Monday, April 10, 2006

Richard Keely "The Sift Series" at Simayspace

Sculptures by Richard Keely
Through April 26

Art Academy of San Diego
840 G. Street San Diego


San Diego artist Richard Keely’s new exhibition, "The Sift Series", contains sculpture utilizing ordinary materials and every-day items. Challenging capitalistic society, Keely chooses his materials by searching for forms in thrift stores, 99 cent shops and other odd locations.


Every object in the show is testament to his rejection of traditional ideas of “value” and the questioning of preciousness, the most hilarious being “Pearl”, created in 2006. Made from Rubbermaid food containers, brass boat fitting, springs, and cork, the giant “Bling” hangs on the wall, at once, a parody of good taste and popular culture.

There is another interesting aspect to Keely’s materials, alongside the plastic, there is an array of objects that might be found in an ambitious scientific experimentor’s lab: glass lenses, a bell jar, resin, strange nylon fabrics, gelatin, etc. This relationship with the biological sciences complements the naturalness of the forms.

The pieces in “The Sift Show” are unified through their organic forms and gestural, machine-like stylizing. The machine style comes from the liberal use of riveting and industrial looking materials. The work is gestural because like a good Persian rug, upon closer inspection, slight imperfections make it clear that each object is hand-made, not by machine.

A striking piece in the show is “Unititled” the nylon fabric creating a soothing, feminine form, riveted and topped with a bell jar.

Is there a literary reference in this work?

In Sylvia Plath’s novel "The Bell Jar", when Esther Greenwood examined her life, realized society's hypocritical conventions and the oppressive expectations of others, Esther could not keep the airless bell jar of depression and despair from descending over her while we the reader “watched” through the glass. Her descent into airlessness could be compared to how artspeak can be suffocating for an object. As an art object is examined closely, referenced, compared to other art and artists, grouped, sold, cataloged and given a place in contemporary history, is all the life-force sucked out of it? Does the critical and historical process cause suicide for a work of art? To an artist, a work of art is an intense labor of creation, a life brought about by a cosmically induced birth.
Was Richard Keely’s final attempt towards saving his shiny, beautiful, pristine, bell jar headed baby from the horror of cold critics and unfeeling historians to name it.... "Untitled"?

In his studio, Keely executes his work relying on an intuitive process to find the possibilities that could be brought into being. Buckminster Fuller called this process “cosmic fishing” and said that you always know when you’ve “caught one and brought it in.” For Richard Keely, meanings, ideas and plans not only get in the way of this process, but actually subvert his letting-go; his underlying consciousness must be free to flow. For Keely, his love and commitment for his art is in the materials and his time-intensive, careful fabrication process. The preciousness is in the creative process, where his hands are feeling, forming and fenestrating. The end result, the object, is for viewing pleasure of the audience.

Take a peek at this beauty...

Potential meaning is considered but not specific. According to Keely, the fundamental idea of his work is the inherent dichotomy of life, which he overlaps. The Chinese have a symbol for this exact idea, the yin/yang. The entire “Sift Series” is an amusing and also very touching experience of the dualism within the circle of life. Every piece in this show is rife with counter-meanings and each is worthy of pondering. Even the placement of the sculptures on the wall adds to this inherently provocative and absurdly seductive show.

In Plath’s “The Bell Jar”, Esther Greenberg replies to her boyfriend Buddy who has just called her neurotic, “If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.”

Richard Keely is letting us fly with him.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Fidel Casto: Interview by Proxy

Cuba is undoubtedly a very interesting, even fascinating sociological experiment. Fidel Castro, the designer of the grand experiment, is, at best, an enigma to most Americans. The "Special Period" in Cuba began with the fall of the Soviet Union. The period ushered in a time of great change for the Cuban people. Stores closed, meat and other food became scarce, and strict rationing was instituted. Vegetables were sold at the market in Havana, but the premium prices were inhibative to most Cubans. Basic medical supplies, toiletries, and other every day items were no longer available.

Interestingly enough, this did not hamper the Cuban exuberance for life; music, art, dancing, and comedy continued to be at the forefront of the Cuban people's experience. In the face of such shortages, the situation might not be the same in any other country. If the world experiences shortages in fuel supplies, Cuba has been the example of how to live without much oil.

During this period, I had an incredible opportunity to ask Fidel Casto a few questions by proxy. This interview occurred a few years ago, but it is still relevant and I would like to share his answers with you.

Question #1
Cubans bitterly complain that they do not have enough meat to eat and that most of the meat is sold to tourists instead of going to the people. Why don't you promote vegetarianism not only to help this problem, but for the great health benefits of vegetarianism, which would place less of a strain on your health-care system?

Fidel's Answer: "The Cuban people are not ready for this."

Question # 2 There is so much rain in Cuba and the land is fertile everywhere. Why not promote backyard gardening and give the people fruit trees?

Fidel's Answer:"Hmmm"

Question # 3 Has this whole Revolution and your continued leadership of Cuba, which has taken your entire life, driven you crazy?

Fidel's Answer: I was crazy before I started.

As of 2005, many Cubans have planted backyard vegetable gardens. There is no vegetarian movement yet.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006

Monster Supper, Wendell Kling and Brian Dick Southwestern College

Monster Supper: Art Gallery at Southwestern College 900 Otay Lakes Road, San Diego

Matisse created "sacred" and healing environments in his bedroom and in the Chapel at Vence. Wendell Kling and Brian Dick have taken Matisse's cue but added hilarious absurdity. Walking into the entrance hall of the gallery at first fools the viewer-you see some giant unassuming but intricate cardboard cut-outs covering the walls. Curious sounds emanating from the main gallery cause you to hurry inside (is that Leon Berry on his Wurlitzer???) As you pass the entrance hallway and turn into the main gallery, an overwhelming force of colors, shadows, shapes and sounds totally surround you. Monster Supper is art as a complete environment. On the inside of the gallery, those cardboard cutouts seen just seconds ago have become huge stained glass-like windows profusing with reds, yellows, and blues and mingling with the secondary colors here and there. Faces and bodies of monster-like forms appear in the immense windows. Between the iconic, monster themed windows are striking sconces activated with motion. The center of the gallery floor holds a grand feast table set with molded cardboard plates, platters, and cardboard and string foods, all set under beautifully colored cardboard lights. At the far wall, a curtained screen draws in the viewer with a raw, edgy movie looking something like a samurai/Native American fight with stylized dance movements-a strange monster movie. The space demands the viewer to just stand for a while to receive the load of sensual input-color, shape, sound, movement and take in the abundant details before the parody and enchantment hit the limbic system with a brain rush of delightful comprehension.

This collaborative effort began three years ago when Wendell Kling and Brian Dick invited some friends over, gave them recycled cardboard, colored plastic and duct tape and had them create monster costumes. After the creating, and a homemade soup lunch, Wendell and Brian filmed super 8 movies of their friends, who were rather spontaneously playing in their monster costumes. This was the first part of the Happening. Monster Supper evolved from this.

Wendell Kling incorporates the food element in his performance art in order to bring comfort and togetherness to a gathering. What a fresh and inspirational direction to take art and Happenings-not towards unending snobbish elitism, but towards a FRIENDLY community-oriented atmosphere! Brian Dick's interest is monsters-monster movies, monster costumes, and even monster plates in this show. Monster Supper is the aptly titled collaborative union of the two men and their ideas.

The artists' inspiration came from many areas including Maurice Sendak's wild monster rumpus in "Where the Wild Things Are." Both artists studied under Allan Kaprow, legendary creator of "Happenings" in the 60's. Kling and Dick carry on Kaprowian ideas of environment, producing a theatrical production eliminating the audience/artist by placing them as direct participants.

This show will leave your mind with laughter and place a mark your soul (as only presence in a room full of saturated colors can.) A trip to Southwestern College's Monster Supper is an engagement with a sacred space of hilarity.

For the full on Happening-join the artists on Thursday February 23rd at 11:00 a.m. when they will be holding a "Monster Feast" for the shows' closing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

New Orleans in A New United States- Toxic Art Show

L'art Noir- A New Orleans gallery owner speaks about his business situation after the flood.

See links list at the right for the hyperlink to the movie if URL is not clickable below.

Quicktime movie.