Monday, July 21, 2014

Benjamin Peterson: Hunting & Fishing

During his residency, Benjamin Peterson scaled down and expanded his life-sized hunting trophy heads to dollhouse-sized cabin and ice fishing shack to explore the hunting and fishing culture of his youth in Michigan. “Looking back now, it seems so odd that I was so involved in that world.” He says.

Taking 1980s TV hunting shows geared towards kids with their jaunty music and upbeat approach, Peterson is in the process of producing a macabre and funny stop action video using his sets and figures made of clay and florist oasis which was produced in his hometown of Wilmington, MI.

Julia Werntz's Book Within a Book

Julia Werntz reports that her residency at VCCA in May/June “was the best ever—I had a great time, connected with very interesting people, and got very important work done.” In addition to completing the songs she was working on (for a spring 2015 performance), she also finished a book—“really a book within a book”—on microtonal ear training and composition.

The book will be published along with other articles on microtonal music, in a single volume, titled 1001 Microtones this fall in Hamburg, Germany by von Bockel Verlag. “Much of the content will be in English,” Julia says. “And the book will be distributed in the US as well as Europe. This is a good thing, since there is great interest these days in microtonal music, and there is a demand for such a book. I will be having my students in my microtones class at the New England Conservatory buy it, as well.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Calme, Luxe and Volupté: Gwen Hardie's Body Series

Gwen Hardie has distilled her fascination with the human figure, down to its surface and what lies just beneath. Zeroing in on the flesh, these latest paintings could be anywhere you see a sprinkling of freckles and the undercurrent of veins, Hardie has abandoned previous anatomical landmarks—glimpses of an areola or telltale crease, and so removed all vestiges of narrative and psychological overtones.

Several years ago, Hardie settled on using tondos and oval shapes for her work because the squares and rectangles she had been using invited the viewer to mentally add on more, mosaic-fashion, to the composition. Circles and ovals are self-contained shapes, which your mind accepts as complete. They’re also sensual and feminine and reference the alpha and omega of nature from the cosmos all the way down to cells.

There is a distinctive volupté quality that comes from the consummate fleshiness Hardie depicts—one can sense the warmth, softness and pliancy of the skin—yet these paintings are also rather dispassionate formal opuses into how light and shadow plays on the surface of things and the manipulation of volume and spatial direction.

Hardie’s work will be part of REALITY: Modern and Contemporary Painting, Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, UK (September 27, 2014 – March 1, 2015), a survey of the last 50 years of representational painting which includes other art world luminaries as Lucien Freud, Cecily Brown, Jenny Saville and Peter Doig.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Noted VCCA Composer Dies

VCCA has learned that award-winning American composer, Lee Hyla, died peacefully June 6 in Chicago at the age of 61.

Hyla, the Harry N. and Ruth F. Wyatt Chair in Music at Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music Theory and Composition, employed contemporary atonal idioms, elements of avant-garde jazz, rock and even punk in his complex compositions. Anthony Tommasini called his credentials within the avant-garde and academic music circles “unassailable" in his 2013 article on Hyla in The New York Times.

Hyla received commissions from such prestigious artists as the Kronos Quartet, Midori, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He also composed for other ensembles, including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Speculum Musicae. He received commissions from the Koussevitzky, Fromm, Barlow and Naumberg foundations, the Mary Flagler Carey Charitable Trust, Concert Artists Guild, Chamber Music America and the Meet the Composer/Readers Digest Consortium. His music has been recorded on Nonesuch, New World, Avant, Tzadik and CRI labels.

Hyla’s roster of honors includes the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the St. Botolph Club Award and the Rome Prize. He served as resident composer of the American Academy in Rome and a composition fellow at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France and was an Aaron Copland fellow at the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, Italy.

Hyla was a Fellow at Mt. San Angelo in 2001 and a Fellow, along with his wife, Katherine Desjardins, at VCCA-France in 2011where he also served as composer-in-residence for the Etchings Festival while in Auvillar. He was planning to serve as composer-in-residence later this month for New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lieberman's "Ice Guns"

Claire Lieberman’s Ice Gun series (1999–present) will be part of Clear and Present Danger, at Hot Wood Arts, Brooklyn, NY, July 25-August 17.  In shape, Lieberman’s guns are futuristic in a fanciful way, like something Flash Gordon might be packing, but the clear glass turns these associations on their head, inserting an astringency and fragility. Choosing such a breakable and transparent material as uncolored glass to create something we expect to be solid and extremely durable sets up an interesting tension.

For Lieberman, the fluid quality of glass is what appeals. It’s the closest she can get to ice, her medium of preference: “I would like to cast them into ice, let it melt away, and cast the melting—that’s what I want my work to feel like,” says Lieberman. Opening: July 25, 6-11 pm.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Joshua Zeman's Creepy "Killer Legends" Gets Top Ranking on iTunes

Joshua Zeman’s documentary Killer Legends is currently ranked #1 in Horror and #3 in Documentaries on iTunes.

The film, which, Zeman describes as creepy and fun focuses on the nexus of urban legends and true crime by exploring the origins behind four of our scariest campfire tales. Check it out here:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Corinne Duchesne's Explores What's Left Behind

Toronto artist, Corinne Duchesne, accomplished her goal of making a painting a day during her fortnight at VCCA and celebrated with an open studio before packing them all up. Using acrylic and ink, Duchesne explores loss through the drawers of stuff left behind when someone dies. As she points out, in one way this stuff is unimportant, its destiny the dustbin. In another, it’s poignantly valuable because it’s what the person touched all the time.

Duchesne’s veils of discordant hues and assertive jagged lines only hint at the drawer’s contents. It's not what she's after; she's got bigger fish to fry, namely the intangible evocation of the person who's gone. 

Most of Duchesne’s paintings fill up the drawer-sized sheet of paper. Some are collages contained within the rectangle, while others cascade down the wall as if the drawers had been tipped up spilling everything out.

Here and there among the works one notices recognizable items, roses and also rats that are mostly only suggested. Though their meaning is nebulous, the rats rattle one’s chain and so offer an interesting edge to the work. Duchesne says the first painting she did when she arrived was a particularly vicious looking rat she placed in the corner down near the floor of her studio and the rest of the work flowed from that.