"The Strand that Holds us Together," 2014, by Carlee Fernandez

“The Strand that Holds us Together,” 2014, by Carlee Fernandez

I must confess to an uneasy relationship with contemporary art. I often get the sense that I’m not in on the joke, or the materials seem strangely chosen, or it’s technically proficient, but cerebral. It’s probably generational, but much of the new art out there just doesn’t grab me. Or, worse, it’s a mild turn-off.

And so I approached the show at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC–a showcase for six young Latino artists, “Staging the Self”–with mild trepidation. Ninth in the Portraiture Now series, the artists on view are looking to “…rid portraiture of its reassuring tradition that fixes a person in time and space.” Right off the bat, I’m thinking with my geezer brain, “What’s wrong with time and space?”

"forapieceofapple," 2013, by David Antonio Cruz

“forapieceofapple,” 2013, by David Antonio Cruz

The show opens with work by Carlee Fernandez, born in 1973 in Santa Ana, California. For some reason this lovely young woman chose to insert two plugs of bear fur up her nose as part of her “Bear Studies” series of photographs. And for some equally unknown reason the curators of this show chose to put this work on the cover of the program as its signature image. I’m not including it here, but if you’re curious, just google “Bear Studies.” Nor will I include her semi-nude antics in a bear suit, all of this having to do with her “challenging her physical identity,” and “exploring the boundaries of individuality.” As a card-carrying curmudgeon, this kind of talk makes me nervous. But Fernandez did reach me—and held me—with a striking image entitled, “The Strand that Holds Us Together,” 2014, an archival pigment print on rag. Here, her hand and her father’s hand appear side by side, almost as if they’re one person’s hands—a moving portrait of father and daughter.

"Mom healing me from my fear of iguanas by taking me to the park and feeding them every weekend, ca. 1994," 2012, by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira

“Mom healing me from my fear of iguanas by taking me to the park and feeding them every weekend, ca. 1994,” 2012, by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira

David Antonio Cruz, born 1974, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, explores “…untold aspects of the Puerto Rican diaspora experience,” bringing to it a “queer” perspective. This is intriguing, but the work is either so much an in-joke, or I am so impossibly straight, that I couldn’t see anything uniquely queer in it. I did enjoy the work—assemblages of crockery, fabric, ephemera, and spilled paint with cunning little portraits tucked away behind the ruched fabric. “forapieceofapple,” 2013, enamel, gold leaf, fabric, broken plates, paper planes made from Ellis Island documents, was an absorbing and unusual piece of art.

“Mom curing me from the evil eye, 1991,” 2012, by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira

“Mom curing me from the evil eye, 1991,” 2012, by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira

The work of Karen Miranda Rivadeneira, born in 1983, in New York City, deals with “identity and intimacy” as she restages scenes from her childhood that were never recorded and may never have actually happened. With captions penned at the bottom as in a family album, this work presented very specific and personal scenes. I particularly liked “Mom healing me from my fear of iguanas by taking me to the park and feeding them every weekend, ca. 1994,” a 2012 digital C-print scanned from a 6X6 negative. I can easily identify with Karen’s rigid body as the iguanas swarm her banana-wielding mother. The banyan tree seems to sympathize with Karen, enveloping her in its roots. The mix of reportage and fiction here feels authentic and  touching. Evidently Karen and her mother really did travel to Ecuador for the iguana cure. “Mom curing me from the evil eye, 1991,” also 2012, recreates another scene from childhood in a wonderfully evocative image.

"Duplicity as Identity, 50%," 2008, by Maria Martinez-Canas

“Duplicity as Identity, 50%,” 2008, by Maria Martinez-Canas

Maria Martinez-Canas, born 1960, in Havana, Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico, overlays nine images of her (in a picture taken at about the same age as her father’s photograph) on her father’s face in increasing ratios, or “incremental mixes.” Over nine images, his face, surrounded with a faint halo of her hair, gradually morphs into her face. What is meant by “duplicity” in this case? Is it a play on “duplicate,” or is the artist implying she or her father are deceptive, dishonest, or misleading? Unlike “The Strand that Holds us Together,” this series of images left me cold. Clever, yes, and beautifully produced, but these faces reflected little or no emotion. One wonders about the seemingly chilly father-daughter relationship, as in “Duplicity as Identity, 50%,” an archival pigment print mounted on aluminum, 2008.

"This is Ours--AJ," 2011, by Michael Vasquez

“This is Ours–AJ,” 2011, by Michael Vasquez

Michael Vasquez, born 1983 in St. Petersburg, Florida, gives us raw and unvarnished images of the “male world of the streets and gang life” from a “perspective of a boy growing up without a father figure.” Particularly powerful was “This is ours—AJ” (acrylic, 2011), exploding on the canvas with all of Florida’s knock-your-eye out color, as body art becomes the art. I was enchanted by the small “Hennessy Shots,” mixed media on paper, 2010. This is the piece I would have taken home, if I could. So often, I give my heart to the small works on paper.

"Hennessy Shots, " 2010, by Michael Vasquez

“Hennessy Shots, ” 2010, by Michael Vasquez

Finally, Rachelle Mozman, born 1972 in New York City, employs a “documentary style” in her “fictional narratives” in which her mother plays various roles—a pair of twins, one with darker skin, a maid, a rich woman, exploring the “conflict of vanity, race and class within her.” In “El espejo,” 2010, in her maid incarnation, the mother looks almost accusingly at the viewer, while her elegant and pale-skinned doppelganger coolly observes herself in the mirror, tucking a strand of hair into her French twist.  Again, while provocative, Mozman’s mise en scenes were remote,

"El espejo," 2010, by Rachelle Mozman

“El espejo,” 2010, by Rachelle Mozman

lacking the juicy immediacy of Rivadeniera’s, and leaving me wanting more.

See what you think and let me know.






Doris Humphrey, by Barbara Morgan, 1938

Doris Humphrey, by Barbara Morgan, 1938

Under the floating roof of the National Portrait Gallery, old and new fans of Washington DC’s preeminent dance company, Dana Tai Soon Burgess (DTSB), were treated to a new piece, “Confluence,” once again inspired by the on-going show, “Dance the Dream.” For this piece, Burgess took his inspiration from the moody 1938 portrait of modern dance pioneer Doris Humphrey by Barbara Morgan.

dana8 Fraught with psychological overtones, the image led Burgess to make this new dance expressing “an emotional terrain of the mind” whose predominant theme is the uncomfortable state brought about by short meetings—trysts—in which feelings are unresolved.

Ten dancers enter from “off stage,” elegant in Judy Hansen’s black costumes, and walk with great ceremony to stand at the far edge of the performance space. In silence, one of the figures swoops away from the others, then another, and another, until they’re briefly united, circling a spot at their feet. When the opening notes of Ernest Bloch’s “Hebraic Suite” breaks the silence, the viewer is swept away. Divided into four movements that flow into one another seamlessly, the sense of portent is palpable from the outset.

dana6In this piece, Burgess’s characteristic spare, clean lines are punctuated with sharp, pecking arm and hand gestures, and an idiosyncratic pulling motion that seems to draw an invisible thread from inert figures on the floor. Fluid, organic movements mingle and merge in hypnotic ways, the dancer’s faces showing more and more eye contact and emotion—ranging from wariness to openness to outright fear—as the dance progresses. This churning intensity propels the dancers upward into spectacular lifts and downward into curled resting positions. Twice, male dancers lift women and hold them aloft, straight as exclamation points, like “pillars of emotion,” to use Burgess’ words.

dana14While exploring the uncertainty of short relationships that “are not love, not trusting,” the dance shows us the various effects of touch—it can soothe and it can hurt. Hands caress, appear to strike, swoop in crane-like arches, and, in staccato bursts, express frustration and tension between partners. Dancers also leaned their heads on their partner’s shoulders, backs, and arms, allowing momentary respite from the mood of suspended anxiety and bringing a fleeting sweetness into the mix. Not that this sustained emotion is hard to watch. Quite the contrary. It would have been impossible to look away.

dana16The complex choreography, seemingly propelled by the swirling, eddying music, conjures bodies of water meeting, joining and flowing in sometimes gentle and sometimes turbulent ways. I was particularly struck by the complex whorl of movement in which the woman lifted the man, and another pairing in which the woman rolls her head and upper body along the outstretched arm of the man. The work is filled with many such strikingly original moments.

confluence3“Confluence” ends with a woman placing her hand on a fallen man’s body. Her expression is unreadable—does she feel victorious, dominant, or tender? It’s a moving end to a piece in which the viewer is pulled into a darkly absorbing psychological space. Doris Humphrey would have loved it!

Being able to see such exquisite work in such a fabulous setting is a privilege and a gift. We who are DTSB fans look forward to seeing this new piece performed in a traditional setting. If you’re not familiar with this treasure of a dance company, do visit their website at and make a point to see an up-coming performance. To echo, Amy Henderson, the adventurous curator of “Dancing the Dream,” you can’t have a static museum show about dance. We hope this exciting collaboration between museum and choreographer-in-residence will endure and flourish.

confluence2And, if you haven’t seen it yet, “Dancing the Dream” is on view in the National Portrait Gallery until July 13, 2014.

Photos by Jeffrey Malet of WUSA/Channel 9

















"Ty Cobb," by Joseph Kernan, 1916

“Ty Cobb,” by Joseph Kernan, 1916

Baseball season comes as a whiff of freshly cut grass every year, but especially this year, after the long, hard winter of 2013. The beauty of it all—the brilliant green field and terracotta diamond; the players’ breathtaking choreography as they catch bare-handed, pirouette and throw; the batters fanning the air; the Kabuki-masked catcher in his crouch; the pitcher strutting to the mound. I could go on and on…and I haven’t even mentioned the beer.

But I’ll spare you more hyperbole. What I will tell you is that here in the nation’s capital, there is a surprising amount of art devoted to the sport, most of it cached in the National Portrait Gallery’s third floor “Champions” collection.

"Roger Maris," by Robert Vickrey, 1961

“Roger Maris,” by Robert Vickrey, 1961

The Georgia Peach, “Ty Cobb,” oil on canvas, by Joseph F. Kernan, 1916, played in the majors for twenty-four years. A powerful, accurate hitter and fleet base runner, he perfected the “hook slide” and set a life-time record of 892 stolen bases, which held for 50 years. His lifetime batting average of .367 was never equaled and in 1936, Cobb was the first player to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Next up, “Roger Maris,” egg tempera on board, by Robert Vickrey, 1961. What a swing! And what determination in the set of his jaw. Maris was acquired by the Yankees in a 1960 trade in and promptly hit two home runs, a double, and a single, driving in four runs in his very first game. By 1961 he was in a “home run derby” with his teammate Mickey Mantle, both in the running to beat the Babe’s single season record of 60 homers. Maris hit number 61 on the last day of the season.

"Juan Marichal," by Gerald Gooch, 1966

“Juan Marichal,” by Gerald Gooch, 1966

Here is the “unorthodox catapult style” of San Francisco Giants “Juan Marichal,” acrylic on canvas, by Gerald Gooch, 1966, in all its windmill glory. Marichal pitched a one-hit shut-out against the Phillies to end the 1960 season with a total of 191 wins and was the first Latin American to be inducted into the Baseball hall of fame “via the regular selection process.”

"Casey Stengel," by Rhoda Sherbell, 1981

“Casey Stengel,” by Rhoda Sherbell, 1981

One of the greatest all-time managers, “Casey Stengel,” polychromed bronze, by Rhoda Sherbell, 1981, led the New York Yankees to ten American League pennants and seven World Series Championships in twelve seasons (1949 – 1960). When he took on the New York Mets, he declared, despite their hapless performance, “the Mets are gonna be amazing!” I love this weary-eyed, long suffering Stengel, with his noble earlobes and meticulously detailed uniform.

"Reggie Jackson," by Howard Rogers, 1974

“Reggie Jackson,” by Howard Rogers, 1974

You can almost hear the crack of the bat in “Reggie Jackson,” tempera on board, by Howard Rogers, 1974. The mighty swing of this Oakland A’s hitter–nicknamed “Mr. October,” for hitting three consecutive homers in the clinching game of the 1977 world series–drove in 563 career home runs. Known for his theatrical, out-sized personality, Jackson played in seven World Series.

"Carlton Fiske," by Susan Miller-Havens, 1993

“Carlton Fiske,” by Susan Miller-Havens, 1993

“Carleton Fiske,” oil on cotton duck, by Susan Miller-Havens, 1993, looms out of the black background, in his eyes a certain desperation. It’s clear this man plays on the edge. “You don’t play baseball,” Fiske said, “you work at it.” Fiske played 24 seasons in the American League (for Boston and the White Sox) and was one of the top hitting catchers of all time. In 1975, despite recent knee surgery and a broken arm, he blasted a twelfth inning home run to win the sixth game of the series (playing for Chicago).

Look at the eyes in “Nolan Ryan,” oil on canvas, by Ruth Munson, 1994. You can feel that 100 mile-an-hour fastball coming at you—or maybe it’s one of his killer curve balls. Check out the hand—like a ballet dancer’s port de bras. Ryan played 27 years in the majors, in both leagues. He was drafted by the Mets and helped them win their first World Series in 1969. After being traded to the Angels, he pitched four no-hitters from 1973-1975. At his retirement in 1993, he held the all-time career strike-out record of 5,714.

"Nolan Ryan," by Ruth Munson, 1994

“Nolan Ryan,” by Ruth Munson, 1994

In “Yogi Berra,” bronze, 1973, another wonderful sculpture by Rhoda Sherbell, the artist has caught this self-effacing charmer in a characteristic moment. With his furrowed brow and knowing eyes, you can almost hear him saying, “It’s too crowded. Nobody goes there anymore,”or another of his many “Yogi-isms.” In his eighteen seasons (1946 – 1963), Berra was described as a catcher who “stopped everything behind the plate and hit everything in front of it.”

"Yogi Berra," by Rhoda Sherbell, cast 2000, after 1973 original

“Yogi Berra,” by Rhoda Sherbell, cast 2000, after 1973 original

Before we leave the National Portrait Gallery, we’ll stop on the first floor and see the newly acquired portrait of baseball great, Hank Aaron. This arresting portrait by Ross Rossin, oil on canvas, 2010, greets you like an old friend as you enter the museum. The Atlanta Braves home run king was on hand at the museum to unveil the picture, as well as to celebrate his 80th birthday in February of this year. He stayed to meet with admirers and recorded this delightful accounting of memories of his father and childhood.

"Hank Aaron, " by Ross Rossin, 2010

“Hank Aaron, ” by Ross Rossin, 2010

Next, we make our way across town to the Phillips Collection, where we find one of my favorite baseball paintings, Marjorie Phillips’ “Night Baseball,” depicting a 1951 game between the Washington Senators and the New York Yankees. Wife of Duncan Phillips, founder of this preeminent modern art museum, Marjorie became a devoted Senators fan and often sketched in the family’s box seats just behind the dugout on the first base line in Washington DC’s old Griffiths stadium. Joe DiMaggio, with his characteristic wide-legged stance, can be seen in the outfield playing in his last season.

"NIght Baseball," by Marjorie Phillips, 1951

“NIght Baseball,” by Marjorie Phillips, 1951

Nearby hangs, “World Series,” by Arnold Friedman, oil on canvas, undated, acquired in 1938. This genteel vision of the sport reminds us, sadly, that we don’t see enough straw boaters these days. Maybe we can bring them back to replace backwards baseball caps. Well, sigh, maybe not.

Both works are part of the blockbuster show, “Made in America,” now on view at the Phillips Collection and previously reviewed in this space.

"World Series," by Arnold Friedman, undated, acquired 1938

“World Series,” by Arnold Friedman, undated, acquired 1938

Ah, baseball. With each new season, new hope. See you at the game!

[Full disclosure: no, I don’t have all these stats memorized. Hardly. I gleaned them from the excellent accompanying notes in the National Portrait Gallery. “Champions” is a permanent collection and  features other sports art, including the lovely portrait of Arthur Ashe, by Richmond VA artist,  Louis Briel.]



Ceiling, Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery

Ceiling, Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery

We gathered under the floating glass and steel roof of the Kogod Courtyard. Encircled by the Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum in Washington, DC, the courtyard, with its filtered light and lacey trees, is always magical. But on Saturday, November 16, it bloomed in a new way when the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company took to the floor to perform a new site-specific work, “Homage.”

Inspired by the show now on display, “Dancing the Dream,” the piece drew from the work of the greats of American dance: Katherine Dunham, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, and Bill T. Jones, to name just a few. The accompanying music drew from the show as well, and flowed into spoken commentary by dance sages: Merce and Martha, Bob Fosse, and others’ voices I didn’t recognize. No matter—the combination of music and spoken word blended well and reminded the audience that dancers are smart, and that dance is about ideas, emotion, and idiosyncratic expression as much as it is about supple, rigorously trained bodies.

Rehearsal, "Homage," at National Portrait Gallery, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Company

Rehearsal, “Homage,” at National Portrait Gallery, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Company

But oh, those bodies! Burgess’s dancers are highly skilled performers of his fluid, organic, choreography. Theirs is a quiet strength, never flashy, but delivering the emotional depth and joy this piece demanded.

Opening with a bang and declaring right off the bat that the piece was to celebrate and explore the heart of what makes American dance American—a “regular guy” burst onto the stage in a blue shirt and bow tie. Dancing along to an exuberant “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” he was joined by eight dancers who performed duets, solos, and ensemble dances. Accompanied by classical music, blues, rock, Elvis, and possibly Shirley McLaine, the choreography suggested rather than mimicked the greats of Broadway, ballet, and modern dance. Love duets were particularly fresh and charming. The dancers moved in perfect unison even when dancing to the spoken word. They were counting in their heads, you knew that, but their rapt faces never betrayed anything other than the spontaneous joy of the dance.



Judy Hansen’s costumes were perfect. In a range of blues and blacks, they included a swingy ingénue dress, simple work-out clothes, and a jaunty Busby Berkeley-like culottes dress with a pale blue collar.

After the performance, “Dancing the Dream” beckoned from inside the Portrait Gallery. The show “tells the story of performers, choreographers, and impresarios who harnessed America’s diversity and dynamism into dance styles that defined the American experience,” through “experiment and lack of truck with the past.” Organized by rooms devoted to Pop, Ballet, Broadway, Hollywood, and Choreography, all painted in vivid colors–Chinese red, lime green, peacock blue, fuchsia, and a deep marigold–the show presents portraits of dance greats in all media: film, photography, drawings, paintings, posters, and video clips.

The photographs drew me most powerfully.

Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins (from "Chaconne"), by Max Waldman, 1976

Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins (from “Chaconne”), by Max Waldman, 1976

Here are the sweetly paired Peter Martins and Balanchine muse Suzanne Farrell, by Max Waldman, 1976, accompanied by this quote from Martins: “. . . We were literally dancing the music. I felt like a violin.”

Michio Ito, pictured in an image by Nickolas Murray, 1921, has a fascinating story. He visited Paris in 1911 where he saw Isadora Duncan and the Diaghilev Company perform. Profoundly affected by this experience, he formed his own troupe and went to Hollywood in 1929. After Pearl Harbor he was interned, nay imprisoned, at a relocation camp in New Mexico until 1943 when he was repatriated to Japan in a prisoner of war exchange. After the war, he choreographed revues for the soldiers of the American occupation in Tokyo.

Doris Humphrey, by Barbara Morgan, 1938

Doris Humphrey, by Barbara Morgan, 1938

After studying at the pioneering Denishawn School, Doris Humphrey developed her own technique that emphasized breath, balance, “fall and recovery,” using weight and spatial orientation in new ways. She left the dance world her invention– “labanotation”–a system for recording dance which allows choreography to be passed along to future performers. Here she is, as photographed by Barbara Morgan in 1938.

Judith Jamison, upon taking over as head of the Alvin Ailey Company, said, “I don’t feel I’m standing in anyone’s shoes. I’m standing on Alvin’s shoulders.” This gorgeous image taken by Max Waldman in 1976, shows her own formidable shoulders and strong presence.

Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison, by Max Waldman, 1976

Gregory Hines, who raised tap dancing to a high art and believed it to be the true American dance form, started off performing as a child with his brother and father in “Hines, Hines and Dad.” I love this barefoot image by Robert Mapplethorpe taken in 1985.

Finally, the incomparable Bill T. Jones, as captured by Robert Mapplethorpe, again in 1985. Founder of a highly experimental dance company with Arne Zane in the 1970s, Jones used improvisation and an individual style to shape his works, among them Tony award winning “Fela!”

Gregory HInes, by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985

Gregory HInes, by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985

While I was delighted to see a portrait of our own Dana Tai Soon Burgess (Mary Noble Ours, 1978) I could have done without Beyonce’s video of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and sorely missed seeing an image of one of the most important modern dance pioneers, Erick Hawkins, my great teacher in New York.

Still, there is much to love here: the mind-blowing Nicholas Brothers leaping down stairs and landing in the splits, a campy Busby Berkeley water ballet, the irrepressible Josephine Baker in her banana skirt, John Travolta’s oddly robotic “Saturday Night Fever” disco performance, and much more. The footage from “Soul Train” juxtaposed against that from “Dance Party” speaks volumes.

Bill T. Jones, by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985

Bill T. Jones, by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985

On view until July 13, 2014, this show is not to be missed if you’re a dance lover, or simply an appreciator of this wildly diverse and creative country we live in.

Click here for more information:

To learn more about the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Company, please click here:




"Jessica Wickham, A Portrait, by Bo Gehring

“Jessica Wickham, A Portrait, by Bo Gehring

Each year I look forward to the National Portrait Gallery’s Annual exhibition of the winners of the Outwin Boochever Award. Named for the dedicated docent who endowed this competition, the award encourages contemporary American portraiture. Entries include self-portraits, likenesses of relatives, friends or strangers— the only caveat is that the artist must have had direct contact with the person shown in the work. This year, out of 3,000 entries, 48 works in a wide variety of media were selected by the expert jury.

The portentous strains of Arvo Part’s “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten,” sets a somber, but tender tone for the entire exhibition. The music accompanies Bo Gehring’s first prize winner. Projected on a large wall, this HD video (2010) was made by mounting an industrial camera just inches above the subject. Timed to coincide with the length of the piece of music, the camera slowly travels up the length of her body to reveal the subject (Jessica Wickham, a woodworker from Beacon, NY), in a mesmerizing sweep. The intimate glimpse we have of this woman, so ordinary in her well-worn clothes, with her banged-up fingernail, her tousled hair, is a monumental revelation.


"General's Daughter,"  by Carole Feuerman

“General’s Daughter,”
by Carole Feuerman

The rapt face and lush torso of “General’s Daughter” (2011) looks edible, a gorgeous chocolate confection in her green swimming cap and pink bathing suit top. Made of oil on resin, she has just emerged, like Venus, from the pool, the water glistening on her skin, her eyes closed in rapture. The artist, Carole Feuerman, says she sought to capture that “special moment when [her friend’s daughter] . . . changed from a young girl” to a young woman.

"Life Raft,"  by Katie O'Hagan

“Life Raft,”
by Katie O’Hagan

In “Life Raft,” (2011) a self-portrait, we see Katie O’Hagan painting the raft under her as she looks over her shoulder at some looming threat. Her emerging raft (some of the structure is still not finished) floats precariously on steely waters that merge at the horizon with a roiling sky. In the accompanying notes, O’Hagan says this piece represents “a period of great upheaval in her life,” but one that resulted into a positive plunge into creating more “personal” paintings.

A commended photograph, “For Delia,” made in 2010 by Heidi Fancher, is a powerful reimagining of a

"For Delia," by  Heidi Fancher

“For Delia,” by
Heidi Fancher

likeness of a slave photographed by Joseph Zealy in 1850 in South Carolina, attempting to show, in some pseudo-scientific manner, that Africans were inferior to Europeans. Here, the artist reestablishes Delia’s “beauty and humanity.” Her head and torso appear to emerge out of darkness, a swamp, perhaps. With her haunted eyes, and beautifully shaped head, her body appears to be coated in wax, like a ceremonial object to be worshipped.

"100 Pounds of Rice," by Saeri Kiritani

“100 Pounds of Rice,”
by Saeri Kiritani

Standing in the middle of the gallery is “100 Pounds of Rice,” by Saeri Kiritani. Made in 2010 of rice, Elmer’s glue, and wood and metal sticks, this charming sculptural self-portrait was made when the artist thought, “I am mostly made of rice!” She stands, rising modestly out of a mound of rice, holding out her cupped hands as if to receive more, or offer us some, her eyes wonderfully alive, as if appealing to us to look and understand.



"Buffalo Milk Yogurt," by Jennifer Livonian

“Buffalo Milk Yogurt,”
by Jennifer Livonian

Perhaps my favorite entry is “Buffalo Milk Yogurt,” Jennifer Livonian’s 2010 digital video animation. Watercolor cutouts come alive to portray Corey Fogel, an artist and musician living in Los Angeles. Both hilarious and moving, the piece follows Corey as he, depressed, moves through his day to wind up suffering a breakdown in the Bread and Circus organic supermarket after witnessing a nude woman practicing yoga in front of a display of “Lunch Lady Gourds.” Corey’s amiable  music accompanies this beguiling piece.

Take a look:

The show will be up until February 23, 2014. If you go, I know you’ll come away touched by each of the 48 extraordinary people you’ll meet here.