It’s a strange, strange world where Paul McCarthy has enough money to do whatever he wants. Before 2013, Mr. McCarthy, Los Angeles cult artist and, more recently, auction-house favorite, had not exhibited much in New York—just an obscene animatronic sculpture here, a scatological Pinocchio video there. Now, thanks to Armory artistic director Alex Poots, Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, CCS Bard executive director Tom Eccles and, of course, the invisible hand of the marketplace, we are not just getting the 68-year-old Mr. McCarthy’s biggest ever installation, at the Park Avenue Armory, but also two simultaneous gallery shows at Hauser & Wirth’s uptown and downtown spaces. As one contemporary artist quipped to me, “It’s Paul-a-palooza.”
It’s true that the new multi-channel video installation “WS” is one of the dirtier art exhibitions you’ll ever see—it more than earns its NC-17 rating (no children under 17 are allowed entry). But it is in its relationship to excess and capitalism that the piece’s real shock factor lies. Read More.
Andrew Lane, Drew Right Music launches pop opera singer Aleigh O'Sullivan
Aleigh O'Sullivan signs with 20X multi-platinum music producer, Andrew Lane, owner of Drew Right Music record label. Mr. Lane released Aleigh O'Sullivan's debut videos entitled "You're Still Here" and "Al Fine" at a music video release party in Hollywood, CA on June 21, 2013.
Aleigh O’Sullivan was born into an Irish family in Kingman, Arizona in 1991. A self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” she grew up hunting and bowling. “I’m a country girl,” Aleigh beams. However, her mother felt it important to provide a well-rounded upbringing by taking Aleigh to pageants, where she earned scholarships helping to pay for her college tuition. Nevertheless, Aleigh knew, from a very early age, that she would pursue a path of singing. “It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.”
Aleigh describes her natural talent as something from deep within. None of her family has a musical background nor any knowledge of the music field; she was never predisposed to music other than when her parents played Andrea Bocelli or Luciano Pavarotti. Aleigh remembers listening to “The Phantom of the Opera” when she was three years old and having an extremely strong reaction. The music spoke to her. Around the same time, Aleigh’s parents realized she had a singing talent which they felt should not be ignored. Aleigh recalls her parents sacrificing significantly for her singing and piano lessons when she was very young. Her parents and grandparents would rearrange their schedules so that she could continue her music studies. By the time she was 5, she was reading sheet music. Read More.
Mikal Cronin w/Shannon and the Clams, Weekend Babes and The Paperhead Tonight at The Stone Fox
San Fransisco polymath Mikal Cronin — who recently received his BFA in music from CalArts, and who recorded most of the instrumentation on his brand-new Merge Records debut, MCII, himself — will play tonight at The Stone Fox. I spoke with Cronin via phone in advance of his Nashville gig, and you can read a good chunk of our conversation here. As you'll see in our chat — and in the excellent clip above, which comes to us courtesy of Yours Truly and Adult Swim — Cronin is a gifted songwriter, and one of those introspective, thoughtfully creative types. He's known for his collaborations with Ty Segall and others as well as for his solo material, and with MCII, the 27-year-old explores themes of uncertainty and identity. Read More.
Ravi Coltrane was running late for the recording session. As was the pianist. And studio time in Manhattan isn’t exactly cheap. Coltrane called his bass player and drummer and instructed them to just start recording some rhythm tracks. Something, anything. OK, they did as they were told. And when the two tardy musicians arrived, they recorded their own parts. Without even hearing what the other guys had done. A studio engineer cued up the tracks, setting one on top of the other. Voila! A jazz tune!
“You’re looking for meaningful coincidence,” says Coltrane, admitting that some of that day’s experiments in blindfolded jazz were a little less than meaningful. “It’s supposed to not sound like garbage. It should be very natural, because you’re used to hearing these instruments playing together. You’re always looking for creative and organic ways to inspire another approach. If the material is not coming together, it clears the thought waves.” Read More.
With its superb retrospective of the art of Llyn Foulkes, the New Museum pulls off the almost impossible trick of elucidating the work of a long-neglected, unclassifiable and thoroughly recalcitrant figure without sacrificing its mysteries or thorniness.
The evolution from then (more than sixty years ago) to now in Foulkes-World is a bewildering experience. The neo-Dada/neo-Kienholz/neo-Rauschenberg/black/brown/gray matter of his debut efforts is absolutely nothing like the mordant, hyper-illusionistic tableaux — hybrids of painting, assemblage, collage, found objects and molded bas-relief — that the artist started making in 1983.
But as it progresses, the exhibition, curated by Ali Subotnick, enables us to form a complex but cogent overview of the artist even as he zigs here and zags there. The first room, right off the elevators, is a wildly mixed bag, an aggregate of juvenilia in vitrines and compactions of apocalyptic residue on the walls. There is also a surrealist oil on wood painted in 1953 when Foulkes was 19, a year before he was drafted into the army.
Foulkes’ stint in the service, which brought him to postwar Germany, was followed by studies at the University of Washington and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. He quickly entered LA’s art scene with a group show at Ferus Gallery in 1959 and a solo there in 1961. Another solo, this time at the Pasadena Museum of Art, came a year later. Read More.
In a new previously unpublished interview with Art21, John Baldessari discusses language and communication, and how years of teaching, from preschool to college level, influenced his work in the studio. Here’s an excerpt:
Art21: How do you feel about people applying the term “conceptualism” to your work?
Baldessari: I think isms—impressionism and so on—are useful for writers when something seems to be brewing and they want to give it some sort of generic title. I think with conceptual or minimal art or the period when I began to emerge, I just got put in that basket—that I was a conceptual artist because I used words and photos. But as time goes on you begin to see the artist more distinctly and realize that the labels don’t really apply. And I think if you asked any artist that you might think of as conceptual now, if he or she would use that term, the answer would be, “No, I’m not a conceptual artist.” Once I said to Claes Oldenberg, “You’re a pop artist.” He said, “No, I’m not; I’m an artist.” And Roy Lichtenstein said the same. I have the same feeling. Conceptualism doesn’t really describe what I do. If somebody wants to use that term, it’s fine, but I’d prefer a word that’s broader and better. I’m really just an artist.
LucasArts vet turns to Kickstarter to revive a ‘Vampyre Story
Adventure game devotees don’t have it easy.
Though there have been signs the story-driven genre is making a comeback, as evidenced by the success of Telltale Games, Double Fine Productions and the narrative-first approach of Quantic Dream, it’s a style of game still largely confined to the outskirts of crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter.
Just ask Bill Tiller, a veteran of LucasArts, where he was a principal on games such as the Steven Spielberg-endorsed “The Dig” and later “The Curse of Monkey Island.” Days before Kickstarting his newest project, the prequel game “A Vampyre Story: Year One,” Tiller was stressing that his decade-plus-long quest to make his “Vampyre Story” vision a reality was taking too steep of a financial toll.
“I need to start bringing in some income,” he said, noting that he’d spent weeks crafting a fully animated Kickstarter-pitch video that wasn’t going as effortlessly as hoped. Some of the jokes, said the former CalArts animation student, were falling flat, and the music still needed to be added. Read More.
'Monsters University' gives it that old college scare
On the University of California campus recently, a tour guide told a group of prospective students about the many opportunities open to those studying in the Bay Area — "like getting an internship at Pixar," she said.
The Emeryville animation studio is four miles away, but that day Pixar was even closer than the tour guide knew — director Dan Scanlon and three of his colleagues were walking right behind her, on their way to Sather Gate, a bit of Beaux-Arts architecture that had served as creative inspiration for Pixar's new film, "Monsters University," which opens Friday.
In 2001's "Monsters, Inc.," Mike, the one-eyed green orb voiced by Billy Crystal, and Sulley, his fluffy, blue brute of a buddy (John Goodman), were "scarers" in the city of Monstropolis, whose job is to frighten human children and collect their screams for use as fuel. In the new film, which is a prequel, Mike and Sulley meet for the first time as college freshmen enrolled in the rigorous scaring program at Monsters U. Read More.
Rock 'n' roller, pop songwriter and BFA recipient Mikal Cronin knows what he's doing
Mikal Cronin is doing a better job of adjusting to adulthood than he seems to think. On this year's excellent power-poppy garage-rock LP MCII — his second solo full-length and first for Merge Records — the 27-year-old seems plagued by ambivalence, asking questions like "Is it my fault?" and "Am I wrong?" and "Do I even know what I'm waiting for?" But for someone with so many questions, Cronin has made a singular album brimming with shimmering guitars, excellent pop hooks and consistently full arrangements.
Cronin currently lives in San Francisco, and he's frequently associated with fellow Bay Area garage-psych folks like friend and frequent collaborator Ty Segall, with whom he's toured and released multiple efforts. But here, Cronin very much stands out from the pack, his voice — despite his seeming indecisiveness — sounding like that of a pop songwriter, plain and simple. Not only that, but he also recently earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in music from CalArts, and he plays many of the instruments on MCII himself. Sounds an awful lot like a dude who knows what he's doing, right? Read More.
Earlier this spring, 85 tractor-trailers rolled out of a downtown Los Angeles warehouse bound for New York. They were hauling the building blocks of a colossal artificial forest, which the artist Paul McCarthy has now installed in Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory for WS, his major solo exhibition opening on Wednesday. As he’s done in the past with Caribbean pirates and Santa Claus, the artist recast a (mostly) innocent childhood fantasy—in this case Snow White—through film, performance, and sculpture, creating a vividly grotesque nightmare barely recognizable to anyone weaned on Disney. (Don’t bring the kids.)
On a May afternoon, the artist’s son Damon McCarthy, 39, was overseeing the installation of the 8,800-square foot set in the Armory. The stage was maybe two-thirds finished, but the fake earth, foliage, and towering foam trees already seemed to fill the vast space. “My father feels this is his biggest accomplishment as an artist,” Damon told me. It is certainly the largest in sheer size. In recent years, Paul McCarthy has emerged as a contemporary titan working on a scale as spectacular as that of Jeff Koons. (The New York Times called their latest dueling New York gallery shows “The Battle of the Big.”) Damon, who manages the studio in L.A. and collaborates closely with his father, has been instrumental in helping realize this outsize vision. Read More.