THIRD SPACE, SHIFTING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART @ BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM OF ART : 10 ART PIECES THAT SPOKE TO US

THIRD SPACE, SHIFTING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART @ BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM OF ART

I travel to Alabama about once a year, one of my favorite places to visit while in town is the Birmingham Museum of Art.  A few weeks ago, I got a chance to experience their latest exhibition, Third Space: Shifting Conversations.  Third Space includes their visitors in the examination on the cultural crossing of Alabama and the American South’s relation to the Global South – the concept that the state of our cultural climate is not chained to a geographical location; that were are united by a connected past that defines our present. “It is an imagined place that ties cultures together by their common experiences and considers the voices of people who are often unheard.”

The exhibition opens up that dialogue with over 100 contemporary art pieces – most culled from the museums’ own collection.  A few of the pieces are on display for the first time, having been in storage, due to the museums’ lack of space. The works of art and the ideas that inspired them are meant to resonate regionally, as well as reach out on a global level. Photographs, sculptures, and paintings are just a few of the mediums represented here along with a rich multitude of artistic representation from Alabama, Brazil, Cuba and South Africa – to name a few.

“This important moment for the Birmingham Museum of Art and our collection of contemporary art extends an exciting opportunity to recognize and explore a shared human experience,” Gail Andrews, R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, said. “Works of art offer ways to see the world from a new perspective, serve as points of discussion and can create empathy and respect, at a time when our country seems to need it the most.”

Your journey is tied to reference points that guide you in finding personal meaning within the art. The sections are: representation/agency/gaze, tradition/memory/history, landscape/nature/spirit, and migration/diaspora/exile.  Third Space will run for 2 years, during that time the works of art will change every 6 months, shifting your travels.  You can also use your iPhone or iPad provided at the museum to access the Smart Guide, an interactive feature that allows you to listen to different perspectives on selected works of art from voices of children, musicians, activists and a host of others from the Birmingham community.

And as we are invited to share our perspectives and interact with the art, in no particular order, here are 10 art piece gems in the exhibition that spoke to us:

  1. Dennis Oppenheim’s Slow Clap for Satie, 1989 (Acrylic, wood, steel, motors. ficus trees, pots, turntables, vacuum formed masks, loop recording of Erik Satie piano music)THIRD SPACE, SHIFTING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART @ BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM OF ART
  2.  Jose Bedia Mpangui jimagua (Twin Brothers), 2000 (Acrylic and conte on canvas with objects) – Jose Bedia’s years studying and experiencing Afro-Cuban and Native American spirituality are reflected in the two representing men drifting together in the boat communing with and pulling their collective spiritual forces.  Is it a representation of Bedia continuing to pull the spirit and traditions of his heritage along in life?  As your eye pulls away from the boat and notices the figures on the large canvas, you have to wonder…are you staring at two figures or do they represent a blending of one?THIRD SPACE, SHIFTING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART @ BHAM_Glenn Kaino, Bridge
  3. Skylar Fein See You at the UpStairs Lounge, from “Remember the UpStairs Lounge”, 2009 (latex on wood) – This is a recreation of original sign from The UpStairs Lounge,  a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  In 1973 a fire broke out, claiming the lives of 32 men.  The fire was set intentionally, and the 15 survivors were persecuted afterwards for being at the bar. A more in depth history of the event can be heard here.  THIRD SPACE, SHIFTING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART @ BHAM_Ebony G Patterson
  4. Ebony G. Patterson Among the weeds, plants and peacock feathers, 2014  (Mixed Media) – It wasn’t until we looked through the lens of the camera did we see the body scattered among beaded tapestry.  Patterson’s work explores themes of identity and class, race and gender in the media. Among the weeds draws the viewers in, revealing a heartbreaking discovery.  Too often we bypass the crushing and Patterson calls our attention to a prevailing attitude.  Third Space at BHAM_Nick Cave
  5. Nick Cave Soundsuit, 2009 (Fabric with appliqued crochet and buttons , knitted yarn, and mannequin)Third Space at BHAM_Glenn Kaino
  6. Glenn Kaino Bridge, 2014 (Fiberglass, steel wire, and gold paint) – Made from a cast of Olympic athlete Tommie Smith’s arms and fist, the sculpture harkens back to that iconic moment when, along with John Carlos, Smith raised his black gloved fist in the Black Power Salute during the metal ceremony in the 1968 Olympics.  Do yourself a favor and listen to Chenoia Bryant, Social Justice Advocate and Feminist speak on the audio companion about the larger meaning behind this piece.Third Space at BHAM_
  7. Whitfield Lovell Rise of the Delta, 2013 (Conte on wood, silver plated platters, penny, wrought iron scone ) – Lovell was commissioned by Birmingham art collectors Norm and Carnetta Davis to create this piece from of photograph of Carnetta Davis’ mother. I love the halo of silver and pewter serving plates placed around Davis’ mother.  They symbolize her mothers’ love of hosting guests in her home, while the pewter piece at her feet is reference to ‘Birth of Venus’.
  8. Kerry James Marshall As Seen on TV, 2002 (Enamel on plastic vase, plastic flowers, framed video still, wood and glass shelf with steel bracket and chain)
  9. Glenn Ligon Runaways, 1993 (Lithographs) – This series of prints are inspired by advertisements for runaways slaves from the early 1800s.  Ligon makes use of the advertisements bearing physical descriptions and personal details, wording that humanized people perceived as property, standing in opposition to the advertisements obvious lack of humanity 10-must-see-pieces-at-third-space-birmingham-museum-of-art
  10. Esterio Segura La historia se muedre la cola (History Bites its Tall), 2013 (Painted fiberglass) – Using a bound Pinocchio as a metaphor for the history of lies told us by our governments was brilliant.  Even more stinging when you think how apropos it is when applied to the lies we tell ourselves.

Another Year, Another Armory Week In The Books

Another year, another Armory Week in the books. I missed last year and was heartbroken, so I was really looking forward to all the greatness I was going to see. And then it happened, The Armory Show disappointed me. How was that possible? So maybe disappointment is the wrong emotion to convey, perhaps underwhelmed is better. I had been looking forward to this for months, weeks and days and with its one less row and sparsity of art I was underwhelmed. Thankfully, Art on Paper, Volta and Scope all pulled up the rear and made my overall experience great!

Here are my Top 10 pieces in no particular order:

I had the pleasure of attending Art on Paper its first night as a VIP, because I roll with some awesome people (Hi, Paradigm Gallery+Studio) and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s artistry was the first capture by my trusty iPhone. She is called Olympia and was painted with Oil on canvas just last year.

My next selection found at the Armory Show focused on a common political theme I saw throughout the galleries. Mel Bochner’s “Eradicate” carried a thought I’m sure most considered in these past weeks and months.

I found a great deal of irony in my next piece, “Alternative Titles for Recent Exhibitions I’ve Seen”. Scott Reeder seemed to be picking at my brain in particular.

“Alternative Titles for Recent Exhibitions I’ve Seen”

I love it when I go to a show and the art reminds me of my childhood or just makes me giggle. Perfect example of this is Douglas Coupland’s “Towers”. A huge display of Legos, building structures and towers alike. Instantly I’m back in my younger brother’s room building some structure that architecturally will never work, but will take us hours to create.

The second display that made me giggle was an entire park of sorts by Yayoi Kusama named “Guidepost to the New World”. Who doesn’t like polka dots? You can’t help but smile and laugh when you discover this park in the middle of the Armory Show floor.

Nick Cave, Hustle Coat. Having recently moved to Atlanta makes me long for the strange variety of life displayed constantly in the streets of New York. Nick’s Hustle Coats, one in black the other in tan made me crave that variety of life even more.

Nick Cave Hustle Coat_Black Nick Cave Hustle Coat_Beige

I always find that I look, search even for my favorite artist and when I find them I’m so very excited. With that being said…Kehinde Kehinde Kehinde!! I cannot shout this man’s name enough. Ladies and Gentlemen, the greatness known as Kehinde Wiley. If by chance I get the opportunity to own one of his pieces of work, I would be jealous of myself. They are real, vibrant, elegant and simply magnificent.

And now I find myself at Scope. Honestly I had never been a fan of Scope, but this year before I could fully get within the many gallery walls I was snapping pics and genuinely skipping to the next wall of fine art. On this brutally cold Saturday afternoon, I am warmed by the eyes from this painting by Roberta Coni. The boldness of her stare and the softness of colors welcomed me.

Roberta Coni

And just like that I was not only smiling but dancing a bit too from reciting lyrical genius in my head. Mark Drew’s series of four paintings with Peanut characters and hip hop lyrics made me reminisce of simpler times.

Mark Drew_Peanuts

So I know I said that these were my Top 10 picks, but this series of painting genuinely blow my mind. No major complexity, no variety of color, just big black bold strokes of paint swirled around the canvas. I would put one in every room of my home and walk through it like my own personal gallery. James Austin Murray captivated me and believe me for a woman with several zillions of things running through my mind that is quite the feat.

James Austin Murray_Another Year, Another Amory Week In The Books James Austin Murray

Lastly on this International Woman’s Day I wanted to choose something that displayed not only our strength but also or vulnerability. No matter how hard you knock us down, women will always rise again. Kim Byung Kwan’s Ghost Backup #002 depicts Wonder Woman down at her very lowest, but she will always rise.

Kim Byung Kwan’s Ghost Backup #002 _Another Year, Another Amory Week In The Books

I can truly say that I enjoyed this weekend filled with art. Next year, let’s do it again!

Spotlight: Nick Cave

Artist Nick Cave

World-renowned artist, Nick Cave once danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre before pursuing visual art studies. Now as a notable educator, and artist he continues to expand his repertoire of monikers: performance artist, sculptor, dancer, fiber artist, fabric sculptor….

His work melds art, fashion and dance together in otherworldly, dreamlike sculptures – most recognizably, his ritualistic costumes called “Soundsuits”: bright wearable embellished fabric sculptures that make sounds when worn. These sculpted, textured full body soundsuits layered in colorful metal, plastic, fabric, hair, and other objects designed to rattle and resonate with the movement of the wearer, usually Cave himself.

The soundsuits hide gender, race and class, forcing you to observe without judgment. They are sometimes sedentary, standing quiet as a more traditional piece of sculpture set in place within an institution or displayed at an art fair. However, sometimes they are in movement – alive in motion, engaging you in a joined narrative. The combined elements of sound, performance, color, and costume create a layered complexity – visceral moments entwined with a performance built on impulse, provoking a bond with the unfamiliar.

Artist Nick Cave soundsuit trio

 

 

Artist Nick Cave in sound suit Artist Nick Cave Artist Nick Cave soundsuits

A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to catch Cave’s performance HEARD. He bought his mesmerizing soundsuits to Grand Central as part of their 100th year celebration. The performance piece featured thirty of his colorful horse suit creations wandering and dancing in the train station at set times.

Nick Cave [Website]

The More You Know:

  • Check out Nick Cave’s current exhibition (his largest to-date), expounding beyond the soundsuits, an exploration of thoughts on race and identity.  Until is now running at Mass Moca
  • Teaching with Nick Cave’s Until, Until Conversations Emerge, Art21 | “Nick Cave’s most recent installation, Until, is an immersive and subtle confrontation…asking viewers to pay attention to the point at which they become participants in discussions about violence and race in America—right there in the gallery space itself.”
  • Visit the SoundsuitShop, which was created to share the art of Nick Cave with a wider audience.
  • VIDEO: Art21 exclusive, Thick Skin gives some insight into the impetus behind the Soundsuits.

 

Performance Artist Nick Cave joins Grand Central’s 100th year Celebration

 

2013_Artist_NickCave1

Performance Artist Nick Cave is bringing his mesmerizing sound-suits to Grand Central as part of their 100th year celebration. The performance piece (HEARD-NY) will feature thirty of his colorful horse suit creations wandering and dancing in the train station at set times. If you’ve never seen Cave’s sound-suits, as he calls them, then you’re in for a treat. These handcrafted suits made from found objects obscure the performer, creating an anonymity for the performer and viewer, leaving only on the sights and sounds of wonder.

NickCave_JPEG-announcementFeb22

You can make you experience interactive right now with Creative Time & MTA for the Arts. Floating out there in the Metro Machines are Limited Edition Nick Cave performance Metrocards. If you score one, post a picture of you with yours and tag it #IHEARDNY.

Performance Artist Nick Cave joins Grand Central's 100th year Celebration

To Learn more about the performance go here to Creative Time’s Project page.
photos via Creative Time