Friday, February 28, 2014

Just for the record

We’ve always been big fans of Andy Warhol and always enjoyed his pre Warhol design days. So a treat to see a full range of Warhol’s mid fifties designs for record covers here on Dangerous Minds.

The hole story

The jeweller Karl Fritsch was giving a talk in Wellington yesterday telling of his evolution from commercial jeweler (briefly) to artist. From buying rings from pawn shops (a cheaper way of buying gold) and filling the gaps in the existing settings where the gems had been prised out to making work from scratch.

One great story was of his efforts to have a hole cut through a diamond so he could insert it onto a spiked setting. It ended up requiring an expensive laser cutting process that resulted in the area that had been cut out being worth more than the diamond that remained. As Laurie Anderson famously sang on her fist single, “It's Not the Bullet that Kills You (It's the Hole)”.

Image: Karl Fritsch gold, diamond and nails

Thursday, February 27, 2014

And still they come

More studio images have been added to OTN Studio.

Toss Woolaston 1980
Julian Dashper 1993
Shane Cotton 2010
Xin Cheng 2013

Image: Shane Cotton's Palmerston North studio, 2010

The painting part

There’s a lot of public sculpture about these days but not so much public painting apart from murals and graffiti. This rare figurative example is from a long series of very large-scale public works by the same artist. Strangely in spite of practically all of this artist's subject matter being focused on popular events, it tends to go over most people’s heads. You can see it installed here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Unitec update

Word is that Unitec has had to scramble to get enough staff to fill the gaps left by the 33 people shed at the end of last year. The solution? Get some of the bumped ones to delay their departures and help out for the first semester. The student year is up and running but still no staff list for Design and the Visual Arts on the Unitec web site. Given the catch-as-catch-can staffing there’s not likely to be one anytime soon.


Time for another round up of artist branded gifts. From the Barbara Kruger limited edition sunglasses via the Wim Delvoye Yoga Mat to the Joseph Kosuth Water Bottle, there is no end to what artists can be persuaded to do for the honour of the gift shop. For those who met Barbara Kruger and Joseph Kosuth on their visits to New Zealand the shift in tone is gob-smacking. We’ve come a long way but looking at this lot the artist-gift combo there's still a ways to go yet.

Let’s go shopping:

1  Wim Delvoye Yoga Mat from MOCA, $108.00
2  Maurizio Cattelan And Pierpaolo Ferrari: Bitten Soap from MoMA, $18
3  Yoko Ono Pillow Case Set from the MCA in Sydney, $43.00
4   Barbara Kruger Limited Edition Sunglasses (Red) from LACMA, $241.00
5  Agelio Batle Graphite AK-47 from the MCA Chicago, $77
6  Kusama Dancing Pumpkin floating pen from Tate, $39.50
7  Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen snow globe based on Spoonbridge and Cherry from the Walker Art Centre $18.00
8  Joseph Kosuth Water Bottle from the Guggenheim Museum, $34.00

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Now you know

"The reason there is so much talk about money is because it is  so much easier to talk about than art."
Art dealer David Zwirner

(Image via Hugh MacLeod's Gaping Void)

No, that’s a yes

Tony Fomison was a street artist for a while in early 1960s Paris and probably also saw the influential book Brassai graffiti which introduced wall markings, paintings and carvings as what Brassai called the language of the wall. Fomison didn't stick to the walls. He literally worked on the street making pavement chalk paintings in exchange for a few coins. The hustle eventually landed him in jail and booted out of the country. It was while he was licking his wounds in the UK that he saw the photograph that was the basis for No! a painting now in the collection of the Christchurch Art Gallery. 

Along with just about everyone else who visits central city Christchurch we saw the giant iteration of this Fomison work adhered to the building that houses the Physics Room and an outpost of the Christchurch Art Gallery itself. Anyway, all this going on about graffiti pays off because we noticed that the big Fomison reproduction had been tagged. In fact it turned out to be more like a job of graffiti conservation. The story goes that when No went up it was pasted over an existing tag and sometimes when it was photographed what remained of the tag was even Photoshopped out (see LIVS Life in Vacant Spaces) site). 

Then late one night what Fomison would have certainly called in his old school way ‘my fellow practitioners’ returned and redid the bits of the graffiti that were covered up. They also took time out to add a bit of commentary around who owned the wall as an exhibition site in the first place: “Keep your shit 4 the Gallery” (if only they had one they certainly would). And then, in the way of these things, blue paint guy came along.

Images: from the top, putting No! on the wall, the graffiti is Photoshopped away, the original tag, the revised tag, as it looked a couple of days ago

Monday, February 24, 2014


You can tell how hard an indie film is to finance by the number of investment credits preceding the main titles. Turns out it’s the same for public sculpture. The wide range of businesses and organisations that pitched in to make Neil Dawson’s sculpture Spires a reality reads like a prose poem to process.

Lewis Bradford
Prometal Industries
Amalgamated Builders
Oborn’s Nautical
Creative New Zealand
Christchurch Ready Mix
The Canterbury Community Trust
Southern Quality Assurance
Fox & Associates
Frews Contracting
Fenwick Reinforcing
Christchurch City Council
Relliance Truck Painting
Tonkin & Taylor
Chapman Tripp
CPP Wind
Carter Price Rennie
Mackley Carriers
Pegasus Engineering
Signtech the Signmasters

COMMENT: John Johnston commented "Imagine how many more credits would be on the list for the crowdfunded purchase of Parekowhai's Chapman's Homer in Christchurch." 

See change

How ever many times you visit, it takes time to weather the shock of being back in Christchurch. Justin Paton nailed it - our architectural memory plays us for fools. Who can remember where anything used to be? And what grand irony that one of the great memory aids used to be the architectural metaphor of a memory palace.

But you can’t say the art world hasn’t responded boldly to the challenge of a misery of shakes. Something that Christchurch is on its way to shaping in its own particular fashion is an intriguing confluence of art and context. Well-organised white cube spaces can be found but they have lost their dominance and it's onto visual shock and awe. The raked seats of a theatre exposed to the elements via a collapsed wall, a large pitched roof resting on the ground, a dome waiting on the river bank.

There are countless sculptural gestures around the city that may or may not be art and it really doesn’t seem to matter that much one way or the other. A set of three brick circles, an empty shop window with a single sheet of polystyrene leaning against the back wall, a line-up of chairs painted white in the Merit Groing tradition each one standing in for those who lost their lives. These and countless other small structures, murals, interventions and rearrangements have made Christchurch something that is totally of the moment - a visual laboratory. In this city the turn to research in the visual arts has found what could become its most relevant expression.

Images: top, the Odeon theatre laid bare, second row left brick circles and right Neil Dawson's Spires. Third row a memorial to those lost in the CTV collapse and bottom a shop window in Woolston

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Flagging interest

Thought we’d keep up the flag theme for this weekend at least. 

Images: left top Untitled (Give Up) by Reuben Lorch-Miller and bottom Untitled by Gardar Eide Einarsson. Right David Shrigley Metal flag

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Lye of the land

Due to open mid 2015 the Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth is well underway. 

Progress so far:
  • The stainless steel for the façade has arrived from Japan
  • The moulds for the shaping of the stainless façade have been made and tested
  • Second story precast walls are being put in place
To come:
  • The construction of a steel frame work to support the pre-cast exterior wall that will in turn be covered by the shaped mirror surface stainless steel.
You can read a more complete report of progress here

Would you like to know more?

What’s the mother lode of the good story? You got it, the follow-up tenuously based on it. When we posted about the bizarre burial of artist Ed Kienholz in his car with “His corpulent, embalmed body [was] wedged into the front seat of a brown 1940 Packard coupe” as Robert Hughes so elegantly put it, who knew the idea had such potential?

But now, exactly 20 years after the Kienholz drive-in, here is the classic life (read death) follows art story of Billy Standley who chose to be buried sitting astride his motorbike. “We’ve done personalization … but nothing like this extreme,” said Tammy Vernon, co-owner of Vernon Funeral Homes Inc. Standley was buried in a custom built box knocked up in the funeral parlour’s garage and lowered into the ground by crane. His body was held in place by a metal back brace and straps and the… well that will probably do.

Image: Standley’s last ride

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wax and shine

In Lower Hutt yesterday Ronnie van Hout's Fallen robot gets its ears cleaned

By the numbers: local edition

0         the number of art museums to receive matching dollar-for-dollar funding in the latest round of Creative NZ’s Matched Funding Scheme

5         the average number of entries posted a month on the Auckland Art Gallery blog last year

14.83  the cost in dollars of a taxi from Te Papa to the Terrace as noted in the Chief Executive’s published expenses disclosures

27       the number of people currently serving on Creative NZ councils soon to be reduced to 13

32       the number in tonnes of steel that will be required to fabricate the mirror surface façade for the Len Lye Centre

50       the number in kilograms of gold glitter used to make Reuben Paterson’s gold tree Golden bearing for New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park

68       the number of artists given solo exhibitions in the 47 years Peter McLeavey ran the Peter McLeavey Gallery in Cuba Street

10       the number of days left to put in an application for the role of senior curator at the Christchurch Art Gallery

150     the revised number in thousands of people that Napier City now still projects will visit its new museum each year

195     the number in thousands that is paid in salary to the director of the Auckland Art Gallery

300     the number of artworks estimated to be lost in the John and Lynda Matthews house fire

690     the number in thousands of people that Napier City in a burst of confidence initially projected would visit its new museum each year.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The best art is business art

Another in our popular series  featuring business people posing in front of art. This time it's recently resigned (as in yesterday) TVNZ unit manager Shane Taurima with a carved and painted relief by Cliff Whiting

We know a pattern when we see one

Post No. 4 on OTN written back in November 2006 was about a book on camouflage and, loving a theme as we do, over the years we've posted a few camo stories with some connection to art (search camo). Yesterday in the ways of the internet we found a post by Anne Elias (ex Auckland University and now an associate professor in Australia, she has recently written on Peter Peryer’s botanical pics) on how Australian artists did their bit to develop convincing camouflage in WW2. You can only hope it was more convincing than the six billion dollar disaster that has recently seen the digital camouflage developed by the United States military chucked in the trash.

One of the Australian camo practitioners was Max Dupain (best known for his iconic photograph The sun baker) and the other was painter Frank Hinder. Dupain was trained both to recognise camouflaged structures from the air and to use what was called ‘obliterative shading‘ to create his own disguises on the ground. He rather wonderfully described himself as ‘pattern prone.’

Image: Max Dupain’s camouflage experiment at Bankstown aerodrome, c.1943. (Photograph National Archives of Australia)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Their Wellington

Let’s have a look at this morning’s Dominion Post. Oh, how nice to see ‘Our Wellington’ a retro cartoon style bird’s eye view of the city showing us the cool stuff we get from our rates. But wait a minute, where’s the City Gallery? You know it’s an uphill battle when the city’s own promotion department doesn’t notice you’re not on the map (or worse still, does notice). Got to hope that with director Elizabeth Caldwell’s hire of Robert Leonard as senior curator and a new approach to programming they’ll be drawn in next time.


Did you know that we all favour the left-hand side of our face when we take/ pose for portraits? This includes over 90 percent of the depictions of Jesus throughout history. This insight is just in from science writer Sam Kern in The Atlantic (you can see the video here) with some speculation about why this might be (more attractive, more emotional). As photographer Peter Peryer was staying with us, we decided to look up his catalogues and test the idea.

Wouldn’t you know it, in practically every portrait he has made Peter Peryer favours exactly the reverse. When Peter isn’t going front-on, he almost invariably has his subjects turn the other cheek, in this case the right-hand one.

We of course did some counting. In the exhibition Erika: a portrait by Peter Peryer three of the portraits are face-on, two favour the left-hand side of the face like the rest of us would, and seven that favour the right. We’re figuring that this tendency may help explain why Peryer’s portraits can be so unsettling and memorable.

Image: Peter Peryer’s Self portrait, 1977

Monday, February 17, 2014

Biennale news

“We believe that the campaign is well intentioned but misguided….Many of us at the Biennale hold strong views on the refugee issue….We would not knowingly associate with the abuse of a disadvantaged group like the refugees. We believe that any action to hinder the Biennale would damage the ability of 94 artists to exhibit their work and gain exposure for their talent. That would be regrettable.”

A spokesperson for the Sydney Biennale’s responds to a Guardian reporter’s questions around lead sponsor Transfield’s ongoing involvement with refugee detention centers on Nauru and Manus Islands.

You can read the full article here and a range of responses to the issue from artists and others here.
And Biennale curator Juliana Engberg's response here

The blue and the red and the green

Will the three main political parties issue cultural policies for this year's election? Maybe, maybe not. Most of them are still riding on policies set in 2011 and from these quick and dirty word clouds you can see there's not much between them.  All of them tend to speak through the language of economics throwing around incentives, sectors, initiatives, production and occasionally, jobs.

Over the last couple of years National has actioned its obsession with commemorating war and funding war memorials while at the same time fretting over and massaging the commercial movie industry. Unfortunately National’s Minister for Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson is not really an arts guy and definitely not keen on anything contemporary. He's on record as declaring against “gloomy art”. The Minister for Culture & Heritage has only made one speech on the subject in the last 12 months and that was at Ralph Hotere’s funeral back on 28 Feb last year. 

Meanwhile Labour is pretty much settled in the same middle ground as the blue people arts wise while the Greens look like they aspire to a more local community focus (where do they get these ideas from?). Can we expect cultural innovation this election? No sign of it yet but hope springs etc etc.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Once only offur

The staff of OTN have been putting intense pressure on senior management to get some cat pictures on the blog. Cats drive up page views and repeat visit statistics. So here for your Saturday morning entertainment is a classic OTN lookalike featuring the famous Andy Warhol Esquire cover AND A CAT.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Atrium blues

"We may be at the beginning of a long period of undoing, of rebuilding or destroying architectural failures. In the years to come, those who oversaw and built many new museums and museum wings will have much to answer for. During a period when the West accumulated more wealth than at any time in the history of the world, a vast amount of ill-conceived space for art was constructed, as institutions wasted their energy on atriums and useless entertainment areas."
US art writer and critic Jerry Saltz 2011

By the numbers

The battle of the auction houses is up and running for a new year. Webb’s is publishing another of its mags showcasing results achieved and also previewing some of the star attractions for its first high-end contemporary outing at the end of March. No doubt Art + Object will be close behind. Webb’s top 10 prices for last year once again contradict all those who say art isn’t close to a predictable investment. The first six for instance are typical figurative paintings of well-known male artists all of whom have been setting auction records for years. There is only one abstract work in the list, Ralph Hotere’s banner work Vidyapati’s song at spot number 7.

The first and only woman in the list is Evelyn Page (go figure) but this year Webb’s seems to be pushing another female presence into the arena. That would be the artist known as Lillian Budd whose installation Modern world (a key work in the 1992 Headlands exhibition) is estimated in the first 2014 catalogue at between $50,000 and $60,000. This is a huge jump from the prices usually attached to experimental work of this kind even when its provenance is as good as this one. If Webb’s did achieve its estimate it would certainly bring new life to the market and bring NZ into line with overseas auctions that have been foregrounding contemporary work of this kind for a good while now.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Art chart

Thanks F, we feel your pain

Cash offer

We can all agree on one thing, the NZ at Venice Patrons know how to raise money. They can usually anything up to $400,000 to the $650,000 that the Government puts into Venice via Creative NZ. While there are a few very generous patrons most of the 63 listed last year stumped up with $5,000. It’s a sweet deal. Patrons usually get a free signed limited edition print donated by the artist, a copy of the catalogue, a couple of free tickets to the hard-to-get-into Biennale opening days, access to other elite Venice events as well as glam lunches put on by the dealers and others trying to leverage their good favour. You can join up here.

Potential patrons are traditionally wooed at functions held around the country with drinks and nibbles in a palatial residence and the artist and curator in tow to sweet talk the crowd. There not being so many rich people in Dunedin the usual thing has been to hold functions in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland but this year in preparation for Venice 2015 word is that Wellington will be given the swerve. You can see the logic when you look at the patron list. It’s pretty much an Auckland club with a few heavy hitters from Christchurch. Wellington’s contribution has tended to be in the less sexy area of administration and intangibles of influence on the Government's $600,000 although this year both the commissioner (Heather Galbraith) and the curator (Robert Leonard) are based in Wellington. In earlier times patronage used to include a wide range of support for a project along with the financial but for Venice you get the feeling cash is clearly king.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Down under

For the first time in many years no dealer galleries from either Australia or New Zealand have been selected for inclusion in Art Basel Basel in Basel. Indeed there will be only seven galleries from the entire Southern Hemisphere making up a don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you 2.3 percent. We did hear that Hopkinson Mossman might do their bit and make it into Liste (They have since been accepted and will show Oscar Enberg), the young art fair in Basel again. Here's hoping. You can see the full list here.

Piece of work

Here you go. Just what you need to prep the kids before you take them to an art museum. This Janet and John-like guide to art is the work of comedian and artist Miriam Elia. She had a short relationship with Turner prize winning Martin Creed and plastered that experience all over the large banner work “I fell in love with a conceptual artist…and it was totally meaningless”. So if you do order Peter, Jane and Mummy go to a gallery and learn about sex, death and contemporary art’ here, don’t expect nice.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Duck and coveralls

  • Lindsay Fowler the Motueka based painter at home with his friend Toss Woollaston, 1979
  • Neil Dawson working on Globe for the exhibition Magiciens de la Terre, 1989 
  • Ronnie van Hout working on Duck character and mouse character in his Wellington studio, 1999 
  • Julian Dashper's studio, November 2011
Image: Ronnie van Hout working on Duck character and mouse character

The ghosts in the machine

With only 13 days before university students get back to work you'd think that Unitec could at least have come up with a list of who'll be teaching this year. It was quick enough to strip its arts school's ‘core teaching team’ from 50 to 17.6 late last year but the follow-up is non-existent from the public point of view. Look up staff and it’s ‘Please check back for the latest staff information.’

Even worse is the way the institution is coasting on the reputations of ex-staffers. It's got to be galling for them (whether they saw the approaching steam roller and got out of the way by taking redundancy or attempted and failed to get one of the new jobs) to still be used by Unitec’s PR machine. Take just two of them: ex Associate Dean of Research Marcus Williams and Susan Jowsey who used to be a ‘Senior Academic Staff Member.’ They are still trumpeted on the Unitec website as king hit successes for the institution.

Who knows how students will react. As this student video demonstrates they were certainly unimpressed by losing their big-name art teachers partway through their courses. They may be equally fed up to find that the ghosts of staff past are still being served up as exemplars of the Unitec brand.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Not so much art around in the Sevens’ costumes this year but this art triptych kind of made up for it. Turned out the ‘Girl with the pearl earing’ (the original is in the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague) was a top-level sevens coach out for the day with two friends acting out the Mona Lisa from the Louvre and Goldie’s 1902 painting of Ina te Papatahi, a Ngapuhi chieftainess from the Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection.
Image: via Dominion Post

Finishing school

If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Jeffrey Harris’s studio, you might see piles of the catalogues raisonnés of well-known artists. Jeffrey has a thing about completeness and nothing is as complete as these painstakingly accumulated records detailing every work made by an artist. The details unfolded include a works' provenance, size, current condition, exhibition history, publications references and critical notes about the content and history of the work. This is scholarship of a high order.

We've already written about the sad attempt to create a catalogue raisonné for Colin McCahon. The result managed by Te Papa is contained in the Colin McCahon online catalogue. This effort ignores provenance, carefully selects exhibition history and rarely provides notes or any publication references. In the era of wikis and crowdsourcing this is simply not defensible. Arguments about lack of time, resources etc etc no longer excuse poor quality research when there are so many models of more open scholarship available.

Still it does turn out that in cat res world you can also have an embarrassment of riches. In the case of Modigliani’s paintings there is not one but two catalogues raisonnés being produced. One of them is by Marc Restellini who a while back abandoned his plans to make a catalogue raisonné of Modigliani’s drawings because he received death threats (oh yes, we’re talking death threats) from collectors who owned works by the artist. The other cat res guy is Christian Parisot whose exhibition of works by Modigliani a few years ago was raided by police and 22 removed for being fakes. The trial kicks off this week in Rome. You can read the whole sorry story here in the NYT.

Maybe the McCahon effort is not so bad after all. (Just kidding)

Image: Christian Zervos’s famous catalogue raisonné of Pablo Picasso

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Pound cake in blue, yellow and red

It being Saturday it’s only fair that you should be allowed to have your art cake and eat it too. So don't think, just leap out of the house, get the mixings, check out the how-to vid and set too. To quote the Mondrian man himself “Intellect confuses intuition”. Go.

Friday, February 07, 2014


For those of you who don’t follow Leg of Lamb (and you really should) here is a link she found and shared that takes you to BNJP (Brand New Paint Job) the next step along the road to ruin after Great art in ugly rooms. Send flowers

Flagging expectations

John Key’s how-about-a-new-flag diversion for the election sent us on a hunt for artist-designed flags. Didn’t have to go far. At the Dowse right now there are 10 of them designed by artists including Don Driver, Pat Hanly and Gretchen Albrecht (did the Dowse’s exhibition planner have an inside track on the Government's plans to run the flag thing up the public opinion pole again?). If nothing else the Dowse efforts show how flag making has skills of its own and most of the artists struggled to produce anything very memorable or indeed flaglike.

In the end we found great artist designed flags hard to find. American artists have often latched onto their own stars and stripes as content and critique since Pop hit the scene and no one has made the flag such a compelling metaphor as Yukinori Yanagi with his incredible decomposing flag ant farms. We did find a rather alarming suggestion by architect Rem Koolhaas for a European flag and an equally startling offer by artist Christopher Pratt for the flag of Newfoundland and Labrador. And then there’s the Hundertwasser perennial for NZ's own new flag.

The truth is everyone is secretly hoping for a flag design as clear and distinctive as that maple leaf Canada scored in 1964. It was designed by historian George Stanley on the rather wonderful brief that the new Canadian flag should be “instantly recognizable, and simple enough so that school children could draw it”.

All this brings us to Hamish Keith who in his Twitter stream recently made the observation, “flags aren’t about art, they’re about history”

Images: Top to bottom, left to right, Pat Hanly flag commissioned by the Dowse Art Gallery in 1980, Barbara Kruger’s Who is bought and sold? Who is beyond the law? Who is free to choose? Who follows orders? Who salutes longest? Who prays loudest? Who dies first? Who laughs last?, Yukinori Yanagi’s The World Flag Ant Farm, Rem Koolhaas's proposal for a new European flag, Christopher Pratt’s 1980 flag for Newfoundland and Labrador, Hundertwasser’s koru flag and the Canadian flag first flown in 1965. Local flag mad people can feed their obsessions here

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Back tomorrow

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The collecting spirit

“I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.”

The response of the winning bidder of the first ebay item ever auctioned when reminded by the seller that the laser pointer he had purchased for $14.83 was broken.  (source: eBay Wikipedia Page)

Art in the movies: American hustle

Two guys in bad clothes and worse hair, what can they be looking at? In a rare philosophic moment during the scam pic American Hustle the two con men muse over Rembrandt’s Saint Bartholomew. Can a fake be so well done that it becomes more important than the original? Um… that’s a no.

Not to spoil the movie but this scene is not prep for an art heist but a brief sequence shot in the Worcester Art Museum, the owner of the original painting. Oddly this painting was in fact stolen in 1972 along with works by Picasso and Gauguin. It was recovered from its hiding place on a pig farm (minus its original frame that was chucked into the river according to the museum’s web site). 

Art plays another small part at the end of American Hustle. After a seedy life as confidence tricksters the two lead characters start an art gallery as the next obvious thing to do. As they put it, “we went art gallery legitimate”

Images: top, Irving (Christian Bale) and Ritchie (Bradley Cooper) check out the Rembrandt and bottom, big smiles for the loot recovered from the Worcester Art Museum job.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Paging Gavin Chilcott

Everyone talks about how social media are central to the future of art museums and Te Papa has certainly setting the pace using its blog to muster help on getting a crowd to help transcribe the 41 diaries of photographer Leslie Adkin. Now the City Gallery is at it too with their new senior curator Robert Leonard on the search for some Gavin Chilcott drawings. They were made after Chilcott joined the line of artists unceremoniously dumped from the Peter McLeavey Gallery in the eighties. Chilcott didn’t take it lying down and reproduced McLeavey’s good-bye letter in a series of drawings. To spread the word and increase his chances of snagging one of these rare birds, Leonard ( has used the Gallery’s Facebook page (quick view here). No bites yet by the look of it but other art-related pages have shared it around so still in with a chance.

The apple of our eyes

Simon Denny, New Zealand’s representative at the Venice Biennale next year, has just opened a terrific show at the Galerie Buchholz in Berlin (you can see the exhibition here). Denny’s works hover uneasily across nostalgia and entropy, intrigue and dismissal. One of them certainly pulled all our nostalgia strings. Disruptive legacy model: Apple IIe presents under a custom made Perspex box the first computer model we owned. Ours is long gone but Denny got his from Christie’s First byte: iconic technology from the twentieth century online auction.

With the Apple IIe we used to compile and print artists' cvs back when otherwise they had to be retyped or suffer the indignity of a cut and paste and photocopy. Back then tractor paper was a sign of up-to-date technology and only added to their lustre.

A little later the fax machine entered our lives. Developing the Pacific Parallels exhibition would hardly have been possible without it as the curator Charles Eldredge was in Kansas City, the organisers in Washington, the art museum in San Diego, the designer in LA, we were in Wellington and no email.

On one memorable occasion Charlie faxed the entire 175 page catalogue proofs to us all overnight and Peter Peryer, who was staying with us and was sleeping next to the fax, woke to find an enormous trail of tractor paper covering his bed. He told us he'd spent the night wondering what the rustling sound was.

Image: Simon Denny’s Disruptive Legacy Model: Apple IIe, 2014 on exhibition at Galerie Buchholz in Berlin

Monday, February 03, 2014

Head shot

This is the picture that immediately preceded the one on OTN Studio.  As you can see we took another pic turning Phil’s I-am-shy comedy into a portrait of him as Jackson Pollock.

New images just published on OTN (in and out) of the studio:
Ronnie van Hout making Duch character and mouse character in 1999
Mr. Lindsay Fowler and Toss Woollaston in Riwaka, 1981
Julian Dashper's studio, 2011 
Neil Dawson working on Globe for Magiciens de la Terre, March 1989 
Portraits of Greg Burke, Justin Paton and Ronnie van Hout

Are you being served?

Let’s hear it for some of the unsung heroes of Jill Trevelyan's book on Peter McLeavey - the gallery assistants. Over years of checking out exhibitions at 147 Cuba, we got to meet some pretty distinctive people working in the gallery. One of the most memorable was Allen Maddox who during a lull in visitors covered the walls of the main gallery with large white cards he found in shoeboxes with each taped around the four edges and cancelled with a black cross. The effect was like walking into the skeleton of one of his paintings. Allen would also (famously) allow the odd person to peer into the mythical McLeavey storeroom.  

Others who worked with McLeavey included Graham Glover, the intriguing Derek Cowie who showed with Peter and was his assistant from ’85 to ‘89 and, of course, Ivan Anthony who both showed at the gallery and later went on to start his own McLeavey-like space in Auckland. All these guys were able to show you work and even give a price, but somehow it was always Peter who sold you on it, one way or the other.

Images: top, Ivan Anthony helping to hang a Julian Dashper painting and below, Derek Cowie unpacks an earlier Dashper exhibition.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Welch rare bit

Saturday is dance day and what better to dance around than the sculptures created for the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City? And who better to dance around them than Raquel Welch? For sure Welch and her spacey team own the all time award for a group dancing around multiple sculptures, or at the very least the Mexican version of that award. 

And, because you're all more interested in sculpture than sixties choreography, here's a hard-won list in order of appearance.

Jorge Dubón, Señales
José María Subirachs, Mexico
Herbert Bayer, Articulated wall
Joop J. Beljon, Gathering of giants
Ángela Gurría, Signs
Pierre Székely, The two-legged sun

If you're still with us you may be interested to know that a video of a 2009 recreation by Marko Lulic in the Erich Hauser sculpture park will feature in this year's Sydney Biennale or want to check out this other bizarre Welch video putting her own unique spin on those classics Aquarius and Let the sun shine in. (Thanks again B, never a dull moment)