Thursday, March 12, 2009

As I went out one morning, to breath the air around Tom Paine's  (B.Dylan)

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Installation with Penguin Paradox and Nike Column by Brock Enright    photo:Kain 2009
Brock Enright and John Lehr  at  Kate Werble  83 Vandam St   March 6 - April 4

It was a very charming scene at Kate Werble's last evening, as friends, associates and collaborators came out to wish Brock Enright and John Lehr well for their work on display and in situ. Film-maker Jody Lee Lipes brought along promotional posters for the screening of Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be The Same, his documentary film on Enright - shot during the production of Enright's own film,The Black Goat.

Enright (floor) To Do This With EverythingNike Column, Antenna        photo:Kain 2009
Lehr  [sic] 2009, Inhale/Exhale, Bread and Graffiti  (center and right walls)  

The innocence of the gallery scene was kept in check with Enright's Penguin Paradox, NIke Column and Eight Bends;  and Lehr's [sic] 2009 and Inhale/Exhale. Both artists have a deft touch for the structural integration of material, image and metaphor within their work - and in Enright's case, for staging and siting the installation as a place of action. Eight Bends played its intended role as the-snake-in-the-grass with its spits and licks of aqua blue toothpaste skin on the shoes and cuffs of those who undauntedly wandered around and over its form; while NIke Column served as the flat-footed sentry, just inside the gates, as an old cross-dresser leaning into the bend of the road.

Brock Enright has, for many years now, been establishing what I will call, an art of concrete mythologies, teased out from the  intersecting politics, histories, calamities and passions of daily life. The line between art and life is temporally delineated and then philosophically breached, as intended by Enright. [more on this in a later posting] John Lehr's straight-up street photography of marquees, road signs and graffiti, offers ready-made entendre for our public discourse (revealed, warped and shrouded). Each artist could have easily commanded the gallery’s space on their own, but Kate Werble has done something of a public service by presenting these two artist together. It is a smart show of ideas and art.

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Sunday afternoon brought us through Central Park from W. 72nd - over and up to the Metropolitan Museum, where we stumbled into Jeff L. Rosenheim's Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard. On the way, we caught the music of two generous groups: 1) a skiffle band (trio) keeping vigil at the Lennon mosaic, with their simmer-slack cover of the fab four - I should have known better...;  and 2) a fine bop jazz ensemble on Terrace Drive, near Cherry Hill (I should have copped their name) soulful, high blue bop. And then there was little miss sunshine, screaming like the Queen herself - as she wished to go see Alice while her family's plan was to hold tight to the right. 

The Walker Evans exhibition, which featured Evans' extensive personal collection of picture postcards from the 1910's and 20's, was a hit right upside the head. Evans used the collection as an aesthetic and intellectual guide for his own work and his layman's scholarship on what he called the Lyric Documentary

The catalogue for the exhibition includes an illustrated transcript of his 1964 Yale lecture on the same subject. Beginning with Leonardo and Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), Evans pulled a set of examples from western art and culture to ideate his thesis on the lyric documentary, with a running checklist for quick insight and clarity [Audubon is in, Currier & Ives is out]. Medical books, such as Atlas and Epitome of Traumatic Fractures and Dislocations and Biomicroscopy of the Eye, and cartographic books such as The Atlantic Neptune are appraised for a "purity and certain severity, rigor, simplicity, directness, clarity... without artistic pretension in a self-conscious sense of the word." Blake is cited for his pure lyricism; Ben Shahn was "extremely conscious of this quality that I have called lyric documentary."; Nabokov is quoted at length from The Gift: " The sun playing on various objects along the [right] side of the street -- like a Magpie picking out the tiny things that glittered. And at the end of it, where it was crossed by the wide ravine of the railroad, a cloud of locomotive steam suddenly appeared from the right of the bridge; disintegrated against its iron ribs; then immediately loomed white again on the other side; and wavily streamed away through the gaps in the trees." 
This brought to my mind, Robert Smithson on his way to Passaic, 1967 "...on page 29 [of the New York Times, Saturday September 30, 1967] was John Canaday's column. He was writing on Themes and the Usual Variations. I looked at a blurry reproduction of Samuel F. B. Morse's Allegorical Landscape at the top of Canaday's column; the sky was a subtle newsprint gray, and the clouds resembled senesitive stains of sweat reminiscent of a famous Yugoslav watercolorist whose name I have forgotten. A little statue with right arm held high faced a pond (or was it a sea?). "Gothic" buildings in the allegory had a faded look, while an unnecessary tree (or was it a cloud of smoke?) seemed to puff up on the left side of the landscape."  Smithson pulls and documents his own clouds out of thin air, even as he sleeps, with his Utah Spiral Jetty (four to five shows daily, more or less) Also see W.C.W's Paterson:The Falls, "...Alexander Hamilton, working up from Saint Croix... stopped cold by that unmoving roar, fastened there, the rock, silent, but the water married to the stone, voluble, though frozen, the water even when and though frozen, still whispers and moans - and in the brittle air, a factory bell clangs, at dawn, and snow winds under their feet"

     Robert Smithson, Monument with Pontoons: The Pumping Derrick, 1967 
     from his essay: A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey

     Walker Evans, Railroad Station, Edwards, Mississippi, 1936

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Further on down the road we hit MOMA for the Martin Kippenberger retrospective - encouraged by friend, artist and MOMA preparator Sarah E. Wood, that this was “a show for artists”. To our luck we inadvertantly arrived just in time for an afternoon performance of Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A. This was unexpected - and Pat Catterson’s performance of this classic minimalist work was quite simply beautiful - the honest locution of this “ordinary dance” put pictures in my head, in direct relation to real force - nothing abstract - a gracious polemic on being, being here. Like having ones breath taken away, but more so being given the straight truth that ones own physical engagement is an adequate force among forces. The assosciative tenets of minimalism were made evident and affirmed. And yes, I did see and say that Pat Catterson’s performance was beautiful. Note: In The Kid, Chaplin and Cogan confer on what streets to go down, with directional movements of hands, cutting through space and, for the viewing public, locating the dislocated time (we’re going up and down and over here, okay?)

           Pat Catterson performing Yvonne Raiener's Trio A     photos:Kain 2009

The Kippenberger show is indeed a show for artists. It starts of with a bang-a-gong installation of self-published career-long promotional posters - in a near exhaustive unexhausting range of fine design, portraiture, journalism, graphic arts and style. Very impressive. With glad-hand chicanery and a beguiling absence of pretentions, this wall-of-infamy rightly sets the tone for the entire show, and then serves as a recourse upon completing a tour of the galleries. What is established, is Kippenberger’s generous spirit and the masterful interplay of his self-prescribed painting-sculpture-artist-image-poet-huckster-life-as-such affair. It’s the journalism within that strikes me as most important and lasting: his day-in-the-life proliferations, which include the home, the office, the hotel and clinic, the street, the school and factory loading docks. It’s a jungle in and out of  here. In Kippenbeger’s line of thought and action, it’s a new-humanist romp without artifice or dodginess. Our sense of humors are palpably triggered, for good cause, throughout the body electric. A great show.

                 Martin Kippenberger, installation view at MOMA  photo:Kain 2009

And currently up at Buia Gallery in Chelsea, some works by Matt Jones - a painter's painter and hip Kippenberger kid (hey there Mr. Jones)

        Matt Jones, A Ghost and An Apparition 2009 at Buia Gallery  photo:Kain 2009     

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                    Mother Nature's Son (Alex Phillips on cello and Noah Rubeling-Kain on 
                    guitar and vocals), performing their extended set at The Sidewalk Cafe (east village) 
                    Sunday night. Also on the bill was John Hodel.  yep!  [photos: Lori Rubeling]

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Notes & selected links 

1.  Bod Dylan, As I went out one Morning, from John Wesley Harding, Columbia Records 
     1967, Bob Johnston: Producer
2.  selected links for Brock Enright: 
3.  selected links for Jody Lee Lipes (and with Brock Enright)
4.  Kate Werble:
5.  link for Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard
6.  Jeff L. Rosenheim, Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard , The Musuem of Modern 
     Art, Steidl Publishers 2009, essays by Thomas P. Cambell and Jeff L. Rosenheim 
     for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009
7.  Recommended reading for Robert Smithson and Passaic:
     a.  Robert Smithison, A Tour of the Mounuments of Passaic, New Jersey, from Robert 
          Smithson: The Collected Writings, edited by Jack Flam, University of California 
          Press, 1996. The essay was first published in Art Forum, February 1967.
     b.  Ann Reynolds, Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere, MIT 
          Press 20003 The section titled A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic, 
          pp.100-121 in the text.
     c.  Jennifer L. Roberts, Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History, Yale University 
          Press 2004. The chapter titled Forgetting Passaic, pp.60-85 in the text.
     d.  Mitchell Rasor, Revisitng Hours: Robert Smtihson’s Passaic, an online PDF 
          document  A previously published 
          version appeared in Isthmus Journal, 1994. 
8.   to link to William Carlos Williams reciting the cited portion of Paterson: The Falls, 
      clink on the link below, scroll down to 2. Reading for The Library  of Congress 
      Recording Laboratory. May 5, 1945, and clink on 2. Paterson: The Falls (1:44)
9.   selected link for excerpts of Yvonne Rainer's work, including: Trio A, 
       Five Easy Pieces and After Many Summers Dies the Swan: Hybrid  
10.  links to two reviews of Martin Kippenberger: Problem Perspective at MOMA
       a. Review by Jerry Saltz for New York Magazine, February 26, 2009
       b. Review by Holland Cotter for The New York Times, February 26, 2009
11.  link to Matt Jones (website)
12.  link to Mother Nature's Son
13.  link to John Hodel

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