Archive: February, 2010
Kids: It was bound to happen sometime, I'm just glad it's out of the way.
That's right, this week's episode of See What Color Blocking Mila Will Do Next, the designers were assigned children. The seven-to-10-year-old angels were there not for sacrificial purposes, but to be the models for this challenge. Excluding Amy, who was amped on the challenge because she apparently loves mini clothes, no one was too thrilled about this challenge. And really, can you blame them? Who wants to design for a munchkin body? Who wants to design something that the little brat will inevitably stain with ketchup and OJ? Jonathan is downright afraid of kids.
This week the group was split. They were either vying to be provocative and daring in their designs, like Jonathan, Jesse and Amy. Or they were playing it safe in order to remain in the competition, like Emilio. Mila's being safe, too, since she is capable of making only one style. And yet she remains in the competition. She probably put some voodoo curse on the judges to make them blind to her work each and every single week.
A pint-sized challenge wouldn't be complete without a little Tim Gunn coming in to put a little twist on it. TG informed the crew that they would now be making the perfect accessory to their kiddie clothes: a mommy outfit to match. How precious. The point, of course, was to create something that would coexist with the youngster's outfits without being just a bigger version of it because, really, that's gross. Jay had the right idea, saying that his outfits would be a part of the same show. His plum and black tunic on the tyke, and a tank for mommy that matched just a teeny bit too much got him into the top three.
Also in the top three this week was Jesse with a grey, black and red Parisian-inspired design that looked perfect on both models. For the little one, Jesse made an expertly-sewn red wool jacket that looked sophisticated and adorable. His momma model wore a dress that echoed the first design with red detail and buttons, but it wasn't too matchy-matchy.
Seth Aaron, that weird annoying dude, was this week's winner. He mentioned having an 11-year-old daughter and knowing what kids like and what they, like, totally hate, bro. Good thing Seth Aaron won this one or his daughter would have totally shamed him when he got home. The winning look for the girl was a black and white hounds tooth hooded vest with a little black jean skirt. He put "hard wear" (silver ring eyelets) on the skirt because this guy is so punk rock it hurts. His adult look was great; a black and white striped jacket was leaning ever so slightly towards Beetlejuice, but not too much. Kors called the jacket the best tailoring seen all season. Seth Aaron paired the jacket with a pair of high waisted black skinnies that flaunted studs down one leg. It was a look, as the judges mentioned, that little girls would love to wear. And the grown up version was chic and edgy.
The bottom three this week were sad, sad little duo designs. Jonathan used so many ruffles that Kors called his models "the conceptual toilet paper twins." The adult dress was certainly too tame for Bjork to put on, but it might be something she'd eye up. The girl's dress was yellow with matching toilet paper and a sweet little bolero jacket that the judges could tell was not at all comfortable for the child. Even though Jonathan's designs were butt ugly, they were by far the most attractive of the bottom three. Amy, who was also trying to take some risks, made a strange little girl's get up with a turquoise sweater and scarf, an orange petal skirt and tan leggings that flaired at the knee. The girl looked outstanding compared to the woman's pants that Amy made by cutting out petals of the same colors. It was like some feathery ostrich legs in peacock colors.
Jeneane was the this week's loser. She cried about it, of course. And she cried throughout the episode when she talked about missing her hubby, and this is so hard, and blah, blah, blah. The girl's dress that she made had absolutely no shape and no design to it. Jeneane put the girl in leggings, too, just to be completely innovative and different from everyone else who put their girls in leggings. "You're really rocking the Halloween," Gunn told her in the sewing room. No one told me that Halloween changed from black and orange to black and coral. But if Timmy says it, then it must be true. The adult jacket she made looked like "a Home Ec project," according to Kors. With very little design and no good taste, Jeneane's time was finally up. She just barely hung in there last week, so it's not a shock that she was told to pack her bags and move on.
Congratulations to University of the Arts professor Don Miller, who won NICHE magazine's Arts Educator of the Year award, which was announced this week at the Buyers Market of American Craft convention held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Also among the NICHE Award winners is UArts' Mantile Dartium, whose A Reference to the Subjectivity of a Genius woodwork (pictured) won a Student award.
Some details about the contest:
Sponsored by NICHE magazine, the exclusive trade publication for independent retailers of American craft, the NICHE Awards program recognizes excellence and innovation in the U.S. and Canadian fine craft industry. Professional and student craft artists submitted nearly 2,000 entries for the 2010 competition. In December 2009, NICHE magazine announced the 161 professional finalists and 70 student finalists, who were invited to display their work at the Buyers Market trade show, which ended this week.
Collectors of pretty things, take note: Every Friday, we're rounding up a what's-what of what we [heart], culled from the scores of design blogs, artist sites and Etsy treasuries we can't help but stalk on the regular.
This week our goal was simply to point out a few beautiful things, but dammit we can't ignore the fourth item on our list. It ain't pretty.
But first, and most importantly: We've been meaning to congratulate Philly designer Sue Eggen, who recently won a Jury's Choice Poppies Award for Favourite Accessories (side note: We were not aware that Canadians used the "u"). Her oversize Rosette Fascinator headbands, made of felt and elastic, promise to "keep you fancy all day long," and we like that idea. Eggen suggests the 'bands as bridesmaid accessories, but we'd like to think we could rock them on any average Tuesday at the office. (Also swoon-worthy: her Florette Cloche [pictured, right], a sweet faux-cashmere-and-felt hat that we keep trying on at Art Star.) $35, etsy.com/shop/giantdwarf, spied first at poppytalk.com.
Also: Remember our Holiday Gift Guide? It was all DIY, and, turns out, pretty trend-setting: The second Lord Whimsy taught y'all how to make your own teeny terrariums, we started seeing them everywhere, from ReadyMade to The Hipster Home. If you don't have a mason jar or light bulb handy, though, head over to VivaTerra, which has a sweet pear terrarium complete with four air plants on its e-shelf. At 9 by 14 inches, it's a little bigger than our nano version (and because it has a hole in its backside for plant-placing, you can't use it as a vase), but we still love it. $79 ($49 without plants included), vivaterra.com, spied first at designspongeonline.com.
Speaking of sweet: Our dear friend and Philly native Chen Reichert, whose Boto Designs Etsy shop is teeming with fist-clenchingly adorable Japanese robot wares, blogged yesterday about Naoshi, a Japanese artist who uses sunae (a medium for sand-painting) to create whimsical, bright prints, postcards and greeting cards. We're particularly in love with her Dream Glasses limited-edition print, which reminds us of The Little Prince and, oddly, the Olsen twins. So says Naoshi's description of the print, "May tomorrow be another good day." Be sure to check out this video of Naoshi's process, too. $25, etsy.com/shop/naoshi, spied first at botodesigns.blogspot.com.
Lastly, and most creepily: We're not Twilight people (we're True Blood kinda gals, sorry), but apparently enough people are that someone thought Twilight man-pillows (that's "manllow" to you) would be a good idea. Best Week Ever's Dan Hopper said it best: "Face it, ladies: You're never gonna snuggle with Robert Pattinson. So why not just accept the hundredth next best thing, and buy one of these giant, long-necked creepy blobs that will f***ing murder you?" Looks like these sinister body pillows sold out on Etsy (maybe James Franco bought them all?), but maybe you can console yourself with some Pattinson underpants. Cripes. Spied at bestweekever.tv.
PREVIOUSLY >> Posters and Tees, Please
|Photo | Kristen Humbert|
|Just another night of bingo with the ladies!|
Last month, we sent our intrepid reporter Kristen Humbert to review Urban Saloon's Naughty Bingo. If her write-up excites you, be sure to sign up for the next event, on Fri., Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., soon these things always sell out.
Urban Saloon was the place to be seen and slapped on Jan. 15, as it played host to the third monthly Naughty Bingo bash. If visions of Grandmas in knickers squirming for a bingo bone are dancing in your head, fear not this game is for those who can get both dirty and down.
Players were each given eight bingo cards, one for each round. And instead of the trusty row-of-five, a number in each corner of the board had you win for the "celibate" round; and a "V" shape scored in the "quivering love purse" round (rounds also involved "right nut," "left nut," and the ever-important "dick and balls"). But if you didn't call out "I'm Coming, Bitch!" when you were one away from Bingo, you were slapped on the rump with a paddle.
The later it became, the slap-happier the crowd got, as practically any offense aroused this gleeful punishment (we're talking ass up in the air in front of the whole room here). In addition to bingo, there was also a deep-throat contest with bananas and a fake orgasm challenge. Prizes included an in-home blowjob class for 25, fancy panties, an inflatable sheep (yea, we know), and clitoral stimulation cream, all of which was donated by Feminique Boutique and Lolly 38.
Though the group entered the event as strangers, the camaraderie grew with each round of both bingo and booze. Ladies who were too shy to shout out in the beginning were giving their best moans by the end. Sometimes all it takes are drink specials and anal sex references to bring people together.
|Green Line Cafe|
Not one, but two City Paper contributors bring the yuck yucks to the Green Line Cafe tonight, in the puntastically named Alli Katz Comedy Meow-er. The show includes the titular Katz (obvs), who gave you such pieces as this excellent interview with This American Life's Ira Glass, and Will Dean, who turned (among many other things) this cover story about the mistreatment of musicians in Rittenhouse Square, but has a of late written about weird things scientists do with fish.
Here are the bios of all participants:
Malwina Andruczyk is twenty-three years old. A lot of things have
happened to her during her life, but not as many as to some other
Will Dean is 25, but he reads at the level of someone who is 28. It is
those little differences that make life special.
Zach Webber, 26, is the sort of person that prefers not to read
because he's afraid that he might read something that might decrease
the extent to which he enjoys the pictures. He enjoys illustrated
cookbooks, Sports Illustrated, and internetpictures.com.
Katz never turned her bio in, but she has a funny name and that's really all you need to know
The Alli Katz Comedy Meow-er, Fri., Feb.19, 7 p.m., $5, Green Line Cafe, 4426 Locust Street
|Courtesy of Drive By Press|
|Courtesy of Drive By Press|
Bringing you more Philagrafika 2010 coverage twice a week, at least.
Drive By Press' Joseph Velasquez and Greg Nanney are two printmaking rebels who decided to take their craft outside of the secluded studio and onto the road. What began as a show in 13 schools turned into a tour of more than 250 schools, during which Velasquez and Nanney hauled a 600-pound press across 200,000 miles all for the love of printmaking. They'll be exhibiting at the Print Center (1614 Latimer St., 215-735-6090) from March 24 to April 11.
City Paper: Tell me how you and Greg got started with Drive By Press.
Joseph Velasquez: When Greg and I first started with this project, it began as a thesis project aimed at 13 schools that didn't have printmaking programs. They were schools that didn't have money for printmaking or materials, or even visiting artists. But we believe in the democratization of art. Printmaking is always in basement somewhere and when kids see that they get turned off. And then there's this huge mechanical, antiquated monster. We wanted to mobilize it, so we took out extra student loans we were never given any grant money for it. We were given a collection of 200 prints from different artists that we could show to the kids. So we advertised printmaking and traveled to 13 schools for free. Then when it was done, we got a call from 47 other schools in the country who wanted us to come out and do the same for them.
Then we started printing our blocks on T-shirts and it really made a turn for us, both financially and just as far as getting our stuff out there, making it more accessible. I always tell kids about the elevator of social attainment with printmaking. I could make one block and print it on T-shirts, then make a wheat paste of it, and then put the piece up in a gallery. A kid could be wearing my shirt in Chicago, say, and pass by the same wheat paste that's for sale as he's going to the gallery to see the thing behind glass. After the first year, Greg and I couldn't keep afloat. Then we were contacted by some indie rock bands and asked if we wanted to take the printing press on tour. Rather than print the band shirts that already existed, we would cut blocks and print shirts right there on tour. We had a summer tour with the band Spoon and it was amazing, it helped us reach a whole new audience. This monster is something that snowballed and took over us.
CP: So what is it about art, especially your guerrilla-style printmaking, that mixes so well with rock'n'roll?
JV: I think [printmaking] has the same indie spirit of the struggle and the hustle that has to occur. You're entering a market that's flooded with talent how do you make yourself stand out? Half of it is luck and half of it is showing up. Me and Greg looked like Stanford and Son when we showed up in a pickup truck, unshowered, our backs as crooked as a politician from sleeping on couches and bad motel beds, and the kids loved this. We looked like we struggled, and that got everyone excited.
CP: How does this on-the-road printmaking change the pieces that you make?
JV: One of the distinguishing factors of what we make is at some point there is an piece of preciousness that is lost. But there is an opportunity to make it so accessible and so immediate. Most printmakers have to wait for a show to come around, and they build up their work. Our studio is a Motel 6, we don't wait for a show. I can make a block, print a shirt, and hand it right over to someone. They didn't get it online, they're not waiting for it. It's guerrilla, but it also goes back to the roots of printmaking. We're able to spread the ink across the country.
CP: How is this going to work into Philagrafika?
JV: The big project we have planned is a thank you and an homage to the artists that donated prints to us. Whether it's blue-chip cats who were in the Whitney, or some obscure DIY guy with very little social skills but lots of talent. We started with 200 prints and now we have over 4,000. So what we're making is the Tower of Babel. Canvases from different artists from all across the country have been sewn together to make a 30-foot-tall tower in front of the Print Center. It's a thank you. Now we have six people working with us, so the whole Drive By Press will be there when it goes up. The print community that exists in Philly is one of the tightest in the country. The Print Center is great, and so is the DIY stuff over at Space 1026. It's a great range, whether it's low-brow, unibrow, or high-brow.
|Matt Slaybaugh | interacttheatre.org|
KILLADELPHIA >> It's not a nickname a native of the City of Brotherly Love particularly likes hearing. A murder-infested Philly, dubbed "Killadelphia," is the inspiration behind Sean Christopher Lewis' play City of Numbers: Mixtape of a City. Lewis' visual memoir, which takes us on a journey to understand myriad perspectives surrounding any murder, involves 12 different characters and only one actor. Lewis takes on the roles of these characters and the narrator, not surprisingly named Sean, entwining the stories and personalities of a dozen individuals with his own to create a vivid narration.
Sean's journey begins when he agrees to interview several murder inmates at Graterford Prison a relatively simple assignment that suddenly makes him come face to face with the crime problem in his city. The two "worlds" in Philadelphia, between citizens like Sean and the citizens who frequent the prisons, collide when the narrator makes contact with these prisoners; inmates Rico, Bobby and others open up to Sean and reveal their experiences living Killadelphia firsthand.
Sean meets Mural Arts Program director Jane Golden, listens to Rush Limbaugh, analyzes Mayor Michael Nutter's acceptance speech, and holds conversations with prisoners who are serving sentences of life without parole. Lewis' transitions from character to character, though simplified by the narrator's interjections, are distinct and distinguishable, giving this play the human interaction that it needs to send its message.
He doesn't sugar coat it, either. From character to character, cursing in our faces or damning all criminals, reasoning with lifers or sending the message of a victim's mother, he shows us what we need to realize: Without "picking up bucket" and starting to extinguish the fire we write off to the lowlifes of the world, Philadelphia will ever remain a dangerous place.
City of Numbers isn't recommended for a first date, but Lewis tells us that from the start. The memoir isn't supposed to be a happy-go-lucky interpretation of crime with the quintessential brilliant solution and bright look to the future at its ending. In fact, there's no solution given at any time in the piece as to how we should kill Killadelphia once and for all. Lewis' goal is political and personal in nature, a call to action as well as a plea to open our mind to the harsh realities of the crime that plagues Philly streets.
City of Numbers, through Feb. 21, $25-$29, InterAct Theatre Co. at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St., 215-568-8079, interacttheatre.org.
RELATED ARTICLE >> The Secret Lives of Numbers
We like American Idol. Too much.
Tommy Button: As cruel of bitch as you think Idol may be, she never leaves you with blue balls. We finally got our Top 24, gents. The whole show was kind of a love fest. Because so much time was wasted last night, things had to be expedited. Mostly, we only got the parts of people laughing, hugging and crying tears of joy, which I think is something we can all agree is disgusting. However there was one loser that came as shock Angela Martin. I can't believe she didn't make it! She was a terrific singer with a great story and lets face it, she ain't getting any younger.
Molly Eichel: For fuck's sake Idol, they let Janell Wheeler through and not Angela Martin?! Do they need anymore white girls with weak voices? No. But the weirdest thing about Prison Angela's dismissal was Kara DioCreepio. She asked if she could sit next to Angela but then stole her entire chair, relegating the poor loser to the armrest. And I thought Kara's biggest mistake in the last couple of episodes was that puffy-sleeved dress.
TB: Never fear though, she promised Seacrest she would be positive. You don't break a promise to Seacrest. I'm glad Crystal Bowersox (referred to from here on out as 'Powersox') made it. I was nervous Powersox might get cut because she still seems a little green. I mean, she thought 3 million people watch this show? This isn't the WNBA playoffs, sweetheart.
ME: Powersox, good one. I think Simon's right, that this isn't her platform. She has dreads, and not in a Jason Castro way, and actual talent, once again unlike Jason Castro. But nobody thought this was Chris Daughtry's platform either and look how far that cueballed motherfucker has gone. As the last couple seasons have shown us anything, it's that the people who can play with their arrangements go the farthest and that's where Powersox has an edge. It's also why GangDad Andrew Garcia will go, at least, Top 5.
TB: Katie Stevens was of course a Top 24 contender. And if I didn't say it before I'm saying it now: Top 5. No doubt. And if I'm wrong, then may this blog may forever be deleted. She also had a little moment with Haeley Vaughn after getting the good news which will no doubt play into a great friendship and a great departure. This may just be that clever television editing but I got nervous while Haeley Vaughn was in the Hot Seat. Simon mentioned that she can be annoying which is a valid point. Her smile is a little TOO big. But I have a nagging suspicion she's gunna be better than Simon gives her credit for.
ME: Already bored of Katie Stevens. She'll go far but she needs to do a lot more to impress me. Otherwise, snoozefest. On the Haeley front, I think she just needs a little coaching. Maybe some vocal training to keep that twang in check. As she was in the Hot Seat last night, I kept yelling "Haeley Vaughn, I will vote for you every week!" And when she finally said her name, I was actually out of breath. My neighbors may or may not have called the cops. So, yeah, I'm invested.
TB: Damn you, AI. Just when I thought you were a thoughtful and attentive lover you make me chose between Andrew Garcia and Thaddeus Johnson! NOOOOOOOOOOO! Andrew Garcia is definitely the better singer and I'm with him all the way. I've officially just made him my Season 9 Danny Gokey. But, dammit, if my heart didn't break when I saw Thaddeus get the boot. Poor kid is only 16 years old. But then, just when I thought my cold heart had melted, I saw Andrew Garcia on the phone with his dad and I found something inside I didn't know was there before.
ME: I got a little teary-eyed when they let Thaddeus go, especially because they said he didn't do anything wrong. Seriously, they let uber white boy Lee Dewyze go through and sass factory/momma's boy Thaddeus Johnson? I expect to see him back next year. Also for those keeping score at home, Mike Lynche didn't get the boot from the Top 24, probably because he was so likable. So I've been sticking pins in an American Idol voodoo doll for naught. But they did replace curly haired Chris Golightly with Tim Urban because Golightly's previous recording contracts. He's cute but no Thaddeus so I immediately hate him.
TB: I can not wait for next week.
TB: Once again, a non-judging episode for the judges. They just had to deliver news. So as far as that goes, here's the breakdown:
Ellen = Jon Stewart
Randy = Brian Williams
Simon = Tom Brokaw
Kara = Chris Matthews
Molly, give us our Top 24 list please.
ME: Goddamnit, Tommy, do I have to do everything around here:
- Andrew Garcia
- Tyler Grady
- Alex Lambert
- Janell Wheeler
- Crystal Bowersox
- Joe Munoz
- John Park
- Jermaine Sellers
- Lacey Brown
- Michelle Delamor
- Siobhan Magnus
- Paige Miles
- Ashley Rodriguez
- Lilly Scott
- Katie Stevens
- Haeley Vaughn
- Tim Urban
- Didi Benami
- Lee Dewyze
- Katelyn Epperly
- Aaron Kelly
- Casey James
- Todrick Hall
- Michael "Big Mike" Lynche
City Paper welcomes guest Critical Mass columnist Jonathan Wallis, assistant professor of art history at Moore College of Art and Design. His column, "Perspective," runs monthly in this space, bringing a critical eye to a visual art scene that continues to thrive in Philadelphia. Questions? E-mail Wallis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|David Lambert, 1/27/08 4:39 pm|
A TESTAMENT TO PROGRESS >> Austrian photographer Ernst Haas remarked that the "limitations of photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are." "Onward," the annual juried exhibition currently on view at Project Basho, is evidence that the limitations suggested by Haas are expanding rapidly as more and more artists find themselves drawn to the camera. Dedicated to providing exposure to new and emerging photographers without current gallery affiliation, the third run of "Onward" is a testament to the progress made in widening the medium's scope in recent decades and a continued affirmation of the importance of its more traditional aesthetic qualities for artistic production and expression.
|Rafael Soldi, Bajo Tu Manto|
In large part, the show is a small portal into emerging American photography, and it displays much promise. For a town like Philadelphia, whose artistic identity of late is strongly tied to photography, the show is a great resource: The local art community can look critically at a small sampling of emerging photographic practice from around the country. Plus, "Onward" suggests who and what is inspiring new photographers today, and I like what I see: sophisticated, up-to-date photographic vocabulary, high standards of technical execution, and (with a few exceptions) professional presentation.
This year's juror for "Onward" is Debbie Fleming Caffery, a documentary photographer whose evocative black-and-white images have captured the culture of her native Louisiana, as well as Portugal and Mexico, with a unique and carefully located artistic vision. Caffery is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, and her work resides in the collections of many well-known institutions, including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Judging by the variety of work in the show, she was a very good choice the judicious balancing act of her selections illustrates a respect for the diversity of photography as it is practiced today. This year's call produced 1,666 entries by 418 artists, and the selection process yielded 73 works by 40 artists, with all but one hailing from the United States (one entry was from Dubai).
If there is one noticeable consistency in the selections this year, it's that they all appear very reserved; there is nothing in the show that might qualify as "transgressive" or "radical" in portrayal or conceptual message. Whether this is the result of the submissions themselves or the choices of the juror, an introspective and restrained presence pervades much of the work in the show.
|Inka Resch, Anonymous Specs 1744|
One of the strengths of the exhibition is the choice to include two or more works of each selected artist, even at the expense of less overall exposure for those who entered work this year. Being able to absorb more than one work by each artist provides a sense that there is a real "group" on view, as opposed to a sweeping display of single works that can often end up lessening the impact of the exhibition's artistic voices.
Curating an open-call show is no easy feat, especially when a juror's selections are negotiated into an existing and finite space, and this task was left to the staff at Project Basho. Overall they have done excellent work; the work flows well, with only one or two pieces placed awkwardly at a particular location because of a need for them to read well from a certain distance or because of issues of scale.
Aside from a small cluster of works at the entrance to the darkroom/project space, the work is arranged within two distinct areas: the long hallway and the open back room that houses most of the larger works in the exhibition. Interestingly, the effect of moving through the space at Project Basho is akin to traveling through two distinct modes of photographic practice what might be described as image "takers" and image "makers" (to use the title of a recent book by Anne Celine Jaeger).
|Lou Outlaw, Jubilation! (As Obama takes Oath of Office)|
The images in the hallway focus largely on the capture of the visible through photographic "seeing," and almost all are in black-and-white. They range from documentary-style images, such as Lou Outlaw's moving shot of a woman's emotional response at President Obama's inauguration, portraits that play with the language of light, focus, framing and depth of field and the "decisive moment," to images that locate photographic artistry in the quotidian world of urban and rural life. Almost all of these artists seem to share an interest in preserving the merits of photography's traditional aesthetics, and by the standards one expects from new and emerging photography they do it well. (An unintended, but serendipitous, effect is that you pass by trays of darkroom chemicals before entering the hallway, the olfactory trace lingering as you move down the passage).
Untitled 14 from "Land of No Return"
Entering the back room is largely a move from "taking" to "making," and you can feel the shift not only in the emergence of bold color but also in the diversity of easily recognizable contemporary photographic trends. Deadpan portraits, digitally manipulated landscapes, extreme close-ups and tableaux-style work are clustered together on all four walls. A number of notable standouts in the show exhibit artistic maturity and a sense of resolution between inspiration, intention and product. David Lambert's vistas come to life from a beautiful marriage of miniature landscapes fabricated from hobby materials and an adroit use of lighting, and he succeeds in conjuring up believable, yet fantastic, realities through photographic transformation. Alison Slein's juxtapositions of carnivalesque silhouettes against sunsets and sunrises are richly colorful, yet spooky, experiences of crepuscular dreams; her process plays with tensions between dimensions and vision in photography. Portraits by Katrina D'Autremont and Viktoria Sorochinski force compelling formal and subjective relationships between the ages, poses and gazes of their sitters. The subtle visions of the overlooked moments of life by Jennifer Wilkey and Gwen Johnson hold up very well, even next to their more active neighbors in the room, and transport the viewer vicariously into their individual and contemplative lives and worlds.
A portion of the work at Basho suggests photographic pastiche. Names such as Andreas Gursky, Anna Gaskell, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Gregory Crewdson, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sally Mann, Jessica Todd Harper, Imogen Cunningham, etc., all easily leap to mind before a number of the works in the show. But that itself isn't all bad in the context of an exhibition like "Onward" (and they are good names). In fact, it is inspiring to observe emerging artists conceptualizing photographic ideas and attempting to break new visual ground with both the most up-to-date and time-tested of sources. As emerging photography, it is expected that a number of inclusions might evidence an ongoing intense engagement and dialogue with existing photographic examples as part of a process of finding artistic self-definition. All of these examples in the show are, nevertheless, already on very solid artistic ground.
Finding a niche where a hitherto unseen photographic "look" or a clever strategy of negotiation yields provocative and unexpected results has been a common practice within photography in recent decades, and it has led to the commercial success of many photographers. Perhaps we will see more and more emerging photographers look to individualized modes of production and imagery within the range of recent practice as a point of departure, rather than feel the anxiety and pressures of marching to the beat of "new and different." If so, there may be a growing need to revise and reconsider how we judge artistic identity and merit with regard to the aesthetics of photography as we move forward from the new, wide base of contemporary practice.
|Jennifer Wilkey, Day 47|
In general, we are just now starting to confront the effects of artistic production that has been reared in a fully conceived postmodern program. This place of no supposed styles, no schools (unless self-defined), and no particular way art is supposed to look what Arthur Danto refers to as "aesthetic entropy" (and he is receiving significant heat for his idea of Post-Historical art in recent issues of The New Yorker) may suggest a new developmental pattern based on photographic "older siblings." Looking to postmodern photographers' individual artistic characteristics in order to focus one's approach toward self-definition within an open and under-defined artistic culture makes sense as a strategy and might become more common.
If thought of this way, it certainly explains the visible presence of such strong specific influences in a good deal of the imagery in "Onward." This portion of work in the show holds up well despite its referential qualities, and it also exhibits something else present in much of the work in the back room: a noticeable balance of form and concept. That's a good sign for photography's future, and perhaps the scales are tipping back a bit from a heavy-handed conceptual base now that high-quality printing and cameras are becoming more accessible to the larger community of emerging photographers (possibly due in part to innovative photography centers around the country like Project Basho and PPAC in Philadelphia).
|Sarah Marie Land, Lilley|
One of the laudable aspects of Project Basho's annual exhibition is that it reveals a churning engine of creativity at work outside of commercial art galleries and other institutional venues, and functions as a single, small piece of evidence that there is a bottleneck between a surplus of artistic production and the very narrow and selective world of those able to gain commercial representation.
Juried shows like these offer exposure to hard-working and creative individuals with talent and potential, while also providing an opportunity to evaluate the standards of a juror or jury that has experience in the current culture of art. Both can be enlightening, for the artists who receive criticism and the viewers who can view their work and observe, reconsider and critique the nature and future directions of one segment of the art world. Shows like "Onward" provide an important bridge between two artistic precincts normally separated by a series of complicated factors. Whether these types of exhibitions result in fulfilling, inspiring, troubling, enlightening or disappointing shows should not be the only gauge of their success. We need shows like these.
This year "Onward" set out to jury the work of emerging photographers and succeeded in its task. And with a new juror each year, the ongoing endeavor by Project Basho maintains a necessary variable in the selection process. The work in "Onward" 2010 made me curious to see and know more about many of the emerging photographers in the show, which compelled me to locate and navigate through their individual Web sites. I am sure others will, too. Isn't that the point?
Bluegrass fiddle-ette Sara Watkins defected from her family band Nickel Creek to strike out on her own with her eponymous debut solo effort (Nonesuch). I called Watkins up to talk about finding her own voice and what inspires her in anticipation of her opening gig for folker John Prine.
City Paper: There are a lot of standards on this record, and from what I've read even more in your live set, yet there is a cohesive feel that comes through and colors the entire record as one piece. There is a real self-consciousness about being as original as possible and a musical tendency to shy away from covers.
Sara Watkins: I don't really think of a lot of them as covers. Growing up with bluegrass, there are just so many traditional songs that you knew. A lot of the culture is to just play with people, so there are a lot of songs that are common so people can jump in. To me, a cover is a Morrissey song or something like that. But, there are songs that have been around long enough to have a certain existence on their own, without seeming like you are throwing a bone to the audience hoping they'll recognize one they might know. Emmy Lou Harris and Allison Krauss have made entire careers of playing other peoples material, but not by being "cover artists."
CP: Is it fair to say that your voice comes through on the record?
SW: I didn't really go into this with a certain message that I meant to have come across. My main concern was to not fake it by putting a song on the record thinking it might be what I want to hear or play five years down the line. My only concern really was whittling my record down from an even bigger list of songs that I felt went well together, it was less of a personal goal to do it topically. I didn't go into it with the conscious mindset to keep the finished piece so diverse, it just sort of happened more stylistically as the process went on.
CP: Well, I can say it really speaks to me. To be honest, I had never heard any of your stuff until your appearance on "A Prairie Home Companion" not long ago, and it coincided with a really difficult time in my life. So, what drew me to you were the ideas of kindness, loss, coping, seeking comfort when finding uncertainties that can be found in your music. Particularly on "My Friend" and more than anything on "Where Will You Be?" They really seem to stand for something contrary to the popular Lady Ga Ga ideas of self obsession and "sorry for partying" culture that is being portrayed as the "normal" life path for twentysomethings nowadays.
SW: When I was writing those songs they each came out fairly quickly, though months apart from each other. But, in each case, I would have a certain thinking or mood or be going through something fairly deep for me and it would boil down to a certain phrase or seed of thought. With "Where Will You Be?" it was the repetition of that chorus, along the lines of "When this happens, when that happens, when this happens, where will you be?" That actually got in my head before a Nickel Creek show and I got back to it afterwards. All this happened after I got off the phone with my friend and a few minutes later texted a line that summed up where my brain and heart were at the time, and I built the song around that. So, that is how these particular songs came out. But, I am still learning how to craft things. Songwriting is a challenging thing.
CP: Something that has struck me about your music is its ability to reach outside of a strictly traditional folk or bluegrass experience. I wonder what you think about regionalism and what you have seen in the receptions you have gotten across the country.
SW: I've been very fortunate in having an audience from people that keep track of Nickel Creek, so I've had more of a warm welcome than a lot of people in my shoes. But, I do feel like I am almost starting over, and it depends, right now I'm still really just building things up. I started doing my own shows last year and the audience was mainly people that were following me to begin with. I'll have a better answer after I play more festivals and have more chances to see new people and how they react. Bluegrass crowds may or may not like something that's not straight bluegrass, some people don't like instrumentals, there's a really diverse group that used to listen to Nickel Creek. Finding anyone that speaks to you is kind of a challenge, people come to shows already being really involved in that search, and most feedback on the ability to see something unique that isn't being crammed down their face like a lot of the pop stuff is. Just the other night I was speaking with a friend whose band is doing really well despite not much hype about their previous record because it's lasting longer. There are a lot of us out there doing it, and there has been a lot of change over in the past few years, and probably will be at least ten more years of interesting times. It's hard to make it out to see everybody and spread the word. But, a lot of people are looking for something that hasn't been hyped so much and bought and paid for by ad people that just want to jumpstart it. I think a lot of people that are dissatisfied with that are looking elsewhere and trying to find something that means something to the artist so it can mean something to them.
CP: I think part of what makes the music so rich definitely has to do with the subtleties of the messages. Everyone can find something if they look for it or lose themselves in it, a lot like you mentioned earlier. Your album does a good job of mirroring the human experience in life by leaving room to appreciate a nice melody for its own sake, or stare out into the abyss and find your true self reflected in it. As terrifying as it can be, there's something beautiful in being taken there.
SW: I'm still kind of amazed by that. It's really hard to find things that appeal to you on that level that you want, or that show you something familiar that you can identify with somewhere in your life, whether it be topical, aggression or something completely different that you want to feel in your life. It's so hard to find that stuff, but when people do they're so happy. I remember when I found Summerteeth by Wilco, I totally identified with the instrumentation and the message immediately. But some other stuff requires a little bit of time to dive into and find a way to approach. When I first heard Of Montreal it took me the longest time to figure out why it got under skin so much, but then I started loving it. So, there are lots of different ways to react. Whether that be to enjoy it and let it go without intruding on your pallet, or something along the lines of "Wow, that's totally different and I have never tasted anything like that! What is it?" The key is to do it as long as you can. My favorite artists of any craft just do it because that's what they love to do. The idea of somebody being a lifer is so intriguing to me and I feel like the stories, the songwriting, the history, all get so much more interesting. You can get so much more out of a song and its writer by knowing their story, and it does help me to listen to things when I know a little bit of background but am still not sure where things start and end.
CP: That is actually what drew me to you from the start. I remember on A Prairie Home Companion, you prefaced "My Friend" by saying a lot of people close to you saw themselves as the subject, even though they weren't originally. Aside from being a completely beautiful song, there is something inside there that adds a richness to experiencing you sing it.
SW: Haha, well thank you. That one was a very specific song, which is why it doesn't rhyme. A lot of my friends have thought it was about them when it wasn't, but as times have gone on it has changed, and honestly it's sometimes about me when I sing it.
Sara Watkins w/ John Prine, Fri., Feb. 19, Merriam Theatre, 250 S. Broad St., merriam-theater.com
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus