A project I have been working on with Barbara Hammond has been published by Antenna's Press Street Press and is available for $10 here.
The book is a selection of letters written from an established artist to an emerging one (who also happen to be aunt and niece) from 2002-2012. The letters are written after the fact, but all the events, dates, locations...etc are accurate. The letters touch on themes of love, art, travel, sacrifice and more. Photographs I made at the time of the letters accompany them in this chapbook.
I spent December in Paris, in Montmartre in a dark flat on
la rue des Abbesses. A sister of a friend in Dublin owned
the place and gave me the key and I flew over, hoping, I
don’t know, hoping for beauty. I love Paris, its metro,
its people, its indifference. I walked and walked and
lived on the edge of loneliness most of the time. I had a
few visitors, some romance, and yet, it felt, as it always
feels to me in Paris, that I am looking for people long-
dead, salons long-silent, ideas long-discarded. I was looking for the new in an old place, a place preserved so that the old still clings to the buildings, the gravestones, the Moulin Rouge sign, the boucheries, the cafés, the doorknobs, the motorbikes, old/new, past/present – but no one to talk to – no one seeking me out and no one to seek out.
I had a friend visit from New York – or, I never know what
to call a friend who you are dating, but anyhow it
was that kind of friend. He arrived, and I had changed in
the months apart, and maybe he had too, and we faced days
ahead of us, stuck in this dark, cramped flat, without the
closeness he had been expecting and hoping to find for his
trip to Paris, and we had a sobering discussion, awkward
and heavy, and the next morning he went out and he didn’t
come back for hours. I wasn’t certain he’d come back at
all. I’d disappointed him and, wrongly, I felt irritated
that he had expected anything else. I was not being the
bigger person. He found me at a café and handed me a bag.
He’d been shopping. Inside: a small set of watercolor
paints and a sketchbook. He asked for a cup of water from
the waiter. I watched the side of his face as the late
morning light touched his cheek and the side of his nose
and glinted against the frame of his glasses. He had
bought new boots for his trip to Paris. He had been very
excited to come. He started with a blank page, uncreased
it, and looked across the street, then down at the paper.
In a few minutes he had layered on color and shape and a
street scene emerged, impressionistic. The boulangerie,
the fruit stand, the shoeshine shop with its proprietor
leaning against its sign – the sky above.
He pushed the paper over to me. You try. I can’t, I said.
The thing is, you can’t go wrong. You can’t make a
mistake. You’re creating something new. He was hurt, and
he was trying, in his own words, in his southwestern
accent, to “turn it around.” We read to each other in the
evening from a history of Paris. We found the catacombs in
Montparnasse, get lost in the cool dark caves with its
piles of skulls and limbs and clavicles, and stumbled back
out into the light a few hours later, very glad to be
alive. I wish I could have loved him. “Bad timing. Wrong
guy maybe. Wrong time definitely,” he said. “It’s okay.”
Such goodness should be rewarded, I
thought, though the reward it sought I couldn’t give --
but when I think of Paris,
I either think of myself, alone, exploring, or I
think of him, teaching me how to watercolor, and
demonstrating a kind of manhood I had never seen or heard
Cities can break you. You have to be careful where you go
and who you travel with. I think, at some point, I’m going
to have to stop moving, but I don’t know how, and it feels
like it would be a little like death. Some part of me
would fold up and disappear. But I know that if I keep
moving nothing truly new can happen anymore. I can see and
experience and taste and discover but I will not heal.
I want to go home but I don’t know where that is. It isn’t
Dublin; it isn’t Paris; it definitely isn’t Wisconsin; and
it isn’t even New York. But it has to exist, doesn’t it?
It seems everybody should have someplace
that feels like home.
*excerpt is from a letter that is not in this volume of the book.
I will have new collage, video and installation work in a solo show at The Front next month.
Reception: May 13th, 6-10pm
Saturdays and Sundays 12-5pm
May 13th - June 4th, 2017
The Front, New Orleans, LA
Photo and video collages focused on the mystical nature of landscape with an element of the impact humans have on it. I find patterns within the scenery and emphasize it through structural manipulation of the imagery. I utilize geometric obstruction to interrupt the landscapes, creating a sense of the sublime in conflict with human-made order. I try to find the intersection of the imperceptible forces within nature and the human tendency to try to control it. I cut up, puncture, sew into and rearrange visual elements to create a new environment. Much of the source material was generated while visiting nature preserves around the world. I fear that the privilege of enjoying these uninterrupted landscapes is one that may not exist one day. In addition to the imagery I generate, I use found slides and photos in the collage.
I am also hosting a film program that will run congruously to my show.
A 48 minute program of short films on the themes of feminism, the environment and mysticism. Works by Stephanie Barber, Janie Geiser, Eve-Lauryn LaFountain, Selina Trepp, Angela Ellsworth, Shana Moulton, Saige Rowe, and Florencia & Maria Guerberof.
To Be Old by Stephanie Barber
Cathode Garden by Janie Geiser
Cracks and Smacks by Selina Trepp
Kicking up Dust by Angela Ellsworth
Smudge Series by Eve-Lauryn LaFountain
Decorations of the mind II by Shana Moulton
three short physical movements followed by a general lull by Saige Rowe
January 28th - March 4th, 2017 at Box 13, Houston, TX
The first was a group show of Front members which opened just after the inauguration of the 45th President, with all resulting utopian or dystopian imaginings that event inspired. It was part of our collective exchange program in which Box 13 showed their work at The Front in June of 2016.
"Lost Archives", digital video, 4min 17sec, 2015, right projection
"Talisman" window installation, each member included a small object or objects of personal significance. Mine was an arrangement of found animal bones and feathers.
I'm Your Cannibal
February 10th - March 5th, 2017 at The Front, New Orleans, LA
In this show, Front member artists were paired with a fellow member and created a new artwork in the style of the other artist. I made work in the style of Jonathan Traviesa.
HEKS/SMUK is a two-part show at The Front by Michael Arcos and Ryn Wilson with the connecting element being a sound collaboration titled Gentle Touch. This show runs from August 13 - September 4th, 2016. Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays 12-5pm.
HEKS (by Ryn Wilson) is a meditation on invented myth, magic and ritual through photography, video and sound collage. This work considers both a conflicted human reverence and persecution towards that which is not understood. HEKS was born out of an observation of the way that the term “witch” has evolved in recent popular culture. A word, which in the past was used to accuse women of dissent and evil that would send them towards horrific fates, has become something that describes feminine power now in a more positive light. These works utilize a cinematic style combining landscape, geometry and symbolism to evoke a sense of mysticism and the supernatural with a strong, female protagonist at the helm.
SMUK (by Michael Arcos) The first of the "Instagram Doom Wave" genre. SMUK is a video triptych viewed through photon rejuvenation masks. The installation gives the viewer a chance to act as voyeur to the humor, sadness, fear, pain, love, lust, obsession, addiction and confusion expressed through one man's Instagram account.
“Gentle Touch, a limited edition of 13 cassette tapes, accompanies the exhibition. A subdued explosion of synth, drum machine, and sampling, Michael and Ryn create an atmospheric, auditory experience to complement the works on view. In a handsome, ethereal, 32 minute special bundle of repurposed white plastic church cassette tapes, Gentle Touch will reach you in unexpected ways.” -PH
Ryn Wilson is a multi-media artist living and working in New Orleans. She works in photography and video, often incorporating other techniques such as collage, sewing, painting, drawing and installation. Her themes revolve around human/nature in conflict with social constructs. She received her BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her MFA from the University of New Orleans. Ryn is a costume designer and has been a member of the artist run gallery, The Front, since 2014 where she exhibits, curates and co-founded an annual shorts film festival. rynwilson.com
Michael Arcos, raised in Miami, FL, began his film career editing on VHS and has been working in film and video for over a decade. His films have screened at: Calgary Underground Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Cucalorus Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Glasgow Short Film Festival, Gasparilla Film Festival, Borscht Film Festival and others. Arcos most recently wrote, directed, edited and created the sound design for his narrative short Dream Throat. He was commissioned to create live performance installations for site-specific screenings of this film at Prospect 3 New Orleans at The Hotel Monteleone 2014, The Cucalorus Film Festival 2015 and The Standard Hotel in New York City 2016. Arcos currently lives and works in New Orleans where he formed Dream Throat Productions and S.L.I. Films LLC. He continues to focus on creating new work through film, sound design and animation.
This Saturday we will be hosting a shorts film festival at The Front.
We live in a contemporary sphere where many people are connected through social networks, and a person’s identity can be traced through their virtual trail of web-surfing breadcrumbs. These films express the aesthetics of social media webs, the entanglement of internet content, and the non-linear properties of hypermedia.
Columns by Justin Lincoln
Sharing Lazy Gains by Mores McWreath
Google Rhapsody by Billy Sims
We will announce the best in show selection on the night of the screening. The winner will receive a $200 prize. Featuring work by: Alex Anikina
Dylan Cruz Azaceta
Jurors: Kevin Baer Vanessa Centeno Cristina MolinaRyn Wilson