On Tuesday, December 6, 2022, Joseph Gallivan interviews Sima Familant, curator of The Earth Laughs, a show at The Lobby Gallery at Southeast 28th and Division in Portland. The Earth Laughs focuses on flower art from the collection of Molly McCabe, who owns the Ellen Browning building, in which is the Lobby Gallery. Familant talks about digital art, Andy Warhol and David Hockney’s experimentation, and why this art is free to view by the general public.
This interview was recorded on Dec 1, 2022 on Zoom videoconferencing software and engineered by KBOO volunteer Ray Bodwell. https://kboo.fm/blog/55224
From the press release:
The Earth Laughs
curated by Sima Familant
The Lobby at Ellen Browning Building, Portland
Opening October 21, 2022
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-2PM
Artists Included: Fernando & Humberto Campana, Petra Cortright, Karin Gulbran, David Hockney, Marguerite Humeau,Max Jansons, Alex Katz, TeamLab, Andy Warhol
The Earth Laughs exhibition at The Lobby is taken from an Emerson quote which expresses, “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”—How appropriate for a private collection which prioritizes beauty! And this exhibition certainly does not disappoint. Through a diverse body of work ranging from traditional oil painting, books, sculpture, ceramic, design, paintings without paint, to a major video installation, The Earth Laughs hopes to highlight the splendor and awe that we feel before nature through the form of the flower.
The biggest work in the show is TeamLab’s presentation, Flower and People – A Whole Year per Hour, a 12-monitor video installation. TeamLab is an international collective of artists, programmers, engineers, mathematicians, and architects, and have shown what an interdisciplinary collective is able to achieve, using digital technology, taking art one step further into the video and three-dimensional frame as well as dazzling the viewer with its precision, mechanics and dare I say—beauty. This is the first time TeamLab will be showing in Portland OR and The Lobby is pleased to bring
the international art conversation to the local community!
Other works in the exhibition include David Hockney’s Ipad prints from his series, The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire, an area where he lives in England whose landscape is the inspiration for these prints along with A Bigger Book, a Taschen publication of the full breath of Hockney’s work over the last 60 years. As the book is oversized, it is installed on a Mark Newson designed bookstand. An artist well known from figurative to landscapes, his work is always an injection of elegance and refinement.
Another older statesman of the show is a monoprint series titled Flowers by Andy Warhol. Made from a collage of construction paper in different colors, each work has a personality all its own. Lastly, in the hallway is a print series by Alex Katz, from The Flowers Portfolio.
Max Jansons, Karin Gulbran, Petra Cortright, the Campana Brothers and Margarite Humeau shed a a multigenerational light on how the Earth Laughs. Gulbran does so with her ceramic vases of animals and flowers; Humeau does this with her interest in science and alchemy as shown in her dynamic bronze flower; Cortright using the computer and pixels as her paint, splicing different flower images from the internet to create one image produced on aluminum; the Campana Brothers mixing their interests of design, functionality and art to create sculpture; and Jansons interest in the traditional,
using aged oil and real pigments, using known tropes such as the still life, imbedding it with contemporary visual signs to capture the viewer’s attention, have all come together in this show in perfect harmony …and in the face of such organic simplicity: The Earth Laughs.
More Information about the artists exhibited in the show can be found at the following:
Fernando & Humberto Campana: https://estudiocampana.com.br/biography/
Petra Cortright: https://www.petracortright.com/hello.html
Karin Gulbran: https://www.massimodecarlo.com/artist/66/gul-karin-gulbran
David Hockney: https://www.hockney.com/home
Marguerite Humeau: https://whitecube.com/artists/artist/Marguerite_Humeau
Max Jansons: https://maxjansons.com/home.html
Alex Katz: https://www.alexkatz.com
Andy Warhol: https://warholfoundation.org
Since receiving her MA in Postwar and Contemporary Art from Sotheby’s Institute in London, Sima Familant has been integrally involved in building important collections of contemporary art. While in London, Sima saw every show possible from the West End to the newly forming East End. At the time, London was in the midst of momentous change, from a stuffy old world art scene to a hotbed of artistic experimentation and rebellious careerism. The mood was exuberant as new galleries opened weekly and artists were everywhere. Sima attended Sam Taylor-Wood’s first solo show, visited Tracey Emin and Sara Lucas’ The Shop in the East End, and viewed the first Damien Hirst butterfly paintings, Steve McQueen videos, Chris Ofili dung paintings, and Douglas Gordon projections of vintage footage. She also had the opportunity to travel to Holland, Belgium, Germany, Paris, and New York to see notable exhibitions, such as Documenta, Munster Sculpture Project, and the Venice Biennale. Together, these experiences shaped her philosophy about art: You need to see art—a lot of art—to understand art; and engendered her strong commitment to, and love of, contemporary art, which has always served as the backbone in all of her ventures in the contemporary art world.
Sima began her professional career at Baumgartner Gallery in Washington DC, followed by a four year term as Director at Greene Naftali Gallery in New York. At Green Naftali, she curated exhibitions in addition to managing the gallery’s operations, artists, and collectors. From there, she moved to Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, where she served as Associate Director, and curated several critically acclaimed group shows of emerging and established artists. These exhibits connected seemingly disparate works, ideas, artists, and mediums, contextualizing the work of younger and mid-career artists like Francis Alys, Jack Pierson, Paul Pfeiffer, and Gedi Sibony within important ongoing themes and concepts in contemporary art, and revealed the influence of an older generation of artists such as Bas Jan Ader and Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Many of the younger artists included in these shows have gone on to reach international recognition: Paul Pfeiffer won the first Melva Bucksbaum Whitney Biennial Award; Mark Bradford was in the Freestyle show at The Studio Museum in Harlem and most recently represented the United States at the 57th Venice Biennale; De Rijke/De Rooij were shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Award; and Darren Almond was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. Additionally, during this time, Sima helped develop and foster the careers of young, emerging artists such as Cameron Martin, Katy Grannan, and Aida Ruilova.
Her time in galleries allowed her to develop relationships with many collectors as she helped them establish a curatorial vision and oversaw all aspects of their collections. This eventually led to the creation of her own art advisory in 2006 to best meet the needs of today’s sophisticated collectors in an increasingly globalized art world. Sima’s relationships with an international group of dealers, curators, critics, and artists allow her to provide comprehensive education and guidance to collectors, in addition to granting her access to the best works. By focusing on a select group of serious collectors, Sima provides a full range of services and guidance that draw on her gallery experience and is unlimited in artistic scope and geography. Sima is based in New York, New York, and Austin, Texas.
In addition to her work as a curator and art advisor, Sima has served on the Boards of Steep Rock Arts Association Co., LAX Art, and Rhizome. Steep Rock Arts Association Co. is a foundation that is designed to provide emerging visual artists and curators with time, space, and professional guidance to explore their work in a supportive, thriving, and artistic environment. LAX Art is a non-profit space in Los Angeles that offers a space for provocation, dialogue, and confrontation with practices in Los Angeles and abroad. Rhizome is an organization located within the New Museum that is dedicated to supporting the collaboration between contemporary art practices and emerging technology. Although Sima no longer serves on these boards, she is still actively involved in the aforementioned organizations as well as several others, which can be viewed on the Community Engagement tab of this website.
THE BIG ASK
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Joseph Gallivan has been a reporter since 1990. He has covered music for the London Independent, Technology for the New York Post, and arts and culture for the Portland Tribune, where he is currently a Feature Writer. He is the author of two novels, "Oi, Ref!" and "England All Over" which are available on Amazon.com