Introducing: El Moises, Artist of the Week February 14-21

Posted on | 2/17/11 | No Comments

I met Moises in late 2010 at a barbecue for artists given at the home of Scott Garcia and I was super excited by his stimulating, textural and graphic style. This interview was given on February 13, 2011 and you will find even more awesome pictures after the break.

More of Moises' art! and an update.

Posted on | 2/14/11 | No Comments

So, today was the first day of set up for the show. It was exhausting but a lot of fun. I took a ton of photos of every step of the process so you all can see what goes into setting up an installation of this scale. It will be a few days before I get a chance to edit the pics and write the post, so expect it next weekend. See more art below:

Announcing Feb. 14- 21 Artist of the Week: El Moises

Posted on | 2/13/11 | 3 Comments

Hello all!
Today I am happy to announce this weeks Artist of the Week is El Moises (image is of the artist with a piece):

El Moises is a kicka$$ contemporary artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico but originally from Phoenix, Arizona. His work is visually exciting, graphic and textural (as well as being some of the most exciting work I've seen in a while).
I will be putting the interview with him up on Wednesday but in the mean time I plan post a picture of some of his work every day of this week. Here is the first:

516arts show update

Posted on | 2/7/11 | No Comments

I contacted Rhiannon Mercer, the assistant director of 516arts and told her of my interest in helping to set up this show and specifically with Pepon if possible. She is making up the schedule today and I will definitely be participating with set up in some way although I don't yet know if I will meet or work with Pepon personally. I will try to get some kind of interview with him if at all possible. Excuse my fan girl behavior but I'm super excited :D
I will keep you all informed of everything that happens. Here is some of Pepon's art for you to enjoy in the mean time.

Image of Amalia Mesa-Bains piece for the show from 516arts website

For your convenience!

Posted on | 2/6/11 | No Comments

I'm working hard to clean up the look of this blog, create good content and use decent hacks to make the blog easier to use. Check out the new share buttons I've installed to make it easier for you to show the blog to your friends.
Let me know what else I can do to make this blog better using the contact me button on the left side of the page. :)

Pepon Osorio at 516arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico Feb.19th - May 14 2011. OMG!

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So, through a fluke of fate or luck or gods know what, I entered the wrong search parameters into google when finding links for my last post and randomly discovered something amaaaazing. The local gallery I love/hate and volunteered at is participating in "Latina/o Visual Imaginary: Intersection of Word & Image" a show running from February to May as part of the "East Coast/Southwest—Latino Literary Imagination: Narrative Voices and the Spoken Word" biregional conferance. By some vile quirk of fate this show opens just 2 days after I leave Albuquerque forever to return to Puerto Rico, before moving to China. This sucks, to put it lightly and has got me a bit down. I cut ties with this gallery in disgust with some of the IMO crappy shows they were doing about a year ago and boy am I regretting it now. I am trying to suck up to a few pertinent people to see if there is any way I can help with the installation this but I'm not counting on it. I will let you know if I manage to participate though and will try to get an interview with Pepon Osorio if possible!

If you want to learn more, go here for more information. I can guarantee you that this show will be excellent so you should definitely go in my place! Let me know if you attend and gimme all the details!

Concept art: is it really that lame??

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Whos Afraid: of Conceptual Art?
 Today’s musing is going to be about concept art. I know many people outside the art world do not see the value of concept as art but I am absolutely convinced that art is no more than a pretty image without an “idea” behind it. So today I am going to tell about how I met Pepon Osorio (with no clue of how important he was) and fell in love with installations and concept art.

Once upon a time after I had been studying poetry writing at the UPR for a few years I randomly found a flier advertising the opening of the new art building. There would be a workshop on installation building with Pepon Osorio. I decided to go and met a hyper active, grouchy, bossy older man (Osorio) who was constantly shouting. It was more an assistantship than a workshop but I did learn quite a bit. We started with conceptualization and the idea that the piece should be silver. We used recycled materials and built a large chandelier type thing and covered rocks in tin foil. This was the point where I began to realize that anything and everything could be art. It was also where I learned about the art school I eventually attended. I did not enjoy the experience at the time and have only recently come to understand how valuable the experience was and to what extent it shaped my view of art.

I think (this is purely my view and probably not shared by other artists) that conceptualization and intent is an essential part of any art piece. But when it comes to concept art, the idea is everything. The physical aspect of the piece can be anything but without that idea (usually expressed in the choice of name) the piece is meaningless and IMO, without any value. The thing I absolutely hate about concept art is that it has become an excuse to show crappy, half assed work with no thinking behind it. The industry seems willing to accept anything under the term “concept art” without analysis or thought and this, to me, is immensely stupid. The whole POINT of concept art is to make you think, analyze, question, justify, rationalize and even argue about the art. It is not to write a 7 page rationalization or justification of your crappy piece. If I can not find a meaning in a piece with the name, observing it and reading the same short blurb any other piece would get, well, the piece was probably not very well conceptualized and it isn’t clear. I mean, we don’t all have to come to the same conclusion or perspective but we should all be able to come to A conclusion or perspective without reading some long rationalization.

After the workshop with Pepon (Textos Entretejidos: Instalacion/Perfomance/Memoria 2004) I did some research on him and learned a bit more about his work. He is an installation artist who makes surprisingly complex pieces and got his start as a social worker. I think this background gives his work an emotional depth that I haven’t seen in other work. His work centers on the family, politics and culture and IMO communicates emotions rather powerfully.

As for specific concept pieces that I find effective, I thought I’d bring up Hirst since I have been researching him for another post. In general I find Hirst work to be very over rated and overpriced but I did come across one piece of his that I liked and a deconstruction of one of his pieces by another artist. “A Thousand Years,” Hirst’s piece in which generations of flies are born and die while consuming rotting meat in an enclosed glass box. The concept is of life and death is one that has always interested me and along with the short, meaningful name, I think it is a perfect example of a well thought out piece of concept art. It is engaging and absolutely commands a response of some kind from the viewer.  The other piece that I was amused by was “Black Sheep” the deconstruction by Mark Bridger of Hirst’s “Away from the Flock” in which Bridger poured black into the formaldehyde tank containing a sheep. I found Bridger’s deconstruction to be more thoughtful and clever than Hirst’s original piece.

Art as commodity: Hirst & the value of "art"

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 I was asked to do a review of Damien Hirst and while I originally planned to do so referring to concept art, my complex feelings towards his work have convinced me to approach him from an easier angle. Today I want to write again about “art as a commodity” and how value is placed on a piece.  I’ve said before that I do not believe “talent” to be essential to become an “artist” and I think this statement is embodied in Hirst. It is well known that much of “his” work is created by assistants, with him doing the conceptualizing. I read on his Wikipedia page that an assistant once asked him for one of his dot paintings and he told her to paint one herself since she had done others. I can’t remember his exact response but it was in the vein of “the only difference between my work and yours is the money” which I think illustrates exactly my point. I personally have a complex view when it comes to assistants although it may simply be because I will probably never have any, though heavens knows that I could be doing much larger and more complex work with a few. My point being that I do believe conceptualization is a major component of creating a piece. On the other hand I also believe that if an “artist” signs off claiming a piece, that piece had damn well better have had some work beyond "I thought it up!" (conceptualization) done by that artist.

How the way people speak of art shows arts role in culture

Posted on | 2/4/11 | No Comments

Graffiti World Updated Edition: Street Art from Five ContinentsI have recently been reading a lot more art news in an attempt to make better posts here on Vagary Art. During some of this reading I came across something that interested me greatly. In a regular newspaper, not an art magazine or art blog, I came across the description of a recent art show in which the artist is described as “creating a dialogue (with the public)” (traer un dialogo). This struck me since it is a phrasing and concept I have never come across when reading English daily newspapers or even in regional art newspaper (although it does come up in arts magazines).  Essentially the idea behind this phrasing is communicating to the common people, not the high art world, that they have a role to play in art. By viewing a piece, they are participating in a “conversation” with the artist or creating a discourse. This concept accepts the influence of viewers on art, a piece of art on other art and society in general while it invites the viewer to respond in turn instead of simply viewing the piece in a vacuum.

The responsibility of being an artist?

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 Image by Theresa Canino for Primera Hora:
 I recently read in Autogiro that Antonio Martorell, a well known Puerto Rican artist had chosen to remove his art from the Puerto Rican Supreme Court in protest of the current political climate there. This brings in a topic that I think I have sort of broached in my other posts: the socio-cultural responsibility of being an artist. Is it our place, as creators, interpreters and communicators of culture (art), to act/protest in an attempt to change society/culture/politic policies?  Is it like that poem:  When they came for the jews, I did nothing… when they came for me, there was no
one to do anything (I’m paraphrasing). Do we, as artists, have a responsibility to use art to make political/cultural/social statements?

See Martorell's art after the break