The 22 Magazine


Doubleparlour.
November 13, 2012, 4:52 pm
Filed under: ART, SCULPTURE | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


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TRINTY SHOW AT MODERN EDEN.



THE WEEK/WEEKEND: July 19-26.

WHAT: PETE’S MINI ZINE FEST
WHERE: Pete’s Candy Store
WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 2pm-7pm

WHY: We are so pleased to announce the first print version EVER of The 22 Magazine will be available at Pete’s Mini Zine Fest, coming up this Saturday, July 21, 2-7pm at Pete’s Candy Store. We will have VERY limited copies but you will also be able sign up for pre-orders and if we’re lucky, you’ll be able to order directly at the table via ipad. Likewise, the first person to buy a copy of The 22, will receive a free mini-painting from editor Cat Gilbert! (Check out the catalog of work here.)Please join us, along with Volume One contributor’s John Jennison and Max Evry (who will be selling work for Pranas T. Naujokaitis), and if you just can’t wait until Saturday you can grab a print copy of The 22 HERE. If you are in any way confused, please don’t hesitate to contact us to help with your order at the22magazine (at) gmail (dot) com. If you are a retail store looking to get a bulk order, please contact for a special discount price!

FACEBOOK INVITE.
WATCH THE PREVIEW VIDEO.

WHAT: How to Write a Novel” Field Projects Show #6
WHERE: Field Projects
WHEN: Opening: Thursday July 26th, 6:00-8:00pm, July 26th- August 11th

WHY: Join us, Thursday July 26th for the Chelsea Art Walk and opening of Field Projects Show #6: How to Write a Novel.  This exhibition centers on the labor and characterization of writing a novel.  It draws a parallel between the source material of writing a novel and making art.  Often the most potent source of inspiration for artists and novelists alike comes from the private, seemingly mundane aspects of our own lives.  How to Write a Novel features drawings of text, photographs, receipts, books and the mesh-mash debris in an author/artist’s life.  The artists in this exhibition include Polina Barskaya, Aaron Krach, Karl LaRocca, Thomas Marquet, Siobhan McBride, and Martin McMurray.

WHAT: The 2nd Annual New York City Poetry Festival
WHERE: Governors Island, Colonel’s Row
WHEN: Saturday & Sunday, July 21st & 22nd, 11am-5pm

WHY: This year we’ve got more series, more poets, more headliners, more vendors, an additional arts and crafts village, healthy and delicious food options [though, yes iced coffee and yes ice cream], and a brand new children’s festival! Oh, and we plan on more sun too, though last year would be hard to beat!  For a complete schedule of events click here, and be sure to click the banner below to check out the children’s festival!

WHAT: REGINA REX (PART TWO)
WHERE: ELI PING
WHEN: JULY 20 – AUGUST 5, 2012

WHY: Jeff DeGolier, Gabe Farrar, Elizabeth Ferry, Stacie Johnson, Anna Schachte, and Siebren Versteeg

WHAT: jerry blackman
WHERE: toomer labzda PRESENTS
WHEN: july 19 – 26, 2012 (by appointment only), opening reception / thursday, july 19: 6-8pm

WHY: toomer labzda PRESENTS is pleased to exhibit a collection of jerry blackman’s wall mounted works.each piece is penetrated and framed by the elements it is composed of: rope, metal chain, paint, faux wood and crystal. focusing on surface, he plays with the perception of materiality through a subtractive and additive process. his sculptures employ a malleable tension via a synthesis of patterns and objects which presents a core understanding of construction and craft.

WHAT: Stooges Brass Band/G.R.U.B.B. (Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats)
WHERE: Lincoln Center

WHEN: July 26 at 7:30

WHY: Combining old-school jazz energy with raucous funk, hip-hop, and Mardi Gras Indian chants, the Stooges are rising stars among the new breed of New Orleans brass ensembles. Led by sousaphonist Walter “Whoadie” Ramsey, the Stooges were anointed the Crescent City’s best contemporary brass band at last year’s Big Easy Music Awards.

WHAT: Uptown Showdown with Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler
WHERE: Symphony Space
WHEN: Tue, Jul 24 at 8 pm

WHY: At the next installment of the wacky debate series, a team including Hot Tub‘s Kristen Schaal (30 Rock and Flight of the Concords) and Kurt Braunohler (host of IFC’s new comedy game show Bunk) face off against a team led by Christian Finnegan(VH1′s Best Week Ever) with Myq Kaplan(Last Comic Standing) and Bob Powers (Happy Cruelty Day) in this quirky take-off on the old school debate team. Hosted byMatthew Love (Comedy Editor Time Out New York).

WHAT: Hot Club of Flatbush
WHERE: Barbes
WHEN: 7/22

WHY: Modeled on the Parisian acoustic jazz bands of the 1930s. While its instrumentation (violin, acoustic guitar, accordion and bass) has a distinctly continental sonic texture, the repertoire of this group is as diverse as Brooklyn itself. The technical mastery of its performers allows the group to slide gracefully between a burning Basie stomp to a slow Texas waltz without skipping a beat. Fronted by the vocalist Gretchen Vitamvas, the Hot Club of Flatbush is sure to please any musical palette. Stephane Wrembel is back next month.

WHAT: Silent Clowns Film Series:FILM: Hands Up!
WHERE: NYPL

WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 2012, 2:30 p.m.

WHY: The Silent Clowns Film Series is back and dedicated to silent era film star, Raymond Griffith, a star whom Walter Kerr described as “natty, lithe (and) un-mugging.” Today, view Griffith in Hands Up! (1926), with Mack Swain and Montagu Love. Dog Shy(1926) with Charley Chase is our added attraction.

WHAT: tamara gayer: the inside
WHERE: toomer labzda

WHEN: july 26 – august 31, 2012

WHY: tamara gayer creates a site specific kaleidoscopic installation, which focuses on the local and national monument – the Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York City’s Lower East Side. gayer manipulates, warps, inverts and expands the gallery’s appearance as she reinterprets the exterior and interior of the one hundred and twenty-five year old landmark.

WHAT: KINEMATIC : THURSDAYS (MARIA P / THIERRY DREYFUS /MATT MARBLE with JIM ALTIERI)
WHERE: ENTWINE

WHEN: July 21

WHY: This Summer, as part of its inaugural season of sonic-visual events, CoWorker Projects presents  Kinematic Thursdays (June – July 2012) – a multi-disciplinary performance series bringing audiences in New York City’s meatpacking district some of the most dynamic and exciting sonic artists, electronic musicians and experimental visual artists and filmmakers from native New York to abroad. This innovative programme reflects CoWorker Project’s expanded vision as being an experimental space in the heart of the West Village.

WHAT: Hand Stories
WHERE: Lincoln Center
WHEN: july 18-25

WHY: It starts with hands: his father’s hands, his brothers’, his countrymen’s, and above all his own. Told through wordless, utterly playful scenes featuring hand puppets, poetic music, and striking visuals, Hand Stories is Chinese puppeteer Yeung Faï’s deeply personal family history during the vast changes that swept China during the 20th century.

WHAT: STOP THE FRACK ATTACK!
WHERE: The Northwest Corner of 8th Ave and 34th St., New York City.
WHEN: Boarding starts 7:30 AM on Saturday July 28. Bus leaves promptly at 8:00 AM.

People across the country are converging on the U.S. Capitol to tell Congress, the President and the world:End the rush to drill! No to fracking, yes to renewables!

WHAT: FRESH 2012: The Wall/The Page/The Internet
WHERE: Klompching Gallery
WHEN: JULY 25—AUGUST 18, 2012

WHY: FRESH 2012 is co-curated by the distinguished collector of photo-based art, Fred Bidwell(Bidwell Projects), and Klompching Gallery owner, Darren Ching. Together, they have selected the work of five exciting new photographers from an international open call for submissions.

WHAT: Murals/Indian Rebound, Treppenverter, The Split
WHERE: Cameo Gallery
WHEN: Thu, July 26, 2012 8:00 pm

WHY: Following high school graduation in 2006, the band Murals dug their act out of the basement and planted it onto stages and into minds across Louisville, KY. Founding members Evan Blum (bass), Rob Monsma (drums) and Jacob Weaver (vocals/guitar) dreamed up a musical fruit jam, blending art-rock and psychedelic proto-punk. The addition of Hunter Presnell on guitar in 2009 completed the bands line-up.

WHAT: Heliotropes/The Loom
WHERE: Union Pool
WHEN: July 19

WHAT: Optical Juried Competition: Portrait Stories
WHERE: Porter/Contemporary
WHEN: July 19 – August 25

WHY: Optical is an annual juried competition for photography. The theme from 2011, Portrait Stories, serves as a platform for photographers to present their work. The exhibition is comprised of photographs created by the top five finalists of the competition and serves to be dramatic as well as insightful into each artist’s individual definition of the theme. Congratulations to: Jennifer Judkins, Justin Chase Lane, Jacqueline Langelier, Linnea Lenkus and Johnny Tang.

WHAT: The Believer presents Karolina Waclawiak
WHERE: WORD Bookstore
WHEN: July 25

WHY: Join The Believer in celebrating the launch of deputy editor Karolina Waclawiak’s debut novel, How To Get Into the Twin Palms. She’ll be in conversation with Ross Simonini, interviews editor. Facebook RSVP appreciated, but not required.

WHAT: Artists’ Book Open Call and Publishing Night
WHERE: Meulensten

WHEN: July 19th, 2012 6 to 8 PM

WHY: Court Square and pilot press…  present an artists’ book open call and publishing night, an event that welcomes those who want to share their feminist artist’s books with new audiences, and those who want to learn more about the variety of such works being made today.  Guests are invited to come together for an evening of discussion and publishing.  The first twenty artists to RSVP will be able to present their artists’ books to an audience of other artists, curators, writers, and pilot press… published authors.

WHAT: Temporary Arrangements: Allison Kaufman
WHERE: HERE Art Center
WHEN: J
uly 18 – Aug 25, Tues-Sat | 2 – 7pm

WHY: In her videos and photographs, Allison Kaufman creates temporary relationships with strangers, revealing the vulnerability, loneliness, aspirations, and disappointments of both her subjects and herself. Investigating these emotions in public and private spheres, her work highlights the gender roles we assume while playing on the performance and gaze inherent in all photography/video. In Dancing with Divorced Men, the artist records herself dancing with middle-aged, divorced men in their homes, allowing them to function as surrogates for her father. In Trust Falls, she collaborates with divorced men to stage intimate activities that require a sense of trust or caretaking. In Friday Nights at Guitar Center she explores the predominantly male customers of the musical instrument store via their impromptu in-store performances.

WHAT: Sandra Gottlieb
WHERE: Kathleen Cullen
WHEN: June 16 – July 13, 2012

WHY: In Sandra Gottlieb’s Black and White series, she zeroes in on the micro-creativity of waves crashing on the same stretch of Atlantic seaboard shore, cast in high relief by the setting sun. Gottlieb’s pictures are conceptual in nature, capturing moments that are structured to make the observer feel small, accept that one moment is quickly overtaken by another, or that some momentary phenomena remain beyond our reach, in terms of human perception. This is why wise beachgoers come away from a day there weary but strangely calm, drained and yet somehow massaged to serene wistfulness by what to others seems like the irritating monotony of the ocean.

WHAT: Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto w/ Geko Jones (Que Bajo?! NYC)
WHERE: Le Poisson Rouge

WHEN: Thu., July 26, 2012 / 10:00 PM

WHY: Africanismo* is a project dedicated to showcasing the lesser-known performing arts traditions of The African Diaspora by highlighting the lineage and influence of the African continent throughout The Americas. Coming direct from Colombia and transcending borders, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto are the seminal gaita group that serve as an overflowing fountain of inspiration for artists throughout Latin America. Noted as being the root of cumbia, gaita music is an amalgamation of African and Amerindian traditions. Thanks in great part to Los Gaiteros, gaita music has become one of the most influential traditional musics in contemporary Colombian popular music today. Worldwide DJ extraordinaire Geko Jones (Que Bajo?! nyc) joins these living legends by spinning music inspired and influenced by Los Gaiteros in a dance party infusing live music featuring special guests.

WHAT: Banners & Cranks Presents: The Singing Picture Show
WHERE: Jalopy
WHEN: July 21-22

WHY: Banners & Cranks presents The Singing Picture Show July 20 & 21 at The Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn featuring new works by a gaggle of cantastoria artists and musicians from across the country with yards and yards of art and folks there to sing its story.

WHAT: CORNELIA STREET OBSERVATORY
WHERE: Cornelia St
WHEN: Sunday,  Jul 22 – 6:00PM 

WHY: Angels, Animals and Cyborgs: Visions of Human Enhancement An illustrated lecture by Salvador Olguin: Presented by Hollow Earth Society; originally presented by Morbid Anatomy Deplored by many as yet another fashionable post, and defended by its supporters because it encompasses our current fears, hopes and changing reality, posthumanism is an attempt to think seriously about the possible long-term effects of technology in our society, our bodies and our mind. According to some advocates of posthumanism, these effects will be so deep, that they might change the human species as we know it, allowing humans to transcend the boundaries of their mortal lives by technologically altering or enhancing our bodies.

WHAT: Brooklyn Poets Reading Series
WHERE: Studio10
WHEN: Poetry Reading: July 20, 7-9 P.M.   

WHY: Studio10 is pleased to announce an event in the Brooklyn Poets Reading Series in association with the exhibition “Text,” featuring readings by poets Alex Dimitrov, Dorothea Lasky and Timothy Donnelly. Admission is free. Wine, beer and light refreshments will be served.

WHAT: Dent May, The Babies, Levek/New York Night Train SOUL CLAP AND DANCE OFF
WHERE: Glasslands

WHEN: July 21, 8:30

WHY: Dent MayThe BabiesLevek+GET DOWN…all night long to the exciting rare 1960s soul 45s of world famous DJ MR JONATHAN TOUBIN (at this point this is the only time of the month you can hear the DJ’s exquisite soul records in NYC)!

WHAT: SUPERHUMAN HAPPINESS/SMOOTA
WHERE: Zebulon

WHEN: JUL 21, 2012

WHAT: Smokey’s Secret Family
WHERE: Barbes
WHEN: 7/21

WHY: Smokey Hormel’s résumé reads like a history of American popular music over the decades. He has worked closely with Beck, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and Neil Diamond. His projects have included the Brazilian-influenced Smokey and Miho, as well as an ongoing tribute to Western swing. His latest endeavor is an idiosyncratic take on early Congolese rumba. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, African musicians looked to Cuba for inspiration. They recognized African roots in the music but were also captivated by its cosmopolitan aspect, which mirrored the evolution of their own culture. Using the electric guitar—fast becoming the symbol of urban culture—they forged a new hybrid that became an early soundtrack of decolonization. Hormel has hybridized the music further and taken it to the Americas for the second time. Keeping its pre-rock roots intact, he relies on a core sound of “wild guitars bursting through small amps afloat on a sea of hand drums and shakers.

WHAT: Rain Machine
WHERE: Mercury Lounge
WHEN: Mon 7/23 ,Doors: 9:00 pm

WHAT: HEART OF DARKNESS Hosted By GREG BARRIS
WHERE: Union Hall
WHEN: SAT 7/21: 8pm Doors

WHY: Musical guests Steven Bachmann and Susanna Raeven, Mind Warrior ,filmmaker Vikram Gandhi (Kumare), Barry Rothbart, Nikki Glaser and more!

WHAT: KOTORINO
WHERE: Barbes

WHEN: 7/26

WHY: Even in a music scene saturated with ‘chamber-pop’ bands and odd instrumentation, Kotorino stands out with its use of all variety of winds, strings, and other musical gadgetry. The music itself is omnivorous in its source material, quite pretty, and downright haunting. Kotorino includes Jeff Morris on guitar, words and birds, Estelle Bajou and Molly White on vocals, violins and verve, brother Jerome Morris on the batterie required, Sara Zar on musical sawesome, Liz Prince on tuba and invasive procedures, Mike Brown on upstanding bass, Stefan Zeniuk on reeds and rites and Jesse Selengut – trumpestuousness.

WHAT: Taylor Mac: Music of the 1820s/All the Rats & Rags
WHERE: Joe’s Pub
WHEN: July 23

WHY: A bedazzled creature builds a community by singing 24 concerts of the last 24 decades of popular music. Ultimately all 24 decades will be stitched together culminating in a 24-hour long extravaganza (in 2014) but for now join Taylor Mac, musical director Alexander Horwitz, and band as they use popular music from the 1820s to honor Louise Braille who, in 1825, invented the Braille system.  A note:  all audience members will be blindfolded for the duration of this ninety-minute concert. All the Rats & Rags is an electric new musical based on Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist and featuring music from Tim Fite’s 2008 album, Fair Ain’t Fair – a carnivalistic funhouse of soul, bluegrass and hip hop.Set in a future on the brink of a universe-altering revolutionary war, this sci-fi rock opera centers on an adorably clueless spy-bot named Twizt.

COMING UP:

MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING @Cornelia.
Get Weird: Antipop Consortium @New Museum.
Phil Kline: dreamcitynine (ongoing audio installation) LIVE PERFORMANCE @LINCOLN CENTER.
NICKY DA B, DJ RUSTY LAZER, ONRA (DJ SET), AND VERY SPECIAL GUESTS@Brookyln Bowl.
JOE GALLANT’S ILLUMINATI ORCHESTRA CELEBRATES THE 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF “TERRAPIN STATION”@Brooklyn Bowl.
 

 




Lance Hewison.
July 3, 2012, 2:25 am
Filed under: ART | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

WEBSITE.
MODERN EDEN. 



JUSTIN ANGELOS (Recent Work.)
June 14, 2012, 8:19 pm
Filed under: ART | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WEBSITE.



Kristin Forbes-Mullane.

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An Interview with Astral by Matt Mowatt.

Described as maintaining a “rightful place at the crossroads of the shoegaze and post-punk revival” Astral’s 2011 release, “Forever After” from Vibraphone Records feels like a fast ride through a field full of flowers. The band currently lives in San Francisco and frontman, Dave Han took a moment to talk to Matt Mowatt about the project.



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Support This Project: Secret City, JONATHAN NOSAN

“Unable to touch his toes at 22, Nosan moved to London for a year of physical theater and circus training, then three years as a contortion student of Mr. Lu Yi at the San Francisco Circus Centre…”

Many of us make important decisions at the age of 22, but Jonathan Nosen’s decision to become a contortionist has got to be by far one of the most interesting. Reading like a sort of theatrical fable, Jonathan (who at the time was living in a small cabin Northwest Mountains of Kyoto) switched from the study of Design of Sacred Space to acrobatics after seeing a Chinese contortionist in Nagasaki and Canadian clown in Tokyo.

It was a wise decision leading to a highly successful film and entertainment career, as well as his 2010 performemoirt piece BAGABONES and the co-creation of Acroback Productions .

photo credit Rodney Smith, New York Magazine

JONATHAN’S WEBSITE.

Help support him and The Secret City:

Have a Nice Day – Jonathan Nosan from Forward MotionTheater on Vimeo.



Catherine Ryan.


WEBSITE.

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Marissa Textor.
June 8, 2011, 7:00 am
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WEBSITE. Continue reading



POST PLASTIC PROJECT AT LITTLEFIELD.


In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away from land, and humans, there is enormous floating reminder of the indelible mark we leave from afar. Called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Plastic Vortex and the world’s largest landfill, the North Pacific Gyre is a combination of currents and carelessness that makes up what some suggest is a wasteland filled with plastic. Rife with fantastic sounding aquatic traps such as “ghost nets,” it is suggested that its collection is of such a scale that, as of yet, no one has been able to calculate its true size.

In a song by local Park Slope musicians Whale Belly, there is an interesting lyric  “I know what I hate, I just don’t know why.”

The upcoming show Whale Belly is slated to perform in, Post Plastic Project at Littlefield in Brooklyn, plans to remedy just such ignorance through a feast of artists, musicians and comedians curated to raise money, and awareness for the environmental organization, Project Kaisei.

Discovered by chance in 1997 by oceanographer Charles Moore, the North Pacific Gyre is Project Kaisei’s main focus. Kaisei itself began in late 2008 when co-founders, Doug Woodring, George Orbelian, and Mary T. Crowley, found a need to bring attention and research to the growing problem of plastic pollution. In 2009 Kaisei launched its brigantine vessel (the namesake of Kaisei, meaning “Ocean Planet”) and an oceanography vessel called “New Horizon,” donated from partnering organization Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The mission was to collect and calculate data on the amount, type, and breakdown rates of plastic litter that is trapped in the middle of the ocean.

Some findings maintain that certain types of plastic are breaking down at rates much faster than imagined. Most recently the rate was a year or less for some materials to completely disintegrate and penetrate waters and wildlife, raising concerns about toxin levels in fish and other saltwater animals. Utilizing a variety of technological outlets to get their message across, Team Kaisei reports directly from the boat with updates on their findings, and even has a voyage tracker via Google Earth that allows you pinpoint the location, and view interactive message from crew members.

When I asked Lindsay Bourget, one of the curators of the Post Plastic Project, “Why Kaisei?” she answered directly, “I started this project because I wanted to find someone to donate to that made the most sense and they [Project Kaisei] made the most sense to me, because their number one goal is to capture the plastic vortex and that’s exactly what I was most concerned about, so it seemed like a natural fit.” Some debate remains about the severity and size of the  litter in the North Pacific Gyre, along with concerns about disturbing wildlife in the effort to collect, as well as the idea that full collection of all the plastic is a Sisyphean task. Nevertheless when I asked Lindsay about her concern for the validity of such projects in the face these doubts as well as major global disasters (particularly oil spills) she acknowledged “it can be really discouraging, but then you think there’s only one way to really start making a change.”

Co-curator Laina Karavani adds, “Sometimes artists and musicians are the only one’s that people really listen to and can help illicit change, and that’s what this is all about, moving towards that change.”

Post Plastic Project will demonstrate by example, using soy ink, and semi-recycled paper in their printing materials through Long Island City based, ColorCoded, and party materials (cups, plates, etc) provided by SustyParty, a New York based company that provides a line of eco-friendly, biodegradable party products made from corn oil, tapioca starch and other recycled materials, along with a bin to collect and ensure compost.

The artists and musicians are pooled from both Lindsay and Laina’s art and design background. Lindsay currently works in packing and architectural design, and went to Colorado Institute of Art, while Laina is photographer originally from New Jersey. Laina moved to San Francisco to attend the Art Academy of San Francisco, and found herself in an environment of high sustainability expectations. Drawing from this experience and from a childhood where recycling was the norm, Laina and Lindsay were eventually introduced by a professor who thought they might be a good match (their birthdays are only two days apart.) As the project grew larger both realized that this kind of grassroots organization for a less dire cause might be exactly what people were looking for.

The show is a powerhouse in itself with fifteen artists, four bands, and two MC’s. Mostly local fare, the artists were friends of or approached directly by Lindsay and Laina, and much to their surprise, nearly all said yes. With the increase of sustainable forms of living becoming the norm in Brooklyn it was easy to see that Lindsay and Laina’s project provided the perfect outlet for supporters looking for a more manageable idea of altruism.

The line up for music is strong and ranges from the pipes of a classically trained opera singer (singing in a rock band of course) Little Grey Girlfriend, the upbeat and introspective words and sound of Whale Belly (Park Slope), The Robin Electric with nostalgic twinges of their Cleveland roots, and string band turned electric from Chicago, Panoramic and True.

Artists include talent like artist and curator Ben Peterson, Christine Nguyen, illustrator Mariana Silva, award-winning motion graphics designer Mauricio Leon, illustrator Travis Simon, Daria Tessler and many more.

There will be prints for sale, a raffle, giveaways and comedic relief with the help of couple MC’s Brooke Van Poppelen and Luca Molandes.

The show takes place this Sunday June 5th at Littlefield in Brooklyn
Doors open at 6, with a free art reception and $10 cover for the music.
All proceeds will benefit the effort of Project Kaisei.

MORE INFORMATION.



An Interview with Deborah Simon.

Deborah in the studio with her sculptures. ©2011 The 22 Magazine

This past Friday, I paid a visit to Deborah Simon who has an upcoming show at NY Studio Gallery‘s LZ Project Space opening this Friday, May 20th. Deborah has been a painter and sculptor for several years now and will be part of the Sculpture Space residency  in Utica, this coming October and November. She has worked at the Bronx Zoo building habitats and “intellectual toys” for the animals, and her work reflects the understanding of the dual nature of man-made versus natural environments and the drawbacks and necessity of both. Her sculpture’s present a strange encounter and cause the viewer to approach the animal in an unusual and raw manner, suggesting a reevaluation of the nature of human and animal interaction.

We truly appreciate her taking the time to talk about her work and upcoming show.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW

The 22 Magazine: You worked at the Bronx Zoo correct? Can you tell us a little about what you did there?

Deborah Simon: Sure, I did some design work. It was everything from giving exhibits face lifts to mural work, to sometimes just flat out designing and building exhibits. [I also built] intellectual toys for the animals. With that you have to make everything look natural. So [you have to make a] tiger toy that looks [for example] like a rotten piece of wood. It was one of those oddball weird request situations, keepers would come and say we need hummingbird feeders made out of XY and Z and we’d have to figure how to make them look natural.

The 22: How did you get into that kind of work? Did you study design in school or elsewhere?

DS: No, I’ve got a fine arts background. [I studied at] San Francisco Art Institute, which prepares you for nothing but making conceptual art. I just happened to have a realistic bent to what I do, which was thoroughly discouraged but…
I started working as a muralist and then the zoo had an ad in the paper. I replied to it and got hired. It’s one of those jobs where the guy who runs the department is fantastic, and he just expects that you need a lot of on the job training. You need to be able to weld, you need to be able to fiberglass, you need to be able to do some basic carpentry. There are just so many skills that no one person is going to have them all. They do invest in teaching you quite a bit [so], I learned a lot, and it all goes back into what I do.

The 22: In regards to your artists statement, which talks a little about the animal confronting the viewer in an unrestricted environment, did working at the zoo conflict with ideas of how animals should be treated in any way?

DS: I think it’s a conflict a lot of the people who work at the zoo have, because everyone who works there more or less loves animals. We all have multiple animals, we are deeply concerned about animal welfare. Some of the holding areas are very old and not that great. Some of the animals are permanently on medications because [there is] not the best ventilation but, on the other hand, you can’t just let them go. [I believe] Finland ran into this problem. They decided it was cruel and inhumane to keep this baboon exhibit. They decided it was inhumane to keep more tropical animals in Finland, but they couldn’t get rid of them because they breed really well and every zoo has a ton of them. So, they were going to euthanize them but the public had a fit and they had to keep them. So, now they have these unhappy baboons; animals that are obviously not doing well, but there are no other options for them. [I think] a lot of the people [that work at the zoo] go through this. [They think] these animals didn’t ask for this, they didn’t want to become ambassadors of their species, but on the other hand sometimes when your standing and watching the public watch these animals and they suddenly make this connection to the human traits of the animals you really hope it does something. They are suddenly more aware of them and, you think, I hope this means that it will translate into something, maybe [that wouldn't be there] if they hadn’t seen it. Then again, zoo animals they don’t behave like wild animals, they have three meals a day, they sleep all day. [In the end] it’s a lot of mixed emotions.

The 22: A lot of your animals actually are puppets or look a lot like traditional marionettes. Stylistically how did you decide this was how you were going to build?

DS: It’s weird because I have this totally anal goal to be as accurate as humanly possibly, but I’m always reminding myself it’s art, not taxidermy. I was living in India for a while and India is a very sculpture oriented place. I had been painting for years and years at that point, and maybe it was just being around so much sculpture. I was home in the states and one day I just thought, what would happen if I make sculpted animals with fake fur? The hyena was the first one. I found [the hyena's fur] in the bargain bin and I thought, this looks just like spotted hyena fur, no wonder it’s on sale. I brought back Sculpy and fur and whatever else I thought I wouldn’t be able to get in India, and just started working. I was originally thinking of porcelain dolls-[with] the hard heads and the soft body. I was thinking more along the lines of what would it be like to make these things so they look like creeped out porcelain dolls, but they actually ended up a little but more like [weird] taxidermy.

Deborah working in her studio. photo ©2011 Ted Szczepanski

The 22: They seem to have this really human quality, a very aggressive straight on gaze…

DS:I feel even though animals are a really popular subject right now, it’s always animal as metaphor or animal as parable. They play the role of an odalisque and they don’t confront the viewer. They are a stand in for history, they’re a stand in for human behavior, but they are never just themselves, and when they are themselves it’s more kitschy animal art. I want it to be as if you were walking into their space. It’s kind of that feeling when you out in the woods or hiking, or even in Central Park [where] it tends to be a bird of prey, a hawk or something, and you have that instant where they look at you, and you look at them, and you have no idea what’s going to go on. Especially if it’s big enough to hurt you. Then it’s this totally different interaction than the zoo or anything else. Your walking into their space, and they are psychologically dominating it. The sculptures themselves are going to be hung so your going to have to walk around them. They force you to move around them instead of being on the walls or giving a pathway.

The 22: Can you tell me a little about Coyote Pursue’s puppet project?

DS: It was a pretty amazing experience. Collaborating was new to me but Matt Reeck is a good friend and amazing to work with. We shored up each others strengths and weaknesses really well. I would never have been able to direct something like that. I think in the future I may do more puppetry but do it so it’s video.

Coyote Pursues, 2010. photo courtesy of St. Ann's Warehouse

 The 22: Is there a difference between building the puppets versus building the sculptures? Is that something you had to learn?

DS: Yes. St. Ann’s puppet lab is a nine month program so they are a huge resource, but it took me forever just to figure how to walk them. It took me two months just to build one, to actually physically construct it so that it moved properly. Once I got the basic structure it took me weeks to figure out how to string it, and that’s one of the times the lab was great. I brought them in and said I don’t know what to do, and one of the guys [showed me], and it was done. It was wonderful.

The 22: The piece itself was about a world where humans are gone, and coyotes are the only ones left right?

DS: [Matt Reeck] is a wonderful poet and he gave me a book of his poetry and asked me to illustrate it. At the time I was just feeling like, I don’t want to paint anything, and I don’t want to sketch.
[But] I was thinking [the poetry] would be perfect to do a puppet show with, and so we said what the hell, we’ll write a puppet lab. We threw it together in two weeks, and we were really surprised we got in. Originally we had taken three of his poems, more short prose really, and the one we both had a very clear vision-that was the same vision-was [the coyote] one. We started building and time started ticking by, and we realized the other two we’re never going to make it, and that we wouldn’t have time [to perform more than one]. You only got twenty minutes tops to perform. So, we decided just to focus on the coyotes, and it was really based on his writing, and [the idea of] not using the animals as parables but to be really Darwinian about it. What would a coyote really be doing if they were wandering around in this world with nothing really left. We were thinking of it as The Road but with coyotes.

The 22: Did you do a cover for The Beastie Boys [Intergalatic]?

DS: I had actually done the paintings and they ended up on the cover. The paintings were actually in the small works show at NYU and Mike D’s wife  bought them. So, she came over to my studio and she’s chatting and we’re having this very nice conversation, and she keeps talking about her husband’s band and so I’m thinking….ok, band whatever and being polite, I ask oh what band is your husband in? And she’s says, The Beastie Boys, and at that point I’m immediately intimidated. So about six months later, they called to see if it was ok with me if they used it as an album cover and I just thought….ooook, twist my arm. It was just this little freak thing, they were just these little freak paintings, that I wasn’t planning to do as a body of work or anything.

Memento mori: Ocelot and ocelot skeleton, oil on wood, 68” w x 36” h, 2001

The 22: What about the memento mori series paintings? Can you talk a little about what this series means to you and why you decided to do it?

DS: I think in that series I’d been reading a lot about evolution. I was thinking about how death influences life. I was thinking about a Darwinian perspective, you have these animals with these constant pressures, and it’s survival of the fittest but also thinking about viewing what human’s do in the world [destruction and pollution] as unnatural, but it is natural because we are part of the world and this is part of what we do. Animals routinely destroy their environments, but they don’t do it in the same numbers that we do. Elephants constantly  trash environments and have to move on, but there are so few of them, they aren’t ruining Africa or Asia-we sort of beat them to it. I guess I was thinking about that simple pressure and interaction, and how some of your stiffest competition is from your species. You know species always have more children than your going to need. You really only need a one to one replacement and chances are that’s all your going to get if your lucky.



Bruce Bischoff.

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INTERVALS: FUTUREFARMERS MAY 4-14 @ GUGGENHEIM.

INTERVALS: FUTUREFARMERS, May 4–14, 2011 @Guggenheim
PROGRAMS/EVENTS 

Futurefarmers, a San Francisco–based art collective, creates projects that are diverse both in terms of production and in their strategies of audience engagement. Recent projects include lunchboxes that incorporate hydrogen-producing algae, antiwar computer games, and the Urban Garden Registry (2008), an online map of unused land sites in San Francisco that are feasible for gardening and food production. If anything typifies a Futurefarmers project, it is the balance of both critical and optimistic thought and the use of both inventive and pragmatic design elements. In 2005 the group examined the vanishing art of shoemaking in the installation Shoelace Exchange; for the Guggenheim’s Intervals series the group further investigates this craft with a site-specific installation for the museum.

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