Saturday, February 04, 2006

Whippersnappers

Last night I checked out the Whippersnappers exhibit at Connor Contemporary. This one will be a little tough to review, only because I usually take a camera and my notebook with me so I can remember everything, but I had neither so I'm going to have construct this from my memory, which sucks balls.

The exhibit featured a number of "young, bright, culturally astute artists" (from their press release), who showed paintings, videos, collages, drawings, and a couple of notebooks. The first pieces I looked at were the collages by Michael Magnan, which were described as "futuristic yet rustic." I guess they were kind of interesting, but they didn't really do anything for me. A few of them incorporated some kind of techno-looking object/robot placed on top of a 1970's quality photo of a forest. It all struck me as very Star Wars-esque: like the kind of things people half a century ago thought looked so 21st century (where we now have flying cars and personal rocketships, of course), all square-ish, shiny metal with bulky joints, placed in a dull, almost bleak, setting. One of the collages had gray carousel horses turning pink by a laser beam (with the accompanying pink confetti spraying around), pasted on, if I recall correctly, another dull greenish outdoor scene. Uh..huh. Like I said, they were kind of neat to look at, but there wasn't a lot of punch there.

The musical accompaniment for the evening was provided by Fatima Hoang and his videos of him performing air guitar (he's the reigning U.S. champion, no less) to Paradise City and a few other songs. The videos were pretty cool, and boy is he enthusiastic, but I'm more interested in how someone becomes the U.S. Air Guitar champion - and where exactly does this competition take place? I'd buy tickets. And bring a bowl.

Then there was the painting by - correct me if I'm wrong - Maki Maruyama. I heard it called "pop anime," which is a pretty good description - young Asian faces in a swirl of bright colors. I don't really get the anime thing, which always seemed like some strange subculture of acne-covered nerds who discuss the latest comic/cartoon/whatever over their wireless mics during a role playing game, but just don't have the balls to buy real porn. Sorry if that offends anyone. Okay, not really. That being said, I actually liked the painting. The faces were slightly cartoony, but they also had a surprisingly haunting quality about them that was striking against the vibrant background.

The stand-outs of the show were Zach Storm's "fascinatingly idiosyncratic drawings of invented novel covers." Most of them were on posterboard material, but some were drawn right on the wall. This is where I wish I'd taken notes, because they were fantastic and often hilarious. Some of the satirical titles made you laugh at the ridiculous things we take too seriously or try to force meaning into: "Your Weight and What It Means." Others were tongue-in-cheek rewrites of sci-fi or young adult book titles. I wish I could remember more, but there were thirty-two, so they're all jumbling in my head now. Go see the show if only for Storm's work.

The last thing I caught were Matthew Sutton's two notebooks, filled with an entire inventory of a CVS, written from memory. Just...awesome. Everything from the Gatorade flavors to the greeting card categories ("to dad" "from all of us"), but you've got to wonder if he really did it all from memory (and maybe that's the point?). The press release says he studies mathematical theory, so maybe he's one of those crazy photographic-memory people and if so, my hat's off to him. This coming from the girl who had to walk down ten flights of stairs on Thursday because I was all the way into the stairwell (to go up one floor) by the time I realized I forgot my access key, which I usually keep strapped to my arm to prevent just this sort of thing from happening on a daily basis.

That's all I was able to see - there were a few more pieces, including, I do believe, a video of a cat - but that place was jam packed last night. My recommendation: brave the winter rain and go check it out.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Try to find some meaning

Today I've been emailing back and forth with an office neighbor, a post-college temp paralegal who took the job to see if law school would be a good route. After a year, the answer seems to be a firm "No." He said that he's going to wait until his lease runs out, then leave the U.S. for awhile to do some work that isn't entirely soul-crushing. His email said it like this:

"You know, so when asked what I did today…I could say, 'irrigated a village,' as opposed to 'made another copy set of a binder termed 'Key Documents' for the 5th time in two weeks, because the stupid pompous attorneys could care less to keep track of where they put their shit…'"

And I thought, not for the first time...

Word.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Go see 'Capers

'Capers - The Play

I keep meaning to write about this, but I just haven't had time. Read Chai's take on it here, and then go see it - it closes this weekend.

Intermission...

So, like I mentioned, I went to Wonderland Ballroom this past weekend. I had run into one of my old law school friends the weekend before, who invited me to his bday bash, and after my questioning, assured me some WCL people would be there, since I'd most likely be attending alone.

The birthday boy had dinner near my house, so he called me to cab with them to the bar. As we walked in, of course, a lot of people came out of the woodworks to greet him...I recognized some, and some I didn't... One couple kind of waved to me as I approached the group. I felt bad because I didn't recognize them, and thought "fuck...who are they??" I half-waved to them at first, and went to join other people I knew. After all this, the woman caught my attention again, so I swallowed my pride and shook her hand and said, "I'm so sorry, do I know you?"

She said, "Oh no." She stroked my hand and looked at her boyfriend. "We just thought you were beautiful when you came in..."

Um. (shit.) I hear someone calling. What? Yes! Here I come! "So sorry, I have to run..."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Last show at Fusebox

Update: Thanks to Lenny at DC Art News for the link.

As someone trying to become an avid go-seer of art in this town, I was disappointed to hear that a popular gallery just down the street from me was closing forever. So on my way to the office on Saturday I made sure to stop by Fusebox on 14th Street to see their last show in DC. (I also went to Hemphill, but that's for another time.)

I feel like I should make a disclaimer before I begin. I've written a couple of what I've called "reviews" the past few weeks, and plan to do more as I continue to go to events in the city. Partially, because sitting down and writing about my experience helps me understand it better, and also because I like encouraging other people to go see them. (In fact I've been talking so much about the shows I've seen that my friends are slowly starting to say, "Hey, um, why don't you call me next time you go?"...leading me to believe that more people do want to get involved, they just don't know where to start and/or don't want to find the information on their own.) The point is, I'm probably going to spout opinions as if I'm some kind of art critic, but I'm very much your average twenty-something, non-art-educated, English major gal who just likes to expand her horizons. I know little-to-nothing of technique, outside of photography. On the other hand, art isn't made for other artists, it's made for everybody, and that makes me feel well within my bounds to talk about it.

Moving on. I read a bit about Vesna Pavlovic's show on Adrian's site last week, so I was a little worried her pieces would be boring (which is worse than "bad," I think). Upon first glance, they are very sparse subjects. Empty offices, lobbies, conference rooms. It even sounds boring, right? I could see how they might leave you cold.

Pavlovic at Fusebox

In the end though, that's not what I came away with. Maybe they were cold, but there was purpose there. At first I was distracted - it was about 2pm on a Saturday with clear blue skies, and the photographs are framed in glass, hung in a gallery whose front is entirely made of glass. The result? I couldn't SEE the photograph at first - I could only see my reflection in the glass, and the reflection of the two ladies looking at the photos on the wall behind me.

Pavlovic at Fusebox
(not the best example, since I was actually trying to take a photo without the reflection, but I think you see the problem - click to enlarge)

I moved around, squinted, walked up and walked back, but I may as well have been looking in a mirror. The pieces further in the gallery were easier, but the effect was still distracting. I guess that's what made me think - maybe I'm supposed to be in there? All these empty rooms, what purpose do they have without someone inside them? Who's using the elevators, sitting in the chairs, 'enjoying' the corporate art? Someone designed these rooms for a reason - for utility but also aesthetically. If no one uses it, and no one sees it....(if a tree falls in the forest...)? It was like the rooms were all waiting for people, frozen in time until they could be used again for their rightful purpose. So, in that way, yes, they are cold, and even sad.

Adrian also commented on the grainy quality of the photos when you looked closely. I respectfully disagree that it was the result of poor technique. I think the up-close harshness was supposed to conflict with the cold, sleek rooms you saw when you stepped back, in much the same way that my reflection in the glass conflicted with the emptiness of each scene. To me they didn't seem like photos taken while people were off for the weekend, they seemed like rooms that had been abandoned abruptly, and the graininess gave the tables and chairs that "cracked" quality of unmoved things aging slowly.

Overall, I enjoyed Pavlovic's work far more than I expected to. I'm glad I made it out there for the last day, though now I'm even more sad to see the gallery go.

Playing catch-up

There have been all these blog posts I've been writing in my head but I just haven't had the chance to sit down and type them out. In addition to that list I posted below, I've also been into the office both days this weekend, did laundry, and I've been dog-sitting for the past week. So, not only do I have pseudo-reviews of the events I've been to, but some High-Larious stories to go with them. (Have you been hit on by a swinger couple lately? Does your dog lodge complaints with the management by poo-ing on the floor every other day?)

If you'd like to check it out, I re-did the blogroll. I'm wicked tired, and I have to hit up my eighth straight day of work tomorrow, so I'll write more later (hopefully sooner).

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The following three things happened to me today:

1) I was offered pot. More precisely, I was "propositioned" to "talk about" "medicinal smoking" at "any time in the future."
2) In the middle of a conversation with a guy about a completely benign topic, he non sequitor-ed, "By the way, I'm engaged."
3) Walking down an otherwise empty sidewalk in McPherson Square, a man approached from the other direction and stopped ten feet in front of me, held out his arms and said, "Heeey, can I get a hug? I haven't had a hug in twooooo months!"

Art Bonanza!

In the past two weeks I've been to:

The Fraser Gallery
The Lincoln Theater - "The Good Body"
Fusebox
Hemphill
The Arlington Arts Center - "Deja Vu - A New View"
"Capers" (theater)

So, I have a lot to write about. Expect pictures and detail soon.

Also, tonight, I went to the Wonderland Ballroom and I have one word: HIPSTER.

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