Quick study: How the world is changing

From the studio wall to “Spring to Action,” a fundraiser organized by Monica King Contemporary. Info: Sharon Butler, May 11, 2018, 2019, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 inches.

Here are some articles and online projects that I thought might interest Two Coats readers. I’ve been somewhat productive in working on an artists’ book project during lockdown, but I have trouble tearing myself away from the news and trying to make sense of it all. –Sharon Butler

George Packer wrote “We Are Living in a Failed State,” a devastating piece in The Atlantic about how the coronavirus has exposed the extent of America’s weaknesses: “Every morning in the endless month of March, Americans woke up to find themselves citizens of a failed state. With no national plan — no coherent instructions at all — families, schools, and offices were left to decide on their own whether to shut down and take shelter. When test kits, masks, gowns, and ventilators were found to be in desperately short supply, governors pleaded for them from the White House, which stalled, then called on private enterprise, which couldn’t deliver. States and cities were forced into bidding wars that left them prey to price gouging and corporate profiteering. Civilians took out their sewing machines to try to keep ill-equipped hospital workers healthy and their patients alive. Russia, Taiwan, and the United Nations sent humanitarian aid to the world’s richest power, a beggar nation in utter chaos.” Read more.

J. David Goodman writes in the NYTimes that restarting New York could take years. For artists, this might mean cheaper studio rents, but fewer galleries and arts organizationswill survive to show their work. In other words, prepare for a slew of artists to leave the city in search of other opportunities, and plenty of low budget DIY activity for those who remain. “The economic impact in the city from the global pandemic has been striking: hundreds of thousands are already out of work; at least $7.4 billion in tax revenue is projected to be lost by the middle of next year. And the changes will be felt long after New York begins to reopen its economy…” Read more.

Emergency doctor Richard Levitan, the guy who invented an imaging system for teaching intubation, drove down from New Hampshire and worked for ten days at Bellvue. He writes in the NYTimes that Covid-19 pneumonia is unlike anything he’s seen before.” We are just beginning to recognize that Covid pneumonia initially causes a form of oxygen deprivation we call ‘silent hypoxia’ ‘silent’ because of its insidious, hard-to-detect nature…. To my amazement, most patients I saw said they had been sick for a week or so with fever, cough, upset stomach and fatigue, but they only became short of breath the day they came to the hospital. Their pneumonia had clearly been going on for days, but by the time they felt they had to go to the hospital, they were often already in critical condition.” Read more.

The studio shake-out has already begun according to Art Hag, who writes on her blog that “Spaceworks announced on March 31 that it is going out of business and all of its affordable artist facilities will close. ‘It is with heavy heart that we inform you that after much consideration, Spaceworks will be closing our doors this spring,’ the email announcement began. Launched in 2012 to ‘address issues of space affordability for artists in New York City,’ Spaceworks has locations in the Bronx, Williamsburg, Long Island City, and Gowanus.” Read more.

If, like me, you have been thinking about how artists should move forward in a time of pandemic, you might take a look at this Brainard Carey/Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies video interview with David Ross. Ross, director of the SVA Low Residency MFA Program and former director of the Whitney, suggests that artists need to recognize their privilege and understand that their job has changed. “It can be depressing in coming to grips with how it has changed … but you don’t have to reach a million people, you don’t have to have mass power. You can create work that meets the consciousness of one person. That’s an empowering thought.” Watch video.

Christopher Wool in “The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol,” a 2012 exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The catalogue is now available online.

A blast from the past: we got a note from Jeffrey Deitch alerting us to a new online project based on a painting exhibition he curated in 2012, “The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol.” “Having been a regular visitor to Andy Warhol’s Factory while he was creating his late abstract paintings, I was fascinated to see how many of the most accomplished contemporary painters were following Andy’s example, using adaptations of printing techniques and mechanical processes. This observation, and my studio visits with Christopher Wool, Rudolf Stingel, Urs Fischer, Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu, and Tauba Auerbach, helped me to develop the theme of The Painting Factory, an exhibition that was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2012. The catalogue has long been out of print and rather than reprint it, we decided to create a website that incorporates both the catalogue and installation photographs of the exhibition.” You can access the catalogue here.

Another online project worth checking out: Monica King Contemporary has created an exhibition at Artsy called “Spring to Action” to help frontline workers and the art community. “In support of the battle against COVID-19, 25% of ‘Spring to Action’ sales will go directly to Feed the Frontlines NYC, which provides free meals to hospital workers bravely saving lives. Support will also directly help the struggling restaurant industry and artistic community.” I contributed the small, affordably-priced painting pictured at the top of the post. Please go buy something if you can. Click here.

You’ve probably read this profile already, it’s from the April 7 issue of The New Yorker, but I was struck by Fran Lebowitz’s insight into the art world: “These big New York art galleries, they’re so rich. I’m not worried that they’re going to close, and, if they did, so what? There will be art galleries. There aren’t very many small ones anymore, and that was caused by contagious unfettered capitalism, not a virus.” She also shares her thoughts about Trump, Guiliani, and other tabloid characters she knew back in the day. Read more.

Stay safe everyone. And let me know if you have any workspace available in Manhattan. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get back to Brooklyn for a while.

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