Friday, March 19, 2010

#class reviewed in today's New York Times

To say this has been a busy month in the gallery would be an example of the most cloying use of understatement. It's been an absolute circus. Three to four events each day (imagine three to four opening receptions a day, every day) have brought in hundreds of people, not all of them folks I know, not all of them folks I even got to meet. Most of the time, I was thrilled to hear the presentations and meet the folks who came in...some of the time (because the rest of the gallery business has been very busy as well and we simply had to get things done) I wasn't as available as I would have liked to have been.

I note all this as preface to what, whether I was meeting and greeting or squirreling away to meet an important deadline, was always obvious to me: #class has been the success it has because of the efforts of a very large group of people. Nearly every of the over 50 events went off with nary a hitch, the presenters were overwhelmingly provocative, well-prepared, generous, engaging, and fun to watch.

It all comes to an uproarious stop tomorrow night (Rant Night...bring your gripes!), but as Jennifer and William look toward finding ways to repair their marriages :-) and finally put their lives back together (and obviously take an incredibly well-deserved break), I would also like to congratulate and thank all the artists, critics, curators, collectors, dealers, and everyone else who participated in the events. You were all rock stars!

But before I get too far ahead of myself, there are still two days left, and they are doozys:
Today, Friday, March 19

11am – 1pm,
Jennifer Dalton - Access Begins with Education; Jennifer Dalton will present "Access Starts with Education and Education Starts with Access," in which she'll lead her son's Bedford-Stuyvesant public school kindergarten class on a short Chelsea art walk, ending up at Winkleman Gallery to eat lunch and make an art project about what they've seen.

2pm – 3pm
Ben Davis - 9.5 Theses on Art and Class
A discussion of Ben Davis's 9.5 Theses on Art and Class (there is a link to the document on the blog).

4pm – 5pm Franklin Einspruch - Conceptualism for Sale
The Blogosphere's very own Franklin Einspruch will give a lecture entitled "Conceptualism for Sale: How the Art World Uses Low Standards for Fun and Profit." (I've heard there may be exploding heads involved :-)

Saturday, March 20

Zoe Sheehan Saldana - Art Wrap
Free Gift Wrapping! Anyone who buys an artwork during the run of the show can have it gift-wrapped by Zoë Sheehan Saldaña in handmade brown paper and twine. (there are a few drawings in the Market Space still available)

4pm – 5pm
Access ; One of the defining issues at the heart of #class. Is open access for all artists even a possibility in the broadest sense of the art experience? Is it the wisdom of the crowd, a lottery drawing, or the discerning 'eye' of the curator, dealer, or tastemaker that should shape we see? Galleries are open to the public, but they are not the most inviting spaces, while public museums can cost more than a trip to the I-MAX for Avatar 3-D. Reading an issue of Artforum often feels like it requires a pocket theory translator (where is the app for that?). The complexion of the art world is a lighter shade of pale, and despite the Whitney Biennial's gender parity all is not well in the market. So, we raise the question of elitism and hegemony for #class.

6pm – 7pm
On the final night of the show we will host "Rant Night," where everyone is encouraged to come and let it rip on whatever's still bothering you.
Finally, when I applaud all the participants in #class, I also congratulate you all on today's New York Times review of the show by Holland Cotter:
Art in Review
By HOLLAND COTTER
Published: March 19, 2010

Can we talk? That seems to be an urgent art world question, partly because of an economic shakedown that sensible people — i.e., the writers of art fair news releases — keep saying is over, or never happened. But New York artists, in need of jobs or apartments or ways to pay their art school loans, are pretty sure that it did happen, and that it isn’t all that over, even if the Armory Show really had an extraspecial year.

Winkleman Gallery is doing its part to keep the conversation on the boil with an exhibition called “#class,” organized by the artists Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida, who is on loan from Schroeder Romero & Shredder Gallery. The pair have turned the main exhibition space into a combination lecture hall and conference center, with big tables, sit-up-straight chairs and wall-to-wall chalkboards in a constant process of being filled and erased as the show’s events come and go.

So far, the schedule has included discussion panels titled “Success,” “Access,” “The Ivory Tower,” “The System Works” and “Bad Curating.” To get competitive juices flowing, the artist Amanda Browder of “Bad at Sports,” a Chicago-based art podcast, offered a presentation called “Battleship,” which pitted Formalists against Conceptualists, artists against dealers, and painters against the world. A bruiser, I hear.

The art historian and critic Mira Schor, author of an excellent new book called “A Decade of Negative Thinking” (Duke University Press), read an essay on the potentially positive aspects of failure and anonymity. And the artist Joan McNeil led a panel on the notion that the art world isn’t as racially integrated as it likes to think.

So the show’s program is substantial. And there’s even something for gallerygoers in search of art on the wall. The chalkboards — think 1960s Cy Twombly — make for very entertaining reading. And Ms. Dalton and Mr. Powhida have small, conference-approved text drawings in the gallery’s back room. (They’re for sale, but with stipulations way too complicated and finicky to go into here.)

Bottom line: artists are artists’ best friends, and there should be more gatherings like this one.

Final thought: class, as in social class, is the elephant in the art fair V.I.P. rooms, in the art school studios and in Chelsea galleries. Please, can we talk? Yes we can: Friday at 2 p.m. in the gallery, the estimable art critic Ben Davis will present his “9.5 Theses on Art and Class.”

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11 Comments:

Blogger Iris said...

Congratulations on the review! a very unique event, indeed there should be more gatherings like this! Thanks for allowing it Ed, and also allowing the opportunity for anyone to talk here on your blog!

3/19/2010 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Larry said...

A lot of bad weather and the expense of trekking in from Long Island have prevented me from coming in these past weekends, but I will try to get at least to Rant on Saturday.

But just one observation:
"public museums can cost more than a trip to the I-MAX for Avatar 3-D."

That may be, but for some perspective: I don't know any museum admission in New York that tops $20, some admissions like the Met are voluntary, and other museum like MoMA or Brooklyn have free or reduced-price admission times. For this small amount you can stay as long as you want and see a wealth of great art.

By contrast, tickets for the opera can go as high as $300+, with some seats at the concert halls and ballet not too far behind. Family Circle tickets at the Met (where you sit all the way at the top and the stage looks like a postage stamp) are now $42; in 1965 they were $6, though adjusted for inflation the price has not risen as much as appears.

Still, prices for viewing the visual arts are on the whole much cheaper than the performing arts, and only film is cheaper as an artistic experience.

3/19/2010 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Ed, Jen, William, and the other #class participants: Congratulations to all of you on what I think will turn out to be a mythic exhibition (give it 20 years to age properly)

3/19/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I'm curious about what Mira Schor had to say. I'm interested in this topic of conciliation between failure and success.


Cedric C

3/19/2010 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your a good chap Ed. Thank's for the playground and letting the children play.

3/19/2010 01:48:00 PM  
OpenID dennishelsel said...

I'm sure that there will be symptomes of withdrawal or at the very least a melancholy hangover when all of these events are over with. It would be interesting to see if this sort of event could be sustained on an annual/semi-annual basis. It certainly seems that there is an audience for this type of interaction.

I think people want to engage with art in new ways outside of the museum and the art fair. The social context for this event is far more interesting than the spectacle of an art fair where the work can sometimes be lost in the crowd of vaious intentions. It seems that evyone participating in the #class programming was united in the common concern that art is too importatn to let the status quo go on unchallenged.

3/19/2010 03:31:00 PM  
OpenID dennishelsel said...

I'm sure that there will be symptomes of withdrawal or at the very least a melancholy hangover when all of these events are over with. It would be interesting to see if this sort of event could be sustained on an annual/semi-annual basis. It certainly seems that there is an audience for this type of interaction.

I think people want to engage with art in new ways outside of the museum and the art fair. The social context for this event is far more interesting than the spectacle of an art fair where the work can sometimes be lost in the crowd of vaious intentions. It seems that evyone participating in the #class programming was united in the common concern that art is too importatn to let the status quo go on unchallenged.

3/19/2010 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

@dennishelsel,
Yes, I for one am feeling that now. It is very perceptive of you to notice. I wonder if Jennifer, William and Edward are exhausted. I gave a presentation and participated in some of the discussions and events. For myself there was a lot of stress building up to my own presentation and then there were times of being able to "rage against the machine", but as it nears the end of the show's run there's an undercurrent of "the art world is unfair" and it's time to either accept it or slowly work for subtle ways to change it. Tons of emotion packed into one show, and lots of camaraderie. It was brave of Jennifer, William and Edward to take this on. At the end of it all (and not wanting to sound unappreciative) what resolution can come about?

3/19/2010 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

There are many similar events organized in alternative space centers. The new thing about #class is how it's happening in
a commercial Chelsea gallery, like bringing an alternative space agenda in the middle of the art market.

I don't know about New York, but the mediocre artists from state-sponsored countries (I'm teasing Edward) have been really pushing toward statement-based events. I would imagine the discussions to be especially powerful in Chelsea because of the high number of artists in New York and being so close to the door of "success".

Cedric C


Cedric C

3/20/2010 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous nemastoma said...

Congratulations, and thank you for letting us listen in on #class. Enjoy the recess.

3/21/2010 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

Cedric:

I believe Mira Schor read from something she had written years ago, an essay called "Art & Failure". I used to have my students read it every semester.

3/22/2010 01:50:00 PM  

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