30 May 2009


If imitation is flattery, what is it called when Jonathan Monk flattens Jeff Koons' "Rabbit"? Jonathan's wit steps outside the box and does what many of us out there wish we could do, he lets the air out of an iconic piece of pop-art by the master himself, Jeff Koons.
I love both pieces, the before and the after. Many a snob has ragged on about the work that Koons puts out. Most say it's not art, but what the hell is art anyways? Art is 100% subjective. It as as the cliches reads "...in the eye of the beholder". Heck, if we're still talking about Koons' "rabbit" some 20 years later, then I'm sure that suggests that it is probably art.
Hey, I'm not a fan of watercolor flowers or an oil rendition of society's high and mighty picnicking in the countryside painted by many a supposed master 150 years ago, but I'd never in a million years say that it isn't art...it's just not my kind of art. Art is, and that's all. It just is. Like it or leave it.


525 WEST 21st STREET

Lifted from a Press release by Casey Kaplan Gallery*

“Appropriation is something I have used or worked with in my art since starting art school in 1987. At this time (and still now)
I realised that being original was almost impossible, so I tried using what was already available as source material for my own
work. By doing this I think I also created something original and certainly something very different to what I was re-
presenting. I always think that art is about ideas, and surely the idea of an original and a copy of an original are two very
different things.” – Jonathan Monk, 2009

Casey Kaplan is pleased to present new work by artist, Jonathan Monk (b. 1969 in Leicester, England, lives and
works in Berlin, Germany), in his sixth solo exhibition with the gallery, The Inflated Deflated. Previously, Monk has taken
on artists such as John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Sol LeWitt, Ed Ruscha, and Lawrence Weiner, as source material
for his own artwork. For this exhibition, Monk turns his attention to the artist, Jeff Koons. By employing his own
intrinsic artistic strategies, appropriation and recontextualization, Monk presents an exhibition that appends art history
with a narrative of his own interplay between the objects and ideas of the past and his newly conceived reincarnations.
In the late 1980’s, while Jonathan Monk began art school in Glasgow, Scotland, Jeff Koons created a highly polished
stainless steel cast of an inflated, plastic bunny shaped balloon, entitled “Rabbit”, 1986. The sculpture debuted that
same year in the seminal Group Show at the Ileana Sonnabend Gallery in New York. “Rabbit” has become an icon of
its era. Utilizing a similar inflatable, carrot carrying, plastic toy bunny as a starting point, Monk presents his own version
of Koons’ infamous work in five different poses. Monk’s stainless steel bunnies capture five frozen moments of silent,
animated, slow deflation. With each dissipation of air, the mirrored bunny droops, folds, and gently falls from a
standing position to a reclined figure. If seen as a sequence, the sculpture ultimately comes to rest in a low, undulating
heap of metal, recalling one of Henry Moore’s classic bronze reclining nudes.
Surrounding the five sculptures are five photorealist style paintings that depict various stages of the fabrication
process of Monk’s bunny sculptures from the clay moulds to welding of steel. Through the paintings, Monk
demystifies the process of the creation of his own artworks as a conceptual component to the exhibition.
In Gallery III, the exhibition transitions from balloons losing their air to light bulbs that gradually burn out and go dark.
Monk additionally presents four wall-based, light bulb artworks entitled, “The Death of Geometric figures” (circle,
square, rectangle, and triangle). Each of the geometric signs is a mirror surrounded by ceramic white light bulbs that
recall Hollywood-style vanity mirrors, and also artworks from the 1960’s and 70’s by various Conceptual artists. As the
bulbs burn and fade to black, Monk’s signs become realized.

15 May 2009


So, if you've ever read my blogs or viewed my Twitter, then you'd know that I have a bit of a have a thing for water towers...honestly don't have a clue why I'm so damned infatuated with them, but clearly, I am.

These days, water towers are like visual 'white-noise' to most of us. Many of us are surrounded by them just about every living, breathing moment of our lives. How many of you out there in blog-land can see one from the computer where you're reading this blog this very second? We see them, but we don't see them. You probably can't tell me if there's one on the building you are in right now, can you? They compete for rooftop spaces nationwide. They get crowded out by high tension power lines. Trees don't get pruned and push up against them. Stripmalls, discount cigarette stores & car washes are packed tightly around them. You might even have one right outside your apartment, work or school window. Sadly, I do not. Maybe when it comes time to pack up and move, my new digs will have a water tower, I'll definitely make sure one's on my checklist when that time comes.
They obviously serve a very useful purpose, don't they? They must, mustn't they? Why else would these rooftop structures be strewn all across the landscape, from coast to coast? The bigger question should be, why can't we decide on one common design style? They come in far too many shapes and sizes. Some are way too structurally & aesthetically complicated for their own good.
Do you have a favorite shape or construct? I mostly do, I dig on the classic oak timbered breed, but I'll drop what I'm doing to get a good gander at any of the older varieties made of steel...funnels on stilts or something that looks like an extra from that movie starring Tom 'Mission Impossible' Cruise 'War of the Worlds'...those damned ill mannered Martian 'Walkers'!
Drive through an older suburb near you. Did they see a building boom in the late 70's or early 80's (before the bubble popped), with their fauxe marble and stucco finishes, dark greens, brown and beige painted boxes trimmed in Roman and Spanish arches. I will put money down that you will be staring at an example that looks about as outdated as a Donald Trump building, with it's useless marble and brass bells and whistles.
Do yourself a favor, the next time you're jetting past a water tower, slow down and just look up at it...for a second or two. Don't over think it, just take a mental picture (or better yet, pull out your cell phone a snap one) and be on with your day. Is it a dilapidated oak structure? A bulbous steel phallus decked out in cell phone antennae? A monstrous 10-legged bell shaped beast?

All photos were taken with my cell phone, almost always from the drivers seat of a moving vehicle.

The soundtrack to this slideshow is by: Dengue Fever titled 'Seeing Hands/ Sleepwalking Version'. Grab it off of iTunes.

All photos were taken with my cell phone, almost always from the drivers seat of a moving vehicle.

The soundtrack to this slideshow is by: Dengue Fever titled 'Seeing Hands/ Sleepwalking Version'. Grab it off of iTunes.

14 May 2009


The Limits of Control is the new movie from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers, Down by Law). The film is set in the striking and varied landscapes of contemporary Spain (both urban and otherwise). The location shoot there united the writer/director with acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, Paranoid Park).

Isaach De Bankolé stars in the lead role for Mr. Jarmusch; this marks the duo’s fourth collaboration over nearly two decades, following Night on Earth, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and Coffee and Cigarettes. The Limits of Control also features several other actors with whom Mr. Jarmusch has previously worked, including Alex Descas, John Hurt, Youki Kudoh, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton; and actors new to his films, including Hiam Abbass, Gael García Bernal, Paz De La Huerta, Jean-François Stévenin, and Luis Tosar.

The Limits of Control is the story of a mysterious loner (played by Mr. De Bankolé), a stranger, whose activities remain meticulously outside the law. He is in the process of completing a job, yet he trusts no one, and his objectives are not initially divulged.

His journey, paradoxically both intently focused and dreamlike, takes him not only across Spain but also through his own consciousness.

A Focus Features presentation in association with Entertainment Farm of a PointBlank production of a Film by Jim Jarmusch. The Limits of Control. Isaach De Bankolé, Alex Descas, Jean-François Stévenin, Luis Tosar, Paz De La Huerta, Tilda Swinton, Youki Kudoh, John Hurt, Gael García Bernal, Hiam Abbass, Bill Murray. Casting, Ellen Lewis. Costume Designer, Bina Daigeler. Sound Designer, Robert Hein. With Music by Boris. Production Designer, Eugenio Caballero. Editor, Jay Rabinowitz, A.C.E. Director of Photography, Christopher Doyle, H.K.S.C. Executive Producer, Jon Kilik. Produced by Stacey Smith, Gretchen McGowan. Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch. A Focus Features Release.

12 May 2009


OK, OK, so I lifted the attached story from the Chicago Tribune online. The original author writes like both he and his readers hail from Mars or some other planet or suburb, far, far away. He suggests that the Blago stencil-graffiti has gotten to an almost viral stage...just because it's up in at least 6 reported spots in Chicago...EWWWW, scarey! The image I've included is from the corner of Hubbard and May Streets, Chicago.
The 'alleged' artist that has sprayed and pasted the 'Run, Blago, Run' is Chicago's very own CRO aka Ray Noland. He currently has a group show that ends later this month titled Officially Unofficial at the Chicago Tourism Center on Randolph Street. This show is a collection of Obama related artworks and prints that supported Obama, pre-election. Works by The Date Farmers, Ron English, Obey, Bask, Cody Hudson and many, many more artists can be seen. I highly recommend checking this gig out, while it lasts.
You can source more info direct from Ray's sites: GoTellMama.org and CRO.BigCartel.com.

A mysterious mural has turned up on a half-dozen concrete walls around the city in recent weeks. The black graffiti stencil shows former Gov. Rod Blagojevich wearing his familiar tracksuit, running through the street and glancing over his shoulder, as if he is being pursued. The image leaves it to the viewer to speculate about who is trailing Blago -- U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, perhaps?

Reminiscent of the work of Banksy, the London street artist, and Shepard Fairey aka Obey, the creator of the Barack Obama Hope poster, the Blago stencil began appearing in early April. It has been spotted in a downtown alley behind the Macy's on State Street and on a viaduct at the corner of West 16th Street and South Union Avenue.

Like most street art, the creator leaves no signature. (The practice is illegal, after all.) But Pilsen artist Ray Noland aka CRO, 36, is currently selling a first-edition poster of the image titled "Run, Blago, Run!" for $75 on his Web site, cro.bigcartel.com. Noland -- who ran an unofficial Obama street art campaign last year -- declined to comment on how his Blago design ended up on the street and suggested that anyone could have appropriated his image. "I just make the graphics," he said.

However, Noland did hint that urbanities should keep their eyes open for more images, which he predicted "will probably continue to pop up around the city."

*original story lifted off the internet written by: cmastony@tribune.com

11 May 2009


Cody Hudson better known to many as Struggle, Inc. has a new gig that opens on May 11th.

For Let’s Do Some Living After We Die, emergent artist Cody Hudson will create a new collage and sculpture installation. Hudson’s art work will explore feelings of euphoria and doom, community and solitude through the combination of found materials and media images, paintings, and drawing. The installation will change and grow in three intervals, May 11th, July 19th, and August 19th, during the six month exhibition period. Installed in the Foyer Project Space of the Art Center, this volatile mixture of optical information inspires visitors to consider the relationship between hopefulness and tragedy upon entering the building.

Hudson’s art work will explore feelings of euphoria and doom, community and solitude through the combination of found materials and media images, paintings, and drawing.

Cody Hudson is a Chicago-based artist and graphic designer who produces work under the name Struggle Inc. Known for the production of clean, multi-dimensional and geometric graphics, Hudson’s design aesthetic is part urban modernism, and part organic visual deconstruction. His drawings, installations, and paintings have been exhibited throughout the US, Europe and Japan including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), New Image Art (LA), Rocket Gallery (Tokyo), The Lazy Dog (Paris), & Bucket Rider Gallery (Chicago). In 2006 he was commissioned by the City of Chicago Public Art Program to create a permanent installation at the Sox/35th CTA station as part of the Arts in Transit Program. Hudson’s work has been featured in numerous magazines and publications including idN, Arkitip, Anthem and Juxtapoz. He is currently represented by Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago.

This installation takes place in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture curated by Front Forty Press, offering a provocative look into the current trend of blurring the line between annihilation and bliss in contemporary art, thought, and sound, held in Galleries 1, 2, and 3 at the Art Center from July 19 until September 29, 2009.