Monday, February 25, 2008

Yeah, Once in a While I Still Look at the Shit

My blogging habits are disappointing, at best (to indicate how disappointing, I should mention that I started this post a week ago). I should be out there, trackin' down that Houston Art World (still, in my mind, an oxymoron)and pronouncing judgment in my usual erudite and articulate fashion. But am I? Heck, no. I'm sitting in front of the TV, allowing young tads like Sean Carroll to blog their brains out and show what a slug yours truly really is.

But hey, I do look at art once in a while, and, on even rarer occasions, I write about it. And I actually left the compound not one day, but a mindboggling two, specifically to see some shows. I think I should receive some kind of award. So here we go! Yippee.

On Friday night I saw Aaron Parazette's show at McClain Gallery, which was eye-popping fun. Sure, you think about your eyeballs popping out of your head, and the last thing you think is 'fun'. Ha. Me Funny. But so much of Aaron's work does revolve around exciting things (surfing) and cool things (surfers), while the vibrancy of the colors, the rather wacky effect imparted by the jumbled-up letters (which spell out words I generally don't understand, anyway, as I don't know surfer lingo), and the tiny pinstripes of color edging each letter all add up to a pretty powerful visual impact. And the work looked great at McClain gallery--it had that white cube thing going, but with a bit more warmth (is it the windows?) than I've seen in a really slick space in a while. If whatever brainiac who desiged the gallery had thought about parking, well, things would be perfect over there.

Next, I hustled over to the Station Museum to see the AES + F exhibition. One of my friends (whose opinion I trust--a rarity, indeed)told me that this Russian collective's work was her favorite thing at the last Venice Biennale.

Well, shucks, I don't know what spins the wheels of them thar furriners, but this exhibition left me, for the most part, as cold as the corpses that were featured, with fancy clothing fotoshopped upon their dessicated hides, in the front gallery of the exhibition space. As I mentioned, this portion of the exhibition was a series of life-sized (perhaps a bit smaller) photos of corpses with fancy clothes put on them. They were exhibited in these glowing light boxes. I was kinda bugged by the whole concept. OK, fine, there's this rotting post-mortality sporting worldly goods. Wow, what a concept. Why didn't somebody from Tales of the Crypt think of something so gol'-danged cool? Oh. Yeah. He or she did. All they really needed to do to slam-dunk a heavy-hander like that would have been to make it a two-person show with Sharon Kopriva.

I have to say, too, that knowing the whole thing was done in Photoshop kind of made it worse. Now, don't get me wrong--it would be bad no matter how you slice it. But the infinite capabilities of Photoshop made the whole thing irritating. I mean, why not do something even cooler with Photoshop? Like make a dead lady with a face like a kitty-cat?


And then there was the seriously annoying, pedantic video. Complete with a score as melodramatic as something out of "The Ride of The Valkyries", this piece of overly pixelated slop was just tiring. Of course, the pixar-type imagery of big, evil, technological things choo-chooing and boom-booming and operatically crash-crashing through the landscape just had to be paired with a sub--oh, I'd say "plot", but you'd have to have a plot to have a subplot--of youths of different ages, creeds, and colors about to do nasty violences upon one another with big bats and knives and swords. Of course, the "real" people look oddly unreal (which I'm sure was the point), but I found myself wondering why, with all the makeup and digitization with even the real people, they didn't airbrush out one fellow's rather troubling acne.

And the operatic, laborious yet cloying, dramatic movements of the actors just added to the heavy-handed quality of the piece. OOOOOO! Violence bad! And here comes the evil choo-choo train, representing evil, insensitive industry!

I think I would have preferred, in the middle of all of this high-handed pomp, a gum-chomping Robert Duvall sauntering on-set, claiming that he loved the smell of napalm in the morning.

One part of the show I did really like, however, was a circular room featuring portraits of adolescent girls. The wall text reported that half of the girls were violent killers, while the other half were just regular-old Teen Beat readers (I can't decide which is more disturbing). The photos themselves were really crisp and nice, and I think I spent 20 minutes in there thinking, "Oh, that one over there, with the purple eyeshadow? Maybe she's the one who hacked up her Uncle Theo! No, wait--too obvious! Maybe it's the one with no makeup and barettes...No, maybe it's..."

Whoever the killers were, it didn't matter. I was fully engaged. And if they did happen to Photoshop these images, which I didn't think they did, they pulled it off without their typical, cheap-shot, Wagnerian drama.

Finally, I swung by for the final day of Katie Pells'"The Best That I Can Give You And Less Than Half of What You Deserve" in Lawndale's mezzanine gallery. I have to admit, I have a rather soft spot for Pell's combination of optimism, cynicism, and whimsy. Beautifully rendered blue and white pastel skies were framed by rather weird charcoal renditions of leering and grinning forest creatures. There were many scenes like this with wide, mirrored frames (not quite sure about those mirrors--they were very clean and square, whereas I think they might have been more effective as baroque and ornate)
on the side walls, but the best piece was the large wall mural, with a few mounted forest creature drawings scattered at the sides (does that make sense? they were standing up). One huge disappointment for me was that I erroneously assumed that, like many of the people who showed up at the opening, I would be able to get my picture taken in front of the mural. I like being part of the art. Dammit. That'll teach me to leave town for art openings. All in all, though, I think Pell's one of the more clever women artists I've seen. She's always full of surprises. Whee!

Well, that's my dated report. Most of the shows are closed now. I'm in NY for a while, livin' la vida Brooklyn. So if I run across anything that I can be ultra-bitchy about, I'll be sure to talk about it. And, seeing as how the Whitney Biennial opens in a few days, and all of the revolting art fairs open at the end of the month, I don't see how I'll be able to avoid it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Wonderful Way to Waste Hours on the Web

James Westcott, of the online mag Art Review asked me to mention the publication in my blog. Normally, I would blow off such a request, but I really do like this site. There's all kindsa crap on it, from written reviews and artist vids to an artist registry and forum. It's nicely designed (but what the fuck would I know about design? I'm about as qualified to talk about the quality of design as I am to talk about the characteristics of fine wine. Do I like it? Does is taste better than a tumbler full of Boone's Farm? Let's just say that my scope is relatively limited.)

One thing that I really love on this site are the man-on-the-streets video art reviews. There's one by James Kalm on the Luc Tuymans show at David Zwirner that is just great. It's like, "Hey, I just hopped off my bike and here I am at this gallery, and here's what some critics have said, and here's a bunch of out-of-focus and wobbly footage of paintings and people at the opening!" I really do like that. I think all art coverage should be like this.

Also, if you do go to this video, pay attention to one of the opening attendees--a seriously bottled blonde wearing a dress that clasps at the neck and exposes all of her back down past the waist. Some serious butt crackage goin' on there.

If you're like me and spend far more time surfing the net than is recommended for the health, I think you'll find something here to amuse you for so many hours you will forget that you could be doing your own work.