nyc art scene

a carefully curated calendar & cumulative catalog of new york city's most interesting art exhibitions and events. hand picked by Arthur Seen & Team

nycARTscene Interview: Tara de la Garza

Arthur Seen recently interviewed artist Tara de la Garza. Her exhibition, Embracing Failure, opens Thursday, August 28th at The Lodge Gallery and runs through August 31st.

1/ Your new show is called Embracing Failure, do you think of yourself as a failure?

I think every artist has an inner critic and it depends on what day as to where you see yourself on the success spectrum. Creating art has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I think most people have this image of an artist in a field with a watercolor palette, happily humming away, creating. In reality, to create something meaningful, that will hopefully forward the dialogue of art, is a struggle. By embracing failure I am open to seeing where an artwork evolves before I discount it. I am revisiting, (uncrumpling!) trashed work and editing, much like a writer or a musician would do. Creating art is a beautiful thing because if allows you time to wander, but that time can also be filled with self doubt. Especially making marks on paper, you can’t hide. You rush in and then backtrack to make it up. It’s the human bloody condition on paper!

2/ The works on paper you are referring to are the LES series which incorporate multiple mediums and themes, can you tell us about them?

Originally I created these for a large scale mural project in the Lower East Side that wasn’t completed (the first failure) but I didn’t want to abandon them, I thought I could rework them and see what happened. I grabbed a big brush and some white paint and liberated them. Each piece is a journey, they are hard to take in all at once, you go down avenues and I think the change in medium helps facilitate that.

I have included lots of vignettes of New York in this work, they are full of stories of the Lower East Side where I lived and had a studio and fell in love. They also include my influences and fellow artists works, for example ABC NO Rio 2 depicts, in part, a street art piece by painter Tom Sanford, who I thought so generous to toil for many days on a transitory work, I wanted to recognize that… I was also tempted to steal one!

3/ How does being Australian inform your work?

What, because I mentioned stealing! One thing I realized about Australians is that it is ingrained in our culture to break rules, we encourage the larrakin, a term that is synonymous with being mischievous. This manifests in my work in numerous ways, one example is in the use of materials such as watercolor. Purists of the medium frown on the use of white paint. So I ‘cheat’ and paint over mistakes, then I regret it and try and make it up. That’s my process, intrigue and deception!. And paper is great, you can’t lie, you see every mark and that is the joy of making and owning art, seeing the hand and shaky heart of the artist.

Also part of the rule breaking is a dialogue I have been having for awhile now with Sol LeWitt. I was in a show at MOCA Massachusetts curated by Regina Basha with a piece called Messing with Sol where I distorted some of his work. I admire artists who have a clear framework, but I also want to tear frameworks down. I came back to his guidelines for this series to help gain some cohesion in the work, or in some ways legitimize it, back to that inner critic!

4/ If not humor, per se, there seems to be a lot of tongue in cheek in your work. Massaging a dead chicken for example…

The funny thing about that piece is that it was picked up by comedy central’s Tosh.0, they made fun of it without somehow realizing that is what I was doing, but hey, it made me ‘internet famous’! I like the idea that subtle change and humor can be more affective than grand gestures. That piece was talking about the practice of selling live chickens in Harlem in a place next door to the space that Chashama made available for the show. Working in a public space is great as you can really have a dialogue with a neighborhood, I confused a lot of people by displaying a chicken being massaged in the window right next door. It was playing with opposites, the antithesis of the life of those chickens, but also ridiculous because it was already dead. It wasn’t a political statement about the plight of the live chickens. None of my work is overtly political, it feels inauthentic to me if I attempt it. I think growing up poor informs you in a different way, I don’t have the guilt of privilege that can lead some artists down a righteous path. I am happy to observe my life and talk about it (even make fun of it) without needing a purpose, that seems very Seinfeld somehow…  

I think what is really impactful is changing the way people view things. Technology has done that. It doesn’t dwell on the sociopolitical spectrum. I want to be more like a technologist a or an engineer, not an activist. All I have to contribute are my own thoughts and ideas which aren’t anything controversial or even interesting but there is a curiosity in the mundane, the slightly off kilter, the in-between that fascinates.

5/ Your Projection Paintings use a technique I have never seen before, can you tell us about it?

It’s strange that this technique wasn’t being used in Lumiere’s day, it is actually quite low tech. A movie is projected onto a canvas and the paused movie scene is painted on the canvas. When exhibiting the movie plays and matches up with the canvas, it causes a strange relationship with space, it activates the painting, in a way that a static painting cannot. For the implosion movie this was particularly dramatic when the movie meets the falling building.

6/ Most of the works have some kind of reference materials, images that you cut and paste together to form a narrative. How important is that process and the technology you use?

My first profession was as a graphic designer and the tools available through photoshop are powerful to sketch ideas that would have been difficult to visualize in any other way. Even photographing the work and viewing it from that critical viewpoint is helpful to gain perspective. Working with a facsimile can also be liberating in a way. You can move far away from the original and yet keep coming back to it when you get lost, it acts as a security. Just starting with a blank canvas is terrifying.

Tara de la Garza: taradelagarza.com

The Lodge Gallery: thelodgegallery.com 131 Chrystie St., NYC

Fall 2014 Editor’s Pick
Opens Thurs, Sept 4, 1pm-6pm:

Oh Me, Oh My
 Nick Cave
 
Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 W20th St., NYC
Jack Shainman Gallery, 524 W24th St., NYC

Two shows of new work by Nick Cave, at both Jack Shainman Gallery locations, dedicated to gallery co-founder Claude Simard.

Cave will be also be discussing his new book, “Epitome,” with Creative Time chief curator Nato Thompson on September 10th at The New York Public Library

Fall 2014 Editor’s Pick
Opens Thurs, Sept 11, 6-8p:

Drawings
 Do Ho Suh
 
Lehmann Maupin, 40 W26th St., NYC
Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie St., NYC

an exhibition of new works by renowned Korean artist Do Ho Suh. On display at both 540 West 26th Street and 201 Chrystie Street, the exhibition will highlight the significant role and varied forms drawing plays in Suh’s oeuvre. This two-part show will feature the range of his works on paper, including drawings using pencil, pen, ink, and watercolor, his unique “thread” drawings, as well as his large-scale rubbings. Primarily known for his room-scale installations made of transparent fabric that recreate spaces in which he has lived, the artist has consistently utilized drawing throughout his career to explore and develop relationships between common themes of his practice including notions of home, physical space, displacement, identity, and memory. A focus of this exhibition, and Suh’s most elaborate use of drawing to date, is his Rubbing/Loving Project. Here Suh painstakingly covered the flat walls and three-dimensional fixtures of the interior and exterior of architectural spaces that hold great personal, cultural, or historic significance to him with vellum and rubbed each surface with colored pencil or graphite.

Last Days, closing Aug 17:

Self-Taught Genius
 
American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, NYC (at 66th St)

At the turn of the twentieth century, the field of American folk art was being defined by collectors, professional artists, critics, dealers, and curators whose search for an authentic American art seemed to be finally answered in works that presented a multivalent picture of national identity, faith, progress, ingenuity, community, and individuality. As the field matured under the umbrella of “folk art,” it was also expanded to include a wider variety of expressions and artists working in the present. For the  last twenty years, the term “self-taught” has more regularly come to address artistic inspiration emerging from unsuspected paths and unconventional places, giving voice to individuals situated outside the social consensus. This exhibition proposes a reframing of the conversation to consider the continuum of American folk art through the concept of “self-taught genius” as an elastic and enduring notion whose meaning has evolved over time.

pictured: Archangel Gabriel Inn Sign & Phrenological Head (Asa Ames)

thru March 22:

The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters
 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
 
MoMA, 11 W53rd St., NYC

This exhibition, drawn almost exclusively from The Museum of Modern Art’s collection of posters, lithographs, printed ephemera, and illustrated books, is the first MoMA exhibition in 30 years dedicated solely to Lautrec, and features over 100 examples of the best-known works created during the apex of his career. Organized thematically, the exhibition explores five subjects that together create a portrait of Lautrec’s Paris. A section devoted to café-concerts and dance halls examines the rise of nightlife culture in France through the depiction of famous venues, including the celebrated Moulin Rouge. Another focuses on the actresses, singers, dancers, and performers who sparked the artist’s imagination and served as his muses, including Yvette Guilbert, acclaimed dancer Loie Fuller, and close friend Jane Avril. Lautrec’s sympathetic images of women are evident in a group of works that includes his landmark Elles portfolio, depicting prostitutes during nonworking hours, in quiet moments of introspection. Lautrec’s role in Paris’s artistic community is explored in a section devoted to his creative circle, highlighting designs for song sheets for the popular music that flooded Paris’s café-concerts, programs for the avant-garde theatrical productions that he attended, and his contributions to magazines and intellectual reviews. A final section looks at the pleasures of the capital, from horse racing at Longchamp and promenading on the Bois de Boulogne, to the new fad for ice skating and the enduring appeal of Paris’s culture of gastronomy.

Fall 2014 Editor’s PickOpens Tues, Sept 9, 6-8p:“RITE OF PASSAGE: The Early Years of Vienna Actionism, 1960 – 1966” Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch, Rudolf SchwarzkoglerHauser & Wirth, 32 East 69th St., NYCthe first major New York City exhibition to explore, through rare paintings, collages, and photographs, the emergence of a critical 20th-century avant-garde movement. Various artistic developments in the second half of the 20th century have been influenced by a performative paradigm that emphasizes a move away from formal, static objects and toward more directly experiential, event-like, and sensorial gestures. In the early 1960s, the Vienna Actionists defined their radical style through a critique of painting, specifically that of European Art Informel and the Abstract Expressionism of the New York School. Under Austria’s Second Republic, Brus, Muehl, Nitsch, and Schwarzkogler sought out new possibilities for expression that could transcend the shadow of World War II. Motivated by material experimentation, they developed their art around radical body-centric performances through which authentic experiences of reality and incisive political statements could be directly and intensely perceived.

Fall 2014 Editor’s Pick
Opens Tues, Sept 9, 6-8p:

RITE OF PASSAGE: The Early Years of Vienna Actionism, 1960 – 1966”
 Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch, Rudolf Schwarzkogler

Hauser & Wirth, 32 East 69th St., NYC

the first major New York City exhibition to explore, through rare paintings, collages, and photographs, the emergence of a critical 20th-century avant-garde movement. Various artistic developments in the second half of the 20th century have been influenced by a performative paradigm that emphasizes a move away from formal, static objects and toward more directly experiential, event-like, and sensorial gestures. In the early 1960s, the Vienna Actionists defined their radical style through a critique of painting, specifically that of European Art Informel and the Abstract Expressionism of the New York School. Under Austria’s Second Republic, Brus, Muehl, Nitsch, and Schwarzkogler sought out new possibilities for expression that could transcend the shadow of World War II. Motivated by material experimentation, they developed their art around radical body-centric performances through which authentic experiences of reality and incisive political statements could be directly and intensely perceived.

closing Sunday:“PLEH” Gobby, Nicholas Buffon, Allegra CrowtherShoot The Lobster, 138 Eldridge St., NYC“in Pleh, three very different artists—Gobby, Nick Buffon, Allegra Crowther—take up the onanistic tedium and thrills of obsession and boredom in dispirited urban desolation, a context familiar to New Yorkers resigned to spend long summer weeks in the city. Curator Alexander Shulan, who directs STL—the austere Chinatown satellite of Chelsea’s Martos Gallery—presents a witty salon-style hanging of industrious and psychedelic comic-book illustrations and alluringly sloppy sculptural tableaux. The exhibition weirdly reminisces a certain generation of 1990s cable television cartoons—Rocco’s Modern Life or the more adult-oriented Duckman that present often-doomed, neurotic characters as disempowered subjects in a mechanistic, indifferent universe.” - ARTFORUM

closing Sunday:

PLEH
 Gobby, Nicholas Buffon, Allegra Crowther

Shoot The Lobster, 138 Eldridge St., NYC

“in Pleh, three very different artists—Gobby, Nick Buffon, Allegra Crowther—take up the onanistic tedium and thrills of obsession and boredom in dispirited urban desolation, a context familiar to New Yorkers resigned to spend long summer weeks in the city. Curator Alexander Shulan, who directs STL—the austere Chinatown satellite of Chelsea’s Martos Gallery—presents a witty salon-style hanging of industrious and psychedelic comic-book illustrations and alluringly sloppy sculptural tableaux. The exhibition weirdly reminisces a certain generation of 1990s cable television cartoons—Rocco’s Modern Life or the more adult-oriented Duckman that present often-doomed, neurotic characters as disempowered subjects in a mechanistic, indifferent universe.” - ARTFORUM

thru Sept 7:“Object Matter” Robert HeineckenThe Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 St., NYCThis is the first retrospective of the work of Robert Heinecken since his death in 2006, gathering over 150 works from throughout the artist’s remarkable career, many of them never seen before in New York—including the largest display to date of his altered magazines, which were the backbone of his art. Heinecken described himself as a “para-photographer” because his work stood “beside” or “beyond” traditional notions of the medium. He extended photographic processes and materials into lithography, collage, photo-based painting and sculpture, and installation. Drawing on the countless pictures in magazines, books, pornography, television, and even consumer items such as TV dinners, Heinecken used found images to explore the manufacture of daily life by mass media and the relationship between the original and the copy, both in art and in our culture at large. Thriving on contradictions, friction, and disparity, his examination of American attitudes toward gender, sex, and violence was often humorous and always provocative. 

thru Sept 7:

Object Matter
 Robert Heinecken

The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 St., NYC

This is the first retrospective of the work of Robert Heinecken since his death in 2006, gathering over 150 works from throughout the artist’s remarkable career, many of them never seen before in New York—including the largest display to date of his altered magazines, which were the backbone of his art. Heinecken described himself as a “para-photographer” because his work stood “beside” or “beyond” traditional notions of the medium. He extended photographic processes and materials into lithography, collage, photo-based painting and sculpture, and installation. Drawing on the countless pictures in magazines, books, pornography, television, and even consumer items such as TV dinners, Heinecken used found images to explore the manufacture of daily life by mass media and the relationship between the original and the copy, both in art and in our culture at large. Thriving on contradictions, friction, and disparity, his examination of American attitudes toward gender, sex, and violence was often humorous and always provocative. 

thru Aug 3:“Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010”The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 St., NYCSigmar Polke (German, 1941–2010) was one of the most voraciously experimental artists of the twentieth century. This retrospective is the first to encompass the unusually broad range of mediums he worked with during his five-decade career, including painting, photography, film, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, television, performance, and stained glass, as well as his constant, highly innovative blurring of the boundaries between these mediums. Masquerading as many different artists—making cunning figurative paintings at one moment and abstract photographs the next—he always eluded easy categorization.

thru Aug 3:

Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010

The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 St., NYC

Sigmar Polke (German, 1941–2010) was one of the most voraciously experimental artists of the twentieth century. This retrospective is the first to encompass the unusually broad range of mediums he worked with during his five-decade career, including painting, photography, film, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, television, performance, and stained glass, as well as his constant, highly innovative blurring of the boundaries between these mediums. Masquerading as many different artists—making cunning figurative paintings at one moment and abstract photographs the next—he always eluded easy categorization.

recommended:“the second life of flowers” Sirikul Pattachote The Lodge Gallery, 131 Chrystie St., NYCfirst New York gallery exhibition of Thailand born painter Sirikul Pattachote. “The brittle decomposition of a flower at the end of its purpose is a slow and lonely, bittersweet journey. We can use words like this to describe the action because it is so familiar to our own human experience. Just as the flower serves its purpose we serve ours, we both flourish in the sunshine and grow uniquely beautiful before we leave our legacy and drop our petals along the path to becoming a memory. The ephemeral quality of life and matter is a central theme in Pattachote’s work. Through her paintings, she attempts to record and preserve certain memories and impressions that highlight the potential good that lies in everyone and everything.” - thru Aug 7

recommended:

the second life of flowers
 Sirikul Pattachote
 
The Lodge Gallery, 131 Chrystie St., NYC

first New York gallery exhibition of Thailand born painter Sirikul Pattachote. “The brittle decomposition of a flower at the end of its purpose is a slow and lonely, bittersweet journey. We can use words like this to describe the action because it is so familiar to our own human experience. Just as the flower serves its purpose we serve ours, we both flourish in the sunshine and grow uniquely beautiful before we leave our legacy and drop our petals along the path to becoming a memory. The ephemeral quality of life and matter is a central theme in Pattachote’s work. Through her paintings, she attempts to record and preserve certain memories and impressions that highlight the potential good that lies in everyone and everything.” - thru Aug 7