"Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Open Studios"
October 15, 2010
Author: Christine Wong Yap
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Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Open Studios
Open Studios is a chance to talk to artists, peek at studios and works in progress, and think about methods and materials. I enjoyed this very much in my visit to the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Open Studios last night. The EFA Open Studios continues today and Saturday.
The EFA has a building in midtown Manhattan with six floors of studios rented by established and emerging artists. There's also a project space, as well as a print shop. The whole building was a hive of activity for Open Studios; it reminded me of being an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA, where I opened my studio to the public many times (Visit the Headlands' Fall Open House this Sunday, October 17). EFA had a similar cross-section: a few big names; many interesting, under-recognized artists; and a cadre of East Asian artists with crafty or pop/anime sensibilities. There were lots of painters and few video artists; meticulous, feminine papercuts (by Amina Amed and Jaq Belcher); and a few very commercial enterprises balanced by a few wacky conceptualists and performance artists. I was surprised to see that some artists had large etching presses or Vandercook letterpresses in their studios. (You see how important elevators become when your studio is 5 or 6 or 9 floors up.) I was most excited about these artists:
Saya Wookfalk makes paintings, installations, performances and videos in Hello Kitty hues. She works with cognitive scientists and dancers, and teaches herself theater lighting. Need I say more?
Kristian Kozul makes kinda bad-ass sculpture. In his studio, he's working on fantastic militaristic busts dripping in rosettes and covered in a glossly black resin.
David Greg Harth's immensity can't be captured here, but I'll try: weird, painful, simple, public interventions, like collecting autographs in a Bible, tumbling down public steps, and opening a kiosk that only sells newspapers with horrible, 300-pt. headlines. Provocative, hilarious and wince-worthy. I liked that the artist was complicit in his projects about human folly: his willingness to humiliate and hurt himself was in plentiful evidence.
Dane Patterson can draw like crazy; but many steps—performance, sculpture, and photography—lead up to it.
Of the painters, I was attracted to Patty Catuera's and Gary Petersen‘s work. Both make hard-edge, brightly colored, super flat abstractions. If you said that these paintings appeal to my design sensibilities, you'd probably be right, and I see nothing wrong with that. Patty's work seems especially vibrant and sweet in its simplicity. The imagery originates in landscapes, and with the large expanses of flat, abstract space, there is room to push and pull the volumes and imagine a narrative unfolding.
I also liked David Storey's mildly figurative mid-mod abstractions. They're cheeky. They make me think of Mad Men interiors and knowing smiles.
Hong Seon Jang had some terrific lichens cut from National Geographics, and forest scenes made out of cellophane tape. Nice!
Noah Klersfeld's videos were weirdly mesmerizing, partly from the sheer technical prowess, like stained glass come to life from pedestrian, single-camera shots.
Jihyun Park's large punched-paper and burned-paper works are really beautiful. I'm not especially compelled by the imagery, but the craftsmanship and perceptual experience are fantastic.
I admired Yuken Teruya's paper sculptures in graduate school. I also love the graphic quality of batik, so it was a special treat to visit Teruya's studio and see his most recent dye-resist paintings.
Hank Willis Thomas' work is clean and super provocative; if, like me, you were most familiar with his advertisement-based work, he's been busy with lots of text-based signs and lenticulars as well. I'll leave it at that, since I've been helping out my fellow CCA alum.
Brian Whitney set up four mirrors to successfully merge two images into a 3D image; he's also figured out a way to print photographic images on mylar. Jealous!
I also really enjoyed talking to Jimbo Blachy and his guest, who I assume to be his collaborator, Lytle Shaw. They had the skeleton of a boat set up in their studio, a whole lot of boating and Brit-ish ephemera, and they were wearing matching striped sailor shirts. That is, until you looked closer and realized that one of the shirts was actually a white t-shirt with stripes painted on it. That kind of geniality and jokiness immediately appealed to me. Later, I passed by their studio again, and saw the two of them alone, busy cracking each other up.