Hi, this is Matt.
And this post is about Annette Monnier, one of the artists that I invited to exhibit in our first show. I wanted to thank her for being a role model. After earning a BFA in sculpture, Annette relocated to Philadelphia and dove right into running alternative art spaces, writing art criticism, and staging and participating in performance projects like bands and public events (read: zombies). All this and also making brill sculptures, installations drawings and more.
Annette is incredibly bright and well-read but totally unpretentious. Her newest online project is One Review A Month (dot) Com. Even her disclosure at the start of this project allows for the blurring between earnest aspirations in framing contemporary art with important discussion and the vitality of discussing the community in which one participates. She makes no apology for friends and colleagues appearing in her writing. Like me, her multiple roles in an intimate community probably make it damn near impossible to not be writing about someone she knows. But I feel that that is as it should be sometimes.
There is actually plenty about Annette online. The two part interview with her at ArtBlog is particularly insightful. Her work is socially and pop-culturally aware. Wisely, her materials list don't draw distinction between "traditional" art materials and the everyday stuff of life. IKEA or Martha Stewart bedsheets, glittery stickers, knives, DIY books on tape, and the floral arrangements that she presents in our exhibition are often paired with her popular highly-detailed drawings in pen on paper. Figurative, narrative, illustrative: Monnier resuscitates and reinvestigates some of the problems in this approach to art. One might think of Edward Gorey or some of the panning shots in a Sophia Coppola film when in these drawings' company.
As I said, Annette bought the flowers herself for this exhibition. These are two of the four arrangements made specifically for the exhibition. The artist's generosity abounds, as she indicated that she would rather receive no cut off the sale of these sculptures, offering all the proceeds to the gallery. We are wiped out by her kindness.
These arrangements themselves and their larger precedents are primitive and urban, whimsical and scrappy. Pairing humble recyclables with super-saturated craft store materials, these smaller arrangements are the bud vase equivalent of earlier works that were made in five gallon buckets and other street smart vessels. Like arte povera and like many of the other artists in the exhibition, Monnier's simple, frank, attractive objects utilize "low" materials to delightful effect. But more than just lo-fi, there is a naivete to these objects, a playfulness that is both critical and childlike. Monnier's collision of playforms causes the sculptures to resonate. Monnier is Outreach Program Director at The Clay Studio, which might offer a source for the pinch and coil pots that are built onto or around plastic containers.
I liked how the Unmonumental exhibition at the New Museum characterized more than one of the featured artists as archeologists of our present day. Monnier's sculptures are artifacts more than perhaps any of the other work in our first exhibition. Their distinct humility packs a politics; they are inarguably post-Reagan, post-9/11 and sensitive to our estranged class systems as well as the conceptual and economic collapses that characterize the world in which they have been created. They offer direct manuevers for the creative act. The pinch pot may be my first (and many people's first) interaction with making sculpture. Primeval and then dis/tastefully embellished with glitter glue, google eyes, tatters of floral print fabric, plastic beads and gold paint. Yet somehow anything but excessive.