"Nice Pups" by Eric Yahnker

Anything Eric Yahnker does we're on board (check his last solo show at London's Paradise Row).

His current show “Walk-Ins Welcome” at Marlborough (Broome St.), NYC opened last Friday featuring: Nina Beier, A.K. Burns and Katherine Hubbard, Barb Choit, Juan Downey, Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Donald Judd, Leigh Ledare, Tony Matelli, John Miller and Takuji Kogo, Matthew Palladino, David Scanavino, Josh Tonsfeldt, Devin Troy Strother, Jonas Wood, and Eric Yahnker.

More info/press release here.

"Nice Pups" by Eric Yahnker

"Nice Pups" by Eric Yahnker

Kara Walker's "A Subtlety" +Brooklyn

Kara Walker's "A Subtlety" was a large scale public project inside of Brooklyn's old Domino Sugar Factory.  The show took place from May 10th through July 6th, and was presented by Creative Time.  We asked artist Coby Kennedy to write about it.

It struck me all at once on the 3rd visit. "Ooooooo... I get it."

If I had not have borne witness to the evolving stages of Kara Walkers "A Subtlety", then I would not have "gotten it".  "The Subtlety" being a polarizing installation consisting of the colossal sugar Sphinx Mammy figure surrounded by molasses and resin slave children all slowly decomposing in the cavernous remains of a molasses coated sugar factory. The ambitious months long exhibition, in the beginning, was seen by many as massive sculptural indulgence but soon revealed itself to be, among many other layers, a much more complex and unexpected exercise in viewer involved social practice.

When I arrived at the Domino Sugar Factory on that opening weekend I felt "The Fear". I rarely feel "The Fear" in New York, it usually rears its ugly head when I'm well south of the Mason Dixon Line; or on those unexpected occasions that I find myself in "America Proper" alone in a privileged suburban Abercrombie drenched mythical Stepford-wives-ian Wasp-ish purgatory of "Beckys"and "Chads".

The Fear starts as a foreboding sense of dread, a loss of agency, embarrassment and imminent danger, punctuated by an instinctual shock in the chest upon realizing that you're currently surrounded by an alien culture that consistently proves itself defensively hostile, subversively judgmental and aggressively ignorant. And on this weekend  in Brooklyn, as one of the only Black viewers, surrounded by over-excited throngs of the white art viewing public cavorting and running amok around the face, ass and labia of a 30 foot tall gargantuan nude prostrated Black Mammy Sphinx made of white sugar, I found myself surrounded by White folks that just didn't get it... and the fear set in.

The depth of the piece and the sugar plantation slavery history it was referencing was in stark contrast to the perceived frolicking madness of the crowd.  But then again isn't that mix of dire serious theme and darkly humorous, almost slapstick visual aesthetic, a consistent through line of Kara's work? Regardless, getting out of there felt like escaping a mob, or Auschwitz, or a Mississippi plantation in the 1800's. The overriding sense of racial them-against-us was palpable. Right then and there I laid it out to a friend, "...Any exhibit that can freak me out that hard has GOT to be a win!".  But the question remained, what the hell really just happened?

The debate among a swath of the Black artist community of, "do the artist and curator of 'A Subtlety' have a responsibility to provide written or spoken context to an exhibition", is arguable.  But if so where does the art cease and the didactic history lesson start? Why must intentionally polarizing art be prescribed? Doesn't that attempt at political correctness simply neuter the multifaceted potential of the work? Since when has a prerequisite of art been that it has to teach? I found it was that vagueness that made my experience with the exhibit so intense that I had to come back a second time. The critique of the piece and the way it was being engaged from a deluge of Black voices that ensued online and in person was so intense, at times seeming to come in the form of outright hatred for, not only the audience, but for the artist herself. It seemed to me that I now found myself surrounded by Black folks that just didn't get it.

And on the third visit, on the final weekend of the exhibit, it all viscerally clicked. The physicality of this sugar warehouse as tomb and slave ship alike. The past meets present connection of the porthole cut out of the wall framing perfectly the real housing projects across the east river that now holds the descendants of the Sugar Sphinx and her children. The decomposed state of the children themselves naturally melted over the course of the run of the show. The fact that Kara Walker and Creative Time planned to use the hash tagged online photos that the thousands of visitors have posted for an epilogue project of sorts goes directly to the idea that "A Subtlety" is just as much a critique of how the piece is engaged by the public as it is about the piece itself, the artist has said as much already. But what is so striking is the notion that ultimately it may not even be about "getting it" anyway. Increasingly as the show ran on whether intentional or not, those who engaged "A Subtlety" became in many ways the work itself. On that last day it seemed that the audience was just as enthralled by watching the crowd as there were watching the sugar melt.

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Words by Coby Kennedy.  Coby is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY.  He can be found at www.cobykennedy.com

Photos by John Felix Arnold III. Felix is an artist living and working in Oakland, CA.  He can be found at http://felixthethirdrock.com

Alison Blickle @NYC's Kravets Wehby Gallery

Los Angeles based Alison Blickle who showed here in San Francisco at Eleanor Harwood last year (PHOTOS) recently showed new paintings in New York at Kravets Wehby GalleryLovely works.

So what's interesting about Alison Blickle's pieces at Kravets Wehby Gallery is that she is taking the traditional concept (documented by Frazer so well) of magic and applying it to a type of inner process that seems to be the primary promise of most spiritual/religious systems. Magic is no longer the ritual to ensure good crops, better health or a smooth childbirth. -continue reading

John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Carolyn LeBourgios

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.

Written by Rachel Ralph - rachel(at)fecalface.com

Our sign is looking rough these days. Time to reach out to a sign painter.

Our sign is looking rough these days. Time to reach out to a sign painter.

The first stop of the trip was of course to FFDG as he was part of our group show Salt the Skies before literally hitting the road out of our front door. He and Carolyn headed straight down south and went to Texas before heading to New Orleans, and then up the East Coast to NYC. At first glance, the 'Stand with Israel' sign just seemed like an odd, East Texas painted wall, but I have recently learned that some of the biggest supporters of the Israeli conflict are in the bible belt, as Christians in this area believe that in order to bring upon Armageddon, war must happen (between Israelis and Palestinians) in which Christians will be raptured and Jews will be forced to convert to Christianity to be saved. While I'm not going to jump into that argument, this wall is a little piece of that struggle, even in all of its oddly painted glory.

Terry from Old Crow with his dog Pope Dante in Austin

Terry from Old Crow with his dog Pope Dante in Austin

The rest of the south, through New Orleans and the Carolinas, brought Pope dogs, oil fields (straight out of a scene of True Detective), and delicious snacks along the way before getting into the grind that is New York. Once the duo arrived at Superchief in Manhattan, it was on. Installation on both floors of the gallery started immediately and the show was hung efficiently for the opening of Excorrigia – The Scourge. The works range from his Astroknot figures on larger wood panels to more abstract, smaller works and give the show a lot of diversity while still maintaining its consistency. As another portal into his world of Unstoppable Tomorrow, Excorrigia allows visitors to experience the post-apocalyptic feeling generated by the works while still maintaining themselves as impeccably-produced works of art.

John Felix Arnold outside his show at Super Chief, NYC

John Felix Arnold outside his show at Super Chief, NYC

John Lomanto looking at the work

John Lomanto looking at the work

The opening was a gathering of Felix's friends, both old and new, and was just another step in his career. He will be back showing in San Francisco this spring and fall with solo shows at both the Shooting Gallery in May and here at FFDG in October. Keep your eyes open for him, as I know he'll be up late at night painting, eating the most delicious food the bay has to offer, and giving us access to his world and his work. I can't wait.