The only thing cooler than Camila Rosa’s woke af illustrations is the artist herself. Rosa has been working on her illustrations for seven years now, but since coming to America last year, her artwork has taken on a new meaning and several movements.
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.
Opening Wednesday March 29 at apexart, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through May 27.
I caught wind (or rather, smoke?) of this show through an email with the subject line “Weed really like to see you at our opening.” As I love subtlety, I of course opened the email. What I found was actually more intriguing and complex than one may imagine: an artistic showcase and exploration of the many variations and “legally grey” nature of glass pipes. Or um, I mean, “functional glass art.”
The show, organized by David Bienenstock and presented by the ever-interesting apexart, takes a deep dive into the legacy of pipes, bongs, and their makers. Bienenstock, who formerly served as Head of Content for High Times and has published two whole books centered around lighting up, seems to really know his stuff. A cursory browse of the pieces (heh) that will be on view shows a wide range from highbrow to lowbrow and everything in between. You’ll find everything from works by the historic Bob Snodgrass, who peddled intricate handmade creations to Deadheads aplenty, to a big glass monster truck and a pipe with a built-in mustache that could very well be found at your local Urban Outfitters.
By the time I arrived at Knockdown Center on Saturday night for day two of Nasty Women– the four-day, all-women exhibition and giant middle finger directed at Trump–the place had been all but cleaned out. All anyone could talk about was the “epic” turnout for opening night– even the shuttle bus driver sounded beat when he told me how he helped move “thousands” of people back and forth between Knockdown and the Jefferson stop.
Tackling the topic of feminism is a monumental task for any art exhibition, let alone one that fits inside a downtown art space called White Box–which you already know, or maybe just guessed, is not all that enormous. Even if the curator had the MoMA to herself, a show like this would require some epic planning. And from the viewer’s perspective? Yeah right. Seeing everything in one go would be require an Odyssean attention span which, let’s be real, just doesn’t exist anymore.
So when curator Lara Pan was commissioned by the non-profit art space White Box to put together a show “about women,” she and her co-curator Ruben Natal-San Miguel came up with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (on view through January 21), a 27-piece show that fits neatly within a realm of feminism she knows well. She may have felt compelled to whittle down the larger theme, but she managed to keep the feeling of an epic, history-sweeping, time-spanning, half-the-human-race, cross-culturally inclusive narrative. At the same time, the show defies what we’ve come to expect from women’s art exhibitions: those one-note, temporary deviations from the default (i.e. white men) that are plagued by tokenism, tiptoeing, stale themes, and work that’s about as revolutionary as a closet full of pantsuits.
If you’ve seen the 2013 documentary The Punk Singer, you know Kathleen Hanna was stuck out at sea for a long time when she was creatively paralyzed and overwhelmed by the day-to-day challenges of Lyme disease. One of the harshest consequences of her illness was profound fatigue, something that severely limited her capacity to write or perform music. At times, she found it difficult to even speak.
Lucky for us– oh, and for Hanna too– she’s doing much better these days, so much so that even though her band The Julie Ruin, like, just released their new album, Hanna is making an appearance this week at a speaker store in Soho, of all places, called Sonos.
“You know, after a while, wearing that rubber gorilla mask is really hard,” said Donna Kaz. She was describing one of the stranger realities of her double life. For the last 20 years, Kaz has worked as an artist/playwright deftly navigating the New York City theater world– this was the serious, successful woman I met at a coffee shop in Midtown last week. But for the rest of it, she’s donned a gorilla mask, deterred neither by sweat nor fear of suffocation. (Hell, even furries, the most diehard animal-suit lovers, agree that wearing such restrictive headgear can be punishing.)
The disguise has helped hide her identity, but it’s also served as a way for Kaz and an influential group of women artists known as the Guerrilla Girls, a “secret society” of activists, to assume new ones.
Dozens of women and femmes will descend upon the Good Room in Greenpoint this Thursday to party until that oppressive cis-white-male toxic-masculinity is done for. Or at least they’re gonna try.
The Femmequerade Ball, a fierce feminist bash filled with DJ sets, performances, and lots o’ partyin’, is the brainchild of Raechel Rosen (aka Mima Good, best known for leading her eponymous witchy music group, The Coven of Mima Good). It’s co-hosted by Brujas, the Bronx-based all-woman skater crew that won some pretty legit attention from a recent profile in the New York Times, as well as an inclusive electronic-music collective known as Sister, and a satirical “art-bro” duo called Hot Schmucks.
It’s not just a Bowie song. Suffragette City, a new intersectional feminist zine, aims to marry the DIY spirit of zines with the production value of a full-fledged magazine. Spearheaded by editor-in-chief and graphic designer Gwynn Galitzer, Suffragette City smartly combines the best of two worlds, resulting in an independently-produced yearly publication that has entrancing visuals and spirited content, like essays on gender activism, interviews with witches, styled photo spreads, poetry, hand-drawn lettering, comics, and more.
As they gear up to release their second-ever issue, they’ve been throwing monthly fundraising shows that double as parties, and will launch a formal fundraising campaign soon. I sat down with Gwynn, fresh from organizing and styling the zine’s cover photoshoot featuring model Angel Rose, to find out what’s up and what’s next.
Zines are one of the few forms of print media that are relatively thriving at least on a local scale, thanks to shops like Molasses Books and Bluestockings, maker pop-up shops at places like Shwick and Catland, and events such as the Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair and Brooklyn Zine Fest.
- Magazines, on the other hand, are far less prevalent than they once were. Written media and photos within print publications have mostly moved to the internet, which doesn’t allow as much for glossy photo spreads and sharply designed editorial layouts.
“It’s a super DIY zine, but the production level is really high. We do all the fundraising and everything so we can print this in such a high caliber. I love print, I love working on paper, I love collage. I love having a tactile thing. There’s something about having your work physically printed. It communicates to someone else that someone has invested the money to physically publish your work,” she says. “[And] the work deserves it. It’s all done through fundraising, it’s all volunteer-based, it’s all advertisement-free, and it’s clearly expensive to make. ”
Suffragette City‘s first issue, which was all about hair, came out in 2015. They printed 300 copies and had a kickoff event at Silent Barn, and now sell copies at Bluestockings. The second issue (the theme is Politics) is slated to run the week before Election Day in November. Naturally, there will be an appropriately-themed release party, also at Silent Barn.
The content and people in Suffragette City reflects Galitzer’s multifaceted community; she grew up in the city, studied Fine Arts at SVA, sings in a band, and has spent several years curating and producing art events throughout the city.
“I didn’t just grow up in the city, I went elementary school through college in a five-block radius in Chelsea. It’s a small town,” she says. “I have a lot of my childhood friends in this. [Design Director] Nicole Ruggiero and I [have been] best friends since we were 4 years old, as well as Harley Kinberg who is our illustrator. It’s the first time we’ve been working on a creative project together, it’s been really awesome.”
She got the idea for the zine from the monthly event she helps run with her boyfriend, a workshop-based reading and music series called Having A Whiskey Coke With You that’s now been running for five years.
“I noticed there was a lot of really powerful female-identifying readers, but the events were very male-heavy. Mostly because the reading scene is very male-dominated. I was talking to my boyfriend Jesse, saying that he should do a female-centric [event], and he was like, ‘I think you should do something.”
Since the reading series was already producing a monthly zine and she grew up doing “music and zines” all throughout high school, Galitzer figured this would be similar, made in the classic DIY Xeroxed style she was used to. She soon realized that the project was moving in a sleeker direction. “All the sudden it started snowballing, the quality of the work was going up and up and up. So I realized I needed to step this up more, I needed to make this high caliber.”
Galitzer works as a graphic designer and concentrated in printmaking at SVA, so she felt strongly that the quality of the publication needed to be up there with the pros. “We printed with one of the industry leaders in the city. Because I’m a graphic design nerd, I want everyone I know who does graphic design to look at it and go, yes, you did it right,” she says. “It was also investing in the people involved. I can’t have everyone put all this work in it and not make it the greatest thing I could possibly do. It felt necessary.”
Though many of the people featured in Suffragette City are people Galitzer knows personally, this does not make for any sort of lapse in legitimacy. Joanne Petit-Frere, who created the wigs and hair sculptures featured in one of several beautiful photo spreads shot by Alannah Farrell, has done work for celebrity clients. “Joanne gets hired a lot for these big deal photoshoots and performers, she’s done hairpieces for Beyoncé and all these crazy music videos, but she doesn’t get billing for it. I thought it was important to give her some spotlight,” says Galitzer.
The Hair issue also features journalist and nightlife figure Gerry Visco (Galitzer calls her one of her best friends), “gender capitalist” androgynous model Rain Dove, and “masculine-of-center and/or genderqueer” activist Lucy Parks. Notably, Suffragette City features a diverse spread of minds and bodies often absent from the pages of glossy productions. “I’m very adamant that we are really an intersectional thing,” she says. “You can’t say you’re a feminist and not be intersectional. [It’s] definitely not all cis, heterosexual, white women. That’s also not representative of the people I know.” And it’s not just local; they put out a submission call via Twitter for their next issue and got a many responses, including someone currently living in the Philippines.
Suffragette City has been doing fundraising events monthly, and their next one is this Saturday. They’re starting at Williamsburg’s Two Boots Pizza for a “mini zine fair,” where they’ll also have handmade buttons featuring “strong female lead characters from the ‘90s with pizza.” After that, everyone will head over to the Gutter Bar for a rock show of female-fronted bands, including Galitzer’s own band, No Ice. She’s been committed to involving as many women as she can for these events. “If the venue has women on staff, I request they work that night,” she tells me.
“It’s not like I have investors or I personally have money. I don’t have any experience with how it’s supposed to work at a magazine. It’s just me. It’s literally run out of my living room,” she says, telling me for their last photoshoot they moved all the furniture in her house and shot everything in the zine in 17 hours. She rented a room for a shoot this time, for her sanity.
Despite the immense work it takes to put out a publication like this, Galitzer shows no signs of stopping, and is considering starting a podcast and making miniature zines with Nicole Ruggiero in addition to the big yearly publication.
“I want more than anything for someone to give it to a 16-year-old girl and have her be like, ‘Yeah!’ And then for her to make a zine,” she says, grinning. “Also, I would like to get enough funding to pay everyone involved. I’d like to raise enough money so that everyone that put in hard work can get paid for it. And it’s going to happen. I have faith. If not for this one, then the next one.”
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like everything on this place we call Planet Earth is terrible right now. Mostly because a bigoted, beady-eyed mop man partial to Valencia-orange spray tans has power boated, ass pinched, and butt picked his way to the Presidential contest. The whole charade is sort of starting to feel like the first few chapters of a sci-fi paperback– when the autocratic overlord is hurtling toward consolidating his dystopian reign, and you can’t believe that no one saw it coming.
When you think about classic horror flicks, the word “feminism” probably doesn’t jump out at you– those blood-bathed scenes are usually dominated by hot young women, running around helpless and screaming for their lives. But Spicy Witch Productions is turning the slasher genre on its head in their new repertory season at The Clemente, by exploring the fetishization of violence through the lens of an all-female creative team.
Since we last caught up with Betty Tompkins– the downtown artist best known for her “Fuck Paintings,” she’s been doing what an established artist should be doing, showing her work at art shows and galleries galore. But for most of her career, as we learned, Tompkins was subject to censorship, sexism, and flat-out rejection not just from gallerists and the art world, but from first- and second-wave feminists too. Nevertheless, Tompkins kept painting nether regions and money shots, all of it sourced from porn. “The problem is, I’m a slut for painting,” she said.
We heard all this and more at “A Woman’s Greatest Weapon is Her Tongue,” a Q&A held in conjunction with Tompkins’s new solo exhibition of “Word Paintings,” which depict some of the “awfully familiar” words used to describe women. (“WOMEN Words Phrases Stories” is on view at the FLAG Art Foundation through May 14).