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The November Art Crawl
By Keane A. Pepper
Highest Score:
5 Greenbergs

"Slightly Cryptic"

The Williamsburg Gallery Association's decision to stay open late on the third Fridays of every month has been a great opportunity to down a lot of free beer. Needless to say, I have been sleazing my way around the galleries and drinking whatever they pony up. It's also been a good way to see the art in a social atmosphere without opening crowds. This round of shows is also much better and I liked what I saw so much I quit while I was ahead.

Jason Glasser's excellent show at Parker's Box, Fruitkey, is a lovely and charming collection of muted paintings and videos. I say muted because the almost everything about the show exudes a quietness from his older quirky paintings on auto glass, "Pinks Series", to a new series of animated videos titled, "Sepia Collision". The paintings and videos are set against an enormous, landscape painted with childlike simplicity featuring two reoccurring characters in Glasser's oeuvre, a silhouetted lion and a googly eyed red ball. The lion appears again charging across the Pyrenees landscape via some humorous stop motion animation. The video was shot on super8, giving it a nostalgic feel.

The googly eyed thing pops up again in the 6 videos of "Sepia Collision." One video finds multiple versions hanging in a tree blinking. They don't do much else, but the soundtrack is a dreamy, French song that gives the whole room a rather Parisian feel. Probably has something to do with the fact that Glasser now resides in Paris. Other videos find the googly eyed thing watching a cow and flying through the sky with a funny faced man that looks kinda like the Pringles mascot. Anyway, there's a deeply nostalgic feel to the whole installation without a trace of irony, and the videos feel like the are of the past, or one that Glasser has inventively imagined for us. I nearly fell asleep on the couch until some interlopers woke me up. I have nothing really critical to say about a show with so much charm.

Fruitkey hangs around through November 17th, at Parker's Box

I was slightly terrified of the incredibly detailed recreations of well-known arists' studios in Joe Fig's fascinating show Contemporaries. These small sculptures are so detailed, although not hyper real, that its downright scary. Unlike other re-creation art, like the Korean artist who remade his studio apartment in blue using helpers, Fig's models feel as if he could have made every part. Fig recreates everything he observed and catalogued from the studios of artists like Matthew Ritchie. Fig gets everything from the detritus on the floor to the staples on the backs of miniature canvases right down the art publications on the worktables. Though the sculptures are faithful to the obsessive idea of getting everything it is also slightly stylized with a slight cartoon like quality to the rendering of the figures that seems to work in the shows favor. It keeps the show from feeling mechanical, and lends something human to the depictions of artists being absorbed by their own works. Fig's move is a layering exercise, trying to isolate or capture the difficulty of making art. While Fig's work comes close to being redundant in some way, it makes art out of the layering, like a play within a play. The viewer is invited to intently study art about artists intently pondering their own work.

Contemporaries is standing around the studio looking lost until November 17th, at Plus Ultra.

Fig isn't the only one making more post-modern art about art, as Joe Amrhein's handsome new show at Roebling Hall proves not that that art world is hermetic or anything. Not when the second most important gallery in the burg shows the owner of the first. Really its nothing. Amrhein's text paintings are equally absurd in their aggressive appropriation of the language of art criticism. Er, (ahem) phony intellectual stunners like "The tragicomic rhythmic tyranny of routine". Amrhein is able to make art out of the waste of the critical lexicon, which is pretty admirable. The work takes on three major forms in the show; flat, layered translucent text pieces, cast shadow text pieces, and an impressive sculptural wall installation of tiered sayings that get progressively larger and more oblique as they recede towards that wall. Like some crazy spliced, Coney Island awning, Amrhein's "textual opus" implies that language can ultimately obstruct instead of illuminate.
It's a fucking beautiful piece. Is that clear enough?

There's also a chair that's been painted up with adjectives like "Tour de force", but it reminds me too much of the art as comfy armchair quote, a tad goofy.

Slightly Cryptic is talking trash through the 17th at Roebling Hall.

Things aren't quite as right back at Pierogi unfortunately. I walked in and was thrilled by the little maze of video stations. What, I thought, no having to stand awkwardly in the middle of an open space starring at monitor on a podium? It's a shame that the videos didn't really seem worth all the time and effort the booths implied. I simply loathed the awful mugging in Shannon Plumb's art videos, which seemed like bad live action Cindy Sherman stills. I don't have a clue what she was getting at. David Kramer's videos feature a bald, middle aged artist blaming everyone else for his own doomed career.

I feel like sharing a story about how I was wronged by the art world too. I emailed Artnet a link to this column and the editor, Walter Robinson, said " I didn't get very far into your text -- couldn't tell what the hell you're talking about." Man, what the fuck?! Last month's column was great! Not really, but who cares. No one likes a whiner and that's what every painful episode of David Kramer's how-to videos felt like.

It gets worse before it gets better. Deborah Edmeade's video is like watching a chicken trying to articulate passages of Kant. I saw her shtick years ago when I was an impressionable little loser in art school and thought there must be some powerful feminist mojo in it. All these years later and she's still making painful noises and silly critiques. In her video, she is naked doing a bizarre painting performance involving feet. There is a reason why I stop writing down titles or stealing press releases. Thankfully I enjoyed Matt Marello's witty take on the bleak possibility of becoming an art star. His intentionally choppy video continues his process of looping and editing together concise observations about artistic identity. Matt Turok's sublimely silly video features a black and white stick figure dolling out droll compliments. It had enough humility for the rest of the artistic pretension in the show.

In gallery 2 Robert Fish had some pleasant Bay Area surrealism going on in his canvases. The pastel toned canvases depict hybrid objects made from household items, furniture, organic stuff, and body parts. I liked the one of table legs with a mouth.

One-on-One is broadcasting through the 6th, while Dead Don't Care confuses reality through the 10th at Pierogi.
and , respectively.

What happens when an eccentric local publisher takes over an eccentric little gallery? You get the Offal Project at Dam Stulhtrager. Bruek Iverson and his collaborative partner Jan McLaughlin, plus a few dozen other "Offalists" caused a minor uproar when they announced they would be showing the Williamsburg Gallery Association's garbage. Well, there wasn't anything 'incriminating' in the resin-coated, framed trash, except for some personal jabs here and there. There's snack containers, Art Forum rejections, and other nasty little tidbits but it doesn't really add up to much and the whole place smells extremely toxic. Iverson, a polarizing figure if there is one, also shellacked some money and was hawking it half off, though I don't think you could pay for beer with it. Further there were some satirical rules posted, and some white gloves with samplings of the dirt from gallery floors. The show seemed way too preoccupied with the galleries and not enough with the production of art. I mean, yeah, there's always bad art, but that's what happens in our culture of privilege and leisure. Some people just don't have to work, ever. I prefer art that at least one other layer besides being about itself.

Offal is stinking up the place for a while at Dam Stuhltrager.

While I was in the neighborhood, I breezed through 65 Hope St whose name sounds like a melodrama. The art was pretty generic too. Jason Cole Mager had a series of drawings that looked like he yelled at the charcoal to be good and clean. The atmospheric drawings repeat a thin, central strand and moth-like shape at various degrees of illumination. Joe Penrod showed several colorful canvases that contrasted thick lines with washed out, blurry backgrounds, sorta like a slightly more narrative Jonathan Lasker. Sarada Rauch's poetic little vignettes saved the show from being completely straight out of an art school hallway. The tiny sculptures of red shoes with angel wings tethered to other forms by delicate strings were quite pretty. They made the other art feel extremely mannered.

Open Hearts, so badly titled, is bleeding out through December 1st at 65 Hope St. Somebody donate some plasma.

Peeps got beef down at 31 Grand with "The Man". Bling, the term used to describe big diamonds and gold chains, is the title of show that seems like it might not be the real thing. I mean the show is really well intentioned. Tom Sanford makes righteous fun of the Right through the language of Christian religious paintings. The man uses gold leaf in his epic "The Last Judgement", a satirical allegory of the Republican hierarchy with Bush as Jesus and ol' Ron as the almighty. This pop culture skewer reeks of moral righteousness, but the kind that I like. As the white kids say "Right on, dude". I just don't jump on board when the same language is used to frame Tupac's murder and the thuggery of hip-hop culture. I can't tell if its' ironic critique or sincere representation, either way I shrink from machismo and relentless aggression. Ultimately, the paintings feel try so hard to give biblical meaning to everything in both form and content that I am reminded that I don't really care about Jesus paintings in the first place.

Derek Lerner's work might have a connection through its careful dissection of drug dealing, theft, and left-wing conspiracies, but it contains less overt references to the extravagance of popular culture. Lerner's blue print diagrams are done in the language of commercial design and carefully trace the routes of drugs, weapons, information, and money through various public and private networks from the CIA to drug dealers. I don't know much about this stuff, so I trust the implications not the validity of his statements. He also puts himself out for inspection with a more personal narrative in Untitled by using his own financial documents as supports for ink drawings. Basically the show is isn't bad, but the cheeky title stereotypes work that is more complex than the easy reference.

Bling is getting mugged for its gold leaf through November 9th at 31 Grand.

Modernist painting, the inexorable march towards flatness, isn't all bad. It's been declared dead but as a counterpoint to the post-modern stylistic gamesmanship at 31 Grand, there are a few Moderns hanging in the 'burg. Evan Lintermans' has a titanic four panel geometric landscape of a glacial mountain at Star67 that overpowers the diminutive space. The painting is resolutely flat, composed of vast range of blue tones from white to black. The painting is well crafted, almost appearing machine made except for tiny remnants of the hand in the process. Still, Lintermans' pushes the optical depth of the image, using a severely, bright red in the upper right that contrasts with rest of the shapes. It pushes the space in unexpected directions, despite the web of pale blue outlines around every shape that tether the image right to the picture plane. There are also two other smaller paintings of snow covered mountains on the back of Plexi that look even slicker, yet they lack the surface tension of his central work.

Evan Lintermans New Paintings is chasing the great white whale through November 10th at *sixtyseven gallery.

Ana Pedersen's sculptures, drawings, and paintings at Schroeder Romero of sinewy, organic shapes are very human and icky. Still, Pedersen's work is primarily about the quality of lines in space creating oddly attractive forms. I'm not totally attracted to the work, as I find the sculptures imperfections distracting. Where the drawings on paper highlight Pedersen's lovely lines in contrast with the grotesque forms, there is a consistency that is absorbing. The paintings are even slicker, reducing the tremulous lines to slick forms. It's in the sculptures that the lack of a rough or slick exterior seems unintentional. I did like the little odd nipple form in the corner of the gallery that expresses a little comic relief in the otherwise series show.

In the Project Room Bill Rowe has some idiosyncratic statements in neon on the gallery walls like "Goat Circle" and "Chicken Stop". I guess you can draw your own conclusions from the narrative implications.

Pedersen's The Skin of My Teeth is stretching tissue through November 24th at Schroeder Romero.

Bill Rowe is lighting things up at Schroeder Romero too.

Sideshow Gallery is no stranger to modernism, although it tends to show work that seems more mannered in a historical way. Their current show of canvasses by Cathy Diamond and Micky Schon is case in point. Diamond presents several views of the Brooklyn Bridge that are immediately apprehensible as Cubist constructions of space. They are nice, but not informed by anything to complicate the received idea,. Micky Schon's drawings are lyrical, basically non-objective abstractions. They hit some pretty color combinations, but by and large seem like artifacts. They are capable paintings executed to the artists' conception, but its one that is just too familiar to get excited about.

New Paintings is waiting for the next wave until Dec 1st at Sideshow Gallery.

Priska Juschka Fine Art, did I say "Fine", has a series of what can only be described as crappy paintings by Gabrielle Picco. Seriously, these scatological paintings are sketches and gestures rather than paintings or drawings. The theme of the works is loneliness and the longing for a connection to something meaningful, but always at arms length and in quotes. There actually is a painting with the painted subtitle "landscape with quotes" that sums up the sad irony of all the paintings. Some of the silly drawings are almost pathetically sweet with the character hugging trash bags. I don't know, these paintings are so bad I almost like them. I still don't like Jacqueline Frasier's wall assemblages in the back space. Everything I said a year ago still stands for "Luckily, You're a born loser and I'm not". It's not worth repeating. (Since 1974 and the other one are being silly through, oh man, December 8th at Priska Juschka Fine Art.
(when added together)

Bellwether, my roller-coaster of joy and pain, is back dolling out lumps again with Oral Moral, big, ugly paintings of word games. These essentially large playing card like canvases are layered, washy design exercises. I can't get beyond the garish colors, despite the fact they are masked by a lot of white and black. Just don't like em.

Oral Moral is shuffling the deck through 10th at Bellwether.


(Still, they are not as bad as whatever is next door to Bellwether. Day glo TV's and circus photos? I don't know. I won't even use the name of this place yet)

I prefer the white trash drawings and paintings in the back of Bellwether by Everest Hall. Reminds me of my summers in the trailer parks of Southern Jersey. The technically sophisticated graphite drawings of snapshots from Middle America speak volumes about our culture from our obsession with shit to stupid fads.

I am looking for someone lonely like me is floating in the water through the 10th at Bellwether.

I almost really liked David Shapiro's self-portrait in consumables at Eyewash Gallery, expect for the really annoying narration. It's like watching the original cut of Blade Runner, so annoying, just shut up Harrison. Shapiro's mundane descriptions of his life are at odds with a sobering and sadly cold sum of a human existence as measured by two years of consumables. Shapiro lines all the products back up in aisles. The amount of alcohol the man has consumed is impressive, but I'm certain my totals would be frightening, not interesting. You know, it really is the only good thing that has graced Jack the Pelican, but give the credit to Larry Walczak whose mobile gallery brought Shapiro's project to the space with no taste.
Consumed is piling up through the 10th at Eyewash Gallery.

Next door at Black and White Gallery, Meighan Gale presents three series of photographs. The images of the artist posing in various spaces have a hermetic, mysterious quality that seems out of my realm of experience. Gale, apparently a mother, seems to be acting out some bizarrely personal rituals by the sea, in a cramped domestic space, and in the forest. The photographs are beautiful, but not as interesting as the performances, of which we only glimpse part of. The color images are inkjet prints that look surprisingly good and create a nice contrast between the spaces in the image, lending them a dreamy atmosphere. The black and white photos feel less so, but the sharpness gives Gale's awkward poses on her child's toys more emotional weight.

Balancing Act is pushing and pulling through December 8th at Black and White Gallery.

Outside in the back, Anita Glesta has created a kind of monument out of a variety of cast cement bricks. Walking on them is an act of uncertainty, as they feel strangely fragile and ready to break. Scattered around and in the bricks are blood red egg shaped forms. The road leads up to a kind of totem at the end, signaling something vaguely spiritual.

Anita Glesta, Installation, is teetering about through the 8th at Black and White Gallery.

Done and done.

--Keane Pepper

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