Category Archives: Uncategorized

Archived: Rhapsody in Blue – Profile of Joslyn Taylor in Paper City

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Joslyn Taylor’s father played saxophone in Edgar Winter’s “White Trash” band and, oddly, this explains a lot. His work as a musician meant that she spent a peripatetic childhood in wildly disparate points in Louisiana and California, including the rapturously gorgeous topography of Big Sur. She praises the scenery along the sinuous, coast-hugging Highway 1 and it becomes clear that Taylor is, indeed, a California girl — albeit operating splendidly as a transplant. She pulled out a lavishly printed album cover featuring sexily sweaty photographs of her father from “back in the day” and explained that his life as a musician dictated changing residences frequently as his career morphed. She said that “people in both Louisiana and California are very laid back, very friendly” and added that Los Angeles is a slice of atypical glitzy turf in what is surely the most boho state in all of America. It’s also clear that she still loves it deeply.

This is readily apparent because her Cali background is imprinted everywhere in her residential DNA. Her home meanders throughout approximately 4,000-square feet of space that is utterly tranquil, more than a bit “Zen” and the very definition of “comfy.” There is a dish of quartz crystals on a table adjacent to the living room sofa, a huge salt-water aquarium sporting yellow- and blue-striped fish near an over-sized bar area; and, outdoors, a thatch of bamboo is still green and thriving despite a recent snowy freeze. It splendidly skirts a backyard pool overlooked by a cozy area perfect for imbibing cocktails during warm afternoons. Put bluntly, the entire residence is something a frequent Esalen attendee would cook up.

All of this is especially remarkable since Taylor juggles a life with her husband, two young daughters, and a full-time job as a Principal at Swoon, the Studio. For the uninitiated, Swoon is owned by Samantha Reitmayer Sano who brings her massive talent to an array of projects, including: branding, print media, exhibition and retail space — and, of course, home décor. After Taylor teamed up with Sano and took on much of the responsibility (and joy) of a booming company with an A-list clientele, an obvious question comes to mind. Namely: Who has time to decorate?

Thus, what follows is pertinent information. When her eldest child asks politely if she can play in the snow, not one beat is missed. When the youngest daughter pads by, heading toward her room wherein girly pink décor collides with doodads resembling tiny gears and car parts, that, too, is deftly handled. It’s obvious that the woman possesses a miraculous combo of Mommy / Executive Talent / Wildly Creative skill sets.

In Ginsu-knife vernacular, her bio would read, “But wait! There’s more!” Taylor started her career as a high-powered executive in marketing at EDS and Siemens. She then shifted gears in toto and was lured away from a fifteen-year stint in corporate culture to work at “D” magazine before moving on to her ultimate dream job at Swoon, the Studio. Says she, “Samantha asked me dinner and said she wanted to discuss business. Well, two cocktails in, she suggested that we work together.” After a bit of contemplation, Taylor succumbed to the offer and now is the epitome of a hugely talented businesswoman who works ferocious hours while adoring every minute of it.

Luckily, she’s an early riser and cranks work out like a champ between wee hours, four a. m. to be exact, and a more reasonable block of time stretching into eleven in the morning. In other words, she has put in a full day while most people are still feeling the miraculous buzz of their first espresso-laden, sing-the-body-electric beverage.

Egads! She probably is also an expert in yoga and performs Crane and Warrior poses with the gracefulness of Nureyev. However, if that’s the case, I simply can’t bear to know.

 

Feature Story in FD Luxe: David Quadrini, Robyn O’Neil, and Christine Nichols

Three California dwellers with strong Texas ties return (but not for long)

by PATRICIA MORA

portraits by NAN COULTER

DAVID QUADRINI resembles an Indian sadhu and has a mind that darts between topics with the speed of a Formula One car. He walks into Ascension, the hip coffee bar in the Dallas Design District, and it becomes infinitely more hip the moment he passes through the door. I’m not sure how it begins, but his initial remarks involve his experience preparing macrobiotic food for the legendary composer and artist John Cage. It went wackier from there.

I had been warned — but nothing prepared me for the force that is David Quadrini. A Dallas native and an artist who describes his own work as “looking like a bruise,” Quadrini created the wildly successful Angstrom Gallery, which attracted glitterati from both coasts to an improbable location on Parry Avenue. In 2004, he moved on to establish himself in Venice, California, where he lives now and where he recently put up a show, for which he asked important artists, including Jeff Elrod and Mark Flood, to create actual bumper stickers. Says Quadrini: “It’s so perfect. Now everyone will know exactly what kind of person is driving the car in front of them. They’ll know everything because of the artist’s sticker they chose!” He announces this and then smiles as broadly as a child surrounded by puppies and bounce houses. And, yes, he’ll be in town during the time of the Dallas Art Fair, but there is nothing on his schedule. Yet.

 

ROBYN O’NEIL is among the Texas expatriate artists Quadrini brought into the light of public adulation. She is known for her large-scale graphite drawings and will be in Dallas for the Nasher Sculpture Center’s Great Create, an interactive family fundraising event on April 27 that benefits the Nasher’s education programs. O’Neil’s work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, and she has had shows in a variety of cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris, Shanghai and New York, to name a few. However, she makes it clear precisely where her roots lie. “I started my career in Dallas while I was still in college. David Quadrini gave me my first one-person show in 2000.” Indeed, he spotted her long before she shot off into the glammed-up international art sphere.

 

CHRISTINE NICHOLS, owner of C. Nichols Project art gallery in Mar Vista, is another associate of Quadrini. She is bringing work to this month’s Dallas Art Fair that includes pieces by Thaddeus Strode, an artist she describes as being “fascinated by Moby Dick — but he depicts things from the point of view of the whale. It’s a bit sinister.” Nichols grew up on Padre Island where, according to Quadrini, “Her mother flies a plane and takes off to places like Marfa! We just pile in and go!” (It should be noted that said plane is a Cessna Citation jet, the swankiness of which obviously makes far less of an impression on Quadrini than the chumminess of flying off with friends to a locale deemed somewhat remote.) Nichols now lives in a modernist beach house by acclaimed architect Maya Lin. Nichols is, in Quadrini’s opinion, a spectacular gallerist. “Christine occupies the highest ethereal plane of the art world,” he says. This is lofty praise from an art sage known for separating the splendid from the dross.

Thus, three Texas natives who migrated to Los Angeles are still maintaining their ties to one another and to their home state. They coalesce and regroup and, generally, maintain an exotic camaraderie. Quadrini indicates that there are fabulous things on the horizon. He merely arches an eyebrow and offers a succinct cliffhanger: “It’s going to be amazing.”

Review: “Vivan Sundaram: Re-take of Amrita” at The Crow Collection of Asian Art

 

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The recent exhibition at The Crow Collection of Asian Art, “Vivan Sundaram:  Re-take of Amrita,” operates as a kind of memory theatre wherein space and time collapse. While Sundaram’s images were created with Photoshop, they retain a glamorous retro sensibility that flares with exotica ranging from Parisian parlors to Hungarian landscapes. Mirrors, paintings, and lavish furnishings all come together to create a montage of household scenes that operate as a fictional world where generations, including the living and the deceased, collide. The result is an ethereal, composite narrative that is both compellingly complex and, quite simply, gorgeous.

 

The original photographs incorporated into the show’s works were done by Umrao Singh Sher-Gil — Sundaram’s grandfather — and largely include self-portraits as well as images of his opera-singer wife and their daughters, Amrita and Indira. However, a young Sundaram can also be spotted, reflected in a mirror and holding a camera. Thus, what the artist describes as his fascination, “photo-dream-love-play,” is intimated in a single image that operates as reverberating lodestar for the exhibition.

 

To add still another layer, Amrita, Sundaram’s relative, is the focal point around which the show, the “re-imaging,” circulates. She was lauded as India’s premiere modern artist after studying at L’École des Beaux Arts in Paris and returning to India where she created work that conflated European and Indian sensibilities. She died suddenly in 1941 at the age of 28 and, thus, became the tragic figure that Sundaram’s images — “re-takes” — explore. The show depicts how one reimagines the past and comes to terms with it via narratives — in this case, reconstructed visual “stories.” The exhibition bears the stamp of a fabulously nuanced understanding of memory that is lovely, honed, and utterly irresistible.

 

— Recommended by Patricia Mora

 

 

 

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Review: FT33 — Five-Star Dining in Dallas’ Decorative Center

[Originally published in Modern Dallas]

 

 

FT33

It’s what happens when restaurateurs pay attention. To everything.

 

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FT33 is suitably located in Dallas’s trendy design district. And it certainly belongs there. Not only does it serve up stellar cuisine with a mind-boggling array of exotic ingredients, it also sets the stage for well-heeled diners who want to enjoy their foodie fix in elegantly appointed digs. If it were music, it would be akin to perfect pitch. To employ yet another metaphor, the entire operation is “curated.” In other words, everything — everything — has been impeccably chosen to invoke the proverbial “wow” factor. The personnel, the ingredients, the food — and its astonishingly flawless presentation — are all stellar. Add to that an OCD-ish attention to design detail, and you have perfection. Or:  put another way, you have landed in the white-hot center of Dallas’s premiere bauble of dining confection.

 Why the name, FT33? This epicenter of luxe dining was dubbed FT33 because “FT” is shorthand in restaurant lingo; it’s an acronym for “Fire Table,” a term used by waitstaff for announcing that it’s time to for a particular table to segue from one course to another. In other words, out with the salad and in with the entrée. The numeral applied after the “FT” prefix applies to the table number. In this case, FT33 means “time to move to the next course at table 33” — here, 33 refers to the table adjacent to the kitchen that offers a primo view of the deft culinary action undertaken by Matt McCallister and his team of professionals.

 In fact, the entire space is open and most seating allows for at least a partial view of the kitchen area. It’s a space that is obviously meant to showcase the place from whence things like “magic springs trout, local potatoes, charred rabe and pickled sweet pepper” emerge. The cuisine takes center stage and the kitchen is as perfectly presented as are the restaurant’s array of remarkably complex dishes. “Carrot panna cotta, mint pea cream and candied carrots” anyone? You get the idea….

 The restaurant’s design was a collaboration between architect Craig Beneke and design expert Hatsumi Kuzuu. Also, Iris McCalister, who is a joint owner, added some personal touches. The interior is decidedly spare; however, the space is made inviting by wooden panels, a dropped ceiling and a color scheme that features beiges, greens and greys. Uber-cool Edison bulbs were installed over tables and serve as an ideal lighting choice; they create both a warm glow and a vintage look. Plus, they pulsate with a frenetic, sculptural filament. They make for a perfect ambiance of soft, flattering lighting while simultaneously adding an edgy design motif.

 Upon entering the restaurant, diners immediately see, front and center, a rustic panel with a shelf supporting an anvil, a literal anvil once used for blacksmithing. It’s a found object that was converted to function perfectly well as an urn for a white orchid. Set against a backdrop of weathered wood, it’s a terrific choice for creating a mood reminiscent of nature and rusticity. In other words, the place is starkly innovative without becoming too sterile for imbibing cuisine from a menu that reads like a hybrid of food porn merged and the linguistic virtuosity of Vladimir Nabokov. Thus, FT33 is a feast for the palate — and for the eyes. After all, if you’re dining on “hamachi crudo, carrot miso, lime, spiced peanuts and serrano,” you don’t want to dive into it in digs that are anything less than sublime. Transcendent even. Well, no problem. FT33 has you covered. Actually, it has you surrounded. Tabletops are carefully designed dark brown surfaces that offer gleaming accents in contrast to comfortable wooden chairs crafted of chunky blonde wood.

 Even the restrooms are amazing. They feature work by graffiti artist, “Ozone” and make yet another statement that FT33 is trendy, cool and on point. In fact, this Dallas restaurant, marked by a stunning meteoric rise among those who know, is so carefully thought out that it creates a kind of a visual narrative. Even its location is a tad offbeat. The space is on HiLine Drive, midst spendy showrooms — and that’s, well, kind of perfect. The whole story makes for good theatre and an even better visual thrill. Even apart from the eye-popping cuisine, everything refers back to a luscious and delicate design portfolio of carefully chosen surfaces and upbeat fashionability,

If there’s one defining adjective for the ambiance of FT33, it’s “sleek.” The place displays a pared-down brand of perfection that could easily be found in the now super-cool meatpacking district in New York. Or even the bohemian Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin. Not to mention:  the openness of the space showcases “Chef Matt,” who was recently voted the Best New Chef in the Southwest by “Food and Wine” magazine. He stands poised, ready to leap into action in order to plate some of the more spectacular dishes you’ll find on this — or any other — continent. In fact, FT33 takes mise en place to another tier. The aforementioned chef places items destined for lucky diners in place with tweezers. (This will either impress the heck out of you or make you feel highly inadequate the next time you’re home and preparing a meal for guests.)

 This is no moveable feast. It’s stationary. And thank Yahweh. The place is so gorgeous you won’t want it to move one centimeter away from its chic and calibrated perfection. If you find this verbiage dangerously close to hyperbole, you’re right. But the place truly is superlative. Go ahead. Let yourself go. Literally. Check it out. You might want to make notes about how to “curate” your own life. After all, it pays off to pay attention — to everything.

 

Observation — A Lack of Civility.

There is too much of this kind of lunacy going on.

I received this via email. I simply asked to be deleted from the “artist’s” email list.

[I get hundreds of emails from artists I do not know.]

I later posted it on my private FB page with an explanatory note that I felt it is a waste of time to review this kind of “art.”

Nonetheless, I was taken to task for not seeing the show before I opted out of reviewing it.

I have better things to do — pushing back my cuticles, for instance.

Or reading Melville. Or Homer.

Speaking of: WHO IS EDUCATING THESE PEOPLE?

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Q and A with Kelly O’Connor — Talley Dunn Gallery

Q and A with Kelly O’Connor

[Originally published in Arts and Culture magazine]

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We’re reaching an exciting time in contemporary art for many reasons, not the least of which is a willingness on the part of young artists to negotiate the tricky terrain of what could be dubbed “the reinvention of retro.” Their work is fascinating precisely because it purrs with by-gone angst that they could never have personally witnessed. It’s hardly news that the fifties, sixties and seventies operated like a crazily constructed layer cake. The tropes of vacuuming in heels, Tupperware parties and go-go boots were all undermined by the ghoulish indelicacy of the daily news. The death of the Kennedys; the demise of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King; the Manson family; the Vietnam war; the Cuban Missile Crisis and more. The list is enormous. However, it was ardently countered by stereotypes such as, well, Disneyland. Of course… Disneyland.

Artist Kelly O’Connor, recently featured in a group show at Talley Dunn Gallery dubbed “Please to Meet Me,” pulls off a genuine tour de force. She makes spectacular art from old postcards and creates collages that focus on what is ostensibly the “happiest place on earth.” However, her work slyly invokes the unrest and intonations of malaise that informed an era despite the fact that a] she wasn’t around to see it and b] images were carefully concocted for decades that portrayed a whole society of invincibly happy folks. It’s amazing but Ms. O’Connor “gets it.” She depicts cluelessly blissful people meandering through scenes fraught with portentous ruin. It’s spot on and remarkably perceptive for someone born decades after the hype was so avidly disseminated.

Here is a Q and A with the enormously talented Kelly O’Connor:

a+c:  How did you become so fascinated with retro Americana? Do you think that will be an enduring subject for your work for a long while?

K.O. I’ve been appropriating images from paper media produced during the 50s and 60s for the past 7 years.  My early work focused on Disney characters, which led to Disneyland, then encompassed more American landscapes for vacation destinations — resorts, national parks, and swimming pools.  One of my fondest memories as a child was driving with my family from Texas to the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Yosemite National Park, the Badlands, Minnesota and then back to Texas.  I am intrigued by early images and memorabilia of these landscapes, due to the simplicity of the images and the lack of pixels in the printing process.

a+c:  What do you think the impulse is regarding those images? Is it memory? Irony?  Past versus Present?  And what do you intend that to mean for the viewer?

K.O.: I want to convey an infinite and hypnotic space.  But yes, I am thinking about all of those things — memory, irony, and past versus present.

a+c:  There seem to be ominous undercurrents in your work. As examples: a “breakaway” pool and spinning rides that indicate a vertiginous state. Tell us about that.

K.O.: I like the tension in these artificial landscapes between the seductive façade and the controlled nature of your experience there.

a+c:  What about the tile shapes, the hexagons? Can you explain something about those?

K.O.:  The hexagons are extracted from record covers individually with an X-Acto knife.  I like the record covers because of the thickness of the paper and the almost infinite color pallet.  A few years ago I started working with wasp nests and dipping them in gold paint.  The pattern of the hexagons is both very beautiful and threatening. I use the hexagons in many of my pieces to create a gesture that helps establish the composition.  Sometimes I will layer the hexagons in a fashion to give the illusion of a void or infinite space.

a+c:   Do you see the era you depict in a humorous light? Or do the people in the works seem pathetically clueless?

K.O.: I see people from that time period as full of hope for a utopic future.  Now, I think that, as a society, we are past the idea of having any real utopia.

a+c:  On the other hand, do you long for the same kind of “cluelessness” they enjoyed — even during the “duck and cover” Cold War era?

K.O.: Sometimes…

a+c:  Is there anything significant about the technique about cutting out images versus Photoshopping them?

K.O.: I like the physicality and texture of collage. The idea of putting all the images on one compressed surface seems really flat.  However, some of my idols like Martha Rosler have been very successful at making beautiful pieces that way.

a+c:  Is “layering” a significant part of what you do? [I suspect that this is related to the previous question.]

K.O.” It’s a balance of layering and editing.  I like things to look complex but not overloaded with visual information.  I want my work to have the maximum amount of depth with the fewest number of layers.

One can only hope that this kind of astute melding of past and future is an intimation of things to come. The notion that society has somehow become rectified and the truth is told on the nightly news or the Internet is now generally understood as preposterous. So. What’s next? What will it be like when even the façade is banished? Who can guess? But, for now, seeing “vintage” images that flare with a sense of the absurd is engaging, fun and — most of all — reason to praise new and ambitious talent.

Review: Archie Gobber — Marty Walker Gallery

Archie Scott Gobber, “Binder,” 2012.

The work at Marty Walker Gallery is sometimes refreshing and sometimes soporific. Archie Scott Gobber’s show, “What I Meant to Say,” unfortunately falls into the latter category.  It’s so bleak that, sadly, the most virtuosic thing about the show is the gallery’s press release. Rather than stay tethered to reality, I wish I could attend the exhibition outlined in the material manufactured to promote Gobber’s work. The art is described as “poetically provocative” and proclaims it to be “reminiscent of the cynically playful phrases of Marcel Duchamp.” Since that assertion has been made, it might be noted that Duchamp was a titan with regard to linguistic nuance and double entendre and Gobber, well, is not. The analogy is as flawed as suggesting that campfires are capable of competing with the sun.

Apart from the fact that both artists sometimes used brushes and paint, their purported alliance is so attenuated that it’s absurd. In an effort to dig more deeply into Gobber’s work, I was led to the following speculation put forth by the gallery:  “Visual and verbal hierarchy playfully raises more questions than provides any clues to meaning where, as intended, comedy can overtake and undermine a decidedly bias statement.”

Despite grammatical missteps, I get the meaning of the convoluted verbiage. But it’s powerfully askew and leads one to expect a big bang when the ultimate destination is a mere whimper. That being said, perhaps the crazily constructed verbiage is an oddly appropriate accompaniment to the nonsense concocted by Mr. Gobber. One work, “Fox Hole,” is a wearisome fall into tepid water. “Tweet Yourself” promises to be cheeky but doesn’t quite pull it off, and “Revolting” isn’t punchy enough to inspire anything like the eponymous emotion. It’s all a yawn and, like the PR, makes promises that aren’t kept. Plus, “What I Meant to Say” implies that what’s being offered is a more articulate response than something that was already put forth. If this is a second attempt to be trenchant, witty, arch or outré, that’s even more disappointing.

Once an artist is ranked with Marcel Duchamp, it would be wise to deliver (exquisitely) on the promise. Comparing the French artist’s work to “What I Meant to Say” is akin to piling sand on a floor and alleging it’s the pyramids of Giza. Nice try. But it’s a no-go.