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The Butler
Discreet but eager, well-placed if not well-heeled, awash with syntax but void of irony, he attends to Matters Esthetica that abound in the House of Culture
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INTRODUCTION. In 1914, the city of Long Beach hired two men to work as bounty hunters. Their pay? $15 a head. Their quarry? Social vagrants, i.e., gay men. Exposure for these social vagrants meant humiliation, a fine, prison, exile, or, in one case, suicide. This story inspired The Twentieth-Century Way, written by Tom Jacobson and directed by Reed Flores for the Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre. The premise, direction, and acting are top notch. Problem... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. In the beginning was the Word. Or was it the Light? Nevermind. Greg Mocilnikar’s work bristles with ambiguity, with trying to work through a moment’s feeling and the appropriate way to express it. Each piece represents a skirmish of formal elements. The combatants: meaty, organic black lattice-swaths of black versus a legion of colorful pastel-toned geometric confetti shapes. The action takes place in a pictorial equivalent of a dojo, seen from above. The space... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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Labour of Love: New Approaches to Palestinian Embroidery at The Palestinian Museum features 80 dresses and accessories. Archival photographs, posters, paintings, music, and a video place these objects in their historical context. Below follows a generous and thoughtful conversation with Rachel Dedman, the exhibition’s Curator. In it, she discusses the show's origins; expands on its themes; offers insights into the economic and social conditions of the otherwise anonymous embroiderers; and expands on the aptness of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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“Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can't use the wrong words. (…) Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than any words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it.” Virginia Woolf INTRODUCTION. Caitlin Lonegan’s paintings riff on Abstract Expressionist marks and gestures. She orchestrates these riffs into atmospheric epic poems... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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Until August 19, Brussel’s Bozar (Centre for Fine Arts) will stage “Somewhere in Between: Contemporary Art Scenes in Europe”. Curated by Kathleen Weyts, the exhibition reflects the sum efforts of five separate artistic players. These players include Etablissement d’en face; Komplot; La Loge; Prague curator Michal Novotný; and Kunstenbibliotheek/ Students Curatorial Studies KASK, School of Arts Ghent. Each player will configure their portion of the Centre for Fine Arts as they see fit. Coordinated by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
Please find below a conversation with Elyse Pignolet and Sandow Birk on their American Procession exhibition at Track 16 gallery (reviewed here.) Also check the above link to visit equally compelling recent work by Pignolet and Birk, including Birk's Trumpagruel series. -------------------------------------------- JS: The Procession of Princes on Dresden Castle’s exterior wall inspired the piece. Was it something either of you had seen in person, or was it something you saw in reproduction? Either way,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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"If you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom." Mark Rothko INTRODUCTION. 11 poured pigment and resin on aluminum paintings and one site-specific installation. The paintings are large; they engulf the viewer. Everything’s red. Everything quivers, pulsates, and throbs. Gravity would continue the shapes’ voyage down the wall, but they seem frozen in a moment of arrested flux. Smooshed... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Elyse Pignolet and Sandow Birk modeled American Procession after The Procession of Princes at Dresden Castle in Germany. The original image began as a painting in the 1870s. It commemorated the ruling family’s 800-year rule. It featured images of 35 monarchs, each following in the footsteps of the one before. This implied an orderly and peaceful transition of rule. The piece was transferred to a 335-foot-long series of ceramic tiles when the original began... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Frame it as you might, you can’t help but delight in the disorder of Jordi Alcaraz’ work. It frets with purposeful indecision. Formal elements - jagged lines (literal, implied), amorphous shapes, hesitant modeling, ambiguous space (literal, implied) – attest as much. It brims with low-level anxiety, with backstage tentativeness. Is this particular piece a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture? How about a wall-hung installation? Could be all four, depending on what the Catalan... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Can a bed be a red herring? It can in Harold Pinter’s The Lover. House right, there’s a bed. A single bed. It’s there, but not really. On a small stage, it represents the bedroom. House left, the living room. Thing is, as the story develops, and you realize what’s going on, that bed, so full of possibility, literally and metaphorically, never gets used for the purpose for which the story’s title implies it... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Listening to John Valadez hold court at the studio in which he worked during his recent residency (review here) at Fine Art Solutions is like hanging out with someone who used to paint Renaissance Popes in his youth and now, mellow and philosophical, follows his own idiosyncratic pursuits. He’s led a full, active life, which shows no signs of slowing down. He still works in his home studio, where he continues to experiment and... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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My psyche was forever impacted by the conditions I grew up experiencing on the US/Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. Words like el norte, el otro lado, and la migra formed part of my everyday lexicon. I witnessed, firsthand, the separation of friends, family, and loved ones–while personally dealing with an internal identity crisis (or more commonly known as the Chicanx mantra, of “Ni de aquí, Ni de allá.” My experience on the border fueled my... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Google something and you can feel omniscient, like a god. You can feel the same way with gnarly pharmaceuticals, with or without the imprimatur of a religious practice. Finally, mental maladies can make you think that God speaks to you and you alone and that you must enforce anything that He commands. Anonymous 616, written and directed by Mike Boss, reminds us how these delusions of omniscience actually go way, way back. The film... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. A few years after moving, a family has yet to unpack their stuff. This doesn’t suggest laziness as much as it represents emotional baggage. Each character in Deborah Zoe Laufer’s black comedy unpacks emotional baggage in their own peculiar way. WHAT'S IT ABOUT? 11th grader Rachel Stein’s (Tara Coffey) attitude towards life stems from events on 9/11. Her father, Arthur (Chris Bange), only just escaped from one of the Towers. Sixty-five of his financial... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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There will be time, there will be time/To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot INTRODUCTION. With sweet, effective understatement, Teresita de la Torre’s installation, Hilando Relaciones, shows how social media devalues the verb, to share. (Art, of course, encourages it.) Picture this scenario. You learn something about yourself. Something profound, something anecdotal, just something. A building block of identity. You want... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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Plutôt la vie que ces prismes sans épaisseur même si les couleurs sont plus pures (Choose life instead of those prisms with no depth even if their colors are purer.) Andre Breton, Plutot la Vie, 1923 NOTE: Both shows include selections of the artist’s Flower Paintings and Miniatures work. This piece will focus on the Flower Paintings. INTRODUCTION. Roland Reiss’ Flower Paintings answer the question, How does one make paintings in a digitalized culture? They... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
φ(゚ェ゚♡) …..φ(-ω-。`) …..φ(〃∇〃 )“φʕ•ᴥ•oʔ σ(ൈ)φ φ( ̄¬ ̄ヾ, "The Silent PLAY Exper... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. T.S. Eliot INTRODUCTION. Having achieved a solid reputation as a purveyor of art presentation, Fine Art Solutions also awards artist residencies and then mounts exhibitions of the work produced. Such is the context of John Valadez’s Valadez in Vernon, an exhibition at East 26 Projects, a site located on the FAS compound. You can talk about the gritty industrial aesthetic of a museum like the Pompidou. As... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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POPPOSITIONS 2018 focuses on diagnosis, articulation, prescription, and, lest we forget, discovery. It feels more like a World’s Fair than an art fair. Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk provides artistic direction. The show encourages a discussion between people with strongly held convictions about the state of the world and the role of art. It’s idealistic (what should be), pragmatic (what is), cautionary (man has made a mess of things…), and visionary (… but that doesn’t mean there... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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"Play is the highest form of research," attributed to Albert Einstein INTRODUCTION. Under normal circumstances, I would never paint a design on a stranger’s face, much less let her paint one on mine. I would never play charades. Do pantomime. Dance with abandon, sober, during the day. Singly; with someone else; or together with an entire room of strangers. I would never fill in sentence blanks on walls. Paint something based on a wall prompt.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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Amanda Fruta is the Public Affairs and Communications Specialist at Cal State Long Beach's University Art Museum. She has a B.A. in Art History and Visual Arts from Occidental College. She knows a lot about art in general and about this exhibition in particular. She shares this knowledge without recourse to academic artspeak. She wants to create meaningful connections and partnerships, foster new discourse, and support a culture of access, equity, and public service. Her... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. You can situate the book as a cross between Homer’s Odyssey and Thomas Pynchon. You can also think of it is as Charles Bukowski retelling the story of Theseus' escape from the Labyrinth. (“…her final record spinning closer to the center, like an invisible thread that gently draws him down to her, down to Karmann” (Italics, this writer). An extraordinary backstory, Theseus and the Minotaur. Read it here in Bullfinch’s Mythology. For our purposes,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
Proving that bigger is better but in ways you wouldn’t expect, Monica Wyatt makes monumental bronze sculptures seem intimate. She exploits the medium’s heroic tradition. Monumental, heroic, and ceremonial. She avails herself of the material’s association with historic and metaphysical themes. Think, for instance, of Auguste Rodin’s iconic “Burghers of Calais” and “The Thinker.” Bronze is permanent, if not timeless. It’s got physical and emotional heft. It creates space and then displaces it. Like a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Directed by Ahmed Khan, “Baaghi 2” is a hot mess. This cinematic equal of a strobe light is just too much, too often for an otherwise so-so script. When Neha (Disha Patani) meets Ranveer Pratap Singh (Tiger Shroff), she notes his arrogant brashness. He’s loud, energetic, and passionate. This plays well when he’s in love (it makes him adorable). It also works when he helps her with a favor that becomes biblical in scale... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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A shipwreck on the ocean’s floor. An octopus’ garden. A surreal grotto. Such are the first impressions of Adrian Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (October 22, 2017 – May 13, 2018). Careful how you navigate the site-specific installation, a total makeover of the Geffen's exhibition space. A spacious room, unrecognizable from its original white box configuration. Except for a few lit display cases (see below), the lights are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2018 at What the Butler Saw