Friday, September 7, 2012

Installation Progress

After almost two weeks of installing Catagenesis, we are mightily prepared for the opening of this complex exhibition (this Sunday, September 9th, 2-5pm at the Globe Dye Works).

I have spent several days on site, assisting the artists in however they needed an extra hand.  This experience varied greatly between the artists but was overall informative, intense and fun!  I spent some time atop a corrugated tin roof, making slight adjustments to carts full of colored thread as Carolyn Healy conducted the arrangement to suit her vision from below.

Elizabeth Mackie is fortunate to have had a dependable duo of her students from the College of New Jersey to help realize her rather daunting concept.  I assisted her crew in hemming a 15 foot wedding dress and most importantly trying to keep it white amidst the dust and dirt covered walls and floor of the  space.

Elizabeth Mackie's assistants from TCNJ, hard at work in her intimate space.

I also enjoyed the challenges inherent in Pam Bowman's intricate installation.  Certainly the hours spent untangling thread and rope will be well worth the effort!

My limited expertise was of little use to some other artists.  However, I enjoyed observing Damian Yanessa seated in his beach chair, contemplating his navigation of a room full of mirrors and his spatial distortion.  And watching Reece Terris, in full climbing gear and scaling the buildings exterior was an exhilarating and nerve wracking site to behold!

Reece Terris and assistants installing atop the Globe Dye Works, despite the rain!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Navigating the History of the Globe Dye Works

In conjunction with the opening of the Catagenesis exhibition, we will be showing a film about the history of Globe Dye Works.  Independent Curator Cheryl Harper, and Philadelphia Sculptors President Leslie Kaufman are responsible for the bulk of the work that has gone into the film, along with a small crew.

Bill Greenwood, Company Treasurer and Plant Superintendent, 1965

Recently, Cheryl and Leslie visited with the oldest surviving manager of the Globe Dye Works, Wilson "Bill" Greenwood, at his home in Moorestown, NJ.  Bill is a spry 89 years of age and he has a glowing energy while talking about his life at Globe, as well as the business' history.

Bill Greenwood, Reminiscing through one of many Globe scrapbooks, 2012

The film will describe the fascinating story of a truly unique and impressive family business.  The company was founded in 1865 by Richard Greenwood (who had emmigrated from Liverpool, England when he was 12), along with his friend William Bault.  It was Richard who had experience with textiles, his father was a loom weaver back in England, and he eventually bought out Mr. Bault (who was an engineer).  

Richard Greenwood, Co-Founder of Globe Dye Works, 1880s

Richard Greenwood knew what he was doing.  He had a reputation as the "indigo doctor" and was consulted on "sick" batches of indigo dye throughout the country.  Not only was he skilled in the art of textile dying, but he also laid the foundation of a stunningly functional family business.  It has been said that 10-15% of family businesses survive three generations, Globe excelled through five (Bill represents the fourth generation).  Richard (pictured above) had a visceral presence in the business throughout its existence; long after his death there was a life-size photo of him on view at Globe, a stern and proper Victorian keeping a watchful eye on his beloved operation.

Come visit the Catagenesis Exhibition (on view at the Globe Dye Works, September 9th - October 21st) to learn more about the Greenwood family and their extraordinary Globe Dye Works!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Featured Artist: Nivi Alroy

Nivi Alroy's work is tumultuous bordering on chaotic.  She describes it as examining the "ever-changing relationship between inner and outer spaces."  For Alroy, these spaces can be generated from the body, the home or even a sculpture – all realms where lines of division between the inner and outer are messy, to say the least. 

Alroy considers these divisions to be messy because of constant intrusion of outer realms into interior space.  It is this intrusion that creates the exposure of intimate details; this idea takes literal form in Alroy's installations, which can be described as highly textured explosions of this exposed interior.  Not only does Alroy challenge these boundaries, she also challenges gravity and scale.  In her creations things fall up and expected proportions are thrown out the window. 

Nivi Alroy, Over Spilled Milk

For the Catagenesis exhibition, she will be working in the boiler room of the Globe Dye Works facility.  This is a huge space with many intrusive and valuable obstacles that she will have to navigate and incorporate.  Alroy is coming all the way from Israel for the show and doing most of her preparation by proxy – studying video of the space, transporting items to the site and selecting objects leftover from Globe Dye's heyday that she will utilize.  Alroy will then arrive a little over two weeks before the opening to begin the exciting and immense job of steering her ideas through the boisterous exhibition territory - an overwhelming task that will no doubt be worth the wait!

Globe Dye Works, Boiler Room

Monday, July 2, 2012

Featured Artist: Reece Terris

The Western Front Front: Another False Front is a fascinating public art project by Canadian multi media artist Reece Terris.  It is exemplative of his ambitious work effort as well as his conceptual ingenuity.  The project also offers excellent insight on how he might approach his work on the upcoming Catagenesis Exhibition.

Terris' project revolves around false fronts, facades which were historically used to create a more impressive and established feeling in what were then (mid 1800s) very freshly constructed boomtowns.  In an interview with Exhibition Coordinator Mandy Ginson, Terris says "the project speaks to the past and present use of architecture as a means to communicate broader cultural values and aspirations."  Reece connects boomtown architecture and the 2010 real estate upturn in his home of Vancouver, B.C. 

Terris'  association with the original false fronts are as corporeal as they are ideological.  He created an enormous facade to lengthen the bravado of the first.  This was no small feat, and surely Terris' mountain climbing skills were suitable.  (Follow this link to watch a video of the false front being installed.)  Poignantly, the facade was installed for the duration of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and then shuffled into the cities architectural memory.

The potential parallels between this body of work, whats happening already at the Globe Dye Works and the Catagenesis Exhibition are strong.  It is quite thrilling to imagine what sort of feats Terris will embark on in his utilization of the heroic facility that is the Globe Dye Works.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Featured Artists: Carolyn Healy & John Phillips

Carolyn Healy and John Phillip's work and methodology could not be better suited for this show and the exhibition space.  As collaborators of site-specific multimedia installations, Carolyn is the sculptor while John considers the environment that she creates and adds the sound and video components.  Their process begins by spending a lot of time in the space; Carolyn has discussed the importance of the smell and the vibe while John described his interest in researching the history of the place - in this case mainly workers and their traditions.  Their work begins with concrete ideas and becomes abstract in form.  

Fig. 1. Carolyn and John in their raw space for the Catagenesis show.

Carolyn has been scavenging the Globe for objects to use in their installation.  Below are carts full of spools of thread that were dyed at the Globe Dye facility which Carolyn has collected for potential use in the show.  Their artist statement expresses a strive to keep the technology that they use invisible and describes what they create as a "nonverbal 'theater' of the mind."  By merging these heady ideas with their visual and audible creations Carolyn and John will no doubt merge a complex, sensual wonderland into the Globe Dye Works.

Fig. 2. Items that Carolyn has set aside to potentially use in their installation.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Featured Artist: Gandalf Gavan

"I am attracted to art that has that sense of humour and tension between seriousness, ambivalence and play." Gandalf Gavan, (Phong Bui, Brooklyn Rail, May 2010)

Gandalf Gavan is trying to keep things simple these days.  He moves quickly, almost joltingly around Globe Dye Works, but it is clear that when it comes to art making, Gavan is able to trust his instincts.  Upon entering the exhibition space he had an immediate attraction to a big tub of zeolite and decided to hone right in.  

Gandalf Gavan, Daedelus's Song, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2003.

Gavan's ability to transform a space without entirely taking it over is due to his utilization of surroundings without nullifying them.  He invites his media to employ light as an additive rather than a costume.  His past work has involved many media, notably here are neon and mirror, and often express his interest in light.  In terms of the zeolite, he is excited about its quality of refracting light as well as its ability to shift our perception of the material.  

Gandalf Gavan, Infinite Infinities, P.S.1., Long Island City, NY, 2007.

Zeolite, a water softener, has been a focus for many visitors into the Globe Dye Works.  I would credit it's luring texture as it's most seductive attribute, but its constant shifting of color and light have been just as powerful in honing us in.  Gavan filled a baggie of zeolite to bring back to his Brooklyn studio; I can't wait to see what he does with the stuff.

Globe Dye Works, Tub of Zeolite.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Featured Artist, Scott Pellnat

This weekend I was fortunate to meet Scott Pellnat, one of our invited artists for Catagenesis, at the Globe Dye Works exhibition space.  Described by local art blogger Don Brewer as an "accomplished woodworker and avid dumpster diver," Scott's quirky constructions are a perfect match for this exhibition.

In chatting with Scott, his ability to reconfigure and transform space immediately surfaced.  Scott is currently living and working in Somerset, NJ (though he has previously hailed from NY and Philadelphia).  He described his current surroundings as decidedly suburban, and it seems that he has peeked the interest of both his neighbors and local police with the decidedly un-conventional studio he has built on his property.  Local interest was peeked several years ago with the studio/home he created (tower and all!) in south Philly.

Scott talked about his process as starting out abstract and becoming concrete in form.  His connection to the space at Globe Dye Works was both definitive and amorphous.  His current work is with boats, and he immediately observed a direct parallel between the roof of the building and the hull of a ship.  However, he also discussed his response to the space as being layered - another layer involving the historical narratives surrounding the space (not necessarily historical facts).  

It's doubtful that even Scott has a palpable idea of how all these layers will emerge in his final installation.  I am particularly excited to see how his work will manifest in the exhibition space; without a doubt, these boats will have depth.