LADY GAGA artRAVE

Lady Gaga ArtraveIn a very last minute, last ditch opportunity, I found myself sailing for Lady Gaga’s artRAVE concert extravaganza to celebrate her album, ARTPOP at the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

Lady Gaga Jeff Koons Maria KucinskiArtist Jeff Koons co-hosted the event, showing off his larger-than-life sculpture of Lady Gaga – a breathtaking and hypnotizing piece of art. You can sense Lady Gaga’s aura through the work.

Lady Gaga ArtravePrior to the concert, there were extremely polished video projections of her new music video, her studies at the Marina Abramovic Insitute, and a 3-channel video projection of herself being tortured. Although difficult to watch, especially surrounded by the merriest “Little Monsters” in the world, it was very well done.

Art world royalty was also in attendance including Yoko Ono, Simon de Pury, and Klaus Biesenbach.

7 IMAG3961What I came away with from the event is that Lady Gaga is a true artist. She has surrounded herself with great artists and she has learned their craft. The most noticeable influence is that of Marina Abramovic, with whom Lady Gaga has been studying. There is a new focus, a new concentration to her. I also saw references to the Fluxus Movement and to Robert Wilson with his iconic gestures. She is wholly devoting herself to her craft, to her art, exposing her body and giving herself to the audience.

Lady Gaga ArtraveBut aside from the flawlessness of the evening, there was also an overall sense of peace and happiness and acceptance. Strangers were telling me that I was beautiful and I made friends with a few people around me.

How could you not be happy in Gaga’s world? And it is her world. She sits atop a throne, legs apart, commanding attention.

Jeff Koons Lady Gaga ArtraveAfter the concert ended, I shook Jeff Koons’ hand and told him that the sculpture was stunning.

And then I locked eyes with Darren Criss. A beautiful end to my memorable night.

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Come, and Back Again by David Dorfman Dance at BAM

David Dorfman Dance’s Come, and Back Again is a beautiful showcase of reflection through dance and multimedia.

A wall of stuff, fossilized in white frames the stage. A band, also in white, sits upstage, playing songs of “poetic rock and roll.” Four dancers and David energize the space with the weighted – but not heavy – and entangling choreography. Real-time projection, text, and the presence of David’s wife and son convey the powerful symbols of clutter, preservation, and what we leave behind.

All in all, the high intensity piece was a touching reminder that there are those moments in life, those emotions that are worth experiencing, worth feeling. But what I enjoyed the most about the piece was David’s ability to tell his story, so beautifully, so poignantly, so joyfully.

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My escape to the American Southwest

I flew out to Arizona for my first time and I fell in love.

Route 8The purpose of my trip was to see Alois Kronschlaeger’s awe-inspiring Untitled (Basin and Range) at MOCA Tucson. His installation, his largest and most ambitious to-date, was stunning. It was over a year in the making, took seven weeks to install with a crew of people, and one night to celebrate his accomplishment.

Alois Kronschlaeger Maria KucinskiI also ventured into the desert. I took in the landscape and the culture.

Tucson Arizona

Tucson ArizonaAt dawn, I bid adieu to Tucson and headed to Yuma, Arizona in a red convertible Chevy Camaro. I got the grand tour of Yuma by the city’s own spokesperson, seeing the Colorado River and the Ocean to Ocean Highway.

Martha GuzmanI hopped back in my Camaro and continued my journey to San Diego. I traveled through the desert, the sand dunes, the turbines, the mountains, and finally through paradise.

View from the CamaroI drove over 400 miles to the coast, basking in the sun upon my arrival.

Maria Kucinski Red Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2013I ate Mexican food while talking aviation with my old pal and Marine pilot.

Brad PanasitiThe next day, I traded in the Camaro for a new set of wheels, a beautiful bicycle with red rims. I rode all along Mission Beach, envisioning my life in this paradise.

Maria Kucinski Bicycle in Paradise

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Executing a site-specific “intervention” in New York City

Jennifer Marman Daniel Borins Maria Kucinski Photo: Joe Leavenworth

Final adjustments to Pavilion of the Blind with Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins. Photo: Joe Leavenworth.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to work with two very talented artists, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins on their debut New York exhibition, Pavilion of the Blind on view at the Tierney Gardarin Gallery through October 26th. In addition to working with the artists to prepare and install their stellar exhibition, I was tasked with executing a site-specific intervention.

Tenth Ave and 29th Street ChelseaAmongst all the development going on in West Chelsea and Hudson Yards, there are businesses that continue to operate. The gallery is one of those storefront businesses with demolition and construction affecting daily life. In talks to beautify the block and perhaps subtly notify the passersby of our existence in the outpost that is 29th Street, we decided to do an intervention on the construction hoarding.

Tenth Avenue and 29th StreetWet posters to be wheat pasted proved to be too costly. Next best option? Painting vertical stripes in the style of of Marman + Borins latest works, utilizing the color palette they have developed for the past five years. Daniel and I picked out the exact colors and finish. We thought “Daredevil” red was a suitable choice. There were five colors in total with one vertical stripe to be left blank – a commentary on the site and its existing artwork.

Nick Hugh Schmidt

Malcolm BarrettI hired two fantastic artists, Nick Hugh Schmidt and Malcolm Barrett to execute the stripes. They began at 10th Avenue between 28th and 29th Street and wrapped around the corner of 29th Street towards 11th Avenue. In a couple hours, they had made an unsightly construction site into something worth looking at, something worth noticing.

Nick Hugh Schmidt Malcolm Barret 10th Ave and 29th St

Jennifer Marman Daniel Borins 10th Ave 29th StreetAll in all, I think the piece is a stunning tribute to what a little paint and a sharp aesthetic can add to a city block.Tenth Ave 29th Street

Jennifer Marman Daniel Borins

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In the studio with Melissa Brown

Melissa Brown in her studio

I recently had the opportunity to visit Melissa Brown’s studio. I have known Melissa for a long time through my friend Joe Grillo. I saw her show Paper Fortune at Canada Gallery back in 2009 when everything was doom and gloom and her show reflected that attitude. The woodcuts she presented were critical of wealth and the symbols surrounding it.

Since then, Melissa has found herself painting landscapes, trying to envision a panoramic view in the gallery space – most recently with Palisades at Kansas Gallery and an upcoming show in Connecticut.

Melissa BrownBut what Melissa is most excited about now is a group of paintings that explore the technique of printmaking through painting. With this work, she is also looking at an object and shifting the plane to abstraction. Rocks are her figures that become abstraction and then figure again through the idea of pareidolia – the perception that there is some sort of pattern or meaning where there is none (i.e. seeing a face in the clouds).

Melissa Brown Mirrored RocksShe uses stencils to create the dominant figure in each series of paintings. Melissa blends colors beautifully and creates depth by juxtaposing sharp lines and soft textures, highlighting the paintings with vibrant streaks. It all adds up to a visual image that is interesting and smart and engaging.

Melissa BrownMelissa is also working on a series of stop-motion animations that tie in nicely with the paintings – layered and captivating throughout.

I really enjoyed the way Melissa spoke about her work. She was very much aware of her creative arc. She has certain goals and the mindset and the talent to achieve them.

All in all, I was happy to spend an evening in her studio learning more about her work and I look forward to seeing it progress.

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In the Heart of the Sea: Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

in-the-heart-of-the-seaI think Nathaniel Philbrick puts it best in his epilogue when he says, “The Essex disaster is not a tale of adventure. It is a tragedy that happens to be one of the greatest true stories ever told.”

The story of the Essex and its 20 member crew is the subject of Philbrick’s book, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. Setting the scene of culture of Nantucket, the whaling industry, and the psychology and physiology of starvation, dehydration and more, this book graphically details the harrowing plight of the seamen who were cast out in the middle of the Pacific ocean for more than 90 days. It is the story that Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is based on. And although it is based on fact, it is discomforting at times.

Whaleship Essex Route MapIt is hard for me to imagine what it’s like to be lost, let alone disconnected to our modern world. It is hard for me to even imagine being put in those circumstances. I have read The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger (which had too much technical jargon and not enough about the culture of Gloucester, Massachusetts) and Endurace: Shackleton’s Incredible Adventure about Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to Antarctica describing what it is like to be stranded at the end of the world. I am interested in exploration and sailing but it is the fact that the members of the Essex were so pushed to the brink, sucking the marrow from their former colleagues bones, that caused me to have nightmares.

I cringed when they cut open the tortoises and drank their blood. I took a moment when the first crew member (aside from Matthew Joy died) and they decided to eat him. I cried out when Owen Coffin drew his lot. The worst part for me was not that they were forced into these circumstances, but that they could have suffered less. They could have sailed west to the islands of Asia with the invisible threat of encountering cannibal tribes. Instead, they sailed southeast to Chile and were forced into cannibalism. A terrible irony.

All in all, what I enjoyed about this book were the historical and scientific facts that Philbrick seamlessly incorporated into the amazing story. I loved learning about the culture of Nantucket, the Quakerism, the dependence upon whaling, and the camaraderie.

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Critter & Guitari on F.A.T. Gold Public Access at Eyebeam

Critter and Guitari at Eyebeam with Bennett Williamson

Chris Kucinski, Bennett Williamson, and Owen Osborn at Eyebeam.

As part of Eyebeam’s current exhibition, F.A.T. Gold: Five Years of Free Art & Technology curated by Lindsay Howard and on view through April 20th, Critter & Guitari was asked to host a jam session for Public Access organized by Bennett Williamson.

In true Critter & Guitari fashion, Chris Kucinski and Owen Osborn invited their friends Devin Flynn, Ross Goldstein, Raphael Griswold, and even me to collaborate and make some new sounds. (Bennett would have also jammed with us like he did at the Experimental Television Center, but he had to operate the AV equipment.) The hour-long jam incorporated the sounds of the Pocket Piano family (including the first prototype), the Kaleidoloop family, and the Bolsa Bass along with a variety of analog instruments.

Click here to see the full live-streamed video of the jam.

All in all, the jam showed the collaborative and fun nature of the instruments and the cooperative generation in which they were created.

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