The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is NOT a government agency. It is the nation’s newest people-powered department, founded on the truth that art and culture are our most powerful and under-tapped resources for social change. Radically inclusive, useful and sustainable, and vibrantly playful, the USDAC aims to spark a grassroots, creative change movement, engaging millions in performing and creating a world rooted in empathy, equity, and social imagination.
In the museum’s beautiful Beaux-Arts Court the USDAC set up a range of art making activities conceived to imagine the future of New York City, which is currently in the midst of an unprecedented affordable housing crisis. There was a Letters to the Future station, where people could write to a friend or loved one in the year 2036, telling them how they helped to keep New York City affordable. While the solutions to our housing crisis are so much more complex than the actions of individuals, posing the question is valuable. What kind of a city do we want in the future and what can we do collectively to make it so?
The Crossing Brooklyn show at the Brooklyn Museum is worth a visit. One of my favorites is Paul Ramirez Jonas‘ The Commons. The piece conjures the kind of historic bronze statue you might see in a town square but the horse has no war hero in its saddle and the whole statue is covered in cork board. Visitors are encouraged to pin things up. Pin something up? Don’t mind if I do.
Jonas combines two things associated with public space; static, war memorializing monuments and active, interactive community bulletin boards. His piece stirred up thoughts about the past and the future of “The Commons” and the potential of non digital social networks that exist in real, shared time and real, shared space. I loved it.
Plus while I was visiting the exhibit I saw one of my former pre-school art students on a class field trip and got to watch as he exclaimed, “My tooth fell out!” His teacher took his picture to mark the occasion of losing his first tooth. Pretty fantastic and memorable location for such a rite of passage.
This summer the kids and I went to see Shantell Martin‘s show, Are You You, at MoCADA. We sat in the gallery space looking at Martin’s black marker drawings which covered the walls, and thought up questions to ask her about her art. My plan was to have my kids who love to draw send some fan mail to a woman who loves to draw. Coincidentally she was at the museum and we got to meet her! She was lovely and she gave us stickers!
Our fan mail included a few questions and compliments from each kid and Shantell Martin inspired drawings that they did on white paper with black ink. She wrote back! And sent stickers! And pens!
Now I am an even bigger fan. Look for Shantell Martin’s work at the upcoming Brooklyn Museum exhibition, Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond. It will be up from October 3, 2014 to January 4, 2015.
Above is a portion of the series I Got Up… by conceptual artist, On Kawara, made up of 90 postcards that he rubber stamped and mailed to his friend and fellow artist, John Baldessari in 1975. I just learned that while I was on vacation in Italy, Kawara died at the age of 81. Since much of his work focuses on marking time and place I feel compelled to state that he died on July 10, 2014 in New York City.
I am looking forward to a retrospective of Kawara’s work at the Guggenheim, which opens on February 6, 2015, and is called On Kawara: Silence.
This weekend Visual Aids’ 15th annual Postcards from the Edge Benefit opens in New York City. Postcard sized original works of art by both established and emerging artists are on sale for $85 each. Here’s the fun thing. All the work is hung anonymously, the artist is only revealed to you after your purchase, so someone is going home with a John Baldessari original for 85 bucks.
Over the years 15,000 pieces have been made and donated to this event, raising close to $600,000. All proceeds go to Visual AIDS, an arts organization that “utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over. Visual AIDS is the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to HIV prevention and AIDS awareness through producing and presenting visual art projects, while assisting artists living with HIV/AIDS.”
Hosted by Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery at 530 West 22nd Street on Saturday, January 26, from 10 am- 6 pm and Sunday, January 27, from 12 pm- 4 pm.
Its going to be a great year for mail. I can feel it. The 2013 stamps show alot of promise, including these apple postcard stamps.
Speaking of postcards, one of my favorite Christmas gifts was the book, The Postcard Age. It is a phenomenal survey of postcard art from the turn of the last century, when a “postcard craze” swept the globe. The images in the book are beautiful and bizarre. I’ll leave the bizarre to your imagination but here is an example of beauty:
The book is a companion to The Postcard Age exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which is up until April 14, 2013. Go see the real postcards up close!
One of the pleasures of this VSM hobby/passion/practice is that some of the adults in my life send very creative mail to my children. Our mailbox is a fun place where paper surprises appear.
Gifted illustrator and nature observer, Beatrix Potter, began many of her now famous children’s books as fun mail. She wrote and drew picture letters to children of friends and family members. Later she borrowed back these letters and used them as the inspiration for books like The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was published in 1902.
Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters is on exhibit at the Morgan Library in Manhattan until January 27, 2013. There is a reading area of Potter’s books so bring a kid along! You can view examples on the Morgan Library’s online exhibition.
I went to the Whitney Biennial this past weekend with my honey. I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the show and it took me a little while to acclimate to being there. It didn’t help that everywhere I looked, people were checking their phones, including a security guard! I was like, is anybody focusing here?! Is this the new normal? After a bit I settled in and connected to some work. Nothing made my heart sing but I did like the mail art pieces by Moyra Davey. Check them out.