I attended the Ivan F. Petrovsky (a/k/a Mr. Mustart) show at Solo(s) Project House (sometimes hereinafter, "SPH") last Friday nite. Again, the walls of the exhibit space were covered in wild colors, as they have been for all three of the solo projects thus far housed. Forget about galleries' white walls, or museums' dignified maroon-red, blue, or other solid-colored walls.
Opening title early in the evening. Contrást the graffiti-augmented version toward the end of the evening, shown near the end of this post.
The first solo project, Clarence Rich's, had dominantly yellow/orange walls, with variations. The second, Joseph Waks's, had black-and-white graffics all over the walls (more about that later). And this project had a mix of red, yellow, gold, blue, black — whatever — against which individual works stood out or into which they blended.
As I was walking around and looking at the immensely detailed and complicated, collaged images and sculptural figures, a young, dark-haired woman came up and introduced herself, saying she is a big fan of my blog. (If ever I want to go to art shows anonymously, I shall have to take the foto out of the template to this blog. But right now, it's a convenience, so when I'm out and about I sometimes get to meet people who have seen this blog.)
She said she likes comparing her reactions to mine, and often finds herself agreeing with my observations. She is obviously a woman of very superior intelligence and taste. I asked her name, and she said "Sharon Rodriguez", and that she works with Rebecca (Jampol), and has since the JaJo Gallery days. Rebecca has her hand in on a number of Newark arts projects like SPH (that's Rebecca on the ladder in the welcome screen of the SPH website), the 239 Collective, and GlocallyNewark.com.
I said to Sharon, "You know [of course] that 'Sharon' and 'Rodriguez' don't go together", then asked, upon detecting a very-slite accent, "Where are you from?" Argentina. Well, that's unusual. I asked, "What part of Argentina?" This "what part" is a tricky, and sometimes useless question, in that some people who are not really from the capital or largest city will figure you won't know the place they are really from, so will answer with the name of the capital or largest city, which in much of the world is the very same city. She answered, "Buenos Aires" (Argentina's capital AND largest city, by far), and I said I thought maybe she'd say "Rosario" or someplace else. But no, she said, she's from the center of everything in Argentina, Buenos Aires.
I asked if she knows how to tango, or if that is a silly question, because everybody in Buenos Aires knows how to tango — maybe it's taught in grammar schools, for all I know, just as kids here are (or were) taught ballroom and square dancing. I didn't get an answer to that implied question, but she said, yes, she does know how to tango, but how well one tangoes varies greatly. "You've got to have a good partner." In American dancing — oops: "U.S."; Argentinean dancing is American dancing — people more commonly dance apart than together nowadays, so it doesn't much matter how good or bad your partner (if any) is. U.S. national news broadcasts on July 10th, the 50th anniversary of the Twist, pointed out that the emergence of the Twist marked the first time that Americans danced separately (even alone). But it really does take two to tango.
Her family moved from Argentina to Florida when she was 16, and she somehow ended up in Newark, while her parents remain in Florida and a sister lives in Barcelona. Sharon is plainly the smartest member of her family.
Sharon asked how I liked the Solo Projects I had seen. When I said that I liked the varied colors and coverings of the walls in the different Solo Projects, she told me that what I thought might have been wallpaper behind Joe Waks's paintings was actually hundreds of 8" x 10" individual graffics glued to the wall by hand. When the staff was getting ready for Ivan's show, they had to remove those hundreds of paper graffics, on one of the hottest days of the year, around 100°. What they used to remove them was steam. Jeez. What some people will do for the love of art.
Assemblage on floor in the corner shown above, including a human figure partway out of a cat carrier. I have no idea what it means, but it seems to echo a common theme in Ivan's work, of people being trapped in circumstances not of their own choosing. Or maybe that's just my projection onto his work. Art lets you do that, put yourself into a work and take away from it whatever it makes you think of.
I excused myself to speak a moment with Kevin Darmanie, to tell him I mentioned earlier that day the artist talk scheduled for the next day at his Kedar Art Studio, since I didn't know if he had seen that mention. Many people in Newark arts know of this blog, but I don't imagine many actually read it except perhaps when it speaks to their projects. So I try to tell people when I mention them (tho my email to Anker West bounced; Yahoo is apparently very unreliable, since I've had trouble of late with my brother Alan's Yahoo email too).
Does an upside-down one-way arrow point the right way? Or has it dropped and swiveled on a pivot into indicating the opposite of what it is supposed to direct?
Even most people who see this blog with fair regularity don't read every post. And why would they want to see the natterings of a senior citizen that start with one theme, then branch off into other matters as they occur to him? (I only now, on checking "natter" on the Internet for proper use, am reminded of Spiro Agnew's wonderful phrase, "nattering nabobs of negativism". Agnew had to resign from the Vice Presidency because of corruption, not rhetoric. His boss, Richard Nixon, then also had to resign, which was the only time any President ever resigned, and thus as well the only time when a Vice President and President both resigned.)
The foto above shows Sharon, back to the camera, with Kevin, profile to the camera. Rebecca is in the background on the left. I have no idea what was so roaringly funny (note the young woman on the extreme left).
When I returned to talking with Sharon, she asked if I'd like something to drink, and I said I sure would like a beer, so she got me a 16-ounce Pabst. I hadn't had Pabst in a long time. It tasted fine, especially in that slitely overwarm room. I mentioned to Kevin that I was glad to see the mention that there would be air-conditioning at his artist talk (which he said would be informal, with the artist answering questions one-to-one, not a formal speech, in part because the Studio space was too small for an auditorium setup). The opening reception of his Kedar Studio of Art was very hot. (I discovered today that I did not get up, timely, fotos of the Index show opposite Kevin's space, which has already closed. There's just too much going on in Newark for me to cover it all on time. But I'll put up some pix of that show, which I liked, by way of introducing the next Index show, in August. Question, tho, for Index's management: if your next show isn't until August, why would you take down the prior show in mid-July? I'm not the only one who doesn't get to things promptly, so there may have been people who'd have loved to see the "Into the Void" show (it was quite good, I thought) but couldn't get there in a single month's exhibition time.) Perhaps a month is a long time for young people, but the typical American's schedule nowadays is so crammed that making time for an art exhibit may not rate a reminder from an online-calendar program.)
Kevin pointed out that there was an AC unit at the back of the Solos space, and I walked over to investigate. It was on, but at a low or medium setting, not blasting out frigid air, and the vents seemed to be pointed somewhat downward rather than up. Lowell Craig arrived, sweating. He drove his bicycle down from his gallery (Index Art Center, across from Kevin's space) in the heat. For bicycles, "drove" is much better than "rode", since a bicyclist actually does drive, that is, provide the motive power for, the bike. Kevin also biked it to SPH. I mentioned to Kevin that I own a bike, which my brother gave to me once he had no further use for it (he moved to Las Vegas, where bicycling is not a good idea, especially in summertime.) But I cannot use it because my right leg doesn't straten well, even after two knee surgeries. I had given away my own bike when I moved out of Manhattan. I don't recall why. Perhaps I thought things would be so spread out in my new neighborhood that I'd have little occasion to use a bicycle. The actual problem I'd have in Vailsburg is hills. Steep hills, including one my house is on.
Closer view of one painting in the alcove shown wide in the last foto above. There is an arm shown on the right of someone pointing to something of particular interest to him in that painting. It might have been what I also found of interest, shown closer in my next foto.
I have thought recently to sell my bike to an open-air business I pass on 18th Avenue in Irvington that sells and repairs bikes. My bike has saddle-bag-type wire baskets flanking the back wheel, since Alan used his bike to bring groceries home from stores near his apartment at the time, in Nassau, the Bahamas.
The central feature in this detail of the painting above is ambiguous. The soldier is, literally, in a (mouse)trap, but in the position that the bait would ordinarily occupy. If I am interpreting the object correctly, as I remember these ugly things, which preceded the even uglier glue trap now used to starve mice to death, the trap has not yet been sprung.
Kevin said I could in the alternative donate it for a tax credit, but I said that since I'm retired on [ungenerous] Social Security and have very little income aside from SocSec, I don't pay income tax. (Social Security at modest rates is not taxable, so a tax credit would be of no value to me or other elderly people similarly situated.)
In keeping with the street-art theme of Solo Project #3, part of the exhibition space was painted in ruf black paint, and chalk was supplied for people to create their own chalk art on premises.
Kevin mentioned, while we were talking about bikes, that Brick City Bike Collective (which does a third-Sunday run around the city, to differing areas), is interested in opening a storefront to sell and repair bikes. I said that finding a good site should not be a problem, since there are many vacant storefronts in Newark (in these bad economic times). If I were actively using my real-estate salesperson's license, I might find one for them myself. I really should do something with that license, such as work for Prudential Real Estate, which is based in Newark and thus should be as interested in promoting Newark as I am.
Some people looked.
Just then, Josh Knoblick, who did the wonderful giant's headfones in the 239 Collective show (13th foto in my post of June 25th), walked in, and Kevin said that Knoblick has something like 500 bicycles. I said "And I imagine he rides all of them at once." No. He's a collector. He might ride all of them, but over time. I didn't get a chance to tell Josh, whom I had run into at least twice many moons ago, but not gotten his name, how much I liked the headfones. Nor did I get to speak with Matt Gosser, who arrived at some point but was talking to other people. I don't intrude.
Other people drew or wrote.
Rebecca was walking around with strips of theater-style tickets, and when I asked her what they were for, she said they were drink tickets for the after-party at Hell's Kitchen Lounge. I wasn't up to a second stop that evening, and had things to get back to, so passed on a ticket. She later asked if I had had a beverage at SPH, I told her Sharon got me a beer, and Rebecca nodded approvingly, "Good". Nice people at Solo(s) Project House.
By the time I left, various people in attendance had added their brand to the billboard announcement of the show.
I asked Sharon if the artist of this Solo Project was around, and he was standing very near, so Sharon introduced us. I then, as usual, told him I have a fotoblog about Newark, handed him my card, and asked if he would like to pose by his favorite part of the show. He knew exactly where to go. I took, also as usual, two pix, one with and one without flash.
I'm not sure which is which. (He couldn't give me a card at the moment, because he had lost his wallet. I trust he just left it home.) But Sharon had a stash of his cards, so got one for me. She, like Rebecca, seems an efficient and highly competent young woman. People who choose Newark tend to be of the first water. Perhaps it's the immigrant or in-migrant thing, what we might call the "Avis Syndrome": "We Try Harder."
In this view, Ivan's shadow on the wall is more prominent, which suggests that this foto is the one taken with flash. But I wouldn't bet my life on it. Then again, I wouldn't bet my life on anything, not even my name or biological family — even tho there is what seems to me to be a strong resemblance among the people I believe to be my brothers and sisters. In case you hadn't noticed, the pose he chose mirrors the figure on the wall, behind the lite-green (garden green) New Jersey silhouette map.
Sharon hadn't known I'd seen all three of the Solo Projects. As I say, few people read every word of this blog regularly. I saw, when I went to check my coverage of the Clarence Rich show, Solo Project #1, that the fotos were obliterated when Picasa went berserk and changed the URL's after I had uploaded the completed blogpost, April 29th. That is the only time that ever happened to me with Picasa. I have now finally gone back into Picasa and Blogger to fix that, and put the new URL's in place so the fotos do now appear. I didn't fix it earlier, for fear that if Picasa was then unstable, the URL's would continue to wander. Let's hope Picasa doesn't change the URL's again.
In any case, I said that I like the fact that SPH shows one artist in his element, so we can enter his world. That was not to say I necessarily liked the world he has created around us, but that it was a good thing for us to be immersed in his worldview. In that I am neither artist nor critic, I didn't want to go further than that, other than to say that neither Clarence Rich's nor Ivan Petrovsky's art is exactly to my personal taste; that I prefer something more formal, "refined". Sharon observed that Clarence's work is semi-street, and Ivan's fully street, which might not be her own preference either, but we both agreed that entering the artist's world allowed us see things differently. By the way, I didn't ask if Ivan pronounces his name in the English fashion, Íe.van, or the Russian and Spanish fashion (I noted the Puerto Rican flags in the show, so wonder if this Ivan has a Hispanic connection), Ee.vón.
Matt Gosser (left) and Ivan F. Petrovsky, both back to the camera, talk to young women not of my acquaintance. They might be artists. They might be Newark art groupies.
Petrovsky's work is very, very intricate and detailed, with lots going on that might require more time to appreciate fully than most people are willing to give or will feel comfortable in standing motionless before a single piece of the overall display to ponder. The bulk of the people attending the opening were very young, 20's. I was the only one in his 60's when I was there. An enthusiastic young art set and art-receptive set bodes well for Newark's long-term artistic functioning. These may be the people who stay with and in Newark arts, and give creative people the appreciation that will keep them engaged and active, not discouraged.
Aside from the Petrovsky main show, there were also paintings in the lobby and hallway back to the main gallery, by Marc D'Agusto. I wrote to SPH to ask if they are the same paintings that were on display during Project #2, but got no answer. I don't know why. As it turns out, at least three of the paintings are the same as last time, but others are different. I think.
The bulk of the paintings this time have a lot of rust-brown to them, which is either unifying or tedious, depending on your feelings on seeing them.
Several deal with mechanistic objects more than people, and the rust color suggests deterioration, metallic rot.
The first painting on the right as you enter, however, and thus the last artwork you are likely to note on leaving (Bathroom), does show some human (masculine) skin, tho not nudity. This was held over from Solo Project #2. I liked it still.
Solo(s) Project House's hours of operation are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 12 noon-6pm. The Petrovsky show runs until August 27th.