Peter Schwarz on his own curation, interspersed with my impressions

happening art

a ruined bath house
part of the railway in hoboken
three little tugboats outside new york
fairgrounds in conneticut
trolley tracks that don’t lead into a building
a grocery


so is the idea, i ask peter,
to be metropolitan? is it a happening?
in january, he says. maybe it will be a happening in january.

and now i’m bartending of course
it’s what i do best
remembering names and carding women well past their child
-bearing years

I look around for indications of a happening
Find men in strange suits
Women with big hair
Drunken conversations
lemon meringues
and other surprises.

I still find my first show--Gerald DiFalco's retrospective--to be powerful, touching, and incredible. I am still mesmerized by DiFalco's ability to incorporate gold leaf with acrylic paint in many of his works which creates a spirituality in his mixed media paintings, a spirituality that has been missing in painting for a very long time. Cathy Gontarek's collages were exquisite. My favorites were Diamonds and Do Me. And, of course, Sibylla Benatova's work continues to fascinate me. She works largely with various papers and foils and, with these materials, transforms her visions into magical paper mosaics. We became very good friends via the show.

Mostar/Sarajevo: Modernist Ruins was an important exhibit. It focused on the destruction of Bosnian modernist architecture during the civil war, and the scope and diligence with which Erika Tapp invested in her project were impressive. She knew exactly what she wanted to do, how to present the was like she delivered a fully fleshed show to me, which has been very rare in my experiences.

This year, I've curated more photography shows than in the past, both because I received more submissions of photography and I encountered better photographers than others in the past. I don't have any complaints about this year's photography shows (Blake Martin, Beandrea Davis, Matthew Kime, Rachel Mackow and Benjamin Tiven). Matt Kime's style--C-prints mounted on aluminum--is beautiful. To begin with, he has an eye for settings that most people may notice briefly, or maybe not at all, and his method of using a long exposure creates nightscapes of magic and wonder without sacrificing the original mood of the locale (deserted, sometimes industrial, at times of night that would be considered dangerous for a person to be alone, away from the beaten path). Many of his prints almost resemble digital prints yet they aren't, and I liked the momentary confusion on some viewers' part. In art, quite often it's not what new materials or devices one uses, but how one uses them.

art gallery photos

an artist from wisconsin
living in new york, new york
and a woman from new
york, new york living in
philadelphia - since she was twenty, she says, which is to say, a good thirty
years -
and me - from new york, new york
still from new york, new york?
stare at the winter garden photo
at the winter garden which is no longer there.
no longer there.
i recognize elements of my junior
nights at the
nutcracker, broadway and fulton
moments of green, almost snapshots
almost snapshots

Beandrea Davis' work...she did an excellent job in putting her work together (she worked on it for months) and she did very well with her show. The texts were poignant in some cases, heartbreaking in one ("black people speak to each other"). I have to admit that, in the beginning of my curatorship, I wanted to stay away from "textual art", but Beandrea created an exhibit that demonstrated the affinities between the visual and the textual in a way that obviously didn't come off contrived. The coordination was excellent.

while the women watched

it’s a quiet thursday evening, and
i’m sitting in the living room, peering into the next room
where jim schlatter is running a reading
of parts of what will be a new production
of euripides
my attention drifts in and out as i scan the eyes of nine women
whose photopoetic statements dress the walls
we do not make eye contact
i’m a words person
so i focus on their words
i’m taking notes, as i do, on their eyes
on the play
on the behavior of the students in the arts cafe
but my thoughts drift and blend my life
and this script, and these eyes
until it is all one and i realize that
the eyes of these women are watching our world
eighteen eyes watch
as the trojan women are restaged
five women and a greek chorus in protest
and nine women in quiet dissent
exchange empathetic looks
what does it mean to stage euripides now
a war over a woman
used to sound so silly
let the flames that killed my city kill me
a discussion begins
is this subversive
is war an amnesic? a focus point?
real testimonies will be added
and no one notices the nine testimonies of the nine audience members
and no one notices what the women see
except perhaps, for euripides.
I just finished installing the new show: PAFA at the Kelly Writers House, four amazing artists who represent (not the totality, mind you) the progressive wing or movement within PAFA that is modernizing the place. Hisako Inoue especially. I just finished installing/hanging her Cinerary Urn sculpture: a short wooden tree stump placed on a 1" thick slab of wood, sanded and finished with a light touch of white paint that still allows the natural wood to emerge (the wood could also be described as "bleached"), a six" high iron cage with a plaster white cylinder with a long crooked tree branch (finished to a smooth tan finish without paint) and suspended within the cage by fishing line. It's one of the most peaceful and spiritual art works I've encountered of late, quiet and meditative, yet disturbing when one realizes its title, its association (who are the dead? what are the dead? how did they die? when did they die? and who is remembering them?). Several times while I was fidgetting with the top brass hook support, trying to secure it so it wouldn’t slip off (I had to duck tape the top to the picture railing then furtively paint the tape white so it's not that noticeable)...I really hope it holds! ... I hopped onto the diningroom table and sat very quietly, just watching the piece, watching the branch slowly turn and twist. It's suspended with fishing line so you can't even see it suspended until you approach closely. Then I discovered... before language, before poetry, there was the human gesture to communicate what could not be spoken.

In general, I've enjoyed supporting the local art scene and providing a space for artists who might not be favorable to the entrenched cultural powers in certain venues. As you already know, Jennifer and I have been plotting a transformation in the gallery via the "curatorial practices" internship/workshop project that I will be teaching starting in the fall. The project is still coalescing, and I need a few more people, but it will both provide a training ground in the basics of curating while allowing, hopefully, for an expansion of the art activities in terms of types of exhibits. For instance, Jennifer mentioned at the hub meeting, when we announced this project, "Sculpture in the garden!" which could very well be a possibility. In any case, we hope that the new curator will be selected from these interns. Hopefully. I would very much like to see the gallery continue at its current level and even further mature. One of the main reasons why I saw such potential in the house gallery, when I first took the job, was precisely because of its structure, the house events that tie everything together. It's a different sphere with more possibilities.