July 25, 2008

Rolling along with Bucky

I think we all know I have a soft spot for animals and road trips, (my recent solo show SAFARI AMERICANA: SCENES OF DELIGHT pretty much proves it), and I recently saw another artist's take on those two subjects that are close to my heart, so I'd like to introduce you to David Dechant's Bucky Rolls Like That (pictured below).

Bucky Rolls Like That is an ode to Rauschenburg, since there is the presence of taxidermy, there is a tire, and the lines between sculpture and painting are blurred (see Rauschenburg's "Monogram" pictured right). Dechant adds a playfulness to his subject. The vibrant pigments painted on the bear's fur, nose, and even tongue, give the beast a surreal beauty and humor. David also painted the tire treads white and repeated their geometry in three substantial panels mounted on the wall behind the piece, using that visual language to promise us a nice flowing ride. And by adding exaggerated, ornamental low-rider style handlebars, Dechant poses the question, is Bucky the bear simply roadkill? or is he actually in control of the ride?

And by using Rauschenberg's Combines as a point of departure, David is practicing his own manifesto he calls Varyism by arranging art objects spatially in order to construct intellectual, not physical, relationships. Bucky Rolls Like That is constructed as an interactive arrangement, where the visceral and the elegant can coexist.

:: bogna ::

July 19, 2008

"Also I like to rock" and other cultural phenomena

It is good to live in LA. There are many reasons, one of which is the Also I like to rock series of free concerts at the Hammer Museum by FM station Indie 103.1. Last Thursday The Duke Spirit and io echo rocked the Hammer Courtyard. The Duke Spirit, one of my new favorite bands, is a tight band from London. The lead singer Liela Moss is a little Siouxsie, a little Jefferson Airplane, a little Mazzy Star, with a powerful voice in her own right. Being from London, she thought that the Hammer gig was at "a museum of hammers." No, the Hammer is definitely not "full of tools," especially if they are putting on awesome shows like this for the community. Recession, shmercession, we've got our music. As long as awesome rockers are belting it out in nice museum courtyards for free, we are all going to be okay.

I left the Hammer crowd elated, only to see massive crowds lining the streets in Westwood and feeling a fervent electricity in the air, which only meant one thing: the first screenings of the new Batman movie by Director Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight. A much anticipated film with a record-breaking opening, The Dark Knight deserves the crowds and the accolades, for it is stunning filmmaking of a dark and complex drama. It's great to see that Director Christopher Nolan, who wowed the Sundance crowd with the nonlinear indie Memento, could evolve the Batman franchise into such an intriguing realistic entity with a life of its own, far beyond hopes and expectations, and oh so satisfying. And speaking of Sundance, that's where I was when I heard of Heath Ledger's death. It was snowing and cold, I was on a festival shuttle, and some girls in the back were talking about it. It instantly felt like a tragedy, such a great loss to the film community, and I have been looking forward to seeing this final performance ever since. I've read reviews of Ledger's performance of the Joker as "Cagney meets Brando," and I have to agree, but with the caveat that it was even better and deeper than that. Unforgettable.

:: bogna ::

July 10, 2008


I was thrilled to read the review of my solo show in this month's ArtScene. Suvan Geer's review of my art has brought certain themes to my attention, themes that challenge me to grow as a person and as an artist. I am grateful for that.

Part of the reason I make art in the first place is to constantly answer the simple questions, like "who am I?" And the answers keep on coming, which in turn only make me ask more questions. I am sure I am not alone in this.

Without any further ado, here is a peak at the article.

Excerpted from ArtScene
By Suvan Geer (July 2008)
Arlene Bogna’s "Safari Americana" photographs make the viewer sink into a nostalgic reverie. She asks us to consider what it is in human nature, or the American psyche, that makes us delight in the sight of painted, three dimensional animals perched atop sign poles or hawking honey from flat bed trucks. Bogna’s images have the spontaneous feel of snapshots, yet the carefully orchestrated camera angles and artist’s repeated down-low perspective capture the sheer naive exhibitionism of the roadway animal signs.
[Click here to read the full article.]

:: bogna ::

July 3, 2008

Art as a Dangerous Conversation

Last weekend was a cultural treat. My gallery excursions included a visit to Jack Rutberg Gallery where I got to hear Jack Rutberg speak. And I followed up a day at the galleries with an evening at the REDCAT theater to see The Actors Gang do a stage adaptation of George Orwell's 1984. And I realized a common theme: Art can be a very dangerous conversation.
First of all, Jack Rutberg is an amazing gallerist with an insightful and encyclopedic knowledge of art and art history (thank goodness he is writing a book!). It was interesting to hear Mr. Rutberg explain how revolutionary Francisco Zuniga's work was in his time, and how the artist had to fight exile because of it. I remember seeing quite a few Zuniga sculptures in the front gallery over the years, now I know it is one of Jack Rutberg's many ways of acknowledging art and its place in our history, beyond the aesthetics. Mr. Rutberg went on to discuss how totalitarian regimes always try to suppress art, which only demonstrates how truly vital art is to our cultures and lives. The lesson was clear: no matter what, art is beyond necessity.
This was the perfect conversation to prep me for my evening with The Actors Gang's stage adaptation of George Orwell's 1984. Apparently the project came about when director Tim Robbins revisited 1984 and realized that the work is even more relevant today than it was eight years ago, twenty years ago, or even sixty years ago. And the stage adaptation is literally a dangerous conversation: Wesley is being interrogated and tortured by a wing of the government that prosecutes "thought criminals." It is truly a dystopian world of totalitarianism, where the administration monitors all your behavior and thoughts, meeting all forms of self-expression with extreme cruelty. Tim Robbins also pointed out the totalitarian logic that wars are fought not to conquer other nations, but rather to deplete the aggressor nation's resources so that its own citizens are suppressed. The Actors Gang has traveled all over the world with this piece, from Athens to Hong Kong, and they claim that international audiences are clamoring "to find out what is really going on with America."
The conversation shifted this weekend, when I read "'Wall-E': A stealth Michael Moore-style attack on America?" in Patrick Goldstein's blog in the LA Times. I was already planning to see Wall-E over the weekend, and I'm glad I did. I thought it was a brilliant film and story, and whenever they come out with Wall-E plushy toys, I will definitely need one because I am a fan. But was it a scathing attack? No. But it was social criticism. Which is healthy. And entertaining. Read anything by Mark Twain to know why. And Mark Twain happens to be on this month's cover of Time Magazine (finally) with the cover story: "The Dangerous Mind of Mark Twain." Now that's a conversation!

:: bogna ::