September 30, 2012

Big thanks to our September sponsors

We would like to take a brief moment to thank this month’s sponsors. These are the organizations and companies that keep us publishing, so be sure to check them out!

Featured Advertisers
  • Brooklyn Museum- GO is a community-curated open studio project. Artists across Brooklyn opened their studio doors, so that the public could decide who will be featured in a group show at the Brooklyn Museum
  • NYU Steinhardt -  Offers graduate art programs in Studio Art, Art Education, Art Therapy, Visual Culture: Costume Studies, and Visual Arts Administration. Admission Deadlines: January 6, 15 & February 1, 2013
  • Creative Time - The Last Pictures, Trevor Paglen has developed a collection of one hundred images that will be etched onto a silicon disc to be sent into orbit onboard the Echostar XVI satellite in Fall 2012, as both a time capsule and a message to the future
  • Vera List Art Project - Culture Vulture, a new commissioned print by acclaimed artist Barbara Kruger, has been released to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vera List Art Project
  • International Center of Photography The ICP-Bard Program in Advanced Photographic Studies offers a curriculum of professional and studio practice, critical study, and Resident Artist Projects. Application Deadline: January, 18, 2013
  • Association of Public Art - Open Air, an interactive art installation that allows participants’ voices to transform the night sky over Philadelphia’s historic Benjamin Franklin Parkway. September 20 and October 14, 2012
  • Norte Maar - To be a Lady: Forty-Five Women in the Arts,  is on view at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery featuring the work of forty-five female artists born over the last century. September 24, 2012 – January 18, 2013
  • Guggenheim - Stillspotting nyc: bronx, the fifth and final edition in the stillspotting nyc series, Improv Everywhere presents Audiogram, an interactive audio experience and theatrical group hearing test designed for the South Bronx. October 13-14, 2012
Network Sponsors
  • Art Systems – Professional art gallery, antiques and collections management software
  • Scott Chasse Art Panels - Quality artist’s painting panels, made-to-order in Brooklyn, NY
  • TNC Gallery - App* Art: Painted Paper,  Continues Peter J. Ketchum’s interest in the past as it is encapsulated in printed matter. September 11- October 25, 2012 
  • Safety: An Art Exhibition - Group exhibition curated by Cassandra Young about actively seeking contentment and in ascending towards needing nothing. On view at Leloveve Gallery, September 2012
  • TheBowerbirds - brings together a collection of art from various Asian artists and makes them available to everyone as art prints
  • Brooklyn Comics Festivalan annual curated event consisting of four parts: artists and publishers displaying and selling publications; gallery exhibitions; films and performances; and lectures and conversations on comics. Free to the public, Saturday, November 10
  • Waterfront Toronto - Seeking proposal submissions from artists for three public art opportunities on Front Street East in the West Don Lands. Submission Deadline: October 22, 2012
If you are interested in advertising on Two Coats of Paint, please get in touch with Nectar Ads, the Art Ad Network.

Image above: Thanks to intern Stef Paschen-May for creating the first cat animation ever posted at Two Coats of Paint. Yowsa! (or, should I say, Me-owsa!)


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

Gone Wrong

And now, a shameless plug for my show at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut, which is up through November 29, 2012. Visually, my new work is rooted in the world nearby – specifically, the idiosyncratic HVAC structures, cement-mixing machines, jerry-built sheds, and improvised building additions that surround my Bushwick studio. A minimalist sensibility resists serial rigor and jettisons the notion that you can get everything right. For me, the most interesting stories are about things gone wrong.

Stay tuned for details about 117G, a small artists book about Bushwick that I'm making to accompany the exhibition. It should be available in the Two Coats Bookshop before the end of October.

Installation view, image courtesy of Joe Bun Keo.

Sharon Butler: Gone Wrong," Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT. Through November 29, 2012.

Image above: Sharon Butler, Rooftop Structure (green), 2012, pigment and binder on pre-stretched canvas, 18 x 24 inches.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

Artist Interview: Beena Azeem

Joe Bun Keo: Beena, I’ve known you for a few years now. You have a background in the medical field, and you are currently the recipient of Trinity College's Fifth Year Fellowship.  From your experiences growing up in an Asian family and the presumed strictness of such, what were the trials and tribulations of venturing off into the arts, if there were even any at all?

Beena Azeem, Sajdah, 2012, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. All images courtesy of Beena Azeem.
Beena Azeem: My family thought I had lost my mind and/or was rebelling at 30, leaving the security of medicine for something as unwieldy as art.  Growing up it was always “just a hobby."  I’m not even sure I took my own art very seriously. I just knew that I loved it.  In med school I was always making art, and was constantly asked why I didn’t just become an artist. Societal pressures, wanting a steady income, and the chaos of a non-linear career pathway had me tiptoeing around the idea for years. After attempting a few different directions, a moment of realization finally hit that I was compelled to make art.  My happiness and satisfaction were based solely on the urgency and release of creating.  This gave me the strength and focus to push on, and I haven’t looked back since.  Besides, I don’t think I had the grit to be an artist straight out of high school.   I needed to fight my way to it, for it to work for me.  

JBK: Your painting shares attributes of the works of Jenny Saville and Lucian Freud. The flesh tones, color palette, and poses are similar. What are your thoughts on that observation? Are they your influences? Or is this coincidence? Explain your direction and what you want to achieve with how you approach your art practice.

Beena Azeem,We Mistake These Truths To Be Self-evident, 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches.
BA: Earlier on, I was obsessed with them both and their ability to give form, using paint as flesh.  These days, I look to the work of Alice Neel and her exploitation of emotional intensity through line and color, Marlene Dumas’s haunting imagery with social consciousness, and Wangechi Mutu’s fearless address of difficult subject matter.  I’d like my paintings to evoke a complex series of emotions that touch on difficult subject matter, and potentially open your way of thinking and perceiving.  The realism of my figures in their near life-size scale should make them relatable.  

JBK: Your models’ personal lives and stories are not highlighted. They become somewhat of a vessel for others to fill with interpretation. Your work invites ambiguity.  Though I know some of the people in your paintings, I don’t view it as an inquiry into the personal lives of mutual acquaintances. I too, see them as a point of departure for something more. How do you balance or distinguish from creating work that has personal references but overall is meant to be open?

Beena Azeem,  Necker's Cube, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. 

BA: You understand what their personalities are like, how they will be in front of the camera.I know who is shy, who is too “pose-y”, and who needs a little time to warm up.   The shoots usually take 2-3 hours.  We converse, make jokes, listen to music, and I give them a little background beforehand.  When posing I don’t relay too many specifics.  I don’t want to lead them towards a particular emotion or narrative, and encourage them to experiment.  Buried in these hundreds of shots is always that one image that captured the split second where they conveyed a powerful emotion.  Blink and you’d miss it, but this is the biggest advantage of photographing these set-ups.  By placing my models in these sparse theatrical set-ups, and stripping them of identifiers such as articles of clothing, or jewelry, allows that detachment from their personalities.

JBK: Sexuality, ritual, religion, the human condition, submission vs. domination, gender, social constructs, these are just some of the ideas that you integrate into your work.  I don’t see them as ideas, but as perspectives. These conceptual multiple and fractured perspectives straddle the line of Cubism. Has that thought ever crossed your mind?  If not, what do you think about the correlation of your work to that of Cubism? 

Beena Azeem, Devil's Fork, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches.

BA: Certainly, I see the connection.  However, my focus is not so much on the objectivity of the figures, and more the conceptual fragmentation and intersections of ideas.  By utilizing mirrors, I am in fact heavily reliant on optical illusions to convey a visual impression.  By playing with your perceptual reality, I attempt to challenge your way of thinking.

JBK: "The Reason for Reason," "Pathos," and "Reflections" have been titles of your most recent shows. You are meshing the world of medicine and science with psychology, philosophy and art. Is this a personal motive or happenstance? Are you experimenting out of curiosity or are you searching for that something, that one niche to focus your work? Is focus even an issue? Are your intentions to present chaos, distortion and multiplicity as stable and beautiful, or vice versa?

BA: Sometimes I think I have two (or more) people inside of me duking it out!  Hah.  But this is classic right-brain vs. left-brain struggle:  the regimentation of med-school and my Asian upbringing, fighting my artistic nature. Half of me loves charts and diagrams with literal side-by-side comparisons, while the other half is content with a softer abstraction of fluid ideas.  I’ve attempted to merge the two in some regards, but am not fighting it too hard.  Alternating between the figurative works and the medical pathologies allows me to release two different pressure valves, but also gives me a brief respite from that body of work.  So I come back to it fresh.

I was an 8 year-old insomniac.  The problems of the world kept me up at night.  Living and traveling outside the U.S. was life altering.  I was slammed with these jarring, contradictory often nonsensical, and chaotic experiences that extended well beyond my realm of comprehension in the states.   The resilience of the people really struck me.  Despite the bitter challenges, there was beauty and tender humanity in these parts of the world.   I like to channel these fragile disparities in my work.

JBK: What’s next for Beena Azeem? What are your current and upcoming projects? You’re a fellow at Trinity College’s Fifth Year Fellowship. Describe how that is contributing to your practice. Just tell us anything interesting going on in the life of Beena Azeem!

Beena Azeem, Idling Fallacies, 2012, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches.
BA: I want revisit the medical pathology works I was experimenting with two years ago, both sculptures and paintings.Trinity has given me ample studio space, an artist community, and endless support to make this happen. I’ll be curating shows at Trinity’s Broad Street Gallery for the next year, which is very exciting.  I caught the curatorial bug this summer putting together “Nowhere Differentiable," at Hartford Artspace. What a great experience!  I really like the idea of connecting artists at various stages of their career, and mixing artists from various cities. These are the shows I always wanted to see in Hartford, but now get the chance to have a personal hand in it.

"Beena Azeem: The Reason for Reason," Charter Oak Cultural Center,  Hartford, CT. Through October 12, 2012.

Installation view.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 27, 2012

5 Questions for Nathan Lewis

This week Two Coats of Paint asked figurative painter Nathan Lewis five questions via email. Lewis's show, "Reading the Ruins," is on view at A-Space near New Haven, Connecticut, through this Saturday. Here is our exchange.
1. There's quote that I truly love and your work reminds me of it:
" make a palace an object of interest one must destroy it..." —an edict from Denis Diderot's famous ruin discourse in the Salon of 1767
How would relate your work to that quote? Is it fitting?

Nathan Lewis, Book Keeper, 2011, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. All images courtesy of Nathan Lewis.

Nathan Lewis, I Burn Today, 2011, oil on canvas, 39 x 29 inches.

Nathan Lewis, Orpheus, 2011, oil on canvas, 62 x 32inches.

That's a great quote. I think when something is removed from its function, it is easier to ponder what it might have been and, perhaps more importantly, what it may become. The abandoned factories viewable in my paintings no longer serve their industrial purpose. They are  in-between spaces that speak to their past function but also to multiple interpretations of what they are in the present. Are they signifiers of our current economic state? Are they a shelter for society's outcasts? Are they the cathedrals of a forgotten era? I think Diderot's edict may suggests a few  things: 1)  Is a palace only understood when it is lost? 2) Is there something inherently beautiful in destruction?  3) Do humans need chaos to be complete?

2. Your work plays with light, shadow, perspective and chaos. It's the perfect combination of ingredients for a post-apocalyptic world. As an artist that creates images like a higher being would create life, what are your thoughts on how art and the role of artists relates to possibility that one day there will be no more paint, brushes, and canvases, but instead a barren wasteland leveled by nuclear warfare or natural disasters?

Nathan Lewis, Warbells, 2011, oil on canvas, 26 x 24 inches. 

The work could easily fit into the dystopian world of a Margaret Atwood or Cormack McCarthy novel.  Although the paintings may suggest a possibility of disaster in the future, the apocalypse is also in the here and now. These are careful depictions of real factories that allow connections to past, present, and future. I think the ruins of any era speak to a fate that awaits us all. In this sense, the spaces are memento mori. Most of us will have to experience our own mortality long before the world comes to an end through human or natural forces. Maybe the work is a warning of a possible future, but I think it is also a contemplation on the mystery of mortality from the present position of life.

3. Structures, whether erect or disassembled, are also prominent in your work. A painting is a composition: foreground, middle ground, and background. In a way you are an architect planning out a way to compose a two-dimensional structure. Your building or skyscraper is  not Trump Tower or the Empire State Building, but rather a complete and well rendered image/painting.What intrigues me is that when you compose an image that is meant to convey destruction, it brings up this interesting conceptual conflict: giving structure to an image displaying the collapse of structure. What is on your mind when you make these works?

Nathan Lewis, Gate Keeper, 2012, oil on linen, 72 x 48 inches.

I think that dichotomy interests me. My inclination in painting is to observe, map, define, fail, and understand.The mark my hand naturally makes is somewhat lacking in control. There is the inherent feeling that my hand will always create something that has a good portion of chaos in it. Trying to will the orchestration of the image has more to do with the mind and a certain aesthetic sense that is built from temperament and experience. I think the tension is always there between the lack of control in my hand and a desire of the mind to achieve a certain type of clarity. In my mind, this tension is key in holding the painting together.

The factories themselves have this tension between an architecture of man and nature. You see the effects of gravity, moisture, and heat on these structures that try so hard to keep their designed geometry. It is in this in-between state that you get to experience these seemingly distinct forces as components of a unified whole. Philosophically, whether we are speaking of factories or painting, it may be a return to  a pre-dialectic world, where one may see things clearly. (Maybe this is what Diderot was suggesting)

4. There are figures, humans, characters lost, entangled, and surrounded by these fallen environments that you've created. Shadows cast to bring forth gloom, light finds ways to beam through cracks in the rubble, and diverse perspective and facial expressions tell a story of struggle. Do your destroyed environments convey the emotion of defeat alone or must they be accompanied by a figure or figures? What's the relationship between figure and environment?

Nathan Lewis, In the Dark, 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 39 inches.

I think the relationship between the figure and environment changes in each picture.  Some of the pictures  feel as if the environment is a product of the figure's mental state suggested by the pose. Others feel like the space directs, contains, or controls the figure. Film has played a strong role in the composing of the images. I sift through films slowly and take stills of different scenes, looking closely at the framing, viewpoint,  and lighting and how that contributes to the psychology of the image. In the past, I often would have many figures in scenes. Because of the emptiness of the factory spaces, multiple figures seem to limit the psychological impact of the environments and their meanings. I've concentrated mostly on single figures because it seems to fit the spaces and leave them open enough to connect with history, psychology, myth, perceptual painting, and social issues.

5. What's next for Nathan Lewis? Where are you teaching? What are you teaching? Any upcoming shows, commissions and projects? Tell us more about what Nathan Lewis is doing and planning to do!

Nathan Lewis, Light is the Lion That Comes Down to Drink, 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 67 inches.

I currently have a show up at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon titled "the Hand that Finds, the Hand that Feeds, the Hand that Fails." It is a selection of my sketchbook drawings. I am currently an assistant professor up for tenure at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.  I teach Painting, Drawing, Design, and an Art History course in Rome and Berlin. Recently I have been commissioned by the university to create a 6'x18' mural for the new student commons building. The mural will include 20-75 figures from the university community and has a completion deadline of September, 2013. I'm also serving as a juror for a national juried exhibition called "The Figure Now," at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri.  

 "Reading the Ruins: Paintings by Nathan Lewis," A-Space Gallery (West Cove Studio and Gallery), New Haven, CT. Through September 29.

Related posts:


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

Community collectives at MOCA Detroit

“Vision in a Cornfield” is a large scale site-specific installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, fashioned through the collaborative efforts of Destroy All Monsters, a former Detroit art rock band, and collectives Ogun and Apetechnology. A handful of junkyard cars are displayed among freestanding cornstalks and piles of dirt, as well as hanging costuming by Jennifer Price and Levon Millross. The viewer is meant to walk through an adjoining room to get to the main installation “because there are motion detectors and stuff,” according to the guard standing by its exit where I initially tried to enter.
This first room, filled with mixed-media works by Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts, called upon the prints and drawings room in the last talked-about installation at MOCAD – “Joshua White and Gary Panter’s Light Show” – in its panoply of ephemera: objects of questionable utility, paintings on unfolded cardboard boxes, a video projection, all hung anywhere from knee-level to the ceiling. Opposite the video are four unstretched canvases advertising foreign horror films painted in a style adopted by those hired to advertise on the sides of Detroit businesses. On either side, vitrines hold jazz magazines and reliquaries made from broken mirrors, glitter, and combs. This wall in particular previewed the types of materials used by the artists to create the “cornfield,” as well as the unsettling atmosphere of the installation as a whole.

Once inside the cornfield, the atmosphere is Hirschhornian. Everything is crafted using mass-produced or discarded materials. Each car is hand-painted and covered in things like broken mirrors and old stamps of jazz singers. They project chants, songs, or indistinguishable sounds that coincide with randomly moving parts – a hood opening and shutting, for instance. One is surrounded by dozens of neatly folded work shirts, many with Ford logos, their nametags prominently displayed. Tall devotional candles in glass holders – like those sold at dollar stores – are placed around the uniforms. In the center of the room hangs a giant mobile with two car doors dangling just above what looks to be a resin “pond” surrounded by dirt, cattails, and bottle caps. I remember an experience a friend and I had a few blocks east of MOCAD where we parked in a lot so overgrown that it looked like a field. No one had driven past, let alone approached, for hours. We talked about how nature has begun to reclaim its land, like Chernobyl, in so many Detroit neighborhoods. I felt just as uneasy walking through the installation as did that day, recalling the ultimate Detroit conundrum: How can a place feel so desolate when it’s so close to everything?

In its entirety, the installation is uniquely Detroit. Painting on discarded objects, especially cars and car parts, is an obvious allusion to its defunct industry, but also recalls the ongoing Heidleberg Project, Tyree Guyton’s oft referenced installation that turns vacant lots into community art spaces. And, according to the statement, the inspiration for the project came from an encounter that Kelley and Loren experienced on Halloween night. Since Detroit is the birthplace of Devil’s Night, the Halloween reference is particularly potent.

Leaving MOCAD, I almost dropped my camera and, distracted, stepped in vomit swarming with flies. On the corner a man stood selling newspapers, eating a snack size bag of Better Made pork rinds. As I drove off, I realized that the exhibition had made everything around me seem like a haunting, self-referential trope suitable for contemplation.

All installation images by Megan Major.  

"Vision in a Cornfield," curated by M. Saffell Gardner, Cary Loren and Rebecca Mazzei. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, MI. Through December 30, 2012.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 26, 2012

Top ten artists announced by Brooklyn Museum GO

This just in from the Brooklyn Museum GO team: "After approximately 147,000 studio visits to 1,708 artists, and then 9,457 nominations, we have our top ten nominated artists. We are pleased to have such a mix of artists represented in this group, including painters, illustrators, sculptors, and installation artists. Painting clearly ruled with seven of the ten artists being self-identified painters. At the same time, we note the absence of design, fashion, and textile arts, and also that photography, video, and performance are represented only in Nourry’s work."

 Oliver Jeffers

Adrian Coleman

In alphabetical order:
Aleksander Betko, Cobble Hill, painting and drawing
Jonathan Blum, Park Slope, painting and printmaking
Adrian Coleman, Fort Greene, painting
Oliver Jeffers, Boerum Hill, painting, illustration, and drawing
Kerry Law, Greenpoint, painting
Prune Nourry, Boerum Hill, photography, video/film/sound, and sculpture
Eric Pesso, Ditmas Park, sculpture
Naomi Safran-Hon, Prospect Heights, painting
Gabrielle Watson, Crown Heights, painting
Yeon Ji Yoo, Red Hook, mixed media sculpture

Predictably, most of the artists nominated by the general public during this weekend-long event are painters, with a particular emphasis on representational imagery and illustrative detail rather than painterly brio. Congratulations to all the artists selected, who must now prepare for a studio visit with the team from the Brooklyn Museum. The team will then organize a show that may or may not include all the nominated artists. "We are committed to creating the best exhibition possible within these parameters," the curators report, "and that will mean making some tough choices." Indeed.

Related posts:
GoBrooklynArt: Haynes, Bond, and Arenas(September 2012)
Brooklyn Museum Go: Bushwick short list (August 2012)
How many artists live and/or work in Brooklyn? (July 2012)


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 25, 2012

Edouard Manet: Portraying Life

By Marie Julio

Sixty miles south of Detroit rests its twin, of sorts, not normally thought of as an art and design hub: Toledo.However, in two weeks, the first exhibition of Édouard Manet’s work to specifically focus on portraiture as a means to understand his wider subject matter – 19th Century French life – will open at the Toledo Museum of Art. The exhibition features nearly forty works from museums and private collections worldwide, including both the well-known and obscure.

Manet (French, 1832–1883), Boy Blowing Bubbles, 1867. Oil on canvas, 100.5 × 81.4 cm. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon 

One of the paintings included in the show, Boy Blowing Bubbles, depicts a young boy with a bubble not quite released from the stick he uses for its distention. I was reminded of a 2002 interview with Sabine Mödersheim published in Cabinet Magazine's Childhood issue, in which Mödersheim discusses the bubble motif in portraits of children:
In 16th-century art and especially in Dutch 17th-century painting, bubbles are a moralizing emblem. The child is actually not at stake. The bubble blowing activity is what is important and the bubble is an allegory. It’s very telling and probably surprising for someone today to see how children and bubbles were initially connected to death. The emblem was used as an allegory of fleeting time and the shortness of life, and as a reminder of futility and death. […] [A] shift is clearly marked by the Chardin painting The Soap Bubble from 1739. It’s much more about personal melancholy, mourning one’s own childhood being gone rather than the general idea of vanitas and fleeting time… The painting depicts children at an age where they might start regretting that their childhood is over.
Unlike the formal portraits of his contemporaries, Manet's unconventional portraits feature family and friends engaged in artistic and intellectual activity. Clearly Manet was interested not only in time passing, but how we pass the time.

Édouard Manet, Eva Gonzalès, 1870. Oil on canvas, 191.1 × 133.4 cm. The National Gallery, London. Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917 

Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883), Madame Manet at the Piano, 1868. Oil on canvas, 38 × 46.5 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Legs du comte Isaac de Camondo, 1911 Photo © 2011. White Images / Scala, Florence.

Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883), Emile Zola, 1868. Oil on canvas, 146.5 × 114 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Donation de Mme Emile Zola, 1918 Photo © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN / H. Lewandowski

"Manet: Portraying Life,"  Curated by Lawrence Nichols and MaryAnne Stevens. Canaday Gallery at the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH. October 7-January 1, 2013. Co-organized by TMA and the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the show will travel to London in January 2013.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 24, 2012

Last chance: Yayoi Kusama’s beautiful, fashionable, madness

By Samuel Jablon

Don't miss Yayoi Kusama's exhibition at the Whitney, up until September 30, in all its beautiful, fashionable, madness. Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama moved to the states in 1957, then returned to Japan in the early 1970’s. Everywhere, nowhere, and all over, Kusama's work--current, hip, creepy, and playful all at once--includes painting, sculpture, film, performance, poetry, and immersive installation. The theme throughout is illusion: the creation of seemingly endless space. Using dots and different accumulation strategies, she repeats, revisits, and launches into new formations, beautiful and terrifying. Her obsessive meditations on object making, repetition, pattern, psychedelic color, and performance are both timely and timeless.

The show begins with Kusama's early paintings, and I was surprised to see in the last gallery that Kusama has recently returned to painting. Everything else seems to be suspended in-between.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), I Want to Live Honestly, Like the Eye in the Picture, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 51 5/16 × 63 3/4 in. (130.3 × 162 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York

 Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), An Encounter with a Flowering Season, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 51 5/16 × 63 3/4 in. (130.3 × 162 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Late-night Chat is Filled with Dreams, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 63 3/4 × 63 3/4 in. (162 × 162 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), All about my Love, and I Long to Eat a Dream of the Night, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 51 5/16 × 63 3/4 in. (130.3 × 162 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York

In the museum’s lobby galleryFireflies on Water, an installation comprising lights, mirrors and water, is on display, but the tickets are timed, with an allotment of one minute per visitor. If you want to see this part of the exhibition, go early because tickets for the day are usually spoken for by noon. The installation creates a space in which "individual viewers are invited to transcend their sense of self." 

"Yayoi Kusama," Whitney Museum, New York, NY. On view through September 30, 2012.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

Mark Dagley: One Man Punk Band

By Nick Stolle

Walking into Mark Dagley’s "Structural Solutions" at Minus Space  is like accidentally wandering into the middle of a peculiar standoff. Three strong, distinct energies surround you, pushing and pulling, bandying you about.

To your right a hulking, sharp figure, smartly outfitted in what Niele Toroni might refer to as a Red red and a Black black, towers above you. It just fits into the space, a few inches shy of scraping the ceiling. Almost intimidating.

You bounce a few degrees to your right and are softly buffeted around for a while by a big, long grid. A double stripe of off-white separates squares of color, not many of which, if any, are exactly the same hue. The particular dime-store paperback shade of the off-white calls to mind a plaid. A big gaudy handbag or window dressing backdrop pulled out of a department store basement. You feel a little dusty inside, melancholic.

Another pivot puts on offer the most sympathetic, approachable of the three. A mediator, maybe. A shallow rectangle of long, cool blue and yellow diagonal stripes with crisp, meaty L’s incised vertically. Smart and funny, not hard to look at. You could hug the thing.

Mark Dagley, Structural Solutions. Left to right; Lucifer (134 x 115 inches), The Mackintosh Variations (104 x 120 inches), and Janet's Dilemma (75 x 156 inches). All work 2012. Image courtesy of Minus Space.

Further (!) Dig this clip of Dagley’s (and George Condo’s) punk band The Girls making it up as they went in 1978.

"Mark Dagley: Structural Solutions," Minus Space, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY. Through October 27, 2012. Concurrent with his exhibition at MINUS SPACE, Dagley is also presenting a comprehensive survey "Mark Dagley: 35 Years, 1976-2011" at Kent Place Gallery, Summit, New Jersey. September 10 – October 5, 2012.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 17, 2012

Slick digital in Wendy White's new work

Checking out galleries this weekend, I was surprised to see that Wendy White, who has a solo at Leo Koenig this month, is incorporating digital images in her new work. Best known for large, handmade spray-painted constructions that combine stylized text and (sometimes) athletic equipment, White's new work features fabricated panels printed with digital images that she has manipulated in Photoshop. In a conversation with Arthur Peña at Curbs and Stoops, White said working with fabricated panels was difficult at first because making the supports by hand was an important part of her process.
With the Fotobilds, I knew that I wanted to integrate photography, and it made sense to use a real sign manufacturer since the subject matter is image and architecture. I took all the photos and manipulated them in Photoshop. They’re digitally printed but the frames themselves are welded and roped by hand, so the end result is still very personal, even if it is more of a collaboration.... [P]ainting as a singular discipline isn’t my thing. I think of the Fotobilds as the logical next step toward a hybrid experience: painting + sculpture smashed together with buildings and streets, how it feels walking around a massive city, urban ghosts, forgotten architecture, new signs. Basically there needed to be another surface, one that I couldn’t make with painting materials, something more rooted in the urban/universal...
There is something infinitely profound to me about walking down a street that millions walk every day, and have walked every day for hundreds of years, then opening a door (maybe a shitty graffiti covered door, maybe a new door with handprints on the glass, either way everything everywhere in NYC has marks on it) to go into a private residence, or a restaurant – something about street level started to seem utterly important to me. We physically interact with the city’s surfaces – exteriors of buildings, bridges – primarily on street level. Everything above is so clean and intact, but only because we can’t reach it to fuck it up.
But...the new work is undeniably clean and intact--handsome, even. The digitally ghosted images, glossy surfaces, and professionally-fabricated supports seem too slick to wrestle with the urban history and emotional resonance that White says inform the series. Perhaps working with expensive fabricated materials creates a fear factor--White's signature WTF attack strategy seems to have gone missing. Don't skip her less nostalgic, more abstract pieces installed in the back room.

"Wendy White | Pix Vää," Leo Koenig, Inc., Chelsea, New York, NY. Through October 20, 2012.

Image above: Wendy White, SPBK, 2012, acrylic on canvas, steel frame, rope, inkjet print on vinyl, 96 x 108 x 4 inches.

 Wendy White, installation view at Leo Koenig.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 15, 2012

The brash poetry of Asger Jorn

By Nick Stolle

In 1964, after being notified of his selection as the winner of the Guggenheim International Award, Asger Jorn sent the following telegram to Harry Guggenheim:
Very sporting, then, of the museum to include Jorn in their recently closed wide-sweeping survey of international abstraction from 1949-1960, Art Of Another Kind. Very fortunate for patrons, as well, as the Jorns on display in the show are knockouts- ferocious, muscly, indignant howls of paintings which echo the brash poetics of the sneering telegram.

Also wonderful to see on display were the more polite, considered, dreamy takes on gestural abstraction from Japanese-American painters Kenzo Okada and Yutaka Ohashi. These pictures, for me, feel remarkably fresh, surprising even, in their lightness and uncompromised beauty.

"Art of Another Kind: International Abstraction and the Guggenheim, 1949-1960," Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. The exhibition closed on September 12, 2012, but the website is terrific (although sort of Flash crazy), and the a video about the exhibition is online here.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 14, 2012

This must be the place?

By Samuel Jablon

Focusing on community creativity, This Must Be The Place, a mixed-use creative arts space above Marlow & Sons was created by the publishers of Diner Journal, the quarterly magazine affiliated with Andrew Tarlow's restaurants. This month "Sick Velvet Braid," a group exhibit featuring new work full of pattern, surface design and odd material combinations by Malu Byrne, Sophia Casas, Chen Chen, Isabel Wilson, and Daniel Sullivan is on display. Paintings, sculptures, and textile patterns engage clashing colors, neon lights, toilet paper, Plexiglas boxes, asphalt, resin, and oil paint fill the space. According to the press release, the various materials and contrasting methodologies create "interior realms informed by exterior surfaces." In Sophia Casas’s untitled zombie like figurative sex painting, the contrast between the loose thickly painted figure, and the wide color streaks in the background is nice touch. I particularly like the pairing of this painting with Isabel Wilson's textile patterns. Her four large, tight paintings repeat a layered squiggle that seems to warp the eye.  Go see some art, and then do brunch.

Sophia Casas, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 77 x 65 inches. Images by Samuel Jablon / Two Coats of Paint.

Isabel Wilson Untitled, (4 panel), 2012, gouache, oil, and fabric due on canvas, 120 x 96 inches.

Opening night.

I Spy, 2012 mixed media, 108 x108 inches.

"Sick Velvet Braid," This Must Be The Place, Brooklyn, NY (Above Marlow and Sons). Through September 31, 2012.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

Introducing, the Two Coats Interns!

A few weeks ago I decided to develop a small internship program, and I'm pleased to report that numerous talented artists, writers and designers actually applied. Wow. Please join me in welcoming the six candidates selected to join the team at Two Coats of Paint.

Michelle Mantua, alias Marie e Julio, was born, raised, and baptized in Detroit, Michigan – a place where many women become cocktail waitresses, hairdressers, or single mothers. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009 with a BA in Art History and is currently an MFA candidate at Cranbrook. She is interested in Northern Soul, The New Inquiry, and systems of belief.
Twitter: @spitsdiamonds |

Stef Paschen-May, A graphic designer, printmaker, illustrator.
BA from Eastern Connecticut State University in Digital Art & Design, with minors in Studio Art and Art History. Stef has been in exhibitions at the Akus Art Gallery and Hartford Art Space. A recent transplant to Brooklyn, Stef is looking for a job, either full time or freelance.
Twitter: @SPaschenmay | Wordpress | Portfolio

Joe Bun Keo is an artist from the Greater Hartford area. He graduated from the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford with a BFA in Sculpture and minor in Art History. He recently purchased Hennessy Youngman's MFA on DVD and is loving it!

Born in Binghamton, NY, Samuel Jablon went to Naropa University, in Boulder, Colorado, where he earned a degree in Writing and Literature, he then moved to Brooklyn three years ago, and is currently a second year MFA student at Brooklyn College. His art has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and  his writing has appeared in BOMBlog (Bomb Magazine's blog), Art Writ, The Huffington Post, and other online literary journals, blogs, and magazines.
Twitter: @JablonSamuel |

Nick Stolle, a writer and painter, was born in Illinois in the early 1980s. He lived for some years in Nashville, Tennessee, and accidentally stepped on Jack White's cowboy-booted foot once. (Jack White was totally cool and nice about it.) He is currently pursuing an MFA in Painting at Brooklyn College.

Arianna Perricone is an arts major living and studying in Toronto, Canada. She currently attends Ryerson University, working towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a specialization in Photography. She has worked as a freelance photographer and writer for four years, at a variety of publications including the Huffington Post Canada, the Toronto Standard, and the Ministry of Artistic Affairs. She hopes one day to work in a curatorial capacity at a major museum or gallery, and to explore the art scenes of New York, Berlin and London.
Twitter: @AriannaPerr | Blogger | Tumblr


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 11, 2012

Most crowded opening of the week, month, possibly the year?

At Small Black Door artist Julie Torres has organized a huge group show that includes many of the founders of Bushwick(and Ridgewood) art spaces, projects, and online undertakings. Due to the number of artists involved and the diminutive size of the basement space, the show promises to be one of the most crowded openings...ever? Calling the show HEROES, Julie writes that it's not about men in capes and women in spandex suits.
Nor is the title meant to imply that its participants risk their lives ensuring safety and order in the world each day. There are real people who do that, and they are true heroes for sure.
This show is about a different kind of hero.

I know that none of these artists would describe themselves as being particularly ‘heroic,’ which I can certainly appreciate. But the truth is that they inspire and energize so many of us through the power of their own artwork, and also by sharing and communicating something larger than themselves.

These are artists who provide valuable insight into what other people are doing and what ‘else’ is going on out there. They show and talk about other artists’ work in a meaningful way, and provide venues for us to meet, look, think and engage both face-to-face and online. What they do takes time, energy, dedication and courage.

Maybe it’s human nature, but I always want to get better at things when I see other people doing them well. What is a hero but someone who inspires you to be better? 
The roster includes: Liz Atzberger (Airplane), John Avelluto (Bay Ridge Art Walk), Brett Baker (Painters' Table), Paul Behnke (Structure and Imagery), Deborah Brown (Storefront Bushwick), Sharon Butler (Two Coats of Paint--but you probably know that already), Kevin Curran (Airplane), Joy Curtis (Pioneers of Inspiration), Paul D'Agostino (Centotto), Rob De Oude (Parallel Art Space), Lacey Fekishazy (Sardine), Enrico Gomez (Parallel Art Space), Chris Harding (English Kills), Katarina Hybenova (Bushwick Daily), Lars Kremer (Airplane), Ellen Letcher (Famous Accountants), Amy Lincoln (The Laundromat), Loren Munk (The James Kalm Report), Matthew Mahler (Small Black Door), Mike Olin (Pioneers of Inspiration), James Prez (artist/organizer), Kevin Regan (Famous Accountants), Jonathan Terranova (Small Black Door), Austin Thomas (Pocket Utopia).

See you there.

"Heroes," organized by Julie Torres, Small Black Door, Ridgewood, Queens, NY. September 14- October 14, 2012. On view Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 6pm


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.

September 10, 2012

GoBrooklynArt: Haynes, Bond, and Arenas

While I was tied to my studio during GO, I sent Two Coats intern Stef Paschen-May to explore some other artists' studios. Here is her report.


Stepping off the air-conditioned R train yesterday in Sunset Park, I was greeted with the ever-familiar gust of oppressive, recycled hot air, integral to the experience of New York's public transit. Breaching the surface and striding along, I was nearly knocked over by the  wind, my hair flattened every which way, my loose shirt flapping violently against my torso. I have a peculiar way of receiving news long after events take place, and, later that night, I heard that a tornado had touched down briefly in Queens. I'm grateful, however, not to have learned of GOBrooklynArt after the fact.

Although on my first assignment for Two Coats, I was also on a mission for myself. New to the city, and taking a break from my grinding job search, I ventured to a neighborhood I hadn't explored, and met some incredibly talented artists. The first stop on my itinerary was the NARS Foundation, where I could have spent hours. Hallways led to more hallways and alcoves to more alcoves, housing an extensive community of creative minds. Clarity Haynes's powerful “Breast Portrait” paintings were the first to catch my eye. Walking into the space, I was simultaneously confronted and oddly welcomed by the larger than life portraits.

Clarity Haynes, Breast Portrait: Roxanne, 2012, oil on canvas, 58 x 58 inches. 

In her artist's statement Haynes writes that 
the Breast Portrait Project focuses on non-traditional images of women, beauty, sexuality and gender expression. The project bridges documentary photography, drawing, painting, artist book production and writing. It addresses issues of underserved art audiences in unusual participatory ways. Since the project’s inception in the late ‘90s, I have documented each portrait by photographing the model with the finished piece and asking her to contribute writing.
Haynes elaborates further on her more recent subjects.
I’ve worked with female bodybuilders, fat women, and old women. These body types relate to my interests in issues of the body relating to ideas of fitness and control, masculinity/femininity, aging, illness and mortality.
Frankly, I found the portraits alarming. The unabashed realness of the subject staring in my face, revealing every scar, every fold of flesh, every blemish and every perfect imperfection unnerved me. Once the initial shock subsided, shaking my brain’s recognition of the literal breasts, I began to see and appreciate the forms. Just as the subjects bravely embraced self-revelation, I, too, embraced the subjects' odd and startling beauty.

Visitor Alex Smith with Haynes in the studio.

Traveling further into the depths of the NARS building, saturated color, repeating patterns, and dim lighting lured me into the next studio. Jose Arenas had stepped out for a few minutes, but my companion and I entered nonetheless. Like the sweet strawberries and yogurt dip by the door, his work made me feel as if I were indulging in an intimate experience.

Jose Arenas, Linked, 2011, oil on canvas, 51 x 60 inches. Image taken from Jose Arenas' site 

When Arenas returned, I asked him about his use of bird and bee imagery. He explained that the images of migratory patterns and travel reflect what he calls the state of "living in-between" that results from dividing his time between New York and Mexico. In his statement he elaborates:
Much of my work revolves around dual identities, dislocation and displacement, and of feeling a sense of disorientation from growing up in 2 countries. These two geographies, Mexico and the United States, were parallel worlds with distinct customs and rituals that have become a point of investigation in my work.
Jose Arenas, Sumiso, 2011, oil on canvas, 60 x 55 inches. 

Jose Arenas, work in progress

A few streets south, we found the studio of Nathan Bond. Crossing the threshold, I was instantly drawn to the painting below.

Nathan Bond, Loud, 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. 

As part of the “In Their Own Words” series, Loud successfully lives up to its title. Moving your eyes back and forth across the painting gives the subject’s hands a holographic effect, like she’s physically there standing in front of you, signing the word “Loud.” The vibrant red attacks the retina and enhances the subject’s presence. This painting was punching me in the face but I couldn’t look away.

At the start of the “In Their Own Words” process, Bond gives the subjects a questionnaire about personality traits and self-perception. Bond explained that the series is a very personal and empowering experience for the subjects because they strip away the things outside of themselves that they (and much of society) primarily identify with, such as their occupation. The idea is to tap into their authentic self, finding a shape, color and word that represents them. Awesome concept and perfectly executed.

As a fresh graduate and new gal about town, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the GoBrooklynArt event. Although I understand the argument, I am still confused and disheartened by artists who decided not to participate due to the open-voter concept. Is it really irresponsible for the Brooklyn Museum to allow the public to call the shots on this one, or is it a courageous move for an established museum to let the people decide which Brooklyn artists deserve an exhibition? Is it simply a popularity contest? Did artists  give their specified artist numbers to friends who will “check in” at their studio…without actually visiting? Is this really reason enough not to participate? It's hard to say, but one thing is certain: GoBrooklynArt got me out, involved and sparked engaging dialogue from artist to fellow artist in my new, creative and innovative community. I am just one of the many who are eligible to vote and plan to fully exercise the opportunity to step on the bureaucracy of the art world a little bit.


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.