Monday, September 28, 2009

Larry Clark: Tulsa

This is a drawing I did of one of the photos in the collection. It depicts a reclining man smoking a cigarette with a baby laying on his stomach.

My first collision with Larry Clark was through the 1995 movie ‘Kids’ which he directed. I was about 13 at the time, and anxious to do anything rebellious. I’ve always been intrigued by oddities, so when a friend told me about Clark’s movie, which depicted teen drug abuse and sex... it became my mission to watching it. Through covert operations (since I wasn’t yet able to rent Rated R films) I attained a copy, and finally viewed the film. I was changed. At 13 I became enthralled with drug abuse, and glorified the life style that surrounded it. Clark showed both heads of the drug abuse coin... yet I still was captivated by it.

Now, many years later, I have seen and experienced the negative effects of addiction. So when I walked into the Midway Museum of Contemporary Art, and saw Larry Clark’s collection of photographs, “Tulsa”, I was immediately drawn to it. As the co-owner of the museum explained the pieces in the the exhibition, and how they were taken from private home collections, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around Clark’s collection hanging in a living room. (Youth amphetamine addiction seems to clash with conventional family art standards) Then the guide told us the photos were kept in a separate room in the collector’s house.

The collection was composed of 44 black and white photographs documenting the artist, and his friends’ amphetamine use. Through the photographs, Clark captured the highs and lows of drug abuse. Some pieces, if taken out of context, would seemingly depict everyday life, such as a photo showing a person with a toothy grin laughing, or a gorgeous woman seductively smoking a cigarette. Others however show a sad and destructive side. In a striking photo, a pregnant woman inserts a needle of amphetamine into her arm. A few photos down, is the image of an infant in a coffin. The viewer is lead to believe it is a casualty of the mother’s abuse.

Overall the collection reads as a strikingly intimate view on amphetamine abuse in America. As an adult, I have a different perspective on Clark’s work than I did when I was 13. I’m suited with a better grasp on the value of life, and how my actions have a direct effect on me tomorrow. Depicted in Clark’s photos, are young people who are unable to employ such insight. The depictions are tragic because the viewer can see into the future. We want to tell that pregnant mother her baby is going to be a casualty of her selfishness, but we can’t.

There is still a part of me that glorifies the life that surrounds drug use, and I felt it blazing when I stood head on to Clark’s collection, but because of the indiscriminate documentation the artist employs, the viewer is graphically confronted with EVERY aspect of addiction. There is no way to escape the caverns of depression, danger and panic experienced by his subjects. I commend Craig for publishing the series. It’s authenticity is striking.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Frank: Ex-Alpha Male

All images are photos taken by Angie at The MIA

Meet Frank. Although he may look humble, I'd encourage the viewer to consider the following.

Frank shares a flat with two other guys... The seemingly spontaneos Paris von Gutersloh and...

Ruggero Leoncavallo... the composer.

Now you may ask yourself, "what's the problem here?" Which is a legitimate thing to ask. So I'll give it to you straight.... Frank is a huge jerk.

Story goes-The three gentlemen met at an art gallery about a year ago, and they hit it off. They enjoyed each other so much in fact, they decided to move in together. That's were I enter the picture. I'm their landlord.
Not even a week after these fellas settled in I began to hear fights. I could tell by the thumps and bumps, crashes and screams, Frank was causing a bit of havoc. But I keep to my own business. If my tenants pay rent, I don't complain... Plus Frank is a big guy. His 9 feet tall and 7 feet wide were enough encouragement for me to keep quiet. But one day there was a knock on my door. It was Paris von Gutersloh. He was looking a bit stressed. He said he couldn't deal with Frank anymore, and he wanted out of the lease. It was at this point in his story I stopped him.
"Paris" I said... "You guys were three peas in a pod when you moved in here. What could be the problem with cute and cuddly, straight forward, black and white Frank?"
Then he proceeded to tell me how Frank was always taking up the entire couch, never allowing them to watch the shows they wanted to watch, and continuously GLARED at them from across the flat, claiming he was, "a photo-realist image created by the living legend CHUCK CLOSE!".
Paris and Ruggero took issue with photo-realists. Paris was painted by Egon Schiele, a cohort of Gustuv Klimt. Ruggero was of considerably prestigious lineage. His painter was Giovanni Boldini of Italy, famous in London for his expressive portraiture.
He through up his hands in defeat. I could tell by the guy's tone he wasn't going to stay, no matter what I said. So I told him... in a whisper,"I've heard you straight laced guys being pushed around by that over grown photocopy. If you keep paying rent, I won't bother you. And I'll turn a blind eye if you and Ruggero haul a couple of 9 foot stretcher bars and a flaccid rolled up canvas out to the dumpster..."
A devious smirk crawled across Paris' lips as he quietly nodded his head, turned and closed the door behind him.
They've been quiet as mice ever since.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sidways Glance by Malcolm Liepke

Image taken from Arcadia Gallery Web Site

When I first saw this piece I was hypnotized. It caught my eye while I was rifling through the magazine stand at a Barnes and Noble. She was on the front cover of American Art Collector, which is not a mag I typically indulge in, so I desperately persuaded myself not to buy the issue, and walked out of the store. I exited the mall, and carried on with my daily business. However, much to my dismay the painting haunted me. For hours I felt regret for having not snatched up the publication. Over the next three hours this woman's image and I developed an emotional relationship.
Why was her face burned into my brain? It's simple really. The artist of the piece is Malcolm Liepke. I'd read about him about a year or two earlier, and was intrigued with his style, but now, because of the new direction he was taking, I had grown obsessed. Needless to say I returned to the store, found the most pristine copy (not the copy everyone mistreats on top of the pile with the bend pages and the torn cover, and definitely not the one behind that, which get's second-hand mistreatment, the one in the back...the virgin literary treasure), and purchased it.
I bought the magazine for reasons only a psychologist could explain. What I can convey is how the painting captivates me still as I reflect on it over two months later. To me, that defines great art. Great art can lock in a viewer, no matter if they like the piece or not...the artist wins.
In this case the artist is Liepke. His pieces in the past usually have had narrative atmospheres, and generally contain more than one subject. In his new work Liepke has zoomed in, cropped, and simplified to achieve a collection of portraits that convey not only clear emotions, but a strong cohesiveness as an entire collection. They were exhibited in New York, New York at the Arcadia Gallery, , from July 23rd through August 6th.
In his 48'' x 48'' oil painting, Sideways Glance, the artist, in my opinion, strikes gold. The focal point of the painting are the subject's eyes, that sensually gaze back at the viewer. Her pale face is framed by a mop of careless brown hair, as her arm gracefully closes off the left side of the piece. Liepke has stripped the image down to the components that are most essential to captivate a viewer. His new artistic deviation has not only gained him new fans and collectors, but also new buzz... and no press is bad press.

HElllooo Webworld!

This is my icebreaker first web-log post ever. I've been assigned to create a blog for a class and attempted to jump right into the assignment, but found it a bit awkward. I was told that the class used to be assigned a Zine... and now it's been flung onto the medium of paperless virtual interweb... which is sad, but the show must go on! So the following entries will be assignments from my Orientation to Art and Design class.