Retrospective of John Wood

John Wood, who spends his summers in Ithaca, is showing photographs, sculpture, and drawings at three venues in Rochester this fall. Together the George Eastman House, Memorial Art Gallery, and Visual Studies Workshop commemorate a lifetime of work by Wood.

Review of John Wood “On The Edge of Clear Meaning” by Rebecca Rafferty


Opportunity: Local: Saltonstall: 15 Jan 09

Deadline: 15 January 2009

Residency: 1 month in summer 2009

This summer the Saltonstall summer fellowship  includes Poetry, Memoir/Creative Non-fiction, Painting/Sculpture/Visual Arts, and Photography. The applications are due 15 January 2009

Opportunity: Local: NYFA Mark Program: 14 Nov 08

Application Due: 14 November 2008

Information about MARK

Application for MARK

Description: A 6-month, statewide professional development program facilitated by NYFA. Ithaca is one of a handful of sites.

design and the elastic mind

Speaking of good art, this seems like one not to be missed:

Earth to Eco Art

This weekend I attended ‘Earth Art to Eco Art: An Anniversary Workshop’ at the A.D. White House at Cornell, a workshop held in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the landmark 1969 Earth Art Exhibit that took place at the A.D. White Museum of Art, when it housed the A.D. White Museum of Art. The event served to acknowledge the monumental contribution achieved by the exhibition, as well as to look at some of the directions art has taken over the last 40 years. In attendance were several of the original key figures from the event, such as Marilyn Rivchin who filmed the documentary footage of the installation of art objects from the Earth Art show and showed part of it to us; and the curator Willoughby Sharpe who was not able to attend as he is, sadly, terminally ill, but his wife Pamela attended in his absence, as well as the then-Museum Director Tom Leavitt who attended as the guest of honor despite having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Leavitt, it must be said, despite the difficulties of his condition, is as elegant, forward leaning and beautiful a man as I had always heard him to be. Of the original 8 artists who exhibited work at the Earth Art show, only Dennis Oppenheim was present.

Overall the workshop was interesting, engaging and at times overwhelmingly emotional. However, the progression ‘from Earth Art to Eco art’ and the indication that this is the deal, as it was presented over the two days, seems just a little bit too tidy and not quite the whole picture. Perhaps this is what happens when the art theorizing is primarily left to the art history professors. Oppenheim was, remarkably, the singular artist on the panel discussing the subject. Oppenheim noted in his plenary lecture on Friday, that landart was about ‘opening doors.’ If one looks at the history of art, the artists have been the ones doing the theorizing and whose ideas have been the fuel to opening the doors: Duchamp, Mondrian, Klee, Albers, Kandinski, Yves Klein, Motherwell, Smithson, etc, etc.

It is generally but not necessarily believed that Landart was the first form of expression to occur in Western art after the modern project ended. In this new conception, artworks were created out of air, water, stone, or earth, a walk, a gesture, a movement, space and time. A walk suddenly became a sculpture. While we can identify artforms today such as net art, public art, performance art, installation art, that clearly have origins in areas that landart started, I argue that ‘from earth art to eco art’ is not enough to address the whole picture of what it was that Landart opened exactly. Therefore, I hope that the language ‘workshop’ ascribed to the event means that this is only the beginning of a ‘preparation’ toward a deeper understanding of the subject, of what was the meaning of landart in terms of signifying a new cultural condition. As Smithson so eloquently phrased it: ‘The refuse between mind and matter is a mine of information,’ and ‘the mind and things of certain artists are not ‘unities,’ but things in a state of arrested disruption.’

Thus, a major contribution of landart could be that it no longer seems relevant to ask ‘is it art?’ but rather, ‘is it good art?’

An-My Lê’s “Small Wars” at the Johnson Museum

Went to see An-My Lê speak at the Johnson Museum at Cornell tonight.  Her medium format photographs of Vietnam war reenactments in Virginia and military training in the California desert explore the visual beauty of war, the endurance of the landscape and her identity as a Vietnamese-American who experienced the war first-hand.

I was most struck by her perception of the landscape as enduring.  She described it as past, present and future – an unbreakable thread.  She sees a visual continuum from the photographs of Timothy O’Sullivan through the films of John Ford on to her own work.  That’s such a hopeful perspective – that we may mar the landscape with war, but it will always rebound.  I’d like to think that the landscape endures, but I’m more prone to the to sink into post-apocalyptic scenarios à la Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”  I thoroughly enjoyed her talk and her spacious, beautiful photographs.  They’re at the Johnson until October 26th.

best local gallery?

According to the “best of Ithaca” poll Handwork Gallery is the best local gallery.  Here I thought it was a crafts store.