Ext-Bedford Avenue-early evening
He staggers up the stairs onto Bedford Avenue,
obviously drunk. He looks indecisively around up and down
the busy street before heading left in the general direction
of Grand Street. Keane wonders if there will be free booze
at the galleries, and anything good to stare at. His hopes
are pinned on a handful of artists he will never meet. Somewhere,
his name is being spat out like a curse word.
The gallery is packed with the usual assortment of second
tier intellectual and artistic types who've decided to make
their aesthetic stand in Williamsburg. Between the people
are several excellent sculptures and a less than compelling
video/sculpture installation by David Opdyke. Someone passes
the artist and calls him "John," like the author,
not the artist who is clearly annoyed by this hipster's
stupidity. Keane waits in line for beer and says aloud "I
am not tipping you," to the middle-aged guy behind
the counter. He saunters off to look at the sculptures.
The show is politically-charged with funny visual puns.
There is a haywire power grid composed of many small electrical
towers connected by a mess of filament like wire, aptly
summing up the mess behind the black out that turned the
city into a big party during the summer. Keane seems taken
with an aircraft carrier colonized not by aircraft and soldiers,
but parking lots, anonymous shopping malls, and tiny cars
rung with teeny consumers. The well crafted, sculpture sums
up America's economic imperialism nicely. Across from the
aircraft carrier is a bomb made out of what appears to be
hundreds of armor plates stamped with corporate logos. As
with all of Opdyke's sculptures, it has the quality of being
manufactured out of spare model parts, even though they
There's also a big map of the United States made out of
white washed oil pipelines, refineries, gas pumps, and storage
tanks. It's an intricate structure that is also painfully
funny, and touches on the madness that is U.S oil addiction.
Keane chortles with delight and slugging his beer merrily
with the rest of the concerned but disinterested viewers.
Like everyone else in the choir, the preaching sounds righteous.
Playing on light and shadow, Opdyke presents what appears
to be a mass of satellites or something, hanging in the
gallery, but a glance at the floor reveals the distinct
shadow of an eagle, which Keane thinks he has seen somewhere.
Scratching his head he enters a darkened room where two
large videos are being projected of what appear to be stealth
bombers painted red, white, and blue. At this point, the
artist's political views are no longer a secret. The large
projections are coming from little wireless video cameras
trained on small, rotating sculptures of the bombers. At
some point the planes mass together creating the fleeting
illusion of what an American flag. Still, the grainy projections
leave something to be desired. Keane leaves, thinking he'll
for his excellent objects and political will. Through
Keane slumps down on a comfy sofa and watches Javier Cambre's
ephemeral video, "Contempt." The artist inserts
himself into scenes of Godard's classic film of the same
name, because, deep in his heart, maybe he is wildly in
love with Bridget Bardot, the stunning actress. Perhaps,
Cambre cannot help project himself into the film and combine
the banalities of his existence with her fascinating character.
The short film has a different soundtrack and combines footage
from an apparent documentary along with the artist's own
footage, which does a passable job imitating the look of
the film with minimal production values. Cambre's film is
more about obsession than perfection. The tone of the film
changes when the artist appears in an odd mask, giving it
a wonderfully surreal moment amidst a lot of nothing.
Keane wanders into the back room and checks out several
of Cambre's drawings based around the film. The pencil drawings
expand up on Cambre's desire. They capture the fab style
of the Sixties effortlessly, and provide context for the
oddly affecting film. There are also several formal pictures
of Cambre sitting in a chair wearing a model of the house
in "Contempt," on his head. Keane jots down
for quietly expressing desire and objectifying the artist
in the process through December 22nd.
EXT- Grand Street
Keane is walking past Parker's Box when he realizes that
there is a video screening underway. He watches organic,
abstract shapes morphing in a quick loop. It takes a few
minutes to realize that he's watching Patrick Martinez's
animation of the millimeter slices of human cadavers. The
entire effect shifts from a pleasantly hypnotic experience
into an obsessive riff on mortality. After staring for awhile,
Keane thinks that the legs are beginning to look too much
like ham steaks and scurries off towards Bellwether. Once
again, he has passed by Lunar Base and the guilt racks his
conscience. Martinez's solo show opens on November 28th.
Keane stops outside the clean and well-lit gallery and is
scared. Inside are freaky paintings of oddly colored landscapes.
He cautiously goes inside and looks at the canvases by Malal
Iqbal. The paintings are rendered in way that contrasts
hard-edged foregrounds with soft focus backgrounds. The
colors used to render the nature scenes; logs, mushrooms,
lakes, and trees are saturated and decidedly unnatural.
Perhaps Iqbal is critiquing environmental policy, but Keane
decides she just likes awful colors and envisioning oddly
alien vistas. Keane mutters to himself .
Misty is polluting the visual environment through December
Having made it all the way to Pierogi, Keane is hoping for
better things. Inside the venerable institution, he finds
large and small obsessively rendered pencil and ink drawings
of Daniel Zeller's show, Empirical Cryptosis. Keane almost
flings himself to the floor after getting a mild bout of
vertigo. The big drawings look like images taken from a
plan passing over the landscape, except they are really
just an inordinate amount of marks. Up close, the images
reveal themselves as meticulous, patient marks that masquerade
as topographies and urban diagrams. Zeller's drawings are
rigorous exercises that have largely sold out prior to opening,
presumably to a corporate entity that prizes hard work and
silence. Utlimately, the drawings lack anything beyond their
own process and structure to make them compelling. Keane
is happy the artist is set financially for the year and
can continue to try and make meaningful art. The self-important
sounding show is up through December 22nd. He scrawls
in his little book.
In the back, Keane encounters some brightly colored ink
drawings by Ati Maier. The drawings of robots, spaceships,
and the universe evoke a cosmic, acid trip that kind of
looks like an Atari having a flashback. The non-linear sci-fi
narratives are more interesting than Zeller's cool formalism,
but the drawings have an overall sameness that results in
visual monotony. The round, plexi-glass frames are also
cool, but sort of distracting. Keane wonders if the artist
is trying to be too damn cool, and gives Maier
because it's marginally better than the other guy's noodling.
Keane looks in the windows of the gallery and can't bring
himself to go in and contend with the art from Thailand
once again. He's watched the videos and looked at the photos
again, but is too intellectually lazy to talk about "disappearance"
He's also thrilled that he doesn't have to go to Priska,
since the same ugly crap is still up.
INT-Jack the Pelican
Though the gallery makes Keane feel ill, he bravely looks
at the surveillance-based work of Danny Goodwin. Attached
to front wall of the gallery is a bank of LCD monitors supposedly
showing live feeds from observation balloons hovering over
the Bush Ranch in Crawford Texas and Dick Cheney's house.
There's one for a couple other regime members. Along the
walls are some bad photographs that Keane doesn't bother
with. In the back space are the origins of the video feeds,
tiny models of locations being filmed with little cameras
suspended in the air by balloons. Goodwin is being 'honest',
even though the whole thing is a carefully orchestrated
Keane keenly makes the connection to the conflict in Iraq.
He thinks if the surveillance rigs didn't look so neat,
he'd wouldn't give a shit.
for the formal, not the didactic politics. Sneak Peak is
hanging around through December 22nd.
The streets are packed with beautiful women and model-skinny
hipsters. Keane slinks along the sidewalk trying to stay
upright. After seeing several politically-charged shows,
the realization dawns on our hero that the crowds around
him are most interested in their haircuts than Bush era
politics. Surveillance? Facism? Imperialism? These don't
seem to be burning questions for Keane's peers. In fact,
Keane can't remember the last time he voted, or did anything
other than bitch about things. Sullenly, he treks onward,
trying not think about the absolute victory of fashion over
Keane is standing with J, his image obsessed friend, who
is checking his hair in the window. There is a decent crowd
checking out the work of Team Lump, part of North Carolina
gallery collective of some kind. On a small LCD monitor
is Lump Lipshitz 's (great name) home video of men doing
yard work and other guys. The video footage all has the
quality of covert surveillance, which lends a feeling of
desire. Keane also reads the title "My Long, Wet, Hot
Summer" and gets the feeling Lump is getting off on
this stuff. Though Keane doesn't swing that way, he enjoys
the subversive, objectification of clueless meatheads.
In the center of the space are really, really well made
sculptures of a space-man and a wizard by Gary Smith. The
free-standing, two foot sculptures are insanely detailed
and well-crafted nostalgic riffs on fantasy and sci-fi.
J finds out that there are free Team Lump cigarettes and
stickers at the desk and starts stuffing his pockets. Keane
thoughtfully notes that people love free stuff. Though there
is more work in the show, only Lipshitz's drawings on paper
make a dent. Laura Sharp Wilson has some crafty, goofy small
paintings, and Michael Salter has some digital drawings
of spray paint. Salter also has a little kinetic sculpture
of a rotating had tickling a foot with a feather.
Keane stops J from eating all the free doughnuts. Keane
gives Beggars and Thieves
for having a sense of humor and not rallying around a cause.
Act II-Sunday Afternoon
Following a bender with J involving a bottle of whiskey,
large, Styrofoam cups of beer, and the police, Keane licks
his wounds and retreats to his childhood home, a mansion
like trailer in Jersey to eat Turkey with his beloved, yet
simple parents. They do not understand words like "appropriation"
or "Marxist critique". They drink canned beer
and enjoy shows like CSI:Miami. Keane cries when this show
comes on, because he can't afford to travel to Miami and
hang out with the art crowd on Lincoln Avenue.
He opens another can of Natural Light and watches America's
favorite broadcast network and tries to push thoughts of
suicide from his mind.
Extremely hungover, terrified of light, and angry that he
can't go to Miami and get wasted there, Keane staggers up
to Parker's Box. The front of the gallery is glowing. Inside
the gallery, the front partition is painted day-glo orange,
which freaks Keane out. He walks inside, through the curtains
and finds a peculiar scene.
There are three holes in the gallery floor bubbling with
neon green liquid, hence the title of Patrick Martinez's
solo show, liquid. Behind the fascinated Pepper is a video
projection of swirling, murky images of what appears to
be the creation of the universe. Keane continues to watch
the paint bubble up through the floor. On the wall, the
images shift into some kind of planetary atmosphere and
then into shifting sands. The montage of images all have
the quality of elemental space like water or gas.
Keane finally comes out of his reverie and checks the back
of the gallery. Standing before a funhouse mirror is a stick
like alien with a bulbous head. Approaching the mirror,
the alien's reflection morphs into a vaguely humanoid form,
as filtered through Henry Moore of Jean Arp. Hanging above
the weird tableaux is a lozenge shaped light fixture that
seems oddly appropriate for the alien.
Sensing the underlying absurdity of the pieces, Keane smiles
happily. Heretofore, the hapless critic had seen nothing
as strange as this sci-fi existential meditation. To Keane,
it felt a bit like standing in a three-dimensional, surrealist
interpretation of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Oddessy. Keane
gives this spiritually irreverent show .
Liquid is bubbling through the floor like toxic waste until
The weirdness continues for Keane upon entering Jaques Flechemuller's
show, Sophie at Night. Flechemuller's show consists of a
wall of pencil drawings in the front of the gallery, and
several large oil paintings. The show is a catalogue of
obsession with a kind of idealized past, as his paintings
and drawings are populated by aristocrats, children, pets,
and an assortment of bizarre characters. The distorted and
flattened characters are thinly painted with a delicate,
slightly awkward hand. One painting, "Jane Loves Dick",
sums up Flechemuller's sexually charged, yet playful subject
matter. In the painting a happy couple, perhaps movie stars
from the fifties, sit together on a beach as Jane etches
the word 'Dick' in the sand. Keane giggle like a school
girl, before noticing an odd painting black and white painting
of a school girl. Something strikes Keane as odd, until
he realizes he can see her breasts through the shirt. Perverse
thoughts drift throuh his muddled brain, and he wonders
what Flechemuller was thinking while he painted a little
girl's rather developed bosom. Scattered throughout the
show are small objects, like a bird pinned to the wall that
are adorned with cryptic statements like "Death is
better than living like this". Keane likes the overall
tone of the show, though he doesn't really like the artist's
style, though bad memories of Elizabeth Peyton's thin paintings,
might have been surfacing. He gives Flechemuller, the perv,
Keane walks into the project space, and confronts a surreal
assortment of photograms by Wendy Small. On his first take,
Keane thinks they look biological, perhaps nature studies,
until he sees condom rings at the bottom. Keane actually
gets a copy of the dreaded press release and learns that
Small uses French-Tickler condoms to make the photograms.
The luminous, sea urchin looking things are actually the
weird tickler thing at the tip. Though Keane has never had
sex using a French-Tickler, he thinks that it would be rather
amusing. The rest of Small's photograms are ornate compositions
of a variety of small objects from tiny, plastic sword cocktail
swirlers to small toys. There are also three odd landscapes
that seem out of place, but Keane can't be bothered to think
of a reason. Small gets
for her rather creative use of condoms. Both shows are up
through the, surprise, the 22nd.
Keane looks at the explosion of imagery in Overlook, a four-person
collaboration that sprawls from floor to ceiling with mild
amusement. The show, which looks like everything else inspired
by Barry McGee and the street artists, is nevertheless interesting.
Jumping out of the inspired mess is an alter like structure
on the left wall near the top. It's formal connection to
altar pieces gives it a religious fervor. Another spot the
catches Keane's eye is a football player painted on the
wall that winds its way into a painting of a woman. The
images are near a school desk, which gives the whole show
context as the enlarged and expanded doodles of four distracted
kids. Keane scrawls
in his notebook next to some hip-hop lyrics.
Overlook ended its run on the 30th of November.
INT-Front Room Gallery
Though mentally exhausted by the daunting amount of bad
art Keane has sifted through, but refuses to validate, he
makes a stop at perpetual underdog Front Room. The large
space has been transformed into a three-dimensional layout
for a Starbucks. The conceptual show by a collective called
the Front Group (no affiliation to the gallery) is apparently
a layered critique of the relentless expansion of Starbucks,
but also the rapid development of Williamsburg that has
largely avoided corporate invasion. The exhibition feels
like a threat to Keane, a threat of what it will be like
when Starbucks are on every corner instead of Bodegas. Formally,
the lines demarcating the various areas of a Starbucks is
interesting as minimalist installation. Keane wishes he
had a cup of coffee though and gives the show
for saying what no one else wants to. Starbucks: The Great
Tapeover is up through December 7th.
Keane quits pretending to be interested in culture and marches
straight over to the bar. He settles into his usual spot
near the end of the bar and orders a big cup of beer to
carry him through the football game on the television. He
glances down and is temporarily mesmerized by all the circular
rings on the wooden bar. Perhaps this could be the source
for all of his artistic output. Before he drifts off into
a drunken haze, Keane remembers that he did stop by Monya
Rowe, another new gallery and liked some of the drawings,
but didn't feel like writing about the rather disparate
group show. Sitting there, he also felt ambivalent about
he paintings at Jessica Murray Projects, and downright ugly
about the bad things going on at Gallery Galou. Sometimes,
Keane thinks, you've got to draw a line in the dirt and
say "No more bad art," and make a stand.
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