A topless Russian and an elaborate humanoid ice luge were among the sights that greeted guests at SculptureCenter’s annual benefit gala last night. More than a few attendees looked startled by the spectacle—the half-naked young man was dispensing lemon vodka from twin spigots that stuck out the sculpture, by artist Anicka Yi—but it could have been a lot more shocking. “I originally proposed he be completely nude,” Ms. Yi said as she watched the slender model banter. “That was shot down very quickly.”
SculptureCenter’s whip-smart current show, which runs through Monday, is titled “Better Homes,” alluding to the issues of design and domesticity that curator Ruba Katrib takes up through the work of 16 artists. However, you could have been forgiven for taking that title as a simple statement of fact on a hot evening there earlier this month, when the museum welcomed guests for a talk with an absolutely beautiful spread of food—hearty sandwiches, cupcakes—and craft beer, plus those cute little cans of Perrier. Really the best food offerings I have ever encountered at a lecture. Truly a better home.
Young artists take note! SculptureCenter has just announced its open call for submissions to its “In Practice” grant program, which offers $250—and up to $1,500—in production support to young artists who want to try something new in the medium.
Back in October, Gallerist reported that SculptureCenter, the Long Island City venue known for hosting excellent group shows of emerging artists and strong solo shows of more-established ones, was planning to expand. Today they’ve dripped out a few new details on that project.
The East Germans said they built their wall across Berlin to keep the capitalists out, but everyone knew the opposite was true. But a wall, in the realest and most concrete sense, must always face both ways. Berlin-based sculptor Nairy Baghramian’s site-specific installation Retainer consists of 17 separate elements arranged in a long curve that, aside from a generous aisle on either side, fills an imposing room comfortably. The curve’s convexity faces right, separating most of the space from the gallery’s door in the front right corner. Large, irregular, vaguely dental shapes in off-white colors ranging from milky yellow to muddy Caucasian pink, folded into bulging opaque ridges and thin, transparent valleys, are made of pigmented silicon squashed against smooth polycarbonate backings. Each piece is mounted, with several small chromed panels and one chromed grid, to three shiny, delicate legs.
If you’re a fan of live art, clear your calendar this weekend. It looks like it’s going to be a wild one.
SculptureCenter in Long Island City has started a $5 million campaign toward a major building expansion. The news comes from Mary Ceruti, SculptureCenter’s executive director, who made the announcement at the organization’s benefit gala last night at the Edison Ballroom. The center plans to break ground next year on a one-story addition in the front of the building’s courtyard that will serve as a new lobby entrance and provide additional exhibition space. The renovations will tentatively be complete in 2014, and SculptureCenter will, for the most part, remain open during construction.
On July 21, the literary journal Abe’s Penny will host a poetry reading at SculptureCenter inspired by Bill Bollinger’s work in the retrospective currently on view there (recently reviewed by Observer critic Maika Pollack). Anna Knoebel, Abe’s Penny‘s co-founder, “sought poets who deal with form and reference material,” according to a press release.
Sprawling across SculptureCenter’s main gallery right now is an ordinary chain-link fence that lies flat for nearly the length of the space, rises to a torqued wave, and then lies flat again. You may feel foolish to have trekked all the way out to Long Island City to see such a workaday object, but you shouldn’t. Cyclone Fence 1968 (2012), a reconstruction of a piece by the late, relatively obscure artist Bill Bollinger, has much to tell us about sculpture being made by young artists today.
Over the past five years sculptures that are, superficially at least, totally banal—barrels filled with water, pipe pieces connected by rubber tubing, columns covered with sheets of linoleum tile, shelving units—have come to be commonplace in galleries. Bill Bollinger, who died in 1988 and was the kind of artist who might shop for his materials in a hardware store, is a patron saint of this school, and he is finally getting a posthumous, long overdue retrospective in “Bill Bollinger: The Retrospective.”
MONDAY, JUNE 18
Benefit: “Block Party 2012,” at the Arsenal in Central Park
The Horticulture Society of New York (“The Hort”) hosts a silent auction and meet-and-greet with artists, in support of its GreenHouse program, which provides horticultural therapy and vocational training for inmates on Riker’s Island. In support of the cause, artists Barry McGee, Sue Kwon, Chris Johanson and Steve Powers have all donated works, and graffiti artist KAWS has produced something specifically for this event. Photographer Lawrence Schiller has donated one of the just-published photographs of Marilyn Monroe featured in Vanity Fair. The event is free and open to the public. —Rozalia Jovanovic