Art Is Not Exceptional was contributed by Christian Lawrence St. Denis in the month of March for our Northwest special feature. Dakota Gallery is located in Bellingham, WA. Having originally started as a DIY Gallery in the Pacific Northwest, Open House continues to be excited by the artwork coming out of the region. It is our intention to create dialogue between the ambitious emerging art scene in the Northwest and New York City. Stay tuned for future special features in April!
By Christian Lawrence St. Denis
Dakota Gallery, Bellingham: three white walls, a glass and black metal facade, a white pillar, black floors. The installation is called I Am Sorry Please Forgive Me. The artist is Hannah Zoe.
As the 2017 Armory Week art fairs in NYC come to an end, I reflect on the hundreds and hundreds of pieces of work on view. It was a lot to digest, booth after booth, gallery after gallery, work that was polished, new, old, fresh, tired, bright, flashy, sculptural, political, humorous. You name it and it was at one of the many fairs. Overall the displays were impressive. Here’s my run down of some unforgettable work.
Painting? I ask myself, as I sit across from Zoë Frederick, taking in her sculptural-concoctions that fill her small studio at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). I have seen the soon-to-be MFA graduate’s work online via social media and her website, but never in person. When I ask Frederick if she still sees herself as a figurative painter (as her site suggests), she explains that while she still gravitates towards painting and the mindset that comes along with, she has recently ventured into other territories. I look around further. A tennis ball sits in a pair of fleece-lined boots (toes touching) and large red X’s sit on a shirt made of linen hanging on a mannequin. There are more curiosities: a large, charming blob plopped in a corner and a strange sacramental suit of some sort made out of what looks to be a beach floaty. Although I come up short in the search for painting, I find myself in a much more interactive and amusing world.
I have long held the belief that it is the job of the artist to get under our skin. I enjoy work that is un-apologetically honest and that arrives at a place of synergy, work in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Frederick’s work certainly falls into this category. A subtle humor peeks out from each creation, as if to offer a quick wink or a slight smirk. Her departure from painting, diving into the deep end of zines, soft sculpture, and video, appears to be a natural fit. Traditional tools are not forgotten, as is evident in the building up of texture, color, and line through sewing and manipulation of surface. I would argue, however, that the unusual use of traditional craft materials and technique is born out of a place of necessity. After all, these are not traditional times. Frederick’s attention given to the body, ranging from wearable amorphous shapes to the appropriation of clothing and mannequins, evokes a history of femininity that is certainly in need of re-visitation in 2017. One need look no further than the streets of Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, or any other city in the country this last weekend, to understand why. The punchy-pop-reality-tv narrative used by Frederick highlights many all-to-real and immediate social concerns.
“I’m writing about this relationship between Trump’s non-reality, or altered-sense of reality, and the truth. And trying to connect it also to reality television, and lumps.” (laughter) “Still working on it.” -Zoë Frederick
From Taos, to Bellingham, to Richmond to New York City, Open House corralled some of the most interesting contemporary emerging artists of 2017. They were kind enough to share with us some of their secrets to navigating the powerful social media path and their insights on how they use social media. Along the way they put some of our mounting suspicions to rest, discussing the make-or-break reaction to likes, and what kind of benefits they are really seeking–and getting–from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.It is safe to say a few things are certain and that while not everyone needs the help of the internet to survive in the art world, it does seem that most believe it is a valuable tool. From researching artists to posting homemade cat gifs, these artists are not only creative with their posting, but also personal. In the age of social media, where all images, as Jake Reller says “are not fit for mass consumption,” perhaps it is this personal touch that keeps us interested in what these photos on small screens have to offer.
WHAT MEDIUM DO YOU WORK IN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
ON AVERAGE, HOW OFTEN DO YOU POST IMAGE OF YOUR WORK OR PROCESS O SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU PREFER INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, OR FACEBOOK?
WHAT DO YOU DO TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE OR INCLUDE YOUR FOLLOWERS, OR DO YOUR POSTS FUNCTION MORE AS GLIMPSES INTO YOUR ART PRACTICE?
DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES, OR TO MEET/ LEARN ABOUT OTHER ARTISTS? ARE THERE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE YOU WOULDN’T HAVE MET WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA? HAS SOCIAL MEDIA EVER LED TO A SALE OR OTHER OPPORTUNITY?
DO RECEIVED ‘LIKES’ AFFECT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CONTENT YOU POST?HOW DO YOU THINK THE ONLINE RESPONSE AFFECTS YOUR WORK?
CAN ARTISTS COUNT ON PEOPLE SEEING THEIR WORK WITHOUT USING SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU KNOW AN ARTIST WHO DOESN’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
After spending some time in the studios of artists working in Bushwick, Open House turned to Gowanus this weekend to discover what’s bubbling up from the canal. Over 300 artists participated in Gowanus Open Studios 2016, and of them we picked 5 to tell us what’s what. Lace up folks, it time for 5-on-5.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH COLOR IN YOUR WORK?
IS THERE A PARTICULAR NARRATIVE AT PLAY IN YOUR CURRENT OR PAST PROJECTS?
WHO / WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO MAKE YOUR WORK?
DO YOU HAVE A PERSON OR GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT YOU BOUNCE IDEAS OFF OF, OR DOES IT TEND TO BE MORE OF A SOLITARY APPROACH?