When I think of New York City I imagine rough and tough grandma’s cussing you out and not taking shit from anyone. Other cities just don’t produce in your face, loud mouth senior citizens. This can get annoying in most situations but not when it comes to amazing Sister Helen Travis. In Sister Helen you’ll find one of the most unanimously acclaimed documentaries in recent years and winner of the coveted Sundance Film Festival Directing Award. A recovering alcoholic who lost her husband and sons to substance abuse Sister Helen fights the South Bronx’s drug wars one person at a time with more off-the-top catch phrases than a 1990’s rap song.
Sister Helen is an inspiring documentary filled with an equal dose of comedy and drama. The love/hate relationship between this tough-as-nails nun and the men who both fear her and rely on her to help them battle their own inner demons is unreal. Inspired by Sinatra’s “my-way-or-the-highway” mantra, Sister Helen runs a tight ship in which everyone must obey her rules and the hand that writes them. For the residents who wish to permanently kick the habit, this sobering dose of tough love may be their last and only hope.
Katy Krantz makes magical collage/painting hybrids. They bring to mind the French Surrealists’ favorite quote: “beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella”.*
Zachary Stadel covers unexpected objects with globular and surprisingly tactile dobs of paint, laying bare paint as pigment and object, and throwing its use to create illusionist realism out the window. His objects sort of remind me of Allison Schulnik’s work in their beyond-impasto application of paint. These sculptures somehow transform paint into sculpture, and sculptures into paintings…inhabiting a lovely middle-realm of shape-shifting.
Amanda Lear: previous male, current female, muse of Salvador Dali, multimillion selling Disco Queen three decades ago, subject of an incredibly long Wikipedia entry (yes, her official site is hosted on Tripod), feast for ironic art eyes, and just strange strange strange. Whenever I watch her videos I wonder “is this shit for real?”. But yeah. It is.
Portia Munson turns one thousand garages worth of plastic kitsch and junk into surprisingly beautiful mounds of stuff that both uplift and mock our contemporary consumer culture. Portia will have a new installation at the PPOW exhibition “Debris” opening March 20th- if you are in NYC be sure to check it out.
My friends at One Bit Increment (design firm started by UCLA alum Camile Orillaneda and Leon Hong) launched their site last week and it’s amazing. The homepage is a fully interactive game complete with sound effects featuring the lovable ox character (in One Bit land they’re called “moo”) traversing a stretch of pleasant mountain side. The imagery is incredibly complex (mind you, it’s all made out of paper) and yet sweet and simple at the same time. Please visit the site and leave them a nice comment or two!