The New York Nobody Knows by John McGurk

Have you ever considered walking every street in Manhattan?  Sure, why not, couldn't take that long.  Ever considered walking all the streets in both Manhattan and Brooklyn?  Maybe, but I can't find the time.  What about walking every block in every NYC borough? Of course not, that is just crazy.. 

None of these considerations or hesitations seem to be on the minds of two hyper NYC walkers doing just that, walking each and every single block.

William Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows, and Matt Green, a dedicated soul that methodically logs and plots his walking adventures at I'm Just Walkin are committed walkers, observers, and clearly very social animals.  Both men have dedicated themselves to walking every single block of each of the five boroughs of NYC.   It is hard to wrap one's head around the idea that each will have walked over 6,000 miles when they reach their goal.  12,000 miles between them!

Enjoy:

The Naked & The Nude exhibition by John McGurk

Opening to the public this Saturday, December 5, DAG Modern's exhibition titled The Naked and The Nude is an exciting look into Indian modern artists exploration of the body.  The exhibition will be open until February 27, 2016, so plenty of time to go by and see leading artists from India. With a total of 80 work displayed throughout their space, it is a must see show if you find yourself in NYC this winter.  Some images of works in the exhibition below:

 

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DEVIN POWERS by John McGurk

Devin Powers, Night Wind, oil on carved wood, 24 x 16", 2014

Devin Powers, Night Wind, oil on carved wood, 24 x 16", 2014

Located far south on Orchard Street on the Lowers East Side, the Lesley Heller Gallery recently had a solo exhibition of the artist Devin Powers.  There are a lot of shows going on in this part of town these days, sometimes it can be hard to get to everything, this is an exhibition that should have been on the top of your list.  

As it no longer exists in physical space, McG wanted to make sure and create a post with some photos from the show and a link to the New York Times review by Roberta Smith.  Devin is a friend and very talented artist, it is some much deserved coverage and a wonderful new direction for his work.  We look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

Devin Powers, oil on carved wood, 2014

Devin Powersoil on carved wood, 2014

Roberta Smith from NYT:

"And nothing is quite as rampant as the unhinged geometric patterns, defined first by automatist drawing and then by divots painted with contrasting colors, which give the best works a writhing, billowing energy."

Read the full review here: A Kaleidoscope of Meaning on a Single Surface

Devin Powers, oil on carved wood, 2014

Devin Powersoil on carved wood, 2014

Check out Powers' website here: http://www.devinpowers.info/

McG has been fortunate to work with Powers over the years and have done some great projects.  His new direction with relief carving is great to see, and having watched his evolution over the past years, makes complete sense for his practice and pursuits. 

Devin Powers, Data Dervish, 48 x 24", oil on carved wood, 2014

Devin Powers, Data Dervish, 48 x 24", oil on carved wood, 2014

Cutting Edge Architecture in Suburbia by John McGurk

Located in Lincoln, Mass., the Gropius House is a true gem of modernist architecture and design. Built in 1938, Walter Gropius and his family lived here when he was teaching at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Founder of the revolutionary design school known as the Bauhaus, Gropius holds a special place in the history of modern architecture.

View from the main road and driveway entrance.

View from the main road and driveway entrance.

Exemplary in it's representation of the principles of modernist architecture, it is a National Historic Landmark. The use of local buildings materials, combined with it's "international" design style, renders the Gropius House a strong contender for cutting edge architecture in the suburbs. 

The back of the house, unchanged. 

The back of the house, unchanged. 

The house stands alone on a small hill top, overlooking the beautiful New England landscape where it is located. Although hardly radical today, at the time it was built, the house surely ruffled some feathers and turned some heads of locals in the area.

Another view from the back of the house. 

Another view from the back of the house. 

Hans + Marina: Installment II by John McGurk

In our second installment of the McNally Jackson sit down between curator Hans Ulrich-Obrist and artist Marina Abramovic on the occasion of the launch of his new book Ways of Curating.  This second installment has been transcribed directly from the event by McG to be shared with you. The talk is light hearted, but the two are able to touch upon some pretty concise ideas about some of the things contemporary art is trying to engage in, from their perspective. 

Work by emerging artist Joe Brittain.

Work by emerging artist Joe Brittain.

From here it looks pretty good, Obrist is an engaging speaker and personality, it is obvious why he has become such a force in the contemporary art world.  He is deeply knowledgeable on his subjects and has a broad base of knowledge to draw from in his rapid fire speaking habit. Below is a brief exchange, but a lot is said:

Hans-Ulrich Obrist: Exhibitions are obviously rituals. As a curator of exhibitions I always felt that they are, you know, rituals. Actually, as opposed to other rituals, for example: cinema or theatre where, in a way, there is a time you have to attend and in this sense it obliges the viewer to stay. Exhibitions are a very free ritual, you can stay for just a minute or for a whole year, its a very free ritual. As Margaret Mead said, its a great ritual, because it is such a liberal ritual, but it also has these kinds of limits because it only appeals to the visual sense. This is why Margaret Mead said we needed to come up with new rituals that appeal to all the senses, and I always thought that from curating it was an interesting way to think about exhibitions as rituals. But then: I also think in lives it is interesting to try and reinvent other rituals. Tarkosky, a Russian director, always said that our lives are getting poorer because our rituals are disappearing. So he always believed that... (Inaudible) ... and so he would always have a glass of water everyday in the parlour just to have a ritual.

(Laughter)

Abramovic: I just love this... (Friendly, quick banter back and forth) How big was the glass? Was it transparent, or a cup? I want to know all the details. 

Obrist: We can probably find it in his diaries. It was around this moment I thought because of my sleeping rhythms it would be interesting to do these morning rituals. It also came out of this idea that cities, you know, there is a problem in cities, particularly when I moved to London, that it is a great difficulty to get friends together because the city is so big and there is always traffic and one has to plan meetings a long time in advance.  We thought that if we do these meetings at 6:30am...

(Laughter)

Obrist: Firstly, no one can say they have prior commitments, and secondly, no one can say they hit a traffic jam because the city is completely empty. But we started one and it actually went really well and the second week, you know, up to fifty friends showed up. It was obviously a homeless club, it didn't have a home, it would just be in the cafes where they would be open at 6am. We then started doing it in other cities. Then we met the artists Felix Melia and Josh Bitelli, who were a part of 89+ and Josh and Felix said that it was completely wrong because London is extremely boring at 6am, all you see in the city is people going to work and cleaning. A much more magical time is 3am, and I said... (Inaudible) ...so then this new meeting was born.

(Laughter)

Obrist: Which we are doing now. It is always a gathering at three o'clock in the morning. Its quite magical, the places Josh and Felix choose, the last one was on Tower Bridge, on the bridge and then we went straight into the nearby neighborhood and there would always be a film premiere. We would have a film maker premiere his or her movie with a projector and project the film into urban space. The rules of the game were that it was a "World Premiere". Next one will probably be in December and is a homage to J.G. Ballard at the Hilton at Heathrow Airport. Ballard loved the Hilton at Heathrow, it was his favorite hotel ever. 

Abramovic: Which is why I love Hans so much, because he is always looking for the new ways of exhibiting, that people have never done before. And also, he is kind of getting into the places, which I call the "Places In-Between", which is also part of my own interests. Which is: the "Place In-Between"is when you are leaving from your own comfort zone, your own house, your own city, the friends you know and then your on the way going somewhere and it can be airports, bus stations, fast trains in Japan, it can be anything. Then from that place to go to the other place to again create your own habits, your own kind of set of rules. It is these "Place In-Between" where you are completely open to destiny. Anything can happen, anything is possible. Also, your perception is so sharp, so clear. Your know, you see more things at that moment that you are vulnerable and not in your own place. If somebody asks you to describe the door to your house, maybe you don't know the answer, because your senses are just working very differently, and it is the "In-Between" places where he (Obrist) is curating the most. 

Hunter S. Thompson Advice by John McGurk

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Came across this little note of wisdom on Brain Pickings, a great site with lots of cool tidbits of information. Always a fan of letters, particularly between Hunter S. Thompson and anyone, his advice to friend Hume Logan in 1958, at the young age of 20 already displays a focused and concise view of the world and what to do with the choices that make up a life. 

Thompson begins:

"To give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles…” - Shakespeare

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming."

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid."

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"Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective. So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES."

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Touching upon the essence of man and the fundamental ideas of the individual freedom, Thompson seems to nudge his friend in the direction of at least attempting to take the harder road, which will, in the end, bring meaning and joy to life:

"In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires—including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know—is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice."

Thompson continued to have a way with words for a long time to come.  It is amazing that at such a young age he was already developing his voice and commitment to a life of examination, inquiry, and confrontation through his own unique brand of journalism. 

Hans + Marina: Installment I by John McGurk

McG recently attended the book launch of curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist's new book at McNally Jackson bookstore in Soho. It was an informal conversation with performance artist Marina Abramovic on the occasion of Obrist's new book Ways of Curating

McG is happy to provide the first installment of a few short excerpts of their conversation together, which was filled with interesting personal anecdotes and larger ideas about curatorial practice. Below is the first excerpt transcribed by McG:

Hans Obrist and Marina Abramovic speaking at McNally Jackson. 

Hans Obrist and Marina Abramovic speaking at McNally Jackson. 

Hans-Ulrich Obrist (talking about a studio visit at home of artist): Basically, every single thing, in a way, was choreographed. It was a total installation. There were thousands of text pieces, she wrote every day, it was all about time. At the same time she also, of course, had all these objects and the objects, for example: she asked if we wanted coffee and we said yes, she said "turn left", and behind this couch there was this coffee set. Everything, in a way, was very organized. I see here there is a "gardening" section of this bookstore, there was also a garden and at one point she almost started crying, and she says: "Mickey died" and she wanted to show us the grave and so we were really, really worried that one of her relatives was buried in the house or in the garden, it was very scary. But then we found out it was her doll that "passed away" and the garden was the graveyard for the dolls. 

Marina Abramovic: I started talking to Hans and then he was totally obsessed with this sleeping because he was reading the biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo Da VInci was saying that actually if you slept fifteen minutes, is it fifteen minutes? Yes, fifteen minutes at a time and then wake up and do things, and then fifteen minutes, never more than fifteen minutes, then you can really, you know, create a completely new life for yourself. So Hans at this time had been doing this for an entire year, so he was really on the edge of madness. (Laughter) Because, its crazy, fifteen minutes: he was sleeping standing up, he was sleeping talking to you and then he would wake up. He then got this huge clock that he got from the army, that you can wake up entire, you know, thousand soldiers, in his own apartment. Because he would say "I get in such a deep sleep that I can't wake up anymore with a normal clock". So he used this watch, but it didn't work so he put it in the pots, so it would ring in the metal, in the buckets. I think he then went somewhere to travel and he forgot to switch his clock off and when he gets back the people have to get him out of the house, you know, he was waking up the whole city!

Obrist: It is kind of tied up with the book we are launching today because I was having this huge worry in the end of the 80's, early 90's to do my first book. I just couldn't write it and it was so slow. And then, I came across Balzac and obviously the Parisians love Balzac and I was always extremely admiring Balzac's output because he had written dozens and dozens and dozens of these novels and then I read a biography that he drank up to fifty cups of coffee a day. So he was full of coffee and produced. So I tried the Balzac rhythm (Laughter) for a couple of months, you know, I would drink fifty cups of coffee. I would do it in a cafe and I would order all these espressos and the waiter would bring all these chairs and I had to explain that it was just me. (Laughter) In any case, it was really not sustainable and I also found out that Balzac had actually died of his coffee intake. (Laughter) So then I needed another rhythm, I mean, after the first book was written, you know with the Balzac rhythm. And then I came across this Da Vinci rhythm, and the Da Vinci rhythm worked really, really, well. 

Abramovic: It was successful for you?

Obrist: Very successful! Because you sleep seven or eight times a day for fifteen minutes and then your three hours awake and then asleep for fifteen minutes. And you are never tired. I mean its very recommendable, it's extremely, extremely recommendable, the only problem is that it only works... it worked when I was doing my Kitchen shows and I was days at home and all that, but once I had a job it started to be a problem because after three hours no matter where you are you have to sleep for fifteen minutes. Yea, we had this architect's office where we produced the exhibition and I would kind of go to sleep at four in the morning and lay down in the middle of the floor and the cleaners arrived and thought that someone had died, so that made it impossible. 

As you can tell it was a fun and lively conversation between two old friends. Stay tuned for future excerpts from the conversation where Obrist talks more about his curatorial visions and ideas and what is important to him about his practice. 

Check out the book, you can find it most places.

Billy Name Interview by John McGurk

A great interview by our friend Kurt McVey with the legendary artist and Warhol collaborator Billy Name is online now at New York Times Magazine.

Billy Name, who acted as the in-house archivist, photographer, and general protagonist for the Factory during the 60's will be having an exhibition of his photos at Milk Gallery starting next week.  Pictured below is a group portrait by Name of some of the more well known Factory regulars.

The exhibition opens on November 12th and is located at 450 West 15th Street.  

Exhibitions Closing Soon by John McGurk

A few shows are closing on the Lower East Side with one more week to check them out. There are probably many more, but here are some photos of just a few.  

The Essex Street Market has a small space occupied by the funny sounding named Cuchifritos Gallery.  This is a non-profit gallery that does a good job of supporting younger artists or giving voice to more experimental ideas.  It is always hit or miss here, but worth stopping in if you are in the market.

Currently exhibiting the work of French artist Anne Mourier, the space is full of miniature scenes and dioramas.  Floating from the ceiling and all over the place, it is almost a game to see if one can find them all.  The photo below is of one piece made of miniature brooms lined into the corner. 

The miniature work of Anne Mourier at Chuchifritos in the Essex St. Market. 

The miniature work of Anne Mourier at Chuchifritos in the Essex St. Market. 

People must miss this gallery all the time, it almost blends in with the surroundings.  A great environment for a non-profit gallery to occupy.  If you are on the Lower East Side and at the Essex Street market, be sure to stop in and see what they have exhibited.  The show is up until October 19th. 

 
The barber at Essex St. Market.

The barber at Essex St. Market.

Entrance to Chuchifritos.

Entrance to Chuchifritos.

Just around the corner on Norfolk there are some great contemporary galleries.  Particularly at this moment in time, Lisa Cooley Gallery is definitely worth stopping in.  Up for one more week, Andy Coolquitt has a solo exhibit that sprawls throughout the whole space.  His work is fun and lively, a true master of the assemblage tradition in art.  Located at 107 Norfolk Street, the show is up until October 19th. 

Andy Coolquitt at LIsa Cooley Gallery.

Andy Coolquitt at LIsa Cooley Gallery.

The main gallery above is filled with a whole range of sculptures and pieces that all together seem to defy any categorization.  Moving through this space and into the smaller back gallery, pictured below, is a great transition, with a pleasing composition of works fitting nicely in the smaller space.

Andy Coolquitt in the back gallery at Lisa Cooley Gallery. 

Andy Coolquitt in the back gallery at Lisa Cooley Gallery. 

The newest gallery to the area, Lynch Tham is currently showing the work of Pedro Calapez. This show is up for the rest of the month and looks good.  The wall drawing/installation takes up one whole side of the gallery, a bold move. 

Large wall installation at Lynch Tham. 

Large wall installation at Lynch Tham. 

His other "paintings" are mounted and made of aluminum boxes that protrude from the wall, much like some of Donald Judd's famous work.  The front surfaces are painted and the rest of the aluminum is left raw and exposed on each side.  Go by the gallery at 175 Rivington Street before November 2nd. 

Calapez's work installed at Lynch Tham.

Calapez's work installed at Lynch Tham.

Although the show closed this past weekend, it is worth mentioning that Envoy Enterprises was host to an exhibition of the collection of Hudson, a well respected figure in the NY art world that recently passed away. 

From all accounts, Hudson was the type of dealer and committed art enthusiast the world needs more of, it is a great loss to the community here in downtown NYC. 

His collection is challenging and most would probably find many of the works offensive, but it is clear at first glance that he had a unique and dedicated eye for contemporary art work.  Hudson was clearly a strong presence in the art scene as the list of artists exhibited is pretty much a who's who of the once emerging art scene. 

Collection of Hudson exhibited at 109 Norfolk, a pop up gallery space on the LES. 

Collection of Hudson exhibited at 109 Norfolk, a pop up gallery space on the LES. 

Cutting Edge Architecture in Suburbia by John McGurk

In what could be a repeat series, the first installment of "Cutting Edge Architecture in Suburbia" comes from a small place right outside of Manhattan.  Going North over the George Washington Bridge, you will drive through a town called Demarest, NJ. 

You will most likely miss it, unless you are looking for it, the town is a tiny and very idyllic spot just 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan.  On one backroad, there is an amazing house that we stumbled upon while working in the the area.  It is brutalist and minimal, made of concrete slabs, and emits a stark and utilitarian vibe with little dashes of blue to add a little color to the mix.  

The walkway up to the front door.  The high grass is a nice touch.

The walkway up to the front door.  The high grass is a nice touch.

Located at 15 Hight Street in Demarest, this house is called "Another Concrete House" and was built by the architecture firm N.E.E.D. based in NYC.  After a chat will the owner of the house, we understood that he may have been the architect as well, but this is not confirmed, there was a minor language barrier.  It was constructed for a Korean family that had relocated to the area.

View from corner of High Street into driveway and setting. 

View from corner of High Street into driveway and setting. 

As you can imagine, the neighbors were not so happy, and apparently the owner got a few nasty notes during construction.  To get a really great look at it, check out this angle from Google Street View.  It is always good to shake things up and this home is an example of what can be done in suburbia, especially after one considers the alternative: the McMansion seen directly beside this gem in the rough. 

Front entrance.  The interior is just as elegant. 

Front entrance.  The interior is just as elegant.