at Jack the Pelican
My head is empty, aching from all the cheap beer I drank
yesterday at Trash. They are practically giving away beer.
Anyway, I needed to do some heavy drinking after seeing
a tidal wave of bad art.
Bellwether's show is so bad I barely slowed down. I'm
not a big fan of contemporary Modern art, especially when
it actively engages bad tastes. Edward Pruhliere's aesthetic
is so bad it might be funny. The colorful junk effectively
blocked me from even considering the bland abstractions
in the back.
Rating: 0 Greenbergs
Through May 3rd.
Man, Helen Garber's portraits are ugly. The works basically
concern tits, guns, and fire. What really confused me were
the paint by numbers canvases mixed in with her tightly,
rendered oil paintings. Where does 31 Grand find their artists?
This place ought to enjoy some of the recent interest in
Goth, which makes me wonder what happened to the art world.
When will the old people realize that Goth was cool in '92
and would probably be happy to remain a sub-culture.
Blasting Machines is up through April 14th.
I stopped in Green Gallery and Jon Elliot's painting provoked
such deep thoughts as "Did he use a comb to make that
pattern?" and "I wonder if he reads physics and
science fiction?" While the canvasses have a nice atmosphere,
they are generic. They lack a necessary something to individuate
them from the hordes of bad painting. They are competent
and formally well done, but just too familiar to be exciting.
Glitch is floating through space until April 15th.
Craig Hein's little playdough, sculptures of cinder blocks,
bandanas, and timberland logos depressed the hell out of
me. As much as I disliked those, his banner holding birds
were much better. They made me almost like the show, but
I couldn't get over how stupid the rest of the work was.
They will probably sell out and get reviewed in the Times
despite my arm waving.
"And I Don't Mean it in a Good Way" is cracking
one-liners through April 26th.
"Defense", Peter Hendrick's show at Schroeder
Romero is a big, white fence in front of some sinks. In
the side gallery are some lame canvasses that say "Homeland".
While they seem like they are trying to say something critical
about our fascist police state, they are whispers. This
show nearly put me to sleep its so boring. I'm sure you
could write volumes about what the work suggests, it's what's
present in the gallery that disappoints.
This show is preaching to the choir through May 3rd.
Leigh Tarantino has some elegant drawings at Black and
White Gallery, but my problem is she also has some really
nice photographs in the back of the gallery. My question
is why draw them at all? Her manipulation of the photographic
source generates some kaleidoscope like imagery, that transforms
suburban America into a weird totemic patterns. Visually,
they turn the mundane into something more poetic, and the
color works well. They all pretty much sold apparently,
but the drawings are missing those little red dots. Why?
Artist's probably shouldn't make their sources so evident,
bad for business. Still, it's not like the muted drawings
are bad, they seem like a superfluous step. Her small works
of isolated elements like little sheds and gas stations
are less enigmatic than her spidery patterns, but they have
are lovely pictures of isolation and loneliness. In the
back Roberley Bell has a big installation of flower like
furniture that contrasts natural and synthetic elements,
an implicit critique of the constructed nature of beauty.
The big, wobbly pitcher like forms also function as garden
furniture or children's toys. Embedded in the real grass
are shiny orbs that reflect the sky, transposing the sky
into the earth. The whole thing reminded me of the kind
of weird displays at amusement parks, you know, the Enchanted
Forest or something.
"Anti-Oasis" and "Dressing" are leisurely
around through April 26th.
Strangely, the trend of the normally miserable galleries
showing decent art continues at Jack the Pelican. While
nothing can change the silly name or their reputation as
an opportunistic parasite on the ass of Williamsburg, their
new show by three Icelandic artists also called the "Icelandic
Love Corporation" is one of the few decent shows this
month. The group, Signrun Hrolfsdottir, Joni Jonsdottir,
and Eirun Sigurdardottir, are the subject of their large
color photographs. There is a loose, road movie narrative
in the series, with the girls sitting around strumming guitars
and looking disinterested. There are some decadent sculptures,
smashed champagne glasses, that hint at the lavish lifestyle
of the rock n' roll characters. In the back, though, is
a stunning video of the girls gutting a fish in reverse.
Adorned with shiny faux diamonds on their skin and dressed
elegantly, the girls appear to be putting a rather large
fish back together. The cultural reference, rooting the
girls' identity in Icelandic traditions, is interesting
and the reverse video is mesmerizing. That and they are
pretty hot. They seem to be well aware of that.
And, Bjork and ole Matt Barney were at the opening where
I watched a hipster get a ticket for an open container.
Stupid kids forgot how to use their sleeves. The trio's
work is good, and will probably get better when they get
some serious money. It's got a ton of style, now wait for
more substance. Apparently, I missed the performance starring
at Bjork and silently, bitterly envying Barney.
"Higher Beings" is satirizing the rich
through May 26.
Fishtank also has a well curated and conceptually concise
show, for once, with Jihyun Park's funny dioramas and Rebecca
Hackemans's stereoscopes. Park's incredibly odd juxtapositions
of super serious looking diorama cases and his absurd scenarios
inside are great. There is one of a shrouded figure roasting
chicken wings as buffalo spill off the edge of a cliff.
The dissonance between the framing device and the imagery
adds to the surreal comedy. It's exactly what Hackemann's
pretentious stereoscopes lack. They overblown narrative
about angels in a, what's this again, fascist police state
is pure melodrama. Plus they gave me a mild headache and
I had to drink a few beers after the show to get the silly
thing out of my head. It's not a good thing when the little
boxes look better as a minimalist installation. The whole
thing just felt so hopelessly literary, and not in the experimental,
Age of Wire and String, Ben Marcus kind of way.
Sight Unseem closed shop on the 4th.
Recreating the works of famous artists is always a pretty
sure-fire way of getting people's attention. Making a new
statement with it is always harder, and most artists don't
do it until they are already famous. Joshua Stern's recreation
of Vermeer paintings with little matchstick men in black
and white photographs definitely succeeds in surpassing
mimesis. His bleak, yet intriguing world is at once comic
and sad, a tragicomedy as they say in the movies. The photographs
themselves richly capture the atmospheric lighting typical
of Vermeer, but the androgynous matchstick men completely
change the tone of the source material. They are still intimate,
and invite close inspection, but the narratives become ironic
and self-conscious in a way that calls into question the
act of looking. It's easy to become absorbed or fascinated
with the simple activities of the characters. There is also
a video, but I was too hungover to watch it, so be a better
person than me and check it out.
"Shouts and Murmurs" is being quietly seductive
through April 23rd.
Pierogi's run of good shows sort of crashes to a halt
with Jane Fine and Reed Anderson's colorful works. Fine's
canvasses of melting tanks and castles is like a sugar-coated
version of the Kim Jone's show. They are largely fluid abstractions
with linear, drawings on the surface, transforming the blobs
into objects. So, again, our fascist Imperialist state is
brought to task. In the back gallery Reed Anderson's collage,
cut outs of highly complex circular patterns, are pretty.
They have a lot of visual information that I didn't really
want to bother with. They have an overall sameness that
somehow makes the individual works seem irrelevant.
" After Sugar Time" (how could it be titled
anything else?) and ""Crystal Horizon" (creative)
are up through April 19th.
Ah well, things are little better at Priska Juschka than
usual. Michael Scoggins' big recreations of children's drawings,
essays, letters, and comics is a mildly witty show that
will appeal to little kids everywhere. As an inveterate
doodler as a child myself, I was instantly familiar with
the cheesy comics and war pictures. Scoggins' show isn't
merely a portrait of childhood though. He seems to be creating
a child's perspective of the present, a desire for heroes,
a fascination with war, and an attention deficit. In the
large drawings, Scoggins recreates sections of spiral bound
ruled paper and deftly renders everything from handwriting
to superheroes. In the center of the gallery are several
balled up failures, creating the illusion of the doodle
as throw away. The show is all ten-year old boy without
being sentimental and Scoggins gleefully toys with cliché,
saving the show from being pure sap. Oh hell, this show
is a straight gimmick, but it has personality.
Works on Paper is day dreaming through April 12th.
So, I've been busy and I didn't get to see as many shows
as usual this month, so if I skipped a few shows, don't
get all pissy out there in art land. Of course, there are
some spaces I will never bother with, but I just have to
comment on the fact that there is a ridiculous number of
new galleries popping up. I'm going to be a little bastard
and give their names a quick critique and Greenberg, plus
a little prediction about what kind of crap I can hope to
find. On the upside, if I'm wrong, then everyone wins with
good art. If I'm right, I'll just walk a little faster with
my head down.
A Space Gallery: Wow, an ironic name. If this is
the same chump who ran that big space on North 3rd, then
there should be a lot of grad school painting.
Capla & Kesting: Last names haven't been popular
in the burg. I suspect I'll find a lot of well-heeled garbage
wearing expensive frames.
Champion Fine Art: Like the sweatshirt company? Graffiti
art and an endless wave of Barry McGee clones.
Christine Wang: Come on, like you're anybody. I am betting
on a lot of polite work that wants to be challenging.
East: Where did you say it was? An eclectic array of
emerging artists, otherwise known as crap.
Sazanov: This is a joke, this place used to be called
Matchbox, and had the worst art in the neighborhood. I've
actually seen the Clown paintings here on my way to the
train, but I'll never be able to see this place as other
than some weird dudes self-promotional storefront.
Stripeman Gallery, LTD: Oh, a professional sounding
outfit. This place sounds like a business and I bet the
art looks like thinly veiled knockoffs.
Rating: 0 Greenbergs
Vertex: Like a vortex sucking all the light and hope
out of the universe? Bad video art and daffy performances
that embarrass everyone in the room.
Now that my hangover is receding and the muddy events of
last evening are starting to sort themselves out, you should
probably disregard everything I've just said and see the
art for yourselves. What do I know, right? Oh, I thought
I'd include a
link for Tim Wilson here to Jerry Saltz's call for a moratorium
on blurry photo painting.
I can't believe Jerry wrote this, but he partially articulates
why I can't stand painting as photography. Anyway, I'm going
to let all this bad art roll off my back and wait for the
next round of shows to redeem certain places. Next month
I'll try and get around to a few more places and see if
any of these spaces aren't terrible.
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