MBG Issue #35: October 20, 2004

Issue # 35

October 20, 2004

October 20, 2004

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Faith Gay at Dberman Gallery
dberman Gallery
On view through November 6, 2004

Faith Gay's new installation at D Berman gallery shows the artist maturing and developing her colorful style in giant leaps. The paintings are more refined and the melted plastic wall hangings are her best yet. With more attention to symmetry than in her earlier works, these new pieces recall numerous
psychedelic influences while consistently maintaining a look unique to the artist. Faith groups, stacks and scatters her newest series (made from an assortment of duct tape and office supplies) across the gallery floor like rocks. Stripes and polka dots of every hue paint a mesmerizing landscape-pure
eye candy. The large wall painting of an alien playground complete with little creatures is the most questionable. Even so, it displays perfectly Faith's willingness to experiment—a quality that all will welcome.

Thoughts on Kojo Griffin's talk at Arthouse
Thursday, October 7, 2004

"Lyublu tebya, Petra trovenye." begins Pushkin's panagyric to St. Petersburg, and every citizen of the City on the Neva knows the line that follows; "Lyublu tvoi strogii, stroinii vid." In English, these words lose their poetic assonance and meter, "I love you, Peter's creation /1 love your measured, proportioned air." Like all of Pushkin's poetry, these lines are engrained in Russian minds and owned by Russian souls. They are known, some have said, as intimately as a bird knows its song. Americans don't have this understanding of poetry passed down by blood right. But, in the age of information, we have begun to cultivate a coarse visual proxy.

Ubiquitous images, pooled from information overkill and hyper-active lifestyles, would seem to have little redemptive value. Kojo Griffin, however, has built a body of art that starts with these visual cliches and turns them into something more civilized. He sees the stuff of poetry in banal but psychologically charged human exchanges. He memorizes their structure and condenses them into spare sublingual forms that, despite their small scale, cover tremendous moral and metaphysical ground. He did this best in his charcoal works on paper from 1999 to 2001, worst in his most recent paintings, which Kojo calls "tight," but which I would call overdigitized, overdone, distended.

What viewers identify as poetry in Kojo's charcoal drawings might be more accurately described as prosody; an aspect of poetry which particularly fascinates Russian scholars, and which Joseph Brodsky discussed in a number of essays in On Grief and Reason (1995). Prosody is the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language. It's the reason why Brodsky thought every American ought to memorize Robert Frost's lines: "No memory of having starred / Atones for later
disregard / Or keeps the end from being hard." They deserve to be internalized, Brodsky thought, not just because they represent a high point in American literary accomplishment, but because in absorbing them and making them our own - as a child does nonsense sounds, and later words, to develop a vocabulary - we work toward an evolutionary goal. "The purpose of evolution, believe it or not, is beauty," says Brodsky. Kojo Griffin has gone a long way evolving the images that we ingest into something beautiful, or at least worth looking at.

I associate prosody with Kojo's works because their poetics is closely tied to their metrical structure. That is to say, the rhythms one reads in and between Kojo's figures restructure time in the same way good poetry can. Moreover, there is poetry in the way Kojo can take a low-art, or even low-life scene, like a pink slip issued without second thought, or a broom-pusher overlooked ad infinitum, and make it a gentle reminder of humanity. Some have likened the chronological disorientation in Kojo's works to de Chirico, but I link this more closely with his preference to materialize silence over substance. In fact, the psychological punch of Kojo's often experienced, but somehow subconscious, scenes seems
more in line with Cindy Sherman's film stills than with 1910's Surrealism.

Brodsky has argued that creativity may be "nothing more (or less) than matter's attempt to articulate itself." Kojo's works, on the other hand, articulate matter's negative proof - space. Because our eyes attend to stuff, not space, his works, to use Pushkin's words, take on a "measured, proportioned air."
Through pacing and reductive economy, their banality evolves into something more beautiful.


Peat Duggins talks about Satellite Zine Shoppe
Thursday, October 21, 7pm

This Thursday, Peat Duggins will give a talk at Arthouse about Satellite Zine Shoppe, a comic, graphic novel and zine shop which he curated for Arthouse's back office space. He's gathered a great collection, so after the talk be sure to leave time to browse!

Performance Lecture at AMOA
Austin Museum of Art, Downtown
Thursday, October 28

In conjunction with Ghost Stories: The Disembodied Spirit (on view through November 28) artist team ARCHIVE discusses its most recent CD project, a dense mix of recordings taken from a series of seances, and their observations about the process of communing with a spirit who may be identified as the artist Joseph Cornell. This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.


Texas Commission on the Arts looking for an Administrative Technician
Closing Date: December 4, 2004

Responsibilities include but are not limited to technical support work for the agency programs; interpret and disseminate information on the agency's records management program and procedures; prepares non-routine correspondence, reports, forms and documents in response to inquiries from program staff and constituents; assists in the coordination of meetings and or conferences; and performs other related work as assigned. The minimum qualifications are: experience in office practices, administrative support, or the technical program area. Proven skill in the use of word processing equipment and software including Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access. Ability to manage a mail merge program. Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with major course work in a field related to the arts is generally preferred. Education and experience may be substituted for one another. For more information please e-mail Cynthia.Gray@arts.state.tx.us


Artadia 2004 Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Amy Blakemore, Brian Wesley Heiss, Laura Lark, Aaron Parazette and Robert Pruitt. Each artist will receive $15,000!!! For more information, please visit www.artadia.org

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