Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ROBERT OTTO EPSTEIN











I met Robert Otto Epstein a few years ago, while he was working on his 8Bitterized paintings and drawings.  I was intrigued by the (as I thought) obvious connection to technology and of course the vibrant color palette, and I got to know him through a few conversations about his work and visits to group shows.  Most recently, I was struck by his portraits at VOLTA in NYC.  When I saw that his work would be included in a two-artist show at Hionas Gallery in Chinatown, I decided to reach out to him about a collaboration.

In chatting about his work, I found out that it references much more than technology.  In his words, "When I was first painting, I randomly came across a knitting pattern magazine on eBay.  So I started out painting sweaters, cardigans, jackets, and skirts.  Over time, I noticed that the knitting instructions take on a grid format.  Each square and each symbol represented a different color and that's how I got into the abstract form of painting and drawing." Basically, Robert was Artfully Awear all along!

When asked about his newest series of portraits, three of which are included in the Hionas Gallery show, he said he started out searching the internet for high-resolution images, and eventually landed on celebrities as subject matter, after exploring gallerists and athletes.  The painting that I chose as inspiration for my jacket is based on a portrait of Olivia Munn.  We both had a laugh when I told him how difficult it was to capture the expression in his painting - and he reminded me that each portrait naturally contains a likeness to its artist, so of course mine would have appeared different than his.

Instinctively, I asked him what's next, and he said he's very interested in pursuing wall-sized paintings.  It took many hours for me to hand-paint the skirt and jacket inspired by his work, so I immediately understood how intensive the process would be to paint a grid on a surface the size of a wall!   He also joked that perhaps a fashion line should be in the works.  I'd wear it!

Robert's work is on view at Hionas Gallery until May 26th.

Photos by Kathy Paciello.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

KUSAMA KIDS







My very favorite thing about Artfully Awear is seeing how others are inspired to create their own wearable art.  Leila and Jonah, along with their mother Stephanie, created these fabulous polka-dotted shirts for their visit to the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum. Stephanie said they were inspired by my Artfully Awear ensembles.  In her words, "The exhibit is so interactive already and interacting with your clothing brings it to the next level."  Have you ever seen a more adorable duo?!  It looks like Leila and Jonah had a blast wearing their Kusama shirts in her infinity rooms!

Have you created any wearable art?  I would love to see it!  Use the hashtag #ArtfullyAwear on social media to share your creations.


Monday, May 1, 2017

DESERTX






"Do you want to go to an art scavenger hunt in the desert?" Without hesitation, my friend Jayne responded, "I'm in!"

A few weeks ago, I flew out to Palm Springs from New York, and Jayne drove to the desert from her home in Los Angeles.  We immediately got to the task of locating sixteen different site-specific artworks, the Desert Exhibition of Art (or DesertX), which were sprinkled throughout the Coachella Valley. Our favorites are shown here: Tavares Strachan's I Am, Phillip K. Smith III, The Circle of Land and Sky, Doug Aitken's Mirage, and Claudia Comte's Curves and Zigzags, which I painted a dress to match.

The most fun part of the whole experience was driving through the desert to locate the works.  Even though the exhibition had a map, there was still some creative visualization involved in pinpointing the exact location of some of the pieces.  Being told to watch out for scorpions was another high point.  It was so interesting to see how the various artists created site-specifics works, and the different themes that emerged throughout.  All in all, it was a unique experience, and I'm looking forward to the next edition of Desert X!


Photos by Jayne Clark.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

SUNFLOWERS




What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? –Vincent Van Gogh

There are a few artists that I love, but whose work I am afraid to try to recreate.  (Matisse is one of these artists.)  When the thing that inspires you is a masterpiece – something so beautiful and famous and even spiritual – it is unbelievably frightening to think that you may not be able to do it justice.  In preparation for my visit to Amsterdam, I began working on a jacket inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece, Sunflowers, 1889, which resides at the Van Gogh Museum.  I agonized for weeks before even starting the process, wondering if I’d be able to capture the essence of such a well-known and loved work of art.  In the end, I spent more time creating this piece than any other Artfully Awear project before.

On the day I was set to meet the painting, I arrived at the museum before it opened.  There was already a line of people outside waiting to get in.  Meri and I went inside, straight to the second floor, where the painting lives.  When the second door opened, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There, on a wall to itself, was my inspiration in all its glory.  It was larger than I had pictured, even though I knew the measurements, and the colors and textures were even more vibrant and detailed than any photo could have shown.  I was overwhelmed.  After an emotional moment, we spent some time taking photos with the piece.  After the photoshoot was finished, with a museum employee before exploring the rest of the museum.

We discussed the way that social media has impacted the museum experience, and provides visitors and staff a multitude of new ways to engage with art and to share their experience with others.  I marveled at how I was inspired by a work of art that was three thousand miles away from my home, and how I was able to connect with it through digital images – but how important and meaningful it is to actually see the painting in real life.


Thank you to Meri for taking the photos, to the Van Gogh Museum for having me, and, of course, to Vincent for inspiring us long after his time on the earth.  

Photos by Meri Feir.





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

GUGGENHEIM VISIONARIES




There is a joke amongst my art-loving friends: if anyone asks "What's at the Guggenheim right now?" we always answer, "Kandinsky!"
Vasily Kandinsky is the artist I most closely associate with the museum, and for good reason: his work made up the initial collection that launched the Guggenheim to be what it is today.
In the current exhibition, Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim, the work of Kandinsky is seen alongside work by Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, and Alexander Calder, among others, whose presence in the collection established the museum as an elite institution.  The exhibition also delves into the history of the museum, and highlights some of the individuals who were necessary in building such a prestigious collection: Solomon R. Guggenheim, of course, but also Hilla Rebay, Justin K. Thannhauser, Karl Nierendorf, and Peggy Guggenheim.  It is an interesting curatorial perspective, one that is very institution-specific, and helped me to appreciate the museum's holdings in a much deeper way.

For this dress, I chose two works by Kandinsky: the front (not shown) is inspired by Several Circles (January - February 1926) and the back is inspired by Composition 8 (July 1923).  This is the first time I've combined multiple works into one garment, and it was fun to think about curating an outfit like one would curate an exhibition.

Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim is on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City until September 6, 2017.

Photos by Mark Rosen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

$NINETY-FOUR


Armory Week in NYC started with the ADAA's The Art Show, the first in a series of art fairs and events that lasted for about a week, and ended yesterday.  I saw an incredible amount of art in the span of a few days, and shared my favorites through Instagram Stories.  The most memorable piece for me, though, is pictured here: Sarah Cain's $ninety-four. 

When the Art Dealers Association of America asked me to make a dress inspired by one of the works in their benefit auction for the Henry Street Settlement, this piece caught my eye.  I made a dress for Sarah Cain's exhibition at Galerie Lelong last fall, an immersive experience that included a large-scale floor painting.  I was surprised to find that $ninety-four is the size of a dollar bill!  There is an abundance of energy in the six-inch painting, and it made me think about the impact that even a small act of kindness can carry.  

The Henry Street Settlement opens doors of opportunity for New Yorkers through social service, art, and healthcare programs, and you can make a difference by getting involved.

Photo by Hilary Pollack.






Thursday, February 23, 2017

INFINITE KUSAMA





I've exulted about Yayoi Kusama many times over the years (here, here, and here), most recently when I created a dress inspired by her Pumpkin at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  Pumpkin was a precursor to her exhibition, Infinity Mirrors, which opened today at the museum in Washington, DC.  I had the pleasure of touring the exhibition along with the press, and got to spend time in each of her otherworldly infinity rooms with my old friend Rosh, who had agreed to take photos.  For the occasion, I made another outfit: this spotted jumpsuit inspired by Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli's Field (1965-66).  To my astonishment, another museum-goer, Deane Madsen, also dressed in red polka dots!  Matching other art lovers is becoming more and more common (as evidenced in my last post, from LACMA).  I love that more people are using clothing as a way to express their love for art!

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is open at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through May 14, 2017.



Photos by Roshan Patel and Deane Madsen.

Monday, February 6, 2017

LA GERBE










"Another word for creativity is courage." -Henri Matisse

My love of Henri Matisse has been a constant throughout most of my life, and my own work has been inspired by his many times.  However, it wasn’t until last year that I gained the courage to create a garment inspired by one of my favorite Matisse works: La Gerbe.  It was surprisingly intimidating to embark on a project inspired by an artist and a work that I so greatly revered.  I spent months visualizing how I would portray my own interpretation of La Gerbe, and the entire process, from conception through creation, lasted about six months. 

Over the weekend, the two finally came together at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  I planned to meet an old art school friend, Rose Lawrence, at the museum, and I waited for her outside in the LA sunshine, wearing my masterpiece jacket.  When I saw her approaching from a distance, I couldn’t believe my eyes – she was wearing a hand-painted dress she had made, inspired by La Gerbe! I was overwhelmed and incredulous.  After hugging and laughing and hugging again, we went inside to meet our match, arm in arm.  I can hardly describe how much joy it brought me to bask in the presence of La Gerbe along with another kindred spirit.  It was like three generations coming together – La Gerbe, my jacket inspired by the piece, and Rose’s dress inspired by my jacket inspired by La Gerbe.  It was fun to see the museumgoers’ reactions to our outfits in front of the grand artwork, and to answer questions about how we made our respective garments.

In my study of Matisse, I’ve found that I relate to many of his artistic sensibilities, have experienced some of the same struggles, and am working toward many of the same goals.  I uncovered a similar affinity when reconnecting with Rose, an entrepreneur and creative genius in her own way. Not only did I learn that she valued and connected with my artistic passion, but that we also experienced many of the same challenges and triumphs in our respective endeavors.  Matisse said that, “Another word for creativity is courage”, and this truth has revealed itself more and more to me. As I continue to pursue my artistic endeavors and understand and appreciate more deeply the passions of my friends, I've learned that it takes not only courage, but endurance and determination to follow your passion, and I believe Matisse would be glad that we did.

Photos by myself, Rose Lawrence, and Myra Hassaram.
You can find Rose's fabulous company Red Bread here.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

GENERAL IDEA @ MUSEO JUMEX








This is the final post from my Mexican travels earlier this month.  It was an epic journey that ended in Mexico City, where there are more museums than I could possibly see in one visit - or in a whole month!

One of the museums that made the cut for my stay was Museo Jumex, which is focused on contemporary art.  On view currently is a retrospective of the work of the artist collective General Idea, called "Broken Time".  The exhibition showcases work from the three collaborating artists in a diverse array of mediums, from painting to photography to film.

General Idea was made up of three collaborators: AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal.  The artists used their collective work to explore many different themes throughout their activity, including the exploration of advertising and mass media, ideals of beauty, and the global and local effect of AIDS.  The collective's work was cut short when Partz and Zontal passed away due to AIDS-related complications in 1994.

Some of my favorite works in the exhibition were actually created before the artists officially established their collective.  The ziggurat paintings shown here were completed by Felix Partz in 1968, after he traveled in Tangier and was besought by the Islamic architecture and imagery he saw there.  For General Idea, ziggurats were a symbol of power, and they used this motif over and over in their work.

Of course I couldn't resist the chance to do my own power poses with the paintings!

General Idea: Broken Time is on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City until February 12, 2017.