For this week’s Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re celebrating the Winter Solstice with “Unsilent Night.” Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth is responsible for this moving musical installation at Magnolia Green Park. Participants become part of the orchestra using boomboxes or smartphones to play the music as they dance through the park. Be sure to wear your sparkliest bling – the theme for the evening’s attire is “Festival of Lights.”
Tanju Tuzer as Drosselmeyer, center, in the Tuzer Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Photo: Sharon Bradford
This weekend at the Eisemann Center, the Tuzer Ballet Company will put on its 30th anniversary production of The Nutcracker. But KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports the festivities have been clouded by the fact that Tanju Tuzer, the founder of the Richardson company, has been diagnosed with colon cancer.
New York City was a gritty and exciting place for artists in the 80s. The scene and its splashy artists – from Andy Warhol to Keith Haring — all appear at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s exhibition Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s. But it was the women artists featured in the show who caught the attention of KERA contributor Joan Davidow.
Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s runs until Jan. 4
Listen to the report that aired on KERA FM:
More of everything characterized the 80s in New York: the confusion and the excitement, once said art critic Peter Scheldahl. This exhibition, curated by The Modern’s Michael Auping, who lived through the 80s in New York, reflects that flamboyant spirit.
All the hotshot bad boy artists show up, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat’s raw, crude, street portraits and Jeff Koons’ funky single basketball floating in a fish tank. The exhibition also shows the dynamic women artists working at the time, who surprisingly matched the men and also changed the course of art history.
A lot of dynamic painting appears, but the women artists, such as Cindy Sherman attacked painting as irrelevant.
Sherman turned her camera on herself, developing a series of black-and-white photographs styled as film stills evoking popular movies and playing with Hollywood stereotypes. In Untitled Film Still #5, 1977, she’s opening what looks like a “dear John” letter from a former lover. It looks so real, so believable! She was her own actress, producer, director, and set designer. Sherman says she never thought she was acting; people believe photographs; it was conceptual art: She made projects for herself.
The 80s’ hyper consumer culture shows up in the work of Barbara Kruger, a layout designer at a big publishing house in New York. Kruger uses pithy statements to create moments of recognition and spark understanding. Nothing could epitomize Dallas’ consumer culture more than her huge black-and-white photograph of a graceful hand holding a big red label with text, “I shop therefore I am.”
Another young artist, Jenny Holzer, came up with what she called, Truisms, a series of short, cryptic euphemisms — rules to live by — scrolling by in LED lights. “Money Creates Taste,” proclaims one of the messages moving across a Times Square billboard in a 1989 piece called Survival. Holzer was the first woman ever to represent the United States in the Venice Biennale.
Of course, the 80s also brought the AIDS epidemic, a force that artists addressed. Shockingly, by 1989 someone died of AIDS worldwide every SIX minutes! Photographer Nan Goldin showed us the underbelly of life in a New York resident hotel, taking color snapshots of her gay drug buddies, even showing herself battered and bruised by a lover, so she’d never forget that horror.
The last wall in the Modern’s exhibition depicts documentary posters from the anonymous political group, the Guerrilla Girls, a pack of women artists who paraded in front of museum and gallery openings calling out the scarcity of women artists shown inside and demanding equal representation.
Thanks to Curator Auping’s first-hand experiences, his looking back at the ’80s in New York City makes it extremely poignant in today’s time: These history-making women artists are today’s grande dames, creating styles and setting trends still resonating today.
Guest blogger Harmony Witte lives in Dallas with her husband and menagerie. She works as an artist focusing on watercolors, digital illustration, photography, and painting murals. She is art director at a summer camp, teaches workshops, organizes art events, and curates shows. This is her first post for Art&Seek.
Chances are that if you have read an art article from New York Magazine, you have read the work of Jerry Saltz. His contribution to the American art scene along with his masterful social media presence have made him a figure nearly bigger than life. Jerry is a self-taught critic who rose from long-haul trucking to the role of head art critic and columnist for New York Magazine. Jerry’s most recent project is incredibly ambitious; it’s SEEN, a thirty-three day pop-up art magazine for New York magazine and Vulture that incorporates the work of dozens of bloggers and artists “exploring the arts full-time.” He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about this project.
How did SEEN begin and whose idea was it?I’ve been begging New York magazine to do an art blog since about 2009 — just looking for a way to get all those people on my Facebook, Twitter, and then later Instagram sort of channeled into one place; but, I never wanted to run this art zine, or art blog, or art magazine. Finally New York magazine somehow found funding for it and its now up and running and I don’t have to be the editor, so I’m really happy. Now I will get to use it for putting as much of my stuff as I might want to write up there, and it’s really thrilling to me.
Its been going on, I would say, the last year or so. When I did not like Oscar Murillo’s chocolate factory at David Turner Gallery I was called racist. When I loved Kara Walker’s sugar sculpture in Brooklyn and said it should be pulled across the United States on a huge float as a reminder of America’s original sin of slavery, people came on and said I’m disrespecting Kara Walker, my former student. Luckily, she came online and said “I like what Jerry Saltz wrote.” That did not stop all the attacks of racism. It goes on and on. I think that with more money in the art world and with fewer people getting that money, its made people cynical. That cynicism has helped create a situation where people are returning to a more politically stringent way of thinking that was common in the early 1990’s. I think people are returning almost in a nostalgic way to a kind of thinking they were used to 20 years ago. I’ve decided if people want to criticize me, they can. At first I was a little shocked at being called a “racist, a sexist, a bigot.” I’m always called “old and bald.” It’s the last one that hurts the most because I don’t see myself as bald. I always want to tell people “I have hair!” I’m just going to go for it. I don’t want to lose readers, but I don’t mind losing so-called friends.
What has been the response to that post?
SEEN told me that over 150,000 people read it, that’s a lot for an art post. It has been circulated, there’s been articles written about it, I think we are all experiencing it, aren’t you? How does it manifest in your world? You’ve had me do all the talking, I would love to ask you a few questions.
It feels like in Dallas people aren’t really willing to question things. It’s all straight-up either “oh that’s pretty” or “it’s not because it doesn’t match the couch”,or its purely for shock value. There is no middle ground, people aren’t really trying to explore ideas with their art, they are just saying “look at that, oh isn’t that shocking” or “isn’t that pretty”.
Good point. I get it. I think its a phase that we are all in because the art world has gotten so big. Its a system that has gotten too big not to fail. It’s too big not to fail and people sense that and with social media there is much more opportunity to police other people’s energy. I’m always amazed that people will spend their own energy to attack the energy of others.
You often respond to posts on your articles and to your followers on social media. It makes the conversation very inclusive to people who would otherwise not have a voice in the art world. Have you noticed this inclusion changing the tone of conversations around art? For a long time I loved being in communication with all readers. My fantasy was that instead of the pyramid with the critic at the top writing down, instead of the one writing to the many, my fantasy was that the many could speak to one another, coherently. I think that really mushroomed around this experiment that I was conducting as well as other writers. It made for an extraordinary, almost international conversation. I do think that with this encroaching conservatism and cynicism that this conversation has turned a little darker. I hope that it passes. In the meantime, it’s just a phase, and if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. Or maybe people are just sick of me, which is fair too. I get sick of me.
You are an art critic, but with projects like SEEN and your role as judge on the contest/reality show Work of Art you have increasingly become part of the conversation around art. Does that surprise you?
Eh. No. I understand. I would get pissed off too at some art critic dancing with Jay Z. I would get pissed off seeing an art critic on a reality TV/game show about art. I get that. I totally understand it. And yet, there was never any question in my mind when I was asked to do this TV show. It paid $900 an episode for a 9 week season, we ran 2 seasons so you can do the Math.I did not do this for money. I did it for something much more craven, pathetic, dark. I must have wanted to do this. Again it’s in a volunteer position. No one forced me. I understand how it makes some people creeped out.
Do you have any advice for artists in Dallas?
Stay up late every single night with other artists. Vampires must be with other vampires or else they will die. That’s my advice to artists in Dallas, in New York, everywhere. If you are with others of your own kind you will be fine. That goes for you too!
We’ve reached the season when Hollywood studios release the films they hope will bring home Oscars, Golden Globes and the like. This week, to put a cap on the year, we talk about why a film released over the summer has proved to be the year’s best.
For this Big Deal sign up to win a gift certificate good for two to The Kessler Theater, the live music venue in Oak Cliff. The certificate is good for any concert you like. That’s right any concert you like, subject to availability. Certificate is valid through March 31, 2015. That’s still plenty of time to catch one of these upcoming acts: Seryn, The Singapore Slingers, The Killdares, Marc Broussard, Rhett Miller, or Buffy Sainte-Marie. That’s just to name a few.
PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to catch a concert of your choice at the historic Kessler Theater – gratis!
Congratulations to Bryan Varner of Midlothian, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest. Bryan has won our contest multiple times. His last win was back in March. Bryan follows our last week’s winner Julio R. Lopez Jr.
If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took earlier than the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users. If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Tuesday to Monday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Friday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Tuesday.
Now here’s more from Bryan.
Title of photo: Fog13
Equipment: Canon Mark III camera
Tell us more about your photo: I took this picture at a pond near my home in Midlothian, Texas, using my Mark III camera.
The KERA KXT Community Advisory Board is currently seeking new members.
The CAB serves in an advisory role to KERA and KXT to assist the stations in being responsive to community interests in regards to programming and services. The CAB meets twice a year at KERA/KXT.
For more information please visit the Community Advisory Board page in the About section at KERA.org. You can learn more about the CAB and fill-out the application online. Completed applications must be received by January 9 .
Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself. Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.
We just love the out of the ordinary around here at Art&Seek. We relish in the unsung, the unexpected, and the unconventional. Trust me when I tell you that it’s fun to step outside your comfort zone and explore every now and then. There’s no better time to check out the unique and different then right now during the festive, sparkly, yuletide season.
Besides being crazy fun, this week’s picks are definitely on the unexpected side. Here are a few for you to try on for size.
Got your back: Rodney Garza and Chris Ramirez in Cara Mia’s Zoot Suit. All photos: Adolfo Cantú-Villarreal
Zoot Suit has finally come to North Texas — in a Cara Mia Theatre production that’s got some muscle, some entertainment. This is not a nostalgic, respectful revival made to polish up your identity politics.
The fact that Luis Valdez’ 1978 drama — about the race riots and the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial which tore apart LA in 1942-’43 — is only now getting a Texas staging is a timely reminder of a few facts.
Of course, there’s the play’s pointed relevance. The events it recounts — the scapegoat-targeting of minorities by police and prosecutors, the legal struggles and public protests that erupted — are seventy years old yet, as the saying goes, the story still manages to be ripped from today’s headlines.