Saturday, June 20, 2009

John Murphree
- installation & action May 23-25 2009

video stills

photo: Bob Raymond (MAG)

photo: Bob Raymond (MAG)

John Murphree
"Cultural Juxtaposition"
steel gongs and rack installation

John Murphree - Action for The Politics of Shoes @mobius from MobiusArtistsGroup on Vimeo.

This clip was taken at the Monday May 25, 2009 (Memorial Day Observed in the US in 2009) evening of performances.

Viewers are encouraged to take off their shoes and throw them at the gongs! The act of throwing a (probably) Chinese made American icon (the tennis shoe) at an American made chinese icon is the impetus of this piece.

John Murphree makes his home in Medford with his wife Jeanna Allegrone. He studied composition at the Berklee College of Music, B.M. and recently completed his master's in composition at the Boston Conservatory. Through collaborations with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, John has begun making bowed sculptures whose purpose is to explore the transfiguration of artistic energy into musical output.

Notes from the Curator:

1. I had heard about John Murphree through Juddertone, as he is one of the artists selected for the 2009 Juddertone ning forum and concerts. He had posted the video below on the Juddertone ning site as an example of one of his previous works so I immediately contacted him about creating an installation for The Politics of Shoes. He said that he wouldn't be able to create a new piece in time for the exhibit (since it was less than 3 weeks away at that point) so I asked him about what completed pieces he had which might fit the theme whereupon he described a rack of gongs that his housemates threw their shoes at when they had a rough day or just for the hell of it. Of course I said perfect! At the last minute, John called me and said he was having second thoughts about bringing his piece because he thought thematically perhaps his piece didn't fit into the show to which I responded with horror - no PLEASE! I have to have your piece in the show. Fortunately John brought his installation to be part of the exhibit and series of performances. It turned out to be one of the performance audience and exhibition favorites.

Find more videos like this on juddertone

2. From the book of comments at the exhibit:

"Love the gongs - very therapeutic!"
"Felt so good to throw shoes at the gong (sounded great too)!"
"Also, the metal panels were fun!"

3. Most of the visitors to the exhibit had to be encouraged to throw their own or Karen Klein's (who had offered up her beautiful sequined high heeled shoes up for sacrifice) at the gongs; once they felt free to do so, without exception, everyone really got into the action and often laughed or looked supremely happy once they had experienced the gongs. Other than visitors who had written their comments in the book, these two visitors' experiences were particularly memorable:

- An elegantly dressed artist with an Australian accent came dashing into the exhibit right before the show was due to come down. She told me that she had driven down from Newburyport (an hour or so north of Boston) to see the exhibit. When I offered her Karen Klein's shoes to throw at the gongs, she really went at the gongs with such relish and ferocity that I wish I had taken a video of her. It was simultaneously wonderful and alarming.

- Maggie Nowinski came to deinstall Burns Maxey's and her video installation (which the same elegant artist above had also enjoyed immensely and was the only person who I had heard laugh out loud while watching the video). Maggie took some time to walk around and view each installation carefully. She looked at the gongs and read the artist's statement and I told her she was welcome to throw her shoes at the gongs. She said that she couldn't throw her sneakers at the gongs because they weren't Made in China and perhaps it would go against the artist's intent. I then had to confess that I had begged John for his rack of gongs and he had kindly come up with his statement as a way of "justifying" the gong's presence in the exhibit and that I knew that John was fine with people hurling shoes of any country of origin at his gongs.

4. The curator takes a moment to play the gongs:

Improvisation using john Murphree's Gongs @mobius from Jane Wang on Vimeo.

5. I had decided that the safest place for the gongs was in front of the handicap ramp leading up to the second level of the gallery space since there were no windows or fragile installation in "firing" range of the gongs. During the performances, one 9 year old girl threw her shoes so wildly that she almost hit one of the windows and another artist managed to throw her shoe directly between two gongs which is much more difficult than hitting one of the gongs. Much deserved kudos to both participants.

6. Please note that although John Murphree is principally known as a composer, he also makes instruments - he welded the gongs which he sells individually or in sets if you are interested (the Curator bought two of the artist's gongs). You may contact him directly via his website:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Matt Samolis
- Composer/Musician May 24,25 2009

video still
photo: Bob Raymond (MAG)
photo: Bob Raymond (MAG)

photo: Bob Raymond (MAG)

video still

Matt Samolis - Composer/Musician

May 24, 25 2009

Matt Samolis - The Politics of Shoes @mobius from MobiusArtistsGroup on Vimeo.

Matt Samolis has been working in sonic and visual mediums since 1987. He began studying flute, and later composition and tenor banjo. He has worked with ensembles at New England Conservatory, Brandeis University, Berklee, and Tufts, as well as Open Hand Theatre, Pilgrim Research Collaborative, Mobius, Roy Hart Theatre, and numerous other projects. Currently, his primary work is with his collective, The Metal & Glass Ensemble, freelance photography, flutist, and as old time songster, Uncle Shoe.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gwen Murphy
- Lonely Wooden Tower

video clip: Jane Wang (MAG)

photo: Bob Raymond

video clip: Jane Wang (MAG)

Gwen Murphy
"Lonely Wooden Tower"
wall sculpture

"Lonely Wooden Tower" is an image of the feet of Christ and looks at the crucifixion as supreme personal sacrifice and as political assassination.

The artist stated in an email to the Curator:
"I'm very happy to be able to show "Lonely Wooden Tower" (Christ's feet). It's exciting and a little scary. As a figurative sculptor, I feel like never portraying the crucifixion would be like a song writer never writing a song about a broken heart. I was raised Christian, but I no longer have beliefs about the literal truth of Christ's life. I see Christ's life it as a powerful series of messages (like forgiveness). I sincerely hope not to offend anyone, but if a work of art doesn't disturb just a little, or at least surprise, then it's not an aesthetic experience, it's anesthetic."

Gwen Murphy is a sculptor living in Acton, Ma., with a studio at Art Space Maynard. She has been making figurative sculpture for over twenty years. Ms. Murphy received a BA in fine arts from New College of Florida, and an MFA in sculpture from Boston University College of Fine Arts. She has taught and exhibited in museums & galleries throughout New England and New York. Her most recent work has been the "Foot Fetish" series of shoe sculptures. Photographs of her sculptures may be viewed online on her website:

Email from the Curator to the artist:
"I did want to tell you that many many people commented on how beautiful and moving your piece is. And several were trying to figure out what material it was made of and how you constructed it ( some thought it was wood, some thought it was ceramic or clay - maybe they thought the title was allegorical?)

When my friend who was a minister and now is a full time free-lance journalist came to see the show, he asked me if he should look at the work in any particular order and I said no, just however he wished. I was working on my laptop while he was walking around and when I looked up, I saw that the first installation which he gravitated to was yours! I had to tease him about that saying "Jeff, you picked the one installation that was about religion".

Thanks again for your beautiful piece."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DeAnna Pellecchia & Matt Samolis
- "PLATFORM.." May 24 2009

photos: Bob Raymond

DeAnna Pellecchia and Matt Samolis
"PLATFORM - A Live Performance Installation"
May 24, 2009 - dance performance with live music


Part 1:

Part 2:

Originally designed for the stage, PLATFORM can be adapted to any performance space and includes a series of movement structures both set and improvisational which take place in , on and around dozens of platform shoes. The solo addresses the socio-political "platforms" of our time. Adorned in red, white and blue DeAnna incorporates strong visual imagery with sharp, disjointed choreography to comment on the personal choices we as Americans make on a daily basis. Matt Samolis accompanies on tenor banjo with a mash up of americana from different genres and styles, adding a layer of association and depth to the imagery set in motion by the visual movement.

DeAnna Pellecchia is a dancer, athlete, aerialist, actress, and choreographer committed to collaborating with artists of different mediums including musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists. She creates performance pieces that seamlessly blur lines of integration between disciplines, ultimately producing multi-sensory works of live art. Her mission as an artist is to expand the perception of ‘dance’ as an accessible form of art by engaging audiences of all kinds. In the process of achieving this goal she has not only danced, but soared, climbed, hurdled, hydroplaned, hovered and flown through countless unconventional landscapes across the United States; she has been featured in rodeos, operas, plays, fashion shows, magazines, movies and music videos; and she has taught and been taught by movers of all kinds. The Boston Herald has described her as “stunning…one of the area’s finest artists”. Bay Windows has defined her as “…muscular, mesmerizing, unforgettable…” As co-choreographer of Kairos Dance Theater, she crafts original performance pieces with Ingrid Schatz. She also creates site-specific performance installations incorporating all-live music with musician Ed Broms under the name Savage Amusements. DeAnna is a principal dancer with internationally acclaimed New York-based Paula Josa-Jones/Performance Works (featured soloist and original cast member of RIDE, PJJ/PW's Equestrian Dance Theater Performance, in which DeAnna dances with live horses). She also dances with Boston-based Kinodance Company (named one of Dance Magazine's "Top 25 to Watch" in 2008). DeAnna resides on dance faculty at Boston University; she is also a mentor-artist-in-residence at The Cloud Foundation.


Note from the Curator:
Matt Samolis will be profiled in a later post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lauren McCarthy
- Dress Shoes for Spontaneous Departure

photo: Bob Raymond (MAG)

video clips: J. Wang (MAG)

Lauren McCarthy
Dress Shoes for Spontaneous Departure
interactive sculpture

The work is a pair of shoes that allows the wearer to exist simultaneously in formal and non-formal social situations. An ordinary pair of running shoes have been transformed through decoration and the addition of hinged heels. The heels can be folded down to function as heeled dress shoes, or folded up to lay flat and function as running shoes. The transformable qualities of the shoes provide the wearer the freedom of spontaenous movement while maintaining the ability to conform to formal dress situations.

Viewers are invited to try on the shoes and experience their function as convertible dress and running shoes.

Lauren McCarthy is a designer, artist, and programmer currently living in Cambridge, MA. She recently graduated from MIT with degrees in visual arts and computer science. Her work explores the structures, systems, and boundaries of different social spaces, and the way that these affect our relationships with our physical bodies. Participants are invited to interact, experience, and question through participatory interventions that require both physical and mental engagement. She also works as a designer at Small Design Firm, creating interactive installations and media environments for various museums and institutions, including the Visitor's Center at Monticello, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

(more work here)

You can see how these shoes work by viewing this 39 second excerpt

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kira Seamon/ Matt Samolis
- dance/live music May 24 2009

video still: Jane Wang (MAG)

fd1024 - referred to in email below

photos: Bob Raymond (MAG)

Kira Seamon and Matt Samolis

May 24, 2009 - choreographed dance performance with live music

Videos of Kira Seamon's Untitled piece:

Part 1:

Part 2:

A dance/spoken word and sonic exploration of foot-binding as a function of the politics of China, from the Dynasty era to the Communist era, when the practice of the foot-binding was finally prohibited. The dance piece will use highly specialized movements to highlight the nature of the cramped foot position and then grow into a "healthy dancer.”

Excerpts from Wikipedia:
Bound feet became an important differentiating marker between Manchu and Han. The practice continued into the 20th century, when a combination of Chinese and Western missionaries called for reform and a true anti-footbinding movement emerged. Educated Chinese began to realise that this aspect of their culture did not reflect well upon them in the eyes of foreigners, social Darwinists argued that it weakened the nation, for enfeebled women inevitably produced weak sons and feminists attacked it because it caused women to suffer.[2] At the turn of the 20th century, gentry women, such as Kwan Siew-Wah, a pioneer feminist, advocated for the end of female foot-binding. Kwan herself refused the foot-binding imposed on her since her youth so that she could grow normal feet. Through the centuries there were unsuccessful attempts to stop the practice of footinding. Various emperors issued edicts to this effect but they were never successful. The Empress Dowager Cixi issued such an edict following the Boxer Rebellion to appease the foreigners, but it was rescinded a short time later. In 1911, after the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the new Republic of China government banned foot binding. Women were told to unwrap their feet lest they be killed. Some women's feet grew a half inch to an inch after the unwrapping, though some found the new growth process extremely painful and emotionally and culturally devastating. Societies developed to support the abolition of footbinding, with contractual agreements between families promising their infant son in marriage to an infant daughter that would not have her feet bound. When the Communists took power in 1949, they had the power to maintain the strict prohibition on footbinding, which is still in effect today.

Kira Seamon is an award-winning dancer/choreographer who has produced concerts in the Cambridge area, specializing in unique, original choreography and live music. She was named to Capezio's list of Rising Stars and am also on Dance Magazine's List of Active Female Choreographers. She recently auditioned for a Reality TV show and was sent an email from the producer after the audition, which stated in part: "We are creating a list of all the acts we loved in Boston and you are on that list!" Kira trained across the US and in Europe and has an extensive music background as well. She was a State winner in piano performance and have received gold, silver and bronze awards for my playing. Kira was thrilled to have played the keyboard at the Harvard Theatre Collection as part of a long-term research project by the composer Lugwig Minkus. Kira was born in Hawaii, and is familiar with Asian History and customs.

Email from Kira Seamon about the creation her piece (mentor: Danny Swain):
"I love all the pix, but think my favorite for the blog might be this one, fd1024...I like that it shows me sitting by the pathway created by the shoes, which illustrates walking towards the future....I know Danny Swain liked my idea but kept yelling in rehearsal "Make sure all the shoes are going in the same direction!!"

...The ending was a combination of Danny, Matt and my own ideas..
At first, I just sort of quickly shoved the shoes in 2 lines, thinking I've got to get it done and get up to do the walking through part...Both Matt and Danny realized the moment would be more meaningful and powerful if I slowed that down and looked at the shoes as I placed them, like I was really remembering those women who wore them..Matt even sent me the link to Joanne Rice's awesome stone installation @ Trinity Church, to show what the pace could be like....I thought Joanne did a beautiful job, and I definitely thought of her as I placed my shoes...In fact, I was "so in the moment" of my piece, that at the end, when I walked away toward the windows, it took me a couple of seconds to "come to", as I actually got lost in thought and remembrance...Finally, my brain kicked in and I said, "oh yeah, turn around and take a bow"... "

"Chinese Hair" by Kira Seamon's hairstylist: Blake

photo: Eva Seamon

Notes from the Curator:

1. Matt Samolis will be profiled on a separate Performer of the Day post.

2. Joanne Rice (MAG) has been performing the durational piece "The Human Cost of War" every day at noon since October 2007 at Trinity Church in Boston. The performance will end on Oct 6th, 2009. If you get a chance to see this beautiful performance live, please do so. You may read about Joanne Rice and her performance at

MAG = Mobius Artists Group member

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Burns Maxey & Maggie Nowinski
- video installation

photos: Bob Raymond (MAG)

Burns Maxey and Maggie Nowinski

video installation

Memesis from Burns Maxey on Vimeo.

The piece is a free-standing video with audio of a collaborative performance with Maggie and Burns of a conversation or attempt to communicate via shared tap shoes -- one on the left, one on the right. The audio is a translation of the conversation/story.

Burns Maxey
2009 "Politics of Shoes", Mobius, Boston, MA
"Project Elements Easthampton: Earth, a preview", Grubbs Gallery, Easthampton, MA
2008 "Art Can Be Useful aka Whenever I do Laundry, I am a star", collaboration with San Huxley, Easthampton Laundromat, Easthampton, MA
"Experimental Dance/Movement WIP, collaboration with Sara June, Mobius, Boston, MA
2007 "DIMENSION: determining the dynamics of space", Repetti Gallery, Long Island City, NY
2006 "Works on Paper", Northampton Center for the Arts, Northampton, MA, first prize
2005 "your travel environment", A.P.E. Ltd., Northampton, MA
"Works on Paper", Northampton Center for the Arts, Northampton, MA
2003 "Paintings, Prints & Installations", Up/Stair/Fine/Art, New Bedford, MA
"POV: Bringing the World into Focus", Artoconecto, Washington D.C.
"Halpert Biennial", Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Boone, NC
2000 "Tails of the City", Metreon, San Francisco, CA
1999 "Post-Postcard 4", Four Walls Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 "The Norms", Benson Hall Gallery, Providence, RI, Solo show
1997 "Mother", AS220, Providence, RI, Performance, actor
"Paraphilia", Benson Hall Gallery, Providence, RI
"Union", Union Street Gallery, Providence RI

1998 Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI BFA
1993-1995 Bard College. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Maggie Nowinski is an interdisciplinary artist in Western Massachusetts. Her work incorporates a variety of materials and contexts. She makes paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptural installations, with constructed and/or found objects, video and sound. She received her B.F.A. in painting from SUNY New Paltz in 1997, and her M.F.A. in Visual Art in 2007 from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Note from the Curator: I knew of Burns Maxey's work through Sara June I emailed Burns about submitting an installation for The Politics of Shoes. I was expecting her to come up with or already have a sculptural installation of some kind for the show. Burns replied almost immediately:

"Funny you should mention shoes because I a friend of mine, Maggie Nowinski, have been having an ongoing conversation about tap shoes with for the past couple of weeks. This sounds like it would work in context for The Politics of Shoes show. The piece is a free standing video with audio of a collaborative performance with Maggie and me of a conversation or attempt to communicate via shared tap shoes-- one on the left, one on the right. The audio would be a translation of the conversation/story. We would supply the monitor/DVD player and earphones. If Mobius does not have an available podium/stand, I could probably locate one. If that's the case, you would only need to supply the electricity."

At first I was a bit disappointed I must admit because I needed more 3 dimensional pieces in the show (at the early stage of the submissions, I had almost exclusively 2-D work proposed and accepted). However Burns kindly supplied everything including the podium as promised, detailed and clear instructions drawn in pencil on a turntable cutout.

Another fortunate happenstance was having the opportunity to meet Burns Maxey's collaborator Maggie Nowinski when she literally had to drive from Western Massachusetts to Boston to de-install their installation.

The video is stunning, humorous, tragic. It seems to have take on layers of meaning the more times you watch it. If you have a few minutes to watch the original video embedded above (generously supplied by Burns Maxey), please enjoy.