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
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
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
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.
is broadcasting through the 6th, while Dead Don't Care confuses reality through
the 10th at Pierogi.
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
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
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.
New Paintings is chasing the great white whale through November 10th at *sixtyseven
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.
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
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
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.