CHECKING OUT THAT SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW VIBE

This year, the annual curator-driven art show, Spring/Break chose Transaction as its theme.  That was executed sweetly during the press conference when co-founders Ambre Kelly & Andrew Gori got married at the top of the stairs in a endearingly funny ceremony, where the bride took a phone call in the middle of her vows, directing a wine distributor to the loading dock of their after party location.

Spring/Break is one of the Armory Week attractions I try not to miss, it unapologetically has fun with art – blocking out the cynical in favor of its ‘Look at what I did Ma’ art school vibe.  This year it moved out of the Old School on Mott Street in Nolita (making way for a depressing condo development), to the Moynihan Station.  The new space retained that feeling of being sent off to the races – with a familiar three-floor execution of exhibits – room after room of romping and art browsing.  The rooms can be a showdown of hit-or-miss aesthetics, but I continue to enjoy the discovery beyond each door.

Here’s a list of the rooms we loved walking thru.

Free ft. Oliver Jeffers curated by Marc Azoulay

We caught artist Olivers Jeffers in the midst of his dipping performance.  Jeffers and his assistants fill a custom built box with gallons of colored paint – the painting is then submerged and lifted out. It’s positioned over a thick sheet of paper impregnated with Jeffer’s handwritten words – excerpts from the sitters interview – these too disappear beneath the spread of the paint.  An esthetically pleasing yet haunting reminder that words too like images can be a fading memory.

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Oliver Jeffers, Dipped Painting Performance

 

Bazaar Teens curated by Dustin Yellin

I found Dustin Yellin nailing stale bread to a wall in a dank and musty room that carried nauseating smells of dirt, and coffee. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders when I asked him what was going on. “Go in and find out,” he said.  I went through the maze of rooms taking it all in, and laughing to myself at the reactions of the other onlookers.  After stepping outside into the hallway, I googled it, reading quickly as I navigated the space a second time. Apparently, Yellin shredded ten grand from an anonymous donor.  The shredded money I saw being collaged onto canvases painted the shade of poop by artists clad in white plastic jumpsuits were going to be sold for ten grand a pop and the money used to send artists in need to school. I wondered if it was all a stunt, who would buy them, and praytell whose bright idea it was to paint canvases the shade of crap.

I don’t care what it was supposed to mean – I had fun nailing bread to the wall with Yellin and watching the mayhem ensue.

 

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Bazaar Teens installation, curated by Dustin Yellin

The Dead People Dead Flowers / Anne Nowak curated by Cassandra M. Johnson

Nowak collects dead flowers from graveyards and makes cyanoprints  – breathing new life into the flowers, she gives the sentiments of the living more time for the ones passed on.

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Installation by Anne Nowak, curated by Cassandra M. Johnson

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Installation by Anne Nowak, curated by Cassandra M. Johnson

Mail Art by Riitta Ikonen, curated by Yulia Topchiy

Over the past 11  years, Riitta Ikonen has been sending her grad school professor postcards constructed from a wide range of materials.  This visual diary of tangible objects defies what you think can be posted through the mail system.  They’re not an ordinary range of objects, but a thoughtful documentation of materials that reference the specifics of her time and locale.

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Mail art by Riitta Ikonen, curated by Yulia Topchiy

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Mail art by Riitta Ikonen, curated by Yulia Topchiy

 

Greed is Good / Fall on Your Sword curated by Andrew Gori & Ambre Kelly

Greed Is Good is an ‘immersive audio/visual wizard of oz-like spectacle of flying Champagne bottles, a giant sphere, original FOYS score and video’ based on Gordon Gecko’s speeches in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film, Wall Street.

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Fall On Your Sword, “Greed Is Good,” curated by Andrew Gori & Ambre Kelly

 

After the Fire is Gone Installation by Cate Giordano, curated by Eve Sussman & Simon Lee

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Installation by Cate Giordano, curated by Eve Sussman & Simon Lee

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Installation by Cate Giordano, curated by Eve Sussman & Simon Lee

Form & Formlessness: Objects and the Body curated by Peter Gynd

Taezoo Park

Installation by Taezoo Park, curated by Peter Gynd

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Installation by Taezoo Park, curated by Peter Gynd

Annulus curated by Corey Oberlander and Lindsey Stapleton

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Leah Piepgras under Cloud Mantle, curated by Corey Oberlander & Lindsey Stapleton

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Leah Piepgras _Cloud Mantles, curated by Corey Oberlander & Lindsey Stapleton

Christine Sciulli’s “Propulsion Field 4022″ light installation, curated by Tracy Causey Jeffrey

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Christine Sciulli’s “Propulsion Field 4022″ light installation, curated by Tracy Causey Jeffrey

 

Top 5 Art Shows of 2014

There was no polling of art aficionados, no pouring over magazines or newspaper reviews, and there’s definitely no big ballin’ art plays for likability listed below.  These shows made the list because I visited them more than once (that rarely ever happens) or my sensibilities were totally confounded by the creativity.  Shows that make that kind of impression can provide a year’s worth of conversational tidbits and a measure to which you might hold all others.  Aw, enough with that…these shows rocked my 2014.

Spring Break Art Show

It’s fun, fresh, and daring like newly graduated art school minds before they get crushed and compromised. This curator driven show, gets set up in an old schoolhouse during Armory Arts Week in New York. Yes, we know it’s technically an art fair. But the 2014 show, PublicPrivate won us over with installations that we talked up all-year-long.

Kara Walker: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby

Kara Walker’s Installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn was a “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” The exhibit was mind-blowing – from the overwhelmingly beautiful conceptual execution of the sugar-coated sphinx-like woman, to the very unexpected nauseating smell of burnt sugar permeating the hot factory.

A photo posted by @hahamag on

Swoon: Submerged Motherlands

Swoon’s intricate wheat-paste portraits normally grace New York buildings, but for Motherlands she went large-scale, telling landscaped stories against a backdrop of dramatically blue washed walls in the Brooklyn Museum rotunda. The star of the show was the massive sculptural tree that nearly kissed the rotunda’s 72 foot high glass domed ceiling.

David Lynch: The Unified Field

Lynch’s grime aesthetics found solace at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (PAFA), where he studied as an advanced painting student in 1967. The exhibit explored Lynch’s hybrid collection of works, displaying a delicate balance from disturbing narratives to richly descriptive lithographs. Unified Field is his world of opposites that he wanders in and out of at will.

Interhaven: The Works of Caitlin McCormack

McCormack’s sorted things in shadowboxes lay posed and gracefully still as if they once knew air – their layers of articulated overlapping crocheted beige string bones resembled the things they never were. The show’s curio layout carried a pleasantly haunting tone, but it was the lingering of McCormack’s stored memories seen through these tangible manifestations of contained dreams and nightmares that left me feeling domed under her bell jars.

*thank you to paperclips215 & Paradigm Gallery for the use of their Instagram Photos