I know as much about art as my 61-year-old Persian mother knows about Young Thug, which is basically nothing. I took one art history class in college, and I used flash cards with weird acronyms to remember the painters and wrote my entire essay about the way the particular piece of art (I think it was a Degas ballerina or something?) made me feel FEELINGS. That being said, that’s pretty much the way I still look at all art—using an emotional litmus test (with a heavy dose of levity). So, over the weekend I got to see a very awesome group show curated (just so you know “curated” is the worst word in the English language but “put together” didn’t sound ART enough) by Melissa McCaig-Welles that features 21 New York and California-based female artists who focus on confrontational works that mix fine art with a street aesthetic. “Push It” opened on Thursday at ArtNow in New York City, so I went to it and then wrote how I felt about it.
(Photos by Andrew Tyson)
This is how I imagine you’re supposed to look while staring at art. I’m looking at a piece by Sofia Bachvarova called “Trepidation of One.” I like it because at first glance it has a very classical feel like it’s about Ophelia or some other tragic Shakespeare figure, but upon closer inspection it’s confusing and dark and vaguely sexual—much like most things in my life.
I usually don’t love it when a person who is well-known for something tries to do five other things because it’s greedy and annoying and sometimes kind of embarrassing (I’m looking at you Lucy Hale. You’re so good on Pretty Little Liars! Leave the pop country to T. Swift, OK?), but in the case of Alison Mosshart, I almost wish she would do MORE things—like write a play and create a line of condiments and become a professional wrestler, because she is pretty much the coolest person on the planet. Her art is great. She makes these weird, twisted figure studies like some F-ed up, chain-smoking Picasso.
Also, this painted tapestry she made is fantastic, and I would definitely hang it in my study if I, in fact, had a study to hang things in. (It would also feature an overstuffed red velvet arm chair and a wet bar stocked with aged Scotch.)
Sometimes I find the best way to relate to art is to really imagine yourself in the work. Life imitates art and all that. This piece by SWOON is called “Bangkok.”
Ditto for this piece called “Holiday Inn Express” by Miss Mosshart, which helped me channel my inner angst.
These three pieces by Christina Neener were some of my favorites. They are cartoonish, disturbing and erotic, and they have amazing titles like “Man Eater,” “Starving Artist,” and “Mutual Fucking Mistake,” which could double as the title of my memoirs.
This is a piece called “Beauty In Decay” painted on a mirror by Mia Tyler (daughter of Steven and sister of Liv), and it gave new meaning to the idea of laughing at yourself.
These photos by Katrina Del Mar actually kind of sum up the whole show: non-traditional depictions of female characteristics. These women are beautiful and imperfect and definitely unlike the current feminine ideal. All of the pieces in the show were like this—decidedly female but also full of non-traditional female aspects like aggressive sexuality and thinly-veiled cynicism.
In conclusion, women (here represented by myself, my friend Alice Barlow, and the work of Tracy Piper) are complicated, and this group show is a great visual representation of that.