PEAR SQUARE ART FAIR 2!
Saturday July 20th 2019 (rain date July 27th)
@Richardson Park in Dorchester (Mass Ave and Columbia Rd)
Join us for our second annual Pear Square Art Fair! This all day celebration of art and community is the brainchild of us here at Dorchester Art Project along with our friends at the Dorchester North Neighborhood Association, The Oleana Foundation and the Dorchester Historical Society. Aimed at showcasing the talent of Dorchester artists and craftspeople the PSAF will have dozens of local art vendors and supporting organizations tabling for their arts and causes all day. From 12 to 5 p.m., there will be light musical entertainment of the folk, pop, poetry and DJ variety on the lawn of the James Blake House (the oldest house in Boston!) and there will be free tours of the historic landmark all afternoon. Plus drinks and food will be served from local vendors along with amusements like face painting and a bouncy house for da kids. As the sun starts to set our featured bands will take to the bigger stage from 5 to 7 p.m., Honey and the Bees’ neo-soul and Hip Hop exploration and MyCompiledThoughts’ Rnb/Hip Hop explosion. And closing out the night will be a youth theatre review!
Come on down to that little slice of heaven (green space) next to the KFC and giant pear statue in Dorchester for a day of family fun and community expression!
Places You Can Hang:
Outdoor places you’ve missed or neglected and how to find them!
Oakdale Park/Middlesex Fells Reservation
Take the Orange Line to Oak Grove, exit the Washington Street side of the station, walk about a half mile to Oakdale Park in Melrose, and you enter a beautiful patch of forestry which connects to the larger Middlesex Fells Reservation. If you’re into hiking and experiencing some truly beautiful views, you can explore the entirety of the Fells, which extends over 2600 acres and contains 100+ miles of mixed-use trails.
Nashua Street Park aka EGGS
I used to skate the iconic EGGS (Nashua Street Park) a bunch when I was younger, but now I tend to find myself simply sitting and enjoying this park in the West End of Boston, located off the Green Line Science Park stop. Gaze over the Charles River, watch some kids bust out a few tricks, and enjoy the experience of simply being alive at this nice little park by the water.
With the summer in full swing, there’s no better time to hit the beach than right now. Take the Blue Line to Revere Beach and enjoy some ocean air. Get a slice of Bianchi’s pizza, a Revere Beach staple, now served at Renzo Pizzeria on the boulevard, and enjoy a delicious ice cream sundae at Kell’s Kreme as well. There’s also a ton of hardcore shows that happen at Sammy’s Patio, too, so there’s often the opportunity to catch some intense live music while you’re in the area.
While the ICA’s exhibition Less Is a Bore may traffic in extremes and technicolor, its strength is found in the magnitude of moments. Ranging from deeply personal to “categorically ambivalent,” these specific instances and insights serve as the foundation from which the works catapult into being, at once imposing and intimate. Where some may write Maximalism off, Less Is a Bore scribbles it defiantly across the walls, deftly balancing nuance and neon in an exuberant display. While Robert Venturi’s phrase “less is a bore” (a retort to the pithy maxim “less is more”) lends the exhibition its title, his equally wry characterization of art as “ambiguous rather than ‘articulated’… boring as well as ‘interesting’” encapsulates and then shatters the pretensions of an art world which, in the throes of Minimalism, seemed to have all but trimmed itself of fat.
Less Is a Bore challenged and deepened my understanding of Maximalism, which I somewhat sheepishly saw as a movement so concerned with being about so much that it risked seeming unmoored, aimless. The exhibition tracks the reactive nature of the movement, drawing the fine distinction between reaction and departure. It is this notion of response without rejection, Venturi’s call for art that is “vestigial as well as innovating,” that lays the groundwork for the exhibition to address the power of social, political, and historical context through the distinct perspectives of its artists. In Less Is a Bore, nothing is implicit, there is no beneath—sharp insights and criticisms of our world crackle on the surface, reacting with one another to form a remarkable assessment of Maximalism that is both deeply poignant and larger-than-life.
Upon entering the exhibit, I was immediately drawn to Jasper Johns’ print Scent (1976), made using lithograph, linocut, and woodcut plates and blocks. Johns devised his crosshatch technique by observing the flash of cars driving by on the highway, struck by “an obsessive quality, order with dumbness, and the possibility of a complete lack of meaning.” This method, as I learned from the accompanying text, closely adheres to the rationale of Minimalism, a “step-and-repeat” approach. Johns’ emphasis on this urge to replicate and experiment with a print because of its very randomness is a perfect example of the symbiosis between minimalist and maximalist sensibilities that Less Is a Bore aims to highlight. Johns’ exploration of his sensory experience of cars on the highway, unburdened by concrete meaning or symbolism, hints at a more nuanced form of inclusivity that has come to define the Maximalist movement. There is nothing to “get” or “not get” about a given piece—each one seems to possess openness to the chaos of the world outside the studio that is both self-aware and self-evident.
Jasper Johns, Scent, 1976. Lithograph, linocut, and woodcut from four aluminum plates, four linoleum blocks, and four woodblocks on Twinrocker paper
Howardena Pindell’s piece Autobiography: Artemis possesses a meditative quality similar to that of Johns’ Scent, but the inspiration behind her piece has a distinct social and historical weight. The sense of movement in the piece is immediate, almost palpable: bright gold hues and gentle blues are stacked on top of each other with a kind of speed you can sense, even as the work itself is stagnant. Up close, the viewer can just make out the places where the canvas was cut to cast several shapes across the circular form. At some points, Pindell’s technique allows for the paint itself to stretch across these almost imperceptible gaps, tiny fissures in an otherwise bright and seemingly coherent whole.
Howardena Pindell, Autobiography: Artemis, 1986, mixed media on canvas. Image courtesy of Garth Greenan Gallery.
The “dot” motif stems from Pindell’s own experience traveling to the South as a child during the Jim Crow era and noticing that a red dot was placed on the bottom of dishes in many Southern restaurants to separate them from dishes used by white customers. Pindell brings the painful history behind this memory to the surface by capturing its sensory components. “‘Abstraction is like that: it doesn’t have a concrete meaning, but can relate back to signification in the work,” Pindell explains, “like that experience of turning over the cup and seeing the circle, of being marked.” In emphasizing the experiential, Pindell takes a highly individual memory and magnifies it. Pindell’s memory does not have to be “concrete” to be impactful. In fact, her abstract approach and perspective, including her choice to retain and emphasize the childhood perceptions of sight and touch, allows a work based on personal recollection to encompass the larger social implications of what it means to be “marked” in America.
Howardena Pindell, Autobiography: Artemis, 1986, mixed media on canvas. Image courtesy of Garth Greenan Gallery.
While vastly different in their execution, Stephanie Syjuco’s prints Cargo Cults: Cover-Up and Applicant Photos (Migrants) take on a similar phenomenon, sharpening the sloping curves of Pindell’s work into a starker approach to what it means to be “marked.” Syjuco’s inkjet prints are almost unforgivingly angular, making their viewer strain to make sense of their subjects. It is this very process of identification, the metrics our brains flick through in order to categorize another person, that Syjuco seems to want to challenge. Less Is a Bore only features one print in her Cargo Cults: Cover-Up series, which depicts Syjuco embodying common stereotypes within Filipino culture. “Cover-Up,” who stands for the entirety of the series in this exhibition, is Syjuco, covered up to her eyes in colliding lines of fabric. The superimposed gradient works to emphasize the harshness of the two-tone print: Syjuco has purposefully eliminated all nuance in her depictions of what it may mean to be this particular woman, using emblems and markers from within her own culture to produce this stereotype.
Stephanie Syjuco, Cargo Cults: Cover-Up, 2013-16, pigmented inkjet print. Image courtesy of the artist.
Syjuco pushes her work further by sourcing all of her materials from “fast fashion” retailers. This bold choice (including the full refunds she receives from returning all of the materials after making her prints) seems to heighten the notion of a commodifiable identity: such clothes present a quick, easy, and simplistic way to characterize someone.
The zigs and zags of these prints seem to be Syjuco’s own red dot. Both Pindell and Syjuco redirect the forces threatening to reduce them to almost nothing, channeling them through a sort of repetitive confrontation of these symbolic shapes. Inkjet prints, as Syjuco indicates in her other series Applicant Photos (Migrants), can be easily and rapidly replicated, churning out identical images to whatever capacity necessary. By choosing to convey her messages in this medium, Syjuco is able to embrace the power of identity-as-commodity in her form, while challenging it with the content of her work. In Applicant Photos (Migrants), Syjuco’s face is entirely obscured—the self is unidentifiable, though it is portrayed using the government standard format for identifying who belongs and who doesn’t. Syjuco subverts the kind of subordination that comes with being passively “marked” by using the very channels of identification most often and most easily accessible to assess someone’s status. Questions of citizenship, race, gender, and sexuality that have crowded the modern American conscience reverberate through Syjuco’s daring exploration of agency in identity in her work.
Stephanie Syjuco, Applicant Photos (Migrants), 2013-2018, pigmented inkjet print. Image courtesy of the artist.
I hesitate to unspool a singular, connective thread that draws these impressions together. Robert Venturi, whose wit and insight molds the entirety of the exhibition, argued “for messy vitality over obvious unity,” a phrase I gladly documented and then immediately struggled to truly embody as I encountered each piece. I have an urge to form a neat conclusion, to have things connect—I’m not as comfortable courting “the possibility of a complete lack of meaning” as I would like to be. What I was able to identify was that, despite its clear Maximalist bent, zooming too far out from Less Is a Bore in search of an overarching theme compromises the true focus and power of its pointed abstractionism. I became increasingly comfortable allowing each piece to be its own experience for both the viewer and artist, even as they all swim in the larger soup of “mixing and matching” that drove the creation of this movement. I often find myself looking to conclude with the word “ultimately,” but was happy to find that the nature of the exhibition kicked this crutch away from me. The beauty of Maximalist art, and of Less Is a Bore in particular, is that the apex has yet to be created—the goal is to do more, to do it bigger, and to never stop. Less Is a Bore celebrates these values by capturing the moments that inspired them, granting the viewer an experience that is at once roving and refined, a chance to perch comfortably—though not too comfortably—on the precipice of total sensory overload.
Less Is a Bore will be on view at the ICA/Boston through September 22nd. More information on the ICA and the exhibition can be found here.
It’s funny how the tenor of the times can change how art is both made and perceived. Had The Art of Self Defense, the new film by writer-director Riley Stearns, come out just a few years ago, one could imagine it as a light-hearted trifle of an indie comedy, or perhaps even an outrageous, Dodgeball-style bro-com. Its story, about a nebbishy office drone who falls under the sway of a pompous karate instructor, seems rife for big, dumb laughs. And, to be sure, The Art of Self Defense is very funny (and dumb, in a self-aware way). But it’s also a film made in the year 2019, a time when the absurd has become frighteningly real and satire is increasingly threatened with obsolescence. As a result, this wacky martial arts comedy has morphed into something much darker and stranger than meets the eye.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Casey, a painfully awkward “beta male” (the film’s parlance, not mine) living a decidedly uninspiring existence as an accountant in a drab cubicle. He dreams of going to France and desperately seeks the approval of his macho officemates (who sit around the break room table matter-of-factly saying things like “Missionary is the best position” and “We should do push-ups”), but mostly only finds company in his unnamed dachshund. One night, while walking to the store for dog food, Casey is savagely beaten by a gang of masked motorcyclists. During his recuperation, Casey finds himself terrified to leave the house. He applies to buy a handgun, but worries that the waiting period would leave him vulnerable to future attacks (“It’s so someone who’s mad at someone else can’t just buy a gun and kill them,” the clerk deadpans, “Instead they have to wait a few days.”).
In desperation, Casey finds himself at a strip mall dojo, run by a sensei who refers to himself only as Sensei (Alessandro Nivola). Intimidated by both the physicality of karate and Sensei’s pseudophilosophical proclamations (“You must learn to kick with your fists… and punch with your feet”), Casey sits on the sidelines, first during Sensei’s day class, then at the children’s class run by the blankly psychotic Anna (Imogen Poots). Eventually, Sensei invites him to join, telling Casey that he sees a lot of himself in him. Casey takes to the class, which finally allows him to feel like something of a man. However, Sensei soon takes an uncomfortably personal interest in Casey’s life, pushing him to listen to heavy metal, abandon French lessons for German, and strive to be more “masculine” (“You’re a good dog, and I care about you very much,” Casey informs his dachshund. “That said, I’m not going to pet you anymore. It’s for your own good.”). Gradually, what at first seemed like a harmless pastime reveals itself to be something altogether more sinister.
While never explicitly stated, technological signifiers seem to place The Art of Self Defense as a late-’90s period piece, all VHS and standalone answering machines and chunky CRT computer monitors. Even without these clues, however, its time period should be clear. Sensei’s teachings echo that peculiar strain of 1990s machismo exemplified by Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris, with quasi-intellectual posturing and secondhand mysticism serving as cover for a startlingly toxic masculinity. Sensei’s own interpretation of this he-man mentality is outrageously overblown (he at one point states that a massage from a woman is inherently inferior because “their hands are too weak and feminine”), but, again, given the landscape in which we find ourselves, it doesn’t feel as outrageous as it should. Stearns is aware of this, and leans into the menace; much of the film is shot in moody darkness, making the actors’ deadly serious delivery simultaneously funnier and more unnerving.
As one can imagine, this incongruous approach can at times make for tonal whiplash. There are moments where the film’s oddball characters and thrift store chic drift toward Napoleon Dynamiteism, a look which clashes with both the film’s darker impulses and its flourishes of satirical surrealism (all pornography in this world appears to consist of grainy, disembodied photographs of women’s breasts). But while these clashes don’t always feel deliberate, they do effectively keep the audience just slightly off-balance. Any given scene could end with a willfully stupid sight gag (like Casey proudly buying nothing but yellow groceries to celebrate his promotion to yellow belt), or with a character’s face being mashed to a pulp. The result is a film both hilarious and almost malevolent– think Buster Keaton starring in Fight Club.
At its core, The Art of Self Defense is a deeply silly film, but also once infused with a pervasive sense of dread and despair. At its most inspired, both moods come into focus at once, as when Poots gently instructs a class of ten-year-olds, “Remember, you’re trying to drive your opponent’s nose bone up into their brain. The key word is up.” Indeed, while one’s focus is naturally drawn to Eisenberg’s oddball lead performance and Nivola’s quotable blowhardism, it’s Poots who is perhaps the film’s Rosetta Stone. As the film’s only named female character, Poots’ deadpan performance belies the calm, seething rage of a woman who has been repeatedly stymied in her attempts to make it in the film’s absurdly hypermacho world, but who stubbornly refuses to quit. It doesn’t feel quite right to say you’ll be rooting for her– as with most of the characters, she glides through the film in aloof detachment, and many of the film’s most gruesome moments come at her hands– but it’s difficult not to empathize, especially as our world drifts closer and closer to that of the film.
In the end, despite its period trappings, I suspect The Art of Self Defense will serve as a fascinating time capsule of the present. Just as seemingly innocuous sitcoms from decades past couldn’t help but work in subplots about Cold War anxieties, The Art of Self Defense practically oozes with the grim ludicrousness that characterizes our current day to day life. When your children ask you what it was like to be alive in the late 2010s, you could do worse than to show them this movie. And when they ask you if you know how to explode someone’s head with just your index finger, you can tell them yes.
THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE | Official Trailer - YouTube
The Art of Self Defense
dir. Riley Stearns
Opens Friday, 7/19 @ Somerville Theatre and Kendall Square Cinema
If you’re currently binging the newest season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, you should know about the band of boys who walked so the Hawkins crew could run (or bicycle?). This ’80s adventure flick features one of the most iconic mystery-chasing foursomes that still had to be home in time for dinner. Facing the foreclosures of their homes in Astoria, Oregon, friends Mikey, Data, Mouth, and Chunk spend one last weekend together that turns into an epic treasure hunt for the lost fortune of legendary pirate One-Eyed Willy.
With the beautiful Goon Docks of Astoria as their landscape, the self-proclaimed gang of “Goonies” take viewers on a cinematic ride full of quotable moments, scenic backdrops, and an ’80s pop soundtrack that has rightfully solidified its place as a nostalgic cult classic. While the film just turned 34 years old last month, it is truly timeless with a rewatchability factor that it’s not likely to lose. The Library of Congress dubbed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” and we think you might too.
The Goonies (1985) Official Trailer - Sean Astin, Josh Brolin Adventure Movie HD - YouTube
dir. Richard Donner
Screens Friday, July 19th, 8pm (doors 7:30) @ Video Underground – click here for ticket info.
For too long “angular” has been a word used by genre-prescriptivists to describe their favorite math rock albums, but Boston’s own post-genre band Splitting Image have come to take it back. Angular is the right word for Splitting Image’s latest release, Thank You, an album that sounds how playing tetris feels. Each instrument fits together, creating a vibrant soundscape, coherent, but not rigid. Powerful bass lines rip through your head. The bass’s clean tones lay the groundwork for the near constant onslaught of warring guitar riffs, pieces fitting together. The vocals almost fade into the arrangement. They move and dance between the chords, elegant vocal maneuvers fitting seamlessly among the strings until they are unleashed; Lira’s voice-turned-howl, a defiance against love unfulfilled, whether for herself or others.
The tight drum lines are omnipresent on this album. Solid beats power the songs forward while keeping them clean, encapsulating the albums sound and tightening it. These drums give each song a frame, the energetic chaos constrained until it has meaning.
Thank You is concise, four songs clocking in at just under ten minutes, but makes every minute count. Like placing the perfect piece in tetris, this Boston post-punk album gives the adrenaline rush you need to get through the day. The sheer energy in each song is enough to engage listeners before they fully grasp the complexity of the instrumentation. This release is a brief taste of what this outfit can do, and left me wanting more.
Splitting Image will be playing with Operator Music Band and Lisel over at The Lilypad on July 26th.
Frank Hurricane is a psychedelic drifter somewhat based in Athens, GA. He specializes in folk and blues, and holds a storied discography full of tales from Appalachia and the soul. Most recently, he released, Life is Spiritual, with a newly formed band, Hurricanes of Love. Boston Hassle was chill enough to book a slot on the Life is Spiritual Tour, Wednesday July 17th.
Before this week’s show, I got a chance to ask Frank a few Questions about the driving forces behind his music. And also about shrymp folk.
Make sure to check the show out this Wednesday, where we’ll also have Goddess Complex (Athens, GA), as well as local noisers in Sweet Petunia, Healers Co, and Moe. The lineup is stacked and the park is ready, sundown till late.
Boston Hassle: You’ve been at it for a bit, with 15 releases on your bandcamp and a ton of tours, both US and international. Plus, Life is Spiritual is all about The Journey. What’s one (or more) of your favorite tales you have from your travels?
Frank Hurricane: It’s hard to pick a favorite story from my travels but we did get run into by a truck, saw a naked old man in downtown Richmond yesterday, and took a spiritual dump in the James River!
BH: On that note, can you tell us a little more about the Appalachian trek that inspired this most recent album? How long were you on the road?
FH: My last hike was 300 miles, it ended a few weeks ago! The holy mountains are one of my biggest influences and long hikes keep me going!
BH: This might expose my lameness, but can you explain what makes folk shrymp folk?
FH: Shrymp folk is music that promotes the message of the SHRYMPANATI, which is like a positive illuminati.
BH: What’s next? Do you have some more recording planned or is it time to hit the road again?
FH: I’m on a two month tour right now! And then I’m going to record the next record, it’s gonna be a full band album with my new band in Athens GA!
Stripped down, first wave, heavy/black metal done right. Like a bare-bones Mercyful Fate, or less theatrical Death SS, HEXENBRETT keeps things simple in distilling this classic style down to what matters most. Occult themes sung in native German tongue, swaying from midtempo stompers to occasional sweeps of classic second wave Norwegian black metal. A bit similar and reminiscent of their Slavic peers in Malokarpaten, with the folklore element and influences, with moody, almost dungeon synth keys floating around in the background. Anybody with an inclination towards classic early black metal on the more traditional side should watch out for this one!
GET INTO IT! Episode #49- More nonsensical mixtures of tunes - YouTube
Hey Guys, in this episode I show a bunch of different records from different genres. I am starting to dip my toe in the “black” and “death” metal scenes, be gentle.
Get into it!
November 30th, 1979: Pink Floyd puts out their magnum opus: The Wall, a 26-track double record mostly curated by Roger Waters, the band’s bass player.
Sure, the other members are present throughout the record, but The Wall is Waters’ passion project, exploring his childhood and the isolation he felt during the troubled years of the band.
Waters, who looked at The Wall as his masterpiece, wanted to make the album the band’s most ambitious work yet. This included a tour where the band would play the record in its entirety while building up a physical wall between them and the audience ,as well as the 1982 movie, Pink Floyd – The Wall.
On the surface, The Wall plays like a visual album; the songs run in mostly the same order, and the basic story is there. To look at an album like The Wall on just a surface level would be an absolute injustice, though, so the movie more or less makes Waters’ intentions a bit clearer.
The Wall tells the simple story of a musician named Pink who descends himself into a world of isolation. Through isolation comes madness, and through madness comes loss of oneself. The parallels between Pink and Waters himself are obvious (almost intentionally in fact), and make for a truly personal story. Waters’ exploration into loneliness leads him into digging up his own past, whether it be his abusive childhood or his failure at falling in love.
While the overall tone is personal, Waters packs The Wall with themes of the time and fears for the future: an Orwellian world led by a Big Brother-like government, the threat of possible extinction, anti-war messages, etc. Waters ultimately ties his anxieties about the world and his own insecurities together, as if they’re one and the same, making for a deeper exploration at what makes one man alone. This is the brilliance of the The Wall.
To showcase both the personal journey for Pink and Waters’ own anxieties, director Alan Parker calls upon the use of both a live action narrative and animated segments created by political artist Gerald Scarfe. While the live action segments deal with Pink’s exploration into the pieces of his past that add up to his wall of isolation, the animated moments go deep into Pink’s brain and the existentialism Pink constantly explores. The images are iconic and breathtaking: the hammers marching in order, the screaming face coming out of the wall, the flowers, etc.
That’s not to say the live action sections should be overlooked. Pink’s story of self-isolation easily carries the emotional weight of the film. Bob Geldof stars as Pink, a role that adds up to a mostly silent performance, though he has a lot more to do later in the film as Pink accepts the position of a dictator, leading the audience into a full scale riot during “In The Flesh.”
Even with the lack of voice in Geldof, Alan Parker makes up for it in absolutely gorgeous direction: the sweeping riot shots, the intensity in the party sequences, the tracking shots through Pink’s childhood home. The direction partners with the animated segments so well that the transitions from one to the other never feel jarring.
All of the themes and beauty of the visuals are tied together by the music of The Wall. None of the album is lost in translation from record to screen; if anything, the movie is a perfect companion, adding context to the themes present in the album and creating new ones along the way. It is almost preferable to listen to the album and watch the movie back to back, just to immerse yourself in the world Waters is throwing you into.
As the movie comes to a close and the wall that has been built from the beginning starts to crumble, you start to realize just how important the story of The Wall is in many ways, and not only the obvious wall metaphor is present.
The Wall explores the build up of fascism and intense nationalism that can be seen today in our own country and some people’s fear of letting other people in, whether physically or mentally. In reality, we can trace a lot of people’s fears of others into their own deeply rooted insecurities. It’s an important topic that’s not only examined in a global sense, but in Waters himself.
If only we all had the ability to be as introspective.
Pink Floyd The Wall (1982) - Official Trailer | Bob Geldof, Bob Hoskins Movie - YouTube
Pink Floyd: The Wall
dir. Alan Parker