‘Elles’ exhibit at Seattle Art Museum raises questions regarding its success

Defying conventions

By: Marina Ignatyeva

The Seattle Art Museum is currently the site of one of the most exciting projects in the world. SAM partnered up with the Centre Pompidou, France’s largest modern art museum, to bring a tiny portion of their radical all-female artist exhibit to the United States. It kicked off on October 11, 2012, and will continue until January 13, 2013. Like the Centre, the Seattle Art Museum has taken down all the works by male artists, and decided to showcase only the works by women in the entire museum. SAM and the surrounding universities are also hosting various workshops and lectures by feminists.  This is why the exhibit is called “Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris”. This was done to facilitate discussion about gender discrimination in the art world, and in life, as well as to help viewers explore the meaning of being a woman.

While the overall response has been high praises, there has been a division between mainstream news sources and the more independent sources about the success of the Seattle Art Museum’s exhibit. When Centre Pompidou held their “Elles” exhibit, it was a conscious effort to create gender equality, and resulted in the Centre buying massive amounts of art pieces to balance out the gender breakdown of its collection. The Seattle Art Museum heavily borrowed from the Centre Pompidou, as well as other prominent galleries around the United States, to supplement its lack of pieces by women. Mainstream news sources such as the Seattle Times put emphasis on how the exhibit is exploring what constitutes being a woman, and shows a blend of artwork from different time periods to show how the concept of femininity is not set in stone. It also provokes discussion regarding discrimination against women in the art world.

Independent news sources such as The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper, question about how long this equality will last at the Seattle Art Museum. Both types of news sources agree that the blatant gaps in some of the exhibits at “Elles” indicate just how small the collection of art by women is compared to the usual display of works by male artists. This is understandable, since the Seattle Art Museum does not have the massive resources of Centre Pompidou to purchase new pieces for this exhibit. This is also worrisome. An article in The Stranger wonders if any of the pieces borrowed for “Elles” will be purchased, or if SAM will go back to displaying mostly male artists’ works of art. This would send a message of “lets celebrate feminism, but then go back to the gender-biased status quo”.


Found Objects Find New Lives in Bonnie Meltzer’s Very Mixed-Media Art

Found object sculpture of house

Green aritst Bonnie Meltzer's sculpture "House Music" incorporates found objects.

Written by: Josephine Bridges

Look closely at Bonnie Meltzer’s mixed-media sculpture, and you’ll begin to notice the eco friendly house is an autoharp, the door is switch plates, and the chimney is a paintbrush.

“I believe in the transformation of the objects I use,” says green artist Bonnie Meltzer. “I was ready to throw out an autoharp because the ends of the strings were very sharp. I picked it up from a different angle, and it said: house. I liked the idea enough that I took the time to make sure my art wouldn’t be responsible for puncture wounds.”

Meltzer first started making her very mixed-media art in the 70s, when she discovered a surplus computer thrift store near her supermarket. “Found-object art is very in right now,” she says, “but when I started doing it, people thought it was odd.”

Globes, battered musical instruments, mirrors, hardware, all kinds of computer parts including their cords, and “a whole lot of things that I don’t what they are” form the basis for Meltzer’s work, but she has limits. “I don’t incorporate objects into my art that can still be used for the purpose for which they were made. No usable computers or musical instruments were harmed in the making of these sculptures.”

Where does the artist get her materials? “I’ve been collecting things forever. People bring them to me. I buy them at garage sales, second-hand stores, and specialty stores for artists. Sometimes when I want something that I don’t have, I go to my Facebook page and whine. I usually get something. I probably have enough stuff to use until the day I die, but I always want something different. I’m like a little bird. If I see something shiny, I want it.”

How does Meltzer get started on one of her sculptures? “Sometimes I start with an idea, often a title. Sometimes an object gives me an idea. A box of multicolored floppy disks fell on the floor and I thought: quilt blocks. Sometimes the act of cleaning my studio is an aha moment, because I find things I forgot I had.”

How does she put her found objects together and keep them that way? “I prefer objects with holes or loops, so I can sew, bolt, or screw them on, or embroider or sew beads onto them. I love glue. If you can’t sew it, sometimes you have to glue it. I crochet wire to encase an object or bind it to another object. You can see through a lot of the crocheted wire, look down into it and discover more layers, more visual treats.” Look through the pliers into the sound box of Meltzer’s eco friendly “House Music,” and you will see yourself.

You can see more at bonniemeltzer.com.

Fashion as Art: The Gaultier Exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art

Written By: Allison Hibbs


He was responsible for Madonna’s cone bras.
He created the wild outfits used in the wacky future-fiction movie, “The Fifth Element.”
He made bondage chic and brought the British punk rock look of the early eighties to the world’s most exclusive runways.
Even if you don’t know the name Jean Paul Gaultier, you almost certainly know the man.

“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” enthusiastically acclaimed exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, is scheduled to close next weekend on Feb.12, so you’ve got one last chance to get to know him a little better. From the shockingly sexy Boudoir collection to his fascinating use of industrial materials in the Metropolitan room, this is an exhibit not to miss.

“I’m not such a good speaker,” says the voice of Gaultier himself upon entering the exhibit, his talking face projected onto a mannequin dressed in a sailor ensemble (that he designed for himself to wear in an interview with pop superstar Lady Gaga). He communicates best through his clothing, he tells his visitors. And it’s true. One can only stand there and listen for a short while before being drawn away into the changing landscapes and attitudes of his apparel. The exhibit is set up in six distinct sections, yet certain ideas – like his fascination with S&M – carry through his work like a refrain.

“I respect individualities and I like particularities,” reads a quote attributed to the designer on the wall in the Urban Jungle room. “I mix and match, collect, twist and crossbreed codes. Past, present, here, elsewhere, masculine, feminine, remarkable, humdrum – it all coexists.” A delicate Spanish dress cut through with bondage leather; a pink floating ball gown with the crotch cut out; a full tulle skirt in camouflage coloring next to a glittering plaid mens’ kilt; Gaultier has a knack for making the scandalous seem sumptuous, for turning the gutter into glamour and for creating couture from the least likely corners of human experience.

Alongside the fabulous fabrics and intriguing ensembles worn by talking mannequins are actual sketches by Gaultier, rare prints on loan from renowned photographers and glowing quotes from contemporaries such as Pierre Cardin and Pedro Almodóvar. Scenes from movies for which he designed costumes play on variously sized screens throughout the rooms. Even the designer’s well-worn childhood teddy bear is on display, wearing – you guessed it – a cone bra. He designed it when he was only seven years old.

Everyone who makes it to see this truly extraordinary exhibit is sure to find at least a few favorites. From the Madonna to the mermaid (and that’s just the first room!), Gaultier manages to pay homage to kink, heritage, culture, counterculture, flora, fauna and fantasy all with a sense of openness, possibility and joy.

After Feb. 12, the collection will travel to San Francisco and then on to Europe.

Gaultier at DMA

Several ensembles and images shown in the exhibit. Photograph by Paolo Roversi.

Rise Above Famous Street Artist Shepard Fairey Doin Dallas

By: Allison Hibbs

For the first time in 10 years, Shepard Fairey is in Dallas! Invited by the non-profit art forum, Dallas Contemporary, as part of their Citywide Street Project, he is leaving his signature mark on buildings around the city. A graphic artist and old-school skateboarder, Fairey is probably best known in the mainstream for his 2008 poster depicting a stylized version of then-presidential candidate, Barack Obama, along with the single word: Hope.

Among those familiar with the street art movement, however, Fairey – with his Andre the Giant logo featuring the word ‘Obey’ – has long been iconic of the pioneering work that he and others have done to legitimize the subculture as an accepted, if often politically subversive and irreverent, art form. Along with Basquiat in the 80s and later artists such as world-famous anonymous prankster, Bansky, street artists like Fairey have elevated graffiti into a meaningful form of expression, rebellion and catharsis in the United States, across Europe and in Australia.

Movies such as “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a documentary made by the elusive Banksy and featuring work by Fairey, chronicle the progression, techniques and motivations behind this growing movement. (Although many consider the film to be another one of Bansky’s pranks, Fairey and the film’s central character, Thierry Guetta, deny all such accusations.)  Put simply, the goal of these artists is two-fold: to make use of and beautify unused, often unsightly, urban spaces, and to make people stop and think as they go about the usual business of their days. Many dedicated street artists work uncompromisingly (and often under the cover of night) to realize these goals. Of course, they also seem to have a good deal of fun in the process.

In the wake of chaos caused by Wall Street in 2007, Banksy pieces started showing up around New York City depicting his iconic rat (an anagram for ‘art’), which showed the artist’s obvious distain for the moral bankruptcy of those who were the architects of the financial disaster.

Obama poster notwithstanding, much of Fairey’s work tends to be less overtly political – necessitating individual thought and introspection – although several are obvious admonishments against war and global warming. Lately, he has even come out in support of the nationwide movement known as Occupy with an image of Guy Fawkes that plays off of his ’08 Hope poster. What, according to Fairey, began as a fun project to entertain college friends has evolved into an art form aimed at shaking people out of their passive acceptance of societal norms.

Working with the local street art collective, Sour Grapes, Fairey had completed four murals as of Feb. 3 in two locations in West Dallas. Dallas Contemporary has indicated that he will do at least eight more before he leaves, at least one of which is to be located in the area known as Deep Ellum. Three of the murals are located at 331 and 340 Singleton Blvd., near I-30 and I-35E in West Dallas. Another adorns the side of Dallas Contemporary, at 161 Glass Street, where Fairey has also been invited to guest DJ at a sold-out  “neon-inspired dance party” on the night of Saturday, Feb. 4. If these murals have a theme, he told the Dallas Observer, “It’s peace and harmony.” The woman in two of the murals, he says, is his wife.

A bus tour been organized for Saturday, Feb. 11, which is to include stops at the murals and a studio visit with Sour Grapes, as well as visits to exhibits at Dallas Contemporary featuring Rob Pruitt, David Jablonowski and Failure. Tickets are limited and can be purchased online.

Zinch Scholarship for Creativity

Written by: Jill Heagerty

Zinch is offering the opportunity for talented artists, enrolled or intending to enroll in college, to showcase their work. The winner is the candidate who displays the most creativity, and he or she will receive $5,000 for school. Tuition costs are astronomical, so any money a student earns can go a long way. This particular scholarship is refreshing to see in comparison to most scholarship applications that include a GPA, SAT scores, and writing a formal essay about a completely cliché topic such as, “What is the most important lesson you have learned in life and how has it made you the person you are today?” There is nothing wrong with those typical scholarships, like I said any money can go a long way, but they are tiresome and do not accurately access a candidate’s worth and potential. Winners could be students who are very practiced at knowing what to write for those types of essays, without their own sense of self or originality. This isn’t always the case, but it is highly likely in most situations.

Art is typically placed on the backburner in the education system, with traditional subjects emphasizing math, science, and formal writing in the forefront. That is why the requirement for most scholarships are a decent GPA, a minimum SAT score, and the banal essay I mentioned before. The question is: why isn’t there more value placed on artistic abilities? If a person can think creatively and make something out of nothing, that shows the person is smart and can succeed in college, a career, and life in general, using a part of the brain some can’t even fathom to use. That creative individual is a worthy candidate of a scholarship, more worthy than a person who can just write a decent essay about a life experience.

So if you’re attending a university for the next academic school year, I encourage you to access the link above and look into applying for the scholarship. Your creative vision should be honored and awarded. The type of artistic work that will be judged includes digital art, animation, film and video, music, photography, multimedia, illustration, interior design, graphic design, and more. Even if you’re a good writer who usually flourishes with the typical essay in most applications, there is a place for you as well to show off your artistic scope that would otherwise be ignored.

Art turned into an idea.

By: Stacy Liberatore

How many times have you walked by an empty building and said “I wish this was a…”? Well now you can visibly voice your opinion with the “I wish this was…” project.

The idea was started by Candy Chang, a public installation artist, in New Orleans during December 2010. She created vinyl stickers with the heading, “I wish this was”, with a blank space underneath. After the devastation Katrina left buy, many business owners couldn’t re-open, which left many abandoned buildings.

The idea behind the project is so the community can voice their opinions on what they would like to see vacant buildings in their town be used for.

 “When I moved to the Marigny in New Orleans last summer I was surprised by the number of vacant storefronts amidst a neighborhood chock full of people who want and need lots of things, including a grocery with fresh produce,” said Chang, “I think many of us walk by vacant storefronts in our neighborhoods and have opinions of what we’d like to see in them.”

 With support from the Ethnographic Terminali exhibit, she placed boxes of free stickers in businesses around the city and posted grids of blank stickers and a permanent marker on vacant storefronts to invite passersby to write their thoughts. “Fill out and put on buildings,” said Chang as she distributed them to the public. The stickers are vinyl and they can be easily removed without damaging property.

Stickers have been seen saying “I wish this was… A grocery store, a comfy couch, a city during a revolution.  Chang was greatly surprised, what she thought might be a fun and goofy way of expression has taken cities by storm.

The stickers can still be seen all over New Orleans and are making their way across the nation. She calls her sticker project “an experiment in public space,” meant to pose the question “what if residents had more of a say?” In addition, she hopes the exercise remains “loose, funny, interesting and entertaining.”

To some it may seem nothing more than a sticker, but to others it is a revolution of ideas.  A way to make a city the way you have always dreamed it could be. And starting in New Orleans where everything was destroyed, this artist may have opened a door and let some light shine for the city.

  “What if we could easily say what we want, where we want it? That was the inspiration for I Wish This Was. It’s a kind of love child of urban planning and street art,” said Chang “A crude tool and experiment to see what might happen if we could easily say what we wanted in vacant storefronts and beyond.”

Carsten Holler Exhibit at New York’s New Museum Turns Art into Interactive Fun

Written By: Catherine Wolinski

Last October, the New Museum in New York City presented Carsten Holler: Experience, the first New York survey of works by Carsten Holler, a German scientist-turned-artist who resides in Stockholm, Sweden. The exhibition, which will be open until Jan. 15, transforms multiple galleries into a world of research experimentation crossed with childhood fun. A firm believer in utilizing the architecture of the building where his art, its space, and its viewers will interact, the collection even includes a 102-foot slide that patrons can ride from the fourth to the second floors of the building.

Born in Brussels in 1961, Holler left his career as a scientist in 1993 to instead apply his knowledge and lab experience to

Carsten Holler: Experience slide installation at the New Museum

artistic concepts. Exploring themes such as safety, love, and doubt, Holler presents scenarios that force museum and museum goer into a conversation, connecting visitors to the environments he creates. By engaging the building as well as its inhabitants, Holler sends each person into multiple roles as they pass through each section of the exhibit, where they are faced with innovative structures, scenes, and tasks. Visitors are both the watchers and the watched as they make their way through the Experience Corridor, a stretch of space scattered with thought provoking activities that bring into question the conventional understandings of space, time and self.

By way of his participatory installations, Holler challenges human perception and logic by igniting, and perhaps overwhelming, the senses with interactive experiences.  Using the architecture of the building to map out these sensory events, Holler engages viewers with

The Mirror Carousel by Carsten Holler

the works of the past eighteen years of his career, chronicling numerous ventures that push the limits of human sensory perception. Such works include the untitled slide installation, which he describes as an “alternative transportation system,” Double Light Corner, a disorienting light installation that gives the impression the room is flipping back and forth, Mirror Carousel, a full-size swing merry-go-round that reflects and illuminates the space around it as it turns almost imperceptively, and finally, Psycho Tank, a “sensory deprivation pool” which literally puts the viewer into a pool—stripped naked—for a mind-altering out-of-body experience.

Carston Holler: Experience employs multiple disciplines to destabilize and reinvent viewers’ knowledge of the world around them, and how they fit into it. By using the scientific method in conjunction with his futurist design, Holler’s art forces viewers to see, feel, and understand art and space in a new way.

Architecture or Art, the Blurred Lines of Le Corbusier

le corbusier chaise lounge

Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge

For many years I yearned for a Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge.  The moment I laid eyes on it, laid upon it I knew I must have it.  Now I do and it is a prominent piece in my living room. 

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris better known as Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965) was an architect, designer, painter and writer.  He was one of the pioneers of the Modernist mid-century movement and his pieces are iconic fixtures in furniture and design. 

Between 1910 and 1911 he studied near Berlin where he possibly met and was influenced by Mies van der Rohe and Gropius, both major contributors to the Modernist movement .

Corbusier is quoted to have said, “Chairs are architecture, sofas are bourgeois.”   I could not agree more.  After all look at the the chaise lounge he is famous for.

Attractive and comfortable, the chaise lounge conforms to the shape of your body.  It takes up very little space at 19Wx63Dx32H considering it is a lounge chair.  With a chrome steel tubular cradle that sits on a black steel base this design allows for just the right adjustment and with very little effort to go from upright to full recline. 

Mine is black and white pony complete with a roll-style head pillow for added comfort.  Leather straps securely attach the cushion to the frame in a subtle way.  For support there are rubber straps beneath the upholstered cushion.  It is sleek and sexy and when you are not sitting in it you are admiring it as the piece of artwork it is. 

It truly embodies Le Corbusier’s sense of style and makes me smile every time I walk into the living room.  Designed in 1928, it is a timeless design that will never go out of style.

The MoMa in New York adds ‘@’ to their Collection of Fine Art

The Museum of Modern Art in New York

Museum of Modern Art in New York

Today, the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York announced the addition of the @ symbol to their collection, which they bought for the cheapest price imaginable: absolutely nothing. According to Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator in the museums Department of Architecture and Design, this newest item is the only thing in the museum that is quite literally priceless. And, while there is some doubt circulating the artistic validity of this particular addition, the Moma articulated the reasoning behind this unexpectedly controversial decision:

“The appropriation and reuse of a pre-existing, even ancient symbol–a symbol already available on the keyboard yet vastly underutilized, a ligature meant to resolve a functional issue (excessively long and convoluted programming language) brought on by a revolutionary technological innovation (the Internet)–is by all means an act of design of extraordinary elegance and economy.”

The newest addition to the MoMa collection

Needless to say, web-based discussion on the subject is rampant, with a majority of individuals focusing mostly on the symbol’s significance in e-mail, and it’s convenient prevalence in social-media style communication (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). As such companies battle to become the public’s primary online identity providers, the @ symbol could be much more than just a work of art, it could be the future seed of a mega-dispute.

Art Dubai Expands as the City Fears a Monstrous Debt

A piece of calligraphy art on display

In lieu of the gloom revolving around Dubai‘s upwelling debt concerns, the city’s annual art fair still managed to earn record sales, drawing more than 18,00 visitors – a 28 percent increase from 2009. The four-day contemporary art show featured the works of world-famous artists from 31 different companies, which was also an improvement in the variety of geographical representation in attendance at last year’s festivities.

Art Dubai Advertisement

The success of some galleries, like Saudi Arabia’s Athr Gallery and Berlin’s Galerie Christian Hosp, which reportedly sold 90% of their inventories, stand in stark contrast with the suffering financial statuses of the local crowd. But it makes more sense to consider who attends the fair, said Joan Lee, head of Seoul-based SUN gallery, who admitted that most of the interested attendees are from royal families and collectors. That isn’t to say that they are all foreign interests; after all, Tessa De Caters of Isabelle Van Den Eynde, a Dubai-based gallery, said that the local community of collectors is expanding alongside an increasing international interest in Middle Eastern art. With all this attention, it wasn’t a surprise when Fabio Rossi of London’s Rossi & Rossi, asserted that the four-year fair is undoubtedly finding it’s place on the global art market.