Thursday, December 20, 2012

IN EXHIBITION | LaMaMa Family Show dazzles at La Galleria

NEW YORK CITY |  Last night was the opening reception of LaMaMa Family Show at LaMaMa LaGalleria where you can enjoy (and buy) original artwork by La MaMa's large and talented group of current and alumni artists. The evening doubled as a holiday party, which meant many LaMaMa artists came out to enjoy each other's company.

Me and Eugene the Poogene, actor, performers and member of the Great Jones Repertory Company
Thanks to LaGalleria's director Matt Nasser, I am included in the Family Show, which runs December 19th through December 30th.

I submitted a photography installation, an excerpt from a larger installation called in the garden of One World.  My artwork consists of a portrait, "Ode to a Farmer in Umbria," and a six-panel photograph installation that juts out from the wall to the floor. All of these photographs were taken near Trevi in central Italy.  The farmer is the owner of a vineyard whom I met while I was exploring the area near Ellen Stewart's international arts center LaMaMa Umbria.

This latter set of six photographs is actually a portion of a larger installation "Garden of Solitude," in which I imagine a garden path where you can find alone or me time. I took those six photos in the springs of the River Clitunno, situated near the town of Trevi and the city of Spoleto.  The springs are immersed in an enchanting oasis of peace which has inspired generations of poets from Virgil to Carducci. In ancient times there was a greater abundance of water, and the river was deeper. Emperor Caligula could go the river with boats when he came and consulted the oracles of Clitunno, the god of the river. There is a small Etrusco-Italian temple made from chalky limestone nearby.  There on the river banks, every year, took place religious feasts with competitions, theatrical performances and gladiatorial matches. Sometimes the spring are referred to as Caligula's baths, and my piece incorporates a jock strap and a flower. It is called "Ripped" and is actually a naughty response to the very notion that this oasis was once a site of great decadence.

To be honest, I have to revisit LaGalleria this week to take in the original artworks at LaGalleria at my own pace and in solitude. The party overflowed with wonderful people, so I could barely see the work at hand.

I will say that I did get to catch a number of pieces which I found enchanting or inspiring.  Federico Restrepo, the Colombian designer and puppeteer, has a wiry beast sculpture that may be one of the most intriguingly titled pieces in the show.  It is made of aluminum wire and acrylic on canvas, and it is called "Ellen." Also, on a brick wall, Potri Ranka Manis shrouds her painting with a swathe of mystery and mythic lore. She calls it "Hope for the flowers."

Me and Potri Ranka Manis in front of her shrouded painting
Several pieces are directly about the holidays. Ozzie Rodriguez contributes "Winter-Light Xmas," a beautiful painting of blue shapes on a large white canvas that at first strikes the eye as imposing and then becomes more contemplative in mood. As you walk into the space, you immediately see David Adams's "Christmas Tree." And Valois Mickens puts forward a wonderfully executed "Nativity 2012" near the church pew.

And how could you miss Volodymyr Klyuzko’s dazzling "Photo Patterns" from Carpathians? This Kiev-based artist took photographs of everyday scenes and figures of life in the Carpathian Mountain villages during Yara Arts Group's research trip to the Ukraine in August 2012. And then he transformed these photos into a series of visual patterns that that wrap the edge of a gallery wall. You have to see it for yourself. It is so gorgeous.

Some 40 LaMaMa artists are featured in the Family Show. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday 1:00-7:30 PM. La Galleria is located on 6 East First Street, between Second Avenue and Bowery.

Happy holidays!


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