Search results for "Alexandre Arrechea"

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Art in the Park

NYC Parks to join $200K public art partnership with UNIQLO
Today, The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) and Japanese clothing company UNIQLO announced that UNIQLO has committed $200,000 in a grant to be issued over the next two years. The “Art in the Parks: UNIQLO Park Expressions” grant will install original artworks by New York City­­–based artists in 10 parks (two parks per each of the New York City's five boroughs). The grant is part of NYC Parks’ broader initiative to bring frequent public art exhibits to parks that have not had cultural programming in the past. The participating parks are Joyce Kilmer Park and Virginia Park in the Bronx; Fort Greene Park and Herbert Von King Park in Brooklyn; Thomas Jefferson Park and Seward Park in Manhattan; Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Rufus King Park in Queens; and Tappen Park and Faber Park in Staten island. Over the next two years, 20 emerging artists who “submit the most compelling public art proposals” will each receive $10,000 to complete their projects for their assigned park. The first round of artists will be announced in January 2017 and the first artworks will be ready for public display in spring 2017. The announcement was held at 11:30am this morning at Fort Greene Park Plaza with NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, UNIQLO USA CEO Hiroshi Taki, UNIQLO global director of corporate social responsibility Jean Shein, city councilmember Laurie Cumbo, and artist Alexandre Arrechea, as well as local artists and community members. This project is one of several in which UNIQLO has engaged to better local communities. In addition to its clothing recycling program, an ongoing initiative that collects gently used clothing at its stores and delivers them to those in need, the company has donated millions to people in need, such as refugees, disaster victims, and disadvantaged youth.
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Art and architecture highlights from Coachella

2016’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off this weekend in typical fashion: hit and under-sung musical acts playing late into the night, torturous sunshine interrupted by shade-giving monumental art. Amid the raucous tumult of teenagers and festival bros were a collection of large artworks commissioned specifically for the festival, running two weekends in a row. The seven monumental works by seven invited artists create interactive structures meant to complement the festival’s musical offerings and run the gamut from dank man caves to an ever-changing array of colorful balloons floating in the wind.

The Tower of Twelve Stories 📷: @robstok + @alliemtaylor

A photo posted by @coachella on

Takin a break from my normal thing(s) to shoot @coachella ! @goldenvoice @instagram Art = @0super A photo posted by Jeff Frost (@frostjeff) on
Jimenez Lai brings his The Tower of Twelve Stories to Coachella, a 52-foot-tall sectional model made up of a mess of stacked platonic bubbles. Inspired by the Lenoard Cohen song, “Tower of Song,” Lai’s work also takes inspiration from theories on the American skyscraper, from Rem Koolhaas’s notions of its genericism to Louis Sullivan’s prescriptions of classical proportioning for the type. The structure contains embedded lights and glows from within at night. Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea’s Katrina Chairs utilize steel frames clad in plywood to create a sextet of bright yellow lawn chairs topped with stacks of Soviet-era, prefabricated apartment blocks. The monumental work takes its name from the disastrous storm that hit New Orleans in 2005 that gives the work resonant symbolism: it asks in surreal irony if one chair can hold an entire community above water. Phillp L. Smith’s Portals uses mirrored members to create a 85-foot-wide circular room around a large tree. This room is punctuated by fluorescently lit Space and Light era-inspired geometric niche sculptures. A planter containing the tree comes with incorporated seating. Wife and husband team Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis from Latvia repurpose scrapped wood and other building materials to create their two-storied The Armpit, an homage to the Latvian equivalent of the “man cave.” The installation fetishizes Latvian male’s tendency to crave time alone in the garage and upends a traditionally masculine space by allowing the view to peer into the cave and observe scenes of male solitude and domestic intimacy. Architecture-trained Argentine artists Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt take inspiration from the Mexican bolero song, ¡Bésame Mucho!, for their silk flower-clad monumental text sculpture of the same name. Coachella-based artists Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, collaborating as The Date Farmers, evoke the Mexican migrant farm worker with their work, Sneaking into the Show, a Chicano Art-inspired totem showcasing a duo of migrant workers and their plow.

#goldenhour 📷: @erubes1

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  Lastly, Robert Bose’s Balloon Chain utilizes variously colored balloons strung together with attached LED lights to create a responsive amorphous sculpture that billows along with the hot desert winds.  
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Beyond the Supersquare
Terence Gower, SuperPuesto, 2014
Courtesy respective artists

The modern movement began with universal aspirations for an architecture that could be built in any part of the world. Latin America quickly became a proving ground for modernism, and architects and designers began adapting its forms and materials to suit the climate and context. Many Latin American and Caribbean governments embraced the style as a symbol of their progressive values. A new exhibition at the Bronx Museum, Beyond the Supersquare, presents work by artists who look critically at the legacy of modernism in Latin America (The Architect’s Newspaper is a media sponsor for the exhibition). The exhibition includes photography, drawings, video, and installations, which examine how modern architecture and urbanism benefited the populace but also shaped and sometimes reinforced socio-economic and political differences.

Jordi Colomer, Co-Op City, 2010.
Left to right: Alexandre Arrechea, Habana Libre, 2003; Mauro Restiffe, Oscar 12a, 2012; Fernanda Fragateiro, Muebles de bajo costo, 1950.

On June 14, the museum also opened SuperPuesto, a new temporary pavilion designed by Terence Gower, which will serve as a space for educational and public programs related to Beyond The Supersquare. SuperPuesto is located at the Andrew Freedman Home Garden at 1125 Grand Concourse at 166th Street in the Bronx.

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On View> Museum of Arts and Design Presents "Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design" Through September 15
You may think you know wood, but this exhibition stretches the material beyond convention into the 21st century, and has a distinct sense of humor. Artists and designers play with the form, starting with artist Martin Puryear, who inspired curator Lowery Sims to explore trends that destabilize conventional methods. His specially commissioned piece for this show is a puffy, tufted wing-back chair that looks so soft you could sink into it, but it is actually solid pine. Its title, A Skeuomorphic Wing Chair, 2012, refers to the ersatz, an object made to resemble another material to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, like a digital notebook app that mimics yellow lined paper. Weight is conveyed differently in Yuya Ushida’s Sofa_XXXX, 2010, a delicate lattice comprised of 8,000 recycled bamboo chopsticks, that can be expanded or contracted; or Mark Moskovitz’s Facecord, 2012, which looks like a stockpiled cord of logs, but is actually a chest of drawers. Seating figures prominently in this exhibition in a variety of guises. A skyscraper sits on a chair. While this is impossible physically, Alexandre Arrechea, a Los Carpinteros alumnus (the Cuban arts collective), has created this intentional instability and called it Conspiracy, 2007, to comment on issues of power, surveillance, and control. With its strong dark and light striped patterns, the work feels playful at the same time, reminiscent of Arrechea’s spring 2013 installation, No Limits in the Park Avenue median strips of iconic New York buildings including the Chrysler and Empire State Building as the wriggling tips of a coiled hose and snake, the Flatiron as a flag on a pole, and the Helmsley Building in a circle eating its own tail. Tea Ceremony Chair, 2010, by Hiroki Takada sports impossibly tall shoots. Gary Carsley’s D.100Wave Hill (Tree Struck by Lightning), 2012, sets tree-photographed contact-papered Ikea chairs against a background of the same images, virtually camouflaging the furniture; similarly, Piet Hein Eek shows chairs and wallpaper in the same scavenged wood to create trompe l’oeil Scrapwood Wallpaper and  Oak Chair in Scrapwood. New interpretations of Thonet, the maestro of bentwood, delight. From Matthias Pliessnig’s Thonet No. 18, 2007, a dynamic warren of tangled oak overlaying Thonet’s classic No. 18 chair buried beneath; to Christopher Kurtz’s A(typical) Windsor Form, 2004, which comingle the backs of two chairs much like Marina Abromovic’s hair conjoined with Ulay’s in Relation in Time, 1977; to the delightful Thoneteando video by Pablo Reinoso, where a woman does battle with a suite of No 18s, which are accompanied in a display nearby by footwear called Prêt-à-Thonet, 2007, and Two for Tango, Fontainebleau Suite, 2012, a pair of picture frames locked together with bentwood tentacles. In a nod to the architectural, Hope Sandrow constructed Coop LeWitt North, 2012. Inspired by an actual chicken coop, she used a Sol Lewitt drawing like a blueprint, giving it dimensionality and functionality. Sarah Oppenheimer’s site-specific aperture is an architectural anomaly that navigates constructed space, in this case, an interior wall of the gallery. The wooden corner oblong frames views of the adjacent galleries. Alison Elizabeth Taylor’s marquetry is installed on the ceiling, folding onto the adjacent walls, as well as on the floor, using semi-demolished, decaying architectural elements that exploit the illusionistic potential of this technique. Traffic, 2009, by Hunt Clark, is a video projection of street traffic projected onto a smooth, undulating free-style blob that makes you want to get stuck in a traffic snarl. The building is enlivened by an installation suspended from the ground floor lobby ceiling. A torqued ring of interlocked ready-made chairs is entitled Year and a Day, which has a double meaning: in medieval Europe, an escaped serf who remained a fugitive for this time period became free by law; and it is the time required for one revolution of the Earth around the sun on its own axis. Artist Marc Andre Robinson says chairs “stand for a choice: a choice to rest, to reflect, to stand, to author, and even rebel,” and a year and a day “is a record of a type of movement that begins as a benign measurement of time, but somehow ends in liberation.”
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Alternative Practice
Armando Mariio Calzado's Exile.
Courtesy Architecture Omi

Skyline Adrift:
Cuban Art and Architecture

Architecture Omi
1405 County Route 22
Ghent, NY

During times of economic stagnation and underemployment in our field, young architects seek creative outlet in venues alternative to the architectural office, like small-scaled self-built projects, art installations, and paper architecture. In Cuba one might say that this is a chronic condition. Officially, architecture school graduates in Cuba all find, or are assigned, employment in the country’s planned economy, but such work is almost exclusively within government agencies and generally consists of the renovation and maintenance of existing facilities with little room for creative design. In the absence of a functioning private sector and with an acute shortage of building materials there is little opportunity for a young designer to cultivate private clients and generate freelance architectural work of the type that nourishes so much beginning talent in the United States. Two young Cuban architects were recently given the opportunity to stretch their creative imaginations in spectacular fashion thanks to the Vermont Studio Center, which recently initiated a residency program for emerging Cuban designers to create site-specific installations at Architecture Omi. The great Cuban architect Ricardo Porro—based in Paris, but who in recent years has reengaged with the architectural community in Havana—was instrumental in proposing candidates for the program. The fortunate recipients of the pilot grants are Yilena Lourdes Fietó Echarri and Yoandy Rizo Fiallo, and the impressive product of their six weeks of work in Vermont is now on view in the exhibition Skyline Adrift at the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, New York.

Yilena Feitó addresses the idea of skyline quite literally. Her piece, which she calls Havana in Gray, consists of a wood-framed cube of black scrim to which she has affixed silhouettes of the city and bay of Havana. The plywood cut-outs are coated in a raked acrylic medium and the effect is of a grim city under a hazy polluted sky, darkened by one of the frequent apagones (black outs) that plague Havana; elegiac and sinister at the same time. The urban profiles are based on pictures taken by Feitó, who is an accomplished photographer who explores the city of Havana as her subject. The true meaning of her piece is in the armature that holds the pictorial component aloft. Built of sturdy four-by-fours, the structure alludes to the ubiquitous scaffolding that keeps the crumbling buildings of Havana from collapsing (Feitó works in the office of the historian of the city of Havana on the restoration and conversion of historic buildings in Old Havana, so she knows about scaffolding). Her scaffolding is, one realizes on second look, fashioned as human stick figures with their arms raised. She explains that it is not the scaffolding that is holding up Havana, but the people, through their fortitude and collective sacrifice.

Yoandy Rizo Fiallo's Nest: Nine Points of View.

In contrast, Yoandy Rizo’s installation is an exuberant, strikingly beautiful work of pure abstraction. Also working in wood, he has built a monumental open-work sphere of intricately joined timbers with protruding arms or spines—menacing yet at the same time oddly endearing, like a porcupine or a terrestrial sea urchin that has just emerged from the forest at the edge of the meadow (I am reminded of Martin Puryear’s zoomorphic sculptures). Enter the structure through an opening at the rear and the piece becomes a protected domicile, a fortified nest—hence the title, Nest: Points of View. You can see out but the spikey protrusions keep strangers from getting too close. The craftsmanship, engineering, and mathematical precision of Rizo’s piece are extraordinary. During a presentation and discussion held in September at The 8th Floor gallery in Manhattan, Rizo shared early sketches of his piece and photos of its assembly from many hundreds of components, all completed in an impressive six weeks. One of the most satisfying aspects of both Rizo’s and Feitó’s presentations was their expression of unmitigated joy over being able to work with materials and tools to which they have no access in Cuba.

The installations by Feitó and Rizo share the landscape at Architecture Omi with works by two internationally established Cuban visual artists living outside of Cuba. Armando Mariño Calzado’s piece, Exile, consists of a half-scaled wood shack held off the ground by a dozen or so pairs of cast acrylic legs.  It is visually appealing but the heavy symbolism weighs it down. The themes of exile and loss that preoccupy so many artists of the Cuban diaspora (and I have family who left Cuba unhappily, so the sentiments are not alien to me) are potent but can ultimately be limiting. The sculpture by Alexandre Arrechea (a former member of the celebrated Cuban art collective Los Carpinteros) is more enigmatic. A multi-paned wood and glass door held aloft like a flag on a 20-foot tall steel mast, Door in the Desert is a communications device, a semaphore to guide wanderers. Is the door one through which one might pass to a place beyond, or is it a fragment from an abandoned settlement? The works by these two visual artists employ comparatively expensive materials and fabrication techniques, undoubtedly financed by their New York dealers. They make the installations by the two young architects, hand-built by their authors, all the more refreshing and impressive.

Rachel Perera Weingeist, advisor to the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and the instigator of the project, and David Franck, founding director of Architecture Omi, co-curated Skyline Adrift. They express resolve to repeat the collaboration with Vermont Studio Center on the residency program for Cuban architects, and judging from the results of the inaugural venture it is a program well worth continuing. The life-changing benefit to the individual artists—for Feitó and Rizo, this was the first time either had ever traveled outside of Cuba—is palpable. And a cultural exchange program such as this is a reminder that the arts community can help to reverse the harmful and pointless political and economic estrangement between the United States and Cuba. The constant refrain heard in Cuba is that the problem between our two countries lies with our misguided governments, not with the people. The evidence is at Architecture Omi, remaining on view through May 2013.

At press time I received news that Yilena Fietó had chosen not to return to Cuba and was seeking asylum in Miami, where she went to visit relatives after the opening of the exhibition. It is too early to know the repercussions, but her defection could jeopardize the future of the Vermont Studio Center’s residency program for Cuban architects.