What we’re watching: a new live action film by Martha Colburn, shot on SUPER 8 and 16mm, with music by ZOMBY. See a local artist’s observation of the protests in New York. Tell your friends (where’s the human microphone when you need it?) Continue reading
What we’re watching: A conversation between artist Mika Tajima and filmmaker Richard Linklater on slackers, flâneurs, and the history of refusal. Featuring clips from the film Slacker (1991) and photography of Tajima’s recent installation — The Architect’s Garden (2011) — at the University of Texas Visual Art Center. Continue reading
Or at least that’s what The Art Newspaper seems to think in this month’s feature article about New York Close Up. We tend to agree. Read the full article.
PHOTO: Artist Keltie Ferris in the studio, Bushwick, New York.
If you like taking the M train, chess, whiskey, and talking about artist studios then you need to check this out – Tommy Hartung’s Budget Guide to New York.
But first things first. I’m very happy to report that Tommy Hartung is having a show very, very soon. Opens this Sunday, October 30 at the Lower East Side Manhattan gallery OnStellarRays and runs to December 23. It’ll feature new work based on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. An who knows, maybe our New York Close Up cameras will be there as well . . .
OK, back to this new film. Producing it was an it-only-makes-you-stronger professional experience for me. At the end of a long day of basement studio shooting at Tommy Hartung’s place in Ridgewood, Queens, we headed out into the cold February night to visit Tommy’s friend and collaborator Ronnie Bass‘ place in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Well, not exactly we. I took the heated car over to Ronnie’s, while Tommy and camera man Andrew David Watson trooped it via subway. And I’m glad I did (despite Andrew’s and Tommy’s camera-recorded curses against me.) The stuff they shot, the stuff I wasn’t around for – Tommy’s impromptu stop at his old studio, his playful acknowldgement of a very distant Empire State Building, his warning about Bushwick “5-O” – became the heart of this film. A good lesson in documentary producing.
While watching Keltie Ferris Spray Paints in Solitude, I kept wondering to myself… What can students and teachers learn from engaging with this five minutes of film? I wanted a reason to share it because I was so enamored with her love of color, her approach to abstraction, even her definition of abstraction, and all the while not taking herself too seriously. After all, she is an artist who believes, “Making paintings is an enterprise in solitude,” and that, “It’s hard to do something that’s not justified by anything.”
After thinking about it for a while and hitting rewind a few times I decided that working with this film can initially be about Ferris’ approach to making art and simultaneously an opportunity to ask the questions: So why paint if she is well aware that her paintings aren’t something that’s necessarily needed in the world and could very well be in the dumpster tomorrow? Does Ferris make sense of the world by trying to “see through to other worlds”? Can painting be, like it is for many of us, a form of meditation? What does she gain by working in solitude? What do viewers gain by engaging with her paintings?
Sorry. All I have are questions this week.
What I also enjoy is watching Ferris share Josef Albers’ work and being blown away by it. I enjoy the way she talks about abstraction as “trying to undo the nameable things in life”. I enjoy the fact that she lets us into her studio to see a work in progress that she considers awful. There’s an excitement in the way she talks about her art that’s infectious.
One more idea… Juxtaposing Keltie Ferris, a painter who obviously fits the image of an artist slaving over a hot canvas, with someone like Fred Wilson, Oliver Herring or even Allora and Calzadilla, can broaden a student’s perspective on what being an artist looks like today. It allows for contrasting her approach with artists that specifically engage with people in order to realize their work.