I managed to drag a friend of mine, J, along with me this
month. J, an illustrator, generally hates art that might
require some kind of outside "knowledge" to get
it , but, hey, who doesn't? We downed some canned beer at
the old homestead, and headed out in the heart of the new,
allied Gallery Association territory. The thing is, J is
telling me all about this woman who's paying him a grand
to paint pictures of dogs for her mom's ten speed or something.
The realization that there are rich people who'd hire someone
to paint custom dog 'stickers' didn't even strike me as
odd, I mean, how else would the galleries stay open?
While reducing art to commerce is crass, Jeff Hand makes
it seem sensible over at Plus Ultra with Faux Hand.
Furry little still-lifes made out of cut felt sold as "do-it-yourself"
kits bring the commodification of the art object front and
center. The little kits sell for a few hundred, which is
pretty reasonable for the young collector. Also at hand
(awful pun) were some big portraits done in felt. Having
vectorized some photos at my wretched job, the easy to digest
images sort of bummed me out. The felt was cool, but the
result wasn't all that original, plus they were really expensive
compared to the kit editions. Well, Hand is an honest guy
who doesn't mind making a critical gesture and subverting
it. Through March 23rd
Although J complained bitterly about overpriced illustration
techniques leaving Plus Ultra, I stopped listening when
I looked inside the hallowed walls of Bellwether.
Get this, there's a day-glo pig on a day-glo spit on day-glo
rocks. Then in the back, I spot the same stereo monster
sculpture that I ridiculed in a past art crawl. It's Kristine
Robinson and she's firing off aesthetic bombs with her show
Pork Bomb Washing Machine. After seeing her oeuvre, I must
acknowledge her wacky vision. These things look like He-Man
toys (remember Castle Gray Skull?) gone bad, or in this
case good. Her satirical recombinant monster appliances
and animals are worth checking out.
She really nails our hidden desires for all that is bad
for us. In her case, more was definitely good, when I thought
that would be bad.
(4 Greenbergs for rebuking bad Keane with strange art)
If only the paintings were a different story. It's common
knowledge now that Bellwether is showing painters who are
all aesthetic cousins. Of course this might be the Yale
thing, but Melissa Brown's canvasses in Smokin' Mirrors
look like more of the same. The press release (I can read)
tries to imply that the process responsible for the style
is unique in some way.
Anyway, the industrial blighted landscapes look intentionally
awkward and hover in between pattern and illusion in attractive
Martha Stewart pastels with ecological warning labels. (
2 1/2 greenbergs ) Both shows run through March 10th.
Walking down the god-forsaken stretch of earth that is Marcy
Ave along the great BQE divide, we noticed someone had spray
painted anti-Bush graffiti on the sidewalk. We followed
it to Dam Stuhltrager Gallery and J, a confirmed
Bush-hater was all pumped up. Unfortunately, according to
an artist watching the gallery no one in the show was responsible.
He did agree with J, all sullen and disappointed, that it
could easily be mistaken for work in a group show called
All Messed Up with Nowhere to Go.
We got a real a kick out of Jade Townsend's Oh my Goth!
a sculpture that J was ready to wake up. It's a pretty convincing
looking Goth chick with her head down on a high school desk.
This video by Mombert had us laughing as a guy with bad
teeth and a ski mask smashes a full beer bottle over his
head. I didn't realize what was going on until the bottle
broke, since it's in slo-mo. Andrew Dieckman has some funny
comics dealing with existential misery among his wall of
drawings. William Powhida showed a bunch of sketchy looking
drawings of people acting like animals or something. Dave
Pedersen has some gun and song lyric photocopy paintings
and Kristen Jensen has a series of slightly creepy mail
art that got me thinking about some nasty letters I'd written
to an ex in college as I listened to a rock song included
in the show. Although it felt a bit angst ridden( I swear
I got a pimple) the show actually held us up for awhile
before moving on.
Through March 9th
( for showing promise).
The people at 65 Hope Street and Rome Arts are
going to hate me, but I stopped at this deli around the
corner, had a sandwich to balance out the booze, and forgot
about dropping by. I am such a terrible critic, I should
be locked in a gallery for a month with no beer and the
stinking corpse of Bob Ross. Not that I made up for it and
dropped by Lunar Space, the monster was still in
the window. Plus, I already saw the bad door art at Studio
Fachetti last year, seriously. While I'm 'fessing up
to skipping shit, I must have unconsciously dodged 31
Grand Street, after getting mildly scolded by someone
there, although I'll have to drop by since their current
show, I walk the Line, is named after a Johnny Cash song.
Down at Roebling Hall, who apparently had some issues
with Customs, since several of Christopher Draeger's works
had placeholders. According to the little placards next
to the handsome frames and brown paper; the jigsaw pieces
were still awaiting clearance. The fact that the large jigsaw
paintings were of terrorist plane bombings might have raised
good 'ole American suspicion. If it looks like terror then
it must be real terror. Draeger's installation made it though.
Based on the terrible Black September events in Berlin where
eleven Israeli Olympians and their terrorist abductors were
killed, the installation recreates the hotel room where
they holed up before trying to make it to the airport.
The room stinks with blood splattered walls and cigarettes
mashed into the carpet. Artifacts from the 70's lay around
the dim room like evidence, and a video plays out where
the windows ought to be. Draeger mixes fictional footage
he shot, with real footage from the deadly standoff, where
one hostage lost his life. On the wall near the entrance
a small landscape, presumably bad hotel art hangs, offering
an impossible escape. J never heard of the events, but we
agreed that the installation was more effective than the
jigsaw puzzle supports that say, "terrorism is a really
complex puzzle". There are many of reasons to see this
show, but perhaps to remember that we aren't the only country
that deals with terrorism and Draeger's installation invokes
its awful complexity.
Through March 17th
(for the installation)
Star 67 was a relief from Draeger's reality, like
free drinks at an opening after checking my balance. Shih
Chieh Huang's installation, S-67-03, is an abstract, whirly-twirly,
mechanical, day-glo wonderland what bleeps and gurgles with
a life all its own. The interactive environment is populated
by a host of strange and wonderful robotic and sculptural
creatures that looked like they were assembled by a homesick
alien in a hardware store. Huang's vision is complete, and
an excellent example of the growing DIY robotic sculpture
genre that Tim Hawkinson and other's have spear headed.
The whole thing really has no purpose other than to be marveled
and gawked at until you smile, smile like J, who was extremely
pleased to encounter intricate, complex, yet completely
apprehensible art. I was smitten by this loopy sea-creature
thing hanging in the middle of the gallery that fills and
drains with orange water. It's just beautiful. The installation
runs through March 23rd, and like any lifeform it
(for executing to conception)
While I'm gushing praise, quick someone tape up this hole,
I might as well recommend that everyone stop by Pierogi.
They are showing some intense drawing by Dawn Clements in
Space I. J was deeply into these drawings in a heartbeat.
I was struck by the immensity of the work, not just the
'gee these are big' feeling, but the amount of drawing happening.
One large scale work, Oval, is so dense it looks like a
relic from the renaissance, and Clements draws with comparable
facility. There are thousands of doodles, sketches, and
musings layered together in ball point ink that spread out
from the center. Although I spent a good deal of time digging
around the imagery, there was way too much to reach any
conclusions, and maybe no one should. The most surprising
thing is Clements' other large drawings are from direct
observation of her apartment, like the best execution of
that freshman foundation assignment you've ever seen. The
common link seem to be the obsessive qualities that characterize
her works whether drawing thousands of hairdo's from memory
or rendering every leaf on a very large plant in her living
Space 1 Rating:
(for being the Best show of the month )
In space II, there was a video of a man dining, but the
sound and video kept changing. J noticed if you moved toward
the screen the video slowed down. Bogdan Perzyñski's
balsamic vinegar of modena held my attention for about a
minute before I started thinking about two dollar beers
at Mugs around the corner. The video kept twitching and
I went back out and looked at Clements' work for a bit,
and then went for a drink. Pierogi changes things up after
Space 2 Rating:
Someone needs to put up a sign on the door of Priska Juschka
Fine Arts that says "Have you seen any good art? Call
us here at
" Seriously, what a great space, and
what mind-boggling choices. This month Priska features
the soft, furry sculptures of Rachel Selekman. These things
look like ambitious display pieces. I looked inside one
to see if there might be a diamond ring inside. The sculptures
that seem to take their cue from natural forms are so generic
that I didn't really bother with them. What the hell, though,
I'm a dude and I've never crocheted or knitted in my life,
and the term "Fiber Arts" evokes images of hippies
making tie dyes. I would've rather studied ancient Hellenic
iconography than how to make string, so this is all my fault.
Nah, listen to this bit from the press release ", they
all exude a demure yet aggressive corporeality that captures
Selekman's engagement with the riotous power of life force.
" The only riotous thing about this show was the laughter
that ensued that sentence. Through March 23rd
Momenta currently has its 2003 benefit show on display,
and it's a veritable who's who of the Williamsburg Gallery
scene. Slightly buzzed J and I stumbled around the space
taking in the good and the bad. From the 'check list' here
are my local and not-so local favs; Susan Graham, Allison
Smith, Kristin Lucas, Karlos Carcoma, Jessica Stockholder,
Jason Middlebrook, Simon Faithfull, Danica Phelps, Kirsten
Hassenfeld, and William Walker. Sure there are probably
better and more deserving artists, but this show is snapshot,
and I like what I've seen from this batch in the past. The
benefit show is sort of cool, like seeing a country from
an airplane. Go spend your utility money on a raffle ticket
and win art by one these or 135 other artists, Con Ed can
wait a month man. At Momenta until March 9th, then
White Columns the 12th - 15th.
(for being a benefit show)
I'm not gonna waste much more of your time (I know you are
supposed to be working) and take a few parting shots. I'm
sure you all read the NY Times review of the Eyewash show
at Fish Tank Gallery. That's right, Fish Tank Gallery. You
can say it too.
Well, it was bound to happen, an art critic drunkenly stumbled
in instead of the Sweet Water Bar next door. Oh, well, I
followed suit and the show isn't too bad. There's some pleasing
modernism being turned over and inside out. Nothing offensive,
nothing moving either, sort of like watching fish.
Putting on a display of Modernist aesthetics not seen in
these parts since Pollack headed for the country, Phong
Bui, has curated a dense show full of obsessive/compulsive
artwork at Black and White Gallery. While I know
a few artists in this salon style affair, I almost choked
on the modernist ideology. With works from Alfred Jensen,
who was working with text and numbers while Barnett Neuman
was drawing stripes, predates all the emerging artists in
the show, but there is a genuine connection between many
of the artists in the show. Personally, I didn't have the
patience to read all the name tags, there are like thirty
artists, but Dawn Clements, Mark Lombardi, Forest Bess,
Kristen Jensen, Chris Martin, and Itty Newhouse all made
me make a mental note.
Ends March 3rd.
(3 1/2 Greenbergs for excellence in salon hanging)
(Note: This might be the first time I've seen two artists
in two different shows at the same time)
I might have forgotten a few others in the drunken haze
that followed this month's art crawl. J and I settled in
at the Turkey's Nest to discuss what it all means over really,
really big cups of beer. One conclusion that we arrived
at was that despite the date feeling more like 500 A.D than
2003, the art world can be a strangely comforting place
to get lost in for a day.
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