Vancouver Art Gallery Gumhead spike public interest

Passersby and gallery goers stick gum on Gumhead, installed adjacent to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Howe Street. (Nicosia Smith photo)

Passersby and gallery goers stick gum on Gumhead, installed adjacent to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Howe Street. (Nicosia Smith photo)

 

By Nicosia Smith

Whenever you chew a gum in public, in almost every case your next thought is where to stick it.

Well, Vancouver based international artist and writer Douglas Coupland has come up with an idea.

It is interactive and all it asks, is that you stick gum on a head – an image of the artist.

Now here is where it gets sticky, the gum-head head is located only at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

It is Coupland, Gumhead, a public art work commissioned by the Gallery.

No matter what your thoughts are about gum, it is intriguing.

This project makes you feel the need to explore in your head, how gum has served art.

And how exactly is gum serving art you are likely to ask?

Since this 7-foot tall sculpture only calls on passersby and gallery goers to chew gum and paste it on its head.

And that in it self, you can argue is art.

And here is another thought that was shared with me.

One gallery host explain that the public in many cases deface public art, so why not make their input apart of the art.

And a lot of people seem to agreed.  The public has not shied away.

For those of you who enjoy sticking gum in public, it is a dream art project.

For those that don’t, well there is the cringe effect.

Since it went on view May 31, this once plain black-head is now

Douglas Coupland: Gumhead, 2014 made from steel, milled foam, resin and gum. (Nicosia Smith photo)

Douglas Coupland: Gumhead, 2014 made from steel, milled foam, resin and gum. (Nicosia Smith photo)

sticky, multi-colored and almost covered with chewed gums.

I must admit I was not chewing gum and sticking it on Gumhead.

Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the numbers that came off the street to add to Gumhead.

Coupland, has described this work as “a gumbased, crowdsourced, publicly interactive self-portrait.”

Through September 1, the public can take part in this very unique work.

Coupland is also exploring the singularity of Canadian culture, technology and the power of language in Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything. The artist is shedding light on what he terms “the 21st century condition.”

A glimpse of Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything exhibit, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Nicosia Smith photo)

A glimpse of Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything exhibit, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Nicosia Smith photo)

 

So my border friends go ahead, chew and paste if this takes your fancy.

 

 

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Jean Dubuffet far from ordinary

 

jean dubuffet

A Jean Dubuffet sculpture with his paintings in the background at Sotheby’s, NY,NY. (Nicosia Smith photo)

By Nicosia Smith

Jean Dubuffet.

He is far from conventional or traditional, this French painter and sculptor.

Forty-four of his works are on display at Sotheby’s, Jean Dubuffet – A Fine Line.

This selling exhibit runs through June 13 and gives a very colourful depiction of Dubuffet’s (1901-1985) works.

His paintings carry a lot of wide-eyed ghost-like reflections and is a theme throughout the display.

It is hard to say what the images, which are spread out across the paintings, are trying tell us. At times they are still, drifting or just there.

It’s an exhibit that will certainly make you stop and ponder.

Sotheby’s abuzz with British Guiana stamp

stamp

The 1856 One-Cent Black-on-Magenta on display at Sotheby’s York Avenue, NY, NY. (Sotheby’s image)

 

By Nicosia Smith

There is a buzz in the world of stamp collectors.

And this is why.

The British Guiana 1856 One-Cent Black-on-Magenta will soon go on sale.

And it is estimated to be sold for between $10M to $20M when it goes on auction June 17  at Sotheby’s (On display until Friday).

All by itself, the stamp takes center stage on Sotheby’s first floor, far right corner.

A very wired guard at the entrance of the exhibit keeps a keen eye, before you reach the descending few stairs to the stamp.

The significance of the occasion rests on you.

stamp

The verso of the British Guiana one-cent magenta stamp showing the initials and marks of some previous owners. (Sotheby’s image)

In a darkly lit room, there it was, a small florence-like beam shining on it.

While a very knowledgeable attendant nearby gives you a history of the very famous and rarest stamp in circulation.

Such a small object, but holding so much significant history. I took a moment.

According to Sotheby’s, in July 1850 British Guiana form an inland postal service.

And in 1852, British Guiana began receiving regular postage stamps, manufactured in England by Waterlow & Sons.

But in 1856, a shipment of stamps from England was delayed and threatened a disruption of postal service throughout British Guiana.

Colonial postmaster, E.T.E. Dalton, got local printers Joseph Baum and William Dallas, to print a contingency supply of postage stamps

Baum and Dallas were publishers of the Royal Gazette newspaper in Georgetown, British Guiana at the time.

They attempted to mimic the appearance of the Waterlow stamps and produced a series of three definitive stamps for the colony: the One-cent Magenta, a four-cent magenta, and a four-cent blue.

The one-cent magenta stamp is the sole survivor from its series.

I was told that the printing press for the one-cent magenta still survives in now Guyana, formerly British Guiana.

Tilton Gallery challenges you to find the joke

Egan Frantz, Sicca Purgiato Sublime, 2014 (Nicosia Smith photo)

Egan Frantz, Sicca Purgiato Sublime, 2014 (Nicosia Smith photo)

By Nicosia Smith

So how do you get an audience to take new contemporary works seriously.

You give it a serious title like, “but that joke isn’t funny anymore….”

Seriously.

This is the name of the exhibit at Tilton Gallery, 8 East 76 Street, for a group of 12 titled and untitled contemporary pieces.

I must admit that my initial thought was, I was going to get a good laugh. Simply put, that was not the case.

Luca Dellaverson, Untitled, 2014, (Nicosia Smith photo)

Luca Dellaverson, Untitled, 2014, (Nicosia Smith photo)

JPW 3, HIVE CITRONE 2014, 2014 (Nicosia Smith photo)

JPW 3, HIVE CITRONE 2014, 2014 (Nicosia Smith photo)

 

I found my self in a very intense engagement with the works of the eight contemporary artists on display.

The untitled 2014 work of Luca Dellaverson, had me staring partially at the red coat I was wearing, in this Epoxy resin and mirrored glass with wood support.

This work on the second floor of the two-floor exhibit, had my imagination running wild.

I kept thinking how did Dellaverson got the smashed glass to remain so intact.

And how this smashed effect made light move through the work, even as most of the piece remain black.

At the same time allowing me to see my red coat.

Artist JPW 3, HIVE CITRONE, 2014, an offset ink transfer in citronella, peach, and paraffin wax on canvas, was also nothing to laugh about.

Simone Leigh, Untitled 2014 (Nicosia Smith photo)

Simone Leigh, Untitled 2014 (Nicosia Smith photo)

While looking at this work I tried to understand what JPW 3 wanted us to know about the separation of wax from ink. I kept staring at the piece to see if there was some encryption in it that I should see or a pattern of some sort. I saw nothing to decipher.

Simone Leigh, untitled, 2014, Terra cotta and porcelain stood alone, being the only sculpted piece.

That is, if you consider the Sicca Purgiato sublime, 2014, (above) aluminum, rebonded foam, laser-etched acrylic, and hardware, by Egan Frantz.

Nine of the 12 pieces were made this year, two from 2010 and one from 2013 and are on exhibit through June 7.

All mainly new works, proving that there was nothing to laugh about.

It is just too cold to be Spring

(Google Image)

 

By Nicosia smith

Spring arrived weeks ago, but walking the streets of New York City you would think otherwise.

It is a frigid Spring.

Just when I thought it was ok for the extra layers to go. I find my self debating whether I need that extra jacket or tights.

And sling back slippers will have to wait awhile longer, as my socks do overtime.

That aside, you still have to get out there and be on the move.

So if it’s still too cold outside for you as it is for me, warm up at this indoor event.

Spring Masters New York, a Park Avenue Armory Fair staged by Architect Rafael Vinoly opening April 30 at the Armory.

And open to the public between May 1-4.

This international show will showcase art and antiquities from galleries across the US and is sure to pique your appetite.

Contemporary furniture, art, bronze and metal sculptures, paintings and jewellery.

And check out the Tribeca Film Festival as well ending April 27, if you can get tickets.

And you may still be able to, with its slogan of ‘never say sold out’.

Certainly, a mixture of international and local films will keep things interested.

 

Art for Depression

Painting by Else Blankenhorn (1873-1920).

Else Blankenhorn 1873-1920 (Spiegel Online International Photo)

 

By Nicosia Smith

Immersing your self into thoughts and feelings apart from your own is a helpful tool to free the mind.

When you step into a gallery or museum or observe a painter at work,  you are agreeing to a journey.

Out from where you are at the moment, to another place. And at that place you are the manager in charge and the judge in the court.

Your opinions and suggestions are all your own and largely block to anyone else.

Although, the creative mind behind the piece on display, will likely explain what the art is saying or means in brief.

This is open-ended. It is not written in stone, as they say.

Or except of course, you become an influential art critic, and even so, art lovers are not easily dissuaded by critics.

Because art is all about going against the grain, so to speak.

But back to art as therapy.

Last week and this week several artistic associations celebrated the healing power of art.

One such institution was the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

More than 30 folk art works by psychiatric patients were displayed in the hospital’s lobby.

All part of a celebration of Creative Arts Therapy Week. Yes, that’s right.

Creativity is not only for economic gain but it provides fulfillment for the mind.

As these and other psychiatric patients have shown us.

That is, expressing one’s self through art is also a powerful form of treatment, together with traditional treatment.

As someone who loves the escape that art and other things cultural provide, I will continue moving towards the art epicenters.

A Facebook post or Wall Art?

What is your social media wall saying about you?

Is it a chart of how you are to be remembered?

And there is no shame in thinking about it while you post on Twitter or Facebook.

And look at it this way – you may not be consciously pondering it, but you are posting it.

Think about it.

All those dinner outings, evening sessions, birthday parties, vacations and upset moments posted for all.

A memento in your online album. Of your feelings and thoughts to be liked or disliked.

All saying these are things to remember me by.  A very interactive way.

If you happen to get famous over night, yes that too can happen. The first place the media is likely to look for information about you is on social media.

And all of your post and bantering becomes who you are. Even that one post you hope would disappear over time.

No they do not.

But for those of us looking for a more subdued  and less interactive way.

Well, there is always the services of a painter. That is one that can paint a portrait.

The artist can make you look the part whatever part that is.

Fit for a fireplace mantle or for a living room wall.

So while your post will be a little more off the wall or unpredictable, your portrait is not expected to be.

Unless the artist is told otherwise.

Curators are always preoccupied with this question, because it is a part of their jobs.

That is, how to best present a subject or someone.

So as you come across your next post-able moment, remember, that’s your art on the wall.

Dressed for the Ball – NY Gilded Age

By Nicosia Smith

New York City today is known for its excesses.

A glimpse of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal will attest to this.

New York’s grand lifestyles are by no means recent.

Since, for centuries those with wealth have flaunted it. Whether in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

But whenever you are confronted with these over the top lifestyles, it has a shock value.

Remember New York’s Gilded Age. Or should I say, have you heard about the Gilded Age.

The Museum of the City of  New York has decided to jug our memories.

Exhibiting objects from the mid 1870’s to the early 20th Century of New York’s rich.

It was the perfect way to open the museum’s Tiffany and Co. Foundation Gallery. That is, what better inaugural show, for a gallery sponsored by Tiffany, right.

The Gilded Age, was a time of excesses so grand, that even publications frown on it.

This was so, I imagine, because as wealthy families flirted and splurged at grand balls, New York struggled with a large poor population.

This exhibit is a bold display of costumes, jewelry, portraits, decorative plates, vases and fine china.

Immaculate clothing with sapphires, platinum, turquoise, ruby and fine silk. And painted silk feathers, mother-of-pearl folding fans.

A bejewelled breath freshener case and perfume bottles engraved with gold are also among the trinkets.

And the love of jewellery is seen in the self portraits of the rich.

Like the exhibit at the New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America, vouches to this.

In addition – a slide show outside the Tiffany gallery, shows images from extravagant parties. Like the Alva and William K. Vanderbilt Ball of 1883 at their 5th Avenue Mansion, Bradley Martin Ball of 1897 and others.

They dressed as kings and queens from Europe and as an Egyptian princess or Indian chief. Posing for photos in courtyards and gardens, fashioned after Versailles. These exhibits are a great way to learn about this era, in person. And there is still time.

While the New York Historical Society exhibit ends March 9, this City Museum exhibit goes until November.

So go, take a look.

The beauty of a black and white drawing

A portrait by Morgan Sparks Smith (Image of his brother Marvin according to Swann Auction Galleries records.)

A portrait by Morgan Sparks Smith (Image of his brother Marvin according to Swann Auction Galleries records.)

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper from a passing shape, ” P. Picasso

By Nicosia Smith

A seemingly simple art form, yet exquisite in its detail, form and simplicity.

It’s always an amazement how equally griping black and white images are. That is, when we take a break from color paintings.

So I considered it a good contrast when Swann Auction Galleries,

104 East 25th St, this month featured the black and white images

along side full color paintings.

In Swann’s, Shadows Uplifted: The Rise of African-American Fine Art, noted black and whites included:

  •  Charles White (1918-1979) Pensive Lass, Charcoal on illustration board, 1936
  •  Allan Rohan Crite (1910-2007) The Last Super
  •  Aaron Douglas (1888-1979) Snow Storm, Charcoal on woven paper, circa 1950-1955
  •  Morgan Sparks Smith (1910-1993) Portrait, Charcoal on thin laid paper, 1934

In Douglas’s, Snow Storm, the light and soft strokes beautifully depicted a snow storm, as the wind churned the snow toward the nearby trees and homes.

And even from the lone visible figure in the image, one can see the distress, as they battle the strong winds.

As I confront the current brutal winter in NYC, I have a greater appreciation for this piece.

There is just something about a natural clear image, laid bare with raw emotions. Truly a pleasure.

The self portraits are a beautiful example of this. So one and all, bring on the black and white selfies, as well.

Charles White, Pensive Lass (Head of a Woman)

Charles White, Pensive Lass (Head of a Woman)

Now, the exhibit had other noted big hitters in African-American contemporary art. Whose works include bronze sculptures, oil on masonite board and watercolors like :

  •  Claude Clerk (1915-2001)
  •  William H. Johnson (1901-1970)
  •  Augusta Savage (1892-1962)
  •  William A. Harper (1873-1910)
  •  Hale Woodruff (1900-1980)
  •  William Edouard Scott (1884-1964)
  •  Hughie Lee-Smith (1915-1999)
  •  William E. Artis (1914-1977)

It’s sometimes good to enjoy the simple and uncomplicated, just a thought.

Rubin Museum explores photo alterations of the past

Rajasahib of Dhrangadhara, the then ruler of a princely state in present day Gujarat (India), photographer and painter unknown ca 1930. Gelatin silver print and oil paint. (Nicosia Smith photo)

Rajasahib of Dhrangadhara, the then ruler of a princely state in present day Gujarat (India), photographer and painter unknown ca 1930. Gelatin silver print and oil paint. (Nicosia Smith photo)

For those of us who practice photo shop there is a sense of gratification when we finally get the image we desire.

So what if you were royal. What would those alterations be?

The Rubin Museum of Art in its Allegory and Illusion – Early Portrait Photography from South Asia, showcased a delectable example of early photo alterations.

Images from South Asia in the 1800’s, showed photos of Royals being retouch with color, silk and whatever else they desired, as a statement of their authority.

This is the Portrait of a Royal, from the Photo art Studio Rajkot ca. 1900-1930. Gelatin silver print, oil paint, silk cloth,velvet cloth, sequins and gold-colored wire were added to his image. (Nicosia Smith photo)

This is the Portrait of a Royal, from the Photo art Studio Rajkot ca. 1900-1930. Gelatin silver print, oil paint, silk cloth,velvet cloth, sequins and gold-colored wire were added to his image. (Nicosia Smith photo)

Now of course, the changes being made for the Royals were approved before hand, I would imagine.

This was done by either putting the additions on a portrait photo (as seen left) or using the photo as a model to paint a portrait and adding the enhancements (as seen below).

So a painter would then add for example color, sparkles, silk and gold. Power and stature played a big roll in what was added.

This, it seem was quite common during those days.

A portrait painter, image taken at the Rubin Museum. (Nicosia Smith photo)

A portrait painter, image taken at the Rubin Museum. (Nicosia Smith photo)

Allegory and Illusion explores early portrait photography from India, Nepal, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Burma (Myanmar)  from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century.While there are many images of Royals and high-ranking members of society, there are also images of the ordinary, whose portraits have no alterations.

This exhibition goes through February 10.