saturated color hints they were shot on 16mm film, but this effect could be digital magic. The sound comes a bit muffled at times, especially in a crowded room; words get lost.

Indian Shield and Indian Jim featured the same actor, telling a self-revealing story, but from slightly different perspectives. In Hollywood’s reductive shorthand, think Midnight Cowboy meets Blue Velvet: the images seem straightforward, but the soundtrack and the editing create a nasty sense of foreboding. Both feature a man recovering from a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, but both were about more than that. Indian Shield included additional actors, scenes of the roiling surface of the sun (Indian shield?) and a narrator telling of times when it is safe to stare into its glare. A party, after much tossing back of shots, ends with a peculiar toast to art. The film ends with the lead actor and another man doing Tai Chi beside a porta-john, aching it seems to keep their shit together, even if they are the only ones who believe they actually might.

Indian Jim features the same actor and the same shoulder injury, but he does pushups here, insists on recovery, and ends with the man, shot face on, riding a bike through downtown Detroit at night. With both of these films, one gets the sense of watching a stranger kicked to the curb by a capricious labor market in a post-industrial town where a man without formal education credentials, or adequate drive to re-create himself, ends up disenchanted, deluded, and desperate for a leg up from a society that mostly doesn’t give a damn about him and wishes he would disappear. But he won’t — Mr. Samuels proves that.

Loosie, opens with a woman walking on the sidewalk in a rundown neighborhood. Soon she arrives at a dingy home. She rattles off numerous banal hardships in her life with a cigarette scratched voice, until she finally describes her home as a jail where no one visits. There are lots of close in shots, and her suffering infects the viewer with a desperate sense of malaise. The film ends with Loosie walking down the same sidewalk towards an unknown destination. Things may turn out all right, but one senses that for an impoverished and disenfranchised woman, life is nasty, brutish, and (mercilessly) short.

Towards the end of the evening as scheduled for the opening, Paul Bancell, Megan Major and Sam Horning performed a dance piece that both complemented and extended Mr. Samuels’ transformation of the gallery. They all moved with grace and emanated emotion that suddenly made the small space allotted to their performance seem large. Their use of the “found” stage — not a formal stage with formal lighting and formal wings — mirrored Mr. Samuels’ adaptation of the gallery space. The movement flowed effortlessly and gorgeously from the dancers, and this old meatpacking plant became somewhere else; took on a new set of dimensions.

Mr. Samuels’ show takes the typical polished, tightly curated gallery show and smacks it in the head. This is not the sort of show where “the women come and go / talking of Michelangelo.” You should feel out of your element here, whomever you are. The artwork of Mr. Samuels breaks standard assumptions about the presentation and constitution of art and erases standard descriptive vocabulary for such events. The art here might be described as dadaist (anti-art, embraces chaos, opposes conventional standards); postminimalist (uses existing objects, esthetic depends on form); fluxus (mixes media: sculptural objects, prints, painting, mural, film, music, dance, the gallery space, the audience, the happening, all of it!).

Or maybe its none of that, and just happens to be what Christopher Samuels gives us. No matter how you describe it, Mr. Samuels took a risk conceiving and presenting this show. It’s an all or nothing, what have you done for me lately world for artists, and one misstep can send their career off the rails. So I do define what the artist did here as real risk, requiring real premeditation, and that, aside from subjective artistic merit, is what separates this from what any six year old can do (to refute a remark in a review by a British newspaper of a Henry Moore show). We all need to be smacked in the head once in a while. The show runs through 29-June.

Here’s a poem to ponder:

Apology

Why do I write today?

The beauty of
the terrible faces
of our nonentities
stirs me to it:

colored women
day workers—
old and experienced—
returning home at dusk
in cast off clothing
faces like
old Florentine oak.

Also

the set pieces
of your faces stir me—
leading citizens—
but not
in the same way.

William Carlos Williams

 

May 27, 2013

HPOP Pops In Hamtramck

by Jim Welke

activities in the green space getting underway...

activities in the green space getting underway…

HPOP, a pop up art fest in downtown Hamtramck (south of Caniff on Joseph Campau) burst into existence Memorial Day weekend starting on Saturday afternoon and running through Monday evening. As described by the main sponsor, Interstate Arts:

HPOP activates Hamtramck’s main business corridor along Joseph Campau street with pop-up art galleries, events, activities and spectacle, drawing guests to explore all Hamtramck has to offer while inspiring locals to re-envision what is possible in our underutilized spaces.

Industrial Post and the City of Hamtramck also sponsored HPOP.

HPOP organizers include: Jason Friedmann, Christina Galasso, Sara Lapinski, George Rahme and Shoshanna Utchenik. But longtime resident, musician, and composer James Cornish, along with many others, contributed immeasurable time and energy.

Shoshanna Utchenik said the initial plan was to create gallery spaces inside vacant shops along Joseph Campau. She and others repeatedly met with property owners, but ultimately the owners resisted opening vacant spaces to streams of visitors due to liability and other concerns. In the end, HPOP organizers secured permission from property owners to install artworks in shop windows where passersby could view them. While this reduced the number of works to show, it did not dilute the goal of offering an expanded vision for underutilized space, and bringing art to Hamtramck residents and visitors in a venue more accessible than a traditional gallery or museum setting.

In addition to the visual art in shop windows, HPOP also offered live music and dance performances in the green space and the square across the street. One performance that I witnessed was danced by Kristi Faulkner and Oihana Elizalde of Kristi Faulkner Dance. Lamarre and Dancers also  performed earlier in the day.

I attended HPOP on Saturday, and I think the organizers exceeded their own expectations, whether they realize it or not. While it is easy to dismiss such efforts as quixotic, what I saw on Saturday countered any such notion. The streets of Hamtramck, a pedestrian friendly town with lots of small shops frequented by residents, bustled with parents leading kids by the hand, teenagers roaming around, and elderly men and women who move slowly, but show keen interest in goings on. All slowed and many stopped to ponder the paintings, photographs, fashion, sculpture, and crafts offered in the windows by HPOP. The hungry found great offerings from Native Kitchen’s health-conscious, “eclectic and alternative cuisine.”

I could be wrong but my guess is most of these pedestrians did not set out with the intention of seeing art. Surely they did not expect to witness it in vacant shop windows, and if they walked past a gallery on the way to the grocery store, most kept walking.

But on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday pedestrians brushed up against art they otherwise would never have seen. And the thing about art, especially art encountered unexpectedly and without preconceptions, is that you can not encounter it without incurring an impression. It’s sort of like two atoms ripping through the vacuum of space. They pass one another, they remain intact, but each is minutely altered by the exchange of energy that occurs. In the case of HPOP, the residents saw new art; their train of thought diverged from whatever they happened to be preoccupied with prior, and they saw new possibilities — for themselves and their families, for their town, for the whole planet.

That might sound like hyperbole, but consider the insidious effects of the perpetual media onslaught these pedestrians are subjected to daily. Often we absorb such background noise almost unconsciously, but I think no one would dispute how persuasive that noise can be: it alters buying habits, bends political views, and affects self-esteem by binding one’s position in the social fabric. Hence we have advertising and biased political coverage (propaganda to some) with proven and measurable efficacy.

In the case of art encountered on the street, the viewer does not raise the same defenses as they do to familiar and suspect media sources. Most approach art during these encounters with an open mind. If you think that might not be true, stand next to a public artwork and ask people what they think. Most will openly share their impression, perhaps a bit tentatively, even self-consciously, but they will give fair consideration to the object before them. And I think residents and visitors to the stretch of Joseph Campau brightened by HPOP over Memorial Day weekend did exactly that. Many times during my visit, I watched passersby slow, point to the pictures in the windows, musicians in the green space next to Lo and Behold Records, or dancers in the park, and then turn to their companions with a smile and a few words. Some lingered for a while, some moved on, but all took notice.

To me, to the organizers of HPOP, and especially to the artists — the other atom brushed by that collision — these moments mean that perceptions were altered and lives were changed. Cynics might dispute this, but I think if you ask people who actually saw the art and gave it at least a few seconds of open-minded, un-jaded consideration you will see that HPOP favorably modified the impromptu attendee’s perception of art, and most importantly, favorably modified their perception of the city where they encountered it.

With Detroit facing the possibility of artworks from its prize museum and cultural mainstay, the Detroit Institute of Arts, put up for auction, events such as HPOP generate optimism for a town’s future, which means residents will be less willing to part with key cultural assets to meet short term financial shortfalls. Public events like HPOP dampen despair along with willingness to countenance desperate and craven measures by politicians ready to throw residents’ interests under the bus (which will probably come late) in favor of influential creditors. At the same time as they boost optimism and civic self-esteem, events such as HPOP instill residents with the sense that artists create art for them, and that residents share with everyone the capacity to appreciate and benefit from art through an incrementally expanded view of the world and its inhabitants.

So, bravo for the organizers and artists (visual and performance) who made HPOP happen, and others who make events like HPOP happen elsewhere. And cheers for the folks passing by who take the time to appreciate the gifts laid before them.

The artists included:

James Cornish

Stephen Garrett Dewyer

Holliday Martindale

Rebekka Parker

Christopher Schneider

Andy Thompson

In parallel with HPOP, Andy Thompson, a local artist and art instructor at several universities and colleges (including College for Creative Studies, Oakland University, University of Michigan), curated 1° of Separation at Public Pool Artspace (3309 Caniff). The show featured work by numerous artists taught over the years by Mr. Thompson — hence the name. The show was engaging and diverse. See photos of that show on the artifizz facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/artifizz

(Sorry for the un-attributed artworks in the photos — my bad — any help with the names will be much appreciated.)

inflatable sculpture in shop window (artist unknown)

inflatable sculpture in shop window Sean Hages and Chelsea Depner

fashion designs (artist unknown)

fashion design, LaTsyrc by CrystalNicole Purifoy

painting in shop window (artist unknown)

painting in shop window (artist unknown)

photo in a shop window by Chris Schneider

photo in a shop window by Chris Schneider

July 21, 2012

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 — A Modest Defense

Diana & Actaeon -- Titian, 1556-1559 -- National Gallery, London -- artifizz

Diana & Actaeon -- Titian, 1556-1559 -- National Gallery, London

I share here a comment I posted, which I wrote as a reply to a critic’s explanation of a review he made of the exhibition currently on at the National Gallery in London, “Metamorphosis: Titian 2012“. The critic replied to a request I posted for explanation of his negative take on Chris Ofili’s and Conrad Shawcross’ contributions to the multi-media show. I found his review, and his reply offhanded and not very thoughtful, and it really bugged me, so I posted the following, which might be a bit over the top:

Thanks for the quick reply.I haven’t seen Mr. Ofili & Shawcross’ commissioned works (except one or two pictures), so I am in no position to critique them. But from the reviews I’ve read, all the contributions to this ambitious exhibition do have merit worthy of at least a few more words than those you gave them in your review. To be honest, your review, and the title you gave it (with a reference to “pervs”) angered me a bit. It felt like an over the shoulder remark given with a dismissive wave of the hand. But that’s my opinion.

I would venture further to say that the effort by the National Gallery to situate the Titian works in a modern context represents the best purpose of such institutions. Exhibitions like “Metamorphosis: Titian 2012″ illustrate why it is essential that civilization cultivate and patronize the arts, both with attendance at shows, and with public funding: they offer rare moments of reflection on our too often woeful condition. Civilization without art ceases to be civilized. Our museums, theatres, opera houses, dance stages, orchestra halls and libraries are our most precious collective possessions. They map not only the past, but our future via the force of inspiration. Without them, the web of shared history and wisdom that binds us together in the ineffable grander scheme dissipates and dissolves. We stare into the abyss and find nothing redeeming; existential angst overwhelms aspiration, and we descend into nihilistic, self-serving anarchy. As we create, so do we destroy. Witness the library at Alexandria, witness the persecution of “magic” during the reign of the brothers Valens and Valentinian, Roman emperors who drove philosophers to burn their own libraries. I happen to be reading “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (an abridged version edited by Dero Saunders — worth a look!), and there is a footnote on book burning (p. 474):

“The persecution against philosophers and their libraries was carried out with such fury that from this time (A.D. 374) the names of the Gentile philosophers became almost extinct,” said Dean Milman, of Gibbon’s editors. “Besides vast heaps of manuscripts publicly destroyed throughout the East, men of learning burned their whole libraries lest some fatal volume expose them to the malice of the informers and the extreme penalty of the law.”

Suppression of learning and art occurred during the Inquisition. It happens in the US when benighted politicians score points with a too easily fooled electorate by cutting cultural funding below its already shamefully anemic level. Antiquity fell under siege after the US invaded Iraq, and looters destroyed museums and libraries while indifferent leaders of the occupiers did nothing. I live near Detroit, where the Detroit Institute of Arts struggles to put a referendum on the ballot to provide modest but essential funding, and demagogues rail against “lefty priorities.”

So to me, when someone courageous invites inevitable scorn by undertaking an exhibition like this one at the National Gallery, I think those of us who put any value at all on art owe it to them to grant them more than a cursory aside. We owe it to them to recognize the necessity of muses; our collective appetite for grace. From other reviews I’ve read, I suspect this exhibition offers both. You say you found Mr. Ofili and Shawcross’ works jarring. But isn’t that exactly what Titian’s work was, in contrast to the forced (and likely hypocritical) piety and devotion to Christianity prevalent at the time? From what I gather, all of the works commissioned for this show are jarring in one way or another, and that is exactly what we should be thankful for. I listened to the poems, read by the poets, available on the National Gallery website. They varied widely, and some strayed far from both Ovid and Titian. But they got me thinking how little things have changed since Romans burned books, or guys like Actaeon were murdered for being “pervs.” Let’s defend and nurture our better angels, and let our petty ones perish from neglect. We owe ourselves that.

And you, Sir, are blessed with two things that I, candidly, would cut off my own hand for: a bully pulpit and a willing audience. Cherish them both, and put them to good use. You have my admiration and respect. You’re one of the good guys.

I invite readers’ comments…

June 24, 2012

Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth :: Matt Zacharias

Matt Zacharias, in his solo exhibition at Re:View Contemporary Gallery (444 W. Willis, #112, Detroit) unselfconsciously maps the landscape of his youth in a series of multi-media works that zoom in on the terrain of his formative years. Mr. Zacharias, via technical mastery of collage and subtle brushwork, plus meticulous selection of printed imagery, offers visitors to Re:View between now and July 7th free transportation to a realm of recollections and reflections.

rock star plan, matt zacharias, review gallery, detroit

“Rock Star Plan” (panel II)
Matt Zacharias, Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit
photo: Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit

Mr. Zacharias initiated the most expansive work, “Rock Star Plan”, a series of five panels, each five feet tall and four feet wide, with a visit from “The Wallpaper Lady,” a woman contracted to lay down vintage 1960’s wallpaper on the panels to create a base layer for the collage to follow. The wallpaper approximates wallpaper found in a room Mr. Zacharias inhabited as a boy, a room in a relative’s home, where his foremost concern before moving in was whether or not he could hang his posters on the wall. To his relief, his host agreed he could. That Mr. Zacharias carried a recollection of wallpaper with him for so many years attests to nascent design sensibilities incubated ever since. He remembers that wallpaper, and many more visual components of his youth, and now they form the core of the work in his current exhibition. Old photos, play lists from bands, band posters: they all offer insights into an evolving mind. Here, the whole resolves as other (greater) than the sum of the parts –- stand back and look at the whole “Rock Star Plan” series and comprehend in an instant the essence of this child. Or, move in close and read captions and clippings, focus on individual images as they flicker past your eye and grasp subliminally at your consciousness. You find yourself transported to fleeting moments cached in memories, the artist’s internal past. As the gestalt of the works populating the periphery of the room — the whole other than the sum — grips you, your mind wanders down the shadowy alleys of your own past. Neurons fire and spark memories you think evaporated. Proust’s ghost passes you the magical madeleine. Memory and subliminal perception are potent forces; Mr. Zacharias toys with them in “Rock Star Plan”, and throughout the exhibition.

"Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth," Matt Zacharias, Re:View Gallery, Detroit

“Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth”
Matt Zacharias, Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit
photo: Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit

The title work of the show, “Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth” draws that title from Tolstoy’s first three novels: “Childhood,” “Boyhood,” and “Youth,” published starting in 1852 when Tolstoy was twenty-three. Preternaturally sage for his years (although life appears to have progressed at an accelerated pace back then), Tolstoy wrote: “Will the freshness, lightheartedness, the need for love, and strength of faith which you have in childhood ever return? What better time than when the two best virtues — innocent joy and the boundless desire for love — were the only motives in life?” Tolstoy evoked an expressionistic style with these works, sparking the imagination of readers with flashes of emotion predicated on facts filtered by the lens of perception — the whole is other than the sum of the parts. But Mr. Zacharias borrows only the words from Tolstoy’s titles and fragments of Tolstoy’s themes. “Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth,” is comprised of a triptych roughly the dimensions  – about seven feet square – of triptychs you see propped behind diminutive altars of thousand-year-old village churches in Italy. The work perches on the edifice of expressionism with its evocative flashes of childhood and adolescent years embodied in images of illusive, overly preened TV actors; stark, derivative Warhol-esque opening graphics for the shows the actors starred in; the stylish silhouettes of Stingray bicycles (as my crowd called them) with banana seats, so popular then for their modishness (but way too heavy for their size); a space capsule and spaceman in requisite “high-tech” rubber suit –- innocent and quaint in their technical inadequacy now; excerpts from the so pervasive TV Guide, an ephemeral fixture on the little table beside the La-Z-Boy in every middle class living room. That designers of the opening and closing credits of TV shows borrowed shamelessly from the counterculture work of Warhol amuses Mr. Zacharias. We see images from TV shows like “The Wild Wild West” (in “Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth”) and “The Partridge Family” (in “Rock Star Plan”) that evoke Warhol; images which, at the time, were revolutionary.

Andy Warhol tore labels off mass-produced fixtures of everyday existence to create counter-culture icons; he adopted 8mm movie cameras sold to eager consumers with the promise of capturing idyllic, living, breathing family moments and captured instead unsettling interludes of hedonistic excess. Via co-opted components of consumerism, Warhol challenged the cultural complacency that co-existed amidst “cold” war and looming nuclear armegeddon. Warhol forced us to reassess our assumptions about survival and pursuit of happiness, and Mr. Zacharias does too.

"Flipbook, Vol. II (Pages 60-95)", Matt Zacharias, Re:View Gallery, Detroit

“Flipbook, Vol. II (Pages 60-95)”
Matt Zacharias, Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit
photo: Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit

As innocence gave way to the pragmatic demands of existence, Mr. Zacharias joined the Navy. His tenure with the Navy did not turn out like stories you hear from “The Greatest Generation.” His experience, his generation’s experience, was more prosaic, less heroic, and possibly more revelatory. His spell with the Navy ended abruptly and absent conventional glory, as so often the mostly unvoiced stories of soldiers and sailors do. But out of the rubble, Mr. Zacharias formed the raw, wry, and pervasively satirical reflections that constitute these works. An image of a trench coat clad man running with unmistakable urgency to or from something unseen features in “Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth” and “Flipbook, Vol. II (pages 60 – 95)”. The image lends motion and continuity to these works — we flee from the past and rush toward the future. In “C.O. Accessory Kit” a work comprised of meticulous design elements suggestive of a mass-produced toy, Mr. Zacharias presents the ultimate anti-hero for American culture — the Conscientious Objector (C.O.), the passive alter ego of our militaristic culture and collective impulse to dominate the planet. The execution is flawless, and the satire is unmistakable. We can not help but sympathize with an earnest escapee from the military industrial complex, but at the same time we sense impending doom for the man. The herd will overtake and envelope him, no matter how fast the C.O. in the dark trench coat runs.

Don’t be overtaken by the herd. Go see these works by Matt Zacharias. The show is up at Re:View until July 7th. And visit the gallery next door, See Art + Design. You’ll find a permanent collection, exhibitions, and an emphasis on design that fills a void in the Detroit gallery scene.

Catch a Metro Times interview with Mr. Zacharias here: http://metrotimes.com/arts/sonic-manhood-1.1325441?localLinksEnabled=false

“C.O. Accessory Kit” Matt Zacharias Re:View Gallery Detroit

“C.O. Accessory Kit”
Matt Zacharias, Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit
photo: Re:View Contemporary Gallery, Detroit