Andy Diaz Hope & Jon Bernson: Beautification Machine
Beautification Machine is an experiential artwork infused with mysticism and opacity. In the words of the artists, Diaz Hope and Bernson, Beautification Machine is a device used to “neutralize the bile and fear spewed forth daily over the networks and transform polarizing media sources into vehicles of contemplation and peace.” The work combines functions of sculpture, projection, audio processing and random chance to manipulate real-time audio and video feeds from FOX, MSNBC or any other news source, and then strip them of all rhetoric and partisanship. Beautification Machine’s essence is antithetical— an oasis of calm created from the very thing that makes it difficult to find serenity in the modern world. The artists hope viewers will begin to break patterns of fear and paralysis instilled by the media and find ways to enact positive change. Beautification Machine is a humorous attempt to counteract the voices of partisan pundits, “masquerading as news analysts,” who subvert civil dialogue. Diaz Hope and Bernson describe “the miracle” of the piece as the meditative environment naturally generated by the removal of divisive elements—fear replaced by empathy, mutual understanding and a sense of calm. Diaz Hope and Bernson profess they will closely guard the secret machinations of their work for fear that the mainstream media will “surely attempt to steal the device” for malevolent purposes. Though transparent as whimsical exaggerations, the artists’ statements bring a humorous brand of paranoia, magical thinking, and antiauthoritarianism to the overwhelming media presence in the modern world.
Tilting the Basin: Contemporary Art of Nevada
Nevada Museum of Art Curatorial Director and Curator of Contemporary Art JoAnne Northrup has partnered with Las Vegas-based art advisor Michele Quinn to co-curate Tilting the Basin: Contemporary Art of Nevada. The exhibition bridges the divide between Northern and Southern Nevada communities and provides a wide-ranging overview and understanding of the most accomplished work being created by more than thirty artists living and working in Nevada today.
The first nationally significant exhibition presenting art made in Nevada occurred in 2007 with Las Vegas Diaspora: The Emergence of Contemporary Art from the Neon Homeland, on view at the Las Vegas Art Museum, which has since closed. Organized by the well-respected art critic and curator Dave Hickey, the exhibition celebrated the work of twenty-six artists, all of whom received their degrees from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and studied with Hickey between 1990 and 2001 when he taught art theory and criticism in the Department of Art at UNLV.
Fast forward almost ten years later. After more than fifty artist studio visits in both Northern and Southern Nevada across Nevada, spanning Las Vegas to the south, Reno and Carson City in the north. Northrup and Quinn’s research revealed that the Nevada contemporary art scene does not evidence a singular aesthetic permeating artists’ work, but rather a wide array of practices and media. Nevada artists are creating innovative work ranging from painting, sculpture, and installation, to photography, interactive, and sound art. Their work is informed by popular culture, the natural environment, and landscape, as well as cultural identity, politics, and current events.
Tilting the Basin: Contemporary Art of Nevada aspires to provide contemporary dialogue aimed at enlightening our broader audiences to the richness of our entire arts community and how it can be a powerful tool in the growth of the great state of Nevada. The exhibition highlights the work of six artists in depth, showing several examples from each in a variety of media. Featured artists include Galen Brown, Justin Favela, Katie Lewis, David Ryan, Brent Sommerhauser, and Rachel Stiff. The remaining artists’ work will give visitors a wide-ranging picture of the art being created across Nevada today, including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, mixed media, street art, installation, sound performance, fiber arts and new media. Some work, like that of Reno photographer Megan Berner, will live exclusively on social media. Berner plans to take daily photographs of the Northern Nevada sky for the eleven-week duration of the exhibition. The images will post to the Nevada Museum of Art Instagram account, allowing the community to view the body of work as it develops over time.
Additional collaborations and offsite installations are planned as well. Las Vegas-based artist Brent Sommerhauser will collaborate with Reno-based Holland Project and Nevada Museum of Art E.L. Cord Museum School to create small ‘sketches’ in glass by layering rich color combinations of glass powder, glass strings and other glass elements over handmade glass tiles that Sommerhauser will fire on-site in his kiln. The resulting tiles will be photographed and shared on the Nevada Museum of Art Instagram account and displayed in the E.L. Cord Museum School. The combined tiles will contribute to a growing work that will serve as a participant record. Performance art elements of the show include Justin Favela’s Family Fiesta.
Tilting the Basin: Contemporary Art of Nevada will be reprised in Las Vegas in 2017. Artists chosen for the exhibition have not before had work prominently displayed at the Museum:
Chris Bauder, Mark Brandvik, JW Caldwell, Matthew Couper, Gig Depio, Justin Favela, Sush Machida Gaikotsu, Shawn Hummel, Wendy Kveck, JK Russ, David Ryan, David Sanchez Burr, Sean Slattery, Brent Sommerhauser, Brent Holmes, Krystal Ramirez, Rachel Stiff
Megan Berner, Rebekah Bogard, Galen Brown, Erik Burke, Nate Clark, Tim Conder, Joseph DeLappe + Pete Froslie, Russell Dudley, Jeffrey Erickson, Jen Graham, Ahren Hertel, Katty Hoover, Eunkang Koh, Nick Larsen, Katie Lewis, Sarah Lillegard, Omar Pierce
Stacie Mathewson and Doors to Recovery
Wayne and Miriam Prim
Maureen Mullarkey and Steve Miller; Nevada Arts Council; The Private Bank by Nevada State Bank
Kathie Bartlett; Elaine Cardinale; Barbara and Tad Danz; Dolan Law, LLC; Tammy M. and Brian E. Riggs; Sari and Ian Rogoff
Getaway Reno-Tahoe; Juxtapoz Magazine; KUNR Reno Public Radio; Nevada Magazine; Reno-Tahoe International Airport; Tahoe Quarterly; Western Art and Architecture
This theme comprises one section of the museum-wide exhibition, Tahoe: A Visual History.
A documentary produced by
KNPB in affiliation with the Nevada Museum of Art
This program was exclusively sponsored by Deborah Day in memory of Theodore J. Day.
Running time: Approximately 30 minutes (looped)
Watch the Tahoe Documentary online.
smudge studio: Look Only at the Movement
Nuclear waste, which ranges from highly radioactive plutonium to materials such as clothing and tools with only low levels of radiation, has been accumulating in the United States since the beginning of the atomic weapons program in the 1940s. In 1957, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that the government excavate deep geologic repositories for the waste, which was considered the safest method of disposal.
In fall 2012, smudge studio (Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse) spent twelve days driving the routes along which nuclear waste is moved in the American West from sites of waste generation to disposal stations. Locations they documented with a car-mounted video camera ranged from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where nuclear weapons research is conducted to Rocky Flats in Colorado, the former site of a plutonium plant.
Disposal facilities included the uranium tailings disposal cell at Mexican Hat in Utah and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. The WIPP facility is America’s only deep geologic repository for nuclear waste, where waste is buried 1,250 feet below the surface in a salt dome. WIPP operations are currently suspended as a result of radiological release in February, 2014.
Ellsworth and Kruse also visited the Department of Energy’s TRANSCOM field office in Carlsbad, New Mexico. TRANSCOM monitors, 24-hours a day via satellite, the transportation of nuclear waste in trucks between sites. A map of the disposal routes and the artists’ journeys appears to the right of the gallery entry.
The U. S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency policies currently require the Department of Energy to prove that Yucca Mountain in southern Nevada—the planned repository for high level radioactive nuclear waste—can safely store wastes through earthquakes, volcanic activity, climate change, and container corrosion for up to one million years. No nation has yet determined a safe way to store high-level waste for that length of time.
This research-based art project also included extensive photography and performance-based art by Ellsworth and Kruse along the journey.
Field Research for Look Only at the Movement was funded in part by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 2012.
The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust
Kevin Cooley: Primal Forces
Kevin Cooley’s work examines the relationship between the natural and built environment and the moments when the two collide. This exhibition presents a concise selection of his video work. Devils Churn (2010), Path (2008), Toss (2010), and Saguaro (2010) highlight simple meditative gestures – a bobbing inner tube, floating balloon, waving flag and tossed ring – that serve as surrogates for the endurance of the human spirit in the face of an indifferent nature. Disparate and powerful landscapes play the role of nature in the videos including, the Oregon Coast, Northern Iceland, Southern Utah, and Western Arizona. Cooley did not edit these videos; instead they present moments as they unfolded in real time. Cooley recounts simple, elemental moments that his careful framing and patient depiction elevate to a higher order. The fluorescent pink in each video knits the disparate actions together into a subtle yet personally epic struggle against nature.
In a classical sense, Fire, Earth, Wind, and Water define the world we inhabit. The tension between these forces, and our struggles to exist among them, provides the framework for the series. Each video presents a real-time tableau in which two elements contend. Either a force of nature, or else a human figure or human stand-in, acts as protagonist in these subtly filmed dramas.
Cooley received a MFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York City and Primal Forces will be his second solo museum exhibition. His work, Remote Nation, (comprised of 100 analog TV sets placed throughout a vacant NYC apartment building and playing programs controlled by his father’s remote control in Colorado) was recently on view in New York, seen from the High Line and his large scale video installation Skyward was recently on view at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland, OR. Upcoming exhibitions include a new two-channel video installation, A Thousand Miles an Hour, at Ryan/Lee Gallery in New York; additionally, Cooley’s work will be included in Modern Alchemy: Experiments in Photography, The Heckscher Musuem of Art, Huntington, NY, in 2014-2015.
BLOOM: Ken Goldberg, Sanjay Krishnan, Fernanda Viégas & Martin Wattenberg
In this internet-based Earthwork, unpredictable live movements of the Hayward Fault are detected by a seismograph, transmitted continuously via the Internet, and processed to generate an evolving field of circular blooms. The size and position of each bloom is based on real-time changes in the Earth’s motion, measured as a vertical velocity continuously updated from the seismometer. Referencing landscape painting and abstraction, Bloom creates a sublime experience of the growth and fragility of the natural world.
Gail Wight: Hydraphilia
Slime mold: you’ve noticed it growing on a fallen tree in the forest, or even possibly growing on old lettuce in your compost pile; but have you really looked at it and appreciated its unique attributes? Artist Gail Wight has lovingly regarded these protists, which typically grow on dead logs or other plant material, feeding on the microorganisms that grow as the plant decays. She has seen the beauty of this simple organism as it takes in energy and reproduces using spores, shifting shapes as it develops. Her process has a great deal in common with scientific inquiry.
To create Hydraphilia (2009), Wight prepared agar slides tinted with non-toxic dyes, added the slime mold, and began videotaping the resulting growth patterns. The video is a microscopic time-lapsed view (30x) of the Physarum Polycephalum or slime mold. Polycephalum is Latin for “many-headed” and Wight’s title for her video installation references a mythological nine-headed monster, the Hydra of Greek myths that grew two heads when one was lopped off. According to the artist, “This video evokes a love for the beauty and occasional grotesqueness of this many-headed creature.”
Rebeca Méndez: At Any Given Moment
The Nevada Museum of Art presents a video installation by artist and designer Rebeca Méndez, recipient of the 2012 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award.
Méndez’s work investigates the nature of matter through a focus on cycles and systems, specifically the forces and cross-rhythmic tensions that make natural phenomena emerge. This interest stems from her childhood in Mexico City and the Mexican jungle, where she would follow her father in pursuit of Mayan archaeology. Common to both environments is hypercomplexity, multiplicity, and constant change. Méndez’s move to Los Angeles and her expeditions to geologically young Iceland have furthered this impetus.
Says Méndez: “In my work I have always been interested in limits, and I am interested in where those limits are blurred. Always, when those categories are leaking or meshing together they create the grotesque and ambiguous. It is in those areas that I really like operating.”
Born in Mexico City, Méndez earned her BFA and her MFA at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and currently teaches in the University of California, Los Angeles Design Media Arts Department.
Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw
Within a Stone’s Throw is a video installation that considers the connections between landscape and the human presence, exploring unconventional perceptions of reality, scale and time. Artist Cecelia Condit transports viewers to Ireland’s Burren Coast, a magical place where megalithic tombs, prehistoric burial mounds, Bronze and Iron Age forts, and medieval castles stud the rocky, wildflower-strewn terrain.
Appearing variously as a girl, young adult, and older woman in the video, the artist as actor surveys the dramatic landscape, her movements and the video’s time/space shifts alluding to the unfolding of human and geologic time.
Helga Griffiths: Brainscape
German artist Helga Griffiths is interested in the physiology and psychology of perception, and her body and sense organs are often the point of departure for her work. Brainscape is a video taking viewers on an animated journey of the artist’s own brain, based on computer tomographic images created at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. The dream-like flight simulation takes viewers through folds and canyons that resemble an abstracted landscape. Brainscape features a sound composition by Dr. Johannes Sistermanns.