In Spodunk

The Gallery Diva has escaped the 21st Century to a land with no cell phone or internet access. She hopes to return when she is well rested and raring to go. Hoping you are enjoying your summer wherever you are….or maybe your winter if you are in the southern hemisphere….

Is it Art?



There’s an art project going on in London which started on July 6th and will continue for 24 hours a day, for 100 days.  The project is called “One & Other” by Antony Gormley. 


It takes place on a 23 foot high stone statue plinth in Trafalgar Square in central London, not far from Charring Cross which is the official point from which all mileage measurements in the UK are taken.  There are three other plinths in the square occupied by statues of King George IV, and two 19th-century generals Charles Napier and Henry Havelock.  This fourth plinth has been empty since it was built in 1841 to support a statue of a horse, but funds were never made available to finish the project.  


Gormley’s aim is to create a democratic work of art.  One member of the public chosen randomly from the application web site is given the opportunity to stand on the plinth for an hour, to be replaced by another and another; continuously so that there will be 2400 “plinthers” (as they’ve been nicknamed)  by the end of the project.


In an article by the Telegraph, Alistair Sooke says “One and Other is participatory, democratic and perfectly in tune with our reality-television age, which worships ordinary people for nothing other than being in the limelight.”  Some people have just stood there with signs, a woman blew up and released helium balloons for a charity, a man dressed up as a town crier, others danced, a man had a cup of tea and another took photos of the crowd looking up at him.


Gormley says “My project is about trying to democratize this space of privilege, idealization and control. This is about putting one of us in the place of a political or military hero. It’s an opportunity to use this old instrument of hierarchical reinforcement for something a little bit more…” He pauses, searching for the right word: “Fun.”   He goes on to ask some intriguing questions: “This is also me testing myself, calling into question everything that I’ve done. Is this sculpture or isn’t it? Can you use time as a medium? Can you use real life as a subject?”


The interview concludes that possibly as a result of the democratic message of his work, Gormley suffers a fraught relationship with the art establishment, who often look down on his output. Sookes asks if Gormley believes that he is the victim of critical snobbery.  “I’m very – what is the right word? – suspect,” he says, with a bitter snigger. “There is still huge snobbery in this country and a division between high and low culture that means, yes, for me, it hasn’t been so clever being a news item as opposed to a critical item.”


Gormley wants to classify the project as a sculpture of life rendered in time, or is it just a form of performance art?  Or is it art at all?  In the words of “Rembrandt” who commented on the blog yesterday……“what is the artist trying to ‘say’”.  I think he’s welcoming the ordinary person, by  giving them an opportunity to become a part of what shouldn’t be but is, an elitist world of art.  



For a live link up, statistics and record of the project go to the Guardian.

What is Art?



I met Stefanie today, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.  She was up a ladder in the sweltering sun, building an installation.


The work was a gently flowing river of wooden sticks that meandered in and out of the walls of a building.  A vibrant orange river that carried you along in its path and into the mouth of the entrance was both romantic and intriguing.


This wonderful sculpture in a museum or a Chelsea gallery would have been worth at least 5 figures if not 6.  However this was an Anthropolgie store on Long Island, NY; one of 132 stores nationwide.  It is company renown for its store designs. 


Stefanie who has worked with the company since 2002 was given the concept and a visual prototype.  However because most stores look different and are built differently, Stefanie has a degree of autonomy in recreating the concept.  


This is not a kit with a “drill with numbers” instruction booklet.  Stefanie took her unique store structure and created a unique design within the broad outline of the concept. 


Is this not art?  I’d like to say it is.  


Th Secret behind a Titian



A painting that was once considered a fake by some has now been restored and accepted as a very rare Titian circular portrait cover.  A cover’s aim was to often protect and hide another portrait, usually of a woman.  The cover image would often be a witty play on or about the person hiding behind it.


The “Triumph of Love” by Titan shows Cupid standing on a crouching lion, depicting a common classical theme of Love’s conquest over man’s wilder passions. 


The painting originally belonged to Gabriel Vendramin, a friend and patron of Titan who owned the most significant collection of art in Venice in the early part of the 16th Century.  He was married and had seven daughters but in a family portrait that he had commissioned only he and his seven sons appeared. What role did women play in his life?  In most of history mistresses and courtesans have always played a role, especially for the wealthy.  Who was the woman that was hidden behind the painting that’s worth nearly $1million.  It is thought to be an unidentified noblewoman dressed in black also by Titan.  Who was she?  What wild passions did she ignite in Gabriel who already managed to have 14 children by his wife? 


The painting will be on view at the National Gallery in London for the summer after which it will move to its permanent home the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford later this year.



Excllent additional articles can be found at Artinfo & the Guardian.




The Art World in 1969


Today, on the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon, The New York Times has created a wonderful audio-visual album remembering some of the highlights from 1969.  


“By itself, the moon landing 40 years ago would have made 1969 a year of historic proportions. But the flight of Apollo 11 occurred against a backdrop of creativity and chaos, violence and hopefulness that seemed to define the decade of the ’60s.”


Some of the historic images are:


  • Jets win the Super-Bowl
  • Mets win the World Series
  • President Nixon sworn in as the 37th President of the US
  • Yasar Arafat elected as the leader of the PLO
  • Golda Meir elected as the first female Prime Minister of Israel
  • The British military deployed into Northern Ireland
  • The Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village marks the start of the gay rights movement
  • Boeing 747 takes its first flight from Seattle to JFK


The arts are represented by:


  • The Beatles’ last public concert
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo published
  • “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid” is released
  • Monty Python debuts on British television
  • Sesame Street debuts on PBS
  • Leonard Bernstein retires from the NY Philharmonic
  • Woodstock            
  • “1776’ wins the Tony Awards


However there are NO representatives from the world of the visual arts.


During 1969 some notable art-world happenings that could have been included were:


  • The launch of Interview magazine by Andy Warhol and Gerard Malanga
  • “Chair, Table & Hat Stand” by Allen Jones
  • “La Grande Vitesse” by Alexander Calder – the first Federally funded public work of art created under the auspices of the NEA in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Met receives 3000 items of Italian and Northern Renaissance art from the Robert Lehman Foundation to be housed in its own wing.
  • 10 paintings defaced at the Met as a result of exhibiting “Harlem on My Mind”
  • $500,000 worth of paintings stolen from Stephen Hahn’s Gallery while he was discussing art theft with other art dealers
  • The term “lyrical abstraction” is coined by Larry Aldrich for the American art movement
  • AWC formed to make demands on museums, particularly the MOMA in NY
  • Norman Rockwell Museum founded in Stockbridge, Massachusetts


What else happened in the art world in 1969?   If you’re over 40, what were you doing in 1969?

Edinburgh Festival



Like art fairs all over the world, when one is a success, they tend to spawn a multitude of other fairs that congregate in the same location around the same time.  Examples are Miami Basel, New York Armory and the Edinburgh Festival.  


Originally the Edinburgh International Festival was set up in 1947 in an effort to cheer everyone up after World War  II, however in the same year, several theatres joined the festivities and the now very famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival was born.  Today it is the world’s largest arts festival.  However the visual arts really didn’t officially join until 2004….a rather late-comer to the excitement.  There are two primary art festivals.  The Edinburgh Art Festival which is officially part of the Festivals Edinburgh, and Edinburgh Annuale a contemporary art festival run by artists.  


The Edinburgh Art Festival which will be in its 6th year will run August 6th to September 6th.  This year 50 local galleries will be participating in conjunction with the National Galleries of Scotland.  


The Edinburgh Annuale is a grassroots festival co-ordinated by an artists cooperative and supported by the Scottish Arts Council.


If you have an opportunity to be in the locale in August, the whole event is worth the visit.


Ken Marquis has started an interesting project using reclaimed objects; hubcaps.

He is looking for 1041 artists from around the world to take rusted metal hupbcaps which have been cleaned and primed and create fine art with them.  The finished works will be photographed and published in a book and two hundred of the best of them will become part of a travelling show.  

If you would like to apply for consideration to become part of the Landfillart project you need to send:

·                     a short biography

·                     samples of your work

·                     a description of what you’d like to create

·                     why you’d like to participate


If you are selected, a hubcap will be sent to you.  Sebastien has already received his and will start work on it soon!

Cultural Olympiad 2012



Did you know that the ancient Olympics held by the Peloponnese also included art and poetry competitions?  Pierre de Coubertin, the French founding father of the modern day Olympics also instigated five cultural competitions covering painting, music, architecture, sculpting and writing which continued from 1912 until 1948.  Coubertin envisioned the Olympiad as more than just a celebration of physical strength.  Rather, he felt it should be endowed with an artistic and moral dimension that more closely aligned body and spirit.


Recently there has been a push to revive the cultural dimension, returning to the spirit of the ancient Olympics and to this end the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), announced a Cultural Olympiad.  However over the last few years the project had struggled to find funding and leadership.  Yesterday, Logoc announced a $26.3million injection into the project along with a very heavy weight roster of board members as reported by the Guardian.


Tony Hall, chief exec of the Royal Opera House, has now been officially appointed to the Locog board in charge of culture, and has named his Cultural Olympiad board members: Jude Kelly, the artistic director of the Southbank Centre, whose previous role as chair of culture, ceremonies and education for Locog has been made defunct; Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England; Vikki Heywood, executive director of the Royal Shakespeare Company; Nicholas Kenyon, the managing director of the Barbican; Munira Mirza, advisor on arts and culture to the Mayor of London; Nicholas Serota, director of Tate; and Mark Thompson, DG of the BBC.


Originally, a short list of suggestions and submissions of cultural events should have been completed by the end of this month with final selections made by September 2009.  However this timetable is likely to be delayed. 


Interestingly Samuel Stuart Fleisher who created Philadelphia’s Graphic Sketch Club to teach art, wanted to launch a Cultural Olympics starting in 1937 which would require every district in the US to hold tryouts in such arts as piano playing, trombone tooting, painting, drawing, weaving, embroidery, short story writing, ballet dancing.  Winners would compete against winners for national prizes not of medals or trophies but scholarships in recognized institutions.  His hope was to give all artists in the US the opportunity to compete in these games.  Unfortunately the project did not come to fruition.  It’s a shame as it certainly is an interestingly egalitarian idea……I’m just not sure about that tooting!



Black Lamb of Art Family Dies



Dash Snow, 27 died yesterday of a suspected heroin overdose in Manhattan.  He was the grandson of a current day American equivalent of the Medici family; de Menil family who created the Menil Collection.  His great aunt was Dominique de Menil who with her husband created the Dia Foundation.  His grandmother is Christophe de Menil the set and costume designer, philanthropist and art collector.    


Having started life with as big a silver spoon as anybody could fit in a mouth, he left it all behind when he became a teenager, running away from home and living on the streets.  He ended up in juvenile detention at 13 for two years and spent some additional time in jail since then.  


He started photographing New York and then became a graffiti artist.  Recently he had been recognized for his video, newspaper collage and sculpture work as well.  Self taught and untrained, he seems to have ignored the influence of his famous family.  Despite that he first showed at Rivington Arms Gallery.  He was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and since 2008 had been represented by the Peres Projects.  Collected by Charles Saatchi, Adam Sender and Dakis Joannou, the Snow was considered a promising emerging young artist.  


Related articles:


“Chasing Dash Snow” by Ariel Levy 2007, New York Magazine

“Dash Snow” by Katya Kazakina 2009 Bloomberg

“Arts Beat” by Roberta Smith 2009 New York Times

The Gallery Business


Bob and I attended the 2009 Neighborhood Achievement Awards presided over by Mayor Michael Bloomberg tonight at Gracie Mansion. In conjunction with the Small Business Services Commission the event honors organizations, businesses and individuals that have demonstrated excellence in enhancing New York City neighborhood by fostering economic opportunity.  Helping neighborhoods become more inviting to business and residents is an integral part of the City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan.  


We sat next to Carlecia Taylor Executive Director of Policy and Planning for the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity. Her role is to define program strategies and create direct linkages between Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) and public procurement opportunities.  


It made me realize that in the 3 years that we have been operating Monkdogz Urban Art Inc., despite our many combined years of business experience, there are resources that are available on a local and national level that we could have utilized better.  Opportunities and resources are constantly changing and improving; and networking provides a good channel for keeping abreast of anything new.  One of the benefits while the gallery has been closed has been this opportunity to network, with city officials, other gallery owners, artists and art-related individuals and organizations.  When running an operational business, it is all too easy to get bogged down into the day to day issues and blinkered to many of the outside issues and influences.


We hope to make the most of this time while we continue our search for a new location for our next Monkdogz home.