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Shark Toof on the Edge: Live and in person.

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TAMPA – On a mild, Wednesday, October night, many of the regular faces gathered at the rooftop bar of the Epicurean Hotel at Edge Social Drinkery. It’s fun to come up with personas while people-watching. The businesswoman in town to review local corporate strategy, the law clerks gossiping about the partners, the athlete’s wives, with athletes in tow, intent on kid-free socializing, the sous-chef, the detective, the realtor, the life coach, etc… All unwinding and enjoying the carefully crafted libations on offer.

But there were some new faces in the crowd this night, and they had come for one particular purpose. That purpose was an imposing black canvas, spotlit near the front door, that couldn’t help but grab the attention of everyone who entered, including the regulars.

The fact that the artist himself was on site, spraying some finishing touches to the canvas, may also have drawn some attention, but the piece itself was certainly a stunner. A massive red shark appeared to be emerging from the dark waters of the canvas background. The mere visual suggestion of that infamous animal can strike fear in a man like an icicle to the heart, and this portrayal seemed to have an eerie kind of intrinsic spirit. One that made it feel like more than just paint on canvas, and offered something greater than just a lizard-brain fear response. It emitted a kind of inner strength, the kind that can be transferred to the viewer in a sort of empowering way.

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And that is the specialty of the Los Angeles based artist Shark Toof. His (much) larger-than life sized murals have been grabbing the attentions of all who come across them, and gaining him global recognition along the way. Tampa Bay is familiar with his massive piece covering a back side of the State Theatre in St. Petersburg, and his mural in East Coast’s Eau Gallie Arts District (EGAD) is also a local favorite.

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Shark Toof mural in EGAD.

This night at Edge was a special event put on by the Tampa gallery Cass Contemporary, on South MacDill, to promote their show “Red Everything,” a solo exhibition featuring new works by Shark Toof. The exhibit runs through December 30, 2016. (with a short break for ArtWeek Miami, where Shark Toof is also on view at their booth in the Aqua Art Fair).

When the artist took a break from painting and removed his gloves and respirator safety mask, a man approached him immediately, with cocktail in hand and was overheard asking about the work: “So… like, what’s the concept here?’

After a short moment of contemplation, Shark Toof replied: “The concept is…  Shark.”

Not deterred by the minimalist answer, the man continued the conversation and seemed genuinely interested in acquiring the painting. After he began speaking with a gallery representative I took my own opportunity to ask a few questions of the artist who’s been a favorite of mine for several years now.

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L: What can you tell me about this particular piece?

ST: I love the forms, there’s a lot to discover in there. It’s incredible when all the right circumstances come together and you do the thing that you envisioned, and this piece fucking rocks! I mean, it’s really sexy! I guess there’s always a surface level of interpretation, but there’s so much more texture and things to discover within the piece and that’s the beauty of this piece.

L: I heard you say you kind of want to keep this painting? Do you always feel that way about a canvas when it’s done?

ST:  I don’t really mind when pieces are acquired because it’s going to someone who loves it and it speaks to them. That’s the most important part. When I purchase art it’s because it speaks to me. I don’t gravitate towards polished work, I like to see the hand (of the artist), I like to see if he was troubled, worried or struggling.

L: Will you use this piece as inspiration for other, larger works?

ST: Probably not, each battle is it’s own unique situation.

L: You’ve obviously been in St. Pete before, is this just your second time working in the Tampa Bay area? What are your impressions of it?

ST: This is my third time back here. I love it. All i can say is: Weekie Wachee – done! Next up is Sunken Gardens I think.

L: So I saw some Shark Toof stickers up around St. Pete.

ST: I don’t know anything about that.

L: Ha, Ok, well have you done any other street work in the area?

ST: Well, um,… that’s for you to discover. Treasure hunt.

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Ok, so I’m always on the lookout now. Haven’t seen any other sharks lurking around here yet. Let me know if you’ve come across any.

In the mean time I’m off to Miami for Art Week. Hope to post some more Shark Toof and other highlights from Cass Contemprary and the rest of the circus there this weekend. There’s so much going on there I’ll never be able to fit it all into my little dinghy of a blog. I think I’m going to need a bigger boat.

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ALL TEXT AND PHOTOS BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN

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Tristan Eaton paints historic wall at Bern’s

TAMPA — World famous mural artist Tristan Eaton spent the past weekend painting his first wall in Tampa. The Los Angeles-based artist, whose work is part of the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, was brought to Tampa through a combined effort of CASS Contemporary art gallery in Tampa and Bern’s Steak House.

“CASS owners, Jake and Cassie Greatens, always thought that the wall facing Howard Avenue had great potential,” gallery director Janet Malin said. “This past fall, they approached Bern’s owner, David Laxer, about their idea to turn the wall into a powerful piece of art work.”

The Bern’s team was immediately on board, and they commissioned Eaton to create the mural in honor of the restaurant’s 60th anniversary.

“I love the shape of the wall,” Eaton said during a break from the spray-cans on Friday. “It’s really unique and it feels historic and important in its architecture.”

Working his first wall in Tampa has been an experience worthy of his stylish hosts. “They’ve been really good to me,” Eaton said. “Having a steak dinner after I paint, and being able to stay in the hotel directly across the street and have a view of the mural from the room. It’s a really amazing experience.”

The mural is sure to turn some SoHo heads with its rich palette of reds and oranges and its stylized depiction of large jungle cats intertwined with classical figures. The design was inspired by the restaurant itself, Eaton said.

“The place is filled with art, design and pattern. There’s ornate architecture and furniture … so I wanted to capture that regal heritage, with some humor and soul,” Eaton said.

 

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ALL TEXT AND PHOTOS BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN

 

LINK:  @tristaneaton on Instagram


20×16 at Cass Contemporary Tampa

Today’s burgeoning urban art scene has been cutting new trails into the Tampa Bay area lately and may have found a good place to set up camp on South MacDill Avenue.

After the successful “SHINE on St. Pete” mural festival and accompanying “Leave a Message” exhibit at the Morean Arts Center last fall, Cass Contemporary followed up with the show “Corrosively Bright,” featuring work by 12 artists, including international heavy-hitters like Ben Frost and Shark Toof. They also hosted the notorious Secret Walls live illustration battle with artists Frank Forte, Denial, Greg Mike, and local favorite BASK.

Cass Contemporary now has brought together 40 artists for its “20×16” exhibition, running through Feb. 13.

To ring in the new year, gallery owners Jake & Cassie Greatens asked this carefully curated group of artists to create works that were exactly 20 inches by 16 inches for this show. Next year they plan to do a “20×17” show.

A week ago, scores of people converged on the gallery, where live music played and projections flickered on a wall. The dance of the night was the “gallery shuffle,” moving from one artwork to the next, pausing only to discuss perceived merits or missteps. Cass had a full-page ad for the show in Juxtapoz magazine, an oracle of art and culture for the past decade. Art Week Miami may have been last month, but that vibe migrated to Tampa, at least for this one night.

“We wanted something that made us stand out and made the art stand out,” said co-owner Cassie Greatens, “and to bring a new art scene to Tampa.

“The idea was to show Tampa 40 different artists, and to put something in the space that’s good for everyone, not just different styles but also the price point, there’s a variety of prices and styles, and I feel like anyone can come in here and find something they like,” Greatens said.

With so many different artists there’s not a binding theme in this exhibit, but the size constraint does make it feel like a cohesive show.

There’s an urban/street art feel to many of the pieces exhibited. A majority of the artists have, in fact, made their bones by spray painting on outdoor walls before they moved to indoor works on gallery walls.

St. Pete painter BASK is a stand-out. His work titled “Debate” hangs alone on a smaller wall of the gallery. It offers the viewer an obscured scene of two wolves fiercely attacking each other, but seen through a finely painted grid of hexagons that give the impression of chicken wire and blood spatter.

“Debate” by St. Petersburg artist BASK, in acrylic, latex and enamel on box frames.

“It seems like a fitting piece given the escalating political climate, and given that it’s an election year and so forth,” said BASK about his painting.

Another local artist, Pale Horse, contributed his two mixed-media illustration pieces titled “Forbidden Knowledge” resembling polished enamel and copper etchings. In these cleanly executed works, a hand hovers just above a trio of mushrooms that are guarded by a devilishly decorated and fork-tongued serpent. These pieces feel like new versions of ancient icons.

Speaking of icons, there’s no lack of pop-art iconography in this exhibition. In 1962, Andy Warhol put his giant thumb down on the art world, and 50-plus years later, some artists are still struggling to get out from under it.

One could grab a handful of dice with the usual pop-art suspects printed on their sides. Things like: cartoon character, super model, couture emblem, graffiti tag, dollar bill, soft-drink logo, etc, then just roll the dice and paint whatever comes up together. (Wait, did I just give away the best idea for a pop-art app?)

Anyway, this often results in a less-than-inspiring combination, but once in a while you’d throw a true winning roll.

“Equality of Paint” mixed media by Rene Gagnon

Massachusetts-born artist Rene Gagnon certainly has a winner with his piece “Equality of Paint” which presents a spray-paint can adorned with the Campbell’s Soup logo, accompanied by a rainbow background and the word “equality” replacing the soup variety. The frame is even spattered with a rainbow of paint, which brings the piece together. It rises above the simplicity of its blatant appropriation to make a real statement for our time.

“Nadi” oil on board by Miami artist Tatiana Suarez

Another winning painting strays pretty far from the typical imagery and brings us the masterful and mystical visage of “Nadi,” a character brought to life by Miami native Tatiana Suarez. Her exotic and mythological large-eyed figures first got my attention at SCOPE Art Miami in 2014, and I was delighted to see her work in the gallery.

Local star Tes One (along with BASK & Pale Horse) has been bringing creative color to some of the Bay area’s well-trafficked walls, most notably a five-story mural on the Poe Parking Garage in downtown Tampa. For this exhibit, his acrylic on wood piece titled “Frostbite” was drawing a warm reception from gallery visitors.

Michigan artist Kelly Allen had perhaps the most unique piece in the show, a simplistic face, seemingly finger-painted into deep, rippling stripes of vibrant color. Titled “Cocoon,” it pulls you in and demands contemplation.

“Cocoon” 2015, Plastisol on canvas, by Kelly Allen.

Others that need mentioning are Greg Gossel’s puzzle-like wood collage “Butterfly,” Chris Buzelli’s elephant/tiger/monkey beast titled “Lotus” and Beau Stanton’s surrealist oil painting “Elysian Voyage.”

But these are just my favorites. You should visit the gallery and pick out your own.

 

LINK: Cass Contemporary


Dazzio Art Experience exhibits Holocaust paintings at new location

After 25 years of providing art classes in St. Petersburg, Jay and Judith Dazzio have moved Dazzio Art Experience from their Central Avenue location to a newly renovated section of The Arts Exchange on 22nd Street South.

The new storefront of Dazzio Art Experience on 22nd St. South. – LANCE ROTHSTEIN / STAFF

As part of their reopening, a collection of Holocaust paintings by Judith Dazzio is on exhibit, featuring more than 20 of her works. The exhibit is also scheduled to be shown in New York in April.

“Several decades ago while in elementary school, my class was visited by a Holocaust Survivor, who’s story has stayed with me throughout my life. I can still see the numbers on her arms. I can see the faded pictures of her children who had been killed, and how she cried when speaking about them. I began this series ten years ago, basing many of the paintings on her story. Therefore, many are historical, limited to the Warsaw ghetto and Birkenaw. The rest of the paintings are in honor of her children, and all of the children lost or who bear the scars of having the live through that time. The paintings reflect my emotional reaction to the helplessness and fear that they must have felt. The historical paintings were also important because I wanted them to be accurate, creative and powerful. They had to show one artist’s vision and style. I believe that I have achieved a melding of historical facts with powerful paintings that evoke emotion and thought. I am pleased that the three paintings from this series that have been entered into competition have all won top international awards.” – Judith Dazzio

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Judith Dazzio teaches Thursday at Dazzio Art Experience. More than 20 of her Holocaust paintings are exhibited at Dazzio’s new location., LANCE ROTHSTEIN/STAFF

The Arts Exchange is growing out of 50,000 square feet of warehouse space purchased last December by the nonprofit Warehouse Arts District Association at 22nd Street South and Fifth Avenue.

The association aims to develop affordable artist studios and create a sustainable arts community in St. Petersburg.

The first phase, construction of 28 artist studios, is set to begin in the next few months with a projected completion date of June.

 

LINKS:  Dazzio Art Experience, Warehouse Arts District St. Pete


‘Five Decades of Photography’ is a memorable visual excursion at MFA St. Pete

Showing at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg is a photography exhibition so comprehensive, walking its galleries feels like a full course in photographic history.

On a wall, near the passage into one of the MFA galleries, hangs a smallish rectangular piece of black cloth.

Lifting up the cloth, ducking your head underneath and viewing what’s enshrouded there, may be as close to time travel as any one of us will get.

Modestly framed and behind a piece of special glass is “View of the Boulevards of Paris” from 1843. It is a salt paper print from a paper negative, both made by British photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. For photography lovers, this is just one of the many unique and enriching experiences to be had by visiting this exhibition.

 

Running through October 4, “Five Decades of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, featuring The Dandrew-Drapkin Collection,” highlights about 200 images from the museum’s impressive holdings, including important works from virtually every famous photographer since the birth of the art form in the mid-19th century. The exhibit’s list of famous photographers is so thorough, it’s hard to think of anyone who’s not represented. It includes early pioneers such as Fox Talbot and Matthew Brady; groundbreaking 20th century artists such as Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham; and controversial image-makers Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol and Sally Mann.

Chief Curator Jennifer Hardin organized this, her final exhibition at MFA, and what a positive note on which to end. Many of the photos in the show were gifts from Ludmila and Bruce Dandrew and Chitranee and Dr. Robert L. Drapkin. Their generous donations between 2009 and 2012 enabled Hardin to put this collection together, which she has characterized as a “visual history of the modern era.”

Today we are inundated with photographic imagery from every angle, but the experience of viewing an old photograph can be like stepping through a wormhole back in time and having a visceral experience from that forgotten moment.

Many of the historical moments burned into our collective consciousness are shown in this exhibit, like the series of early stop-motion images of 1887 Greco-Roman Wrestlers by Eadweard Muybridge and turn-of-the-century scenes like Stieglitz’s “The Steerage,” a photogravure from 1907, showing the contrast between passengers on the upper and lower decks of a ship. With the rising popularity of celluloid film (replacing glass plates), and gelatin silver print enlargements becoming easier to produce, the mid-20th century was fertile ground for the prominent photojournalists. Some fine examples in this show include “Farmer and Son in a Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma (1936)” by Farm Security Administration photographer Arthur Rothstein and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s 1945 “VJ-Day in Times Square,” that captures a kiss between a sailor and a nurse.

The number of photographs by women on display in the exhibition is impressive, especially when compared to the male-dominated photography collections of other museums.

There are the well-known stars such as Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, and Diane Arbus, but it’s exhilarating to see works by lesser-known masters and innovators like Julia Margaret Cameron, Gertrude Käsebier, Andrea Modica, and Barbara Morgan, who’s 1938 photomontage “Spring on Madison Avenue” is beautifully unique.

The status of photographers as “artists” was hotly debated over the first 150 years of the medium, but artistic photographers have become much more accepted in recent times. Images by those who attempted to elevate their work above the level of mere documentary make up most of this collection and, understandably, an artful photograph by Hungarian photographer Andre Kertész was chosen for the poster and entry signage for this exhibition.

MFA PHOTO EXHIBIT 1

André Kértesz (American, born Hungary, 1894-1985) Satiric Dancer, Paris (1926) Gelatin silver print

Florida-based artists and college professors Jerry Uelsmann, and Robert Fichter both experiment with surreal images and have influenced generations of photographers. Uelsmann’s gelatin silver print “Small Woods Where I Met Myself” is a mesmerizing piece, especially since it was made in 1967, more than 20 years before Photoshop.

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Jerry Uelsmann (American, born 1934) Small Woods Where I Met Myself (1967) Gelatin silver print

Perhaps no general exhibition would seem compete without photographs by the master, black-and-white landscape photographer Ansel Adams. His piece; “Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park,” a gelatin silver print, is a jewel of the show.

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Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984) Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park (about 1940, printed about 1970) Gelatin silver print

The museum’s photographic holdings of approximately 17,000 images, rivals that of many world-class museums, and this carefully selected exhibition of humanity’s photographic mementos takes visitors on a visual excursion that won’t soon be forgotten.

 

FIVE DECADES OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Featuring The Dandrew-Drapkin Collection
When: Through October
Where: Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive N.E. St. Petersburg
Tickets: $17 adults, $15 seniors and military with ID, $10 students and children; free for children age 6 and younger; http://www.fine-arts.org


Miami ArtWeek’14 – Wednesday 12/3

We haven’t even hit the shows yet but have already stumbled upon some great discoveries.

While taking a stroll down Lincoln Road Mall in search of some dinner, we were quickly confronted with the “ArtCenter South Florida” and their retrospective exhibition “Thirty Years on the Road,” curated by Edouard Duval-Carrié.

Some standouts from this show were Vicenta CasanIt’s Difficult to be Spiderman’s Mom” a 66.5″x51″ 2008 C-Print Photograph.

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And a 2012 piece by Kerry Phillips called “I’m The Worst When it Comes To…” this is a magnificent work of many multicolored, found sheets, folded neatly and stacked on a found table. You can see a different installation of this work on her site here: http://www.kerryphillipsart.com/stories

Also at ArtCenter South Florida are numerous artists’ gallery/exhibition spaces, and a walk through the well-lit labyrinth brought us to this large, humorous and savvy piece by Alejandro Vigilante.

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But by far my most favorite discovery from today was another artist in residence at the ArtCenter, Babette Herschberger. Her minimalist paintings on canvas and cardboard absolutely blew my mind!

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This quick snapshot doesn’t do justice to her subtile work. Seldom does something so simple make such a massive statement. I was really looking forward to seeing the EVOL works on cardboard at the SCOPE fair, but Herschberger’s “constructions” on cardboard are in a whole other (higher) class.
Here’s an example from her website:
babetteherschberger.com

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“Tidbit #54″ (collage, found cardboard, packing tape. 9.125″x7.875”)

I was so impressed with her original work and the warm welcome in her studio/gallery space. I hope to speak with her again soon and do a more in-depth post on her brilliant work. So watch this space.

Later on Wednesday evening, (after excellent dinner at Bella Cuba on Washington Ave. at Lincoln Rd.) we happened upon the David Castillo Gallery Pop-up on Lincoln Road, which will be open through January 31, 2015.
The un-missable, 1971 neon piece, shining through the window by Rafael Ferrer “Artforhum (Red, White & Blue)”, was really the only thing that could be appreciated during their closed, evening hours.

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But the reviews indicate it’s worth a trip back there to see the rest of the show. And the exhibition space definitely looked intriguing.

Okay, hitting the hay for tonight. Hoping to hit SCOPE & ArtBasil tomorrow!


La Biennale Friday Highlights

Just a few quick highlights from our first day at the 55th Art Biennale in Venice.
We woke up late as usual, not good when trying to cram in as much art as possible. I’ll include many, many more examples and other artists in my comprehensive review later next week.
But for now, here’s a glimpse of what we encountered
Our first stop was at The Museum of Everything where we had nice coffee & cakes before seeing the magnificent paintings of Italian “Outsider” artist Carlo Zinelli in their back garden:
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Then we moved quickly over to the Giardini where we hit the pavilions of Spain, Belgium & Holland before entering the main exhibition hall.

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Lara Almarcegui at the Spanish Pavilion. (above)
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J.M. Coetzee curates Berlinde De Bruyckere at the Belgian Pavilion. (above)
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And Mark Manders presents a
Room with Broken Sentence in the Dutch Pavilion. (above)
“Outsider Artists” or Art Brut, was a major component of The Encyclopedic Palace (this year’s theme.) there were many intriguing works in Giardini’s main exhibition hall.
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Above, Jack Whitten’s large abstract painting hangs behind 387 model houses presented by Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser.

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And the re-imagined tarot cards of Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris (above) are very striking.

I’ve so much more to show and discuss from this part of the exhibition so keep an eye out for my comprehensive review next week.

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Popping into the Finnish Pavilion gave us a look into the wooden mind of Antti Laitinen. (above)

At the U.S. Pavilion, Sarah Sze has transformed the entire building into her “Triple Point,” a conglomeration including thousands of objects, both natural, commercial, and faux that stagger the mind. (below)

20130817-024305.jpgAs the Giardini was about to close, we dashed into the Venezuelan pavilion (below) and were really excited to see that they had chosen to highlight “Urban Art” from their fine tradition of graffiti artists.
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After being herded out the gates of Giardini, I headed over to Arsenale, which was open till 9pm, to get a head start on tomorrows coverage.
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Marino Auriti’s model plan for his Encyclopedic Palace of the World greets you as you enter the main exhibition hall at the Arsenale.

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Nearby are photography exhibits by several different photographers. One of the most interesting ones is a series of mind boggling, early aerial shots by Swiss photographer and balloonist Eduard Spelterini, like this image above, showing the city of Cairo in 1904!

One of the next things that astounds the brain is an entire room filled with 207 pages of illustrations by notorious American comic book artist R. Crumb. The Book of Genesis!
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and then this happened!
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The Japanese artist Shinichi Sawada, who suffers from severe autism, creates these intricate clay sculptures that seem to have appeared from another dimension. (above) An entire menagerie is on display here.

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One room not to be missed is filled with Venitians. (above) Polish artist Pawel Althamer cast the faces and hands of dozens of actual local Venetians in plaster and then used grey plastic to represent their bodies in his sculptural installation called, you guessed it, “Venitians.”

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One of my favorite discoveries of the day was a wall of large scale collages (above) by German artist Albert Oehlen. He uses the familiar language of mass media and advertising to create an interesting assembly of juxtaposed imagery.

And just after viewing these works, the bells began to sound and I was instructed, in several languages, to head for the exit.

So that’s a cursory glance at some of the great work from Friday’s wanderings. As I stated before, I’ve got so much more to show and discuss, so keep an eye out for my more comprehensive reviews next week, which will include many individual reports on some of the other exhibits and more in-depth info on the ones covered here.

Ciao for now! See you tomorrow.

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ALL IMAGES AND TEXT COPYRIGHT 2013 BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN FOR LABEAURATOIRE.
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