In early October, I wrote a Shotgun Review for Art Practical on the opening of the Ever After exhibition at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. Over the weekend, I attended the closing exhibition, which included some wonderful performance pieces. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of performance art but when it’s done well, it’s quite the experience. Below, I’ve posted a few photos of my favorite pieces at the closing. Reflection to follow.
Please click on the images below to learn more about the artists.
Representations of death often tend toward the trite: holograms, star clusters, or gilded gates leading to puffy buoyant clouds, for example. None of these conventional methods of representing death are currently on view at the Chapel of the Chimes, the Julia Morgan–designed crematorium in Oakland, though. Instead, viewers will find more unorthodox artifacts—pop-up children’s books and Shakespeare, a pair of Dixie cups, a reproduction of a Buddhist stupa, or a spider weaving her web–among the more customary flowers and well wishes.
The placement of art in this non-traditional space defies convention but adheres to definition; after all, a museum is “a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.”1 Architect Julia Morgan, best known for building the extravagant Hearst Castle, created an elaborate but discernibly more subdued place of repose in the Chapel of the Chimes. The Chapel was a proud recipient of the 2009 Best of the East Bay award, “Best Place to Spend Eternity.” Levity aside, the curatorial collective OFFSpace believed the Chapel was the perfect venue for art that engaged a living public with examinations of the hereafter, and spent months persuading the establishment’s administration to allow art to be installed in vacant niches. They succeeded, and Ever After became the first official art exhibition for the Chapel of the Chimes.
Since each work is limited to a niche, the works tend toward two extremes: minimalist or sensationalist. Luther Thie’s piece, The Count (2011), humorously depicts a pair of battling sock puppets. The playful skirmish is a duel to the death (pun intended) that counters and rivals the romanticized view of a peaceful, regret-free death. Although some artworks appear as part of the environment, others, like Thie’s puppets, are clearly meant to stand out, and become further magnified by their unlikely surroundings.
Although art in a crematorium may seem unlikely and, to some, a discourteous or flippant look at loss, Ever After seeks to flesh out our collective presuppositions and neuroses surrounding eternal rest. OFFSpace prevails in testing the boundaries of exhibiting art in alternative spaces, and consistently creates well-curated, provocative exhibitions. The bottom line: a show without controversy is a show that’s probably not worth seeing.
Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please clickhere to view.
1. From the New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition.
Ever After, an exhibition curated by curatorial collective, OFFSpace, is one of the most memorable art openings I’ve experienced (ever). The show resides in what most individuals would consider a rather unorthodox and unusual place for an art exhibition – a columbarium. Yes, you read that correctly. This show is in a columbarium. Currently in the process of revising and editing pieces for publication and rest assured (no pun intended), my review of Ever After is in the works. For now, please view some of the photos from the opening.
Voted Best of the Bay’s, “Best Place to Spend Eternity”, the Chapel of the Chimes is playing host to living artists with this first ever exhibition of visual art in the Julia Morgan designed chapel and columbarium in Oakland.
Most stories end with “happily ever after” — but the stories being told by artists in this show are using Ever After as a starting point. Poignancy, playfulness, and sharp insights into the nature of the Eternal are the common threads used to weave a series of site specific mini-installations through chapel niches. From the minimal to the Baroque, artists use these unique spaces to reflect upon notions of ritual, remembrance, loss and celebration with critical alacrity and humor.
There will be an evening of performance & sound works on Sunday, November 13th from 5-8pm–more on this later!
Few artistic movements are surrounded by so much debate and controversy as conceptual art. For conceptual art has a tendency to provoke intense and perhaps even extreme reactions in its audiences. After all, whilst some people find conceptual art very refreshing and the only kind of art that is relevant to today’s world, many others consider it shocking, distasteful, skill-less, downright bad, or, and most importantly, not art at all. Conceptual art, it seems, is something that we either love or hate.
After attending the Spread opening night exhibition at the SOMArts Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA), there’s a lot of reflection (and reading) I’ve got to do. There’s so much to say!! For your viewing pleasure, I posted a slideshow of some photos I took during the opening. I will, certainly, return with a deeper, lengthier piece (or several posts) on the entire show. Initial reaction: an incredible showcase of established and emerging conceptual artists. The overall conversation between the pieces was present and enthralling. Lastly, amazing use of the space.