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Five Art Books to Read This Summer – The New York Times

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For much of the culture industry, as with society at large, a single pressing issue looms over all others: Join the rush to reopen? Or remain anxiously hunkered down, lest — like the fake ending of so many horror movies — the seemingly defeated killer suddenly re-emerges from his hiding spot.

Yet in a growing number of quarters throughout the art world, the very terms of that debate are being questioned. Impassioned essays and teeth-gnashing Instagram posts are asking if getting “back to normal” should truly be the final goal. Many of these critiques of business-as-usual mirror larger socio-economic complaints, from the art handlers who quietly keep the entire billion-dollar business humming along organizing for better wages and working conditions, to the emerging artists trying to make sense of the disconnect between their own running-in-place careers and record-setting auction results.

Where is the art to help us make sense of this moment, or to at least freshly question the way our current contemporary art has been produced, bought, and sold? And what would that alternative art world look like? Here are five recently published books that mine that subject.

Credit…Estate of David Wojnarowicz; via Primary Information and P.P.O.W.
Credit…Estate of David Wojnarowicz; via Primary Information and P.P.O.W.

Few modern artists have been as closely associated with artmaking in a time of plague as David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992), whose work channeled a burning sense of outrage, first for his friends and lovers as they fell to AIDS, and then for his own looming mortality, as public officials seemed either indifferent or openly hostile to the disease’s victims simply because so many were gay. Wojnarowicz’s diaristic writing took on more complex feelings, as fascinatingly compiled in a handmade catalog he titled “In the Shadow of Forward Motion” to accompany a 1989 solo show.

His gallery, New York’s P.P.O.W., didn’t have the budget then for a slick, professionally printed version, so he simply Xeroxed 50 copies for his show’s opening, explaining in its foreword that his samizdat exhibition catalog was simply “rough notes, late night tape recordings, things spoken in sleep and fragmented ideas which at times contradict each other.” He grossly undersold it. Now reissued as a paperback by the archival publisher Primary Information, it offers not only a look into Wojnarowicz’s process, but also his philosophical musings, by turns wistful and playful — yet always with the outside world pressing in. A diagram for how the gallery should hang a wall of his photos is grounded by the notes-to-self scrawled at the bottom of the page: “Pay Rent” and “Doctor 12:30 Thurs.”

The Cometbus journal had a similarly modest cut-and-pasted start in the Berkeley, Calif., bedroom of its 13-year-old editor, and a punk rock enthusiast, Aaron Elliott. Nearly 40 years later, Cometbus is still going strong, still self-published (albeit now handsomely typeset and bound), and still taking as its mandate all the workings of underground culture. Its 59th issue, released just as the pandemic began closing its sales network of independent bookstores, is appropriately entitled “Post-Mortem.”

Consisting of a single 48,000 word essay written by Mr. Elliott, now based in Brooklyn, it colorfully records his past year crisscrossing the country to conduct revealing interviews with several generations’ worth of countercultural figures who built lasting counterinstitutions, from Fantagraphics Books’ Gary Groth in Seattle to Interference Archive’s Josh MacPhee in Park Slope — or who spectacularly failed to do so. The end result memorably splits the difference between memoir and business journalism, and is likely the sole place to find equally probing discussions of freight train-hopping and nonprofit incorporation.

Credit…David Byrd Estate, New York; via Anton Kern Gallery, New York
Credit…David Byrd Estate, New York; via Anton Kern Gallery, New York

The painter David Byrd (1926-2013) had the kind of career trajectory most artists dream of — a solo show with the pioneering Seattle gallerist Greg Kucera, followed by an equally acclaimed show at New York’s White Columns, and then representation by the blue-chip Anton Kern Gallery — as long as you ignore the seven decades before his being discovered in upstate New York. It’s also a cruel iteration that artistic talent often has little to do with timely recognition. During that period, Byrd worked as an orderly on the psychiatric ward of the Montrose Veterans Affairs hospital in Westchester. Montrose VA 1958-1988 is a complete replica of a handmade book Byrd created to document his 30 years there, drawing his patients in various states of despair and confusion, or all too rarely, moments of transcendent peacefulness. To call it a sketchbook doesn’t begin to do justice to Byrd’s draftsmanship, or to the otherworldly quality he brings to rendering his patients’ inner lives on the page.

Credit…Simon Pope and Café Royal Books
Credit…Simon Pope and Café Royal Books

A global health crisis hasn’t made Café Royal Books break stride. Virtually every Thursday, Craig Atkinson (“Café Royal Books is just me”) of Southport, England, ushers a new, modestly priced, elegantly straightforward, zine-style photography monograph into the world. The goal is simple — “publishing, preserving, and making accessible British documentary photography.” That means mining the archives of both relatively well-known figures like Tish Murtha, whose photos of the 1977 Silver Jubilee honoring Queen Elizabeth capture that national celebratory moment in granular (and often hysterically funny) form, as well as those deserving of more attention, like Simon Pope. His grimy shots of mid-70s London children giddily turning their hollowed-out city into an industrial playground make it seem as if the Blitz had just ended.

Credit…Judith Black and Stanley/Barker
Credit…Judith Black and Stanley/Barker

Upon moving to Boston from rural New Hampshire in 1979, the photographer Judith Black was forced to change her artistic style as much as everything else in her life. Beginning a graduate program, “I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to roam the streets to make photographs,” she writes in her new book, “Pleasant Street,” a nod to the address of her new home. “I had limited time between working at M.I.T. as an assistant, attending classes, and being a mother. Our apartment was dark, but it became my studio.”

The results, as seen in this monograph, put the focus on her four children, all documented over the subsequent decade with a striking intensity. Her subjects don’t just intimately acknowledge the camera, they inhabit it, growing up right in front of Ms. Black’s lens. And the outside world never stops intruding, from one child’s black eye (“jumped in the street” elliptically notes the photo’s caption) to another’s suddenly spiky haircut, menacing gaze, and hand-painted cutoff T-shirt emblazoned with the chorus to an equally aggrieved punk anthem, “We’re just a minor threat.” As the years unfold, Ms. Black’s sumptuous black and white portraiture reveals less a snapshot of cozy domesticity than a series of coping mechanisms, ways of learning how to finally become comfortable in one’s own skin.

It’s a reminder that, whatever the era, and regardless of whether they’re artists, most folks are forced to figure out their own path to so-called normalcy.

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Oilers' Draisaitl reflects on Art Ross Trophy win: 'You dream of these things' – CKPGToday.ca

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Davies, meanwhile, the Canadian refugee-turned-soccer-phenom, is turning more heads each week for Bayern Munich in the Germany’s Bundesliga, with his matches becoming must-see-TV for many fans back home.

The pair — elite talents from non-traditional countries in their sports — have stayed in touch since the 19-year-old Davies dropped the ceremonial puck at an Oilers’ game in December.

“I kind of know what he’s going through right now with soccer being so big back home and hockey being big in Canada,” Draisaitl said on a video conference call with reporters Thursday. “Coming over and trying to adjust and find your rhythm, find your game, find your life a little bit.

“He’s becoming a very, very good player. It’s very fun to watch, fun to see.”

After a stuttering start to his NHL career, Oilers fans feel the same way about Draisaitl.

The 24-year-old finished the regular season with 43 goals and 110 points in 71 games, 13 clear of teammate and fellow star Connor McDavid.

Draisaitl was on pace for 127 points — one short of Nikita Kucherov’s mark last season — a total that came on the heels of the 105 he put up in 2018-19.

“I’m proud of it,” he said of the Art Ross. “It’s a cool story for myself personally, no question.”

That story, however, had a somewhat rocky beginning.

The No. 3 pick at the 2014 draft got a 37-game audition with Edmonton as a teenager before getting sent back to junior. Draisaitl arrived at training camp the following September looking to stick, but was shipped to the minors for six games.

While it might not have seemed like it in the moment, that extra seasoning was important.

“I don’t think I was ready at the time,” Draisaitl said of playing in the NHL as a teenager. “It’s OK to maybe take a step down. That was the case with me. In the long run, that was probably the best thing for me, to go back down to junior and start the next year in the AHL.

“Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to take a step back and go at your own pace.”

Draisaitl’s pace has certainly ramped up drastically since those difficult first few seasons.

Along with McDavid, he’s been at the forefront of the Oilers’ resurgence that saw the team sitting second in the Pacific Division with 83 points when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to pause play March 12.

McDavid is the face of the franchise and one of the faces of the league — but it’s their team.

“It’s been great to stick around the same group of guys for so many years now and see them grow and watch the team grow, watch the organization grow,” Draisaitl said. “It’s definitely a lot of fun to be a part of. We still have a lot of upside.”

He’s also keenly aware he’s become the face of German hockey, which continues to produce high-end talent, including projected top-5 draft pick Tim Stutzle.

“We’re heading in the right spot as a country,” Draisaitl said. “Germany just isn’t a big hockey country. That’s just how it is, but we can still become a very solid hockey country.”

The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan earlier this week — there’s still lots of hurdles to overcome for the games to actually resume this summer — but the Oilers know if that happens, they’ll face the Chicago Blackhawks in one of eight best-of-five qualifying round series for a right to make the playoffs.

Draisaitl and McDavid started the season on the same line, as they had in the past, but were split up in December to give the team a different look. Draisaitl then carried the load himself when McDavid went down with an injury in February.

“What he’s done for our group has been great,” said McDavid, who along with Draisaitl are in the running for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. “He’s helped both our team and me personally out a ton.”

Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse said Draisaitl’s breakout the last two seasons after 50-, 77- and 70-point campaigns was part of a natural progression.

“He’s always been very confident, he’s always been an unbelievable hockey player, and he just continues to work,” Nurse said. “He didn’t change much. He just kept playing.”

Never one keen to talk about himself, Draisaitl was more than happy to share the credit for his Art Ross.

“There’s always people that help you get there,” he said. “You dream of these things.

“But until you do it, it always seems so far away.”

A certain Canadian soccer star probably feels the same way.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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Senior art now being showcased by Allied Arts Council of Spruce Grove – Spruce Grove Examiner

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Their online show began Monday and is set to conclude June 12.

Elementum l by Suzan Berwald.

The Allied Arts Council of Spruce Grove knows seniors can create and intends to showcase that in their current exhibition.

To coincide with the province’s Seniors Week, which runs from June 1-7, the organization which oversees the art gallery within the public library in the city is running a 2020 Open Online Seniors Competition and Show. It began Monday, is set to conclude June 12, and, similar to other shows they have done during the COVID-19 pandemic, will see the variety of work ranging from paintings to drawings to 3D pieces and photographs posted on their websites and individually on social media feeds across Facebook and even through Instagram as well.

“We do have quite a few local people,” gallery manager Rebecca New said. “The show has always been Alberta-wide and we will have a judge who will score the pieces before we announce results Saturday in a Zoom call. People will see with this how talented local artists are and how accessible local art is. We hope that people will choose local art for their homes and it is an excellent level of work that we are seeing.”

New and the Allied Arts Council’s peers at the Multicultural Heritage Centre in Stony Plain have been running a version of digital shows during this time as well. They are debating whether to continue on with online offerings as seriously as they have now once they reopen and, for New, in the wake of this show and others they are doing, that is something the Spruce Grove Art Gallery will end up debating, too.

“I think having a digital presence is something that this will eventually shift to,” she said. “Whether or not we still have digital entries to contests, we are not sure how we will proceed with that. We are talking through a lot of options for the future that lies ahead of us.”

More information about the current show and future events can be found on the council’s website.

epretzer@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EvanJPretzer

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Grimes is selling a piece of her ‘soul’ at an art exhibit. SÆriously. – Globalnews.ca

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FOR SALE: One soul piece, slightly used. About 32 years old. Speaks and sings in English and made-up languages. May or may not have belonged to Elon Musk. Name your price. SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY.

Grimes is offering up a little part of herself at her very first art gallery show, an online exhibition called Selling Out which features several of her artistic works — and one piece of her supposed “soul.”


READ MORE:
Elon Musk, Grimes keep it weird with name change for baby X Æ A-12

The Canadian-born singer, whose real name is Claire Elise Boucher, opened her online art show on Thursday, less than a month after giving birth to her first child, X Æ A-12 X Æ A-Xii Musk. The exhibition is presented by the Gallery Platform Los Angeles and Maccarone Los Angeles, and it features various “rarities” from her career, including album art, a poem about artificial intelligence and some of Grimes paintings.

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Oh, and a piece of her soul.

Selling Out is executed as a contract in which Grimes sells a fraction of her soul, formalizing the idea that every time an artist sells a piece of their art, part of the soul is sold with it,” the online exhibit says. “The purchaser will enter into a contractual agreement that outlines the terms of ownership and ultimately the connection to the joy of artistic expression.”

It’s unclear what that contractual agreement includes, or whether it restricts the buyer from doing certain things with the soul, such as playing soldiers with it.


A supposed image of Grimes‘ soul is shown.


Maccarone Los Angeles

Grimes initially planned to put a US$10-million price tag on her soul, Rolling Stone reports. However, she ultimately decided to go with whoever makes the best offer.

That means Grimes’ soul could be yours — if you want it. You just have to shoot the art gallery an email to make your pitch.


READ MORE:
YouTube mom Myka Stauffer says she gave up adopted son with autism

Grimes told Bloomberg that she’s excited to put on her first visual art show, after honing her skills by making all of her album covers herself.

“I see myself as a visual artist first and foremost,” she said. “I’ve always felt strange that people know me for music.”

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‘WarNymph Prototype #1: Battle of the WarNymphs,’ by Grimes, is show in this image from Maccarone Los Angeles.

‘WarNymph Prototype #1: Battle of the WarNymphs,’ by Grimes, is show in this image from Maccarone Los Angeles.


Grimes via Maccarone Los Angeles

She describes her artistic style as “edgy-looking, anime horror,” although she wanted to go for something more “philosophical” with selling a piece of her soul.

“The idea of fantastical art in the form of legal documents just seems very intriguing to me.”

Grimes supposedly tapped into her artistic talents to come up with X Æ A-12, the name she and Musk gave their first child after he was born earlier this month. Musk told podcaster Joe Rogan that the name was largely Grimes’ idea.

“Yeah, she’s great with names,” Musk said.

The couple later changed the “12” to Roman numerals to conform with California naming laws.


READ MORE:
Grimes explains why she and Elon Musk named their baby ‘X Æ A-12’

Grimes’ artwork is being sold for between $500 and $15,000, depending on the piece.

The online exhibit is open now, and it runs until Aug. 31 at Maccarone Los Angeles.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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