Friday, March 30, 2007

Mr. President, at University Art Museum

Okay, last week when I posted Kjartan Slettemark's Nixon Cut Ups I said I'd seen JoAnne Carson and Corinna Ripps Schaming's Mr. President, at SUNY Albany's University Art Museum.... so HERE IT IS!

FIRST... it was noticeable that a show co-curated by two women, featuring work by thirty-two artists, only included three women (with weaker work)... makes me wonder if maybe women artists are not as interested in portraying Presidents? Is it a guy thing? Can anyone think of more women artists who have made President stuff? I can think of a bunch more men who could have been in this show, but no women. Maybe Sue Coe?

Robert Colescott's 1975 painting George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware. This painting is so complicated... it has clowning around fun and painting exuberance, plus a strong sense of repressed anger. This and the Andrew Lenaghan I think are the best pieces in the show...

I was hoping - but not expecting - to find Guston's Nixon painting, the one that was in the show at the Met a little while back... so to get to see this Colescott made up for that.

Colescott's painting could have easily fit into Mass Moca's Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History... that show had a strong appropriation sub-theme.

Jeffrey Vallance's life-size Nixon sculpture - the gallery attendant said it came naked and they had to put the suit on with him lying on a table, like dressing a corpse. No photos, bummer.

I asked... he is built like a Ken doll.

Donation to the Gerald Ford Museum - this piece documents Vallance's effort to donate a ceramic relief bust of Ford to Ford's museum... that thing in the center is a photo of the ceramic, with letters from the museum and some notes.

I love this kind of stuff.. I'm a Jeffrey Vallance fan.

Image of Nixon Found in Nature...

Enrique Chagoya had some Guston "inspired" drawings that might been okay if he had any apparent drawing skills at all... but it was a pretty sad comparison. I don't get how zero original ideas + zero technical ability = inclusion in show. Much better was James Esber...

James Esber
James Esber's Nixon drawing had the Guston.

Not the bite though... I mean, Nixon's been out of office for more than thirty years, right? Enrique Chagoya gets some points for trying... if they could be combined together Esber and Chagoya could probably make a kick-ass drawing.

Mmm... actually, I take that back... Esber's Nixon drawing IS a kick-ass drawing. I mean that a Frankenriquesber monster could really DESTROY.

Peter Saul's two paintings were made twenty years apart -

Peter Saul
Peter Saul's Ronald Reagan, painted in 1984... wow, that reminds me of a caricature class I took at Hudson Valley Community College in like 1981(?) or so... It was a night-time continuing education class or something, I was the only kid... I remember we drew Ronald Reagan.

Peter Saul
Peter Saul's George Bush, painted in 2004.

Yasser Aggour - this culture, gender, racial, power switch-up was good... a picture of George and Abe hugging naked under the plum blossoms. This piece is like kabuki to me... the masks are so stylized, and weirdly asian-like... plus they have a heavy make-up feel, and the gender switching thing where a person is playing the opposite sex (George is a woman).

Doesn't this look like a kabuki thing, a little? I can totally imagine this person moving in kabuki stop-motion style, pausing at a crucial moment.

Andrew Lenaghan's very big portrait of George Bush II... this is an excellent painting. This is (i feel) the strongest piece in the show, along with the Colescott.

I'M TIRED. maybe i'll update, add some links later. there was more stuff worth sharing.

Good show, overall a bit tame... definitely could have used some more anger, some Robbie Conal, some Sue Coe.


Anonymous said...


Hans said...

The spring makes your blog rocking...its a pleasure to read. Best regards, Hans

martin said...

hans! i just came back from the post office.. you are getting a present!

Barnaby said...

whoa..I love the Aggour...