Food Party with Thu Tran

Friday, May 01, 2009 | |

Food Party is a mind-bending, non-reality cooking show with Thu Tran as your hostess, a cast of unruly puppets as culinary aides, and a cavalcade of fictitious celebrities as surprise dinner guests. Shot on location in a technicolor cardboard kitchen as well as other foreign and exotic cardboard locations, each episode will or will not instruct you on how to prepare wild gourmet multi-course meals with ingredients you probably have on hand in your kitchen already, such as pretzel rods, eggs, narwhal lungs, bizarre plot twists, secret ingredients, and pizza. After all, you never know who might show up for dinner.

Check out more from Thu and her friends here.

Harry E Smith

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Photo by Eric Schwartz

At last night's film screening at the Horticultural Society, I was introduced to the amazing work of Harry E Smith (1923-1991), an American experimental filmmaker, musicologist, and spiritualist. A prolific artist working across mediums—animation, filmmaking, batik, collage, painting, music, graphic design— he displayed a lifelong passion for exploring the spiritual and interconnected nature of things through artmaking.

In 1952, Folkways Records released a 6-disc compilation culled from Smith's own collection of 78s that he had amassed over the course of his travels throughout America. Smith wrote that he selected recordings from between "1927, when electronic recording made possible accurate music reproduction, and 1932, when the Depression halted folk music sales." Loosely filed under the Folk genre, this collection of blues, spiritual, country and cajun music was hugely influential not only because of the music, but because of the cosmologic cover art, extensive linernotes (that Smith penned himself), and sequencing of the collection. The Anthology of American Folk Music was re-released in '97 on CD. A lifetime collector of "things" he was crate-digging before it was cool and had amassed several thousand records before pitching the compilation idea to Folkways. Check the reissue here.

The series of shorts, collectively known as Early Abstractions, is a phenomenal journey in mid-century avant garde filmmaking. Cellular shapes take on organismic forms to morph and pulse to a universal beat, geometries formed of light overlap and tumble across the screen and hand batik-ed patterns emerge from an unknown texture to fade in and out. Created to accompany any piece of music (the images will magically sync to the beat!), Early Abstractions was created over the course of about 20 years and combines elements of collage to explore Smith's lifelong interest in the occult and higher realms of spirituality.

Smith's work really touched me in a profound way and learning more about the artist behind the work fueled a deep appreciation for his contributions to creative culture. Contemporary artists like Fred Tomaselli (whose work I fell in love with at the Prospect New Orleans Biennial) owe a huge debt to Smith's explorations on film and canvas. Check out more from Harry here.

Maxwell's Pretty Wings

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Maxwell is back. And he looks damn good.

Sun Ra @ Institute of Contemporary Art

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Illustration by Claude Dangerfield

PHILADELPHIA — The jazz musician Sun Ra, ambassador from the Airy Kingdom World Tomorrow, creator of Enterplanetary Solar Exploding Music, and founder of the Astro Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra, is a hero of mine.

To my ears he was not only a genius composer, keyboardist and bandleader, but also constantly surprising. One minute he’s playing elevator schmaltz; then he’s making you float on air; then he’s making you deaf. I love that he was a sharp dresser, sort of kingly, sort of queenly, in faux leopard-skin capes and miner’s hats with lights.

I also admire him for transcending existential categories. He insisted he hadn’t been born, but always existed, coming to Earth from outer space, specifically the planet Saturn. Like many immigrants, he was self-invented, but radically so. He rejected being black or white or American or even human. He opted for extraterrestrial and wore his otherness like a crown.

You’ll find evidence for all of this in “Pathways to Unknown Worlds: Sun Ra, El Saturn & Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground, 1954-68,” a small, piquant exhibition of art, writing and ephemera related to his life at the Institute of Contemporary Art here.

Read Holland Cotter's full article for the NYTimes here.

The Economy is Tanking

Thursday, April 30, 2009 | |

From the NYTimes

The American economy is contracting at its steepest pace in 50 years, the government reported Wednesday, but an unanticipated rise in consumer spending since January suggested to many economists that the worst of the recession might have passed.

The last six months were brutal. Output fell at a 6.1 percent annual rate in the January-through-March quarter after falling at a rate of 6.3 percent in last year’s fourth quarter, according to the Commerce Department. If that pace were to continue, nearly $1 trillion would be wiped out this year from the nation’s economic output of $14.2 trillion last year.

Not since 1958, in the wake of a brief but severe collapse in home construction, has the national economy lost so much ground in just six months. But as tax breaks and government stimulus spending kick in, the decline in the gross domestic product could be cut in half by summer.

“The situation is not nearly as dark as the first-quarter number suggests,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, echoing the opinion of many forecasters, who see the contraction continuing, but at a slower rate until growth returns late this year or in early 2010.

Stock prices rose, partly in response to this prospect. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 168.78 points, or 2.11 percent, closing at 8,185.73.

The looming question remains the severity of job losses. More than five million jobs have disappeared since the recession began in December 2007. As their wages disappear, households spend less, and business, in response, reduces the output of goods and services, cutting more jobs in the process.

That dog-chasing-its-tail cycle was evident in the latest G.D.P. report, except for consumer spending, which rose at its best pace since the recession began. A sharp drop in fuel prices, economists said, helped to free up money for other spending.

“The biggest wild card going forward is whether that spending can hold up,” said Brian A. Bethune, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

The Federal Reserve’s policy makers, echoing the incipient optimism, said in a statement issued Wednesday, at the end of a two-day meeting, that the outlook had “improved modestly” and that the Fed would continue to pump tens of billions of dollars into the economy to keep credit flowing. To encourage this borrowing, and spending, interest rates controlled by the Fed would remain near zero, the policy makers said.

In a rare public forecast, Paul A. Volcker, a former Fed chairman and now an economic adviser to President Obama, added his voice to the optimism, although cautiously. “I’m not here to tell you the economy is going to recover very strongly in the short run,” Mr. Volcker said in an interview recorded for a weekend show on Bloomberg Television. But he said the improvement was sufficient to avoid a second government stimulus on top of the $787 billion in spending and tax breaks enacted in February.

An obstacle to easier credit, however, might come from the Treasury Department, which said in a report issued Wednesday that it would step up the issuing of 30-year bonds. The funding is needed to help finance the hundreds of billions of dollars that the government is spending on bank bailouts and stimulus. But the quickening pace could force Treasury to raise long-term interest rates to attract enough buyers for the bonds — an action that in turn could impede lending.

Read the rest of the article here.

Scott Campbell @ OHWOW

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | |

I first met Scott barefoot at Angelo's 30th birthday blowout and the next time we ran into each other we were on the plane back to New York from Art Basel and hashing it up about growing up in Houston and his artmaking process (working with stacks of money and lasers...f*cking cool.)

Congrats to Scott on his first solo exhibition debuting at the O.H.W.O.W. Gallery a couple weeks ago! Also check out this great interview about life, tattoo and art on Worship Worthy.

Scott Campbell
Make It Rain
April 11 - May 9, 2009
3100 NW 7 Avenue / Miami / Florida / 33127

In what will be his first major solo presentation of his works, Campbell will showcase his unique aesthetic via sculptures, paintings, drawings and photography.

Scott Campbell was born and raised in a fishing camp, perched alongside a muddy bayou in rural Louisiana. With a clever knack for drawing and a fondness of stories, he began his career by doing illustration and assistant editing. Curiosity soon led him to experiment with tattooing and his immediate mastery of the art was undeniable. After a subsequent 18 month stint in Spain honing his craft, he packed up his skills and his tattoo machines and traveled for the next 5 years taking inspiration from the art and folklore of tattoo cultures all over the world.

In 2004, he opened Saved Tattoo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since then, it has grown to be the East Coast's premier tattoo shop with a devout following of celebrity clientele. Campbell has the taken the blue collar grit and lore of tattoo culture and extracted a visual language and wit that are supremely refined and deliberate. He has an uncanny ability to tell a story with any medium, flesh or otherwise.

Gelitin @ Tomio Koyama Gallery

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From the T Magazine Blog

The gallerist Tomio Koyama represents some of the most influential contemporary Japanese artists and consistently brings new ideas and talent to Tokyo. His current show featuring Gelitin, the four-person collective from Austria known for its provocative installations and performances, is another example of his willingness to challenge us by making us smile while we think.
Bridge to exhibit.

To view the current show you must climb a rickety little bridge, then crawl through a small hole smashed through the wall. As you come through the other side, you see a large installation resembling a traditional Kyoto rock garden.

It’s not until the large garden rocks begin to shift that one realizes that each of them is actually a part of a human body, contorted to fit above the ground. (Since the opening, friends, volunteers and other artists have been filling for the artists as substitute rocks — no small feat when you consider that the gig largely involves being still for hours on end.)

Koyama’s ability to surprise and willingness to provoke a nervous reaction through art has been his gift to Tokyo.

Yummy No.3

Monday, April 27, 2009 | |

With a passion for pre-packaged industrial food, Pascal Monfort and a crew of his creative friends working in art and fashion launched Yummy, a magazine celebrating food the way one might celebrate high fashion. With artful collages of fast food boxes and high fashion models sprinkled in candy-colored, well, candy, Yummy takes an entirely new perspective on fast food—“design, coolness, seduction, trends...all the ingredients for the creative industry.”

Celebrate the new YUMMY 3 with Pascal and Co. this Thursday!

Galerie LAZY DOG
2 passage Thiéré - Paris 11

19 to 22 hours

Bonbons, musique, drinks & juicy magazine.


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In case you're not jumping on a quick flight to Barcelona mid-June, Sonar, the huge Barcelona-based electronic music and arts festival is heading to New York. Celebrating it's 15th year, Sonar is held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona with over 30,000 people in attendance last year! This year's Barcelona lineup includes Grace Jones, Animal Collective, Micachu and the Shapes, Ebony Bones, Buraka Som Sistema and special showcases from Ed Banger and Ghostly International. Wikked lineup!

Their debut event in New York, SonarSoundNY, will showcase the best of Catalan and American artists, combining multimedia art ideas with experiemental electronica. The SonarSound NY bill includes installations by Marcel·lí Antúnez and ReacTable, featuring Ikue Mori; the mysterious ambient of Balago; the soundtrack, performed live, by Árbol and Fibla for a film by Taiwan's Tsai Ming-Liang; the extravagant pop of Hidrogenesse; hip-hop in a trio format with the Del Palo Soundsystem; two sets by the Barcelona dj d.a.r.y.l.; the highly unconventional rhythm of the Americans (both ex-residents of Barcelona) DJ/Rupture and Prefuse 73; and visuals by No-Domain.


8pm - 1am
Baryshnikov Arts Center NYC
450 West 37th Street, Suite 501
New York, NY 10018

All performances are free but RSVP here.

Crawfish Season

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This past weekend we experienced 80 degree weather and a taste for the upcoming summer season of events. I met up with my friends on Sunday for Flatbush Farm's crawfish boil, aka an ode to cajun cooking. The restaurant and bar is a favorite hangout serving great drinks (Try the Mo'Stormy, a minty twist on the Dark & Stormy), solid food and a nice backyard patio for those warm spring nights. The crawfish boil was okay—it lacked the kick that I'm used to—but I was kinda horrified that what they called jambalaya was actually just gumbo served on top of some dirty rice. Im a bit of a gumbo snob and I really love the complex flavors of cajun cooking. Check out this great jambalaya recipe adapated from NOLA Cuisine:

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya Recipe
2-3 Servings

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Andouille Sausage, Diced
1/2 Cup Onion, Diced
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 Cup Celery, Diced
2 Tbsp. Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Tomatoes, Diced
1/4 Cup Tomato Sauce
3/4 Cup Enriched Long grain Rice
1 3/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Hot Sauce
1 Cup Boneless Chicken Thigh, Diced
(Seasoning Mix: 1/2 tsp Cayenne, 3/4 tsp White Pepper, 1 tsp Kosher Salt, 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme, 1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage, 3 Bay Leaves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter, saute the Andouille until slightly browned. Add 1/2 of the trinity (onion, bell pepper, celery) saute until tender. Add the Tomato and cook for about one minute, then add the Tomato Sauce, cook 1 minute more. Add the Rice, cook 1 minute. Add the Stock, Worcestershire, Hot Sauce, Garlic, Seasoning Mix, Bay Leaves, the other half of the Trinity, and Raw Chicken. Stir well and bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, but still has a little bite. Top with chopped Parsley, and sliced Green Onions. Put on some Zydeco and enjoy!