Phos Hilaron Brings a New Religion to the Heartland

On first impression, Ventiko’s Phos Hilaron: From the Masses Rise the Saints installation transports visitors to an altered state of Indiana. On view at Schwitzer Gallery, CCIC, 1125 East Brookside Avenue, Indianapolis, IN through November 29, the project draws from religious source imagery to transport viewers to an art experience for the masses. 

Phos Hilaron Altar View: Installation View at Schwitzer Gallery, CCIC, Indianapolis, IN
Phos Hilaron Altar View: Installation View at Schwitzer Gallery, CCIC, Indianapolis, IN

Corn hangs suspended from the ceiling, forcing the viewer through – all the while upending expectations the viewer may have of Indiana and its people. Once through the corn, the viewer is confronted with a scene reminiscent of a sacred Roman Catholic grotto. Candles are arranged delicately on an altar, draped with dark velvet and gold trim, and sacred relics used in the photographs on the same candles are displayed alongside them. As Santa Geri Berry, the Patron Saint of Inquiring Minds notes, “transported through the lines upside-down corn stalks and feeling immersed in them reinforced associations with the harvest, suggesting a very different sort of sacred realm, just as the Saints are very different from any usual idea of a Saint and a very different image of people from Indiana. I couldn’t help making a connection with Sukkot; it was like an altar in a Sukkah: a bringing together of a Jewish space with a Catholic type practice.” 

The references are intentional. Ventiko, the artist who organized Phos Hilaron for this Indianapolis iteration of the project, grew up Jewish in Indianapolis and first made a Sukkah out of corn stalks with her temple youth group when she was in high school. Returning to Indianapolis to expand upon Phos Hilaron: From the Masses Rise the Saints, this iteration focuses not just on the beauty of difference and individuality, but emphasizes homogeneity is not harmony: rather, that harmony is respect and inclusion of all. (The first iteration debuted at Chinatown Soup in Manhattan during the first 100 days of the Trump administration and featured a cross section of 100 urban creatives.) Over a four week period Ventiko photographed 59 ‘Saints’ from Indianapolis in intimately customized sets, helping them visualize their ‘Saint’ concept. The entire project was a collaboration between the artist and the Saint. The mythology of the Saint and the vision of the artist culminated in the installation, and also resulted a more intimate piece: a book. Organizing artist Ventiko reflects on her gratitude that so many creatives were excited to participate in this version of the project. “I am grateful to have been blessed by the beauty and power of so many wonderful Saints,” reflects the artist.

 

Artists who participated in the project have expressed the impact of their encounters with the artist as she was setting up the project. Santa Akilah, The Patron Saint of Patience, remarked, “When I first went to the photo shoot I didn’t know what to expect. As soon she started taking pictures I felt so comfortable and safe. She was able to capture my inner goddess in the picture.” Ventiko herself comments on this process of photographing her “Patron Saints”: “I see myself as a catalyst for the exaltation of the beauty of difference and elevation of the preciousness of individuality rather than one constructing or constricting the identity of any ‘Saint’ or person. It is a respect for difference, including freedom of thought, as well as idiosyncrasies that will ultimately lead to the unification of the human race and foster in a time when we all can work towards solving our global crises rather than consistently focusing on pettiness and being manipulated by propaganda.”

The project is successful on many levels, as reflected in these personal and meaningful reflections from participants. By opening up new avenues of communications for creatives in the Heartland, Phos Hilaron functions as a grassroots confirmation of the talent present in the vibrant city of Indianapolis. Bringing community together and thwarting expectations that outsiders may have of the area captures the double success of both re-affirming and introducing local talent to each other and to a wider audience.  “From day one, I knew this cutting edge, contemporary photography installation would take Indianapolis by storm. After hearing the various layers Phos Hilaron presented in NY and adding special dimensions for the Indianapolis chapter, I envisioned a communal based project that would uplift an entire state,” remarks Tony Quintana, The Patron Saint of Growth. Others including curator Maria Behringer have commented on the measure of warmth and acceptance this project has brought into their life. “Ventiko’s concept of community and inclusivity surrounding her Phos Hilaron project is exactly why we wanted to collaborate and bring her exhibition to Indianapolis. Her strong work ethic and creative process can easily be seen through her photography and the final Altar itself. We completely trusted her vision through the entire process. We are extremely grateful to have collaborated with her.”

Patron Saint of Inquiring Minds, Santa Geri Beri, part of Phos Hilaron on view in Indianapolis, IN

To make this project a reality Ventiko collaborated with the Indianapolis-based curators Quintana-Behringer. Ventiko’s studio was in the CCIC building (https://circlecityind.com/), a creative hub in downtown Indianapolis where Quintana-Behringer are located. Santo Aaron, The Patron Saint of Technodeath describes working with Ventiko: “It was serendipity how we met. The chance encounter of coming into a space and meeting another creative that was on the hustle and making something huge and fantastic honestly inspired us at Soundspace to do better. Instead of this being an empty office having Ventiko here made it feel more like a home.” Two weeks into the project Soundspace (https://sndspc.com/) moved in to share the space which is Soundspace Beta and soul connections flourished. Ventiko looks forward to expanding the exhibition to London in 2020 as there are many more Saints to canonize their, bringing the project to a new community ready to embrace their inner Sainthood. 

 

 

 

Excitement Mounts for Pelham Art Center’s Studio Café on November 16, 2019

Saturday, November 16 marks an exciting day for guests to Pelham Art Center: the center’s annual Fall fundraiser, Studio Café, offers a smorgasbord of wonderful activities for attendees. From 7 pm on, Pelham Art Center (155 Fifth Ave, Pelham, NY) will play host to delightful artists, musicians, local food + drink treats and even the launch of new exhibit: “Collectibles”, featuring works priced to sell at under $2500 by artists Laurence Belotti, Capucine Bourcart, Alvin Clayton,  Bob Clyatt, Mayuko Fujino, Maizianne, RC Hagans, Eileen Karakashian, Doug Newton and Alexis Trice. Studio Café offers a chance for visitors to experience all that Pelham Art Center has to offer while supporting the center’s education and community programs. With general admission (entry from 7 pm) available for a reasonable $95 and VIP advance 6 pm entry priced at $145, your ticket to arts access is on sale now. An online auction – live now! – also offers the opportunity to secure limited editions and unique works by distinguished artists with all proceeds benefiting the Center.

Auction artwork available for purchase by artist Ann Lewis – Proceeds support Pelham Art Center

Community members come together around the meaningful art experiences offered by the Pelham Art Center for this fundraiser event, with event co-chairs Michelle Acosta and Julie Cepler leading the way! Live art demos will be helmed by notable teaching artists Donna Ross and Frank Guida, with live music by jazz musicians Dan Haedicke (DH4 Music) and vocalist Sarah Rayani. Later in the evening, DJ Lightbolt (aka renowned artist Nicky Enright) will bring guests to their feet with some fun and funky beats.

 

Artwork by notable artists such as Ruben Natal San Miguel, whose work will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, is included alongside other established artists Shepard Fairey, Ann Lewis, Kate Fauvell, Katy Garry, David Kramer and more in this exclusive Fall fundraiser auction.

 

In addition to the fundraiser’s impressive auction offerings, special 1’x1′ $250 artworks specially made for the event by distinguished artists Arlene Rush, Susan Saas, Kate Fauvell, Charlotte Mouquin, Gabriel Shuldiner and more will be available exclusively to event attendees. Craft brew will be provided by Wolf + Warrior and delicious culinary treats by Caffe Regatta, Canita Lobos, Elia Taverna, Manor Market, Pelham Pizza, Rockwells, and many more. What are you waiting for?  Tickets available now for this exclusive annual event.

 

Auction artwork available for purchase by artist Christina Massey – Proceeds support Pelham Art Center

 

Word Up! A Standout Moment for Text-Based Art at C24 Gallery


In an era rampant with political protest and 
the multitudinous voices of social media, Word Up!- co-curated by Sharon Louden at C24 Gallery, knows what’s up.

Installation view featuring installation “Moral History” by Karen Finley for C24’s Word Up!

Word Up! marks an exhibition that takes risks and is rewarded with a keen grasp of contemporary self-expression. Considering a contemporary art scene saturated more than ever with sociopolitical viewpoints, the time is more than ripe for this exquisite-and timely-exhibition. Featuring works by Liana Finck, Deborah Kass, Karen Finley, Meg Hitchcock and many more, this exhibit marks fearless departure into the diverse ways in which words infiltrate and emerge in contemporary art.

Spanning interdisciplinary artistic practices, this contemporary survey show featured video, photography, installation, painting and mixed media. Karen Finley’s incisive, provocative and genuinely humorous installation, located on the exhibit’s lower level, provides a stunning focal point from which to consider the contemporary art lexicon engulfing the viewer in Word Up! Comprised of archival materials assembled as a centrepiece – a la Judy Chicago’s Dinner Table, if you will – Finley has annotated the materials she has presented to create a thought-provoking work centered around representation, identity and exclusion. Clever illustrations by renowned artist Liana Finck and the inundating, undulating works by Meg Hitchcock also prove to be standouts in this stunning exhibition. Presentation is key, and visitors are grabbed at the entrance by a video work by artist David Krippendorff, whose work also inhabits space on the lower level near Karen Finley’s installation. Hrag Vartanian  and Deborah Kass, art critic and artist and notable public artist respectively, also have work on view in this carefully curated presentation of works written expressly into the social consciousness that forms the fabric of contemporary text-based artistic practice.

“Persephone” Meg Hitchcock, installation view in “Word Up!”

Word Up! is on view at C24 gallery from 9/26-11/9/2019.

 

 

Illuminating the “Unseen”: Collar Works in Troy, NY Elevates Contemporary Artists

Artworks on view in the deceptively subtle exhibition “Unseen” bring that which is frequently overlooked directly into the public eye. In a world in which most of what directs our behavior goes unnoticed, “Unseen” marks the clever, perceptive type of exhibit that we crave to focus our attention on. Curated by the MFA Boston’s Akili Tommasino for Collar Works, artists on view include Carris Adams, Tania Alvarez, Aurora Andrews, Jose- Aurelio Baez, Raina Briggs, Ryan Chase Clow, Matt Crane, Richard Deon, Carla Dortic, Deborah Druick, Mark Eisendrath, Rebecca Flis, Gigi Gatewood, Chet Gold, Victoria van der Laan, Jesse Meredith, Sarah Pater, James Marshall Porter, Jr., Anne- Audrey Remarais, Eric Souther, Susanna Starr, Paula Stuttman, and Sarah Sweeney. Works by Mark Eisendrath and Susanna Starr  in particular sweep into focus, with a distinctive attention to line and form. Spanning sculpture and painting with a hint of lyric poetry, “Unseen” follows those elements that both direct and elude our line of sight. 

The unseen can be that which is literally unresolved: that which exists up to a point, then inhabits the realm of both the unseen and the unknown. Artist Mark Eisendrath notes of his work Mysterioso, on view in “Unseen,” “Mysterioso existed only as an idea- not seen or felt. It did not exist, neither did the process I used to make it. It was quite literally- a mystery. ” That which cannot be seen or felt can still hold a palpable presence in our lives. As the curator of “Unseen” notes in her exhibition text, “…the complex algorithms that reinforce our behavior remain hidden to us. Our fear of being unseen makes us susceptible to manipulation.” By making that which is foreign to us palpable, “Unseen” offers the viewer a clever, nuanced portrait of contemporary society.

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“Mysterioso” by artist Mark Eisendrath (acquired by a new collector) “Unseen” at Collarworks, Troy, NY

Susanna Starr and Mark Eisendrath share a penchant for uncovering the sought for-yet undiscovered- form. Curves and delineated lines trace the patterns of our subconscious seeking that which we do not yet know. A mysterious, yet visceral, presentation of new works by contemporary sculptors, painters and mixed-media artists, “Unseen” is a careful selection of artworks that transcend the ordinary in search of a greater meaning beyond the immediately visible.

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Installation view of “Unseen” feat. “Bring It” by Mark Eisendrath

“Unseen” is on view at Collar Works art space in Troy, NY, through Dec 14, 2019.

Avant-Kitchen: Art for a New Dinner Party in the Spaghetti-O Incident

Produced by The Hive, an interdisciplinary art community based in Brooklyn, NY, “The Spaghetti-O Incident” dissects cultural references from Guns n’Roses to Martha Rosler in an examination of gendered expectations and hetero-normativity. Curated by Yasmeen Abdallah, Kathie Halfin and Ameta Wegryzn, the exhibit – occurring at 1218 Prospect Ave in Oct 2019 – features a range of interdisciplinary artists including Julia Blume, Victoria Calabro, Kat Cope, Pei-Ling Ho, Sarah Dineen, Vyczie Dorado, Ariel Kleinberg, Alison Owen, Muhajir Subuur Lesure, Jean Carla Rodea, Jordan Segal and Yasmeen Abdallah. Works on view range from performance to photography, installation to sculpture. Examining the expectations placed upon women – as artists, homemakers, cooks, and human beings – “The Spagetti-O Incident” doesn’t shy away from provocative and subversive works questioning and thwarting ideas of identity and performativity.

Sculpture by Jordan M Segal for “The Spaghetti-O Incident”

Gender is digested through performance that takes place in a residence: the living space provides a non-neutral scenario for the exhibit loaded with valuable context. The white cube is denied the privilege of sterilizing these powerful works on view by Kat Cope, Pei-Ling Ho, Sarah Dineen, Yasmeen Abdallah, Jordan Segal & more. The weight of the body and gender in domestic spaces, such as the kitchen, is keenly felt in this artist-curated show. Many artists reflect on ideas of food, meals, and the domestic sphere, with dishware by Jordan Segal seemingly dissolving into itself, reminiscent of cake frosting or, more morbidly, melted skin. Kat Cope’s work similarly addresses the topic of skin: specifically, clothing as a type of armor that adheres to and protects the skin. Cope notes of her fiber-based installations that “like layers of skin, layers of fiber are resistant to tearing and puncture.” Blending together elements of fashion, protection, and performance, Kat Cope’s work lies at the boundary of  representation and installation.

Intrinsically linked with these ideas of gender and inequity are the experiences of the body as a home one inhabits. Performances by Vyczie Dorado, among others, display the full force of yearning and attachment that artists have to the corporeal. Connection, longing and expectation cradle the exhibition, with “The Spaghetti-O Incident” proving a necessary, essential exhibition for our contemporary moment. Intersectional feminism and bold experimentation combine to make this exhibit one formidable presentation in this Fall New York Art season.

Sculpture by Kat Cope left of performance by Vyczie Dorado for The Spaghetti-O Incident

 

“Noise” by Pei Ling Ho for The Spaghetti-O Incident

 

 

Artist Y.R. Egon Translates Longing Into Paintings

Y. R. Egon (Ruchira Amare) cuts a stylish, erudite figure.

Based in Brooklyn, NY, the artist arrived on the New York scene from her native Mumbai with an artistic and creative practice balancing influences from Europe and her native India. Her creative leanings are underpinned by a formidable education background in Engineering and Fashion Design. Learning under established Mumbai-based artists while concurrently pursuing a degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai, Egon distills a wide range of influences into her impressionist, yet geometrically balanced, paintings. The artist holds a Fashion Design degree from the Parsons School of Design.

The artist sat down with ANTE. to discuss themes running through her work and what’s upcoming for her on the heels of exhibitions at Dacia Gallery, Six Summit Gallery, Rochester Contemporary Art Center and The Greenpoint Gallery.

Painter Y R Egon

ANTE.: Your work shows formal qualities linking to modernist greats such as Piet Mondrian. Do you see your practice as continuing a dialogue with modern abstract artists from the mid-20th century? 

Y.R.: I agree – yes. I have always followed Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, Mark Rothko and Wassily Kandinsky. As Mondrian once said, “Abstract art is not the creation of another reality but the true vision of reality.” I try to have my own language and to express my emotions through my paintings.

ANTE.: Color and shape are important aspects in your paintings. How has your approach in forming connections between color and shape evolved from your studies to the present moment?

Y.R.: I have always cherished the emotion that comes out of nostalgia and longing for the past. I attempt to capture and preserve these emotions through my paintings. Over time I realized that there is a word for this behaviour in Finnish; that word is ‘kaiho,’ meaning a hopeless longing in which one feels incomplete and yearns for something unattainable or extremely difficult and tedious to attain. I use colour and shape and geometric-like patterns which are not truly geometric: these (patterns) have evolved over time and show some traces of reality.

ANTE.: Your formative education in art occurred when you were learning from painters based in India. How do you see your work forming a bridge between the Indian art canon and the Western art canon?

Y.R.: I did not have a formal art education but I studied under great and successful artists in India. I learnt many techniques from them that helped me translate and formulate my ideas using the medium of painting. I try to use my knowledge, my ideas, my inspirations and life experiences to formulate my thoughts. In the process, unintentionally I end up using different techniques and practices that span both the Indian and the Western art canon.

ANTE.: As a full-time artist, you are dedicated to painting and making art constantly; what are some of your goals in terms of exhibiting your paintings? Do you have a dream gallery you’d like to show with and/or museum or similar venue to show your work?

Y.R.: Being an ambitious artist, my goal is to better my art practice and art technique, evolve as a person through enriched life experience and to then translate that into my art and paintings. I fell in love with Gallery Perrotin the first time I went there to check out a show. The space is beautiful and dreamy. My artworks have a lot of colour but come out of the concept of dreams and it would be a dream to be able to exhibit at this space.

Lost Journey, Y.R. Egon Gouache on paper, 16″ x 20″, 2019

ANTE.: You are a poet and have trained as an engineer, alongside your work as an artist and fashion designer. How do you unite all of these disparate elements in your painting? Has it shaped how you approach art-making?

Y.R.: Yes, I studied Engineering and graduated from the University of Mumbai. I write poems but only to express my ideas through another medium. I studied Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design. I am in process of launching some garments/apparel that are inspired from my paintings from the ‘kaiho’ collection. Hence, I feel that even though they all are separate fields, it all boils down to an expression of ideas as they come together in a product or in works of art. I try to carry the same romantic feeling and emotion in all my works including my fashion illustrations. I specifically use watercolours for these, and in my next series of paintings, I plan to experiment more with watercolour in order to capture the haziness of the lost memories.

ANTE.: How has working in fashion impacted your work as a painter? Do you work with a variety of materials as a result? 

Y.R.: As a fashion designer, I stand by the principles of creative construction and sustainability. I use only natural fabrics and natural dyeing on them. I also use fabric as a medium to paint and specifically natural dyed fabric which is dyed with the colours made from plants such as logwood, madder and flowers such as marigold and berries as well. I also plan to make my own natural pigments from these plants and flowers and natural materials to paint on stretched fabrics such as cotton and silk.

ANTE.: More specifically, does your work as a painter shift in scale due to your background in the fashion industry?

Y.R.: I actually am not that experimental or easily accepting to change. Hence, I try to usually paint in a certain style and on a certain size as well. But again, the scale changes a bit when it is translated on apparel or fabric paintings.

Colorful Houses, Y.R. Egon Gouache on paper, 16″ x 20″, 2019

ANTE.: You’re now based in Brooklyn, NY, and have exhibited with The Greenpoint Gallery and Dacia Gallery. How does living in NYC impact your practice as an artist?

Y.R.: NYC is very dynamic and inspirational, Brooklyn specifically is the epicentre for the modern, contemporary and experimental art that is not commercial. I recently exhibited at the ‘Space 776’ as a part of their Bushwick open studios which was covered by Hyperallergic magazine! I find Brooklyn as a very important factor of my stay in the city and is very inspirational and also motivational to see and meet other artists and their work. I have exhibited at various galleries in Manhattan and Brooklyn and that serves as a booster for myself and my art practice.

Skin Deep: The Exhilarating “Body Politic” On View at NYU’s Kimmel Windows

In the immaculate words of feminist and activist Gloria Steinem, “Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.” This admonishment pervades the transcendental exhibition currently on view through Nov 10 at NYU’s Kimmel Windows exhibit space, “Lilia Ziamou: body politic /bädē päl-tik/”. Featuring works by Lilia Ziamou and curated by Pamela Jean Tinnen, the presentation of this collection of works outwardly facing the various passersby on LaGuardia Place and W. 3rd mounts a powerful, visionary response to how we consider ourselves – and others. It can reflect the ways in which our self-perception can become distorted. Perhaps it ruminates on how society constantly projects women’s bodies as idealized forms in various ads throughout public spaces. The exhibition leaves room for speculation and space to absorb the images – true or distorted – which lie before us. Works from this series by Ziamou question how new technology mediates the way we see ourselves or how others anticipate and perceive our appearance. Perceptions of the body are stacked against the realities of the biological building blocks that determines who we are and how we appear. Ziamou bravely steps forward into an artistic inquiry of what makes us human, playing with preconceived ideas of how we establish our physical identities as a whole from the sum of our parts. “By reimagining and reconstructing body fragments, I am constantly exploring and intrigued by the ways we can challenge existing constraints of form, materials, and processes,” remarks Ziamou.

“1 am” (2018) artwork on view in body politic /bädē päl-tik/ at NYU Kimmel Windows

 

This exhibition at the Kimmel Windows is curated by NYU’s own Pamela Jean Tinnen. The curator notes that she was drawn initially to Ziamou’s examination and recreation of human bones, re-contextualizing them as artworks. In the art canon of portraiture, it can be argued that Ziamou’s hip-bone 3-D scan recreations are a continuation of a centuries-long tradition of figurative art. Tinnen also reflects on other areas where these works draw parallel lines to long-existing or contemporary traditions. “What’s very interesting about Lilia’s work is how it plays on the abject, but through her ability to refine the subject through various media-processes, she creates visual distance while maintaining conceptual resonance.” Tinnen continues, “I’ve always been intrigued by Julia Kristiva’s writings on Abjection which discusses human reactions to encountering, as a primary example, a corpse. These encounters elicit horror but also a certain fascination. A corpse, or in the case of Lilia’s work, the human bone, puts us in the presence of ‘signified death.’ Kristiva suggests our horror-reaction results from a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object, or between self and other.” This breakdown that occurs when the body perceives another body, yet recognizes this fragment of bone also depicts an invisible portion of one’s own self, causes a ripple of self-awareness. It can be argued that this exhibit also sparks empathy for others and an intimate acceptance of our own appearance – an appearance that can shift over time due to factors such as time and environment.

The environment of the exhibition itself, facing outward from the Kimmel Center, has shifted over time as the ground zero for artists in bohemian Greenwich Village in the mid-20th century to a haven for NYU students today. This public-facing exhibit – which some students can pass several times a day, along with other members of the community – offers a repeating opportunity for reflection and deeper engagement with how we can intrinsically seek deeper meaning in the very things we take for granted: the architecture of our physical selves and the urban planning and architecture defining our immediate presence in a larger cityscape. By keeping the vestibules in which Ziamou’s transcendental works are exhibited stark, almost clinical, those encountering the work can focus their attention on the prints and sculptures facing them from the Kimmel. “The exhibit’s design, simple and starkly white, contributes to a certain visual sterilization, which works well to present the artwork,” notes Tinnen. This simple structuring can be seen as a skeleton in itself: supporting works on view and allowing for immediate access of each fragment of the perpendicular exhibition along LaGuardia and Third.

“The Bone as Body” (2019) artwork on view in body politic /bädē päl-tik/ in NYU Kimmel Windows

Ziamou here has considered not only the internal structure of the body, but also how we decorate and define ourselves as members of a society. Her bone sculpture informs the installation referencing a garment she has presented in this same exhibit: an installation that servse as a recreation of our bodies as presented through our fashion choices. Her work speaks a subtle message about the inner psychology that determines our outward appearances: we can knowingly or unknowingly select garments that flatter and project aspects of our anatomy that we take pride in. The artist considers and puts forth artistic hypotheses about how various aspects of our countenance can be mistaken or recreated, creating subtle provocations for the audience. What effect do photo filters on apps have on our psychology? How can our appearances be manipulated for those who consume them? When is the last time we considered that the majority of who we are is not visible to the naked eye? Ziamou deftly plays with these questions, and more, in this impactful solo exhibition.

Detail shot, “1 am” – body politic /bädē päl-tik/ in NYU Kimmel Windows

 

Curated by Pamela Jean Tinnen, don’t miss “Lilia Ziamou: body politic /bädē päl-tik/” – on view through Nov 10 at NYU’s Kimmel Windows exhibit space on LaGuardia Place and West Third at New York University.