Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Avedon:Women, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles - First solo exhibition of Richard Avedon's work since 1976

“Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation.  
Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Douglas M. Parker Studio.”

 In the large front gallery space of Gagosian Gallery, we see larger -than –life black and white portraits by  Richard Avedon - he draws us into his world of fashion photography with famous subjects including actresses Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot as well as a few images of his ‘In the American West’ series. Entitled ‘Women’, the exhibition covers the range of Avedon’s 60 year career portraying  many facets of femininity with subjects ranging from celebrities and models to friends and family. 
While more than 100 silver gelatin prints are the focus of the show, there is also a small gallery room dedicated to his unprinted color work - transparencies displayed in wall-mounted light boxes, from the Richard Avedon Foundation’s archives. These small jewels are a fascinating composite of his many familiar subjects from modeling, film, politics, music and pop culture. The thread that ties Avedon's work together is the quality of the unique character he captures from each of his subjects. His are not simply beautifully photographed women – they tell a story about the essence and personality of the subject, running the gamut of emotion whether it be through recording movement of the female form, using light to enhance the fabric or style of dress, or dramatically juxtaposing women with animals as he did in his iconic photographs of model Dovima dressed in a Dior gown with elephants and Nastassja Kinski photographed lying naked intertwined with a huge snake. His distinctively creative and sensitive 'eye' is highlighted in his controversial ‘In the American West’ series.  This series photographed in the mid to late 1970’s, portrayed ‘ordinary’ folks – miners, housewives, farmers, truckers, drifters and others. Avedon traveled through the west through state fairs, rodeos, carnivals, coal mines, oil fields and prisons seeking out untold stories of people whose lives were challenged by hardship. Though Avedon was criticized as ‘exploitive’ of his subjects, his portraits convey a multi-dimensionality that pulls at our sense of humanity – photographs that reveal an authenticity, and an unmistakeably familiar quality of human suffering. ‘Women’ is on view through Saturday December 21st.

“Photographs by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation.  Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Douglas M. Parker Studio.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Robert Pincus, Art Critic, Writer: Behind the Scenes Conversations Interview with Cathy Breslaw

In June, 2010, Bob Pincus found himself in the center of a firestorm when the newly established editor of the San Diego Union Tribune, Jeff Light, layed off 35 jobs – including his job as Art Critic and Books Editor. Immediately after learning of this event, the San Diego art community rallied to Pincus’s side with facebook campaigns “We Want Bob’, to community forums at the Warwick Bookstore in La Jolla where a few hundred folks gathered with arts leaders, to blogs on the Huffington Post, articles in the LA Times and more – everyone calling to reinstate Bob Pincus to his art critic position. As Pincus put it “Its’ like I died, but didn’t”.  Feeling overwhelmed at the outpouring of emotion and support from the San Diego community for his plight, Pincus put the past behind him.  The San Diego Union Tribune would not budge from their decision. Hugh Davies, MCASD Director, commented:

"For over 20 years, Robert Pincus has been a first-rate critic -- fair, intelligent and well-informed -- and he deserves great credit for the maturation of the art and museum world in San Diego. His departure from the paper is a huge loss to the visual arts community here. Support from our city's newspaper in the form of information but, more importantly, informed criticism is vital to San Diego's future growth and improvements as a vibrant cultural destination."

Budget cuts continue to plague the San Diego arts community as it does in many other cities around the U.S. In fact, for the past two and a half years, Pincus has been the Senior Grants and Art Writer for MCASD – and in spite of the fact that he was able to win significant grants for the museum from the NEA and the Andy Warhol Foundation, and in spite of the comments Hugh Davies made(above),he was recently laid off from his position. It is difficult to separate the career of Robert Pincus from the ever evolving changes of the art world, its institutions and challenges, and the decision makers within it. It is enlightening, however, to complete the story – and look to the trajectory of Pincus’s life and how his life-story evolved in San Diego.

To begin at the beginning, Robert Pincus was born in Connecticut and moved with his parents and sister to southern California when he was seven years old. His father, who was in the womens’ fashion and merchandising industry moved the family from San Diego to the Westwood area of Los Angeles when Pincus was 11, and that is where he spent the balance of his childhood.  He commented that while his family frequented arts and cultural events, he was not initially interested in visual art – his passion was literature. A self described ‘counter culture teenager’, who loved the poetry of Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot and the music of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, he began writing poetry.  His high school English teacher, Mrs Connelly recruited him to write for the school’s literary magazine and this began his writing career.  Another of his high school English teachers introduced the idea of ‘voice’ in literature by reading Salinger aloud to the students. This added the dimension of the spoken word, further capturing Pincus’s imagination.

Pincus spent his first two years of college at Cal State Northridge where he began as an English major,
 but was soon drawn to interdisciplinary studies and when he transferred to the University of California Irvine for his last two years of college, he changed his major to Comparative Cultures. Pincus found himself fascinated by the Avant Garde as a cultural phenomena and noted he was influenced by Professor Dickran Tashjian, who was a scholar of Dada and Surrealism and he gravitated to both English and American literature as well. He took classes about Conceptual Art and Duchamp and instructors sent the students to galleries in Los Angeles to write exhibition reviews. It was at this point that Pincus began writing for the university newspaper. He also did book reviews and for two semesters, and was the fine arts editor - later becoming the editor of the entire paper. He commented that he never intended on going into journalism. He went on to receive a BA in Comparative Cultures with a focus on literature and art history.

Before continuing on to graduate school, Pincus took one year ‘off’ and worked for a friend’s family who were in the ‘seminar’ business. He helped organize seminars, wrote brochures, and was a ‘jack of all trades’. He then attended the University of Southern California, studying for a masters degree in American Studies. He was offered a full scholarship and he taught freshman writing. He focused his masters thesis on Los Angeles and Art History and was particularly interested in artist Ed Kienholz – When he was a teenager a family friend had taken him to see a major exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where he was originally introduced to Kienholz’s work. After completing his masters thesis Pincus went on at USC to study for a PhD in English with an additional concentration in Art History. He commented that he had no plans to become a professional art critic – however, one of his advisors Susan Larsen, suggested he write for Art Week and later for the LA Times where he became a freelance writer. He found his voice as an art writer and wrote the review for artist Mike Kelly’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. There he developed a style of writing for newspapers, focusing on the general reading audience. He continued to focus his studies on Nancy and Ed Kienholz and interviewed them many times over the years of his study for a PhD.  Looking towards the end of his program at USC, Pincus was thinking about future job prospects and his friend Christopher Knight recommended him for an art critic position at the San Diego Union Tribune.

Pincus was offered the job as art critic for the San Diego Union Tribune and he moved to San Diego.  There, he worked days at the paper and spent nights and weekends completing his dissertation.  Eventually, his dissertation took the form of a book On A Scale That Competes With The World: The Art of Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz,( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). During his twenty-five years at the Union Tribune, Pincus worked as Art Critic and Books Editor as well as simultaneously writing for Art in America and Art News magazines. He has also completed books and written dozens of art catalogues.

Now that he is no longer working for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Pincus plans to continue teaching courses at the University of San Diego and do freelance art writing. The course he teaches “Art Now: How to Think Critically About Art “ speaks to his continuing commitment  and perspective about the importance that people seek to understand art and make it part of their daily lives. When asked about his thoughts on art reviewing, Pincus explained his point of view that in reviewing, the reviewer goes through  an academic process, informing themselves about the kind of art it is, with the goal of “staking out a new point of view rather than just adding another small bit of information to an already received body of knowledge.” He went on to say that the reviewer can make negative comments, but that they must be constructive – and critical but respectful.

In his closing comments , Pincus expressed his belief that though there are signs of growth in the San Diego art scene of artists and galleries, that San Diego has essentially gone backwards in the amount of critical writing, reviews, and commentary. He believes that the more conversation and critical writing there is about contemporary art, there will be more interest generated about art in general. And, that this writing will encourage more people to go and see exhibitions.

Robert Pincus lives in Carmel Valley with his wife Georgianna Manly who works for Planned Parenthood as its Electronic Health Records Quality Coordinator. They have a son who is earning his MFA in Writing and Poetices at Naropa University.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Joel Otterson: Chandelier Queer - Solo Exhibition at Maloney FIne Art, Culver City, CA

 'Bottoms Up #2'  2013
Dare I say ‘beautiful’? ‘ This sums up the work  of Joel Otterson in his current solo exhibition.  A purveyor of interior domestic objects combining handicraft with traditional sculptural materials, Otterson has created ‘lighting objects’ – a lamp, wall  sconce and chandeliers. His work comments on how contemporary art fits into our daily lives. He has translated ordinary objects, including hundreds of goblets into well crafted  transparent, colorful sculptures that are secondarily utilitarian interior objects.  The chandeliers are made from vintage press glass and cut crystal goblets, steel, metal chain, copper wire and electrical parts and his “New Age Tiffany” lamp and table are made of vintage press glass and cut crystal goblets, copper pipe, marble, metal chain, copper wire, glass beads and electrical parts.  Otterson’s works highlight high/low culture and are practical and adaptive art pieces that are also charming and engaging. There is also an element of nostalgia – a harkening back to when Tiffany lamps and Baccarat chandeliers were popular. He is also mixing feminine craft traditions with masculine sculptural techniques.  Although decorative, Otterson’s works reference pop art and contemporary culture. The show runs through December 21st.
'My Mother's Eyes', Made in LA, (installation) Hammer Museum 2012

Projections Part II: Film as Painting, curated by Aaron Rose - Roberts & Tilton Gallery, Culver City, CA

Projections Part II: Film As Painting is the second film festival curated by filmmaker Aaron Rose for
Len Lye   'A Colour Box'   1935  35mm Dufaycolour(color,sound)
Roberts & Tilton. The films  which span 100 years of cinematic history and feature the works of both artists and filmmakers, were selected to lead viewers to experience films as moving paintings.  Thirteen videos are simultaneously operating within one large room of the gallery, creating a cacophony of visual, sound and physical experiences for the viewer.  Absorbing the gestalt of the moment is challenging without following the numbered map of individual films to guide the viewer to each artist/filmmaker’s piece. Rose’s goal of asking viewers to analyze the relationship between film and painting by placing them within the context of a technical installation in the gallery space is intriguing – however it may be at the expense of the value of each 
of the films as stand-alone artworks. Standout film pieces include Mike Mills’ ‘1979’, a collection of hundreds of fast paced non-stop images of cultural and historical significance of the 1970’s, Len Lye’s ‘A Colour Box’, created in 1935 combines Cuban dance music with abstract painted designs, Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Dimensions of Dialogue’, (1982), features two clay human heads that gauge each other by their eyes, trying to figure out how to communicate without fighting by passing back and forth objects in their mouths, Harry Smith’s ‘Early Abstractions 1941-1957’ a mixed media film shown on an analog TV of moving painting imagery and Jeremy Blake’s ‘Angel Dust’, 2000 which features an animated digital series of grid-like forms in varying color combinations set against a black background filled with specs of white. Each film offers its own evocative narrative within the historical time frame it was created and by placing these films within the context of one large installation is both stimulating and thought provoking. The show runs through December 14th.