Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Coach Nick Saban Debuts on Art Nerd New York!

coach4
Dear Coach Saban,

Did you see the Last Brucennial?

Respect!,

Future Five Star,
Grand Forks, ND

Funny you should ask FFS (tweet me later, will ya?). I just came from “The Bro’ Show” today in fact.  You wanna know why it’s The Bro’ Show? All the pictures of naked chicks, that’s why.  Coming from Tuscaloosa, this was quite a treat. Sure, I may not know Chris Ofili shit from Andres Serrano shit, but I know my T & A.

This exhibit takes place in a big raw space in the old meatpacking district. How times have changed. The art whores have replaced the real whores, and the only thing it’s packing and oozing these days is shameless consumerism. Do away with the Standard and bring back the STDs. That’s what I say.  If you’ll remember, I’m a conservative southern gentleman. Therefore I’m not into this change for change sake routine. I like vanilla white cubes, not this Bushwick-on-the-Hudson artisanal cheese festival.  Give me a nice typewritten artwork label any day, not this illegible wall-scribbled DIY pretense.  But the atmosphere did feel like a good ‘ol country potluck. If they could just start calling biennials potlucks, then everyday folks might feel a lot more welcomed.

Let’s get down to the nutty buddy. My “Best of Show,” as you might have hoped, goes to Chloe Wise’s bacon flavored Star of David. Jew jokes are okay in New York I guess, and I suspect half of these artists are probably JAPs anyway. By my hurried assessment, workers in the art world now live in a zone of mutual career exchange and casual usurpity.  Blue collared artists (BHQF) have become white collared curators. Curators (Sarina Basta) and curators’ sisters (Lola Schnabel – whose paintings don’t look that bad) have become the artists. Coming to the next Venice Potluck, Okwui Enwezor curates Himself.

Chloe Wise, hipster nazi breakfast experiment?

Chloe Wise, hipster nazi breakfast experiment?

Originally when I entered chez Schnabel, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was blaring from a giant DIY horn-shaped tent with an inviting slit in it. Good start, even if I didn’t want to come inside. I love me some Robert Palmer, but that classic devil’s ballad was overwhelming all the other video and tv programs in the space.  I’d be crimson mad if I were those other video and sound artists. One of the nice security guards told me this was an all girls show, but I gotta tell ya, even in a room full of women, there’s always gotta be a few chix-with-dix.

Seriously, from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, this show was the most hung thing I’d seen since Ron Jeremy in Wrecking Ball. There was art all over the place. My eyes were getting the wobbles, but I did manage to extract a few highlights from the salon-style flash mob. There were Angela Rosensweig and Theresa Hackett’s patterned, fuss-free, semi-abstract paintings.  And also Sara Klar’s canvas of a bouquet paint mess, sprouting from a plastic paint tub sitting on the ground – not sure if this was intentional, to say the truth.  Another painting, by Susanna Heller, depicted a loose landscape painted on a convex oval support, wrapped on the edges with brown packing tape. These works exuded an air of balanced, be-damned assurance, simply hanging out while many others either forced the issue or called it in. Julia Norton’s glittery vignette of gouache island palms and Rachel Wren’s dabbled mosaic (placed a bit too high to see properly) also spoke well of painting.

Sara Klar, don’t care it isn’t intentional

Sara Klar, don’t care it isn’t intentional

Of the many video works, I enjoyed Liz Cohen’s portrait of an artsy, bikini-clad babe posing with a designer muscle car, complete with hydraulics and Car ‘n Driver tongue-in-cheek histrionics. Signe Pierce and Alli Coates’ spaced out prostitute with a chrome dome face was socially unnerving in just the right ways, while Meredith Drum’s digital animation of a Willie Nelson induced joyride ramming the wolf’s Wall Street issued a more playful, corporate darkness (and only costing half a Benjamin!). Continuing in the spooky vein, there was Jordie Oetken’s photograph of a clothesline, clipped with a dirty sweater bearing the image of ribs, a la the shroud of Turin.

Of 3-d works, Serra Victoria Boswell Fel’s modernist, geometric sculpture made of found wood was a little generic, but considerate and well executed.  Anna Edler’s hairy vent similarly had some strong things going for it, as did Parker Shipp’s mound of white painted objects and detritus.

Parker Shipp, searching for Terence K K Koh

The Brothers Bruce also brought in the heavy hitters, including blue chippers Judy Chicago, Marina Abramovic, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, Barbara Kruger, Polly Apfelbaum, Tracey Emin, Liza Liu, Michelle Obama, you name it. But “Why? What for? Where art thou?” I ask. Isn’t this akin to inviting one-and-done NBA players to come back to university, finish their degrees, and play some March Madness pickup games while they are at it?  Shouldn’t there be some kind of unwritten biennial guideline, like if you’ve already made it big, that you should refrain and make space at the end of the bench for the upstart walk-ons? Or at least not show the same gags we’ve already seen from you time and again? Speaking of gags, I’m surprised Lady Gaga hasn’t copped a gender-bending, biennial girl-power durational video in situ yet.

I didn’t dislike these establishment works, but I was not enthralled either. And I certainly don’t mean to sound like a crotchety old fart, as I genuinely tried my best to like this exhibition.  I give it an “A” for effort, though don’t quit your day jobs just yet, kids. I gotta be straight with you here, and I’m feelin’ the coach’s urge to rally the underdogs who are slipping a little. In this show, that would be the pro-feminist and political works. Yes, I’m practically a tea partier, but that just means I like giving the system an occasional boot in the pants. The Bro’ Show’s sense of activism is often lethargic and uninspired, from the aforementioned Kruger agitprop poster to Lisa Rovner’s framed, cheap xeroxes depicting images of protest that lacked any punch. Context is everything, especially if your content is weak. I did manage a half-smile at Kruger’s work next to the pink poodle placed right beneath it, however.

Meredith Drum, Willie style ($50!)

Meredith Drum, Willie style ($50!)

Social media’s passive brand of activism and ho-hum narrative is here as well, in the form of Rebecca Schiffman’s tryptich text about losing her Woodie (Allen) painting, and Sophia Le Fraga’s Feminlist, a long receipt paper indexing various words containing “men” or “man” in them, adding on the obligatory “wo” prefix, i.e. acuwomen, womansion, testawoment. Feminism never looked so Monsanto. But, at the rock bottom price of just $60, it is a collector’s bargain.

Other works that could use some additional strength and conditioning include Paula Lalala’s homage to herself, Hanna Liden’s bust of someone resembling a thief, skier, or Pussy Riot member, and Penny Arcade’s ode to Jack Smith and the muppets, a mixed media video and sculpture work that tiringly laments the commercialization of art, with a framed quotation from Smith:

“Artists think the art world loves art but the art world hates art! These people, foundations (BHQF?), the curators (Vito Schnabel?), they are not there to help you, they are there to feed you into the commercial industry. That’s what is being taught in schools: VAMPIRISM.”

I scratch your back you scratch mine? Now people say the same about Alabama’s coaches and players, but these naysayers stereotype while nary picking below the surface. For all its stance about facing off the machine of commercialism, such art often capitulates to the boss man in a heartbeat, without even realizing it.  Dig deeper dang it! I may have won two of the last three national championships, but that shouldn’t lead to sitting on one’s laurels or ceasing to question one’s methods. A shark activist said to me last week, “You know what’s the biggest room I’ve ever been in? The room for improvement.”

LEFT: Lisa Rovner, all fist no fury; RIGHT: Barbara Kruger and poodle

LEFT: Lisa Rovner, all fist no fury; RIGHT: Barbara Kruger and poodle

Back where we started. Here we go round again.

As I said at the beginning, there’s a lot of T & A, with some V thrown in for good measure. Here are a few citations, in no particular order: Ingrid Schram’s photograph of naked chicks on the beach; Marilyn Minter’s pubic service announcement (Friends? Family? Lovers?); Rin Johnson’s naked klanswoman (Thelma Golden? Claire Huxtable?); Kathryn Garcia’s prismacolor schematic drawing of a nude torso; and Betty Tomkins’ painting of a clit and its ring.

No head for you

No head for you

One striking aspect about many of these pictures and paintings is the anonymous factor, something I call the Ex-Anon (Exhibitionist Anonymous) style.  Any old school notion of reversing the gaze seems to have completely decapitated itself. The female body returns to the land of the objectified. In the golden age of the selfie, perhaps the current crop doesn’t mind anymore.

Continuing on the topic of rugs, my favorite patch was Sophia Narett’s off-square stitchery of a lesbian couple enjoying their Beacon’s Closet finds after murdering their bisexual egg donor in plain daylight following a perfectly pleasant picnic – or at least that’s how I read it. Also breaking free from the rectangle, I appreciated Charlotte Halberg’s small painting that resembled a stratospheric landscape, reminding one of the importance of leaving a comfortable atmosphere, floating unencumbered in black cold space, wondering whether to leap from the balloon, eyeing an uncertain target. (Personally, if I were Felix Baumgartner, I’d have first taken a piss from the great height – get two records for the price of one).

Drum roll…. “Worst of Show” is a tie between Josephine Meckseper’s insipid red canvas with three knives impaling it, and Marina Abramovic’s gold-leafed lips sculpture ($1200 each in an edition of 460 – the math is gross for such an underwhelming work). Close behind might be Antonia Marsh’s sophomoric Duchamp urinal impersonation and Tara Subkoff’s collaboration with Milla Jovovich, in which the latter lived rent-free inside a transparent glass house, armed only with a cell phone and platinum American Express card so that she could order her meds in public and have them see it being delivered.  This is celebrity culture at its worse and most vacuous.  This work was previously produced and shown at the last Venice Biennale – so the notion of recycling shit from biennial to biennial is taken very literal here.

Josephine Meckseper, watch out Richard

Josephine Meckseper, watch out Richard

Unlike the Whitney Biennial, I do commend the Bro’ Show for not including any dead artists.  Dead art is bad enough – though never count out resurrection! The lessons I took away from the Last Bro’ Show? Art that looks like Facebook wall postings should probably just stay on Facebook. Terence Koh and Parker Shipp might want to throw a party together. And if you really want men to change? First, don’t show any nudies (unless you are in an exhibition in Afghanistan). However, do consider showing up nude – it’s legal to walk around topless and bare-chested in New York, isn’t it, gals?

Last, don’t worship your idols. Put their fucking heads on a stick!

Has Game of Thrones started yet?

Amen. Make that, Awomen.

Sincerely,

N.S.

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Dear Coach Saban,

How is your mental well-being after the Sugar Bowl?

Boomer Sooner! 

Who’s Your Daddy
Lawton, OK

Dear Who’s,

My emotional state is a little fragile still, but I am recovering. I’ve taken up painting as a hobby to calm my anxieties, as I heard it really helped GWB while he was in the White House. I’m starting with the usual kittens and bathtub self-portraits, but slowly graduating towards splatter paintings.

Thanks for your concern.

Sincerely,

N.S.

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If you have a question for Coach Saban, please send an email with your name, city, and state to DearCoachSaban@gmail.com.

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