Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I heart art

May 8, 2008
I'll come back to this, but as I know some of you dear readers have limited attention spans, I'll get straight to the point: Come tonight, to the Riviera Gallery in Williamsburg, from 7-10 pm for the opening of the Fellow Traveler show. I'll come back to that, but for those of you who won't read on, the Riviera is around the corner from Relish in Williamsburg at 103 Metropolitan (map below). It's gonna be so fun and inspiring. Just come.

I wrote an article for Mirth Magazine about one of the collections that will be on exhibit at the opening tonight. You can read it in the "Art" section of my website if you go here.

OK, back to my story:
The last month or so has been a lovely artistic journey, starting in San Francisco, my first stop on the way home from New Zealand.

Here is my favorite Bay Area artist, Marty Machado. Sometimes I get weirdly choked up when I think about how talented he is. He's pictured here with his brother Gary, who let me mash an avocado all over his face the first time we met.

Gary and Marty are good embodiments, in two very distinct ways, of Oscar Wilde's wonderful idea of making life your art, your days your sonnets. That is to say, that they generally have an awesome time and make things look the way they ought to, which makes them so fun to be with.

When I got to San Francisco I checked out Marty's newest project in beautiful basement/garden studio, where I got to see this stunning work underway:

Thirteen Rows At Dawn 2008 Oil, Watercolor, Fiberglass Cloth, Panel, Epoxy 36x63"

You can read more about that piece here, if you like,

Marty and I rode to SFMOMA where we saw some Devendra Banhart drawings dispersed among the Paul Klees and William Henry Jackson photos from government-sponsored surveys of the old west, watched others contemplating Rothko and walked through a fractured rainbow tunnel.

Then I flew to LA, where the view from my window seat changed astonishingly fast from this:
to this:
I actually found LA really brilliant, hilarious and dazzling this time around though. For the first time I visited the Getty, which I loved loved loved. I felt it was everything that is great about LA.
Thanks mom, for taking me there.

Here are some kids on a field trip underneath a sundial that appears to be gracing them with a shower of sunshine and creative energy. Sorry to sense out, but I find kids and art to be an especially inspiring combination.

This brings me back to New York (finally!) to the Free Arts Benefit, which was last week. Volunteering for Free Arts ( has been one of the few consistent elements of my last four years in New York. Usually it consists of showing up on a Saturday at an elementary school or shelter I've walked by a million times without noticing and buddying up with a kid or two for a day of outrageously cute art projects, pizza and performances.

Once a year, volunteering is a very different experience, which is the Free Arts Benefit, where celebrities and artists descend on the Philips de Pury auction space in the meatpacking district to get buzzed and buy art that will fund the programming for the following year of Free Arts Saturdays and mentoring programs. I observe all this with the odd anonymous protection of a black shirt and a silver catering tray full of emptied champagne glasses, tuna sashimi on lotus chips or something of that nature. The best part is getting to check out the pieces up for auction before the party begins. The Cecily Brown above was one of my favorites, and the Chuck Close Polaroid self-portrait below represented a good portion of the nearly 800 grand that Free Arts raised that night for next year's programs.

Speaking of Polaroids, all artistic hands are on deck lamenting the loss of the magical film, which will be discontinued. In New York Magazine Christopher Bonanos indicated the sad irony of Robert Mapplethorpe's Polaroid exhibit opening at the Whitney this week, but it's not the only coincidental tribute in town.

Last night I went to Jose Picayo's opening of Mug Shots at the Robin Rice Gallery, an exhibit of mug shots taken with a Deardorff camera and endangered 8 x 10 Polaroid film. Usually at these openings, everyone's always looking for the artist. Last night, people of all races, ages and backgrounds were looking for themselves. I'm there, behind the velvet rope for once.

On a balmy evening in the West Village, gallery-goers spilled onto West eleventh with their clear plastic cups of champagne. From the crowd in the streets I looked up toward the sunset and saw this:

Julian Schnabel's Palazzo Chupi...

which I think is marvelous.

There I am in front of the door, which someone kindly opened and I even got to have a quick jaunt through the checker-boarded magical lobby. One day I'll dance around barefoot on the cool cement floors of my own palazzo, contemplating where to hang whatever fantastic piece I bought at that years Free Arts auction. But enough of that! For now, there is work to be done! Fellow Traveler opens tonight at the Riviera and as of last night, no work graced the walls, so off I went to Williamsburg.
Remember this map? Memorize it, it's where you ought to end up tonight.
So I hopped onto my bike, coincidentally the same color as the Palazzo Chupi, and rode over to the Riviera (Gallery).

There, Kevin Devine, Dan Funderburgh (+his own helper Jenny) and Justin Fines painted, leveled and secured in preparation for tonight's opening. Also on support was Dave Johnny, pictured below advising artist Justin Fines.

Speaking of Polaroids, Dave is a great champion of the medium. Enough has been written about the glorious fuzz of the Polaroid, the warm seventies nostalgic light that it lends to even the grittiest of images. If you want to revel in the joy of Polaroids for a little while, check out Dave's shots on Flickr:

Dave Johnny

The moral of this long-winded story is, that like Kevin Devine's Monuments (on show tonight), the demise of Polaroid film and whatever was in Dave Johnny's cup remind us, it could all be gone in an instant. So we better have fun in the meantime. To Julian Schnabel, god bless him, this means towering a behemoth Tuscan villa on top of an existing building in the West Village. To Marty Machado, it means rowing at dawn for thirteen consecutive days in the San Francisco Bay. To me, this particular week, it meant toiling over homemade chicken stock in an effort to see if it really makes a difference (to be determined) and tonight it will mean going to the Riviera to party in celebration of young artists making it happen.

Hope to see you there.