A Night at the Museum

By

by Amanda Bloom

"Ambush at Mal Hollows 2", 2010. 42" x 110" Acrylic on Raw Canvas.  Image courtesty of KateEric.com

AFTER HOURS on Friday, October 7, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut stuffed itself with a live band and 200+ people and threw a party rife with food, drink, funk and art.  It was one of The Aldrich’s “First Fridays”, a fun, low-cost event from 7 to 9pm that brings about a whole new way of experiencing art.  The museum is currently featuring only collaborative works.

The focus of this First Friday was a very visceral exhibit by Kate Eric, the married couple and artist duo Kate Tedman and Eric Siemens.  Their exhibit, “One Plus One Minus One” (where a tour was led earlier in the evening) is a series of large-scale paintings, rife with great, great detail, smokiness and brilliant color and biology-inspired shapes, patterns and creatures.

by Amanda Bloom

 


 

"Ambush at Mal Hollows 2", 2010. 42" x 110" Acrylic on Raw Canvas.  Image courtesty of KateEric.com

 

AFTER HOURS on Friday, October 7, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut stuffed itself with a live band and 200+ people and threw a party rife with food, drink, funk and art.  It was one of The Aldrich’s “First Fridays”, a fun, low-cost event from 7 to 9pm that brings about a whole new way of experiencing art.  The museum is currently featuring only collaborative works.

Local funk/rock/blues band The Very Fine Individuals set up in the museum lobby, sectioned off from the crowd by Type A (Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin)’s “Barrier”, 21 sculptures snaking from the entrance of the museum through to the back lawn.  The concrete works  touch on the themes of terrorism and fear and were modeled after Jersey barriers, which were used additionally as security devices after 9/11.  Along with “Barrier” was Type A’s “Trigger” (both on display though December 31), a series of gun targets in which the artists and their colleagues (including Aldrich exhibitions director Richard Klein) pose with pointed guns.  The targets are commercially distributed through Law Enforcement Targets, Inc.  

"Ambush at Mal Hollows 2" (detail). Acrylic on Raw Canvas.  Image courtesy of KateEric.comUpstairs was Chelpa Ferro (a Brazilian collective comprised of Barrão, Luiz Zerbini, and Sergio Mekler)’s Visual Sound (on display through January 8, 2012), which featured “Jungle Jam”, thirty blender motors hooked up to a computer, each motor attached to a hanging plastic bag. The motors spin at different intervals, spraying the floor and the walls with plastic color and at times, filling the room with a wave-like frenzy of noise and motion.  Around the corner is “Acusmas”, Chelpa Ferro’s singing vases.

 

Kate Eric calls their work “low-energy studies in worm-based psychology”

 

The upstairs space was shared by Jessica Stockholder’s “Hollow Places Court in Ash-Tree Wood” (on display through December 31), a work commissioned by the museum to reinvent an old tree that was taken down in the museum’s sculpture garden.  Stockholder, a sculptor, worked with cabinetmaker Clifford Moran and screenprinter Gary Lichtenstein, painting on raw wooden slabs (rendering one room into an showcase of seemingly unfinished surf boards) and crafting folding wooden screens, also painted.

Also on display (through December 31) is “Do You Have Time?”, a commissioned video piece meditating on American history by Judi Werthein which projects on a painting by Argentinian artist Tomas Espina.

The focus of this First Friday was a very visceral exhibit by Kate Eric, the married couple and artist duo Kate Tedman and Eric Siemens.  Their exhibit, “One Plus One Minus One” (through which a tour was led earlier in the evening) is a series of large-scale paintings, rife with great, great detail, smokiness and brilliant color and biology-inspired shapes, patterns and creatures.  The couple, who lives alternately in Italy and San Francisco, takes turns as they paint, grateful for “the step where we screw it up in some elegantly effective and basic way” according to their October, 2011 interview with Refraction Art.

While the collaborative element in Kate Eric’s work is not immediately apparent, upon closer inspection one can clearly differentiate two separate sets of hands at work.

“I sort of deciphered through visual clues that it was collaborative art, because I was having trouble reconciling the themes and the method,” said Mark Robbins of New Canaan at the First Friday event. “There’s a tactile component, there’s an evolution of color, there almost are two spirits behind it that manifest both in style and in dimension.”

Kate Eric has a heart-warming sense of humor about their work, the artistic process itself, and the meanings that people convey from their pieces (in the full interview, available at the exhibit itself, they reference breakfast cereal marshmallows and call their work “low-energy studies in worm-based psychology”).  In an email interview with Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, curator of “One Plus One Minus One”, they wrote:

“There was an exhibition of ours where all the depicted humans took the place of atoms in the formation of existing molecular compounds–binding and breaking according to chemical properties.  We also created fictional ‘battles’ where humans were subject, cue-ball like, to basic physical laws of mass, proximity, velocity….etc….Apparently it was more comfortable for people to view these battles as a metaphor for corruption, greed and their role in the continuation of the Middle East conflict.  We considered attributing the miscommunication to the ever-dwindling attention span of the art-going public, but the failure in communication was probably our own.”

In terms of their strategy, Kate Eric told Ramírez-Montagut, “Thankfully, we have each other and our wildly insufficient communication skills to provide an endless source of accidents.”

“One Plus One Minus One” is on display through December 31.

The next “First Fridays” will take place on November 4 from 7 to 9pm.  The cost is $10 for members and $15 for non-members.

The Aldrich, located at 258 Main Street in Ridgefield, is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5pm.  Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for college students and seniors, free for members, K-12 teachers and children 18 and under.  Free admission on Tuesdays.  For more information call (203)438-4519 or visit AldrichArt.org.

 

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