Maverick Arts Magazine
By Charles Giuliano
82 Webster Street
East Boston, Mass. 02128 USA
Issue Number 160
November 26, 2004
Copyright C 2004, Charles Giuliano
Charles Giuliano is a Boston based artist, curator and critic. He is a contributor to Big Red and Shiny, Nyartsmagazine, and the director of exhibitions for The New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University.† He is represented by FLATFILESphotography GALLERY in Chicago.
Bostonís South End First Friday
†††††††††††† Yeah right. Try to find a parking space during the jam packed First Friday festivities in the lively, newly expanded, gorgeously renovated and upgraded South End of Boston. Thanks be to Saint Christopher, the patron saint of agnostic travelers, we lucked out and found an empty space. Just steps from our destination.
†††††††††††† It was a lovely night indeed as every conceivable Boston artist, past, present and future was out and about. Perhaps, including some smart collectors with deep pockets. But I have never been good at spotting them. They like to avoid crowds and remain anonymous. There were a few gallerists from posh Newbury Street like Howard Yezerski strolling along with his wife Katherine. Likewise, Arthur Dion and co-director, Meg Wilson, with their rising art star, Reese Inman, in orbit. The quippery was fast and furious.
†††††††††††† As a social occasion it was just grand. Great to see such critical mass and enthusiasm. There was a touch of marketing genius as Samson Projects had a bar set up pouring martinis for the masses in fancy goblets courtesy of Noilly and Pratt. It was tres sophistique compared to the usual three for ten rotgut in most other spaces.† Some cheapo galleries ran dry after their three allotted bottles and pound of cheddar cheese cut up into tiny cubes. One gallery, touting its grand opening, was serving sparkling cider. Which any way you cut it ainít champagne. Everyone, but everyone, seemed to love the Noilly Pratt cocktails. But the gallerist of Samson Projects apparently was schmoozing that night with Delilah in Miami at the art fair. Some people like to play Marcel Proust, it seems, by throwing great parties they decline to attend because they are off celebrating even better parties.
†††††††††† In a recent review in Big Red and Shiny, my learned colleague, Matthew Nash, mused whether it was kosher to write about an exhibition, the case in point Art Interactive in Cambridge, based on attending an opening. Yes Matt, by all means. It can feel very sober and different the next day, after all the fun, when the gallery is virtually empty. Perhaps one has a more clear headed assessment. But we miss the cool ambiance. By the way, just for the record, I was in the minority by not indulging in one of those Noilly Pratt martinis however scrumptious and dishy they looked. Yes Matt, it is more fun to view art with a crowd.† Be aware though that during openings artists love to ask and tell critics what they think of the works on view.
†††††††††† Matt this issue reminds me of an unfortunate time when I was a freelance movie critic. The upside is that I had lunch with Martin Sheen at the Ritz, just after the opening of Apocalypse Now, and brawled with John Belushi at the Plaza in New York. The downside is that movie critics see films at 9 am in tiny theaters with a few other scribes. No audience reactions to go by. As they say, there is no cheering in the press box. Initially, it seemed great to get into movies free. But the truth is that you had to sit through them. Question? Would you really like to see all dozen movies currently at the local megaplex? Answer. Pity the poor movie critic.
†††††††††† Not that it is really any better for art critics. The vast majority of shows we see just suck. Big time. Like the critic for Art Net, Charlie Finch, the editor of Coagulated says, ďMost art sucks.Ē For the most part I agree with that. But it is better to be an art critic than a movie critic. It takes just seconds to see and walk out of a bad exhibition. Where film and theatre critics have to sit through the entire performance. Yeah, film writers enjoy super perks but they have to put up with more crap. Nobody takes art critics to lunch.
Jeffrey Gibson & Rune Olsen: The Urge That Binds
450 Harrison Avenue
Through January 15
††† Once again, this exhibition by Jeffrey Gibson & Rune Olsen, at the edgy, jugendstil, Samson Projects, is almost but not quite interesting. The well written press release, a signifier of the potential professionalism of this new and youthful gallery, informs us that Gibson has been inspired by the 19th century American Luminist, Martin Johnson Heade, in particular, his paintings of the Amazon in Brazil. This jungle aesthetic, an evocation of the age of the exotic, is complemented by the animal, as surrogate for human bestiality, in the life size sculptures, with ink markings by Olsen.
††††††††††† Compared to Heade, who painted exquisitely, Gibsonís hand is leaden. The surface is adorned with a bit of sequins or something. The paintings compare poorly with the recent fantasies of Alexis Rockburn and the glitter owes royalties to Chris Ofilli. Gibson may be onto something but has to try harder. Like learn to paint. As to the randy chimps assuming the missionary position, by Olsen, all I can say is fuck off.