Artist Portraits

“The idea was to address the cultural invisibility of older women through art and through action,” the voice-over explains as this video begins. This short works offers an introduction to the Whisper Minnesota Project, which organized The Crystal Quilt performance, an event that brought together hundreds of women over 60 on a Mother’s Day in Minneapolis. As the video explains, “The Crystal Quilt is a case study in reframing notions of older women’s beauty, power, and relevance. Through it we catch glimpses of life patterns and values lost to our generation.”

Eileen, 2000

This video is an unabashed fan letter to poet Eileen Myles. As in Laurie, my desire was to romanticize the poet, but not through her writing so much as through her reputation as the natural born child of the New York School and the Beats. I shot the movie as I imagined Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie shooting Pull My Daisy, a film that left an impression on me chiefly of the struggle between form and formlessness, plan and improvisation, sketch and story.

"You always have to be careful. You always have to have the shower backward in order to see the water, which means you better watch out, or you might electrify, or electrocute your stars. You know what I mean, by having the light falling into the tub."

--George Kuchar

Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin deals primarily with monumentality, narcissism and the ways in which our heroes are embedded into our identities, and manifested through the body. Through a variety of gestures, the pervasiveness of this practice is highlighted alongside its ultimate, inevitable failure. The viewer moves through various stages of anxiety, idolization and actual touchdown with 1970s gay sex icon Peter Berlin himself, capturing both the apparent and the hidden.

Consisting of 13 brief spots, Experience: Perception, Interpretation, Illusion features works by artists included in a Pasadena Armory exhibition. Curator Noel Korten explains that the artists in the show have all reached mid-career and are now less concerned with expanding the boundaries of contemporary art than on reflecting back on culture through their own perspectives. Artists include Karen Carsen, John Outterbridge, Michael C.

Southern California visual artist Jud Fine seeks to promote democracy in art—the idea that anyone can be an artist. This video presents the artist and his work in a style that reflects the multi-layered dimensions of his artwork.

Reverend Howard Finster was a preacher-turned-folk artist. He created Paradise Gardens Park & Museum, a product of all his murals, drawings, sculptures, and mosaics—and Summerville, Georgia’s largest tourist attraction. He began Paradise Gardens around 1961; in 1976 he responded to a vision to paint sacred art. As this video begins, Finster is painting with his hands in his studio. Finster then embarks on his first visit to New York City and comments upon his exhibition at Phyllis Kind Gallery. He spins rhythmic narratives that turn into miniature sermons.

Featuring Vito Acconci, Richard Serra, Willoughby Sharp, Keith Sonnier, and William Wegman

Richard Ross discusses his interest in photographing museums—their display of objects, frames, the entire context—in order to question our definitions of the museum. The video also covers his ongoing series of triptychs made using a child’s plastic camera, which Ross turns into “art historical soap operas” by playing off the interactions of the groupings.

Only available on the Fellows of Contemporary Art compilation.

In 1971, graduate student Gloria Orenstein receives a call from surrealist artist Leonora Carrington that sparks a lifelong journey into art, ecofeminism, and shamanism. A wife and mother of two writing her dissertation for New York University, Orenstein never expects to have her life transformed through female friendship.

This husband and wife team has collaborated on numerous projects in the U.S.and abroad. Their approach to making art involves finding solutions to ecological problems. Both are emeritus professors in the department of visual arts at the University of California-San Diego. Interview by Michael Crane.

 

Eco-artists Helen and Newton Harrison define truth as a series of interactions that anyone may join. The Harrisons choose survivalist subjects because we have so encroached upon this environment, we must give it every advantage we can. Only available on the Fellows of Contemporary Art compilation.

 

Taped shortly after the creation of the Air Gallery, this conversation between painter Howardena Pindell and Hermine Freed concerns the women’s independent gallery and its role in the feminist movement. Pindell also discusses the development of her work and the relation between black artists and the art world.

Matt Wolf returns to Joe Brainard's iconic poem I Remember (1970) in this videowork. His archival montage combines audio recordings of Brainard reading from the poem, as well as an interview with his lifelong friend and collaborator, the poet Ron Padgett. The result is an inventive biography of Joe Brainard, and an elliptical dialog about friendship, nostalgia, and the strange wonders of memory.

An elegy to Diane Burns on the shapes of mortality and being, and the forms the transcendent spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of life and death. A place for new mythologies to syncopate with deterritorialized movement and song, reifying old routes of reincarnation. Where resignation gives hope for another opportunity, another form, for a return to the vicissitudes of the living and all their refractions.

“I’m from Oklahoma I ain’t got no one to call my own.
If you will be my honey, I will be your sugar pie way hi ya
way ya hi ya way ya hi yo.”

J. Morgan Puett is an internationally renowned artist living on a 95-acre compound in the deciduous forests of northeastern Pennsylvania. Touching on ideas of creative domestication, radical pedagogy, and a critical engagement with one’s environment, Ms. Puett describes her unique home, which she calls Mildred’s Lane.

“It (J. Morgan Puett: A Practice of Be(e)ing) tells a unique story of an important artist that truly lives her art. It’s an exclusive biography of a woman who is widely known to the art world but, as yet, undiscovered by our culture.”

—Roderick Angle

 

Joe, 2018

A portrait of New York author Joe Westmoreland. Joe is reading from his short story Sweet Baby Joe. This video was shot in 2014 in Joe's Chelsea loft, and the reading was recorded in 2016. 

A pioneer of the small-format camera, Andre Kertesz’s photographic vision shaped the course of contemporary photojournalism. Self-taught and non-conformist, he began photographing in Hungary in 1912 and remained there until 1925, at which time he moved to Paris. In 1936 he moved to New York City, where he felt displaced and forgotten. It wasn’t until 1964 that he was “rediscovered” and began showing in London, Paris, and New York. This video was shot five weeks before Kertesz’s death in 1985 at the age of 91.

I arranged a visit to poet/novelist Kevin Killian’s South of Market apartment in San Francisco to shoot a portrait of him, and when I arrived he had a guest, poet Cedar Sigo. They had corresponded earlier, but were meeting for the first time, and Cedar agreed to participate in our video shoot. This is perhaps the least planned, most verité and documentary of the videos about writers so far. Our immediate plan was for Kevin to read one of Cedar’s poems and for Cedar to read one by Kevin.

Joyce Kozloff was at the forefront of the 1970s pattern and decoration movement—a feminist effort to incorporate typically “feminine” and popular decorative arts into the fine arts. She has been involved with public art and murals for more than two decades. In this video, Kozloff prepares and installs her mural Around the World on the 44th Parallel, which features sections of maps from 12 cities around the world on the same latitude. The work was constructed at the Tile Guild in Los Angeles and installed at the library at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

Laurie, 1998

Laurie was inspired by Laurie Weeks’ uncanny ability to simultaneously embody her characters and write them from a clear distance. The text in question is just a few paragraphs from a draft of the novel Zipper Mouth, more than ten years in the making, and published by the Feminist Press.

Leslie, 1998

In the early 1990s, I went to a reading by Leslie Scalapino at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. I could not understand the writing, which can seem difficult and unwieldy to a reader unaccustomed to language poetry, and understood less the more I tried. After a certain point in the reading I stopped trying to figure it out and I let the words seep in. My reward was an effortless understanding of how her poetry works.

The Luminous Image was an international exhibition of video installations held in the fall of 1984 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

This 12-minute video by Tom Palazzolo and Chicago writer Jack Helbig tells the story of the recently discovered Chicago street photographer Vivian Maier. Though she was unknown in her lifetime, her extensive body of work is rewriting the history of post-World War II American street photography. The video, told from the point of view of Maier herself, recounts her life and work, from her childhood in France to her move to NYC in 1951 and subsequent relocation to Chicago, where the majority of her work was done.