Family Matters / March 2, 2010

On Family Matters

Family Matters introduces Sushi’s audience to a group of artists who reflect on the esoteric legacies of the avant-garde through work that is formally – if paradoxically – influenced by popular entertainment. The exhibition consists of the following artists or groups: The two-piece Canadian band The Cedar Tavern Singers compose pop songs about such avant-trivia as the Futurist Manifesto and Robert Smithson’s iconic earthwork, Spiral Jetty. San Diego-based new media artist Lisa Hutton makes dada nonsense poems the subject of her multimedia animations. Andrew Kaufman plays the role of artist-as-amateur-magician in his Kiss series, which pays homage to the lineage of sculptors, from Constantin Brancusi to Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who have made work based on the subject of the kiss. Lauren Tyler Norby’s project Altruism confounds the notion of benevolence in art and cultural activities that involve gifting. Dutch artist Oscar Prinsen takes on the persona of a self-help guru who erects playground sculpture (for adults) that comically institutionalizes many of the themes of early performance art. Donna Stack embraces the feminist legacy of using soft, gendered materials in a series of profanity-laden, hand-stitched welcome mats that would make Martha Stewart blush. The range of expression in Family Matters is similar to that of a young person coming to terms with his own family history - harsh criticism, misty-eyed sentimentality, perverse parody, and nuanced understanding all abound, though not necessarily in that order. Sushi’s viewer is presented with a range of experiences stemming from the personal stakes these artists have in the often revolutionary, always transient moments that make up the history of the avant-garde.

-    Brian Goeltzenleuchter, Curator

Artists’ Biographies

The Canadian band Cedar Tavern Singers AKA Les Phonoréalistes (Daniel Wong and Mary-Anne McTrowe) resides in the liminal space between folk rock band and tongue-in-cheek art project. The Cedar Tavern Singers’ songs are a blend of the naïve awkwardness of one’s first basement rock band and the sardonic façade of the overeducated. Set to catchy tunes and sensibilities, the band wryly conveys the artistic condition, soulfully delivers art history education, and from time to time belts out a well-loved standard—in all this, the band explores the sort of passion that compels a teenager to pin a shaky hand-rendered Morrissey drawing to his or her wall—except in this case, Morrissey is likely to be substituted with Baldessari. Daniel Wong received an MFA from the University of Western Ontario. Mary-Anne McTrowe received an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal.

Lisa Hutton is a San Diego-based artist working primarily in conceptual art, net art, video, and animation. Her works reveal the recombinant potential of digital media to investigate subject matter based on digital media’s interdisciplinary origins – as tools for scientific inquiry, military communication, and later, popular entertainment.  Hutton received her MFA from the University of California San Diego. Her work has been exhibited internationally including: the 5th and 7th New York Digital Salons, LA Freewaves at MOCA Los Angeles, the Walker Art Center, the Soros Center for Contemporary Arts in Skopje, Macedonia, ISEA '97 Chicago, and Prix Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria.  She has a calico cat, likes machines of all types, and can drive a scissor lift with pinpoint precision.

Andrew Kaufman received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 2002 from the University of South Florida. Kaufman considers himself a convergent artist, letting idea dictate medium, which has led to a multiplicity of media that include video, sound, sculpture, painting and digital print. However eclectic in process and materials, Kaufman’s artworks are marked by a sense of wonder about the conditions surrounding one’s experience of the world, and how those conditions shape one’s understanding of reality.  He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe, including Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tampa, and Punch Gallery, Seattle. Andrew Kaufman is currently an Assistant Professor of Painting at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Lauren Tyler Norby is an artist and truth-fabricator working across disciplines and media to confound and amuse his audience. Taking a nonhierarchical approach to contemporary culture, Norby creates hybrid artworks fusing contradictory elements from both historical and fictional sources to investigate collaboration and authorship, entertainment, identity, and lying. Holding nothing sacred, he mixes and pollutes elements from Western society to challenge and critique entrenched beliefs through a variety of art forms, including video, installation, and performance. Norby is an MFA candidate at University of California, Santa Barbara. Website:                                       

Dutch artist, Oscar Prinsen is the founder of the Institute for the Wandering Man. Prinsen’s Institute borrows equally from the domains of visual art and popular psychology; representing the Institute, the charismatic and costumed Prinsen acts as a sort of evangelist spokesman, travelling the world with objects that promise to provide a context in which people can forge, restore, and satisfy the need for social relations. The artwork, both sculptural and pictorial, is typically comprised of simple, geometric forms that remind the Western viewer of children’s playground equipment. In fact, the sculptures are functional and intended to be used, as opposed to simply viewed. The work is often installed in highly trafficked public spaces in order to encourage the public to take pause from their secular concerns while using the work for private conversation or personal meditation. Oscar Prinsen’s enterprise is propositional in nature. His work makes claims that challenge the contemporary viewer’s justified scepticism at the same time as it reminds the student of culture that throughout history art has been valued for its use in social and spiritual ritual.

Donna Stack is an interdisciplinary artist who utilizes installation, video and performance. Her technically virtuosic, materially seductive work addresses issues dealing with her multi-cultural identity, dualities, and notions of authenticity. Donna Stack has exhibited nationally and internationally and was recently awarded a grant from the Iowa Arts Council for her forthcoming solo exhibition Refuge(e) Iowa. Her work has been reviewed in a number of publications including art US, Artweek, and Mavin magazines. Recent exhibitions include Rush Arts Fair, Miami, Phoenix Gallery, New York City, and Ruby Green Center for Art, Nashville. She is also the recipient of a 2004 and 2007 Artist Trust GAP Grant. Stack received her MFA from the University of South Florida.

Here not There / April 12, 2010

Circle of Complication: Dave Ghilarducci / February 1, 2010