The FREEwilliamsburg Art Crawl
By Keane A. Pepper
O'Connor @ Pierogi
So I get all dressed up a couple of Fridays ago and meet
up with my friend J at this terrible little bar called Subway.
We drink some $2 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and try to come
up with shows we think would kick ass. We didn't come up
with anything concrete, except that we thought The Flaming
Lips put on a good art show. The beer began to take hold,
and we left for the art crawl feeling optimistic. It's too
bad the 4 shows we saw that night were all really very cautious
and middling. While the next weekend wasn't much of an improvment,
there were a few pleasant surprises, but i'm getting ahead
When I got to Plus Ultra
to check out the show, Tracy and Bobby, the tiny
gallery was covered in little vaginas. The safely erotic
show produced a mild charge, but the whole thing seemed
to end before it started. I was compelled to rub the smooth,
white plaster mounds installed all over the gallery walls.
I know your not supposed to touch the art, but I'm gonna
take a guess that it might be invited here. Artist Analia
Segal makes an elegant statement about sexuality, but the
work seemed to be only about attraction, with none of the
repulsion. My friend J longed for a single drip of fluid
from on the smooth creases. Maybe J was thinking about Matthew
Barney too much, but I understood his desire for something
to break the quiet monotony of the room. Sex is often a
bit noisy and messy after all.
The show runs until December 22nd.
Certainly painting can be a sensuous experience with all
the paint, but Sara Bedford's canvases at Bellwether
were all dry and analytic in her show Second Nature.
Showing playfulness with little cartoon figures and odd
illustrations is very different from applying the paint
that way. Her canvasses while complex and layered, seemed
way to controlling. Sort of like yelling at children to
make them play. Bedford's self consciously goofy, decorative
paintings succeed in evoking a 70's themed Disney world.
Honestly, the photos in the back were a little more provocative.
Loosely themed around domestic discord, Diana Kingsley's
large color photographs in Lovely swallowed whole offer
a fleeting glimpse into a tense world. A pair of bare female
legs lay stretched out on a couch in one photo, while a
stack of China teeters precariously in another. A photo
of a woman's breasts with the water streaked name "Diana"
adds an aggressive perspective, sort of like the way my
friend J leered at several women. It gave the installation
an edge, something Bedford's paintings lacked.
Through December 16th.
Drinking tall boys from the Bodega, we arrived at Parker's
Box none to quickly. A police cruiser eyed my
brown bag suspiciously. Inside we encountered Drawing
Quirks 2. Well, it was pretty quirky, and J started
making pithy comments immediately. There were the "bad
high school" drawings, photorealistic charcoals, some
cutout illustrations on tags, and a time-lapsed video in
the back. Hanging behind the director's desk was a clunky
drawing of a woman in clogs that I really liked for some
reason. The rest of the show was disappointing after the
previous exhibition. Still, Michael Rodgers intentionally
awkward renderings of a small house display an intriguing
use of odd, culturally aspecific patterns. Tim Spelios's
appropriations on museum style tags seemed intellectually
challenged, and Stephen Bitterolf's mechanical drawings
of grass from parks around the city really aren't as interesting
as the press release.
Drawing Quirks 2 is up through December 16th.
You can't really skip a Pierogi
opening can you? Well, it was the most impressive of the
night's openings, with some ambitious if bland systemic
drawings in John O'Connor's Schemes Out and some
interesting if overly familiar paintings in Johan Nobell's
show. Systemic artwork usually bothers me, divide X by Y
spin it around and draw the result, but O'Connor adds a
sense of humor that saves the work from being merely disingenuous
excuses for doodling. Even his title parodies Radiohead
a bit, and he seems to mix up and reconstitute different
events, episodes, and systems in an inventive manner. The
noodling going on did seem excessive, but I enjoyed drawings
like False Memory I, where brief, ridiculous memories float
in an abstracted head. He also has a drawing that collides
earthquakes with wars in a way that revels in the arbitrariness
of natural and man made disasters.
I was talking with someone about Caroll Dunham's paintings
and drawings of hybrid monsters that generally terrorize
their surroundings. Johan Nobell's paintings seem like cousins
of those same paintings, and the angry id running amok is
becoming a little too familiar in contemporary painting.
I liked the paintings though, with their spewing and churning
monsters. I kept thinking about my evil brother who had
been arrested after a night of boozing while trying to walk
nine miles home. We just wreck everything if we can, I think.
Really, J ends up getting beaten up at a Lower East Side
party by angry hipsters later on.
Both shows run through December 23.
Despite being jumped, J survived and is living and working
somewhere in Queens. He really didn't look as bad as Kristine
Robinson's Monster Jam with beaver wedge at Rome
Arts. One of the smallest galleries in the burg,
currently houses one of the strangest shows in Brooklyn,
Robinson's sculpture looks like it escaped from an undergrad
art locker at Hunter. I shook my head at being happily confused
by Daniel Huang's painting Bear/Cactus. It's a bear and
a cactus! Drop by before the end of December for
If you are a fan of oddities, skip everything else and run
from Rome Arts to Momenta
and check out the wierdness going on there. Huma Bhabha
has some trippy drawings and something in a black garbage
bag with creepy hands on a table. I noticed that Bhabha
went to RISD and wondered if the artist might be part of
the anonymous collective forcefield. Pure speculation really.
Anyway, Kevin Cooley has some eerie photos of neighborhoods
where television shows and movies are being shot. By shifting
his focus to the intense effects the massive shooting lights
have on the surrounding neighborhoods, Cooley creates photos
that would make David Lynch proud. The banal becomes ripe
with narrative possibilities. The show is pretty good, but
the contrast between Cooley's sharp, beautiful photographs
and Bhabha's homegrown wierdness is striking. It almost
made me fall over with disorentation. Through December
In another strange turn of events, Roebling
Hall has completely
remade itself for Daniel Lezama's show Morality Plays
of classical paintings. The last time I dropped by, the
place was dim and spooky. This time it's like tope, and
there are naked ladies all over the place. Almost schizophrenic
in its change of shows, I was wowed by the big canvasses.
Suffice to say that Lezama has some serious painting chops.
Shades of Fischel, Velazquez, and even Hopper don't overshadow
Lezama's compelling figurative narratives. These are culturally
loaded and just plain loaded paintings that mix up cultural
icons with a vengence. There is a Damien Hirst like polka
dot painting in the background of three naked Mexican youths
in psuedo ritual pose in Golem. Lezama, a Mexican painter,
apparently paints above a bar in "rough neck"
part of Mexico. His paintings make us of the inherent drama
of the poor, religious culture and its own rich painting
If I wanted to make work like Lezama I would move to East
New York, which is a "rough neck" neighborhood
if there ever was one. I wonder though, if I'd get criticized
for painting naked kids from other cultures, but hey, what
am I anyway?
I really like these paintings, but they just seem ready
for a critical beating from somebody. I don't know quite
why, except maybe it was all that feminist theory at university.
Fuck it, this is a show worth seeing regardless of my feelings
about the patriarchal history of painting.
Morality Plays is up through December 23rd.
Things pretty much go down hill from here as far I am truly
interested kids. Priska Juschka
Fine Art has an interesting show going on through
January 5th. The two former ISCP residents show a variety
of photos and videos that run a wide gamut. The highlight
of the show is Gabriele Nagel's video "Milkyway Comeshot",
where men have milk dumped on their grill, recasting the
venerable porn practice. I saw some unnamed Chelsea gallery
owners having a chuckle over the humorous video. The rest
of the show is fractured and uneven. Lin De Mol's divided
installation features some hit and miss exotic landscape
photos contrast with her surreal videos that bring Jane
Campion to mind.
Really not my cup of tea, but I'll give it 3 Greenbergs.
Schroeder Romero had
a boutique like show, The Virgin Collection, by Robert
Boyd up until December 2nd, but its going away. Boyd's
multicultural appropriation and recontextualization of religious,
consumer, and ceremonial icons and imagery made for a provocative
statement. Using Spanish religious garb that is also used
by the KKK in a wedding like ceremony and performance, Boyd
blurs politcally correct boundaries as well as comment on
his status as a gay man who is also a victim of discrimination.
Come on, a civil union or domestic partnership is not a
marriage, with all its tradition and pomp. The show had
an air of sadness that tempered the explicit critique.
Black and White Gallery and Studio
Fachetti get one Greenberg this month for reminding
me why Chelsea should stay in Chelsea. Both Galleries show
some passable art work, but the palpable pandering to the
collector is ripe like an odor. Really, really nice spaces
and art that looks like it was culled together based on
descriptions of well known modernists. Oh, I know, its crass
to reduce these things to money, after all everyone has
to pay the rent, but the collectors like to go to Chelsea.
If I have to recommend anything, go see Lael Marshall's
painting show House Plant at Black and White. Her laconic,
flat-footed paintings are homages to Guston, one of my favorites.
So in this case, I don't mind the obvious influence.
House Plant comes down December 9th. Studio Fachetti is
selling works through the New Year.
If they suffer from a strain of commercialism, Dam
Stulhtrager is weathering a case of underdevelopment.
The artist, who's name and press release have escaped my
clutches, presents large and small sculptures of veiled
women and a video of dance performance under the Brooklyn
Bridge. The show operates on one note, and really doesn't
raise any intriguing questions or insights into the controversial
practice. It seems like the artist is grappling with a very
complex issue, but needs to reveal something. Excuse the
pun, but he needs to lift the veil here to give the show
a necessary edge.
Through the end of December
Well, that's one take on the visible galleries in the burg
this month. I urge everyone to grab a friend like J and
head out and support the arts community. Exercise your own
judgement and taste, preferably after the openings since
you'll really just be tasting booze and talking. Remember
openings are fun, but having a gallery to yourself is really
quite nice. I'm saying get out there and fill up those guest
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