Cover Me: The Reception – Sunday, February 3, 3-5 PM
(Image clicks through to larger image) I made a blog post last Spring because I kept hearing the same conversations about arts coverage. And because I have a big mouth, I wrote about it in my blog and it turned into a show. I invited several artists to be in the show and almost all accepted. Some declined because of the topic, a valid reason and I respect that. I may have shot myself in the foot in putting on this show and I may never get coverage around here again. But I have lately been thinking that I should live in Australia anyway. And it is a valid opinion shared by a lot of artists and so someone has to have a big mouth perhaps. And then move somewhere else.
Below is the press release for the show which was sent to a very long list of publications. As it turns out, the date we chose for the reception is Super Bowl Sunday which is something of an intriguing coincidence because sports is one area of the paper that will never suffer for lack of interest and/or coverage and this timing might well impact attendance at the reception. This actually makes me think of the new trend of, “Art Face-Offs”, which I wrote about previously. Even Saatchi Gallery is utilizing this phenomenon which seems to make art more competitive but also, as it is based on random voting, something of a popularity contest. I suppose it’s harmless but I wonder if it does have an ability affect the way people that visit such sites will judge art as in, this piece got the most votes therefor it is the best. So this reception is an attendance face-off with the Super Bowl. The Women’s Times listed the reception in their Arts Listings section. I did not see it listed elsewhere but truthfully did not pick up either of our two local papers but only checked the Valley Advocate because it is free.
Anyway, the game will be on in the lounge downstairs from the gallery and I think it doesn’t start till 6 PM anyway and the reception is 3 – 5 PM. I posted below all images from the show that I have thus far.
Cover me: Artists Address The Lack of Arts Coverage
February 3 – 26, 2008
Reception: Sunday, February 3, 3-5 PM
Hampden Gallery at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Cover Me is an exhibition born of a post on my old blog, “Art & About with Mo”, published on the Valley Advocate website. The post, “Wednesday, April 04, 2007. ARTS COVERAGE & SOME GUY I DATED IN HIGH SCHOOL”, commented on oft-heard artists’ laments regarding the dwindling coverage of arts in the news and suggested a call to action; a show of artists addressing the issue of arts coverage. As a result of the post, Anne LaPrade, Director of Hampden Gallery at UMASS, offered (it was rather more of a dare) me the gallery for the month of February of 2008 to host the exhibition.
The show does not necessarily purport to create coverage or affect change in arts coverage but rather to give voice to work created by a variety of artists and mediums to address, satirize or otherwise highlight this concern. It will be interesting, however, to see if a show speaking to non-coverage, or the larger issue of mass appeal, will actually be covered. Arts writers I have spoken to about this issue express sympathy and a similar desire for expanded coverage for their own reasons.
I chose artists to cover a broad range with the common denominator being that all create work which I find to exhibit soul, search and wit. This range includes: the underexposed; the overexposed; gallery directors who have a decades-long relationship with, and seasoned opinion about, arts coverage; instructors of art; internationally exhibited/exhibiting artists; New York City artists; an artist who recently opened a gallery; the recent MFA grad; and, sheepishly, me. Sheepishly because I didn’t necessarily choose me for this show but agreed to be part of it at Anne Laprade’s urging.
Artists were invited to create 2D or 3D work to address or respond to the topic in some manner. I chose the artists, and the resulting work was not curated. I chose voices, and let the show unfold of its own accord.
As artists we all have had experience with arts coverage, lack of coverage, positive, neutral and perhaps negative coverage. We include press clippings in grant applications and promotional packages. Press can help to validate our work and ourselves as individual artists.
The work for this show is meant to be an opportunity to act as a voice to express thoughts on this topic. I humbly hypothesize that the lack of arts coverage is not necessarily an indication of the preferences of an editorial staff or a publication’s reporting ideologies, but rather, seems a response to mass appeal in an attempt to sell papers. The larger issue is that of mass appeal. Mass appeal called for the weekly arts column in one local paper to be replaced with coverage of American Idol. Reality television is perhaps of broader interest than the reality of the artistic accomplishments of the members of a community.
The premise of this exhibition is not assumed to be novel, nor does it address a new concern. Rather it addresses an ongoing concern of importance to all artists. It is somewhat risky in that it begs a response from those in a position to affect response and who are gently chided by the premise. And, to quote the blog post that started it, “It beats bitching next to the brie”.
In conclusion, there is no attack meant by this show and most of the local arts writers with whom I have contact express a desire to have more time (and budget) to cover arts events. They write about art because it is topically appealing to them but they are under pressure to cover things people will actually read. I often ponder why art in our backyard is of seemingly little interest to readers of the local papers. Not in my backyard is of more interest and gets more press. But that’s an old question with implications across topics. And there is no missive aimed at the masses or those that read American idol coverage over local arts. We are included in the masses.
About some of the artists and their work for the show, in their own words:
CAREY ASCENZO graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000 and, after moving to New York, worked as Operations Coordinator for the following seven years at SculptureCenter, a nonprofit contemporary art organization dedicated to experimental and innovative developments in contemporary sculpture. Since summer 2007 she has held a position as Studio Manager for renowned artist partnership Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Recent exhibitions include Smack Mellon Studios (Brooklyn, NY), and the New York Design Center. Her work was included in the most recent of the “Tragic Book” series published by Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY).
Carey writes of her piece for this show–“it is a bit more generally about the implied/perceived power of the newspaper, and relates to a particular newsroom fantasy I’ve had since childhood.
Specifically, I am shooting video of a bunch of people in a row stating “LET’S PUT THIS BABY TO BED!!!” a la Perry White in Superman, which I find myself screaming from out of car windows whenever we go by a newspaper building. “The Daily Hampshire Gazette” is a frequent recipient.”
Watch Carey’s piece on youtube:
IAN BURNS on his piece:
The piece I would like to put in the show is a sound piece which is a comment on what makes “news” these days and who are the respected voices.
I have lifted the voice of Harrison Ford speaking the words I needed from his various films and collaged them together to have him speak about 13 of Jenny Holzer’s fantastic “Truisms”.
These portraits represent the juxtaposition and collapse of external and internal processes. The subjects are encompassed, inside and out, by the sensation of potential disaster and lack of control. They are consumed and at the same time are totally exposed. They are trapped in the moment, seeking coverage, but unable to achieve even the coverage of their own whole skin.
These drawings are part of a multi-media work in progress entitled Unnatural Disaster. However, the portraits themselves were inspired by the concept for the Cover Me group exhibition. If we deny arts recognition, we are in danger of destroying our cultural and human vitality. Within a contemporary context, the arts promote an interrelational understanding of social processes. The more we are lacking in arts coverage, the more we are lacking in true nourishment and will not only develop an unbalanced and inaccurate perspective of the world, but we will further become disempowered and dull.
New York Times, Arts: Black, White, Read
Acrylic on MDF
13” x 22”
Hampshire Gazette, Arts (Draft): Black and White
Acrylic on MDF
12” x 22”
The New York Times is one of the few newspapers that devote an entire section to the arts, more impressively, an entire page to fine arts.
For “New York Times, Arts: Black, White, Read”, I combined the layout of an actual arts page with the riddle “What’s black and white, and red all over?”. The solid black rectangles comprise the page header; the article is presented as red rectangles, for it is, read by many. Of course newsprint is not white, this is why I chose the gray background, and to fully mimic the page I dented the wood in place of a print roller.
You might wonder, “Why not a local paper like The Hampshire Gazette or The Republican?” Shamefully, an “Arts” page does not exist. They do contain a “Living” section, which encompasses articles on food, travel, weather, and Bridge. Apparently a community can live without art.
However, I do imagine such a page on some desktop publisher’s hard drive, with this in mind, I fashioned “Hampshire Gazette, Arts (Draft): Black and White”.
The white background represents his computer screen. The outlined black rectangles as the page header, they are not solid as with the New York Times panel, for a page number nor the date of publication currently exists. The page is empty, he wonders:
“Who is going to read about art?”
He draws two black rectangles and prints the page. On the top box he paints a strip of correction fluid, symbolizing the “CORRECTIONS” column heading of his local newspaper. Red he decided, for the print in the box below. A cryptic red read answer to his question; one is impelled to decipher, to care: 1111111<3 111<31111<31<31 = “No one cares.”
As the soul of the arts goes, so goes the soul of the community.
Residing in Springfield for twenty-seven years I’ve seen a systematic reduction in community arts coverage by the Springfield Newspapers. This position has manifested itself in the lack of recognition of our numerous visual arts venues, often leading to their demise. Artists, gallery directors, curators and the public at large are notoriously under served. The public is kept out, and the arts do not flourish. As a result artists migrate to other more welcoming areas. In a community that sorely needs the arts, our newspaper chooses to highlight events at The Quadrangle, while neglecting the vital smaller venues and their contributions.
My piece is a symbolic representation of how the newspapers are quick to cover News, Weather and Sports, and neglect the visual arts. The window exterior is covered with clippings of these events with a little leisure thrown in. The interior is less accessible. The barbed wire represents the Springfield Newspaper’s attitude and how it affects both the community and the artists.
When the soul of the arts is tortured – we all suffer.
As I think back on how much I would draw as a child, I realize how important creating art has always been to me.
Loss has been and continues to be a central theme in my work. My many drawings as a child often expressed happy moments in my life. My sense now is that these drawings were an attempt to preserve happiness and to protect myself from its loss.
My work also is an expression of the struggles I see in life. It portrays the opposing forces of good, evil, purity, negativity, vulnerability, determination, despair, and hope.
To fully express the joys in life assumes responsibility. The rose, often depicted in my work as a symbol, gives meaning to my core thoughts on life. Wherever there is beauty or happiness there can also be pain.
My work has its roots in symbolism and spirituality. It incorporates the fundamental elements of life: fire, water, earth, and air.
My paintings and drawings flow from mind to hand with an unconscious spontaneity. As elements of the painting or drawing reveal themselves to me, I am constantly analyzing the composition for balance, rhythm, and motion.
Mike has made a Cheese Ball Machine (not pictured: In its place I have inserted an image of the Sea Monkey Pocket Pen, “Port-a-Pet”, which goes with his bio which I wrote for him in lieu of the bio he never wrote and never sent to me. ;-))
Danish artist, LINE BRUNTSE, is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, she currently lives and works in Lancaster, PA. Line primarily does large scale installation based work. She has shown widely in the northeastern region of the states as well as in Denmark and Austria. Her most recent exhibitions include In Between the Lines, at Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD; Gloucester New Arts Festival, and Hotel Pupik 2007, Austria.
GREGORY S. KLINE received his B.F.A. in Sculpture from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a M.F.A. in Sculpture from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has taught various sculpture courses at the
University of Massachusetts including Bronze Casting. In addition, he has been the Sculpture Technician and an instructor at Hampshire College for the past eight years. His primary interests include metal casting and steel fabrication and assemblage sculpture. Professor Kline has exhibited his work nationally and is in numerous private and public collections.
HOLLY S. MURRAY grew up amidst the wild beauty of rural New England. She is a graduate of Syracuse University, with a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking. She holds a M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, where she studied ceramics and photography.
Throughout Murray’s career, her art process has traversed the terrain between the studio and interactive public collaboration. The content of her art is concerned with cultural and social issues. During the mid nineties, Murray’s nationally traveling show “On the Home Front”, an installation documenting family violence, garnered wide acclaim. An outgrowth of that work explored issues of aging within American popular culture. The result was a series of paintings called “Death, Desire and Ecstasy”. These themes evolved into body of work, called “Good Breeding”; examining the intersection between bio-technology and mega-agricultural practices. Presently, she is continuing her investigation of biogenetics and its effects on our world with her painting and works on paper.
I’ve always found the world an incomplete place.
Just when I feel I have a grasp on things some new sight or wonder unfolds before me revealing the full glory of my ignorance.
Photography provides a window into this incomplete world; a world I shall never truly know or fully understand.
How we do what we do, why we do what we do are questions ever unanswered and always intriguing.
In photography I see mirrored the unknowable nature of the world.
This is the piece I am struggling to finish. To make the deadline I did actually deliver the chair but am working on the pieces that go with it.