April 15–May 10, 2006
Brooklyn-based Marci MacGuffie works with abstract patterns, not only in a decorative sense, but also as part of a larger observational process. She analyzes physical reactions and mannerisms, which can either refer to actual interactions between her audience and work, or more symbolically, they can refer to renditions of the effects outside forces can have on nature.
A sprawling installation at DUMBO’s Smack Mellon in 2005 revolved around movable wall magnets, which were meant to animate viewers to engage with, and in the end, alter the piece to their liking. No boundaries were set and a video camera documented a large variety of differing audience reactions, ranging from timid to bold, from serious to lighthearted. Whereas some participants completely changed large sections of the work, only moving a single piece to the side satisfied others. In a metaphorical sense, this work first exposed a spectrum of multifaceted behaviors, before uniting their diverse positions on videotape. This research in contrasts is the basis of MacGuffie’s inspiration.
At Baumgartner Gallery, a painting, several drawings of great detail, as well as a sculpture entitled “Xenolith”, made of a dragonfly, fossil and a wasps’ nest on Plexiglas, are parts of the signature style vocabulary MacGuffie calls her language. Her imagery is rooted in the organic and embraces the fluency of biomorphic shapes; intricate drawings based on the innumerable repetition of forms are a staple. The obsessive concentration entailed might bring to mind the work of Yayoi Kusama, yet here, the seemingly endless motion of the artist’s hand becomes a vehicle for meditation. “Sport and Pageantry” (2005) and “Arizona Blueberry Roost” (2005) are vibrant melting pots for enchanting renditions of floral forms, webs, animal skeletons, abstract ornaments, corals, stars, pollen, parts of pinecones and honeycombs, zigzags, bricks, leafs, snakeskin, spider legs, hair, and fur, for example. Like mosaic stones or patches of a quilt, these sections are fused into a larger dynamic whole. Together, they become an honest homage to the diversity of textures, color, and form in nature that for centuries has functioned as muse to the arts.
MacGuffie’s paintings and drawings all play with this content and inform her large-scale installations, an example of which has specifically been created for Baumgartner’s West wall. Though her current show does not anticipate the physical interaction between the audience and exhibited works, there are plenty of opposing forces, elements of calm and upheaval with which to engage. Blown up into new proportions, elements previously observed only on the two-dimensional plane enter a new realm as they envelope the space with determination. The small drawn details have been translated into broader strips of paper, which then are at times painted on and often collaged into complex clutters of splendor. Swirls, if not the occasional tornado-esque spiral, provide a sense of directorial movement. In an effect reminiscent of wind in a cornfield they become quite reliable guides.
So alien and yet with the seductive hint of the familiar, MacGuffie’s work is exquisite in its combination of mystic beauty and chaos, but more importantly, it is an enthusiastic plea for the peaceful co-existence of opposites.
Dara Birnbaum’s Note(s): Work(ing) Process(es) Re: Concerns (That Take On/Deal With)By Jennie Waldow
DEC 21-JAN 22 | Art Books
Materially detached from Birnbaums finished products, her working documents chart the theoretical motivations behind each piece, along with the novel technical solutions she devised to translate thorny concepts into external space. While this is not a publication for the casual reader, its complexity and resolute physical presence dovetail with the concerns of Birnbaums body of work, linking means and ends.
79. (Brooklyn Navy Yard, Columbia County)
NOV 2021 | The Miraculous
An artist in his mid-30s living in New York and working in a 300-square-foot studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, finds himself consumed by frustration and anger. Although he is having exhibitions, after the shows close his paintings inevitably return to his studio, unsold. Hes not sure he wants to go on being an artist. A psychiatrist he consults helps him to understand that his anger revolves around his feelings about race, class and entitlement. Eventually the psychiatrist recommends that he begin working with a physical trainer, who has him start boxing and working out with a punching bag. Around the same time the artist, who is half-Choctaw and half-Cherokee, has been meeting with traditional Native American artists who tell him how the practices of dancing, drumming and beading have saved their lives. These experiences lead him to make a breakthrough in his work. Instead of focusing on painting, he begins to adorn Everlast vinyl punching bags like those he has been using at the boxing gym in extravagant styles inspired by Native American beadwork, pop culture, and everyday life. Along with beads, he adds tassels, sequins, brass and steel studs, yarn, chains, and sundry items. Some of the bags feature beaded texts quoting everyone from Simone de Beauvoir to Public Enemy.
Helen Frankenthaler: Drawing within Nature: Paintings From The 1990sBy Robert C. Morgan
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
The exhibition of Helen Frankenthalers paintings from the early 1990s currently on view at Gagosian is a curious and provocative one. The shows title, Drawing within Nature, was a phrase once used by the artist to describe her work, which has been appropriated by the scholar Thomas Crow, who contributes an essay to the exhibition catalogue.
Monsoon Wedding Makes Its Way to BrooklynBy Allison Considine
MAY 2023 | Theater
In 2006, when director Mira Nairs agent suggested she adapt her Indian dramedy Monsoon Wedding into a musical, she felt like a penny dropped. The lauded film, now part of the Criterion Collection, has music in its bones, Nair said. Indeed, the colorful, sprawling family drama is fit for the stage.