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Copyright Š 2009 by Research Studio in the 21st Century Text copyright Š 2009 by Egberto Almenas Special Edition All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any known or unknown information storage system, without the advanced permission of the copyright holders. Previous page: Richard Reep, RS21, 2009

FOREWORD The Research Studio in the 21st Century project

(aka RS21) started as a one-night-only exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art’s First Thursday program. The original concept grew from discussions with a few artists (Kyle, Richard Reep, Sergio Mora, and Kim Walz) into a larger group that now includes Martha Lent, Dina Mack, Doug Rhodehamel, Brigan Gresh and Andrew White, Nathan Selikoff, Kelledy Francis, Stephen Carey, and Pat Greene. Facilitating the entire process was MAC’s program director, Gloria Capozzi. Adding immensely to the mix is the scholarship of Egberto Almenas, whose essay in this catalogue defines and codifies the faction. RS21 continues to explore art as mandated by the Research Studio’s founder, André Smith (the Research Studio eventually became the Maitland Art Center). Smith committed the RS to sustaining growth in small groups of artists. RS21’s goals are patterned after Smith’s, and the artists are particularly interested in new media, as can be seen in their works.

On behalf of the Maitland Art Center, I invite you to open your mind and receive what these artists have to communicate. Their messages are about the past, present, and future. Art can be many things . . . beautiful, troubling, intellectual, facile, or direct. Do not dismiss new media as a passing fashion; progress in art has historically been tied to new technologies. Lastly, it is important to see these works as examples of the very type of explorative aesthetics Smith supported.

Richard D. Colvin Curator/Maitland Art Center April 2009


The Irrational


The Research Studio in the 21st Century


n the evening of February 5, 2009, the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida showcased as part of its monthly 1st Thursdays Gallery program a onetime exhibit by a freshly formed collective of artists whose piece installations engrossed more than its 500 viewers into a conceptual assault. Even the most overt allusion to orthodoxy among the artists’ works unleashed the spirit of experimentation after which the collective had bloomed. Co-curator and one of the participating artists, Kyle, had placed as a backdrop to his centerpiece a conventional portrait whose defacement abridged the original pursuits of the Research Studio in Florida, a neighboring Spanish Pueblo style compound conceived by André Smith in the 1930s for leading-edge artists, writers and scientist, and known today as the Maitland Art Center.

Now a relaying cohort of creative impulses tagged as the Research Studio in the 21st Century (RS21) had also decided to defy the “seething ramifications” that buds from the grind of modern life, as Smith had observed in the book he authored in 1937. “The true creative artist”, he further wrote, “is usually ahead of his time; at his best he is a prophet. He sees ever so far ahead of his contemporaries and usually annoys them by his visions and predictions, which in the end they accept, perhaps without realizing that their ultimate acceptance was as inevitable as their compliance with adventurous innovations, inventions and discoveries in lines other than art.” Kyle’s iconoclastic allegory veered ahead from stagnation and incongruity for those viewers who, as Smith contended, “demand as a reward for their visual contacts a mental stimulation that is in accord with the whirling existence in which we ‘live and move and have our being.”



ince its formal branding in the 1960s, Conceptual Art has intrigued for its seemingly relentless paradox. It is art… and yet it is not. How it came to be that an assemblage of debris, a chancy performance, a perishable figure, or even sheer emptiness castled within the walls of a museum earned the hallowed status of Art? Are skeptics questioning what many perceive as paltry capriccios or are they simply impermeable to the latest dialectics between art and life? As a decaying illustrated bourgeoisie in Europe along with the idling new riches of a smugly post industrial class in the USA desperately sought for new money making emporiums in the transcendental value of art, many lowbrow frills after the Great War sifted in and gained currency as a “ reflection” of the “evil of our times.” But these cursorily bluffs pour épater, as the hip lingo would have it, were not in measured exactitude the “disturbing forms” Smith was referring to in his book.


RS21 Artist Process Wall, 2009

He was rather forestalling the “new and different offerings” fanned by the true avant-garde artist inasmuch as those who had watershed each successive period of cultural achievement since the Low Renaissance. While remaining an autonomous and all-inclusive source of knowledge, Conceptual Art, and especially in its combined hi tech multimedia installation variant, sought as never before a constitutive completion by the reactions it brought forth, and thus mediated the triumph of ideas and concepts over the laws that had turned art in general into a disengaged commodity. What had been at stake was the concept’s capacity to swerve a manner of seeing and acting on the desultory screed of lives muddled by the “perpetual hurry,” or the “stream-lined” irrationality Smith had already endeavored to brave in his own days of convulsions and despair.


arketability paradigms of value notwithstanding, Conceptualism continues to flip the viewer’s habitual schemes of perception. The zebra pickled in formaldehyde that recently fetched millions in a squandering display of “irrational exuberance” at an art auction, also decries a rational apathy. Years before Harold Bloom’s antithetical model of criticism revolutionized literary studies (“There are no interpretations but only misinterpretations…”) the American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt had premised that a misconstrual often sparks new streams of thoughts that build upon the imagination. In the realm of Conceptual Art, irrationality “should be followed absolutely and logically.” Puny ideas, he added, will never hold, regardless of execution. Good ideas “implement the concept.”

While preserving its many distinctive individual traits, the RS21 exhibit stands remarkably as an organic whole, stirring at each turn “misinterpretations” whose points of departure may range from the absorbing warmth of intimacy to the irks of global complicity. Thematic accentuations recall dialogue, environment, memory, technology, time, space, heritage, intertextuality, and many other quirks of fate in the posthuman condition.

This liberating synergy became the sole guiding principle for the artists who would gel into the RS21 as they met in a series of brownbag lunches at the Maitland Art Center and plotted their debut 1st Thursdays Gallery exhibit at the Orlando Museum of Art.

Egberto Almenas

The intersecting brews of ideas cocks a snoot at the failed logics wheedled by the End of History as the collective proposes to move ahead Back to the Future. Irrational judgments, after all, lead to new experience, had sustained Sol LeWitt. New experience engenders new dreams, and with these, perhaps, better realities may ensue.

Maitland Art Center


The true cr eative artist

is usually ahead of his time.

At his best he is a prophet. He sees ever so far ahead of his contemporaries and usually annoys them by his visions and predictions, which in the end they accept, perhaps without realizing that their ultimate acceptance was as inevitable as their compliance with adventurous innovations, inventions and discoveries in lines other than art.


Bust of AndrĂŠ Smith at the Maitland Art Center.



A Society of Stickpeople, 2009

Nathan Selikoff:

The Computer as

Interactive Canvas The marriage between art and science that once hauled modernity to exhaustion finds an authentic postmodernist breath in the work of Nathan Selikoff. As a cyber-hyped era dulls, an offshoot medium—the computer as interactive canvas—truly leaps forward on the hands of this artist and offers an infinite number of outlets to the imagination far beyond the binary category according to which any late widget windows an innovation as either interesting or not. Selikoff’s pictorial virtualizations and analyses, sidled up from fractals and chaos, seem to posit the strongest imperative to the true artist: aesthetic explorations ultimately seek the discovery of passages leading to the extraordinary and timeless.


Brigan Gresh and Andrew White:

Disquieting Machines The interactive contraptions by team artists Brigan Gresh and Andrew White trigger an open voyage deep into the abyssal zones of the mind. Even the coyest viewers become guest performers who must transit the labyrinth of their own creative inner glows according to the cunning disarmament that these instances attain. Any probing bent of the senses surrenders to the “meanings” educed from within rather than from a one-way, preconceived alignment of “a message” from an external authorial voice. Values, other than the underlying beauty in the engineering of the concept, lack significance. The illusory “gap” between the conscious and subconscious dissolves.


Inspiration and Influence in the Creative Conscious and Subconscious, 2009

Influence and Manumit, 2009



Thought Bubble, 2009

Martha Lent: Text and Memory

Martha Lent’s Thought Bubble reads as a multilayered “visual diary” chiefly concerned with memory as a referent to identity and its prospects at the brink of yet another conjunctural break in history. The skillfully candid elements of the composition refer to the days when a sharp turn from contentment to hardship also chiseled an honorable wrinkle into the land’s fundamental character. Interlaced letters, photos, and purposefully crafted books along with many other subjective items induce quiet reflection—hence the title—burnished by reverence rather than longing, and by a spirit of celebration rather than defeat.



Martha Lent, The Spirit of Celebration, 2009

Kimberly DH Walz, Tea with AndrĂŠ, 2009


Kimberly DH Walz: Setting the Table Inspired by stories of daily high tea times, the performance centered on the installation by Kimberly Walz engages artists, writers, scientists, and members of the community far afield in the ritual of a conversation that dawned with the Research Studio decades ago. Tea with AndrĂŠ sets the table for a progressive dialogue assisted by the latest technology as it attempts to mushroom, freely, to world-scale dimensions. The exchange explores the boundary between the public and the private while questioning how other conventional means document, translate and preserve contemporary culture.


Tea with André, 2009



Future’s Past The installation by Kyle interfaces a discourse in line with his longstanding adherence against the mounting fickleness of the future’s trot with blinkers. He seems to assert that the mix between new technologies and conceptualism may deparadox a headway that currently undermines the importance of the past and its resultant topical identities. History in his videotaped tête-à-tête does not break down into stanched sequential slices. New and dated elements interlock antithetically with the prospect of a seamless, multidirectional continuity that in turn heeds the original philosophy of the Research Studio and grants its evergreen impetus.


A Conversation with AndrĂŠ, 2009


Stephen Carey:

Youthful Brio Burgeoning ruptures of creative vigor suffuses Stephen Carey’s installations, still hardly contained as he masters the tools required to furnish the versatility of his hyperesthesia. He describes his multimedia conveyor as one that must implement a “chameleon” approach to the immediate sways of his personal experiences as much as from the broader contexts on which they stand. The trialing symbolism and an almost hurried goad for self-assertion or “shine” in his work jeer the prophets of doom, as connoted by extension from one of his poems: “It is your time that has come to an end. Not mine...”


The Impact of a Voice, 2009



Solitude, 2009

Dina Mack: The Tropes of the Senses

“What inspires, observes, reads, feels, tastes, smells, hears, learns, brushes its hand. A powerful whisper.” This lyrical undertone in Dina Mack’s phrasing also resonates from the textural fields she typically salvages from calendars and journal entries to convey, on all the senses, intimate notions of time, change and renewal. Her new esthetic solutions integrate previous experimentations. Each case chronicles an evolutionary continuum (“perpetual series”) that may at once recoil to the innermost fold of origin. Amid the fractioned delitescence, her insightful whispermetaphor becomes tangibly plangent and alluring.


Kelledy Francis: Unlicensed Haute

Couture The variation on a classical theme—the four seasons—by fashion artist Kelledy Francis shoehorns a late fuse into a genre that has remained haughtily self-sufficient and protected by syndication. The four models that clad and posed akimbo her unlicensed high gear calls upon the “all-inclusive” expression she seeks as a normative, “one which moves and stimulates all senses and takes advantage of techniques old and new.” The identity palette is parakeet colors, the mojo, a voluptuous, belle époque flair, swooningly recumbent and somewhat cheeky to the historical cusp outside the gleam of the catwalk.


Seasons, 2009



Migration 2, 2009

Doug Rhodehamel:

Forms and Rhythms The artwork of Doug Rhodehamel stands out for its exploration of forms and rhythms drawn from everyday encounters. Modular sequencing, sober color moods, and unsuspected cognations with the themes take hold of their grounds with a fanciful poetic grip. Migration 2 sets a collection of 2000 identical badgerlike clay figures on a paced “movement” of disarming ingenuity. Forty-one “discarded steel clips once used to hold sensor wires to railroad tracks” imbues his Migration 3 with daring playfulness and wit. The organic quality of his forms and rhythms confabulates with nature, and yet these manage to retain in turn their absolute autonomy.

Migration 3, 2009



The Abstract City, 2009

Richard Reep: Urbanscape Fallacies Richard Reep endows his artwork with a hefty practice in architecture and literature, moreover buttressed by actionable urban and future global theories. Hands-on experience, locally and abroad, stands behind each detail of his work as it accrues visual events that pit propitious equilibriums against the posthuman city. “The old gnosis must die and be transformed,” he has annotated as a precept. “The new ways of seeing and being filter down from above.” Though seemingly spontaneous and soothing, his compositions based on found objects capitalize on relationships that feel researched and densely packed with ideas. A non-canonical mix between constructivism and abstract expression adds a signature make to his pieces.



Still Life with Video Surveillance of Man in Background Looking at Erotic Material While Thinking About Fine Art, 2009

Patrick Greene: Perceptive Defamiliarizations Pat Greene’s mixed media video installation entitled Still Life with Video Surveillance of Man in Background Looking at Erotic Material While Thinking about Fine Art exudes the Magrittesque deadpan counterintuition that in turn whets the focus on visual phenomena otherwise blunted by commonplace misrepresentation. To choose one out of the many terminological coinages in aesthetics, the piece furnishes the “supplementary dimension” by which familiar experience and memory strips naked many other incongruities. Unexpected assumptions here claim their ground and recast a shrilling gaze on human reality, and perhaps on the true meaning of our moral premises.



We Live in You, 2009

We Live In You, 2009

Sergio Mora: The Unfetishized Mirror The analogy between consciousness and the computer apropos of the installation by Sergio Mora surpasses a mere figure of speech. Software and data in the hardware platform replicate the social networking complex to such a degree that on the eerier side of technology consciousness may become no less exploitable than the fetishized mirror of the ancients. By winnowing further this concomitancy, the most striking revelation here emerges as the viewers become aware of the steeper translatability of their own presence in a medium that has become the capital comeuppance to being “human, all too human.�


RS21 ARTISTS Kelledy Francis Kyle Sergio Mora Dina Mack Brigan Gresh Andrew White Egberto Almenas Richard Reep Doug Rhodehamel Patrick Green Nathan Selikoff Kimberly D.H. Walz Martha Lent Stephen Carey



Postscript: The Research Studio

in the 21st Century


The marauding demons André Smith witnessed in the late 1930’s had to reckon with the kindest feats of the imagination. One of the most critical periods in American history, further pained by the Great Drought and postwar moral gloom, also donned the spirit with marvelous wellsprings in technology and art. In retrospect, historical parallels may be useful as a study method, but when looking in fair proportions beyond a moment that bears striking similarities to those of the Lost Generation, a warning comes in handy: solutions do not click in as a knee jerk. A closer look at history’s patterned reflexes would reveal that the “visualisms” of the artist, as André Smith noted, should aid the intricate concert of human agencies needed to overcome drawbacks as those we are experiencing today. Far from any pragmatical notion, artists will not save us, but without a constant replenishment of their “disturbingly insistent” voice, refreshed demons will certainly snatch away the prosperity and freedom with which we would prefer “to live and move and have our being.”

CREDITS: Joshua Creuy UCF Internship project is photo documentation Photo credits to Gloria Capozzi, Macey Mackubin, Kristen Wheeler Ephriam McCormick UCF Film/ video internship project Catalog design Macey Mackubin Photo of Dina Mack’s Solitude by Dina Mack

The Maitland Art Center is a not-for-profit educational institution operated for the benefit and enjoyment of all who live and visit in Central Florida. The Art Center activities are sponsored in part by United Arts of Central Florida, Inc.; by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council; and by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Music by Chris Santos


RS21 selections from

the collective: Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver Via Con Me Waltz (Better Than Fine) Music Box Gong Swimmer Lake Marie Belle Paris (Aeroplane Remix) L’amor Nunca Muere Collage Of Dreams Secret d’etat Burning Inside (Live) Wake The Dead Good News Special Place Paranoid Android Cath… VOID / Comm Sweetness I Can’t Be Satisfied Good News Glory Of The 80’s Missed The Boat

Gotye Mark Mothersbaugh Fiona Apple Regina Specktor Sigur Ros Four Tet John Prine Alif Tree Friendly Fires Alif Tree John Beltran Andreanne Alain Ministry The Used Michelle Shocked Infected Mushroom Radiohead Death Cab For Cutie B12 Jimmy Eat World Jeffrey Wright Michelle Shocked Tori Amos Modest Mouse


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Research Studio In The 21st Century. A collaborative art show at the Maitland Art Center.


Research Studio In The 21st Century. A collaborative art show at the Maitland Art Center.

Profile for macey