Saturday, May 29, 2010

Art and Conscience

_PlayMoney from Ox and O's series of game boxes ©evertson

_Magical thinking. I finished a new box titled PlayMoney with the game and imagery concerning financial meltdown. The overall focus of the boxes remains choice and identity but they sometimes also function as a repository of my frustrations. As if locking these concerns into the box could change minds.
Interior lid image and top compartments ©evertson

In PlayMoney, the play of children contrasts with the play of those in the financial world where the stakes are much higher. I was thinking how the non objective and abstract nature of play is curiously mirrored by deregulations of the financial sector that allowed for the creation of very abstract and complex instruments of transactions to be developed. Play could also be thought of as a transaction between the individuals. Of course now, we are to hold the belief that corporations can be considered as having the rights of individuals. Child-play with the corporate individual leaves many of us with the feeling of having faced humiliation at the hands of the playground bully.

"Instruction Book" ©evertson
Our corporate entity of course has a far differing set of values than we as individuals may grow up with. Developing a sense of fair play and sharing is not the same as maximizing profitability.
Nothing really new here as this type of legal precedence dates back to a case involving the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in 1886. In January of 2010, the court rejected corporate spending limits on political campaigns.

collage from interior - Goldman Sachs tower with Legos

The rule of play gets tougher. Perhaps in this game box the money piece always should go first as it speaks the loudest.

prose from instruction book ©evertson
I don't think of myself as an artist who’s content is primarily political, yet the muse of choice and perception I’ve followed for many years always seems to lead down this path.

Those that have been following this blog for a while recognize the handstamp to the right of the photo. The carved bottoms of the hands are used to mark the playing grids in this artist "game".

In keeping with the art and politics theme of todays post I've recently become aware of a woman whose art while very poetic can be tinged with an acute sense of social justice at it's core.

Marsha Parrilla is an artist that I met in Boston during the Alternative Experimental Flower Show in March. Her work involves performance art as well as choreography and dance. Marsha’s piece Harina from the Mobius Flower Show was inspired by word play of Flower and Flour. I was back in Boston several weeks ago for ArtRages and had an opportunity to video a portion of her performance piece Lucha Libre.

Lucha Libre - Marsha Parrilla performs with Angela Ferrara

In this case Marsha’s work tackles the recent Arizona immigration enforcement bill. I thought it would dovetail into this post because I think this piece does justice to a complex and divisive political issue. The following sign was posted outside of Marsha’s room at ArtRages.

“My solo is an improvised response in protest of Arizona's Senate Bill 1070. It worries me that they have decided that they have the right to determine how an "illegal" immigrant looks like, and that they have the legal power to act accordingly. It also concerns me that the color of our skin is once again legally on the table. Are we a backwards country?
I am juxtaposing the idea of -Lucha Libre- as a symbol of the fight between good and evil. Lucha Libre is a national Mexican sport where both wrestlers come masqueraded to fight. I was particularly inspired by El Santo, the most popular luchador in Mexico, who wears a silver mask. The mask is a symbol of heroism, persistence, and uniqueness. They are considered super heroes, who fight for social justice. When a luchador looses the fight, his mask is removed at the ring for all viewers to see his humanity. The winner remains masked, a symbol of being undefeated, remaining a hero.
Arizona is trying to unmask our immigrants. Hopefully our immigrants (and the whole country) will fight hard, and our immigrants and our real sense of freedom will remain undefeated.
Performance Artist: Marsha Parrilla
Conceived by: Marsha Parrilla with the assistance of Alejandro Rodriguez
SB 1070
11-1051. Cooperation and assistance in enforcement of immigration laws; indemnification

Parrilla's use of the luchidor mask is at odds with her petite stature lending her a fierceness that belies the gentle probing dance with which she engages her "opponents". The room that acts as her ring is glass sided so viewers can see the contests with viewers she invites into mock combat. While her statement appears to concern itself with the unmaking of immigrants, I take away from her dance a feeling that confronting an illogical fear leads to renewal and understanding.

Friday, May 21, 2010


_latest multimedia game box from my Ox and O series_

This piece is a continuation of a series of small game boxes based loosely on tic tac toe. In 2003, I started making carvings on the bottoms of a series of cast plaster hands. These served at the time as chops to sign and date works on paper. In 2009, I began to expand this idea with additional carvings based on symbols of a personal significance. Given their small size of about one inch in diameter the carvings remain rudimentary signifiers.

digital print collaged to the inside cover _ ©evertson

Now, in 2010, I have over sixty symbols that I regularly make carvings of. The symbols range; a hand holding a brush, animals, children at play, disasters, money, mythic figures such as Sisyphus and Kali, and there are many more. About a year ago I began to use these in "game" boxes.

Ink drawing at bottom of inner compartment _©evertson

The tic tac toe format seemed a likely venue to place symbols at odds with each other. The boxes are not so much about the game play as the juxtaposition of symbolic content, although they can and are played as games. I call these Ox and O boxes in honor of the Zen ox-herding illustrations.

Components of the game _ cover of instruction book on left _ ©evertson

The name of this game is PowerPlay and concerns itself with childhood and our growth from pure play to playing more serious games where power is the prize. Each box I create contains original art which then becomes part of the three dimensional collage that these games actually are.

My original prose from the enclosed "instruction manual" _©evertson


I received a couple of nice pieces this past week in the mail. The first from Ria Vanden Eynde. Ria and I collaborate from time to time. The picture below is from earlier this year. I sent Ria an ink sketch on silk and she turned it into a shroud to veil her portrait underneath.

About a month ago I sent several more ink drawings over to Belgium for her to add her insight. Bear in mind neither of us has intentions of steering the direction of the work so trying to elaborate on another artist's work is a bit like the trust game of closing your eyes and falling backward and hoping someone will catch you. So now the piece is back on my side of the Atlantic to add to or simply sign. Humm?? Still looking. Ria has started another blog that is fantastic. She has been inviting women to submit work concerning body consciousness. One of her recent submissions was a written piece by Yoko Ono.

Stage two of a collaboration with Belgian artist Ria Vanden Eynde _ The Gateless Gate_

Mail Art by Christine Tarantino

Another welcome addition to my mail art collection is this piece by Christine Tarantino. This jpeg shows the back on the right side. The New, New NYC stamp is from my handstamp series and references Christine's blog work organizing and providing an online gallery (New New Art) of Fluxus inspired works.

Thank you!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Perfect Example

_Milan Kohout beats the drum during ArtRages_

Artist run exhibits tend to be created rather than curated. The Mobius artist group of Boston created a very special event on May 8th. Taking over 10,000 sq. feet of space in a building near Logan airport and filling it with performance, installation, fashion and music provided an invitation to overindulge in push the envelope style work. The show's title "ArtRages Surrealestate Art Party" is a mouthful and was equally difficult to consume in one sitting. The exhibit took over an entire sprawling floor in a building that looks perfect for light industry or R&D and for one night that industry was art. In addition to my photos of the event the Boston Phoenix photographer, Derek Kouyoumjian, has some great shots of the evening. The show or event went from 8pm to 1 am and it was difficult to see how any less time spent there would allow you to see it all.

Barry Friedland

Cathy Nolan Vincevic (not pictured in this performance -Mari Novotny-Jones)

Marsha Parrilla dances with Angela Ferrera

Masks and Jewelry: Kest Schwartzman
- On Ondi Gottesman:
Ghost: Hand Wrought Copper (Mask)
Eclipse: Hand Wrought Copper and Rooster Feathers (Cuffs)... See More
- On Maria Pinto:
Cassowary- Hand Wrought Copper (Mask)
Ready to Fly- Brass and Pheasant Feathers (Bracelets)
Birdcage for the Neck- Brass (Neckpiece)
Stylist: Amanda Maciel Antunes - D.ama.

Naomi Bennett

Emily Beattie and Liz Roncka

SLSAPS!!! Second Line Social Aid Pleasure Society Brass Band!

Jane Wang calling the end of the fashion show

Visitors view the Surrealestate cards

_I was recently looking over a very smart article written by Ted Mooney, former senior editor of Art in America. Basically it forms a timeline of development of the art up through our latest recession. His conclusion was that the artists resisting the compulsive commodification of a few blue chip artists may finally be at a tipping point as a result of the latest recession. Artists of the performance, conceptual, those influenced by Fluxus are engaged as never before in bringing networked exhibitions to the fore. As Mooney pointed out, in the past artists have allowed the support systems unprecedented power. What artists will do if they decide to take on some of that function was clearly on display in Boston this past weekend.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Where am I

_New artist boxes underway on worktable this week_

I've been posting about my take on various artists and what I been seeing lately, but I do have a few works out in the world right now so this is a brief rundown on where my art is. Last post mentioned the ongoing A Book About Death exhibits currently in Wales, Belgium and Sarajevo.

Tomorrow (Sat. May 8th) I have a piece in Surrealestate to support my favorite Boston art venue, Mobius. This exhibit is part of a larger Artrages party and fundraiser to benefit the continuing work of that premier arts collective. Artists were asked to provide an image or message to the rear of the works that would be revealed at the opening. While I won't post the message it does describe my interaction with Moses who is in the foreground of the art's collage elements.

Moses ©evertson _ Surrealestate card for Mobius benefit

As seen in the top photo I have been busy this year making artist game boxes to house the various handcarved stamps I've made over the past several months. The works in progress above are destined for collections although the examples below are in two current exhibits.

Red box on left in Fluxhibition #4 _ Brown box in Game Play

International Fluxhbition #4 is themed for "amusements, diversions, games, tricks and puzzles". Curated by Cecil Touchon in Fort Worth, TX.

Cover of box at Game Play

The brown box is on exhibit at the Criss Library at the University of Omaha. Game Play is a group exhibition "born from and inspired by videogames, sports, board games and other toy games" On view until May 21st. Both boxes contain the handstamps that make up a tic tac toe like game in which the players use the stamps and pad to play. Boxes are themed according to the icons carved on the base of the enclosed hands. Various images collaged on the interior of each box complete the work.

Mr. Wicket quilt panel 2' x 4' for DreamRocket

The Dream Rocket quilt panels are being prepared to tour various venues throughout the country this summer. My piece is vinyl coated fabric on a linen canvas backing.

Image submitted to Green Seen ©evertson

Green Seen is currently on exhibit in Wendall, Ma until May 21st. The image I chose for this green themed exhibition is one that I have played with for several years now; the diver and lotus.

As I look over these pieces I suddenly am thinking that I don't have a signature look. I'll have to satisfy myself by knowing there is an underlying theme of how we view the world.

Finally, this week while I intended to finish those boxes at the top and move on, I got distracted while sorting through the photos I took recently in NYC. I decided to make up some photo collages to send off to friends who participated in some of the performances. Here are the first three:

Jennifer Zoellner

Reed Altemus

Keith Buchholz

All three performances from April 17th at Printed Matter, NYC.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

MoMA, Wales

_ A new work for the latest A Book About Death exhibit_

Are we living or dying? We are born. We die. The two sides of this coin are fully explored in the exhibit A Book About Death. The most recent incarnation of this exhibit opened this week at MoMA, Wales. The exhibit continues to make its way around the world with installations this spring in Brazil, San Diego, Belgium and Sarajevo. The original show, which was conceived by artist Matthew Rose arouse organically from social networks linking many artists to a common theme. A big theme, a universal theme that cut across all national, political and cultural boundaries: the theme of death is one we all share.
Artists began contributing to the original exhibit at the Emily Harvey Gallery in NYC by submitting an edition of 500 postcard sized artworks. During the run of the exhibit last fall, viewers were encouraged to collect as many cards as they wished. Some responded by collecting every artist’s contribution, while some collected the cards that spoke to them personally, thereby compiling their own unbound book.
On the heels of recession; where the direction of art, its promotion and how money and power define the aesthetic of our times is again under scrutiny from the actual producers of art, the artist curated group show is on the rise. Whether this signifies any lasting change is open to debate as most artist organized events tend to run out of steam with their lack of a cohesive thread.
The A Book About Death has managed to maintain its momentum precisely because of the gravitas and universality of the subject matter. Whether artists are creating tributes, commenting on senseless loss or valiant struggle, the subject is universal.

Back of my MoMA Wales card (insert on right)

Sonja Benskin Mesher, the curator for the MoMA Wales exhibit came to the project as a way of sharing her reaction to the recent loss of her husband Philip.

Her drawings and paintings of the chair that Philip sat in became a powerful symbol for her loss that she contributed to the original NYC exhibit. Sonja received a box containing the entire exhibit from our mutual friend Mara Thompson who had recently mounted the exhibit at Otis College of Art and Design in California. The box has quietly rested on Philip's chair in Wales waiting to be opened during the installation in Machynlleth, Wales. As Sonja removed each card from the box, she entered the name of each artist in the Book of the Living. Her account of finally opening the box literally brought tears to my eyes.

Sonja Benskin Mesher's Book of the Living (photo courtesy of the artist)

The MoMA Wales exhibit runs through May 8th.

Concurrently the show is also in Belgium at Exit11 and ASA Gallery in Sarajevo