The Power of Everyday Magic: Artistic/Gnostic Impulses at National Arts Club (New York, NY)

““What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

The rich, fertile soil from which Everyday Magic: Artistic/Gnostic Impulses, on view now at the National Arts Club on the south edge of NYC’s Gramercy Park, all began – as rich soil often does – with the consideration of what has been reclaimed to the earth and how it nourishes what comes after. The result of the combined forces of Rebecca Goyette and Jenny Mushkin Goldman, both of whom have cultivated significant artistic curatorial experience, respectively, in the NYC art world, “Everyday Magic” was given the right nourishment it needed to fully bloom into the rich and multi-layered experience that it embodies, welcoming visitors of all walks of life. On view from March 2- April 27th, 2021, the exhibition accepts guests via timed entry at the above link.

Above, Tamara Kostianovksy’s ‘New Man Stump’ and ‘Short Stump’ (both 2018) and Below, Installation view, “Everyday Magic: Gnostic/Artistic Impulses” on view at the National Arts Club featuring work by Elizabeth Insogna (and featuring performance by Kay Turner) (foreground), Clarina Bezzola, Rebecca Goyette, Jaishri Abichandani, Aaron Johnson, João Salomão and Sahana Ramakrishnan.

Show organizers Goyette and Mushkin Goldman, excited to embark on this joint quest to present an art exhibit engaging with themes around ‘magic’, envisioned this group show featuring over 20 artists as a platform for exploring aspects of magic and occultism, particularly through the lens of empowerment: seeking ways in which indigenous, femme/non-binary and queer practices in turn rise above and gain agency over colonial, patriarchal and gender-normative narratives. Mushkin Goldman noted this in her observation of how the exhibition has unfolded. “This is a diverse show rooted in many ways in a femme presence, or energy, a story that had to be told which isn’t the hegemonic dominant narrative but is still such a force in itself.”

Echoing the utterances of revered postcolonial critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a woman’s position in society is tenuous at best, and artistic voices of women from the Global South are further suppressed. “For the ‘figure’ of woman, the relationship between woman and silence can be plotted by women themselves,”(1) Spivak notes, revealing the truth that the voices who notice this absence are most acutely those being oppressed, rather than the oppressor. Voices absent from a Western-centric, patriarchal-oriented art history make their presence felt in this powerful exhibition, with something for everyone to connect with especially along the root themes of community, ritual and heritage, nature and the Spiritual. Perhaps what this fully realized show impresses most on the viewer is the power of the unknown, or the unseen, and how this wealth of intuitive ‘seeking’ on the part of the exhibited artists can reveal a wellspring of power, resilience, beauty, understanding, and love.

Above, Rear of space installation view of “Everyday Magic: Gnostic/Artistic Impulses” featuring work by (L–>R) Sahana Ramakrishnan, Qinza Najm and Staver Klitgaard and Below, Installation view of “Everyday Magic: Gnostic/Artistic Impulses” featuring work by (L–>R) Clarina Bezzola, Rebecca Goyette and Jaishri Abichandani

Two very different aspects of this exhibition make it especially unique: first, the timeline, as the show was intended to open early Summer 2020 and was pushed to this March due to the pandemic. Second, and more importantly, the wealth of this exhibit’s treasures lies in the rich array of cultural forces that propel it forward in the viewer’s imagination, as rituals, traditions, and magical elements span a range of heritage evident on a global scale.  “In the exhibition, artists who transmute personal struggles through their art practice are in dialogue with those who have traditional magical and occult practices,” observes Goyette. “Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions, South American traditions, South Asian traditions, Nordic traditions and more are reflected from the artists’ many places of origin.”  As Mushkin Goldman reflects, “This show isn’t about one thing, because for every person (who visits) it is their own. We wanted to create (an exhibition that approaches these topics) from as many perspectives as possible.” In this vein, spiritual practitioners of all backgrounds can take away potent reminders of the diversity of occult practices the world over, with a body of evidence laid out in “Everyday Magic” like a cornucopia upon which visitors can feast to their heart’s delight.

Returning to the roots of the exhibition, Goyette remarks upon the artists who spoke to her as her approach to the show became fully realized. “When I saw artist Tamara (Kostianovsky)’s latest series tree trunk sculptures, her work(s) resonated with me because of their sense of ritual and alchemy. The metaphor of the rings visible in the tree trunks is powerful.” Kostianovsky’s practice of adapting her late father’s clothing into art installations provides a nuanced reflection upon her own roots and the tactile presence our loved ones exert even after their departure from our lives. Similarly, Mushkin Goldman encountered the works of artist L, and was mesmerized upon learning that each these jars presented in the artwork she encountered contained a multitude of spells. With themes of transmutation, alchemy, and transformation of trauma and life experiences into whatever meaningful form the artist conceives, the power of “Everyday Magic” lies in the agency exerted by individual – and collective – artists to challenge accepted narratives and subsume existing power structures.

In addition to the power of ritual present throughout the exhibit, the influence exerted by community and, alternately, by nature are both strongly felt presences emanating from the exhibition. Both Goyette and Mushkin Goldman commented on the power of nature’s inclusion in such work as installations by Lina Puerta, Alexis Karl and Elizabeth Insogna as placing nature, and in turn, touch and healing central to the visitor’s encounter when entering the exhibition’s center where these installations are located. In addition, many artists’ practices, either spiritually or artistically, formed nexxus points linking them to other artists exhibiting in “Everyday Magic”: revealing  interconnected links between practicing artists who were engaging with spiritual approaches to art-making. Artists such as Jesse Bransford, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Alexis Karl and Courtney Alexander had all encountered one another in various ways prior to the exhibition’s unveiling, while artists such as Elizabeth Insogna and Kay Turner collaborate to produce performance work and art installations. Courtney Alexander’s “Offering to God Herself” presented the opportunity for gallery-goers to encounter her presence, embodying divinity, through a communal offer of deference, love and respect to the Artist.

Above, works (L–>R) by Qinza Najm, Staver Klitgaard, Jesse Bransford and L for “Everyday Magic: Gnostic/Artistic Impulses” at the National Arts Club. Below, detail of Qinza Najm’s “Pleasure & Veil” (2020)

Artists such as Genesis Breyer P-Orridge are known among audiences for the incisive, bold and alchemical work they created, while other artists bring their own unique perspectives to the ideas of alchemy and transformation to bear. Goyette highlighted the works of Abichandani and Najm as particularly powerful demonstrations of art’s ability to express artistic impulses that transcend societal pressures and expectations. Goyette reflected on the power these artists’ work possesses and how it upends societal norms. “Jaishiri Abichandani’s work alters views of Hindu goddesses by subverting patriarchal structures, incorporating people she knows into sculpture portraits in her depictions of these goddesses, including feminist and LGBTQ+ artists and activists.  She also uses self-portraits in her work, as sculpture self-representation. Her work takes a feminist approach, challenging how goddesses are depicted in the canon of Hindu mythology, and how sculptures can be made to play with taboo. Meanwhile, Qinza Najm engages with Muslim traditions of her native Pakistan, particularly how patriarchal ideologies affect women. Her interactive installation, “Pleasure and Veil” utilizes spiritual (hijab/head covering) and sexual (Nara-trouser strings) textiles collected over the past 3 years from Muslim/Jewish communities (women, minorities and LGBTQ+ community) in the U.S. and Pakistan to explore the sacred and forbidden aspects of sexuality. In Pakistan, it is considered shameful for women to show or allow others to touch their Nara. Najm asked women close to her to reveal their Nara, and when she did, the women released shame and personal narratives. She asks viewers to engage with her work, gently touching a chosen Nara from her installation, in magical feminist solidarity to release shame.  Both Abichandani and Najm engage ideas of what is taboo in dialogue with religion.”

Mushkin Goldman offered the works of Lina Puerta and Sahana Ramakrishnan as avenues by which visitors can engage with meaning around sexuality, feminism, vulnerability and fertility. “Lina Puerta explores the intersection between synthetic and natural, commenting on both consumerism and life’s fragility. Sahana Ramakrishnan in turn reflects on ideas of fertility as alchemy and means of transformation.” Artists use a range of synthetic and natural materials, of abstract and figurative approaches, to all reach the core of a reality which we can grasp through experience and intuition, rather than research and academia. “Everyday Magic” is an exhibition about the truths we grasp, the experiences we know, and the underlying hidden links that bring us back together as spiritual beings and root us to natural forces who remind us of who we are.

“Everyday Magic:Gnostic/Artistic Impulses” is on view to guests who RSVP via the show’s website through April 27th, 2021. The exhibit is on view at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park S in New York, NY. The show’s organizers Jenny Mushkin Goldman and Rebecca Goyette can be reached for sales inquiries or exhibition specifics via their respective emails, Jenny at jenny@kingold.art or Rebecca at rebogallery@gmail.com.

Founded in 1898, The National Arts Club is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to stimulate, foster, and promote public interest in the arts and to educate the American people in the fine arts. Annually, the Club offers more than 150 free programs to the public, including exhibitions, theatrical and musical performances, lectures and readings, attracting an audience of over 25,000 members and guests. For a full list of events or to learn more, please visit nationalartsclub.org.

  1. Spivak, Gayatri. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988.

The Thrill of Trill Matrix at The Abrazo Interno Gallery, Clemente Soto Vélez Center

Occasionally an art exhibit meets a space perfectly suited to its concept;  this is happily the case with Trill Matrixon view through Jan 19th at the Abrazo Interno Gallery, Clemente Soto Vélez Center. Trill Matrix, conceived as a site-specific exhibit for the Center, is curated by artist Elizabeth Riley and features works by contemporary artists Nancy Baker, Jaynie Crimmins, Christina Massey, Elizabeth Riley, Christine Romanell, Linda K. Schmidt and Etty Yaniv. These artists frequently exhibit collectively: while each is firmly rooted in their own unique artistic practice, their dialogues and discussion form interstices linking the works on view in Trill Matrix. Showcasing a blend of sculpture, mixed media, and installation works, Trill Matrix showcases ways in which contemporary art can tease our senses. From texture to color, volume to light, Trill Matrix teases aspects of reality into new, uncharted territory for all who visit. On view at the The Abrazo Interno Gallery (107 Suffolk Street) through January 19, make sure to visit during the show’s final days – if you can, catch the closing party on Sat, 1/19! Free and open to the public – come and celebrate art while also celebrating the network of women artists behind the works, a perfect way to close out the Women’s March events in NYC!

 

christina_massey_crafty collusion 2
Christina Massey, “Crafty Collusion 2” on view in Trill Matrix.

 

elizabeth-riley_prototype-2-canopy_detail (1)
Elizabeth Riley, “Prototype 2 – Canopy” on view in Trill Matrix.

In Trill Matrix, “trill” alludes to a moment in hip-hop culture where the words “true” and “real” blended together to suggest authenticity and cultural ascendancy. Playing off this idea of reconciling two distinct words, artists on view in the exhibit remix disparate mediums to form new hybrids. Strips of fabric gathered together form a soft-sculpture-turned-light-installation, while works composed of glass and aluminum fragments hold court with another work re-claiming electronic wires and plastic into a single immersive sculpture. The network these works forms invites closer inspection, often bringing the visitor to realize a greater understanding of the beauty that lies in waste.

Christina Massey is one of the exhibiting artists whose works present the meeting point of upcycled materials and careful composition. The artist’s Crafty Collusions series brings together fragments from upcycled craft beer cans with a blend of other materials, cleverly juxtaposing the male-dominated industry of craft beer with the “femininity” of crafting. Massey reflected on the work involved in bridging the gaps while making mixed media artworks. “The materials in themselves bring certain complications, where one material doesn’t easily adhere to another,” noted Massey. “A certain amount of experimentation has to be done to find the right glues, mixture of paint, thickness of thread, etc., but I love that experimentation, that’s where you discover new things that maybe you didn’t realize were a possibility. That can be very freeing…  just allowing yourself to manipulate, play and learn, admitting that the material is going to have a certain mind of its own.”

Elizabeth Riley‘s artwork, “Prototype 2 – Canopy”, slows down new media by imprinting video stills onto paper and fusing these frozen scenes with aluminum, paint and duralar, a form of acetate. Fusing different modes of representation and interpretation, Riley questions our subjective experience of reality – whether through new means of looking and questioning or by forcing the viewer to re-think what they are observing in her mixed-media works.

Artist Jaynie Crimmins similarly plays with both ideas around reality depicted through material and notions attached to craft. The artist shreds promotional mail she receives – catalogs, flyers, etc – into minute pieces that she then re-arranges into abstract geometric compositions. Reminiscent of the cardinal directions and visually capturing a format found in the most ancient cultures, Crimmins compiles works with muted color tones and fantastic textures to witness that one woman’s trash can become the world’s treasure.

jaynie-crimmins_a-field-guide-to-getting-lost-#7
Jaynie Crimmins, “A Field Guide to Getting Lost#7” on view in Trill Matrix.

linda-k-schmidt_panels_50+51+52+53
Linda K. Schmidt, “Panels 50+51+52+53” on view in Trill Matrix.

Linda K. Schmidt‘s work embodies another style of geometric abstraction, with strips of semi-sheer fabrics in block colors meticulously arranged to form striped patterns. Evoking stained glass windows or dress-making patterns, Schmidt brings color field painting and craft together in one transcendental visual form. Suspended from the floor, larger than life size, these installations induce a sense of wonder in visitors encountering her installations at Trill Matrix.

Works by Nancy Baker display a skillful assimilation of sublimation into striking visual compositions. Recalling networks of neurons, or perhaps a private eye’s visuals connecting elements of an investigation,  Baker’s installation for Trill Matrix ventures as many layers deep as the visitor is willing to explore. A New Yorker by birth, Baker also plays off the idea of linked infrastructure such as that found in the NYC subway; yet, her compositions incorporate found language indicating our current social anxiety and uncertainty.

 

Nancy Baker, “Shredded Cold Victory” (detail image), on view in Trill Matrix.

Christine Romanell, “Dah Noqte” on view in Trill Matrix.

Artist Etty Yaniv plays with color and texture to reference abstracted nature through sublimely arranging upcycled materials into organic, yet repetitive, patterns. Blending networks of cords and cables into fragments of materials from discarded paintings and used plastic, Yaniv draws out the inherent beauty of detritus. Her work plays with notions related to unity and disparity, tracing harmony and dissonance through her playful use of scale and masterful composition.

Christine Romanell‘s work brings mathematical formulae and data analysis into the visual arts sphere. Applying color to patterns derived through mathematical equations, yet identifying where math also traverses organic and non-repetitive functions, Romanell’s installations make visual the corners of rationale and analysis where making sense begins to break down: with beautiful results.

Don’t miss the final days of Trill Matrix! Make sure to witness for yourself this stunning survey of the possibilities present within a mindful collection of connected yet disparate mixed media artistic practices.

Prescient Presence: Your Presence is Requested Opens Thursday, June 28 at 131 Chrystie Street

 

Solitude and displacement rub elbows on the confluence of the fault lines defining Your Presence is Requested. This group exhibition, featuring painting, sculpture, mixed media and more, investigates the presence of self both internally, physically and even in the case of absence: the vestiges of self that can linger in the outlines of landscapes, or in abstracted self-portraits. Opening on Thursday, June 28th from 6-9 pm, the exhibit is housed at 131 Chrystie Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. The exhibit features artists Maria Dimanshtein, Juan Miguel Palacios, Vincent Arcilesi, Arlene Rush, Grace Baxter, India Evans, Junichiro Ishida, Suyeon Na and many more. The exhibition is produced by Arcilesi | Homberg Fine Art in partnership with Maria Dimanshtein.

Aptly identifying and probing the span of narratives that connect figuration and abstraction, the exhibit applies a careful lens to the both constructed and candid depictions of self. One can identify with an event, an object, a location or a particular viewpoint of one’s own persona. Emotional and psychological perspectives are firmly entrenched in the various aspects that artists choose to portray in this insightful group exhibition, on view June 28-30 only (hours 11 am-6 pm on Friday/Saturday.) This exhibit evinces a rare comprehensive look at the range of artistic stylings and approaches in both visioning and re-visioning the self as beginning and end, alpha and omega. Nothing can influence one’s own outlook as much as the mysterious psyche, the hidden depths of self that remain necessarily unable to reveal yet reveling in their surroundings. From the cryptic depictions of Twins by Arlene Rush, to Palacios’ lush, painterly portraiture and Arcilesi’s multi-hued figures situated in ambiguous space, the range of artwork on view is sure to delight any collector.

img_9275.jpg
Artwork by Vincent Arcilesi

At times alternately introspective and extroverted, the works on view vary widely in style and subject matter while intrinsically examining the parameters of self. Artist Maria Dimanshtein notes that her works include… “use dark colors along with white ink and shiny textures to incorporate my poetic writing into my visual [art].” Dimanshtein notes that her art probes many subjects, including, “anxiety of freedom vs. comfort of the mundane [and] a yearning for a divine power.” The works prove as impactful as their meanings are elusive, with the artists mostly monotone compositions combining with text to provoke dizzying and at times discomfiting narratives.  .

With works by over twenty artists on view in Your Presence is Requested, Arcilesi | Homberg has assembled a dazzling breadth of viewpoints examining the human psyche. On view for three days only, this not-to-be-missed exhibit connects the threads of self-examination present in the works of world-renowned artists working across the spectrum of contemporary art practices.  Arcilesi | Homberg sees their focus as forging innovative pathways in the world of contemporary art, noting that they “challenge conventional fine art parameters”. Your Presence is Requested goes a long way to showcase these efforts.

maria dimanshtein.PNG
Artwork by Maria Dimanshtein

 

The exhibition opening on Thursday, June 28 from 6-9 pm features music compliments of DJ Danny Glover along with wine. The exhibit at 131 Chrystie is in the heart of Manhattan’s buzzy Lower East Side gallery district, easily accessible from the J/Z trains at Bowery station or the 6 train at Spring Street.  The artwork on view spans a variety of artistic mediums, and artists will be available in person to discuss their works and specific processes.

For additional questions, concerns and for extra visuals please contact Francesca Arcilesi (francesca@aha-fineart.com), Norma Homberg (norma@aha-fineart.com) or Maria Dimanshtein (mdimanshtein@gmail.com)

162-wound-CLXII
Artwork by Juan Miguel Palacios

Bleeding Edge An Immersive Triumph at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

King, Eleanor. “Pang” (2017) digital video

The shadow of technology’s pervasive presence stretches across the walls of Bleeding Edge, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA)’s new media exhibit on view now through May 15 in Peekskill, NY. Echoing the promised utopia and oft-dismal reality of advanced technological networks and intimating at the vague disillusion of late-stage capitalism,  Bleeding Edge features site-specific installations and new media works by artists Anthony Antonellis, Kelsey Brod, Izabela Gola, Faith Holland, Eleanor King, Amanda Turner Pohan, Livia Ungar and Sherng-Lee Huang. From digital recreations of physical phenomena to the fragmented elements found in our tech interfaces, this exhibit is a striking investigation of technology’s impact from multiple viewpoints. It’s a tour de force investigation into technology’s impact on our everyday experience. The exhibition, curated by HVCCA’s own Michael Barraco, makes a reference to the term “bleeding edge”, alluding to technology so innovative that it engenders incredible risk in its application. The institution itself takes risks with the cutting edge survey of works on view in this exhibit: a risk that ultimately pays off for visitors to the show.

“Pang”, a video and sound installation by artist Eleanor King, visits a mountainous landscape seemingly generated by computer graphics. It is, in fact, a low-resolution image from a survey of the landscape in Nunavit, Canada – a remote province where the artist lived. Nunavit is a remote northern area and serves as home to a large indigenous population. The persistent soundscape visitors experience while observing the video moves between naturally observed phenomena, such as ice melting, and sparse musical compositions. The video introduces new perspectives in examining our relationship with the natural world across great distances and the ambiguous “success” that programs such as Google Earth have in bringing us to remote places across the planet. In addition, it questions how we privilege certain spaces over others when it comes to new technology, and how certain populations can be excluded as a result.

Holland, Faith. “Queer Connections.”(2017) face mounted inkjet prints on acrylic

Encountering “How to Facial Mocap Drag” (2018) by Kelsey Brod, the viewer is immediately implicated in the how-to video seemingly led by an Ivanka Trump look-alike. The video purports to teach viewers to utilize software, playing with this entrenched tutorial format by subverting the educational aspect of the video with suggestive political language. Brod navigates direct political accusations, instead inviting viewers to question their choices and actions to see how these align with their personal philosophy.  Similarly, Faith Holland’s “Queer Connections”(2017) makes manifest the gendering of inanimate objects by pointing to “male” and “female” electronic components connecting seemingly “incorrectly”. Guiding the eye to these hyper-sexualized connections, curator Barraco notes that when the connection is enlarged it becomes more evident that these combinations that didn’t fit have “found new means of connecting.”

The Bleeding Edge installation shot, HVCCA (works from left by Izabela Gola, Anthony Antonellis)

Anthony Antonellis’ witty and clever videos take a playful look at technological flaws that arise with innovative leaps forward. His works “Fidget”(2017) and “Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Fireplace”(2017) re-imagine objects within new contexts as a result of unintended consequences that each product experienced post-launch. Fidget spinners change out in a dizzying array of styles, subverting the original purpose of the spinners. Instead of allowing the viewer increased focus and concentration, the video functions by creating a sense of nausea at the constant cycling of different spinners in and out of the video. Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s penchant for combustibility forms the basis of Antonellis’ fireplace video: visitors approaching the video from far-off can be forgiven for thinking it’s a common home fireplace video before coming closer and noticing the Samsung devices. These works play on the failures commonplace in technological innovation and social disruption.

Pohan, Amanda Turner. Swipe (2018), Pulverized smart phone LCD screens, fluorescent lights

Amanda Turner Pohan’s “Swipe”(2018) and Izabela Gola’s “New Blue Horizon Harbinger”(2017) approach a remix of old and new media from a unique perspective: horizontally. Barraco notes this format recalls “older forms of technology, sequential like strips of film.” The resurgence of natural materials in these artworks speaks to their pervasive presence in new forms in everyday technological objects: silicon, aluminum, copper. The porcelain in Gola’s objects, backlit and hinting at the presence of a figure emerging in her film “The Blue Kid”(2015), also speaks to the absence in new media of handicraft present in former iterations of human-created “technologies” from past generations. Gola also points to the ingrained relationship between the film and this installation. “The abstracted blue glaze horizon on the porcelain is an visceral emotional rendering of the horizon demarcated in the video, including the one painted on the ceramic props’ decorative motives and the urn vignette.” The blue glaze in her porcelain installation and the pixellated blue background from The Blue Kid share an undefined, amorphous sensibility: permeating the space without articulating a firm definition of its shape or presence.

Gola, Izabela. New Blue Horizon Harbinger (2017).Frost porcelain, glaze, underglaze, LED lights, metal supports

Gola’s film “The Blue Kid”(2015) appropriates cinematic tropes from classic movies such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Maltese Falcon. The artist points to the reiteration of these tropes over time as the inspiration for the menacing, ever-present blue background migrating across the screen during the video. Gola points to the intrusion of this blue mass into all aspects of the film. “With this exaggerated slowed down pixelation I point to a decomposed lossy index image (a.k.a. its lost aura) which becomes a signifier of the exhausted, washed-out cinematic tropes and modalities used in Film Noir and Westerns.” The horizontal orientation of her installation on the exhibition’s front wall also hearkens back to the film tropes. “There is a relationship between different mediations of a horizon delineating a landscape through the different genres in the installation,” Gola notes. “[This serves as] a classic idea in visual representation- [the idea of] a figure relating to landscape— figure as an entrepreneur, or a protagonist directing its gaze at the horizon.” Perhaps, like the trope of a cowboy riding off into the sunset, Bleeding Edge is the distant landscape emerging into view as the credits roll, marking a whole new framework of examining the brave new world of technological progress.