Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Beasticon" unpublished

Hey there and happy 2014! As little as I update this blog, I'll still come back to it for musings and writing ideas when the mood strikes. Today, I'm posting an article I wrote about an art show, "Beasticon" at the Mark Miller Gallery in the LES. The article was supposed to be picked up by an arts publication, but long story short, it didn't. Here's the article in full:

All Beasts Are Not Created Equal
Mark Miller Gallery

“There is the great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast', that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” This G.K. Chesterton quote depicts both the creators’ and the viewers’ experience at “Beasticon,” now at Mark Miller Gallery until January 23. Curated by Lori Nelson and Antony Zito, the wicked and ungroomed beasts and what they shed lie in the heart of this Lower East Side gallery. A mixed media exhibit featuring 28 artists, “Beasticon” takes an ancient theme and provides a stage for each artist to navigate through and show off their own fantasies.

“Beasticon” is in the eye of the protagonist, the viewer. What one may deem as sinister, another may find humorous, allowing the audience to develop their own narrative. Childhood fancies are surrealistically brought to life through classic methods and also with more of a DIY approach, such as paper mache, plaster, scrap metal, sugar, zip ties and more. No two pieces are alike, yet they all exist in the same land of misfits. Red glass beads intertwine with a dead bird (Jill Marleah Bell), depicting prickling beauty and a lust for the dead. “Secret Self” (Lori Nelson) -- a monster made of 25 Fresh Direct cardboard boxes with flowers at its feet -- sits in the window facing Orchard Street, emoting the power of its grandeur. Mark Miller Gallery has turned into a paradise for well-crafted, grotesque outsiders.

Photo by Ashley Mathus.

But these characters are not really scaring anyone. Instead, the monsters share a tongue-in-cheek approach and become a wicked attraction. Not surprisingly, “Beasticon” is luring children inside. “The kids are bringing their parents in,” said Lori Nelson. This is a harmonious junction. Imagine a child’s perspective of seeing beasts up close -- something they typically experience via movie and television screens. “Beasticon” allows their imaginations to run wilder than the Wild Things.  

Members of 4heads, the group that organizes and curates Governors Island Art Fair, Nelson and Zito are accustomed to odd pairings. “When Zito invited me to work with him on a show, I knew it would be hilarious and weird,” said Nelson.

Noting her favorite real-life beasts as her teenagers and her mutt dog, Nelson pairs the women in her art with danger, or an “other.” “In these pairings, the woman's sensibility gets thrown into question and the beast's dangerousness gets peeled back a little.” We know this dichotomy all too well, and, maybe more importantly, we keep coming back to it. Her frozen unease is picturesque.

Image courtesy of Joanna Mulder.

While some of the artists created new pieces for “Beasticon”, others have mixed and matched from previous bodies of work. Joanna Mulder (Joannarchy) is showcasing a few paintings from a previous solo show, "I Feel Yucky-The Candy Colored Nightmare" (Gitana Rosa Gallery). Ms. Mulder’s “Dead Duck,” hand-painted with fluorescent pigments, is stark and hallucinogenic-inspired. Her duck is creepily happy. Mulder says of the exhibit, “I knew that it most likely wouldn't be a mundane zoo crawl through lovingly-rendered watercolors of elephants or chainsaw sculptures of grizzly bears hewn from fallen trees, but instead a peek into a much weirder world of creatures you only regret dreaming about.”

Image courtesy of George Ferrandi.

George Ferrandi has incorporated some of her work that’s part of a series she’s been cultivating for the last year. “i really think this is going better this time what no seriously hey wait where are you going”  is a sculpture based on a stingray photobomb meme from 2013. “It's easy to fall in love online,” says Ferrandi. “Monkeys carrying dogs, twin baby platypuses, goats standing in trees, shaved sloths wearing pajamas…how can we not swoon?” Ferrandi’s beast is the meme, and the meme is her beast. It’s a perfect romance.  

“Beasticon” does an excellent job at giving the viewer a lingering feeling. You’ll turn your head to make sure everything is where you left it because each idea flourishes beyond the medium, the loneliness in a scene when the fairytale is over or the harshness of an animal’s fate carries through to the next body of work. A powerful protagonist of her own story, Monica Rose Song’s self portrait glares at the viewer, a serene blend of sexuality and whimsy. “Beasticon” dives deeper into lore where creatures are plush, comical and abstract, spirits of something large, ominous and confident. A DIY dreamscape, “Beasticon” is an immersive display of our fears and other-worldly cravings that must be seen before they dive back into our subconscious.

By: Ashley Mathus

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spinning in Spun O Lith

My latest article in Bushwick Daily -
an installation review by Rebecca Gaffney and team in Bushwick:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Karen Harvey Dances

Here is my latest Bushwick Daily post about Karen Harvey Dances:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Ants!" - an action story

My homework for Children's Book Writing last week was to compose a 500 piece all about ACTION. The desires, character strategies and themes all had to be described through ACTION. As we've been practicing throughout the semester, we had to show and not tell. It was a good challenge. After reading my homework out loud in class, I have some editing to do.

“To the kitchen!”

The ant pack was steadfast in their escape from the hole in the wall behind the toaster. They flung off the kitchen counter all at once, like a flock of dolphins chasing a school of fish. Working as a team, they all knew the plan: Get to the Ho Ho crumbs.

If the ants were not ants, but say Lions instead, they would have thumped to the ground, blasting the ears drums in every ear for miles. But they were ants. And since ants are small and weightless, the pack belly flopped to the ground without so much as a wink from their arch nemesis, Wesley - a mangy, yellow-haired fellow who paroled the house on all fours.

“Only ten feet to the Ho Ho, lads! Let’s get a move on!”

The pack gazed ahead at the task before them. One shuddered. Some twitched. All salivated.

Gaping at the black crumbs glimmering against the afternoon sun, the ants were put in a trance.
“After School! After School!” they chanted.

The white frosting clung to the floor, its sugars seeping into the ground with every second that passed. Hunger was but a close enemy soon to be exterminated.

The pack glided across the kitchen, maneuvering in and out of the light like skiers on a black diamond run. Figure-eighting their way across the linoleum, the tiny bodies drooled at the thought of the plastic Hostess wrapper.

“To the leeeeeeeeft! Wesley awake!”

The pack darted to the left, whacking bits of dust that stirred from kitchen crevices. Musty air ballooned their lungs. Wesley sneezed.

“Hey guys!” shouted Desmond as he squirmed away from one of Wesley’s hoofs.

“Oh it’s the rookie ant. Whadya want kid?”

“Half of you, ahhhhh, dive underneath Wesley’s water bowl and knock it over. The other half, OMG, carry the Ho Ho back to the colony!”


“Great idea!”

“Ummmm OK.”

“Yeah right! You just want to Ho Ho all to yourself, newbie.”

Desmond shook his little spine. His heart was as splattered as the Ho Ho. “Never! I just want us all to get out in one piece.”

“Follow me, brothers!” Desmond redirected his path towards the water bowl, launching ahead.

He had water bowl goggles; nothing could get in his way. Desmond weaved his little body in and out of Wesley’s stale breath. “No turning back now,” he thought.

Desmond closed his ant eyes and prayed to the ant gods. Gazing upwards at the kitchen fan he realized his legs were wet.

That silly dog had woof, woofed Desmond’s body all the way to the water bowl!

“One! Two! Three!” The ants tipped the water bowl over, shattering porcelain everywhere. Ant limbs were drenched in dog spit and water, a simply smelly concoction.

The ants’ eyes were a sopping wet mess, blurring the image of their ant-brothers chomping down on the Ho Ho so far away.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Nicole Wolcott interview

Check out my interview with Bushwick-based dancer, choreographer and 
 overall kick-ass performer, Nicole Wolcott:

Photo courtesy of Nicole Wolcott