Artillery Magazine Pick Of The Week

Sharon Engelstein // Ever To Find. Pick Of The Week by Ezrha Jean Black

Sharon Engelstein – Ever to Find
It is for some of us (the more fortunate among us) the first fear or horror we know – our first encounter with something at first glimpse familiar that upon extended gaze or lingering examination reveals itself as utterly transmogrified, and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, entirely alien. What follows, though, is usually more thoughtful and inquiring, even analytic. (Horror can be fascinating.) We’re picking ourselves apart even as we’re picking apart the object of horror or fascination (to see if we want more – we usually do). Alternatively, the object is transformed into its own raison d’être – an idée fixe that seems the end-product of a perfectly logical evolution. Sharon Engelstein is not the first artist to explore this psychological dimension in ceramic sculpture, but she is entirely original and expansive in a direction that is rarely seen in the contemporary landscape. Unlike say, Ken Price, her glazes are relatively neutral; but Engelstein introduces other materials (e.g., wax, copper, gold leaf and other metallic elements), extrusions and the occasional shock of color into the composition. This has a counterpart in her drawings, too – similarly both abstract and biomorphic, but frequently dissolved into a kind of rationalized mapping or modeling (e.g., a Sushi Eye whorling into a black hole of netting; mitotically Split Eggs; morphing cranial forms further wreathed in a swirl of polygons) – where an azure-auraed sapphire star explodes in a quasi-botanical mapping. The permeable divide between skin or envelope and structures, both invasive and extrusive, becomes the locus for analytic dissection, invention and wholesale transformation. (Why wouldn’t a bowl unravel in shards and take wing?) Ambiguity rarely presents in such crystalline fashion. Free Wall presents folly as dissertation – on the notions of barrier, containment, sequestration (also penetration, infiltration, corruption, exposure). There’s paradox for you: each of these compact sculptures contain entire worlds yet split them right open again – a moment of potential horror rendered ecstatic.

Contemporary Art Review LA reviews Sharon Engelstein // Ever To Find

Sharon Engelstein
at Wilding Cran Gallery

Sharon Engelstein, Ever to Find (Installation View). Image courtesy of the artist and Wilding Cran Gallery.

Sharon Engelstein, Ever to Find (Installation View). Image courtesy of the artist and Wilding Cran Gallery.

February 15, 2017
Text by Jessica Simmons

If the vessel is traditionally ceramic’s primary form, Sharon Engelstein’s solo exhibition at Wilding Cran dislocates the material from its expected physical manifestation. Elevated and staggered on an imposing horizontal plinth, her glazed ceramic sculptures mimic the bone-white, pristine finish of porcelain, yet also possess a quiet heft that subtly reveals the dexterously hewn, hand-wrought process of their making. Bulbous, angular, and intimately-scaled, these paradoxically static yet undulating objects fold into puddles of matter, and ultimately shed categorization as vessels by functioning as solidified, amorphous containers for their own formal logic.

As sculptures, they propose an archeology of the absurd, which offers beguiling visual riddles, as if Engelstein has anointed the viewer a sleuth tasked to decipher all plausible permutations of an unknown organism. These petrified, formless amoebas resemble corporeal orifices, deep-sea membranes, and, in the case of First Find (2016), a prostrate and partially melted Venus of Willendorf, buttressed by slabs of broken concrete. Oftentimes, the sterility of the sculptures’ white finish is punctured by translucent glazes of bright color: in Leg Foot (2017), a subtle drip recalls the prismatic glint of an oil slick; in Accidental Medicine (2016), a wound of pink recalls the flesh of the interior body.

While bodily references viscerally permeate all of these sculptures, Engelstein nonetheless manages a deception of scale that upends the human body as a reference point. Just as the plinth-based sculptures—elevated to the height of the viewer’s torso—appear organ-like, they nonetheless read as shrunken cartographies for other monumental, unknown structures. By transmuting these myriad references into mercurial spectrums of scale and matter, Engelstein folds the futuristic into the archeological, and the microscopic into the monumental—a fluid addendum to ceramic’s indexical, seemingly fixed material history.

Sharon Engelstein: Ever to Find runs January 25-March 19, 2017 at Wilding Cran (939 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021).

Karon Davis in LA Weekly. Interview by Matt Stromberg.

Karon Davis Mourned the Loss of Her Husband, Artist Noah Davis, By Turning Grief Into Art

Karon Davis says she would have made the piece  Cry, Baby  even larger to reflect the depths of grief.

Karon Davis says she would have made the piece Cry, Baby even larger to reflect the depths of grief.


“If I could have made it 50 stories high to explain how painful this has been, I would have done that,” artist Karon Davis says. “It's like no tissue box is big enough to dry my tears, our tears.”

She’s referring to Cry, Baby, a nine-foot-tall plaster-and-wood sculpture of a Kleenex box that is included in her solo show, "Pain Management," currently on view at Wilding Cran Gallery. Dealing with themes of grief, mourning and resilience, the exhibition is an elegiac response to the loss of Davis’ husband, the artist Noah Davis, who succumbed to a rare form of cancer last summer.

The Davises are also known for founding the Underground Museum, a non-profit arts space in the central-L.A. neighborhood of Arlington Heights, just north of the 10 freeway. Through various collaborations — including a multi-year partnership with MOCA  — the space became the nexus of activity for many in the African American creative community, providing a space to display works and even address recent racial turmoil by offering a forum for Black Lives Matter. Noah also shared the space with his brother, Kahlil Joseph, a filmmaker who created works for artists like Flying Lotus, and who was recently nominated for an Emmy for directing a part of Beyonce's visual-album,  "Lemonade."

Alongside the oversized tissue box, Davis has created an array of life-size sculptural figures that relate to the years spent dealing with her husband’s illness. Made by wrapping strips of plaster-dipped cloth around live models, they are uncannily life-like, despite their bone-white color. Three nurse figures in scrubs, each personifying a different drug, stand in for all the individuals who helped them over the years.

“The first piece I created was Nicotine Nurse, and actually Noah worked on that with me,” Davis says. “We had talked about this series of nurses, and I promised him I'd finish it.” 

The veteran nurse rests on bench, taking a break between shifts with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. A scarecrow nurse named for the chemo drug Ifosfamide stands watch over rows of tissues that sprout up from a plot of earth like crops of sadness. Near the gallery’s entrance an Angel nurse representing Morphine kneels. Her flowing wings are made from shredded medical bills, a physical manifestation of the financial burden so many sick Americans struggle with.

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Maria Lynch interview in Artspace // Maria Lynch opens June 4th

A Few Questions for Maria Lynch, Brazilian Sculptor of Elevated Child's Play and Transience

By Karen Rosenberg

NAME: Maria Lynch
AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
BASE OF OPERATIONS: New York, Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro-Brazil
MEDIUM OF CHOICE: I work with different mediums, from painting to videos, performance, installation, and music.
WHY I MAKE ART: To be part of an atemporal dialogue, to transform my world and make others share their worlds with mine, to show a way we can subvert established systems of logic and the discourse of rationality. Art chose me, in so many ways.

WHAT I'M WORKING ON NOW: This is one of the paintings for my upcoming solo show in June at Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles:

I’m working on another show now that opens on April 2nd in São Paulo, at Blau Projects. I will have the oportunity to show works in various media, some paintings, and a new installation—part of a series I named "Rooms Of Experience." The idea started in 2012 when I made an installation called Ocupação Macia (Soft Ocuppation), a room filled with small fabric sculptures that are a mix of child’s play and fantasy, like a huge assemblage of deconstructed memories. I felt that I made a step foward from painting—I wanted people to be literally "touched" by their senses. I started to develop other rooms, wondering how I could make people think through their bodily experiences without pre-conceived ideas.
This is my goal now: taking someone who is set in their own way of thinking, and showing them that they are able to access this other dimension of the self. The body is the one who actually thinks—rationality comes after. 

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Chris Cran in group show at the Glenbow Museum

Made in Calgary: The 1980s

September 7, 2013 - January 5, 2014


Chris Cran,  Self-Portrait Watching a Man about to Shoot Himself in the Foot , 1985, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Chris Cran, Self-Portrait Watching a Man about to Shoot Himself in the Foot, 1985, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Made in Calgary is a five-part exhibition series that explores the character of Calgary's artistic community from 1960 to 2010. Each exhibition will reflect the contributions of individual artists in the context of the social and cultural factors that influenced their work.

As Calgary soared to economic power in the 1980s, a maverick new energy in the visual arts also arose in the city. "Calgary became truer to itself in the 80s – artists created things moulded in the Calgary spirit," says Jeffrey Spalding, curator of Made in Calgary: The 1980s.

In discovering that spirit, Calgary artists found themselves reevaluating their conceptions of art, and, in many cases, reinventing their entire approach to the creative process.

A survey of just some of the individuals whose work is featured in the exhibition reveals how pervasive was this climate of change and exploration. In ceramics, for instance, important sculptors such as Mary Shannon Will and Gisele Amantea abruptly reversed course, with the former leaving behind the organic tradition that had defined her work for a more geometric approach, while Amantea took a 180 degree turn from representational work and produced pieces that were an onslaught of colour, pattern and stimuli.

Meanwhile, Chris Cran began to embrace what Spalding describes as "zany narratives" – as evidenced by his 

Self Portrait Watching a Man About to Shoot Himself in the Foot

. John Will, the definitive master printmaker, stopped making prints in 1980 to allow himself the freedom to explore other avenues of art making.

Spalding says that one must look at both regional and international developments in the art world in the preceding decades tounderstand the significance of the upheaval that marked the 1980s. In the 60s and 70s, the local art scene followed a steady evolution based on a kind of master-apprentice model with key instructors in the city imparting their vision to the next generation.

Meanwhile, a more rigid hierarchy was at play on the international stage with leaders of the modernist-reductivist school setting the criteria for what art should be – formal, austere and minimalist.

By the late 70s, though, artists began to question, and actively reject, the paradigms governing what was considered high art and began defining criteria for themselves. "People start to embrace all kinds of different ideas about art that have seemingly nothing to do with what the main storyline is and they just break with it," says Spalding. "It's not a small jailbreak … it's massive."

The results, whether in ceramics, painting, sculpture and so on, were adventurous, expressive and singularly Calgarian. "Calgary went from being a place that was very peripheral to a place that said 'we might as well be leaders – we might as well do something new,'" says Spalding.


An Interview with Vikky Alexander

Vikky Alexander’s recent series of photographs, Island, captures the bursting greenery of the Palm House in Kew Gardens, England, as the overgrown foliage quite literally collides with the wrought iron and glass structure that contains it. These large-scale images, teeming with striking detail, are a continuation of Alexander’s ongoing fascination with our desire to experience the wonder of the natural world while simultaneously needing to control and tame it. Her surprisingly enigmatic and surreal work has consistently evoked this tension between nature and culture in a range of manifestations including photography, sculpture and installation. This dream-like quality that pervades much of her work, especially those photographs shot in fantastical spaces like the West Edmonton Mall or Vegas casinos, both mirrors and speaks to our desire to escape reality and enter constructed utopias. We’ve followed Alexander’s work for years and were thrilled to have the opportunity to ask her some questions about recent developments as well as ongoing themes in her practice and she very generously obliged:
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