Dennis Jeffy: From Antelope Springs at MOCA Tucson

In an age when internet presence grants visibility, the sparsity of digital images and articles of Dennis Jeffy’s work makes his solo exhibition, From Antelope Springs, at MOCA Tucson a significant and rare occurrence to be experienced. Born in Antelope Springs (Navajo for Jeddito, Arizona) in 1952, Jeffy has developed a fertile artistic practice that has journeyed through a wide range of experimentation in style, material, and form. The exhibition presents work spanning fifteen years and is divided into three sections: earlier round paintings with traces of realism, a complete shift into abstraction within painting, and finally, recent sculptural explorations using Plexiglas. Each piece is completely distinct in its character and conveys Jeffy’s impressive ability to provide visual joy while captivating viewers in realms that both compress and expand time, space, and matter.

Dennis Jeffy. Dooli Sings, 2000; oil on canvas; 80 in. diameter. Courtesy of the Artist and MOCA Tucson. Photo: Maya Heilman-Hall

Dennis Jeffy. Dooli Sings, 2000; oil on canvas; 80 in. diameter. Courtesy of the Artist and MOCA Tucson. Photo: Maya Heilman-Hall.

Made in the early 2000s, the earliest works on view are Jeffy’s large-scale paintings on circular canvases. While the curatorial statement positions these paintings as tondos (a term developed in the Renaissance for round paintings and sculptures, which were typically incorporated into archways), Jeffy’s use of the circular form has little to do with this Eurocentric tradition of portraiture connected to the church. Instead, Jeffy uses the round form as a way to establish a physical and conceptual connection to the body. He explains, “My paintings are round because of the natural roundness of the eye. Our vision is round. I was raised in a hogan, which is round and represents the cycle of life.”[1] Through the direction of his paint strokes, Jeffy creates visual movements within his work that pull and swirl viewers into and around his paintings. The circular form and large scale of the canvases further enhance this bodily experience in viewing his work.

Dooli Sings (2000) is an example of one such work. It combines a variety of painting styles. Partially rendered faces sit at the edge of the painting, and are distorted and lengthened, as if they have been dragged and slowed down through time. Slanted paint marks in dark blues, pinks, purples, and teals fill the canvas and create swirling fields of color that reflect the shades of the galaxy. On top of these strokes, Jeffy inserts hyperrealistically painted images: drops of water, a pile of sand, and a spherical planet-like shape with a shadow. Each element of the painting pulls and pushes viewers around the piece, into the Earth’s surface, and out to the universe.

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New York Shotgun Reviews

Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Hoi Lun Helen Wong reviews Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Louise Lawler. Pollyanna (adjusted to fit), distorted for the times, 2007/2008/2012. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2017 Louise Lawler.

Louise Lawler. Pollyanna (Adjusted to Fit), Distorted for the Times, 2007/2008/2012; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2017 Louise Lawler.

Part of the “Pictures Generation” of the late 1970s, Louise Lawler receives far less recognition than her contemporaries—Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, and David Salle, to name a few. Known for her portraits of other artists’ work, Louise Lawler’s first major survey, which spans forty years of creative output, is at the Museum of Modern Art through July 30. As part of one of the first generations of artists raised with television, Lawler’s work anticipates mass media’s ability to inject particular meanings into its consumers, or in the case of art, its viewers. By rephotographing existing images outside of their original context, Lawler draws to our attention an essential question of the digital age: how meaning and reality is constructed through presentation.

Born in 1947 in postwar America and a volatile cultural moment, Lawler grew up with the influences of affluence, Hollywood movies, ad-packed magazines, and the rise of consumerism. While abundance pervaded, anxiety and tensions belied the seemingly placid age. Drawn to mass-media culture and the very idea of originality, Lawler employed the examining power of photography to scrutinize our relationship with a media-saturated society.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: The Penis Award

Help Desk is where I answer your queries about making, exhibiting, finding, marketing, buying, selling–or any other activity related to contemporary art. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

I am a midcareer (female) artist married to an established (male) artist. Throughout our relationship I have endured innumerable comments and actions that validate my husband and cast me into the shadows. At social events I will be standing by my husband as he is introduced as an artist, and I am introduced with only my first name (if introduced at all). In one particularly memorable/awful dinner after an opening, his gallerist at the time literally told me to get up from my seat because “artists sit at this table, wives and girlfriends are over there” (meaning another table). I get that he is more established than I am, but I also have an MFA, frequently show my work, am invited to give artist talks, and teach at a university. Recently we collaborated on a project—which overall was a good experience—but I am dismayed to see social-media posts that only credit him. On the night of the opening, one of the gallery staff said to me, “Isn’t [husband’s name]’s installation great?!” We had both attended meetings at the gallery (with this person in attendance), had both been included on logistical emails (with this person cc’ed), both responded to requests for information, and it was obvious that the two of us brought separate components to the installation. Yet I was erased. The times I have spoken up to correct these situations (saying, “I’m an artist too!”) have been awkward, and I know I come across as a bitch, petty, insecure, etc. The sexism of the art world astounds me…but I’m not sure what I can do.

Nancy Spero. Picasso and Frederick's of Hollywood, 1990; handprinted collage on paper; two parts, each 17.25 x 109.625 in.

Nancy Spero. Picasso and Frederick’s of Hollywood, 1990; handprinted collage on paper; two parts, each 17.25 x 109.625 in.

Thank you for this question, even though it gave me flashbacks. I, too, am a woman artist with a male-artist partner, and have experienced similar treatment. I remember being goggle-eyed with astonishment when a nonprofit director heartily thanked my husband for his contribution to their annual fundraising auction—a contribution of my artwork that I had donated! No doubt thousands of other women could provide comparable examples. A friend and I call the automatic credit that men seem to accrue merely by existing the penis award. And it’s atrocious.

Your plaintive, “I was erased,” breaks my heart. This is the fundamental charge of sexism—that women are not full human beings who deserve equal respect, attention, pay, healthcare, or credit for their accomplishments. The message is that you are less than your husband. This is gravely injurious, not only directly to you, but to your business partnerships, your potential friendships, your marriage, and your sanity.

Sexism must be tackled head-on, and women can’t be the only ones on the battlefield. Therefore, the first thing that has to happen is that your husband has to start speaking up on your behalf when these attacks occur in front of him. In introductions, if you are sidelined by, “…and this is his wife,” he must say, “Jane Lastname. My wife is also an artist, and we sometimes collaborate.” If someone barks at you to sit at the “wives’ table”—oh, how odious is this phrase!—he must step in and say, “There must be a misunderstanding. Jane is also an artist.” When articles and Instagram posts and tweets are published citing only your husband for work that is collaborative, he must split with you the labor of contacting the authors and requesting a correction. Men are responsible for patriarchy, and thus are at least 50 percent responsible for dismantling it.

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Our Bodies Our Selves at the Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Today, from our sister publication Art Practical, we bring you Betti-Sue Hertz’s article from issue 8.3: Art can’t do anything if we don’t. Hertz explores the protest signs wielded at the Women’s March on Washington. She states, “At a moment when the right is emboldened to threaten hard-won civil rights, it is important to steadfastly embrace diverse gender expressions as represented in march signs and slogans such as ‘Black Trans Lives Matter,’ ‘My Child’s Transgender Rights are Human Rights,’ ‘Support your Sisters Not Just your Cis-ters,’ ‘I am a…Black Queer First Gen American Woman and I Refuse to Be Ignored’ and ‘Experience Dyke Power,’ ‘Never Underestimate the Power of a Faggot with a Tambourine,’ and ‘Not Gay as in Happy Queer as in Fuck You.’” This article was originally published on March 23, 2017.

Screenshot, Kim Atom, Twitter Post, January 21, 2017, 5:48 p.m., https://twitter.com/tmhzjm/status/822938829430648832.

Screenshot, Kim Atom, Twitter Post, January 21, 2017, 5:48 p.m., https://twitter.com/tmhzjm/status/822938829430648832.

The official poster for the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017, featured three women’s archetypal profiles lined up in a row, in a color scheme of red, dark blue, and cream above rounded, bold lettering. Other designs were available as downloadable posters, featuring generic phrases in black lettering on a white background: “Together, We Rise,” “We Honor the Legacy of the Movements Before Us,” and “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest.” The guide to the march encouraged participants to bring signs, and people actively embraced this directive at marches in 676 cities in the United States and 137 more around the world.

Read the full article here.


Shotgun Reviews

Who Do You Trust? at the Asian Art Museum

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Sofia Villena Araya reviews Who Do You Trust? at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

David and Hi-Jin Hodge. Who Do You Trust?, 2017 (performance still);  April 20, 2017. Courtesy of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. Photo: Quincy Stamper.

Yayoi Kambara with David Hodge and Hi-Jin Kang Hodge. Who Do You Trust?, April 20, 2017 (performance still). Courtesy of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. Photo: Quincy Stamper.

Dance is a powerful medium in which to explore trust. When dancing, a dancer must have physical self-confidence, letting their body go in order to flow with music and through space. A dancer must open up for corporeal proximity as other bodies touch and lean on one’s own form. A dancer must further trust the audience in their sensitivity and capacity to feed the dancers through their energy. Trust provides the ground for any dance performance to flourish.

Who Do You Trust? was an interactive dance performance choreographed by Yayoi Kambara and video work by David Hodge and Hi-Jin Kang Hodge, and presented on April 20, 2017, as a part of the Asian Art Museum’s Artists Drawing Club series. In a hospitable institutional frame, this piece was an invitation for the audience and the dancers to establish, through dance, a mutual trust bond.

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Interview with Shanti Grumbine

In a world of propaganda and fake news, sorting fact from fiction can be a complicated task. Today we revisit Ashley Stull Meyers’ interview with artist Shanti Grumbine, who deconstructs newspapers as a way of investigating the power dynamics of communication. “The goal of journalism is to discover and present an objective truth—which is an impossible task.” This article was originally published on March 9, 2015.

Shanti Grumbine. Zero, 2014; De-acidified New York Times newspaper, jade glue; 22 x 24 in.

Shanti Grumbine. Zero, 2014; de-acidified New York Times newspaper, jade glue; 22 x 24 in.

Art in time of conflict is not for the faint of conviction. For its makers, it can be leveraged for communication, catharsis, or an attempt at clarity; Brooklyn-based artist Shanti Grumbine engages with all three. She cuts found text and images in reconsideration of the boundaries between absence and presence—between profane and sacred content. Her drawings, prints, and collages make hay of what remains from the material’s original consumption. She neglects no inquiry, sourcing hymns from religious scripts, patterns from antiquated textiles, and most recently, coverage of global political discord in the New York Times. What results are deconstructed presentations of a text’s individual parts, both physical and lyrical.

Ashley Stull Meyers: We met during your residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and your studio immediately gave the sense of how interested you are in detritus. Your process seems conceptually connected to ephemera and the craft of remaking. How did that begin, and what’s your investment in it?

Shanti Grumbine: My interest in cast-off or found materials started when I was young, influenced by my mother, who was an artist. When I was sixteen, I began working with linoleum tiles that had been pulled up from the floor at Simon’s Rock College, where I went to school. I liked knowing what my substrate would be—a repeated grid—and I got to know the material nature of the tiles. For a while I saved my tea bags, emptying the tea and replacing it with small objects, sewn lines, text, and images…again, a gridded accumulation. It was a type of diary, replacing the daily ritual of drinking tea with the ritual of documenting. Now I work with certain materials for a long time, like the plastic New York Times newspaper sleeves that my subscription comes in. I began making textiles with them at the Bemis. I guess it’s a bit of an anti-capitalist gesture, to spend time with detritus.
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San Jose

Sonic Futures at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

Visitors might be deceived by the initial sounds they hear in Sonic Futures at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. A haunting hum resounds throughout the dark exhibition space, originating from a multichannel video installation with an audio mashup of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.” The work, titled They Held Dances on the Graves of Those Who Died in the Terror (2012–present), is by multimedia artist Sofía Córdova, and the televisions display a hazy world where nature has been destroyed and the surviving humans live in a decaying landscape. They Held Dances presents an overtly ominous commentary, and it nearly masks the catchy energy of the other six sound and performance artworks by INVASORIX, Jeepneys, Laura Hyunjhee Kim, Keith Lafuente, Merritt Wallace, and Jenifer Wofford. The works consider social and political conditions such as environmental destruction, ableism, racial inequality, gender discrimination, and White privilege, and the exhibition as a whole invites “singing and dancing,” suggests curator Patricia Cariño[1], as an entry point to rethink social and cultural norms in the next year, decade, or millennium.

Laura Hyunjhee Kim. LOVE NETWORKS LOVE, 2017; video; 2 minutes 32 seconds; and variable objects.

Laura Hyunjhee Kim. LOVE NETWORKS LOVE, 2017; video and variable objects; 02:32. Photo: Qian Wang.

As the exhibition weaves its way through the space, a new installation is revealed at every turn; with the exception of Córdova’s work, the music that accompanies each installation can be heard through headphones. The rocket-like installation Your Body Your Ship (2017) by the artist Jeepneys (Anna Luisa Petrisko) is painted with bright geometric shapes that reference precolonial tattoo designs associated with Pacific Islander nations. In the accompanying video, three performers wear bodysuits with the same geometrical patterns. The campy video meanders along time and narrative, displaying shots of performers who ride bikes and perform smiley, energetic group stretches to prepare for time travel, interspersed with circle dissolves, color overlays, and vintage footage of planets. The overall style suggests a liberated manner of thinking about time, space, and the body. By engaging with historical symbols, the performers consider their postcolonial identities in the present and commune with ancient energies and rituals for their unfathomable journey into the future.

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