Monday, December 4, 2023

Weekend Thoughts

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”         -Henry Ford

What is a weekend? For some it is a time to reset and reflect, while for others it is a time to begin or to continue work. It is a time to gather, to celebrate a job well done, to consider ways to make the week ahead even better than the last. Here in the U.S. the five day workweek began in 1908 as a way to allow Jewish workers to honor the Sabbath. Henry Ford adopted the practice in 1929 when he began shuttering his factory all day Saturday and Sunday. Whether you use you weekend to unwind or catch up, to labor or to rest, make the most of every minute.

Odili Donald Odita is involved in multiple projects. He recently exhibited in a one person show at the Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town before working on a number of installations with various collaborators.

In the exhibition for Stevenson Gallery Odita showed work investigating sociopolitical themes in the current world climate. In particular, issues around the current presidential administration and the scandals and issues it breeds.

Odita considers the narrative of color in his paintings. He frames them based on what stories can be told. In a painting titled Forest, Odita represented vertical lines indicative of a forest of trees. Layers of deeper meaning lay beneath the surface.

Visual images, Odita explains, are decodable. This carries over to abstract images. One can locate thought and idea considerations in patterns and abstract imagery. He questions how humans understand abstract art. Are we born knowing whether a piece of abstract art is “good” or do we learn this over time? Odita chooses not to deal in absolutes when it comes to good vs. bad.

“I believe when you look at art…you bring so many circumstances of your own life to the experience of looking at art,” Odita says. When viewing or discussing art with a friend, you each bring experiences to the conversation about how the art was viewed.

Odita discusses social media, acknowledging the benefit in that it gives voice. He does caution about homogenization, however and worries that perhaps it is difficult to have your voice heard in an age so laden with the constant noise of social media.

To hear more from Odili Donald Odita, listen to the complete interview.

Alice Gray Stites is the Museum Director and Chief Curator for 21c Museum Hotels. This hybrid project combines a boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and chef driven restaurant. 21c was founded by Steve Wilson, art collector and preservationist. The first 21c Museum Hotel was opened in 2006 in Louisville, KY. There are now several locations across various U.S. cities. The initial concept was to find a way to make art free and accessible to a broader audience.

The organization, although private, has a strongly public mission. Collections are curated with the intent to be shown to a public audience. 21c does not buy and sell artwork, but if visitors are interested in purchasing art that they see in one of the locations they will be put in touch with the artist or representing gallery.

“The minute you walk into 21c,” Stites says, “you are walking into exhibition space.” Every inch of the hotels are design to exhibit from the lobby to the restaurant. Each location also has site specific, permanent installations. Even the front desk and stairwell at the Durham location are site specific works of art.

Shows travel between locations, though not all shows will travel to all eight locations. 21c also actively collaborates with other museums curating shows by artists from around the world. Stites says, “there is a lot of flexibility and nimbleness built into this model.” This allows them to adapt their practices to best suit the procurement of the best art for their spaces.

To hear more about this fascinating project/business, listen to the complete interview.


A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

From all of us here at Praxis Center to all of you hardworking artists out there, we wish you a restful or productive Labor Day Weekend.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Odili Donald Odita reads quite a lot of philosophy and theory books as well as books about artists. Alice Gray Stites does quite a lot of research reading for upcoming exhibitions. She is about to dive into The Notions of Family by LaToya Ruby Frazier, et al.


The Cube Art Project is accepting submissions of video art, animations, motion graphics, video-mapping, and/or sound visualization projects for their 2018 competition. Winners will have their work projected on the giant cube screen in Lincoln, NE and will join esteemed alumni and present artists for the project in this honor. For details about this project, visit the website. Deadline is September 7.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

Sponsor: Whitney Museum of American Art – David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night. Jul 13–Sep 30, 2018. Beginning in the late 1970s, David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, and activism.

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