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Legendary Art Duo McDermott & McGough Are Building an ‘Oscar Wilde Temple’

McDermott & McGough, “Oscar Wilde in Prison, 1895 (MMXVII)” (detail), 2017. Oil and gold leaf on linen. Courtesy of the artists.

Legendary New York art team McDermott & McGough — known, among other things, for spending 15 years living in the East Village while dressed as top hat-wearing Victorian gentlemen — are back with an ambitious new project to be unveiled at The Church of the Village this September.

The new art installation combines several of the artists’ motifs and preoccupations — the Victorian era, Ireland, gay culture, LGBT rights, time — in a giant homage to Oscar Wilde, the turn-of-the-century Anglo-Irish writer and bon-vivant famously condemned to prison for refusing to hide his sexuality.

The Oscar Wilde Temple “combines painting, sculpture, and site specific elements in a functioning environment that recalls the beautiful and provocative sensuousness of the Aesthetic Movement [that] Wilde championed,” according to a press release. It will transform The Church of the Village‘s chapel into a shrine to Wilde. In the center will be a four-foot statue of Wilde in the manner of a religious icon. On the walls will be paintings in the style of the Stations of the Cross, but instead of depicting Christ’s persecution they will illustrate Wilde’s journey from arrest to incarceration.

Peter McGough and David McDermott — who, after their East Village days, threw elaborate parties in the Williamsburg bank building where they resided — evidently first began discussing the idea of the Oscar Wilde Temple more than 20 years ago. In keeping with the duo’s fondness for “time experiments,” the Temple will painstakingly replicate the aesthetics and atmosphere of Victorian England through the use of “specially made fabric wall coverings, architectural and decorative details, furnishings and lighting.”

The Temple will also include a secondary altar conceived as a shrine to those struggling with or killed by AIDS, as well as a series of portraits by McDermott & McGough of homophobia “martyrs,” such as Harvey Milk and Alan Turing, and lesser-known victims of AIDS or homophobia including Sakia Gunn, a teenage African-American lesbian stabbed in Newark in 2003, and two figures from The Church of the Village’s own history — Rev. Paul M. Abels and Rev. C. Edward Egan, ministers forced out for being gay.

Sponsored by The Church of the Village and the New York LGBT Center, the Temple will also be available to rent for weddings, memorial services, and other private functions, with the proceeds benefiting the LGBT Center.

The installation will run concurrently with “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going,” a McDermott & McGough retrospective opening at the Dallas Contemporary in Texas on October 1st.

The installation will be open Sept. 11th through Dec. 2nd at The Church of the Village at 201 W. 13th St. at 7th Ave., viewable Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon – 7:00 pm.

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Performance Picks: AI Theater, the ‘Courtney Love of Comedy,’ and More

THURSDAY

(flyer by Lorelei Ramirez)

Not Dead Yet
Thursday, July 20 at C’mon Everybody, 8:30 pm: $5 advance, $7 doors

This comedy show, hosted by the multi-talented and highly strange Lorelei Ramirez, really gets to the bottom of the human condition based on its title alone. Sure, we aren’t dead yet, but we will be soon. Whether it be from being cooked alive due to climate change, from inhumane health care policies (though that one seems a tiny bit less likely now), from an aggressive ghoul with a mustache that no one can see but you… Or maybe you’re just one of the lucky few to pass peacefully. Either way, you’re still here. So you might as well go to this comedy variety show.

The show itself (which is monthly) is packed to the brim with notable creatives serving up a whole bevy of funny n’ weird stuff across disciplines. There’ll be comedy by Becca Blackwell, Brett Davis, Sydnee Washington, and Katie Boyle; readings by poet Sasha Fletcher; videos by Lukey Walden and Alan Resnick, and even music by Drag Lomax and Tredici Bacci. As the teens say: what more could you want? Keep Reading »

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Duane Michals Targets Trump in New Art Show, But Does He Hit the Mark?

“The Lyin King” (c) Duane Michals.

Political art is easy to create but hard to pull off. The election of President Trump has spurred much talk among the chattering classes about art’s potential as a weapon of activism and satire. Unfortunately, as we’ve noted before, that political impulse often comes up short. The cultural left has an unfortunate tendency to bring butter knives to gun fights; but satire, like knives, only works when it has a real edge.

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Funky Ceramics, Mermaids at Sunny’s, and More Art Openings

Jess Sheridan. Trump This, 2017. Screenprint. 22 x 15 in. Printed and published by the artist. Edition: 45. (c) 2017 Jess Sheridan.

Just Under 100
Opening Thursday, June 22 at International Print Center, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through September 16. 

This show marks the 56th edition of the International Print Center’s New Prints Program, the result of an open call for fine art prints created in the last 12 months. Curator Katherine Bradford has selected 98 of them from artists all over the world, and they will all be on view in the self-proclaimed “small” gallery space of the IPC on West 26th Street.

While there isn’t necessarily a unifying theme for all the prints, several seem to have a political bent. On the gallery’s website, I observed at least one pussy hat reference and one print involving a woman in an American flag hijab and ripped jeans skateboarding on top of the head of a man with very orange skin. Which isn’t surprising, as nowadays it almost seems like more effort to avoid referencing the current political climate than not. Keep Reading »

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‘Catholic Anarchist’ Dorothy Day Returns to the East Village Via an Art Show

Dorothy Day sculpture. (Photos: Oliver Conroy)

“We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists [of conspiring to do], but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York.”

So spoke Dorothy Day – “Catholic anarchist” and founder of the radical Catholic Worker, still published seven times a year at Maryhouse in the East Village. Day, an activist and writer who became the godmother of the religious-left “Catholic worker” movement, died in 1980, but her legacy lives on in the form of the East 3rd Street soup kitchen she founded to minister to the poor and homeless of the East Village and Lower East Side.

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Light-Soaked Galleries, Meditative Street Ads, and More Art Exhibitions

(image via Foley Gallery)

Subtext II: Meditations
Opening Wednesday, May 17 at Foley Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 25.

I would remark on the humor inherent in exhibiting artist Wyatt Gallery’s name, who is indeed showing artwork in a gallery, but it seems he’s already got that covered. As soon as you visit his website, the very large and very green phrase “a person, not a place” is followed, literally, by a trademark symbol. So, guys… he gets it.

For this show, Gallery is displaying a series of works using foundational material quite truly ripped off of the city streets, in that they are portions of the endlessly-stacked-and-glued mountains that are NYC street advertising and flyering. He transformed these found object compilations into “UV cured photographic plates,” making them even more abstract in the process. Interestingly, Gallery sees these dirty, aged poster creations as relevant to his practice of mindfulness and meditation. So next time you’re saddled with a 20-minute train wait, maybe you should try deep breathing while staring at the many advertisements on the walls. Perhaps inner peace will crawl out from in between the pages.

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How the Bombay Beach Biennale Brought Art to a Toxic Wasteland

James Ostrer (seated) with Joseph Walsh of the San Francisco Ballet at Bombay Beach Biennale 2017. (Photo courtesy of Bombay Beach Biennale)

Just a few hours south of Los Angeles there’s a tiny desert town called Bombay Beach– though its geographically close at hand to many millions of people, it might as well be another world.

One of several beachside settlements on the shores of the Salton Sea, the town was once a booming resort spot popular during the prosperous post-War years when more than a million vacationers traveled there annually. But the sea– actually a sprawling, shallow lake– and the dusty desert expanse around it, have since lost their appeal, slipped out of range, and essentially vanished from the minds of many Southern California residents. “I’d never heard of it,” filmmaker and LA native Tao Ruspoli explained in a recent interview.

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Watch Some LA Underground Heavies Premiere a New Music Video Shot By Richard Kern

(Flyer via Collapsing Scenery)

The electro post-rock band Collapsing Scenery has been hailed as “the voice of LA’s new underground,” so it only makes sense that their tripped-out, abstract videos are essential to their music. Cool, but doesn’t every synth-dominated band these days sorta need visuals to make what is by and large a cold-blooded genre cluster feel even remotely emotive? And what’s so special about swiping a bunch of “found footage” from YouTube, throwing on a glitchy distortion filter, and calling it a “short film”? If you answered “yes” and “nothing,” in that order, then you’re exactly right– only, not about Collapsing Scenery.

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Panteha Abareshi Wants You to ‘Hurt Me Badly’ at The Girl Who Loves Roses

Work by Panteha Abareshi (Image courtesy of Larrie, NYC and the artist)

Panteha Abareshi specializes in cutthroat portraits that pair the rawness of ecstatic creation with the realness of first-hand experience. As a young woman of Jamaican and Iranian descent, it seems only natural that she paints other women who look like her. But according to Abareshi, there’s much more at stake than the physical appearance of her subjects.

“I draw women of color only,” she has said of her effort to bring greater visibility to women who are so often left out of, or invisible, in the art world (not to mention under- and misrepresented everywhere else, too). But there are no smiling models or perfect angels in any of the paintings on view at The Girl Who Loves Roses, a show of Abareshi’s work at the new downtown gallery Larrie, NYC (“It’s a women’s space,” founder Emily Spitale told me). Instead, the women you meet are brooding, suffering, and embattled. Often they are splattered in blood, wearing a vacant expression, and seemingly staring at a target point that hovers right between your eyebrows.

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Get Your High Tea on with Dabbing Mr. Peanut at Pikachu’s Garden of Artly Delights

(Flyer via Castor Gallery)

Sometimes I hate my friends. Like right after the release of Pokémon Go. Nearly every single one of them not only downloaded the dang thing, but actually used it in public. In broad daylight. In front of other people. Meeting up for a drink at the bar turned into scavenging the streets for more bars with more Pokémons. This had to be an ironic thing that my pals would forget after a day or two, I assumed. But after weeks of this nihilistic nonsense, I was feeling like so many of the little things that make life tolerable had been invaded by an army of tiny, mind-numbing jerks. Pokémon Go seemed like a harbinger of the kind of voluntary sedation that could become the norm in response to some scary stuff from above. So maybe Oliver Stone came across as just slightly insane when he likened Pokemon Go to “totalitarianism,” but I kind of agree with him. Pokemon Go feels like nothing less than a small, but important sign of the coming cultural apocalypse.

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Why Do These People Have Cubes on Their Heads?

Mysterious live-installation by the Alamo (Photo: Anaka Kaundinya)

Ugh, the Tribeca Film Festival is up to something cool at Astor Place — but they won’t tell what! Sneaky fellows. What we do is know is that there are folks (volunteers? actors? unsuspecting people on their way to work taken hostage by the crew? sad!) wearing mirrored cubes on their heads and just… standing around near the Cube cube. They’re also being filmed, so our best guess is that it’s an empathy-generating live-installation for some sort of performance art film.

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Patron Saints of the Local Scene, and More Art Affairs This Week

F8 Tropical , 2017
28 x 21 Inches
Dye Sublimation on Aluminum

Particle Paradise
Opening Wednesday March 22 at Foley Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through April 30.

Photography is said to be a significant documentation tactic due to its ability to capture reality in its truest form. Particle Paradise, Joseph Desler Costa’s solo show at Foley Gallery, seeks to lay bare the ways one can manipulate the medium of photography to turn it into something sleeker, or even a total rejection of reality. This can happen through tactics like double exposures, cut paper constructions, in-camera editing, or even snapshots of the equipment used to create the photo in the first place.

The show is named for a video game mod that allows players to customize their experience through hacking and tweaking the existing code, allowing the gameplay experience to change oh-so-slightly or immensely. I don’t know about you, but I associate mods with either sneakily downloading sexy clothes for my Sims or that time I bought a Gameshark to use with my Pokemon and it glitched in a way it was not supposed to and I felt fear deep in my heart. Maybe this show will be something like that?

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