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The May Art Crawl
By Keane A. Pepper
Highest Score:
5 Beers

yun-fei ji at Pierogi

While the weather may be getting nicer outside, I am not. This month I've decided to set the Greenberg aside and give each show a beer rating.

That's right, can, bottle, draft, or plastic cup. I have a spectacular hangover at the moment, and I've been drooling on the keyboard when I periodically pass out trying to think of something 'witty' to say. Anyway, the beer rating has to be looked at carefully, as I've put about five seconds of thought into each one. If this column stops halfway through, it's because all this talk of beer forced me to abscond to a bar and get loaded.

Eat me, at 65 Hope Street sounds awful when I read the press release. I was like "fuck you too" and almost skipped it, but I said what the hell and hiked those stairs. I'm glad there's a fence on those stairs, I get terrible vertigo when I'm hungover, which is the case most weekends, and Fridays, er, well just not Wednesdays. I mean who drinks on Tuesday. Only losers go out on Tuesday.

Anyway, inside the groups show is not that bad. I mean, I can't remember half of what I saw, but I was particularly fond of Vandana Jain's corporate logo mandalas. They managed to be pretty and smart. I stood stupidly transfixed in front of Ariadna Capasso and Damian Keller's too long video, "La Conquistador". The montage of a female body, the sky, the earth, and religious iconography started slow, but had a weird hypnotic effect on me. There are several lyrical passages throughout, although it just kept going and going, and I don't think it was on a loop. Ultimately, I understood the artists had issues with Catholicism, corn, water, and tight spaces. I don't think I could deconstruct much more than that. Also, someone had girls mail them their used panties, all displayed in these little boxes with documentation. Ofer Wolberger's large color photos of a trash ring and some sad looking suburban houses reminded me of why I left southern New Jersey for the big city.

The only thing that really annoyed me were the junior Feminist posters by Melissa Potter. The series, Price per Fuck, is overly simplistic, kinda like my writing, but I think her critique of marriage/materialism/gender equity has the moralistic tone of undergraduate who just finished her feminist primer. Seriously, they are pretty silly and even Barbra Krueger has at least started making videos. Aside from Potter's cookie cutter critique, the show actually had some interesting takes on consumption. The thing that bothers me about the gallery in general is the sense that the shows feel like assignments every month. Like this month, we've invited people to make art about Russian dolls or this month we've asked our buddies to make art about recycling. It's getting kinda annoying, like someone is fulfilling requirements for a class.

Eat me tastes sort of like a slightly skunked Heineken. Through May 9th.

Around the corner at Dam Stuhltrager, Chris Dam has some funky paintings that look kind of like alien heads or something in his show Snap. I know they are abstractions, but I really didn't get too caught up in the formal qualities of the small and sometimes shaped canvases. The whole show has this weird 70's alien vibe that I can't quite place. The colorful canvases are generally dominated by slightly warped central squares, and the surrounding compositions grow organically around the lumpy shapes. I got all paranoid though, because I kept feeling like these things were watching me. I really dug the odd framing devices Dam chose for some of the segments of the exhibit. I also figured out that Dam is also the owner of the quirky space, which kind of made sense. I wonder if he likes paintings of circles, cause I've got a studio full of them.

Snap is cold bottle of Magic Hat #9 and runs through May 28th.

I stumbled over to Plus Ultra, cursing the day I first drank beer. My hangover was making me feel especially sensitive and when I encountered Jennifer Dalton's cringe inducing installation, "Getting to Know the Neighbors", I felt like killing myself right there in the gallery. Snaking through the space accordian style, Dalton's photographic book documents all of the EPA environmental violators in Williamsburg from the eastside to Greenpoint with a cold, cold eye. I shuffled through in horror, seeing familiar place after place. Then, I said, maybe I should probably stop smoking, drinking, and eating crappy food and move out to Timbuktu and grow my own organic produce. Nah, but Dalton's project is a public service project and someone from that hippy rag the Brooklyn Rail should do a long follow up. They'd probably win a Pulitzer this neighborhood is such as cancer time bomb.

"Getting to Know the Neighbors" is nothing like beer, its AA. Through May 24th.

I walked speedily away from Plus Ultra, trying in vain to leave my conscience there towards Parker's Box. I couldn't quite make it without dodging into Iona to ease my hangover a bit. After a little primer, I headed into Tim Laun's funny show about the Greenbay Packers and Bret Favre. Flanking the main space are black and white portraits of the 50's and 90's championship squads. The racial difference between the squads says a lot about America, but it's not just a critique of race. The players' have been supersized making the 50's squad look like a bunch of girlscouts. Football has definitely changed. The players are becoming mutants. Laun also has the ultimate shrine to Bret Farve planned that only a cheesehead could truly understand. I mean I like football, you know, beer, wings, pizza, but 250 monitors simultaneously playing every game Farve played in? The small installation proposal is so absurdly serious that it should probably happen. Laun also has a big color print that envisions what his Favre-o-rama would look like. In the back space, there are two monumental black and white Packers. The whole exhibit feels like Laun's attempt to build a monument to football that will rival the spectacle itself, which is no small feat. I fear that hipsters will be like "eeew!, football, that's so redneck" and critics will be like "This isn't serious enough for me, Jerry Asphalt, paint lover." The show is definitely about football, there's no end around that one, but Laun's sincere expression is clearly evident. It's just so goddamned strange and unpretentious that it works wonderfully.

Tim Laun's solo show is a Stadium cup of Budwieser. Through May 24th.

After seeing a big ole dose of Americana, I wandered down to Roebling Hall where I ran into Eve Sussman's "Inside 89 Seconds at Alcazar". Now, I'd seen the aforementioned video at the dreaded Biennial, but this was a head scratcher. A show about a show? Well, it's a collection of elegant photos, a rather oblique documentary about the production of her Whitney piece, and some slomo LCD panel videos. Basicaly, it's like getting a DVD of your favorite film, but only being able to access the supporting Bonus material. I just found myself wanting to see the video again. Anyway, Sussman is going big time and it's time to get on board, right?
"inside 89 Seconds at Alcazar" is an Amstel Light.

Has anyone actually ever been to the WAH Center?

I made the fatal mistake of going to 31 grand again, even though at this point I should know better. The image they mailed looked quite promising, like some weird sci-fi craziness. Instead, they pull a bait and switch, substituting crappy photo based paintings of mice for imagination. These are so bad they make Tim Wilson look like Picasso.

"Before the Accident" is a warm cup of Golden Anniversary. It's just making teenagers sick through may 27th.

Again, I had to stop in the middle of Grand Street and ask myself "Why?"

I walked through the toxic wasteland that is sometimes called a waterfront down to N 9th and up to Priska C. Juschka. Thank god, the C doesn't stand for crap this month. Daniel Mirer's modestly sized c-prints buck the trend of being big and German. The photographs examine the internal and external structures of stadiums, colleges, and office buildings. Everything is receding and halting in Mirer's work, investing them with a formal tension. These are actually quite lovely Modernist photographs of Modernity, the relentless partitioning of space into more and more complex consumer quadrants. Mirer's body of work also feel peculiarly American, something Tim Laun's show got me thinking about. Usually, I see formal color photo these days, and I just go on autopilot to Berlin.

Daniel Mirer's show is a Sam Adams. Through May 15th.

In the second space at Priska, Rachael Selekman has some polite works on paper that are like whispered fairy tales and some are just too damn sappy.

A can of Coors Cutter. Through May 15th as well.

I stopped in Mugs for a beer, I was feeling a bit better, and made my way to Pierogi. So, Joe's got a piece at the Brooklyn Show. What a mess that is. His fairly cool sign structure is lost in some hellish furniture exhibit. Anyway, I go inside and have an immediate allergic reaction to the immediate wall texts accompanying the work of Yun-Fie Ji. Ji's show is arguably the best in Brooklyn, yet I was amazed at how stupid and redundant the wall texts where. Just because someone writes a catalogue for your show, doesn't mean it needs to be hung next to each piece. They, by the way, are excellent ink and pencil drawings creating a contemporary image of China through a historical lens. Ji's landscapes are populated by an array of human and not-so human characters, creating broad social narratives. Ji's touch is undeniable, and his small works on paper in the back focus on his drawing. "Empty City" works because despite its' immediately 'serious' appearance, it has a nasty and wonderful subversive streak. You really have to just look and look and the artist gives you ample reason to. I just think that people in general aren't too stupid and can interpret the works for themselves without wall texts. Plus, they make Pierogi feel so…old.

"Empty City" is a pint of Guinness. The wall texts are the annoying drunk with no teeth at the end of the bar talking to his dead wife. Through May 24th.

I headed back towards some of the smaller galleries that are part of the WAC. At this point I can't believe someone would self apply the name WAC like in "Man, that's fucking whack". Whatever, they've organized some big ole shin ding and failed to give me the honor of orating at their opening. I was secretly hoping to read this months crawl.

On my way I stopped by Boreas Gallery, since I heard there was a decent drawing show there curated by Larry Walczak. And it was. The thing is, the art is all systemic abstraction, except for these weird figures. I just don't like equation art, and this show could give an account the chills. If you like your drawings formal and cold, this show is for you.

"Size Does Matter" is a can of Sapporo. It looks cool but tastes just like Bud through May 23rd.

I tried to check out Brooklyn Fire Proof, but the door was locked. Thanks for keeping hours jackass.

I stopped in Naked Duck, and was rewarded with three walls of graffiti. I was still way to hungover to join the fray so I leave it to you, good people of Williamsburg.

"Make Your Mark" is a lukewarm can of PBR.

I thought I was finally done, when I passed another new gallery, RKL. The space is nice, but the art was ass. I liked one little drawing by Joe Ferriso. The quirky thing had character that the honest to god figure drawing near it lacked. I can't believe they showed a figure drawing. Wow. After undergrad I swore those goddamned things off. Still, everything else was so bland, I felt like pouring salt on the walls. I say, if you make good work, bring it over to the place before they bore someone to death.

"The Means" is a warm Genny Cream Ale. It doesn't get much worse, but if you are touring during the WAC event, stop by for a chuckle.

Well, not a bad month, thank god there was some overlap. Anyway, if you don't know anything about beer, go to your local market and just check the prices. If it's not there, it's a real bad sign.

--Keane Pepper

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[email protected] | May 2004 | Issue 50
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