In Focus: The American West, 150 Years Ago

In the 1860s and 70s, photographer Timothy O’Sullivan created some of the best-known images in American History. After covering the U.S. Civil War, (many of his photos appear in this earlier series), O’Sullivan joined a number of expeditions organized by the federal government to help document the new frontiers in the American West. The teams were composed of soldiers, scientists, artists, and photographers, and tasked with discovering the best ways to take advantage of the region’s untapped natural resources. O’Sullivan brought an amazing eye and work ethic, composing photographs that evoked the vastness of the West. He also documented the Native American population as well as the pioneers who were already altering the landscape. Above all, O’Sullivan captured — for the first time on film — the natural beauty of the American West in a way that would later influence Ansel Adams and thousands more photographers to come. 

See more. [Images: Timothy O’Sullivan/LOC]

Whitney Biennial 2012: GO SEE IT

I thought it’d be much better if I just let the art stand on its own and provide no commentary, except for particular cases.  I really enjoyed the Biennial.  There are 4 floors to check out, and you’d need an entire afternoon(or at least a couple of visits) to take in the entire collection.  Many of the pieces in the collection are playful, and a lot of the artists possess a brilliant sense of humor.  

Many of the artists invite the viewer to, if not participate(there’s a dance performance on the 4th floor), at least directly witness the process of art, or art-making(see, this is why I thought I shouldn’t say anything- thanks, community college course on art history!).  Oh, and GO SEE IT.  REALLY. DO IT.  And if you’re lucky enough to be attending a CUNY and have valid identification, YOU CAN GET IN FOR FREE.  Ok.  Here goes.

This first picture isn’t from the Biennial, it was just a really beautiful day in the city and  Park is filled with these wonderful flowers(tulips?) up and down the avenue.  Also, they reminded me of that closing shot from the film Adaptation.  Moving on.

Above: Yes, I did take a photo of the bathroom sign.

Above: Richard Hawkins.

Above: LaToya Ruby Frazier.

Above: Joanna Malinowska snuck this Leonard Peltier painting into the exhibition. Below: Malinowska’s video installation.

Above: These art exhibits even had the security guards tapping their feet.

Above, detail: Elaine Reichek Tapestry of a labyrinth with a Jorge Luis Borges quote about labyrinths in the center.  ART!

Below: More selections from Ms. Reichek’s embroideries and tapestries.

Below: Two photos of Dawn Kasper’s installation, which consists of her entire studio/living space, transplanted to the museum.  

Below: Portraits by Nicole Eisenman.

Above: Hey, Michel Foucault look-a-like-guy who tried to duck out of my picture. Ha!  This IS a picture of art, with YOU in it!

Above: Michel Foucault look-a-like-guy has THE LONGEST LEG IN THE WORLD.  Moving on.

Below: Open the door…

I hope to make it back to the Biennial before it closes.  Thanks to the artists, security guards and especially to the Whitney Museum and its lovely staff.

The Whitney Biennial 2012 is running through May 27, with portions of the exhibition and select programs continuing through June 10.



Stephen Dirkes Retrospective at Rabbithole Gallery

Last night I went down to the Rabbithole Gallery in DUMBO to check out the Photoplays by Stephen Dirkes Exhibition.  The exhibition is comprised of stills and photographs selected from many of Dirkes’ “photoplays”, so-called because many of them are composed of individual photographs taken by photographer Tal Shpantzer, which he then edited and transformed into short films and videos.

 Above: A portrait of the filmmaker; a still from one of Stephen’s short films.  

Above: Gallery patrons are treated to a selection of Mr. Dirkes’ and Ms. Shpantzer’s photographs, curated by Caroline Pham.

Above: DJ Vandal(right, in shadows) a long-time collaborator, was on the decks all night long. 

Above: Red velvet-like curtains part to reveal frames from one of Stephen’s short films, in this wonderful shadow box created by Ioana Popescu.  Below: Detail. 

Accompanying the photographs and short-films are some lovely props and sets that were used during production.  

Above:  Artist Ameirinkz created this scale model of Brooklyn, NY, used in one of Mr. Dirkes’ short films.

Above: A set used in Mr. Dirkes’ short film for Langoliers.

Below: A detail of what I like to call “The Spider Lady”, an enchanting and enigmatic figurine created by Pamela Liou.  

At 8 PM we were treated to a 45 minute screening of his collected short films.  These spanned a wide spectrum of technique and editing.  Mr. Dirkes also does almost all of the musical scoring and post-production himself, leading one to think that this enormously talented filmmaker must have little time in his day for anything else. 

Above: In Stephen Dirkes’ kingdom of light and shadows.

As he stated at the conclusion of the screening, his work is the result of a closely-knit group of highly talented artists, artisans and designers, “a truly family affair”.  Many members of this family showed up in full force for the exhibition and screening, including Tal Shpantzer, Peter Bill, Amerinkz, Caroline Pham, Ioana Popescu, Zou Chu, Pamela Liou and Jef Niesen.  Of course, it was a bit difficult to hear what Mr. Dirkes was saying as waves of boisterous applause erupted at the end of the screening.  I highly recommend you check out this exciting and unique exhibition.

Photoplays by Stephen Dirkes Exhibition is running from April 5-April 30th at the Rabbithole Gallery, 33 Washington Street, NY.