Saturday, July 21, 2012

Breaking Bread

  Baguette, 2012, 18” x 2 ”x 3", bread and epoxy resin, Egan Frantz, image source: Roberts & Tilton

The current group exhibition “The Road Ahead” at Roberts & Tilton, suggests outlooks of the future.  The press release states “Artists…often reconstitut[e] elements of the past with present in an attempt to translate human experience and forge a more cohesive relationship with the future.” Artist Egan Frantz goes about this through his intervention with the baguette.  “The Road Ahead” includes three Baguette works by Frantz.

Each Baguette is unique through its distinct size, suggesting the handmade as opposed to identical machine made loafs.  Frantz elevates the long thin loaf from table to gallery wall while, preserving each baguette through an application of epoxy resin.  The epoxy, applied with a heavy hand, leaves opaque Pepto-Bismol pink colored remnants throughout the crust. Through Frantz’s simple gesture of petrifying baguettes he actually breaks the bread; the resin preservation results in an undesirable mummified form revealing what was once the loaf’s soft and fluffy interior texture.  

The inedible leaves one to contemplate the romantic notions associated with this symbol of French culture.  Gone are the days of baking and breaking bread together.   Baguette also brings to mind the unthinkable in processed foods, canned bread.   Does the future hold a world wherein the baker’s baguette may be as rarified as the world of editioned, fine art collectibles consumable only by the upper crust of society, those with expendable dough?

“The Road Ahead” is on exhibit through July 28, 2012.  Roberts & Tilton will feature a solo exhibition of Egan Frantz November 3 – December 5, 2012 with an opening reception on Saturday, November 3 from 6 – 8pm.  

Baguette, 2012, 22” x 2” x 2”, bread and epoxy resin, Egan Frantz, image source: Roberts & Tilton

Baguette, 2012, 22” x 4” x 2”, bread and epoxy resin, Egan Frantz, image source: Roberts & Tilton

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Wiener You Can Chew On

An Interview with Michelle Wiener

Shuck My Oyster , 2007, 10"x8", gouache on paper, Michelle Wiener

Describe your practice.

I am stuck between feminism and femininity. My art practice examines this purgatorial state, and visually poses questions about what it means to become a woman.  My work is a coming of age narrative,  almost diaristic, and yet uses imagery or text that is universal in an uncanny way.

Your work often evokes overwhelming emotions of loss, longing, unrequited love and the construction of female identity.  Although your practice is not driven by food, representations of food products appear in several bodies of your work.  How do you see these pieces functioning within your larger project?

Food is deeply connected to the construction of gender.  (In a sarcastic tone) Women are supposed to be where? Yes, the kitchen… making pie.  We are taught to connect to men of our desires through their stomachs. 
In fact, food itself is a deep desire (or utter disgust, depending on taste).  It touches most of the senses: smell, sight, and savor.  Aren’t these also words to describe attraction, specifically how women are supposed to act/be in order to be an object of attraction?  We do not get the idiom “good enough to eat” for no reason. 

I utilize food in my work to not only illustrate this comparison, but also to have a double entendre occur within the work.  Word play is an active part of my practice, and it is also where the slippage of food and gender/sexuality happen.  Connotations become a double-edged sword, hopefully with humor, and cause a moment of hesitation for the viewer.

Your work reveals a hyperawareness of text.  Can you discuss your use of text?

For instance, if we look at the pieces “Dove Me in the Morning” and “Dove Me All Over,” we will at first realize that dove is replacing love within the expressions.  However, dove can be a bird, a chocolate company or even a soap brand.  The word is fertile.  These pieces are connected though the director Hitchcock, also a fan of double entendre.  The blood in his film “Psycho,” represented in my work “Dove Me All Over” by Janet Leigh in the famous shower scene, was made of chocolate syrup.  The vortex of melted chocolate takes on the appearance of a drain, much like the actual scene in the Hitchcock film. 

The two paintings ooze sex and desire, for it is chocolate and a nude woman washing herself.  You see, it is not only a play on the cultural connotations of the word dove, but also how pleasure, danger and eroticism are derived from the intersection of text and image.  One becomes more meaningful with the other. This is what excites me: the interchange of meaning.

Your last name happens to reference both a phallus and a culinary delight beloved by many.  How has this name suited you through life?

Maybe this is why I am so enthralled with double entendre. (giggles) My last name has served the purpose of shaping my sense of humor.  I tend to have a dirty mind, but it may just be the race to say the joke first, so that I don’t get embarrassed.  When I was young, I was definitely uncomfortable with it, especially when meeting new people.  However, I have learned to embrace it now, and use it as a comedy routine when introducing myself.

What is the most visually inspiring ingredient in your kitchen?

I have a collection of flavored salt in my kitchen.  They come in all different colors, ranging from whites, greys, corals, all the way to black.  I have them lined up by the stove and I smile every time I enter the kitchen.  Cooking is such a visual process; whether it is to know if you are ready for the next step in the recipe or the way you plate the finished product, you are dealing with an aesthetic experience.

Which food-interested artists inspire you?

Claes Oldenburg is one of my favorites.  The way in which he engages with scale and humor is truly inspiring.  His drawings are just exquisite, for he says a lot with few lines.

Ed Ruscha’s chocolate silk-screens and drawings- specifically 1975’s “Romance with Liquids,” a drawing made with onions and onion stain on paper.  I can only imagine how that paper smells under the glass.

Jennifer Vanderpool also explores the aspects of the pleasure principle within her work, but the medium in some pieces is actual food product, such as Jell-O powder and cupcakes.

Ana Rodriguez inspires me with her faux cake sculptures, because they also speak to the facade and fabrication of desire.  The sculptures appear beautiful, but then fall apart upon further examination- the frosting of paint is smeared, chipped, dusty and lacks that certain gloss. 

What work(s) do you currently have in process?

I am currently jarring a collection of almost two hundred love letters I bought on ebay.  I can now see that I am in some way preserving the sentiment, just as one cans food in order to conserve.  The jarred vessels become like specimens for the viewers.  I want them to question the notion of the love letter: How the emotion of one person is perceived through text, and how the meaning of something so conceptual as a feeling is expressed in an object.
Dove Me in the Morning, 2007, 10"x8", gouache on paper, Michelle Wiener

Dove Me All Over, 2007, 10"x8", gouache on paper, Michelle Wiener

You Know They Make a Cream for That, 2008, 8"x8", acrylic on paper, Michelle Wiener

Manischewitz Gefilte Fish, 2007, 10"x10", acrylic on paper, Michelle Wiener

Shabu Shalom, 2008, 12"x8.5", mixed media, Michelle Wiener

Bee, 2007, 9"x10", gesso on paper, Michelle Wiener

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Call for Artists: Interface Gallery & Food Shift

This exhibition is inspired by Food Shift, an Earth Island Institute sponsored project working in the Bay Area to build a more just and sustainable food system that curbs waste, empowers communities, respects the environment and nourishes all. Food Shift educates and empowers consumers, businesses and communities by increasing awareness about food waste and inspiring food related behavior change.
Work included in this exhibit will explore themes that intersect with Food Shift's goals and will approach these themes from a diverse range of perspectives, including critiquing existing systems, examining environmental and human impacts of food waste/production, and proposing alternatives.
Artists are invited to submit work to Interface Gallery in any medium for display in the gallery setting and to propose auxiliary events that intersect with the theme of the exhibition. This can include anything from talks and film screenings to happenings that employ the tactics of art as social practice. A central gallery installation will include a display of produce that has been recovered from dumpsters or other sources and will be offered to visitors of the exhibition.
Deadline: July 29, 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Prayer for Japan: New Works by Ed Heckerman

At first glance, Ed Heckerman’s new work Glocal, Enso Rice Photograms, appears quite simple.  Upon closer inspection the work reveals its multilayered complexity.  Heckerman produced a series of exquisite selenium toned silver gelatin photogram prints through the repeated gesture of laying rice in an enso form (or zen circle) on light sensitive photographic paper.  While making the photograms, he recited a Buddhist mantra intended to dispel negativity.

The rice used in Glocal was gifted to the artist from numerous sources affected by the 2011Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disaster.  Heckerman simultaneously achieves the production of art through spiritual practice, as well as collaboration, allowing for resurgence and an address of ethical problems within photography.  Heckerman writes, “The new 'offerings' are a prayer for Japan.  This series is called Glocal, a reference to 'glocalization,' a relatively new word referring to individuals and communities that ‘think globally and act locally'." 

Glocal is a continuation of Heckerman’s earlier works including: Offerings (1988), Pluriverses (1996), Flower Petals From My Mother’s Garden (1997 – 98), Mandalas (1997 – 98), Clippings (2003) and Global (2007 – 08).  Global was published in Blind Spot magazine issue 37.  Each body of work investigates unique subject matters ranging from Buddhist offerings to genetically modified rice.  

Within each project the artist arranges symbolic materials on light sensitive paper to produce a photogram or camera less image in the wet darkroom.  These works are cohesive through Heckerman’s insistence on giving a picture as opposed to taking a picture. It is within this act that Heckerman addresses photographic ethics.  By making and offering an image to his viewers, Heckerman avoids the sometimes exploitative and voyeuristic nature of photography. The persistence of these projects over a decade’s time is admirable; the artist successfully broadens the conversation with each new body of work.

Heckerman labels Glocal a collaboration.  This collaboration came about through the process of Heckerman’s checking in on the well being of his friend, Iwauko Murakami during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.  In a correspondence (included in the exhibition), Murakami expresses her desire to produce an artwork for her hometown during the aftermath of the tragedy.  She also describes her frustration of not being able to immediately produce work due to the overwhelming sorrow felt throughout her community.  In describing the nuclear accident in an e-mail to Heckerman, Murakami writes, 

 "…I don't know whether this situation will be settled on safety or not…The nuclear accident brought an image that radioactivity has polluted Japan islands to people all over the world. I guess this image will prevent Japan from revival. Rice is [an] important provision for the Japanese. However, if pollution expands as it is, we will lose our provisions.  If damage…occurs to rice farm[s], the influence is a vital issue for us.  Your work, "[G]lobal" just corresponds to it. By chance, that work looks like a radiograph, used by radiation. I think  '[G]lobal' can refer to this problem to which Japan is facing… Japanese choose rice by sticking to a brand made in their hometown. Thus, the culture of rice diet is very deep for the Japanese.  There are many brands of rice in the stricken areas. For example, HITOMEBORE, SASANISHIKI, AKITAKOMACHI, and so on…[What] do you think [of] my idea that you make new works by using rice of Japan in order to pray for Japan?"

Murakami and thirteen of her friends each sent Heckerman a bag of Japanese rice.  Heckerman honors the collaborative effort of these individuals through the titling of the images. Each work’s title is composed of a list of three components:
1) The place in Japan the rice was produced
2) The kind of rice
3) The first name of the person or people gifting the rice to the artist

Image titles read as:




Seven photograms printed on 16” x 20” paper, matted square with circular windows are installed in one level line at Bolivar 2.0 in Santa Monica.  Accompanying the seven works is an additional piece, a long, narrow montage of each enso form archivally printed on Moenkoepi Kozo Mulberry paper.   The eye-catching images draw the viewer inward.  If one gives in to the hypnotic force a reward of subtle visual differences become recognizable within the interior of the few grains of rice that have fallen away from each enso mass which holds their unique textural forms.  Additionally, as recognized by Murakami, the photograms take on an eerie quality suggesting a visual face for the invisible, that which is radioactive. 

GLOCAL is currently on view through July 27th, 2012 at Bolivar 2.0 located at 1741 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405.  Each image is unique, an edition of one.  Prints are for sale at $800 each with all funds going to the earthquake victims of Japan.

While visiting Bolivar 2.0 be sure to indulge in the tasty arepas, a corn-based dish from the northern region of South America.  Each arepa bun is partially sliced and filled with your choice of delectables ranging from fresh ripe mangos, avocados and cheese with a garlic rosemary aioli to a pulled pork shoulder cooked in Caribbean spices for eight hours. Wash your arepa down with a highly addictive frothy fresh squeezed Tres en uno carrot, beet and orange juice which is simply the most beautiful color your lucky eyes will ever see.

Selected works from Glocal: