Tabloid is everything you want in a documentary, a wacky, eccentric protaganist, engaging visuals and a few twists and turns. Errol Morris (GATES OF HEAVEN, THE FOG OF WAR) brings us a story that’s “the kind of thing where he finds an article in the newspaper about something weird or quirky, then gets interestedin it and investigates.” And if you’ve ever wondered about a snippet you read in passing, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Tabloid- about Joyce McKenna, the world’s first Tabloid Femme Fatale, a beauty queen with a high IQ and a bone to pick with the Mormon Church.
Japanese artist Mika Aoki creates intricate glass sculptures inspired by natural forms, creating new, clear, alien-like worlds. Aoki’s glasswork resembles biological specimens and systems. Her amoeba-like entities are displayed in clusters, as growths or adornments on a malfunctioning car, or in glass containers, as if they are specimens to be collected and studied. Sometimes, Aoki illuminates her glass, enlivening her organic forms with the presence of light. In her work, she contextualizes the fragility of glass with the hardness/coldness of scientific classification and automobiles, underscoring the delicacy and temporality of her designs. Important to Aoki is her medium’s transparency, and that she is able to control its solid-liquid-solid state, manipulating a material that is nearly invisible. Of her material, she says, “Unless light shines on it, we can’t confirm the existence of it because it is transparent. But once the light shines on it, glass truly emanates a special presence.” (via my modern met)
Elizabeth McGrath is a Los Angeles-born artist known for her sculptural explorations of beauty and the grotesque. Her animal figures are both endearing and frightening; with jagged teeth and oozing, bloodshot eyes, they resemble possessed dolls, manifesting horror and fragility all at once. Many of them have been anthropomorphized with human clothing and objects, lending them distinct characters. By distorting beauty into twisted, monstrous reflections of itself, McGrath playfully comments on vanity and materiality and the forces of death and decay that fester right beneath. Her Artist’s Bio elaborates further:
“Inspired by the relationship between the natural world and the detritus of consumer culture, [McGrath] brings forth a new cavalcade of creatures from the darker corners of the streets, the city, the imagination. It is this melancholy interaction between man-made status symbols and suffering specimens of nature that make up her intricate body of work.” (Source)
In addition to her morbid menagerie, McGrath also makes similarly-themed dioramas. Channeling the aesthetics of Tim Burton, tattoo artistry, and the carnivalesque, each creation is a dark miscellany, coupling death with innocence. Visit McGrath’s website and Facebook page to learn more about her work.
Interested in the floor, the wall, their flatness and the way his sculptures engage with both of them, artist Joel Shapiro’s installations and sculptures are dynamic and engaging. Suspending sculptures at various points and angles throughout a space, Shapiro seeks to create a sense of movement that depends on the forms and their relationships to one another. Though not site-specific, his installations are in direct dialogue with architecture. Shapiro is compelled by what he refers to as that “capricious” moment where forms come together to become something else.
Born in Sunnyside, Queens to a physician and microbiologist Shapiro tried to follow his parents into science, but realized that he had to become an artist. Of the need to make art he says, “You have to have some real drive and deep belief, a combination of ego and humility, so it’s difficult. You have to have some sense of self and have to have some doubting sense of self in order to externalize your interior, so it’s a peculiar combination of factors, at least in my case, that you sort of, in retrospect, allow. I’m always surprised that the work looks good!”
The extreme structural and architectural nature of Shapiro’s work, however, perhaps begs at that scientific inclination. There is a precision to his abstraction that is challenging in the way it defies gravity and logic. Catch his show currently up at LA Louver through January 14th.
It is hard to summarize what Ben Jones does. One, overly broad, way to describe his work is that Jones creates genre defying art in a wide range of media, and within his oeuvre there are a lot of nooks and crannies, each of which has its own special ideas and charm. His creative work has been enthusiastically followed by artists since the late 1990s through zines, underground animations, painting and sculpture. I remember seeing something called Paper Rad on the internet around 2003 or 4, and being mesmerized by the bold drawing and color, and, not to be cheesy, but there was also a contagious sense of joy. The imagery remixed pop culture with high cultural stuff like abstract painting. A few years later, towards 2007, the broader popular culture became aware of Jones through his animated television series Problem Solverz, and more recently his new series entitled Stone Quackers. All of the work seems to hover half in the subconscious, placing seemingly real and present iconological formations alongside impossible or wonderful subconscious riffs. In Jones’s work it feels like half the colors are colors, the other half are memories.
Jones has a new exhibition opening Saturday July 11th at Ace Gallery in L.A from 7 to 9pm, and you can see the show until September. This is a major show that is going to transform the gallery. You will be immersed in both high-tech painting and the ladder sculptures we discuss in the interview. His televison show, Stone Quackers, has recently aired new episodes on FXX in the Animation Domination block, and you can see his animations all over the internet and on Hulu.
If you’re in the SF area, be sure to check out Matt Palladino’s new work at Baer Ridgway, opening from 4-7pm this Saturday. Last month I had the pleasure of visiting his studio (one of the coolest & most conveniently located I’ve ever seen) and watching the artist painting meticulously and chugging down a mountain of Arizona ice teas. No joke, I have pictures to prove it.