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Join/Stop the Internet Slowdown

  People keep trying to ruin the internet, so I keep hollerin’ back at them. September 10th is the next big battle, as thousands of tech companies, blogs, news sites, etc etc all join together to bring attention to the issue by doing a symbolic internet slowdown to convince people to send comments to the FCC – which they stop taking just a few days later. There was a lot of attention on this back earlier this Summer, but those (continuing) Summer days tend to slow the news cycle and there’s been a slow-down in commenting. So get your heads out of your nethers and get involved. Here’s how.

  It’s easy, just click that link, add some code to your website and install a fake slowdown swirl to your website, your Twitter/Facebook or other Avatars, sign the petition and learn why you should care. You should…quite literally, if we allow Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and AT&T to control what gets seen, and how fast, we’ll break the internet as we know it. Need proof? Turn on your TV and try, just try, to use the interface. Do you want them making decisions about how the internet works too? Didn’t think so. Get involved.

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Three Cool Things from this Summer

I took a much needed month vacation from social media, blogging and pretty much all emails through August, and am just back, feeling refreshed and ready to share things again. Ok, I actually left Twitter and LinkedIn for two months and won’t be back, they just don’t do it for me, and I left Facebook and other social media (including reading any blogs) for August, and might leave Facebook for good as well. But I didn’t leave Instagram, it was the one thing I enjoyed using while on vacation, and frankly, I wish it was the only social media anymore (though the new ads suck bad).

Anyway, here’s a few things I enjoyed towards the end of my vacation and/or am enjoying now:

hope Hope for Film by Ted Hope

This is no big discovery, as Ted has quite a following and there’s been a fair bit of press, but given that his new book was launched during the doldrums of August when no one pays attention to anything, I thought it might be worth plugging Ted’s new book for anyone who missed its launch. Ted has been a leader in the indie film sector for decades, and has been writing prolifically about indie film for the last few years. Given his numerous, insightful posts about the industry, I was skeptical I would learn anything new, but Ted did a great job of speaking less to the future of film (his usual posts), and more about his time in the industry from his first days to his hopes for the future. This look back at what he loved, what kept him involved and what he learned while producing some of the best indie films out there is truly a must-read for anyone interested in the industry, especially up and coming producers, of which we need many more who can fill Ted’s shoes (and those of his contemporaries like Christine Vachon, et al) and help make sure masterful films are made and seen today. Full disclosure: I am friends with Ted and we have been business partners on a couple of things, but I can honestly say, I loved reading this on my vacation and would recommend it regardless.

USOpenSessions-IBM-James_MurphyUS Open SessionsOne of the more interesting uses of data right now has to be the James Murphy US Open Sessions – Murphy, the LCD SoundSystem frontman, has worked with IBM and the US Open to develop an ongoing music site that utilizes data from the US Open tennis matches to make interesting music. The system has an algorithm – that I can’t begin to understand in spite of listening to it while watching several matches – that combines weather, fan sentiment, the actual playing going on, and more to make music. But it’s not all data, as the Guardian explains, Murphy had a lot of artistic input into the sound:  “Murphy is collaborating with a developer called Patrick Gunderson, creative director at Tool, who devised an algorithm to turn tennis plays into sound. With this software in place, Gunderson built a synthesiser-like interface – something Murphy could use to design and tweak each component of the music.” Definitely worth listening to as the US Open plays out for the next week.

 Art Everywhere

IMG_1099 This technically ran through August and is over now, but luckily, in NYC at least, the MTA is pretty slow to remove subway and bus ads and artwork, so I am still running into art daily. Art Everywhere was a project modeled on a similar initiative in the UK where five museums picked samples of historic/important American art, and then allowed the public to vote on their favorites online. The 58 “winners” were shown online, on billboards, in subways, and various places around the US. While some of the selections were a bit populist, these were much better billboards to see than the norm. Check the (horrendous to use) map on their site, or just look in any station. Some are simply billboards, but a few were cleverly placed in locations such as along stairwells, etc.

 

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Come see DamNation for Free in a Patagonia Store

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Please join us for screenings nationwide at Patagonia retail stores.
Check 
www.damnationfilm.com/screenings for details and times.

“Ed Abbey would have shit his pants.  This film changes everything, everything.”   – Katie Lee
  [Her response to the question “What would have Ed Abbey thought about DamNation?]

After a great theatrical run, fest screenings and a tour, we’re excited to launch our DamNation online this week! On Thursday, June 5th, we screen in 23 Patagonia retail stores nationwide and on Friday, June 6th, we release the film (in the US) for digital viewing through Vimeo and at www.damnationfilm.com. The film will be $5.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy. If you have not seen the film yet, your wait is over! For all of you, please share the film with your family and friends, with your help, we can change the game for rivers in the US (and beyond!).

You’ve also got just a little while longer to enter our photo contest (on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), and plenty of time to add your name to our petition with over 25,000 signatures calling on Obama to “Crackdown on Deadbeat Dams.” If you live in NYC, I hope to see you at the Patagonia SoHo store screening. If not, join another screening, or buy the film!

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Film Fest Experimentation – Cork VoDo Edition

CFF Final Logo MasterI always say that film festivals need to innovate and experiment more, and James Mullighan at the Cork Film Festival has done just that. From his press release:

… Cork Film Festival releases its 2013 edition highlights on pioneering video on demand platform VODO on a pay what you want basis. Vodo.net/cork …
… Three week project sees seven garlanded shorts and seven full feature films released by Ireland’s oldest film festival in a global first for film festivals …
… Features include Kathy Leichter’s Here one Day, Tony Palmer’s reissued 1974 Leonard Cohen biopic Bird on a Wire, and the Dublin Filmbase filmmaking MA production How To Be Happy, starring Brian Gleeson …
… Lion’s share of takings go straight to indie filmmakers’ pockets, with Fest’s take going directly into the pot for its new feature film Spirit of the Festival Award …
Mid Cannes Film Festival, attended by Cork Film Festival’s Creative Director James Mullighan and Head of Programme and Editorial Don O’Mahoney, the Festival launches its very first video on demand initiative, with seven shorts and seven features being retailed on a pay what you want basis, alongside bonus content.
Innovative platform VODO, which careful curates themed bundles of content, is working with a film Festival for the first time. Vodo.net/cork.
The initiative has three tiers: Pay What you Want (four shorts and one feature, including Made in Cork prize winner Yvonne’ Keane’s Stolen, and Filmbase Ireland’s How to be Happy, starring Brian Gleeson); Beat the Average (three features and three shorts, including biopic of writer / chess master John Healy Barbaric Genius, and Cork Fest 2013 opening night short Mechanic, starring Syl Fox); and Beat the Premium (including Tony Palmer’s recently reissued 1974 Leonard Cohen doc Bird on a Wire, and John Kastner’s prize winner mental health sensational doc Not Criminally Responsible).
“We’ve been working with Jamie King and the team at VODO since straight after the Fest last year”, said James Mullighan, Creative Director, Cork Film Festival.
“In this day of screeching web noise, I really admire the platform’s loving, carefully curated approach to films and more. They were the ideal choice to launch this experiment in distribution. I am hopeful it will be popular with the thousands and thousands of fans of the Cork Film Festival in Ireland, Europe and amongst the global Irish diaspora, who fondly wish they could attend the Festival, but cannot. I’m grateful to and proud of the independent directors and producers who lit up our Festival in November last year to trust Jamie and I with their babies”.
Once payment handling costs have been deducted, VODO – who levy no extra charges other than their 25% sales fee – hand all the proceeds to Cork Film Festival. The Festival sends 70% of that straight to the filmmakers, ringfencing 5% for its new €1,500 feature film Gradam Spiorad na Féile / Spirit of the Festival Award, which takes a bow during the Festival’s 59th Edition, 7-16 November.
“Cork’s Bundle shows a real engagement with online culture and experimentation in the transmedia sphere”, commented Jamie King, CEO and Founder of VODO, which has recently successfully promoted Not Safe for Work and Big Brother bundles.
“When you let customers set the price for themselves,’ says VODO’s Jamie King, ‘they can turn out to be surprisingly generous. The average price paid for the Cork Bundle is currently $11.20. That’s a win both for audiences and the filmmakers.”
“I had a wonderful time when I was honoured to be invited to Cork last November as filmmaker in residence”, remembered Tony Palmer, celebrated British music film biographer and documentarian, whose Leonard Cohen film Bird on a Wire played at the Festival, as well as his new Benjamin Britten feature Nocturne, and his entire 7 hour, 46 minute dramatic reconstruction of the life of composer Richard Wagner, the last film Richard Burton even made.
“The Cork Film Festival is going out on a limb to bring its films to a wider audience. This should be celebrated, and I’m delighted to be involved.
The bundle went live on Wednesday 14 May, the opening day of Cannes International Film Festival, and runs until Tuesday 3 June.

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Net neutrality, Comcast, filmmakers, artists & those who represent them

Unless you’ve been doing nothing but watching movies and TV, which is what they want you to do, don’t you know – the FCC has proposed some rule changes that might seriously f–k up the internet as we know it, and simultaneously, Comcast wants to buy Time Warner and control even more of our viewing options and ways to get online. Both of these things are horribly bad ideas, and both should be opposed by anyone who cares about indie films, art, music and/or the internet (and innovation, and…). You would think the organizations/companies that represent or work with all of us would be up in arms, assisting the fight, but as far as I can tell, most are just passing the buck to the Future of Music Coalition (more on that below).

I don’t need to add much to the debate here (I’ve been writing about it since at least 2006), but I want to make sure I help spread the word. You can learn more about why this stuff matters elsewhere. Public Knowledge is a good resource on the Comcast deal, and Free Press and Fight for the Future are doing a great job on net neutrality. Fight for the Future have also launched a great #StopTheSlowLane campaign that I urge you to run on your blogs/websites. Fred Wilson has a great post on why this matters to start-ups and VC’s. Dan Aronson of Fandor wrote about why this matters for filmmakers at IndieWire. The Washington Post has a great article on why this matters for indie films, and she links to some others on the issue. Probably the best article on it came out today from Astra Taylor who sums it up well:

Artists need to take note: Net neutrality may be the biggest media and communications policy battle ever waged, and the stakes could not be higher for independent voices. Unlike the old days when different mediums had discrete distribution channels, we are now utterly dependent on one network for everything: we read books and articles, watch television and films and listen to music online, just as we study, work and socialize there. The network underpinning all of this must be neutral and nondiscriminatory if we are to make good on the remarkable democratic potential of the Internet. Creators need to join the fight to defend this fundamental attribute of the digital ecosystem before it’s too late.

Further to that, if Comcast is allowed to take over Time Warner, it will limit competition in the space, lead to higher prices and less choice. We all know this, in spite of their arguments to the contrary. But even worse, and why the merger really matters, is that they’ll have more control over how most of us access the internet. The combination of these two things leads to some scary possible scenarios, as described in the links above, and here from The Wrap.

As I said, I don’t need to add much here, but I know some people who should, all of whom claim to help independent filmmakers and none of whom seem to be doing anything or very little about these issues. I don’t just mean the big dogs in the room, I also mean the smaller actors – regional film fests, arthouses, video start-ups and everyone else who has a bigger vehicle than I have in which to carry the message to a bigger population should be devoting their home page, their film screen and any other tools they have to spreading the word. I am friends with the leaders and staff of many of these nonprofits and companies, and I know they’re busy, have potential sponsor conflicts, boards who must approve political matters and/or just don’t understand the issue themselves, but it’s no excuse. Every organization and company that purports to represent indie filmmakers (and artists generally) should take action now. There’s still time and you can get the widget here. You can even use it as a filmmaker, or blogger with a small audience like me. I’m going to install it now…with some tech support.

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Brands and Impact: Patagonia and DamNation

I wrote about this back during our premiere at SXSW, but the Los Angeles Times just ran a great article about DamNation and how Patagonia and team produced the film and are now (working with me) distributing it and marketing it. There’s also some great quotes from the filmmakers about their thoughts on working with brands, and with the lead scientist and producer of the film on why dams need to be removed.

I am biased, working on this project, but I think this is one of the most significant developments in the doc world this year – brands working smartly with indie filmmakers and scientists to have a greater impact on important environmental issues. I’d love to see more of these experiments, and am working behind the scenes to make this happen with others.

We open in NYC on May 9 at IFC Center (tickets on sale Monday), LA on May 16 at Laemmle NoHo and many other cities. Film Sprout is setting up over 300 community screenings, and we’ll be premiering the film in most Patagonia stores for free on June 5. You can find all screenings here. On June 6 we’ll be available for download to own and rent through Vimeo (you can pre-order now), and yes, we’ll also be on cable on demand, iTunes, Netflix and many other platforms as well. All of them can be found from the website.

My favorite quote in the article comes from founder Yvon Chouinard:

Chouinard said “DamNation” ultimately builds on what almost every child was taught by his or her parent. “If you make a mess, you clean it up. You don’t just walk away from it,” he said. The time has come, he said, to tear down, rather than build, more dams.

“I hope this film leads to a revolution,” Chouinard said. “A revolution about how we think about our water, and how we think about our rivers.”

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April Art: Chelsea & LES Edition

Last week was the Upper East Side, now I’ll cover the best of what I’ve seen in Chelsea and the Lower East Side, again in order of what I liked the most. There are a bunch of new shows, and I haven’t made it to all of them, but here’s the ones I’ve liked thus far.

Vik Muniz: Album at Sikkema Jenkins through May 10

Vik Muniz, New Car, Album

Vik Muniz is one of the hotter photographers right now for good reason, and this show proves why – because he’s speaking to our culture’s pastiche-making, copying and nostalgia all at the same time through the medium, by creating collages that make up a bigger picture. His “nostalgia postcards” series stand out for their multi-color takes on iconic, now ruined sites (the WTC for example), but my favorites are the family photo album collages such as “Car” in the photo here.

Friedrich Kunath “The Temptation to Exist (May Contain Nuts)” at Andrea Rosen through April 26th

Canvases pained to resemble note-pad paper, with dreamscape images exploding from the page, all with not-so-subtle environmental apocalypse messaging and plenty of surrealistic dream touches, accompanied by rotting fruit on cat-scratch poles and vibrantly colored carpets. What more could you want?

Robert Longo, Gang of Cosmos at Metro Pictures until May 23

 

Longo re-creates 12 abstract expressionist masterpieces in B&W charcoal paintings. Detailed, very much duplicates of the originals as studied in museums and through photographs. Make sure to flip through the Longo catalogues while at the gallery, as they represent some amazing past work by the artist. Pretty and pretty nice.

Joel Otterson 1980s and 1990s at Elizabeth Dee (link is to Time Out since the gallery’s website sucks so bad)

Joel Otterson, Divine Intervention

Joel Otterson is just one half of this show with Ryan Trecartin, but steals the show with his pre-steampunk sculptures. Of course steal a show from the much over-hyped Trecartin is pretty simple, and gets simpler when you were as flash-forward thinking and fun-making as Otterson. See the show, but avoid the gallery’s website which is a disaster. Every gallery’s website makes restaurant websites look ghastly (and those are among the worst), but this one doesn’t even work.

Urs Fischer: Mermaid/Pig Bro W/Hat at Gagosian 104 Delancey St through May 23rd

Urs Fischer: Mermaid

One of two shows right now where the venue is as interesting as the art. Gagosian took over an old Chase branch on Delancey St and turned it into a gallery. It’s hard to find, still looks like a bank (with the neon Chase sign inside and out), contains the old safes and is now filled with debaucherous art from Urs Fischer and his collaborators. These clay sculptures (now bronze) were made collaboratively with 1500 other people in 2013 in California. From Mermaids to pig-fucking, yes really, you find something new in every room. Someone finally did something appropriate with the Chase brand.

Corin Hewitt: The Third Station at Laurel Gitlen, through May 11th

Hewitt’s gigantic police station/abandoned store-front sculptures are an interesting companion piece to the ongoing NSA spying disaster, and make for interesting contemplation with their surveillance cameras capturing empty-ness. Detailed work, including detritus in the back alleys remind me of former East German ruins – another state brought down (in part) by its over-zealous capturing of data. What’s real? What’s fake? Definitely topics on your mind after this exhibit.

Florian Pumhosl at Miguel Abreu through April 27th 

The art in this show is good, but the real reason to visit is to see Abreu’s new gallery in this block-long loft warehouse building. Amazing space with so much potential, and a great inaugural show. Pumhoesl is up to some cerebral art with these 12 paintings based on ancient rabbinical maps, and 6 more based on Georgian letters. Austere, minimalist and way above my head, but I believe the press release which explains it like this: “Pumhösl’s restaging of these sources exploits the threshold between the referent and the space of the image.” Yep, and what better way to investigate a new space on the artistic map.

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April Art: Upper East Side Edition

Pres. George W Bush art From NYT, Brandon Thibodeaux

I didn’t have time to make it to Dallas, Texas to see George W. Bush’s new art, but I did make it to similar environs, on the Upper East Side, and caught some amazing work worth seeing in April. Without even stepping into a museum, I was able to catch multiple incredible shows, and I recommend them all (and this list is in order of awesomeness).

DAMIAN LOEB: Sol*D at Acquavella

Loeb’s paintings are masterful oil works of interstellar landscapes. Photorealism is not a pejorative here, and the back story of how he makes them (flying in innermost outer-space, using Hubble images, etc) is almost as interesting as the work itself. Seems he’s moved from quantum physics as expressed through his nude wife (!) to greater meanderings, regardless, they’re more beautiful. This one ends April 11th, so hit it soon.

RAYMOND PETTIBON: ARE YOUR MOTIVES PURE? Surfers 1985-2103 at Venus over Manhattan

Venus Over Manhattan hasn’t made a misstep with a show in the past year, they just nail it every time. This first-ever collection of all of the surfer paintings of Pettibon are a must-see. Viewing them, I was convinced he caught elements that only a surfer would notice, but alas I learned he was never a surfer though he lived off Venice beach (and neither am I, thus the mistake). But he does catch the rough, the tumble and the froth of the active ocean. I’d love to know the back-story of how his parents made both him and Greg Ginn of Black Flag…whose iconic image he made, and who he played with (as Panic) briefly. Loved his album covers (esp for Sonic Youth) and love these even more. Through May 17th.

MODERN FURIES: THE LESSONS AND LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I at Galerie St. Etienne

No one caught the horrors of war better than Otto Dix, who served on the front line trenches of WWI for four years (machine gun squad, wounded multiple times). He captured this hell in a rough style, that laid bare the realities of a war that wasn’t much reported to the public (the grisly details, that is), and this, along with his later paintings of who was taking over Germany probably led Hitler to lump him in with the Degenerate Art exhibit, and banish him off to painting landscapes for the remainder of his career (which have their own subtext and tone, worthy of serious reconsideration, but that’s another post, in the meantime, see this from Montreal and NYC a few years ago). This excellent show at Galerie St. Etienne, pairs many of his horrors from WWI with those of Beckman, Baldessari, Schiele and a handful of others, plus some war poster ephemera. At a time when world wars are starting to enter the public consciousness again as serious possibilities, this one reminds us why we should avoid them, and how artists might confront them. Through April 12th.

LYONEL FEININGER: Master Printmaker at Moeller

Moeller has been doing a series of incredible shows of Lyonel Feininger’s work lately. The last one “Ghosts” was of his watercolors, but this show of his prints, almost all woodcuts, is incredible. Considering one of his woodcuts adorned the Bauhaus Manifesto, these are worth seeing. He too was lumped in with the degenerate artists later in life, perhaps the best honor of that time period. See the Bauhaus master’s work through April 26th.

1ST 20 YEARS at Adam Baumgold

ANDRAS BOROCZ The Draftsman Series, 2002

A retrospective of the gallery’s first 20 years – Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Saul Steinberg, Lynda Barry, Marc Bell, Seth, Roger Brown, Huston Ripley, Renee French, Scott Teplin, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Mark Kostabi, Andras Borocz and 10-20 more all in one show. The whole show is one big wow. An eclectic homage to drawing, draftsmanship and graphic novels, comics and covers. I think this image from Borocz, which my wife and I would love to own if you have a spare 6K to loan us, captures the spirit of the show best – note the pencil case around the work. This one has a bit of everything, and is fun enough to stick around for awhile, through May 3rd.

URS FISCHER: last supper at Gagosian

Gagosian has a new storefront on Park Avenue, and he’s installed pseudo-bad-boy (but always fun) Fischer with a great new cast bronze that looks like a lump of clay sculpture piece on the last supper. It strikes me as a mix of the Last Supper and the closing of Sleep No More/Macbeth by way of dumpster-diving art, but hey, Jesus has a taco and a Bud-tweiser here, need I say more? Through May 8th.

Next up: updates from Chelsea, the Lower East Side and maybe, just maybe I’ll get myself over the Bridge into Brooklyn for some art soon.

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DamNation at SXSW: Brands Having an Impact

One of the reasons I’ve been posting less often lately, is among a few new clients, I’ve been busy working with Patagonia and Felt Soul Media on the marketing and distribution campaign for DamNation. The film premieres at SXSW, and we’ll be announcing our distribution plans soon, but trust me: you’ll have lots of opportunity to see the film, and we’re doing some stuff no one has ever done before. Check out the trailer on the website, see the film at SXSW, and come to our panel, about brands having an impact through film. It’s gonna be fun. Here’s some more info on the film and panel.

Film premieres: SXSW, Monday March 10th 4pm, Vimeo Theater at the ACC. More showtimes here.

Synopsis:

This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has moved beyond the Monkey Wrench Gang. When obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. “DamNation”’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move us through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.

Panel: Brands, Films and Impact

Monday, March 10th 6pm Vimeo Theater at the ACC, open to passholders

In 2011, Patagonia partnered with scientist Matt Stoecker and filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel to make DamNation, a powerful film premiering at SXSW about removing obsolete dams and restoring rivers. Now Patagonia is partnering with Vimeo On Demand to release the film to a larger audience. Learn how brands, scientists and filmmakers can create awareness of an important environmental movement—and help make a difference.

Panelists: Yvon Chouinard, founder Patagonia; Joy Howard, CMO, Patagonia; Travis Rummel, Co-Director; Jeremy Boxer, Creative Director, Film & Video at Vimeo and moderator, Nancy Schafer, producer and former head of the Tribeca Film Festival and SXSW.

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Great Art to See This Week in NYC

Wow, I haven’t posted since December, but that’s because I’ve been swamped, which is a good thing. I’ve also devoted many weekends to viewing art at local NYC galleries – but not far and wide enough, so this list of things I’ve loved is missing almost anything that is showing outside of Manhattan and is skimpy on Lower Manhattan as well. Regardless, here’s ten shows you should check out before they close in the next week or so:

David Altjmed, Juices at Rosen: One of the best, crazy, nightmare inducing shows in the city. Must see before it closes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-View: Onnasch Collection at Hauser & Wirth. Paul Schimmel has curated this big show with a ton of minimalism, Pop art, Fluxus, Ab-Ex and more. Graba  free espresso in the somewhat hidden secret coffee shop as well.

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Richard Serra: New Sculpture, Gagosian: Yeah, he’s big, but this show rocks

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Loren Munk: You Are Here at Freight and Volume: Obsessives, take note(s)

Harry Callahan: City at Pace MacGill. Incredible city scene photos from the master.

Ferran Adria Notes on Creativity at the Drawing Center: I never got to eat at his restaurant, but his creative process shown in these notebooks and models is incredible.

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J Ivcevich: Shreds at Garvey/Simon Access: starting with subway posters and ending in abstract musings. Nice Buddhas as well:

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Nir Arieli: Inframen at Daniel Cooney: Infrared photos of models reveal hidden blemishes and are wild to see.

Frank Thiel: Nowhere is a Place at Sean Kelly Big photos of massive ice fields in Patagonia

Charles Harlan: Ishtar at Venus Over Manhattan: A big fence you want to get over to see what’s inside. Hmmm

 

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