Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Art Exhibit: House of the Rising Suh lights up MCASD in downtown San Diego

by Lonnie Burstein HewittFirst published in the La Jolla Light

Do Ho Suh may not be a household name to most people, but he’s definitely a rising star in the wide world of museum installations and public art. And if you’ve walked around the UC San Diego campus, looking up from time to time, you’ve surely seen his piece, “Fallen Star,” one of the stars of the Stuart Collection — a small house tilted precariously on the rooftop of the Jacobs School of Engineering. 

Now more of Suh’s work is on view in a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s downtown location. Like “Fallen Star,” the exhibit highlights the artist’s preoccupation with the idea of home. Using translucent polyester fabric and slim stainless steel tubes, he has created an ethereal version of his New York City apartment, complete with major appliances, which visitors are invited to enter.

Circuit box, on apartment wall. Maurice Hewitt
It’s hard not to be blown away by the luminous, full-scale apartment, all pale pastels, with a flash of red staircase. Even the gallery’s security guard, Juanita Hayes-Vickers, couldn’t get over it. “It’s so wonderful, it tickles your belly!” she said.

In contrast, the black-walled adjoining gallery displays individual specimens of fixtures in the apartment, offering a totally different experience, almost meditative. Encased, out of context, the softly-glowing, see-through toilet is an object worthy of quiet admiration, a miracle of detail, every tiny, stitched-fabric screw in its place. 

In a room by itself is the “Secret Garden,” a 1/16th-scale replica of the Korean home and garden Suh’s father built installed on a mini-truckbed, as ready to travel as Suh is, with a video of its proposed Seoul-to-New York trip on the wall behind.

‘Home Within Home,’ a watercolor. Maurice Hewitt
But wait, there’s more: A selection of Suh’s works on paper, done in watercolor, colored pencil and multicolored threads, and a gallery dominated by the blueprints he made of his New York apartment — actually rubbings he did by taping sheets of tracing paper to the walls and rubbing blue pencil over them.

“He’s kind of dissecting the place and re-assembling it, as in a dream,” said Kathryn Kanjo, MCASD’s Deputy Director and curator of the exhibit. “He’s like a couturier, making clothes for the inside of the house. He has these two sides — tightly analytical architectural renderings (his brother is an architect!) and a dreamlike, playful sensibility.”

Kanjo said she first met Do Ho Suh 10 years ago in San Antonio’s ArtPace, where he was working on a cyclone sculpture with a Korean house crashed into it that he called “Fallen Star: Lone Star Edition.”


“He worked hard, made a lot of models; he was always busy experimenting,” she said. “When I came to San Diego in 2010, I was thrilled to find the project was in process here.”
I was thrilled to do a walk-through of the new exhibit with Kanjo, whose comments enlivened every piece. She pointed out Suh’s preoccupation with connections — the webs and paratrooper cords in his watercolors and thread-paintings, the fact that thread itself is something that connects us — and noted how often his paper works show corridors, doors and other things we travel through. She also mentioned that installation of the major pieces wasn’t easy: “It took 10 days to install the apartment,” she said. “We have no ceiling here; we needed struts and wires to hang it. And even the toilet was hard to assemble.”

Originally organized by The Contemporary Austin, the Do Ho Suh show is terrific, a haunting look at the artist’s life and work that makes you see ordinary objects — like toilets and circuit boxes — in a new way. Don’t miss it.

••• Who is Suh?
Do Ho Suh was born in South Korea in 1962, the son of a renowned traditional painter. He studied oriental painting at Seoul National University, and then, hoping to make his own way in the arts, he came to this country, following a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in sculpture from Yale.

He is best known for his meticulously crafted, large-scale installations in public spaces. “My art becomes a part of the architecture,” he has said. Much of his work revolves around memory, identity, and home. Maintaining homes in three places — New York, Seoul and London — he says: “I want to carry my home with me all the time, like a snail.” 

In 2003, Suh was featured in PBS-TV’s video series “ART 21.” In 2012, “Fallen Star” became the 18th addition to the Stuart Collection. “Fallen Star: Finding Home,” a film he produced, premiered April 5 at UCSD’s Atkinson Hall.

‘Secret Garden,’ with video Maurice Hewitt
‘Toilet’ is one of the appliance ‘specimens’ on display. Maurice Hewitt 
IF YOU GO: The Do Ho Suh solo exhibition is on view through July 4 at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 1100 Kettner Downtown San Diego. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays. Free 5-7 p.m. third Thursdays. (858) 454-3501.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

PLEASE DO TOUCH: Sweet Gongs Vibrating, A Group Exhibition at San Diego Art Institute

Sweet Gongs Vibrating
Group Exhibition: Curated by Amanda Cachia, SDAI Curator-in-Residence

Through May 29th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Stefani Byrd with Amy Alexander  
DIVA: Redux   Video Installation  2013

Please DO Touch is the credo of this multi-media, multi-sensory group exhibition curated by Amanda Cachia, San Diego Art Institute’s  Curator-in-Residence. This exhibition is as much about Cachia’s passion to “combat the ocularcentrism in our gallery and museum system”(curator’s essay), as it is to present the art of the 20 local, national and international artists using multiple modes of expression in their works.

Cachia’s focus is on altering the viewer’s perception of ‘art’ – a shift from the solely visual as is the standard in our institutions of art culture, to art that includes all the senses – including touch, hearing, smell and taste. The result is a collection of works giving audiences an opportunity to fully engage – to interact to create sounds, using mallets hitting metal-casted objects (Aaron McPeake,’s Vibrating Gongs, 2007-2010),  to make sounds by simply picking up McPeake’s Singing Bowls(2011) and listening to sounds created by touch, to activate lights through the creation of making sounds (Cooper Baker’s Giant Spectrum 2016),  activating sounds by spinning wheels made of wood to produce various clicking sounds made by plastic straps and rods placed behind the wheels (Aren Skalman, Wheels, 2015),  and Margaret Noble’s works A Score for Conversation (2014) and Head in the Sand (2015), which asks audiences to activate sound and reverberations based on the speed of touch.  

A series of videos highlight sensorial experiences such as Diane Borsato’s video Cemetery (2015) in which viewers observe a woman eating an ice cream cone from start to finish, hearing repetitive ‘licks and slurps’, as well as other listening to environmental noises.  In the video performance by an operatic singer, DivaReDux(2013), Stefani Byrd and Amy Alexander use music to speak about expressing the emotions of love, sorrow, joy and grief emphasizing the face as one of the most expressive part of the body.   

Through these and many more significant art works, Cachia convinces us that we are capable of experiencing and perceiving art on many levels through more than the visual – including auditory, tactile and olfactory sensations that have the capacity to deepen and expand our connection to art and to the world around us.

Aaron McPeake   I Broke Her 78 Records 
bronze gong with clapper   2007

Francisca Benitez   Son en Senas    video     2015

Raphaelle de Groot   
Study 5, A New Place
  video   2015

Cathedrals: An Exhibition by San Francisco Bay Area Artist Jeff Ray at SDSU Downtown Gallery, San Diego

Jeff Ray: Cathedrals
SDSU Downtown Gallery, San Diego
through June 12

Article by Cathy Breslaw

  Jeff Ray  Saint Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco, CA(detail)  
mixed media including musical composition   2016  

 An atheist who loves cathedrals??  Hmmm…, yet that is what San Francisco Bay Area artist Jeff Ray told me when I visited the pre-opening installation of his works.  His is a multi-sensory exhibition including photography, video, sculpture and multi-media works that combine drawing, photography, and sound compositions created by Ray.

Ray expresses his love of architecture and nature by weaving landscapes together with acrylic paint, pen and ink line drawings.  Using photos of both interiors and exteriors of cathedrals, houses, commercial buildings, ships, and bridges, Ray overlays multi-colored ‘lines’ , creating geometric shapes, and thick and thin straight lines. Many of his works on paper are created on graph paper and some with LED backlighting, which feature Ray’s narratives and investigations of architectural spaces and underlying structures as they interface with the landscape and surrounding environment. The geometric ‘overlay’ drawing atop and within these photos stretches the depth of these works and it appears that Ray is on an obsessive search to locate the multi-dimensional layers found in the both visible and invisible spaces around us. 

Some of the works include Ray’s sound compositions – these musical scores punctuate timing, movement and rhythm within the visual compositions and offer additional information to viewers about Ray’s central artistic concerns.  Two large-scale long and narrow inkjet prints on paper have a spiritual feel and are the foundation of this exhibition.

These are site-specific works on tall and separate columns within the gallery space. Cathedral of Light,Oakland #1 is a dramatic interior image of a cathedral and the other related work is an outdoor image School with Redwoods,Canyon,Oakland #1 of tall trees that form a ‘natural’ cathedral.  An Untitled Video Montage, 2010 – 2016 of digital video, composition and sound round out this multi-sensory exhibition.

Jeff Ray    Decaying Bunker,Pacifica CA  
Mixed Media including musical composition   2016