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

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

just opened:

Watercolors
 Walton Ford

Paul Kasmin Gallery, 293 Tenth Ave., NYC

Ford continues to explore the visual and narrative scope of traditional natural history painting with his monumental watercolors, chronicling encounters between human culture and the natural world. Several pieces in this exhibition expand upon Ford’s longstanding practice of incorporating written marginalia in his work, and feature for the first time musings penned by the artist from the perspective of his animal subjects. - thru June 21

opens tonight, Thurs, Jan 23, 6-8p:“INBETWEEN” Serena Mitnik-MillerJoshua Liner Gallery, 540 W28th St., NYCWorking primarily in watercolor on paper, Mitnik-Miller’s practice centers on the repetition of patterns and shapes. “Painting and creating has been a part of my life from a very young age. Painting is the most calming of my endeavors, which is most enjoyable, and makes me happy.” - Serena Mitnik-Miller

opens tonight, Thurs, Jan 23, 6-8p:

INBETWEEN
 Serena Mitnik-Miller

Joshua Liner Gallery, 540 W28th St., NYC

Working primarily in watercolor on paper, Mitnik-Miller’s practice centers on the repetition of patterns and shapes. “Painting and creating has been a part of my life from a very young age. Painting is the most calming of my endeavors, which is most enjoyable, and makes me happy.” - Serena Mitnik-Miller

Opens Fri, Nov 15, 6-8p:

Mequitta Ahuja

Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 103 Norfolk St., NYC

“Ahuja references a variety of cultural traditions, including the arts of Africa, Asia, and America… she suggests that identity is not only fluid, but that it represents a layering of different guises—both real and fictional, historic and contemporary. Her work also demonstrates an interest in different types of marks and materials. She employs hand stamps, paints with brushes, and draws directly onto the collaged ground.”  - National Portrait Gallery

“My self-portraits are “auto-mythic.” I define automythography as a process of identity formation that combines the real with the self-invented. I position myself within a history of Eastern and Western representation, reflecting my identity as an African American and South Asian American woman. My sources include Buddhist wall paintings and Mughal manuscript art.” - Mequitta Ahuja

opens Tomorrow, Oct 10, 6-8p:“Like Pineapples In A Greenhouse” Nick GossSimon Preston Gallery, 301 Broome St., NYCseven recent large-scale paintings, together with a group of smaller watercolors on paper. Goss reflects that he: ‘accidentally revealed previous images that had lain dormant underneath the layers of paint - imbedded in the linen. These costumed carnivalesque figures that emerged felt like they had been constructed in the studio of an unknown artist, waiting to be unearthed, at a later date.’ - thru Nov 10

opens Tomorrow, Oct 10, 6-8p:

Like Pineapples In A Greenhouse
 Nick Goss

Simon Preston Gallery, 301 Broome St., NYC

seven recent large-scale paintings, together with a group of smaller watercolors on paper. Goss reflects that he: ‘accidentally revealed previous images that had lain dormant underneath the layers of paint - imbedded in the linen. These costumed carnivalesque figures that emerged felt like they had been constructed in the studio of an unknown artist, waiting to be unearthed, at a later date.’ - thru Nov 10

thru July 28th:

John Singer Sargent : Watercolors”

Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY

This landmark exhibition unites for the first time the John Singer Sargent watercolors acquired by the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in the early twentieth century. The culmination of a yearlong collaborative study by both museums, John Singer Sargent Watercolors explores the watercolor practice that has traditionally been viewed as a tangential facet of Sargent’s art making. The ninety-three pieces on display provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to view a broad range of the artist’s finest production in the medium.

Opens Tonight, 6-9p: “Together” Allison MaletzChristopher Henry Gallery, 127 Elizabeth St., NYCNew York-based painter Maletz transforms the temporal objectivity of her source photographs and brings them into a protected present, enabling them to reach to a wider sphere of imagination beyond the totality of their original physical and emotional experience. - thru April 13

Opens Tonight, 6-9p:

Together”
 Allison Maletz

Christopher Henry Gallery, 127 Elizabeth St., NYC

New York-based painter Maletz transforms the temporal objectivity of her source photographs and brings them into a protected present, enabling them to reach to a wider sphere of imagination beyond the totality of their original physical and emotional experience. - thru April 13

Just Opened: “Empire Loop” Kysa JohnsonMorgan Lehman Gallery, 535 W22nd St., NYCIn her signature style, Kysa Johnson employs microscopic patterns found in nature blown up to an extreme scale to build universal worlds. In Empire Loop, the artist enlarges subatomic decay patterns (the signature pathways that unstable particles travel along when they decay and transform into other subatomic particles) to depict a physical reality that is naturally invisible to the naked eye. By rendering these essential patterns in chalk, ink and watercolor on panel, Johnson removes the subject from a purely scientific context and introduces it into the arena of visual culture. - thru Mar 23

Just Opened:

Empire Loop
 Kysa Johnson

Morgan Lehman Gallery, 535 W22nd St., NYC

In her signature style, Kysa Johnson employs microscopic patterns found in nature blown up to an extreme scale to build universal worlds. In Empire Loop, the artist enlarges subatomic decay patterns (the signature pathways that unstable particles travel along when they decay and transform into other subatomic particles) to depict a physical reality that is naturally invisible to the naked eye. By rendering these essential patterns in chalk, ink and watercolor on panel, Johnson removes the subject from a purely scientific context and introduces it into the arena of visual culture. - thru Mar 23

Recently Opened: “Palimpsest III” Russell NachmanLMAKprojects, 139 Eldridge St., NYClarge format watercolors on paper. “Nachman’s meditation on the waning days of western metaphysics via the art historical trope of the harlequin—re-imagined as a contemporary, Black Metal-music reveler… Using structures of iconic, Christian painting and illuminated, prayer manuscripts the work creates a contrast of reverence and irreverence.” - thru March 24

Recently Opened:

Palimpsest III
 Russell Nachman

LMAKprojects, 139 Eldridge St., NYC

large format watercolors on paper. “Nachman’s meditation on the waning days of western metaphysics via the art historical trope of the harlequin—re-imagined as a contemporary, Black Metal-music reveler… Using structures of iconic, Christian painting and illuminated, prayer manuscripts the work creates a contrast of reverence and irreverence.” - thru March 24