Monday, March 25, 2013

Punk & Art Aint Dead - A Brief Look at Two Exhibits

I love a good combo: strawberries and chocolate, bourbon and sour mix - the list goes on. Today's post is a showcase of two punk art exhibits I've gotten wind of. There may be others so I'll keep an eye out for them, but if you know of any I've missed please let me know - the more the merrier. :)

This first one I discovered on Dangerous Minds (an awesome blog btw, highly recommended.)   

Punk as Fuck: Steve Gullick 90-93 is on current display across the pond. It's up till the end of the month at Indo, a killer boho pub known it's memorabilia clad interior. If I'm ever in London I'll definitely hop into Indo (har har.) 

The great Cobain. Taken by Gullick in Springfield, '93. Photo courtesy of

As reported by Dangerous Minds, Steve Gullick had this to say on what makes a good photograph:
"A good photograph is one that looks great, one that captures an interesting moment in time, one that tells a story, or in the case of a portrait, offers an insight into the subject. Photography is magic. The ability to capture something forever that looks interesting to you is magnificent."
Take that, Sontag!
The fabulous Nick Cave, '07 Photo courtesy of 

The second is the much anticipated (by me and the studded leather vest hanging in my closet waiting patiently for warmer weather) PUNK: Chaos to Couture, opening as the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute exhibit from May 9 - August 14. If McLaren could see it, I'd hope it would make him proud.

Photo by Victoria Will courtesy of Vogue; Bondage, up yours.
Featuring nearly 100 designs, the exhibit will serve as a deliciously irreverent sartorial timeline chronicling the birth of punk, its New York and London scenes (definitely a story for another blog post) and its D.I.Y influences on haute couture. Check out Rolling Stone's piece on the show and get a little taste of how it'll look here.

 A God among men: Richard Hell in the 70s being a BAMF. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan, copyright by Kate Simon

Excited yet? I sure am. My happy ass is gonna be pogoing all over that joint!

Stay grimy, my friends.

Monday, March 4, 2013

To be young, gifted and black...

Oh, what a lovely precious dream. 

I'm a week late with this one but very glad I found it - Huffington Post did a piece on 30 contemporary Black artists you should know. 

These artists are fantastic and should be appreciated past just Black History Month. EVERY month should be Black History Month. Same goes for all other groups. 

I'm very happy to see a Kehinde Wiley shout out. He's been one of my favorites since I saw his work at MAM a few years back. Same goes for Hank Willis Thomas. For my money, they're two of the reigning kings of contemporary art and totally deserve more of a spotlight. Check them out! 

Three Graces - Kehinde Wiley (2005) 
Hort Family Collection

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Emoji Art History

Last month, Hyperallergic reported on the popularity of the Emoji Art History Twitter meme.

It's been a long time since I've followed up with Twitter happenings but luckily a friend pointed me towards the article.

Naturally, I made some of my own. Posted here are two screenshots featuring aesthetes going mano a mano with iPhones and memory banks full of art info. More to come, stay tuned and enjoy!. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Must Update More!

I haven't posted something on here since September, that is way too long. Hopefully I'll be able to focus and change this.

For now, I shall post a link to my most recent Burnaway Magazine article:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cecilia Lueza’s Dual Nature Brightens The Ormond Museum

Making bright colors, femininity, mysticism and nature appear completely harmonious in a way that still feels fresh can seem difficult, but Dual Nature: The Work of Cecilia Lueza pulls it off beautifully.

Dual Nature debuted at The Ormond Memorial Art Museum in Ormond Beach, FL on August 17 and runs until September 18. The exhibition combines works on paper, painting and sculpture that exude brightness and a concern with nature.

Lueza hails from Argentina. Since her early days of training at La Plata National University in Buenos Aires, Lueza has seen considerable success. Since 1993, she has participated in over 40 collective and solo exhibitions throughout the United States as well as in Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay.
Lueza has a very talented eye when it comes to color harmony. Had she been born decades earlier, her work could have held up well against that of the color field painters. 

Wonder - Cecilia Lueza 

In Lueza’s self-portrait, Wonder, she features a sky blue orb and a golden basket weave pattern beaming down upon her face. Through the positioning of these elements the artist looked as if she had stepped inside James Turrell’s Skyscape installation on a bright summer’s day and snapped a pensive photograph.

Filia Maris - Cecilia Lueza

Several parallels can be seen between Lueza’s work and the work of one of her artistic influences, Gustav Klimt. Lueza’s use of luminous, golden shades allude to Klimt’s famous Golden Phase. Klimt is also renowned for using the female form as subject matter, something that Lueza renders in a soft but evocative way. Filia Maris, a sculpture featuring a female nude with flowing hair standing up against a row of white and blue blocks says “earth mother” but doesn’t scream of essentialism. The dynamics between this feminine body and the macho, minimalist blocks (a la Donald Judd) provide a fantastic contrast and highlight Lueza’s oeuvre. 

She describes her work as “the result of reality and fiction colliding in my mind to become a series of visions that sometimes are full of mystery, energy and surreal beauty.” To experience this energy and beauty for yourself, visit the Ormond Memorial Art Museum located at  78 E. Granada Blvd, or visit Lueza’s website at

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Poleteismo - Piss Christ All Over Again?

ARTINFO reports that Filipino artist Mideo Cruz has met with some controversy over his installation, "Poleteismo," a large wooden crucifix adorned with an assortment of colorful fabrics and other items - including a red dildo.

I really like that Cruz called out the obvious hypocrisy in receiving death threats from "people who call themselves Christians." Apart from that, his installation (from what I gather in pictures) is very well constructed and aesthetically harmonious - despite the hodgepodge of colors and shapes. Like most art works, I'll bet you'd have to see it in person to really "get it."

Cruz explains his vision:

"My installation serves as a mirror for a life full of opposing realities. It is meant to reflect on how we construct our imagined realities. These kinds of displays of images are commonly posted on the worn-out walls of every house, and can be found in impoverished areas. Things are posted like certificates, medals, photographs, calendars, posters, pictures of celebrities, politicians, and others, as a way to decorate the space or to affect how others perceive us. The details of the images in my installation are full of metaphorical ironies based on my personal doubts about my society."

Will this become another Piss Christ episode? It seems like it already has, though because it is an overseas controversy I'm not sure Bill Donohue will be pouncing all over this one just yet. But I could be wrong. Also, a big shout out to ARTINFO for bringing this artist to my attention. He's got some great stuff and I'm excited to learn more about him.

More to come, I'm sure.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Burnaway Cross Promotin'

Here is a link to my two Burnaway articles. My first article for these fine folks was on Cy Twombly's passing. My second was on the ethics of selling and displaying John Wayne Gacy's art.

I do hope you enjoy both. Please feel free to comment on here, or on the articles.

Happy readin'!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crucifixation: Censoring Religiously-Themed Contemporary Art

Ethics in art can sometimes bring up more questions than it does answers. How fine is the line between art and obscenity? Is it ever ethical for a museum to censor an art exhibit – due to public pressure, funding cuts or for another reason?

While the modern art movement began with avant-gardist Impressionism, which is widely accepted, many people still classify the modern art spirit like a rancid stew of crudeness, irreligion and bodily fluids. Three oft-mentioned works that exemplify this misguided assumption are David Wojnarowicz’s ‘Fire in My Belly’, Andres Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ’, and Chris Ofili’s ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’.

Last year’s Smithsonian controversy over the film ‘Fire in My Belly’ sparked a flurry of attacks, including debate on whether the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) should be defunded.  The questionable portion of the film involves a scene where ants can be seen crawling over a crucifix. Wojnarowicz’s body was being ravaged by the effects of AIDS when he made the film. The image of ants on a crucifix is phantasmagorical illustration of the suffering of Christ and the suffering of AIDS victims. Angered by the shocking lack of comfort and respect given to homosexual victims of the AIDS epidemic, Wojnarowicz did criticize the church – particularly the Catholic Church, who, to this day still preaches a no condom use doctrine, which is unhelpful in stopping the spread of AIDS.1

Film still from the contested portion of David Wojnarowicz's 1986-87 'Fire in My Belly'

‘Fire in My Belly’ was being shown as part of the ‘Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture’ exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery. Critics, including the Catholic League, argued that the film was anti-Christian and was a way to mock faith during the Christmas season. The Smithsonian Museum issued an apology for the offense and pulled the video in late November 2010. The Association of Art Museum Directors charged that the Smithsonian caved to conservative interests by censoring the exhibit, a charge the institution denies.2

‘Piss Christ’, features a plastic crucifix submerged in a container of amber-colored liquid, known to be the artist’s urine. In 1989, The American Family Association, a Christian non-profit organization which attempts to promote the “biblical ethic of decency”, rallied against the NEA after it was revealed that some funds were used to by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art to award Serrano $15,000 after winning one of the Awards in Visual Arts.3
As a result of the uproar Serrano did lose grant money, but many came to his defense, including famed art critic Lucy Lippard, who lauded the formal aesthetic appeal of the Cibachrome print, and Sister Wendy, a Catholic nun and notable art critic.4 Sister Wendy was not offended by the work and instead saw it as a reflection on “what we have done to Christ” – a comment on modern society’s perversion of the values Christ espoused.5

Andres Serrano's 'Piss Christ'  (1987)

‘Piss Christ’ has been vandalized numerous times, including this past April by two French Catholic Fundamentalists while on view at the Museum of Contemporary art in Avignon. The men attacked the work, as well as another Serrano print, with hammers.6

Ten years later after the controversy over ‘Piss Christ, in late 1999, the Brooklyn Museum mounted Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection. The exhibition was first shown at London’s Royal Academy of Art in 1997 and featured the following disclaimer at the entrance:

There will be works of art on display in the Sensation exhibition which some people may find distasteful. Parents should exercise their judgment in bringing their children to the exhibition. One gallery will not be open to those under the age of 18.7

Chris Ofili's 'The Holy Virgin Mary' (1996), Courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London

The show did produce a stir in London, but interestingly, not for the same works as it later did in New York. Although several works inspired the ire of conservative critics, then Mayor Rudy Giuliani objected quite specifically to the inclusion of Ofili’s ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’. Ofili, a British native of African descent included elephant dung in a number of works as a nod to his heritage. Ironically, Ofili identifies as a churchgoing Catholic.8 The press did not help the cause, as it described the work as “smeared” with dung, when in actuality, the pieces of dung were painted with resin and artfully arranged on the painting in a visibly calculated fashion.

Giuliani threatened to pull funding for the museum unless it removed the offending pieces and indeed did withhold the museum’s operating subsidy, and began working toward removing the board of trustees from their posts and evicting the museum from its location. In response, the museum sued Giuliani for violations of the First Amendment, which prompted a countersuit. Both parties came to an agreement and the city was ordered to fund a $5.8 million renovation project at the museum and warned to never again threaten to deny the museum funding.9

Religious iconography has been used in art for ages - but when the traditions of that iconography are injected with visceral confessionalism or a postmodern multiculturalism, as we have seen with the works of Serrano, Ofili and Wojnarowicz, it can be a different story. It is important to remember to preserve the status of art as a bastion of free expression, whether that expression involves abjection and transgression, or faith and waterlilies.


1.      Philip Kennicott, “'Fire' man: Wojnarowicz, censored by Smithsonian, sounded an alarm in dire times,” Washington Post, December 10, 2010, accessed June 28,2011,

2.      (No Author Specified),”Smithsonian Q&A Regarding the "Hide/Seek" Exhibition,” National Portrait Gallery website,  December 7, 2010, accessed June 28, 2011,

3.      Martin Gould, “ Protesters Destroy Notorious 'Artwork' That Defiled Christ” April 19, 2011, accessed June 28, 2011,

4.      Grant H Kester Art, activism, and oppositionality: essays from Afterimag, Duke University Press. p. 126. 1998.

5.       Eleanor  Heartney,  "A consecrated critic — profile of popular television art critic Sister Wendy Beckett", Art in America, July 1998, accessed June 28, 2011,

6.      (No Author Specified) “Two works, including “Piss Christ” destroyed in a museum in Avignon, France-info, April 17, 2011, accessed June 28, 2011,

7.      Theodore Dalrymple,  "Trash, Violence, and Versace: But Is It Art?", City Journal, Winter 1998, accessed June 28, 2011,

8.      Carol Vogel, “Chris Ofili: British Artist Holds Fast to His Inspiration” The New York Times, September 28, 1999, accessed June 28, 2011,

9.      (No Author Specified) “The Giuliani-Brooklyn Museum of Art Feud,”  Global, April 3, 2000, accessed June 28, 2011,

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Video Games as Art?

This post is mostly my reaction to a May blog article on the FSView website. I’ve written for the FSView since November 2009.

Osbourne writes, “This story has, however, reopened an Internet can of Internet worms that I thought had closed way back in 2010 (Internet years work like dog years) when Roger Ebert kinda-sorta-not-really went back on his silly, pretentious "Video games can never be art" statement.”

As is often the case with these kinds of arguments, what I will call the “fallacy of pretension” is used. Calling something “pretentious” is typically a euphemistic way of saying “it offends my sensibilities” or “this sucks because I don’t agree, or I don’t understand.”

He later speaks against generalizing video games as a whole:
“To even generalize video games as one unified thing--which would never be applied to a medium like film--and then to deem that as somehow "lesser than," is quite plainly the same thing as saying, "Those damn kids and that damn rock 'n' roll music, what's the world coming to?"”

Yes, films are generalized- as films. Paintings are generalized as paintings, and despite the strong efforts of people like Donald Judd, “specific objects” are still seen by many as just sculptures. There are many genres of the film, but the work has the qualities of being a “film”, as do video games, no matter how many genres there are in that medium.

Later on, Osbourne appeals to the ignorance of video game novices – a little “pretentious”, if you ask me.
He writes, “I really can't believe we're still having this conversation; are these sites just trolling for web traffic, which people like me give them? It's plain and simple--anyone who still can't or won't see video games as anything but mindless distractions just haven't played them, or even seen them be played.”

This kind of argument is never satisfactory. It is not a matter of simply playing or observing video games to make a person enjoy them. Not everyone will like video games, or any other x, y, z, and no amount of social experimentation will change that.

Osbourne also states that the argument is “pure, freebased ageism.” This is said, at least in part, because the argument is coming from older individuals like Roger Ebert, so Osbourne’s own argument is also rather ageist.

I don’t consider video games art in the way the notion of art is generally understood. While I won’t argue that video games take time, creativity and a crew of folks to work on, that does not make them “art.” Smart mobs and flash mobs also require creativity and cooperation from a group of people, so does working in an office where ideas are bounced around - these are not considered examples of art. A video game is meant to be played – there is an objective and rules to be followed. This is different from what could be considered the closest example of a game as art – participatory art.

The Brazilian neo-concrete artists modeled participatory art pieces after Barthesian analysis, later performance artists relied on volunteers, and mixed-media artists like Lee Bull have created works that require viewer engagement.

The difference between this art and video games is that there is no finish line in participatory art, no way to win or lose, and no challenges to crack in order to retain the meaning of the art.

I really don’t understand the spin campaign to consider Bioshock in the same category as Bill Viola.
The question must be asked, why is there such an insistence to consider video games “art”? Is this label supposed to legitimize the practice of being a video game developer? If the work is as difficult as it is made to seem, why does it need a pat on the back with a label like "art"? Plenty of people already play and love video games, more so than a lot of contemporary gallery art, unfortunately. I don’t happen to be one of the people who plays video games, I have also never visited a seminary - this doesn't mean I'm forced to remain opinionless on monks. 

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I love to read about linguistics, behavioral economics, theory and philosophy. I listen to music some might call outdated, write satirical and high testosterone plays, consume too much caffeine and ruthlessly defend modern and contemporary art.