Global Positioning System

Posted: December 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Comments Off

“I have been trying very hard to see beauty.  I know I have seen it before but it is vague and exists as more of an idea than a reality…”

–Andrew Sgarlat

Do you have a GPS? What about a map? Are they only vague representations of our world, or do they accurately depict our reality? Andrew Sgarlat, one of our very own People’s Biennial artists from the Philadelphia area, tries to pinpoint beauty, whether it exists in reality, or just as symbols and illusions in our imagination.

(By the way, those “folds” are painted in…this painting isn’t really folded.)


I Scream, You Scream, The People Scream for Ice Cream!

Posted: December 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Comments Off

It is good to be back on board with blogging for People’s Biennial. I had an incredible time in London last spring.  My time in Europe was 5 months of paradise, living out the daydreams I had as a young girl flipping through travel magazines.

Now that I’m back, I bring you great news: ice cream will be served at the People’s Biennial opening this upcoming January.  Too exciting!  The fantastic part is that the ice cream will be brought to you by one of People’s Biennial artists, Rudy Speerschneider.  This will not be your usual ice cream from the grocery store…

Hailing from Portland, Rudy Speerschneider creates an atypical but inspiring range of ice cream flavors.  One review showered him with praise, describing him to be “a mad food cart scientist. An evil gourmet genius. The Salvador Dali of the Portland food carts. A poet the likes of Ferlinghetti with a griddle. A cook who shares certain DNA with Alice B. Toklas. A man who basis his menu on dreams and premonitions. Inspired by the seasons and whatever force of nature artistic muse possesses his spirit.”  Basically, my friends, he is an ice cream guru.

The History of Junior Ambassador's Food Cart: A Mostlandian Venture, 2007-2009

Speerschneider’s statement as an artist reflects a man chasing after tastes that have yet to be discovered. He confesses his wild flavored dreams:

“I dream about orange paint, imaginary lands, and making ice cream…I feel a tug at the gut, a buzz in the head, a rousing energy pouring from the heart, all over the place, I see stars, I must live…The dream has to come alive, at once, or I die, so the metamorphosis begins—consuming, passionate, like magic, madness, and supernatural powers, it turns, twists, and infuses the sense of wonder in the palpable state of things (excerpt from The People’s Biennial Catalogue).”

The result? Flavors such as Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Ice Cream (served with crackers), Gingersnap Cookies & Basil, Maple Trip Tease, and Coconut Curry.

Have I peaked your curiosity yet?  Errr…rather, your appetite?

I guess I’ll see you at the opening then!


Learn more about his food cart adventures:

Learn more about Speerschneider and his fellow artist friends:

Messages in Motion at Occupy Philly

Posted: December 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Comments Off

This photo was obtained on the ABC website. It is attributed to (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Head over to Philly artist Laura Deutch’s “Messages in Motion” page for a short video account of Occupy Philly, the local iteration of the protests sweeping the nation’s major cities. Laura continues her important work as self-charged local documentarian, filming messages from an array of local social groups and personalities and posting them online. In her most recent video, we witness an Occupy group assembly meeting. Listen as they repeat what each speaker says – this is a phenomenon known as the “human microphone.” Most basically, the group will ensure that all can hear by amplifying the message through united repetition. Through the Occupy movement, new voices are being heard. Through People’s Biennial, new voices are being heard. The two projects mirror each other in that they provide a platform for new ideas that might not fit into the current respective structures.

Here is a statement from Laura’s website:

MIM offers participants the opportunity to produce short video postcards that communicate personal and social messages about their diverse life
experiences. As the Van travels through the city, the stories inspire, educate and provoke participants from different communities to learn from one another.

Quiet Revolution

Posted: November 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Comments Off

People's Biennial hardcover

Pardon my absence, it’s been a wild year and a half since we spoke last. My semester away in Austria was nothing short of remarkable. I return with an intensified addiction  to coffee and a new appreciation for pounded cutlets, battered and fried. Missing schintzel. But look at what has taken its place! The pristine white hardcover catalog for People’s! It’s a handsome thing – stately, unabashedly digging on the red, white, and blue. To that effect, holding it here in the Cantor Fitzgerald feels like coming home. Design-wise the book is a nod/homage to Howard Zinn’s ever-popular A People’s History of the United States. Zinn is an American writer, historian, political scientist, and social activist (fun fact: his father is from Austria). His account of American history is rooted in the belief that history is best told from the perspective of the people, not from that of the political or social elites in power. In the wikipedia article, there’s this great snippet:

In a 1998 interview, Zinn said he had set “quiet revolution” as his goal for writing A People’s History. “Not a revolution in the classical sense of a seizure of power, but rather from people beginning to take power from within the institutions.”


In this sense, People’s Biennial mirrors Zinn’s project. The show is a call to arms. Jens and Harrell, along with the participating institutions, have amassed a humble militia. Keep your ear to the wind: Art belongs is ours, we the people.

Back on the grind, yours truly, David.

It’s a big deal.

Posted: July 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Comments Off

Photo credit Matthew Callinan, 2011.

Jorge Figueroa, one of the Haverford artists chosen for the People’s Biennial who takes incredible ethnographic photographs, has just had a show open at the People’s Gallery in San Francisco. But what is the People’s Gallery you ask?

The People’s Gallery is where a select group of those chosen for the People’s Biennial are given the opportunity to have a professional individual show. It’s a big deal, not only because it’s exposing Jorge’s work to a vast group of people but also because it provides a new opportunity to contextualize his work completely differently than when it tours with the Biennial. After all, the Biennial is all about taking work to cities that are usually not considered among major art centers, places like Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Rapid City, South Dakota. Within those cities, the art goes to relatively modest locales, such as our suburban Pennsylvania campus gallery or the old Washington High School in Portland. As 20 artists are featured  in the show, Jorge’s work is contextualized as being one of many talented people, creating great art in unconventional ways and unusual places. And that’s great-it’s what the Biennial was designed to do.

Photo credit Matthew Callinan, 2011.

However, there’s something to be said for shifting the focus and context and giving Jorge’s work a place to shine. After 40 years of photographing people, places, and moments, here comes Jorge to a blossoming young  gallery in a major city, and his work is not there as part of a group show but as an individual centerpiece.

Here’s hoping the city by the bay falls as in love with his silver gelatin prints as we have at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Congratulations Jorge!


the book cover of the forthcoming People's Biennial 2010

In other big news, you can preorder the People’s Biennial book, People’s Biennial 2010, online from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble!  Co-Curators Jens Hoffman and Harrell Fletcher provide you with the inside scoop on the curatorial visits and the ideas behind the show. With forwards by Kate Fowle, Executive Director of Independent Curators International, and Renaud Proch, the Deputy Director, the book boasts 136 pages of “celebration of the unknown, the peculiar and the disregarded” (from the product description). I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy as soon as it’s available on August 31.



upcoming and past talks

Posted: April 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

This is Matthew Callinan. Matthew is the Exhibitions Coordinator at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery.

Photo credit Steve Magnotta, 2010.

Matthew will be taking part in NEXT: Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art’s Converge Chicago: Contemporary Curators Forum on Sunday, May 1 at Art Chicago|NEXT Talk Shop 12th Floor. The panel in which he is participating is entitled “Trans American Connections” and will be moderated by People’s Biennial Co-Curator Jens Hoffman.

Matthew will join other People’s Biennial host institution representatives from the four other People’s Biennial locales to discuss the process of shaping the Biennial through research and curation that looks outside the realm of MFAs and commercial art.

For more information on this panel or other panels in CONVERGE, click here.

Produced by MMPI, which puts on  Armory Arts Week, Art Chicago, Art Toronto, and Volta, NEXT showcases what is, well, next for the world of artistic and cultural ingenuity.

For the first time ever, NEXT will share floorspace with Art Chicago, creating a unified centerpiece for Artropolis, Chicago’s Celebration of Art and Culture, and capturing the attention of the contemporary art world from April 29-May 2.

Best of luck Matthew, as you prepare for your trip to Chicago.

In other exciting news, Laura Deutch, one of our local People’s Biennial artists, returned to her undergraduate alma mater Ithaca College to partipate in FLEFF, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. FLEFF focuses on sustainability from both local and global perspectives. FLEFF tackles issues of including war, health, genocide, the land, water, air, food, education, technology, cultural heritage, and diversity.

Laura’s project Messages in Motion engages Philadelphia communities, facilitating the exploration of social issues through the exploration of self. Essentially, MIM “works with neighborhood programs and community-based organizations to produce, distribute and exhibit short form documentary videos as a way to support and enhance existing community organizing work.”

Laura was a New Media guest at FLEFF and gave a presentation on her work and then spent the week there interacting with Ithaca students. According to this blog post from the FLEFF blog, it sounds like she was quite a hit-not to mention downright “inspirational”! Congrats, Laura!

In August, Laura and Messages in Motion will also have a residency with SECCA (the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art) in conjunction with the People’s Biennial.

a media swarm for our local artists

Posted: April 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Haverford artists featured in the Biennial are popping up all over the media!

Jorge Figueroa. Untitled. 2007.

Cura, an Italian based contemporary art magazine, recently did a feature on the Biennial in their Winter 2011 issue, showcasing Alan Masey’s Line Composition Series (2010. Mixed materials. 10 x 6 cm.), an image of Robert Smith-Shabazz holding his work during Harrell’s visit to Haverford, and two photographs by Jorge Figueroa, including this untitled black & white silver gelatin print from 2000.

Alan Massey’s Line Composition Series popped up again in Flash Art’s January/February 2011 issue which included Alexander Ferrando’s interview with Harrell and Jens. (see below for an image of Line Composition Series)

Alan Massey. Line Composition Series. 2010.

Art Papers‘ January/February 2011 issue featured an article by Katherine Bovee on the Biennial, including photographs of the installation in Portland. Bovee noted that Haverford local artist Laura Deutch’s Messages in Motion and Jorge Figueroa’s photography were among “the richest work in the exhibition.”

And a special congratulations to Jorge Figueroa, whose work has been chosen to be featured in the People’s Gallery in San Francisco, and to Haverford area artists Cymantha  Diaz Liakos and Robert Smith-Shabazz who will have special appearances at the People’s Gallery!

You’re officially informed about all the Biennial buzz for the moment, and goodness what a buzz it is!

P.S. Be on the lookout for an upcoming post about an upcoming talk about the Biennial that will be hosted by iCI in Chicago as well as a post on Alan Massey’s Line Composition Series!

translating image to language to image again

Posted: March 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

While pouring through information on the People’s Biennial’s current stop in Rapid City, South Dakota, I happened upon a South Dakota Public Radio broadcast discussing the show. The broadcast opens with Vicky Wicks interviewing Victoria Ledford, an artist who is participating in the Double Rainbow show, a show at the Dahl Arts Center featuring artists from Rapid City, Kyle, and Pine Ridge  South Dakota who submitted work to the Biennial but were not selected.

Listening to Victoria Ledford talk about her piece, which is entitled Lucinda Is So Happy About Her New People in a Purse that She Poops a Lollipop, I found myself mentally plagued with images of various breeds of dogs defecating various candies on a stick. Even with the help of the magical tool that is google, I was unable to find an image of the piece so that I could put my imagination to rest by seeing what the work actually looked like.

I was then struck by the idea of listening to visual art. Radio forces us to translate language into images, but what happens when we translate images to language to image again?

It reminded me of Maiza Hixson’s Men Are Much Harder, a piece chosen for the People’s Biennial in which people were asked to discuss images of the naked human body, though we, as audience, cannot see the image but must interpret what they see based on their descriptions. Rachel recently posted about this piece, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already!

Both the radio broadcast and Maiza Hixson’s film work on two levels, forcing us to concoct in our own minds an image evoked by the language, be it a dog defecating a lollipop or the image shown by Maiza Hixson to the women she films, while the pieces themselves constitutes their own distinctive body of work. Maiza engages us in our imaginations, forcing us to rely on our memories of relevant images which we select based on what we find most applicable (i.e. What do I envision as the ideal male body? What is sexy to me? Is it different from what these women consider sexy?) I cannot wait for her film to arrive next spring for the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery’s stint with the People’s Biennial, to have the opportunity to appreciate the thoughts of those in the video about the body and to have a new mechanism with which to evaluate my own opinions and ideas about the human form.

You may notice that I’m not using images in this post, which is really rare for our blog, because let’s be honest, we all love images. After all, an image is worth 1000 words. But sometimes the creation of your own image is as much a part of the piece as viewing the piece itself. On that note, I invite you to listen to the interview from South Dakota Public Radio. Listen to Jens Hoffman discuss the “artness” of Bruce Price’s work. Listen to Bruce Price talk. Who do you picture? What does an artist look like to you? But here’s the catch-don’t look at the images on the website yet. See what images are evoked for you. Then, scroll down the radio station’s page and click his picture. Will you be surprised? Will it match your mental image of what sort of work would “stand out” for Jens Hoffman?

There’s only one way to find out!

Michael Patterson-Carver

Posted: February 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

David has left you, Rachel has left you, and you are left with me, Aubree Penney, Haverford sophomore, soon to be Religion and English double major, and art enthusiast, here to keep you updated about the People’s Biennial!

Portland native Michael Patterson-Carver marries political activism with his art. Harrell Fletcher, one of the curators of the People’s Biennial, discovered Patterson-Carver selling his artwork outside of a Trader Joe’s in Portland.

It’s a Cinderella story of sorts, with Patterson-Carver going from living in a tent to having his artwork shown in New York and London galleries. For more on Patterson-Carver’s story, check out “An artist, discovered” by Su-jin Yim from the August 16, 2007 issue of  the Oregonian.

As the call went out for submissions to the People’s Biennial, Patterson-Carver’s work was featured as being representative of the kind of work co-curators Harrell Fletcher and Jens Hoffman might select for the People’s Biennial. The piece used was his Waiting for Obama.

Michael Patterson-Carver's Waiting for Obama, 2008.

Featuring people of different races and genders, Patterson-Carver emphasizes the shared experience of awaiting Obama through the similarity of each person’s stance and their dress, which only varies slightly between pants, skirts, and shirts with or without zippers. It has a decidedly global perspective rather than patriotic perspective, suggesting a pressing universal need for Obama’s presidency as “the world is waiting.” Patterson-Carver’s figures identify a distinctive “other” which must be prosecuted, namely the “Bushies” and the “fascists.”

His work is also included in Sex Drive, the current show here at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Curated by Stuart Horodner, Sex Drive features Patterson-Carver’s “Same Sex Marriage 2” on the front wall, making it a part of viewer’s initial and concluding experiences of sex as they go through the show.

Michael Patterson-Carver's Same-Sex Marriage 2, 2007.

One of the few pieces of the show that directly confronts the political sphere’s relation to sex, Patterson-Carver’s piece aligns the “pursuit of happiness” with marriage, depicting numerous happy people in couples, based on the figures’ body language. Less graphic than many of the images of Sex Drive, Same-Sex Marriage 2 provides an opportunity to consider sex intellectually and politically, rather than evoking a more visceral reaction.

In his work Patterson-Carver continually confronts us with our own textual fascination, that at times even image falls short of the power of words as we find ourselves drawn to the text on the signs. He also calls into question the idea of presence-in both Waiting for Obama and Same-Sex Marriage 2 there seem to be an excess of signs, but no more people beyond the second row of figures. The protest extends beyond the group gathered; it is representative of a larger unseen body which too demands those rights though these people themselves are unseen.

Personally, what I find most fascinating about Patterson-Carver’s work is his insistence that his figures smile. Su-jin Yim quoted Patterson-Carver in the August 16, 2007 issue of the Oregonian saying, “The protesters smile…because they know they will succeed.” It is a joyful protest, a celebration of an impending certain victory, no matter if it might occur in the next year, as with Waiting for Obama, or in years to come, as with Same-Sex Marriage 2.

Hard Against Bodies

Posted: December 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Latest | Comments Off

Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are stiff when it comes to nude bodies.  This past summer, I became highly aware of this after checking out a public bath with some friends in a different country.  When living in the US, you just don’t see rooms full of people in the nude, casually stripping off their clothes, holding normal conversations, helping each other scrub their backs, and laughing while shampooing their hair.  In a similar way, you just don’t commonly have conversations about images of nude people, let alone go bathe with nude friends.  This is what drives Maiza Hixson’s art.  Why do we avoid talking about bodies so much?  In her short film, “Men are Much Harder,” Maiza explores the boundaries of how people react to pornographic, medical, and artistic images of nude bodies.  She records the wide range of reactions people have in viewing these images.  Below are screen shots of the film.  Can’t wait to see the whole thing when the show gets to Haverford!

Should you stumble upon a meaningful discussion on nude bodies, how would you react?

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