Behind the news, more on PEI

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I was working on a story for PW about the recent announcement of PEI grant money and talked with a couple of the grant recipients about their upcoming projects. Here’s a look at PAFA‘s PEI project. For more on the 2004 grants read Libby’s and my previous post

Ellen Harvey paints by video

PAFA won its first PEI award this year, for a project by Brooklyn artist Ellen Harvey. Harvey, who has been making a name for herself doing museum interventions (she was the one who did the “A Whitney for the Whitney” in which she painted every painting in the museum’s collection — small and on wood — using the museum’s catalog as a reference. She hung the work alphabetically (like it is in the catalog) at the Whitney’s Altria space (the old Whitney Phillip Morris) and placed several of the museum’s new acquisitions behind a partition wall accessible through peepholes. (top image is detail of the installation) See the artist’s great user friendly website for more.

Harvey will be painting again for PAFA but this time it’ll be mostly virtual painting that you’ll see — along with real paintings on mirrors and some wall drawings.

About the video, Curator Alex Baker, whose show this is, said the artist will create “two video installations of her arm drawing the interior architectural spaces of the Academy.” Baker also said the video will “age the Academy” through use of faux finishes. I’m not sure what that means but the piece is clearly about the confluence of old and new, past and present. Baker said “[Harvey] said she wanted to turn it into a haunted house but it’s more complicated that that.” (images left and right are from Harvey’s video “Seeing is Believing” 2001)

One video projection will be in the front of the museum and the other will be upstairs in the rear. The idea is to create “two axial views of the academy intersecting with each other,” Baker said.

About the mirrors, Baker said she will create “a hall of mirrors in the rotunda from floor to ceiling, salon style.” On the mirrors will be paintings — in white.

About the wall drawings, Baker said Harvey would place trompe l’oeil drawings of Academy statues in the museum’s inset niches for statuary. (It’s not clear whether the statues will be in the niches or not). There was talk of drawings bursting into flames, too, although I was too confused by then to piece that together coherently, sorry.

By the way, Harvey used to be a high-powered lawyer. Yale law and Harvard, according to Baker. She always did art on the side and after law school quit her law practice to devote herself to art. She went to the Whitney’s studio program and hit the trail like a comet, bursting out with the New York Beautification Project which we told you about.

Speaking of New York, Baker was eager to tell me of his new curatorial gig at DUMBO Art Center, a group show that opens May 22 and includes work by Philadelphia artists Max Lawrence and Virgil Marti.

All we can say is keep it coming, Alex! Two thumbs way up.

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