working art

Julianne Swartz Can You Hear Me (2004) installation view, PVC pipe, mirror, Plexiglas, existing architecture and participants

I like what the New Museum is doing this summer. The plucky, real estate-blessed institution has sold its building and closed its doors while it re-builds itself on the Bowery. Although the images that street name has evoked for more than a century are dissolving rapidly, those blocks still wear their history and the Museum seems to want to slip into the neighborhood with some grace and respect.

Its perambulatory exhibition, "Counter Culture," opened last night in a number of venues on and just off the Bowery. We braved the party, which commandeered a local bar, only long enough to grab the map of the installation locations, and then we were off. Because of another commitment in Williamsburg however, that night we were only able to have a quick look at what two of the artists were doing.

Marion Wilson has set up a snappy little pushcart in front of the Bowery Mission, and in this conception, called "This Store Too," she was showing and selling merchandise that was a collaboration between herself and the men who are served by the Mission's programs.

With "Can You Hear Me," Julianne Swartz has constructed a bright yellow sculptural system of pipes and mirrors outside and entering into the facade of the building which houses the Sunshine Hotel. The result is an opportunity for interaction between residents of the hotel and passersby.

Ivan Navarro You Sit You Die (2000) installation view, fluorescent tubes, electric cables, and list of people executed by electric chair in Florida 33" x 24.5" x 48"

Who still doubts the power or the aesthetic of so-called political art? All art is political by definition, especially in this culture, but when it's as good as what we saw in Brooklyn later last night it should not be scorned - or missed.

We had ended the artier part of the evening in Williamsburg at Roebling Hall, where there was a lively opening reception for their group show, "Bush League." We will have to go back for a better experience of the individual works, even though we had already seen some of them bedfore. I believe most are by artists who have shown in the gallery. Especially if the curators had to work with a limited number of names, the results are pretty impressive.

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Published on July 10, 2004 12:12 PM.

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