Whol-y O’s, heavy O’s and Cheerios

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A friend told me of his son’s second birthday party. Adults stood around talking and munching near a table laid with some nice food and drinks and cake. The children huddled around a small table set with a bowl of Cheerios — their kind of party food. (top image is Tom Moody‘s animation from the O Show. Click the picture to see it bigger.)


Children draw heads that are big O’s. Children love Spaghetti-o’s and Life Savers. Those are all flat O’s with holes in the middle that may not mean much when you’re two but when you get to that existential age when you start worrying about why and what if and why not the O of Alice’s rabbit hOle becomes the pOrtal to that mystery realm where maybe life’s big questions get answered and maybe nOt.

(image above is a big kid drawing, Rob Matthews‘ “Sofia” from the O show)

Some O’s are puffy and voluminous, ballOOns, say, another mystical mysterious friend of children everywhere. Ebullient, airy, bubbly and party-like, these O’s are less about mystery and more about fullness, abundance and bOuncing and bOunding arOund.

(image is Mark Shetabi‘s “Airport Parking Garage” peephOle environment in the O show)

Then there are flat O’s which might not make you feel the jOy but they do make you think the big thOughts. That Big O, the Ocean? That’s a flat O in my bOOk and sO mystical, wOndrous it makes me shiver.

“O,” the shOw curated by Christina Vassalo and Matt Fisher of Mat-CH art that Libby and I saw at SICA and that opens at Kresge Gallery Foundation at Ramapo College on March 30 (through May 3) is a flat O show about the mystery of the O cOnnection.

The O’s there, by and large, are the down-the-rabbit hOle variety although some, like John Phillips‘ Friends of BOb are wicked fun. (image is Phillips piece, which I couldn’t help connecting to the “Mr. Bill” clay animations from Saturday Night Live back when it used to be good)

Mostly this is a meditative shOw into which you hunker down and think and muse and disappear into the questions asked. NO answers required, just think the thoughts.

(image is Mike Smith‘s “Vendocart” installation whith twirly whirly umbrellas from Parts to the Whole)

ROb Matthews‘ O drawings are spOtlight O’s. Spotlights in the sense of being on the spOt, in the spOt, spOt on. See and be seen.

Tom MOOdy‘s pulsing animated O’s are the rhythm of life — breathe in, breathe out, and gO dOwn to the next level and repeat.

(image is Nami Yamamoto‘s installation from Parts to the Whole. Interestingly, her bubble installations are included in both shows.)

Bubble O’s


Vox Populi’s Part’s to the WhOle, guest-curated by Elizabeth Grady is an exuberant, bursting to OverflOwing O shOw. It’s a show you want to embrace because, with one wall-wrapping piece after another, it embraces you. Not all the works are of the same exuberance, but mostly the puffy, airy, lovely, pretty eggy, feathery exuberance is enough to make you giggle.

(image is detail of Jae Hi Ahn‘s installation from Parts to the Whole)

This show closes soon but tomorrow, Sunday, Jan. 29 at 4:30 pm, Curator Grady* will give a talk about it. And that will be an excellent Opportunity to see the shOw and imbibe the vibe, gO with the flOw. (image above and below are details from Pete Goldlust and Julie Hughes‘ installation which interweaves with Charley Friedman‘s (eggs) installation at Parts to the whole)

That’s it. Here’s Libby’s post on the O show and here’s her post on Parts to the WhOle.

These two exhibits — curated by young energetic people with thoughts and some urgency about new art for new times — are two of the best I’ve seen of late. While both exhibits brim with ideas, neither is ponderous. And both are forward looking — Onward and upward and here’s to mOre such smart fun in the future. (see more O show pix and WhOle show pix.

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*Elizabeth Grady is working as Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney Museum, Special Assistant to the Estate of Diane Arbus, and Adjunct Professor of Art History at F.I.T.-SUNY in New York. She recently curated Structuring Perception at NURTUREart in Brooklyn and has several forthcoming essays, on Stephen Nguyen in NY Arts , on Gary Simmons on the website of the Whitney Museum, and on the politicization of public art opinion in Berlin in the Weimar Republic, in a book on the political economy of art edited by Julie Codell. She has also published essays on Franz Ackermann, Matthew Ritchie, Alexander Ross, and Terry Winters in Elisabeth Sussman, Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Sculpture . New York: Whitney Museum, 2005.

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