In Memoriam

In September 2011 a young man I had known as an intern at Art in General, Nicolas Djandji, died in a bike wreck. Neither of us were working at Art in General any longer, I had been laid off before he finished there, but he had landed an excellent curatorial internship at Dia Foundation and was impressing people there. I think of Nick often because he was a big fan of coffee and once told me he had his morning coffee in the shower. I scoffed and made fun of him at the time, but soon adopted the practice, and still do it occasionally, thinking of him every time. The story about him that sticks in my head is that he would often go on coffee runs (as an excuse to smoke a cigarette or two along the way) and always checked with everyone in the office if they wanted some. He usually went later than I liked to drink coffee, and he mostly went to Starbucks, not my favorite, so I generally said no thanks. Finally, one day I did want coffee, and when I said yes and gave him my order, he was so excited that he insisted in buying it for me, though he was the 23 year-old unpaid intern and I was earning a salary there.

He was sensitive, creative, kind, enthusiastic, and is greatly missed by all that knew him. I remember thanking the colleague who had interviewed and hired him at his memorial. Nick enriched many lives in his short time, and it’s odd to have only known him a little over a year, and not really know his very close friends. The early thing that we had in common was that he spent his formative tween & teen years in Sugarland, Texas (a suburb of my hometown, Houston) though his family was Egyptian and (I think) had lived in Montreal. While we were working together his family, including one of his two younger brothers moved to Dubai. His father worked for the oil industry and an opportunity had come up. Nick was pretty concerned for his younger brother, he’d been no fan of coming of age in a Texas suburb, but he felt that Dubai would be weirder/worse. So his family had to travel from Dubai for his memorial.

My brother died about 3 years later and we traveled to the rest of our family in Texas from Brooklyn. Both were senseless deaths, could have been prevented, if only…
But those are thoughts I cannot have, as there is no more “if only” in their cases just the reality of loss. Each of these young men is a great loss.

Photo via Art in General, from a performance art work by Božena Končić
Badurina. Nick Djandji is on the left.

Link Round Up #6

This is a very interesting article on Artsy about where art is really happening these days.

I think this is true, about factory jobs & unions.

This would have been a long way to travel, even when I was in Brooklyn, but it looks neat and the fact that they serve La Colombe coffee is all the reason you need to stop by if you’re in the area. (Holy crap, you can subscribe to get their coffee beans delivered to you weekly. Ultimate marvelous, delicious bourgeoisie luxury.)

Late-career artists you may never have heard of, from NYTimes.

A mid-career artist whose NewMu show I’d loooove to see.

Both turrible and hilarious.

Cleveland is big in the news lately, no?

Top image: Lakwena‘s BE BAD UNTIL YOU’RE GOOD. AND GOOD UNTIL YOU’RE GREAT

Great advice for artists.

Migrations

Having left New York City in the past year, I’ve been especially attuned to people I know and know of going to new cities from NYC. First, before me, was my grad school classmate & pal, Christina Vassallo leaving NYC and Flux Factory for Spaces Cleveland a couple years ago. Now, another Brooklynite is leaving, for Philadelphia. My former coworker (via Art in General) Andria Hickey leaves NYC and the Public Art Fund for Cleveland – this time to the MOCA. Cleveland folks – go see the Mark Mothersbaugh* show when it opens. I caught the Contemporary Austin version last month and really enjoyed it!

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New to Waco, but already coming from Texas are some Baylor Museums people – Alison Chew Syltie came to the Martin Museum of Art from Corsicana, where she was previously at Navarro College’s Pearce Museum. The Mayborn Museum welcomed a new director around the same time, Charles Walter from San Antonio’s DoSeum.

Speaking of migrations – is there any news from DMA about who will replace Max Anderson?

*fun fact: I walked down the aisle to a Mark Mothersbaugh composition – from Royal Tenenbaums – at my wedding.

Top photo by Nan Palmero via New York Magazine. Texas photo via The Crazy Tourist.

 

Art on Elm Avenue: April 9, 2016

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Old Waco architecture on Elm Ave, the historic main street of the local African American community during times of segregation, subsequently neglected. This building can’t be used for Art on Elm, a pop up art festival & exhibition April 9 – because it is tagged by the city as unsafe. We will however be using other buildings nearby for exhibitions, and closing down the street for the bands and vendors and art activities at the 1-day, all-day (10 am-5 pm) festival. 

Linksies #5

It’s been a while. Finally went to the Gustave Caillebotte show at the Kimbell, it was fantastic (open until Feb. 14, go!).
I’ve been saving links for a while though, so enjoy:

I’m Waco famous!

Guerilla Girls interviewed on Stephen Colbert.

Made me laugh  (via Go Fug Yourself).

David Bowie GIFs (via ArtFCity).

Black Thought on his early days  (New York Mag feature it is a part of via Cup of Jo).

A very specific scenario re: saving for a rainy day.

Relationship advice.

Common nonprofit terms & what they really mean (too true!)

Great Bill Cunningham piece about blizzard fashion (via Brent Burket).

Photo: Selfie with Piano Pavilion. Note: no coat on Jan. 30!

Vanity Fair Lists, Polls, JMB

Spotted a magazine cover of Jean-Michel Basquiat in the grocery store last week and obviously had to have it, even though it was $15 damn dollars and I’m making peanuts at two part time jobs that don’t even add up to 1 half-time job.

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Look at that face. I luff him.

Vanity Fair’s Art and Artists 2015/16 Special Edition, which I resolved to read by Friday and review shortly after. But I was put off to start, they start out with an article about a poll they did of 100 artists and art tastemakers on the most important living artists…in 2013. I guess it’s really a 2015/16 collection of articles that have appeared in VF – it includes many articles by Ingrid Sischy, who died in July 2015. And it says “display until February 2016” so for all I know it’s been on display for 6 months.

I hate narrowing down lists so I know it would be hard to pick 100 people to ask but I had my issues with those they asked (only 54 of whom participated). I am tempted to come up with a list of people I’d like to ask who I should look out for. So, not who is most (or least) anything, but who are you – someone I admire – interested in, excited about, wanting to share. Things rumbling in the brain, more soon.

Image via @StArtEverywhere.

 

Link Roundup, Issue 4

I had a great, relaxing holiday season, how about you? The 3 of us hung out at my parents’ place in Arlington, TX with my brother and small cast of assorted old friends for Christmas. (Through all kinds of weather, see above photo for proof, the Friday pictured was Xmas Day.) Then for New Year’s Eve just us adults went down to Austin and spent time with other assorted old friends then hopped down to San Antonio to kick it with sister- and brother-in-law. God bless happily babysitting grandparents! Then yesterday we went and saw Kehinde Wiley: A new Republic at the FW Modern. So good, and closes Sunday! The show was at Brooklyn Museum earlier in 2015 and will subsequently travel to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art later this year.

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Below, a The Toast-heavy linky list:

Confession: New York City took my marshmallows.

The most powerless people in the art world, from Hyperallergic.

On emotional labor, revelatory on its own but do some more reading, mmkay?

Best of Art F City in 2015.

18 Children’s books with female main characters, from Cup of Jo.

Catching up with friends in other ways than getting drinks or coffee.

Hot dudes…of color, helloooo nurse!

Marvelous cousin doing important research, quoted in WaPo, and the original HBR article that piqued their interest.

Recently hooked on Jessica Jones – article contains sorta spoilers, but watch the show and read the article.

Houston, Part 3

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in Houston in September. Auntie Julie and I went for a swim at her local outdoor pool (which stays open year-round! New Yorkers take note). After a shower and lunch I was off to the musum district again, this time to go to Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, or CAMH, where a longtime acquaintance now works. The show was Texas Design Now, timed, I suspect, with Design Week. It was a great show, full of wonderful stuff in nearly every media by people I’d never heard of. The Houston Chronicle did a nice review (though unfortunately they have a subscriber paywall).

I first encountered Dean Daderko, now a curator at CAMH,  when he was helping friend & colleague Tara Mateik install an exhibition at Art in General and I was Tara’s intern, around 2006. Dean has been at CAMH for 4 years and loves Houston. Another mark in the “pro Houston” camp! I was very impressed with the exhibition in the basement, Whispering Bayou, a collaboration between  Carroll Parrott Blue, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, and George Lewis. An interactive video installation, when you walk up to a screen it begins to play interwoven clips of people talking about growing up around the bayou, a phenomenon I’m familiar with.
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We bumped into another curator friend of Dean’s, coming over from MFAH because of the excellence of CAMH’s packed shop. Networking!

Though I was set to head off to Waco again that afternoon, I could not resist popping in to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (aforementioned MFAH) to see their recently opened Mark Rothko show (open through Jan. 24!). With a stop in the James Turrell tunnel installation it made for the second Turrell I experienced in as many days.

Houston and Mark Rothko, of course! It was great, I’d never seen his early, more figurative work. It was a lovely show and a good visit to the museum. The last time I was there was while MoMA was renovating and sent parts of their collection on a tour. The first time I ever saw Starry Night was there.

A semi quick stop in the museum shop and 3 Christmas presents later, I was on my way to my old neighborhood of Sharpstown for a cruise. On the way out of town I stopped for a Vietnamese iced coffee and a Doughssaint (aka Cronut, my first!) in Chinatown, which I’d forgotten was so close to my childhood home. Another mark in the pro column for Houston.

Link Roundup, Issue 3

I had a great week aside from an icky cough: Husband’s birthday and a fine dinner with local family, a movie date to see Spectre, the last week of my first semester teaching after school art classes, selling artworks during a wee parade in downtown Waco, Dad’s birthday dinner then an evening with a whole lotta cousins ages 2-9.

Here’s some stuff I’ve been reading and working on:

Black Artists and the March into the Museum from NY Times.

Another side of the same coin, internet art star Kim Drew getting more & more recognition.

A fantastic resource, W.A.G.E. is a great group doing important work.

I’ve followed this blog for a while, excited that her book is out now. #momstuff #parenting.

I loved The Wiz Live, and I was not the only one.

Looking forward to starting a campaign with the online fundraising platform MatchMe for Cultural Arts Waco. More to come!

I made sure to go to the Barnes Foundation before their move to Philly proper, I look forward to seeing their new space and the new work they do.

On the light side – animal fun.

I feel strongly about gun control and will be following these steps, I hope you will too.

Photo of donated paintings for sale on Austin Ave during Saturday’s parade.

 

Greater New York 2015 at PS1

The first show I ever saw at PS1 was Greater New York 2005, on a field trip with my “Galleries and Museums of New York” class, in my first semester of graduate school. Ahh, memories!

Apparently my visit was something of the opposite of Paddy Johnson & co, who went there straight from the airport and I had to hustle off to the airport so unfortunately I wasn’t able to view the whole show. It was a shame, as the first few photos and discussions in the review are interesting, yet I missed that part of the show.

Onward! I didn’t get a long/good read of the 2010 edition, though I remember thinking of it as crowded. Some of 2015 was crowded, other parts had plenty of space.

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Donald Moffett’s Gold/Tunnel was early in the exhibition the way I went through and was the first thing that struck me. I hadn’t spent any time with his work before, and the layering of a monochromatic gold canvas and a video of water going under a stone bridge kept me interested for a while. There were a few more works of his further along in the galleries that I wouldn’t necessarily have guessed were by the same artist. (Fun to find in later research that he’s also a Texan and has the same alma mater as some family members.)

One of the works I most connected with was Glenn Ligon’s Housing in New York, a Brief History. It is framed around the circumstances that led him to and from the places he has lived, from his birth to 2007. I certainly connect with pegging life events to certain places, I still can’t visit Houston without cruising by the house I grew up in. It was interesting to connect with some of the places Ligon has lived, having recently left the Clinton Hill/Fort Greene area, where the artist spent the early 90’s, a very different time for the neighborhood. (On the very same visit that took me to PS1 for the exhibition, I was startled to find a Starbucks right next to a Chipotle, opened since I left in August of this year.) On a different side of the coin, I started working in Ligon’s current home of Tribeca during the same year the work was made. I am quite familiar with the Western Spirit store on the ground floor of his building that he mentions, and once spotted him in the nearby Starbucks.

harlem matriarch
Kevin Beasley’s Untitled/Harlem Matriarch is a striking three-dimensional work. Colorful, floral-printed house dresses cast in resin into a large, satellite-shaped disk that casts cool shadows.

Flynt-SAMO
Henry Flynt’s room full of photos of SAMO graffiti were of special interest to this Jean-Michel Basquiat fan. I’ve seen a few of the SAMO pieces smattered into exhibitions in the context of Basquiat’s work, but this was an excellent chance to get to know SAMO better, a line of photos around an entire gallery.

Mary Beth Edelman’s untitled collage (pictured at top) was one of my absolute favorite works in the exhibition. I enjoyed the idea that a seminal early feminist artist is still working on walls in PS1. It looked fantastic from far away but the detail was amazing as well, birds, sculptures, women mashed up throughout. There were other pieces of hers in the gallery, as well as a sculpture called Kali Bobbit in the big sculpture gallery on the second floor.

Bits and pieces in photo gallery + other notes:

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Juxtaposition of Ignacio Gonzales-Lang’s Kueens (2009) Ugo Rondinone’s dark lithe figure nude from 2010 was interesting, as the Gonzalez-Lang is a traditional african craft reading on a Ku Klux Klan outfit, in red.

Roy Colmer’s photos of downtown doors were another connection to old New York for me, as I’ve spent lots of time looking at doors and armitures in Soho.