Friday, June 18, 2010

Here Kapoor, Kapoor, Kapoor...Dove è il Kapoor?

Chanti part two, Art:

Luckily, I was with Sabine on my search for contemporary art in Italy. As an avid collector and a contemporary art lover, Sabine does not mess around when it comes to interesting contemporary art. As a women who is very often interested in work that some might find challenging, she has a keen eye for a good artist and has little patience for the average “tuscan landscape” (which is just one of the many things I love about her btw). So upon her suggestion, we specifically went to San Gimignano to visit Galleria Continua.

As we walked towards the town I found a very interesting street map simply titled Art in the city (Arte in Citta). What's that in the very top right hand side of the map? Anish Kapoor you say? Yes please. Here began the hunt.

The first stop was Galleria Continua:

More akin in size to a museum, Galleria Continua sits on a cliff like corner of San Gimignano. Galleria Continua boasts more then 16 rooms, plus one really cool smaller tomb–like gallery in another building “down the block”.

Galleria Continua is stunning. A piece of art in itself. I found a great many of their pieces to be interesting and smart, especially in their “Basement Gallery”. I would say I'm a fan of all the work I saw there, but I most want to focus on the stunning exhibition of Hans Op De Beeck.

Beck's “Still Life” is made up of three table-like pieces topped with post-modernesqe Marquette style sculptural renderings of the objects which interject into many of our modern day lives.

The tabletops are coated with a 1984/Big Brother shade of grey, drawing attention to the still life like qualities of the objects. Academic qualities of shade, line, depth and perspective are all taken into account. The tables act as stages, with each small sculpture playing the multiple roles of art historian, context curator, and director. My short summary? I love them and I want one in my living room.

There's also one stunning video work titled “Staging Silence”, a comical black-and-white film noir style video that points out the trickery, the brilliance, and the poetry found in the mundane. It's fit for those who appreciate a good visual pun or magic trick and I wish I could have an edition of my own.

In the film, Op De Beeck shows the beauty of silence, using a loud form of slapstick to make light of the similarity between public and private banal moments. I could have watched it over and over (and if I was not being considerate of my friends I probably would have).

From there, one of the lovely assistants from Galleria Continua led us to their installation space, just down the block from the main gallery in a gorgeous old building. This space houses a large-scale work by Chinese artist Chen Zhen.

Courtesy of Galleria Continua

There are many things that can be said about this piece; on first glance it is quite simply beautiful to see all those objects covered in terracotta. Unfortunately, when thinking about it critically, I became stuck. ”Purification Room” comes off as a visual one liner (and as many of you know, I ♥ a good one liner) but with a piece as large as this with so many loaded objects, pouring mud over shit just doesn't do it for me. It's pretty though, pretty in the Serrano kind of way.

Now began our search for the Kapoor, around corners, through churches, down cobble stone streets. Dove è il Kapoor? People looked at us as if we had two heads. But at last, a “Gallery”! Showcasing more of Sabine's “favorite” type of paintings! We asked the owner, “do you know where the sculpture is by artist Anish Kapoor”. NON! Ok, not the friendliest man, but still. We continue on...

...then. right past the gallery, we found a little walkway. We made our way down the windy road up to a private residence at the very edge of San Gimignano. Still no Kapoor! But out of the corner of my eye, stuffed behind a tree, I spot a interesting looking gate. Beyond that gate, down the stair, wedged into a tomb... THE KAPOOR!

“Underground” is literally that underground, and I love it. It was totally worth the search. Check out the panorama shot.

Seeing a Kapoor installed in someone's home is pretty fantastic. As we walk back towards the town to leave Sabine tells the man the Kapoor is right past the gallery, why does he not know about it? “That, that is not art, that is shit.” Well, it seems he feels the same way about the Kapoor as Sabine feels about his tuscan landscapes.

More to come!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Marked: A Show of Figure Gallery Opening

Greetings All! My name is Slater, a senior at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the newest addition (intern/crew person/photographer/garbage collector) to the Like the Spice Gallery team. I am in New York for the summer interning my heart out and it has started off with quite the bang. Seeing Manhattan, Times Square and the streets of Chelsea with 21 year old eyes makes everything look so much different and exciting! One of the highlighting moments so far has been the opening for Marked: A Show of Figure on Friday June 11th, at Like the Spice Gallery, for which I got the opportunity to be photographer of the evening.

The night began with a boom as faithfuls of Like the Spice gallery space poured in, ready to mingle and receive the work presented. With each arrival I grew more and more nervous, this being my first time on the "other side" of the gallery experience. As each guest arrived the energy accumulated and was very quickly streaming from the front doors and down the block, attracting not only the artist community but residents and families from the surrounding neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With the help and comforting words of Olivia and Roxanne( a fellow intern), my nerves calmed and I began to feel right at home.

The reception was amazing and if you weren't here, you probably wish that you were. As Gallery-goers surrounded the pieces from LTS artists Jenny Morgan and Reuben Negron comments such as, "Remarkable technique" and "beautiful composition" were heard over and over again.

Of course, the crowd was just as taken by the work of Robin Williams, Alison Bickle, Brendon Lott, and Chino Amobi, and all the pieces were getting their share of attention. If you'd like to see them now, head to the special online preview page, but naturally, they're much better in person and definitely worth the visit.

The gallery buzzed from wall to wall as the featured artists were greeted with handshake after handshake. As the night went on, the line between viewer and the viewed blurred, as the pieces and the crowd interacted, coming to dance and breathe with each other as one. Intimacy, narrative, exaggeration and emotions all resonated, fueling an energy that only an opening night at Like the Spice Gallery can provide. It was a great way for me to be introduced to the more structured side of the Art world and all the work that goes into installing, hanging and uninstalling a lot of work simultaneously.

At the end of the night the LTS crew packed up another successful opening. From the perspective of this "Fairly new to the Gallery Scene" artist, I am definitely looking forward to many more to come!

Remember, Marked is open right now, and we can't wait to see you. We also can't wait to have you join us for our latest Monthly Dinner Series event, Figure Ates, on June 25th. Places are limited, so please, RSVP today!

An American vegetarian fights the good fight against alcoholism in Tuscany and Chianti but loses... gracefully.

Chanti part one, food:

(Funny sign outside of Antica Macelleria Cecchini )
I was warned on the road to Lucca from the airport that I would be visiting a famous butcher of the Chianti region the following morning. Being the self-loathing vegetarian that I am, I kept quiet for the moment while nervously trying to muster up the words, non mangio carne.

(Sabine, Henning, Marianne, Elke, and Heinrich entering Antica Macelleria Cecchini )
OMG! Saying I don't eat meat in Williamsburg with the plethora of BBQ places that surround and taunt me with their hot hipster chefs and their fantastic whiskys is bad enough, but having to remind Sabine, a gloriously kind host and a bonified foodie, that I don't eata the meata is no fun at all.

(Butcher Dario Cecchini, has been a butcher for 35 years and is the owner of Antica Macelleria)
Her response: It's not meat! It's the “sushi“ of the Chianti region. But how will I tell her that I don't eat fish either???
After driving past the vineyard of my favorite red wine, Castello di Gabbiano's and taking in the beauty, we parked at the base of Panzano, a charming little village in Chianti. Inside Antica Macelleria Cecchini, where butcher DARIO CECCHINI (pictured above) does his infamous butchering, we were promptly greeted by Kate! Kate's a feisty Southern California native who has been in Italy for over 20 years now, so it was great to see her.

She came with a carafe in hand and served us a local house red. She then passed us home made bread drizzled with locally grown and pressed olive oil that had been sprinkled with their special salts and herb mix (which I promptly purchased for myself). Yum!
We toured the shop littered with cooking books, butcher related paraphernalia, meat inspired art... oh, and carne.

Right pass the designer meat locker was a secret staircase which lead up to the restaurant where a pudgy and boisterous waiter stood excitedly waiting to feed us his beef. NON MANGA CARNE ? “Ok, ok, ok for you my love, anything ” he shouts. He brought me a full plate of veggies, potatoes, Insalata Mista, and some phenomenal cheeses with homemade ketchup and other mysterious, scrumptious sauces.

We ate a feast, even poor me, the veggie. With a tragically beautiful view of Chianti just beyond the deck we toasted to Chianti with some Chiante.

I took a short walk around the town and after seeing many watercolors and oil paintings of Chianti we were onto San Gimignano where the scavenger hunt for contemporary art in Italy began.

Why did I ever leave...? Oh... for the love of contemporary art, that's right.

I arrived in Florence, Italy and was instantly greeted by my good friends, Sabine and Henning. They whisked me off through Tuscany on the Autostrada to their gorgeous home away from on home, an Italian villa perched on a hill overlooking the ancient Etruscan city of Lucca.

Their home was surrounded by sugar and spice and everything nice. The spice is pictured below, the sugar and everything nice was provided by the excellent company of instant friends Marieanne, Elke, and Heiney. Marieanne's an architect from Hamburg, with a plethora of knowledge of all things Italian. Elke and Heinrich are the charming and proud owners of Ladage & Oelke, a 3rd generation family owned clothing shop, c.1845 located in Hamburg. Ladage & Oelke specializes in tailored clothing from and influenced by England.

Elka and Heinrich, (pictures of the shop to come when I visit Hamburg!)


I toured the grounds, laid under the Tuscan sun, drank copious amounts of local white wine, and took in the fresh lavender, jasmine, and poppy scents that flowed freely through the valley's air.

Out of New York part one, Swiss airports and rest-stops vs American airports and rest-stops

While the Like the Spice Crew worked hard to open Marked: A Show Of Figure this week, I started off on an European adventure. I arrived in Florence, Italy on the 8th and I will leave Germany on June 23. Follow this blog to read all about my art and not so art related adventures!

The first leg of my trip began at JFK. There is not much to say about airport based travel besides this: it leaves you delirious, jet lagged, and slightly prone to stereotyping. I also could not help but make comparisons between America, Switzerland, and Italy. So, I will leave you with one visual comparison below and get right to Italy and all of its splendor.

Beef Jerky

On the road in South Carolina, bound for Art Basel Miami Beach 2008



Zurich national airport 2010, bound for Art Basel 2010.

Interesting... very interesting...