PRESS RELEASE: "Disrupted Realism" at the Stanek Gallery, Philadelphia, curated by John Seed


PHILADELPHIA, November 16, 2017 – Stanek Gallery is set to spotlight world leaders of disrupted realism, a contemporary painting movement, in upcoming winter exhibition. The group exhibition titled, “Disrupted Realism” is being organized by writer and curator, John Seed, and will feature a selection of 16 international contemporary painters who have taken disruption to a high level of expressiveness. “Disrupted Realism” will be on view to the public January 5 to February 24, 2018 at the Old City-based gallery.

“In the past few decades, realism in painting has made a comeback. As traditional skills return, a number of artists in the U.S. and Europe have been inspired to challenge the rigor of their realist practice by disrupting their imagery,” adds Seed. “This exhibition will be the first time that disruption is set apart from other trends in modern art and framed as a distinctive movement that deserves further examination.”

Sixteen artists from across the world will be brought together by Stanek Gallery. Philadelphia-based painter Alex Kanevsky, recognized world leader of this movement, will exhibit alongside his teacher and Stanek Gallery artist, Bruce Samuelson, spotlighting the importance of Philadelphia artists and institutions on a world stage. Another Stanek Gallery artist, Valerio D’Ospina is among the Philadelphia-based artists with international presence that will also be featured in the upcoming exhibition. Along with Kanevsky, Samuelson, and D’Ospina, “Disrupted Realism” will include:
·      
    Justin Duffus
·      Anne Harris
·      Catherine Kehoe
·      Daniel Ochoa
·      James Bland
·      Justin Bower
·      Kai Samuel-Davis
·      Lou Ros
·      Nicolas V. Sanchez
·      Radu Belcin
·      Robert Birmelin
·      Stanka Kordic
·      Stephanie Pierce

"Life emulates art and our world today has its own version of disrupted realism. This group of highly skilled artists is responding viscerally to the world around them and are producing high quality paintings that capture this feeling so profoundly that it resonates with all of us," says Katherine Stanek, Owner of Stanek Gallery. "We at Stanek Gallery recognize the relevance of what is happening in the world today, both technologically as well as artistically and where those two worlds converge.  This exhibition is an example of that insight."

Exhibition details for “Disrupted Realism”:
Public Opening Reception
First Friday January 5th, 5 - 9pm

Collector’s Preview
Thursday January 4th, 5 - 8pm

Location
Stanek Gallery
242 N. 3rd St,
Philadelphia, PA 19106


About Stanek Gallery
Stanek Gallery, located in the heart of Philadelphia's historic Old City, was founded by distinguished artists Katherine Stanek and Deborah Fine to reinvent the gallery experience and become a pre-eminent force in Philadelphia's art landscape. With a signature museum style exhibition program and collaborations with professional curators, Stanek Gallery displays a unique collection of artwork of exceptional craftsmanship in a wide range of styles and subject matter. For more information, visit www.stanekgallery.com. 
# # #
Press Contacts:
Jessica Stanek
Public Relations Manager
609-634-4450

Sheryl Raskin

215-219-2410 

RIP My HuffPost Blog (2010-2017)


My first blog for the HuffingtonPost Arts page, Picasso's 'Recession-Proof' Harem, was published on May 13th, 2010. Seven years later, on July 17th, 2017 my final blog appeared: Bradford J. Salamon: Rembrandt, Typewriters and Cheeseburgers. The day after Bradford's blog appeared I celebrated my sixtieth birthday and also made the decision that it was time to leave the HuffingtonPost.

There are several reasons for my decision including the fact that I have been able to say much of what I wanted to say. On top of that, the urgency of American politics has distracted me and most of my readers. Finally, and most importantly, the HuffingtonPost has new management that has moved "contributors" (volunteer bloggers) into the background. Posts by contributors like myself are now rarely promoted, listed on the HuffPost verticals, included in the publication's search bar or promoted by the Huffpost on social media.

It is time to move on.

My first few years of blogging were golden. The ability to say what I wanted the way I wanted to was priceless. Also, the support and guidance of Kimberly Brooks, the Founding Editor of the Arts Page, made the experience especially vital and fun. It needs to be said that Kimberly, who is herself a painter, created phenomenal opportunities everyone who wrote for the HuffingtonPost Arts page and for the artists whose works were included in its blogs. She did it all as a volunteer and gave some unforgettable parties along the way.


L to R: HuffingtonPost Arts Founding Editor Kimberly Brooks with bloggers John Seed and Daniel Maidman, May 2012


Blogging is truly a social practice and during my seven life-changing years with the HuffPost I met truly exceptional people I couldn't have met any other way. And you know who you are...Yes, I most often blogged about representational art because it was the "low-hanging fruit" of the art world and there were so many exceptional artists that deserved to be written about. I have tried to do what I can to shine the spotlight on artists and exhibitions that I found worthy and inspiring. 

Here are a few things I am particularly proud of and some statistics. Over a seven year span I wrote an posted over 360 blogs, which means I blogged roughly once a week. The blogs included 112 interviews,  8 memorials, roughly 20 blogs about Bay Area art and artists, and numerous profiles, reviews, commentaries and satires. One blog—on iPhone photography—received 1 million page views in a 24-hour period. Another led directly to the sale of over $100k of paintings for an artist who does not wish to be named. 

My blog led to my being a finalist for a Creative Capital Award in Art Writing, landed me on the board of an artist's Foundation—The Sam Francis Foundation—and also resulted in opportunities to curate exhibitions. It opened up opportunities to write for other publications including Art Ltd Magazine, Poets and Artists and Hyperallergic.  It also led to getting my portrait painted,  and naturally I blogged that experience.  And did I mention the videos for Google Art and Culture? 

Blogging brought me friends, frenemies and enemies across the United States and the world: I have had wonderful correspondences with blog readers in Turkey, Iran, Russia and Israel. One artist, who did not like the type of art I was blogging about, told me "You are damaging the art world." Many other comments were much kinder. 


My most popular blog was a satire "Artist's Statements of the Old Masters."

Yes, I am continuing to write and will hopefully post blogs from time to time on a few other platforms. Catalog essays are now a specialty and I hope to do more magazine work. It's always good to set goals higher, and I would like to write stronger, deeper more polished work in the future. You will see whatever I write shared on Facebook and archived at www.johnseed.com.

Thank you for reading this and for your interest. Your readership is precious to me.

Below: a video containing highlights from my first year of blogging for the HuffingtonPost.






What Does a Jasper Johns Flag Stand For?

Let’s start by being factual. Since creating his first American flag painting in 1954—two years after being honorably discharged from the Army—Jasper Johns has made over 40 works based on the flag including monochrome and triple flag variations. Johns has said that these works are both “painted flags and paintings of a flag.” As a boy, Johns was told by his father that he had been named in honor of Sergeant William Jasper, a hero who had recovered and re-flown a Moultrie flag at Fort Sullivan on June 28, 1776, after a British shell destroyed its flagstaff.



The Fort Moultrie Flag

So, just to correct a widely-held Art World myth, Jasper Johns is not descended from a hero who rescued an American flag. Yes, Johns is named for a patriot who saved a flag, but it was the one you see above, not the revolutionary stars and stripes (see example below)



IMAGE: HISTORY.COM
An American flag circa 1777

With that correction in place it’s time to talk about what is known about why Johns painted the flag and what he wanted it to stand for. That will take us into a situation where facts are sparse, meanings are murky and questions will multiply. A good place to start would seem to be considering what the artist himself has said about the origins and meanings of his flag. Then again, when David Sylvester interviewed Johns in 1965 the artist mainly offered up trivialities: the idea came to him in a dream, it was painted with encaustic since enamel didn’t dry quickly enough, etc. etc.
But if you listen carefully to what Johns says 2:20 into the video clip of the Sylvester interview something interesting happens. Johns breaks into nervous laughter as he offers this anecdote: “My Aunt Gladys, when she read the thing in the magazine, wrote me a letter saying she was so proud of me because she had worked so hard to instill some respect for the American flag in her students... and she was so glad (breaking into laughter) that the mark had been left (more laughter) on me.”
The point that cracks Johns up—that his aunt Gladys had tried to instill respect for the American flag—is a telling one. For the record, after living with his paternal grandparents until the age of nine (his parents had divorced when he was a toddler) Johns had been raised by his aunt during adolescence and also taught by her—along with two other students—in a one-room Georgia schoolhouse. As his dismissive laughter indicates, Johns later moved far beyond his provincial education. By the time he made his first flag Johns was an artist and cosmopolitan living in New York; a gay man whose aesthetics and interests were increasingly shaped by his exposure to European avant-garde ideas, especially those of Marcel Duchamp.
It is commonly said that Jasper Johns made his greatest works by placing common signs and symbols—numbers, maps, flags etc.—into a Dada context. If you aren’t familiar with Dada, please consider the following:
Dada was the first conceptual art movement where the focus of the artists was not on crafting aesthetically pleasing objects but on making works that often upended bourgeois sensibilities and that generated difficult questions about society, the role of the artist, and the purpose of art. - theartstory.org
What had European Dada artists done with potent signs and symbols? German Dada artists notably offered up challenging imagery that protested the rise of Nazism. The photomontage seen below, published by John Heartfield in 1934, reconfigures a medieval image of a Christian martyr broken by a wheel with the Nazi swatstika to make a chilling analogy concerning Nazi persecutions. As the world now knows, Heartfield’s work was shockingly prophetic.


John Heartfield, The Middle Ages and the Third Reich, 1934 photomontage

Heartfield’s scathing collage was meant to be utterly clear and uncompromising. His goal was to subvert the triumphal implications of the swatstika as it was used in Nazi propaganda. Johns, on the other hand, has consistently been the author of Dada-infused images that are distinctly and intentionally vague in their meanings. Even though his flags and targets appeared after the first McCarthy hearings (which began on April 22, 1954) Johns makes no direct reference to them.
Are there oblique references in a Johns flag or target? To patriotism, paranoia and the subjectivity of truth? Likely yes. Does the artist want you tell you anything specific about himself or his personal views? Definitely not. As he once said “To me, self-description is a calamity.”

In regards to Johns’ flags, when seeing them in person It is interesting to look closely and see the fragments of yellowed newspaper text peeking through. In the case of the 1967 flag on view at The Broad in Los Angeles, there are bits and pieces of the New York Times. Yes, these words were once part of a coherent front page, carefully contextualized and ordered. In a Johns flag painting they are reduced to fragments and gibberish, organized with frustrating subjectivity by a creative mind. Like the nervous laughter Johns emits when talking about the letter from his Aunt Gladys, the imagery of his flags is meant to deflect further exploration. Bits and pieces are all you can expect to get.
At least he isn’t trying to indoctrinate you to some fixed set of beliefs, right? You have to think for yourself. Interestingly, the efforts that his aunt made to engender a respect for the flag actually worked, but not in the manner that she expected. For Johns, “respect” seems to involve an active and ongoing commitment to seeking and questioning ideas and values.



PHOTO: JOHN SEED
An American flag carried by a pickup truck in Southern California

Perhaps the most important thing that Jasper Johns did with his flag paintings was to take the American flag out of its normal context. By bringing it into the gallery—and museums shortly followed—he was telling all of us that it could and should be seen in a fresh way. I was thinking about this the other day when I saw an American flag in the back of a pickup truck parked near my local market. Having a flag in the back of a truck—and I have been seeing a lot of this lately—also seems to be an exercise in taking the flag out of its normal context. When you take the flag off the flagpole or out of the classroom there is a kind of “claiming” going on that suggests it now means something extraordinary.
The American flag played a personal role for Johns when he painted it: to open up the symbolic richness of what had once been presented to him as a fixed symbol. If you really think about it, Johns is ultimately interested in liberty, just as his ancestor Sergeant William Jasper was: that was in fact the single word present on the flag that he rescued. Liberty includes free thought and free speech, and Jasper Johns’ flags were born from those values and also encourage them on the part of those who view and contemplate his art.
In regards, to the flag I saw on the black truck, I’m not sure entirely what kind of patriotic values its driver wants to celebrate with his display. I didn’t stop to ask him. I’m pretty sure he and others like him who display their flags on pickups, might be interested in a very different type of conversation than the open-ended dialog that Jasper Johns clearly respects.
Displaying a flag to flaunt your patriotism is very different from painting one to celebrate your freedom to do so.
A Note:
“Something Resembling Truth,” a survey exhibition of the works of Jasper Johns, will be coming to the Broad Museum in Los Angeles in February of 2018.

On Art in the Age of the ‘Attention Economy’


DIGITAL COLLAGE BY JOHN SEED
Art lives through attention, right? Without a pair of eyeballs looking at it—hopefully eyeballs that are working in concert with a focused, attentive brain—a painting is just a piece of canvas smeared with colored mud. Or, in the digital age, where paintings are increasingly viewed on museum websites and social media, a hi-resolution jpeg.
Speaking of attention, if you made it past my first two sentences that is something of an accomplishment. My first editor at the HuffingtonPost once told me that for every 100 clicks (pages views) only one reader would read my blog in its entirety. That’s a grim statistic, but likely an accurate one. We are living in an age when content is everywhere and attention is scarce. So, if you need to quit reading now and check your e-mail, I entirely understand.
“Like” it or not (pun intended) visual art is also content, especially when presented on the web. So although you may want to think of art as somehow exceptional—and when experienced in person it often is—artists working today have to recognize that when their work appears on the net it is part of a virtual tsunami. The research firm Deloitte estimates that 2.5 trillion digital images were shared or stored last year. Many of them ended up on Instagram—posted by one of more than 700 million users—where they face a 1.1% “engagement rate.” In other words, an image posted on Instagram has about the same chance of being “liked” as this blog has of being entirely read by you.
It’s time for visual artists to do some serious study of a digital age phenomenon that has been called the “Attention Economy” In essence, attention economics posits that human attention is scarce and that our receptiveness to information—both on the web and off the web—is is becoming increasingly limited. What are the implications for art and artists, especially those who are depending on their personal websites and social media to disseminate their work? It’s also worth asking a related question: is the glut of imagery also changing the way that attention is paid to actual works of art in museums and galleries?
Perhaps some of what the marketing people already know about the attention economy can be applied to the presentation of art. For example, one expert says that there are eight “intangibles” that can be helpful in getting the attention of consumers—for art, translate that to viewers or collectors—and engaging them more deeply in whatever is being presented (or sold).
They are:
Immediacy, personalization, interpretation, authenticity, accessibility, embodiment, patronage and findability.
What follows are some brief thoughts on how these “intangibles” borrowed from attention economic theory might relate to or be applied to the situation of visual art, both on the web and in person.
Immediacy:
Yes, immediacy matters more and more in a distracted world: Andy Warhol sure saw this coming. Can you think of any other artist who stripped his art down so completely and effectively? When Warhol famously stated that Pop art was about “liking things,” it almost sounds like he could have invented Facebook, where the immediacy of images—and headlines—is key. One recent study indicated that 6 out of 10 Facebook links are shared by people who haven’t read what they are sharing. First impressions now matter more than ever, and that includes first impressions made by works of art.
Personalization:
It’s a Chipotle world out there, and people want their burritos, their lattes—and their interactions with art—to reflect “who they are.” Maybe that is why so many selfies get taken with certain large, shiny balloon dogs. If you want to get really depressed about this, read Sarah Boxer’s piece in the Atlantic about how Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room “offers the chance to capture the lonely existential experience of infinity and send it to others as a selfie.” Narcissists have always done well as artists—in fact they have excelled—but facing the challenges of increasingly “self-focused” audiences who want to be flattered by the experience of art adds a new wrinkle to the artist/viewer dynamic.
Interpretation:
If you are an artist, you probably fantasize that people are going to work hard to find meaning in your work. The truth is that finding meaning is a job that fewer and fewer seem to take the time to do: when interpretations are provided people will eat them up. Offering back-stories, historical context, interpretations and anecdotes to support works of art is becoming essential. The people who create museum labels, audio tours and apps know this well. To get an idea what state of the art “interpretation” now consists of, check out and download the SFMOMA app which includes picks for “must-see” artworks and “Immersive Walks.”
Authenticity:
There is a glimmer of hope in this “intangible.” The public is hungry for “real” works of art, and the popularity of museums that hold masterpieces reflects this. Visits to great museums are pilgrimages to see the authentic, iconic works whose digital Doppelgängers have proliferated like crazy on the web. That has to be a good thing, right?
Of course, when greatness is a few feet away everybody pulls out their phone, as this throng of visitors to the Louvre does to snap photos of the Mona Lisa. In the construct of the “Attention Economy” famous works of art hog the limelight.

PHOTO: BO BARTLETT
Photographing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, Paris

Accessibility:
Yes, before the internet there were posters, magazines, notecards, books and calendars, but nothing has multiplied the presence of art images like the net. To give credit where it is due, museums and other cultural institutions have done a phenomenal job in providing access to art images and experiences on the web. For example, the last time I saw the Sistine Chapel I remember being jammed into a hot, crowded space and being shushed by guards. In many ways, the Virtual Sistine Chapel is better than the experience of the real one, and all you need is an internet connection to visit.
This unprecedented access to art images is both a joy and a problem. With so much to look at, its hard to know what to look at. Curation—both in the real world and online—is critical.
Embodiment:
I take this to mean that actual, physical works of art will always have the greatest pull on our attention. What does this mean for artists? However great your website is, if you don’t exhibit actual works in public your career will be limited. If anything, works of art that are especially tactile, complicated and satisfying in their physical realizations will likely seem even more satisfying in the future: that is if people can be brought to look at them.
Patronage:
Patronage means that people like the feeling of spending money and letting others know that they have spent money. Is it any wonder that vanity museums are thriving in the Attention Economy and that winners of multi-million dollar art auctions share their prizes on Instagram? In Late Stage Capitalism wealth—in and of itself— has become a vestigial form of aristocracy, garnering attention and swaying taste through its social magnetism. Appealing to the vanity of patrons and/or associating art with elite patronage and wealth remains a powerful way to focus attention. How good is this kind of “attention” for art: that’s another discussion entirely...

VIA INSTAGRAM
Yusaku Maezawa with his $110 million dollar Basquiat

Findability:
If the internet has made a vast array of art images more accessible, consider this: it has also made every other kind of image more available. If you care about art, you should be thinking about ways to make art stand out in your community... to be “findable” in new and attention getting ways. Murals, Street Art and public projects do this, and I thought Eric Fischl’s “America Now and Here” project, which featured 18-wheeled big rig “museums” that traveled across the country was pretty great too. My point: for art to be found, a greater effort needs to be made to make it stand out.
Even in the image-glutted Attention Economy, there will always be ways to find art that don’t involve Google.