Culture: July 2005 Archives

Brandon Ballengée Cleared and Stained Clearnose Skate, Rajaegianteria 2003 digital C-print mounted on Plexiglas 60" x 48" [detail of installation]

It's only a coincidence that this image and post follows my lizard report, but I like the connection. Brandon Ballengée's skate was one of the works in a very interesting show at Archibald Arts we visited on Saturday. Ballengée is an environmental artist fascinated by fish and amphibians, notably lizards. In a remarkable show of haunting images of nature, and our corruption of nature, "Cleared and Stained Clearnose Skate" was the beautiful elephant in the middle of the room.

Skate [installation view of full image]

Bob and Roberta Smith Left is the New Right 2004 screenprint 30" x 20" [installation view]

Mike Paré and Marc Swanson It Will Be The Same (Blacklight Goya) 2004 five-color silkscreen 17" X 26" [installation view]

Scott King.jpg
Scott King Gold Madonna 2003 screenprint 32" x 24" [installation view]

Charles Goldman Your Name Here 2000 poster 12" x 17.75" [installation view]

It was the last day of a large group show when we finally made the ten-block trek to White Columns on Saturday, but I couldn't resist doing a post on it anyway. I found Matthew Higgs' "Post No Bills" so impressive (and sometimes even a lot of fun, in between the more disturbing posters) that I wanted to be on record for saying so. There were dozens of artists represented, hung more or less salon style (bill style?), and none of them was a dud. The images shown above are almost a random selection, and partly a consequence of relative success with the camera, but they were all in a long list of favorites.

The complete roll:

John Armleder; Fabienne Audéoud and John Russell; John Baldessari; Fiona Banner; Derek Barnett; Simon Bedwell; Walead Beshty; Matthew Brannon; Matthew Buckingham; Clint Burnham; Steve Claydon; Jeremy Deller; Sam Durant; Shannon Ebner; Harrell Fletcher; Ryan Gander; Charles Goldman; Wayne Gonzales and David Silver; Rodney Graham; GuerrillaGirlsBroadBand; Mark Hagen; Steve Hanson and Frances Stark; Inventory; Scott King; Jim Lambie; Cary Leibowitz; Robert Linsley; Lucy McKenzie; Aleksandra Mir; Jonathan Monk; Alex Morrison; Paul Noble; Mike Paré and Marc Swanson; Kelly Poe; Allen Ruppersberg; Igor Santizo; Steven Shearer; Karina Aguilera Skvirsky; Kathy Slade; Slimvolume 2004; Bob and Roberta Smith; Michael Smith; Ron Terada; Rirkrit Tiravanija; Kelley Walker; John Waters, and William Wegman.
There's no longer any excuse for boring dorm or apartment posters, no matter the budget, but of course there never really was.

Phong Bui Hybrid Carnival for Exupéry #2 2005 [detail of gallery installation]

Phong Bui's site-specific installation takes over almost every inch of Sarah Bowen's gallery space. The press release talks about flight, "exhuberant fantasies of lightness," the painted language of cubism and his free evocation of "the mystifying vision of Modern artÂ’s rambunctious youth."

I also like the gorgeous collage drawings shown on a wall in the rear gallery. They suggest studies but they could only have gone so far in directing the kind of spontaneous exuberance seen in his three-dimensional intervention.

Aaron Wexler Flowers Through the Weeds 2005 acrylic, ink and paper on panels 96" x 104" [detail]

- being another work from the current show at Jack the Pelican Presents. Barry and I had first seen Aaron Wexler's beautiful art exactly one year ago at Oliver Kamm's 5BE Gallery in a show curated by Lital Mehr. Wexler's older paper collages were so subtle they were virtually invisible, especially in photo reproduction. I only had to wait.

[image from Aaron Wexler's site, where the piece is titled, Out of Darkness]

Katherine Daniels Multi-Colored Pendant 2003 wired plastic beads on plastic spool [large detail of installation, with details of two works on paper in the background]

I realize this site has been looking pretty grim lately, and that I was risking the loss of its art blog aspect, so I went through my photo stash and found something which would brighten up the space and at the same time show some beautiful work most people would not have seen yet.

This piece by Katherine Daniels was installed in one of the rooms at the Pool Art Fair earlier this month. Daniels was included in the show David Gibson curated at Jack the Pelican last April, "Culture Vulture," with another wonderful, even more extravagant piece.

Bethany Bristow, dropped off on the way to the museum

I've had this weird reaction to her art since coming across it (in a switch, it was sometime after we had met). Bethany Bristow's messy alien-organic sculptures attracted and repelled me at the same time, and I even forgot that this response usually meant that I was likely to end up liking a work, or a body of work, very much.

I now like it very much indeed.

She has work spread throughout the current PS1 Greater New York 2005 show, all of it placed as if it were something waiting to be cleaned up. But nothing worked so well for me as this image I saw in a link on an email she sent out this afternoon. Maybe it's the daylight, maybe it's the space. It's a great photograph, the piece is perfectly installed and I can't really blame the artist of a guerilla installation for having art inside a museum at the same time.

It's all public art, even if you may need $5 to see the stuff inside.

[image from Bethany Bristow]

No, not that one, it's about the one we ordered.

Danny Lyon 327, 329, and 331 Washington Street, between Jay and Harrison Streets

It's all gone now. Sixty acres of lower Manhattan's nineteenth-century buildings were demolished during the mid-sixties, including what became the site of the World Trade Center towers. There was also a new vehicle ramp to be added to the Brooklyn Bridge, Pace University was to be enlarged, and historic Washington Market was moved to the Bronx, its buildings reduced to rubble.

Danny Lyon writes today in The Village Voice about his documentation forty years ago of a massive "urban renewal" project in Manhattan:

It was a huge story in New York City at the time. (I'm from Queens, and when you're from Queens, you really admire Manhattan . . . and this was the most historic part of Manhattan. The oldest part of Manhattan was vanishing.) And it was an ignored story at the time, or I wouldn't have done it. Part of how I saw myself, as a journalist, was finding the truth and delivering it to the American people. To put it in a really crude way.

. . . .

You have to understand that I was—and still am, although I've aged and mellowed— I was obsessed with the power of photography. I thought you could take a bike rider, Harley-Davidson, roaring along, and that this photography was so miraculous that you could somehow contain that power in the negative. Unlike this guy who would go around the corner and die, or run out of gas, that the thing that you contained would be for all time. . . .

I had the power to use all of these buildings and preserve them for the future. And if anybody wanted to experience [the] Lower Manhattan that had stood there for 150 years, they would have to come to my photographs! Which would be washed and preserved and in the New York Public Library. . . .

. . . .

I understood that the way to deliver photography as news was to do books. That's what I think the news should be: an individual's statement about how he sees reality. Or as Ferlinghetti says, "The dog trots freely in the street and sees reality. . . . "

The book's about architecture. This country's committing architectural suicide. It's doing it right now, this moment. Not 37, 38 years ago. This is nothing, what they did down here: The 60 acres is nothing. We're destroying 6 billion acres of America, and we're doing it right now. We're doing it because you can get a mortgage for 5 percent.

Anybody can do anything anywhere.

We can't expect a city to remain the same forever, but we never needed any of the "improvements" for which these neighborhoods were sacrificed, and don't even mention the aesthetic crimes committed.

Danny Lyon is an artist and a poet.

[image from Gay City News, courtesy of the Edwyn Houk Gallery]

Dan Steinhilber Untitled 2003-2005 duck sauce, plastic 60" x 80" [detail]

It's a good thing. The art, for sure, but also it's a good thing that gallery shows which open in late June are often extended through much of the summer. Distracted by the heat and humidity of July in New York, I almost missed posting something about this one. Tyler Green has curated a beautiful exhibition at DCKT, a very cool show of cool minimal art by Rosana Castrillo Díaz, Augusto di Stefano, and Dan Steinhilber.

The curator's conceit is the manner in which the work of these young artists (and I don't think there's a single piece here which is over a year old) relates to an older generation of American minimalists - that is, absent the hard edges and right angles. A less ideological, more organic, even humanist minimalism?

Yes, Steinhilber's large work on the north wall is composed entirely of small packets of duck sauce, and it really glows. Nothing else in the room looks anything like it, even Steinhilber's other two pieces. The three artists' very individual aesthetics don't overlap even in this modest-sized space. They're all beautiful, and together a perfect fit.

Aja Albertson If a birth flower falls in a forest, and no one is there to smell it, will it then grow a stone? 2005 silk flowers, faux gems, urethane, glass vase and butterfly approx. 12" x 12" [view of installation on gallery shelf]

The show is called "Something is Somewhere," and in the Monya Rowe Gallery's elaborate press statement the curators, Anat Egbi and Monya Rowe, explain a conceit which doesn't seem to be attached to the amusing image on the invitation (and the gallery site). The photo shows most of the participation artists lined up in front of a wall on either side of the two curators, every one of them dressed as the gallerist, in little black dresses and white neck scarfs. Yup, no guys.

I couldn't get anything into my camera's memory card which would do justice to the great pieces I saw in the gallery. A view of the shelf near the door will have to suffice for this post. This show, which includes work in the mediums of painting, photography, video, drawing, and sculpture, really has to be seen in person. The artists are Aja Albertson, Katia Bassanini, Larissa Bates, Amy Bennett, Jen DeNike, Angela Dufresne, Echo Eggebrecht, Adriana Farmiga, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Magalie Guerin, Elizabeth Huey, Ellen Lesperance & Jeanine Oleson, Caitlin Masley, Sigrid Sandstrom, Erika Somogyi, Frances Trombly, Whitney Van Nes, Abbey Williams and Sheri Warshauer.

Ara Peterson Standing Waves 2004 wood, acrylic 45" x 168" x 30" [detail of installation]

Ara Peterson is included in a group show at Greene Naftali based loosely on the idea of fractal geometry. Both the concept and its execution suggest the mystical as much as the scientific. A stunning show, and there are some great images on the gallery site itself.

In addition to Peterson's work there are fascinating contributions from Julie Becker, Keith Connolly, David Dempewolf, Rachel Harrison and Michaela Meise.

Keith Connolly Qvaris Object at Dawn 2004-2005 wood, mirror, acrylic, plaster, DVD, mini monitor 49" x 49" x 25" 40 minutes [view of installation]

David Dempewolf Time Travel Project - Glenn Gould 2005 digital video installation dimensions variable [still from installation]

the view from the paving stones in the middle of Wooster Street

and the prospect from Spencer Brownstone's loading dock moments before

It's just a summer show, but it includes a huge list of artists, and it was only one of three neighboring galleries in the only part of Soho which still has any creds with openings last night. The street outside Spencer Brownstone was effectively closed because of the crush of art fans and related sorts.

Last night we started out at the gallery's group show and then squeezed further down Wooster Street to Guild & Greyshkul's "The General's Jamboree/Second Annual Watercolor Exhibition," which was just as well attended (that is to say, totally jammed). Both shows are basically surveys of what's going on in New York today that hasn't yet been seen in a major gallery (or any gallery) anywhere. Worth a detour! Actually, worth a trip, even without the attractive opening-night crowds.

Valerie Hegarty Still Life (with Birds) 2005 paper, watercolor, glue, wire [detail of a piece, which included work on the wall above, installed at Guild & Greyshkul]

I can't speak to the attractions of Swoon's installation at Deitch on Grand Street, which also opened last night, since Barry and I decided to pass on the opportunity of slipping through the eye of a needle to get into the steamy inner sanctum where her big stuff is installed. Had to be content for the evening with this view of the floor in the outer gallery:

the very beautiful, and somewhat challenging floor installed by Swoon in Deitch's small south gallery

For more, see Bloggy.


In a NYTimes review of the restaurant Loreley published just over a year ago Julia Moskin wrote, "German food can be a hard sell. It is deeply unfashionable . . . . " I copied the quote down. Today I'm not entirely sure why, but it ended up in the pages of one of my German cookbooks where I found it a few days ago.

I didn't start off this week intending to prepare German dinners exclusively every night, but it's been working out that way ever since we made a return visit last Saturday to one of our favorite hometown restaurants, Kurt Gutenbrunner's Austrian restaurant, Wallsé.

My original idea was just to so something from my own childhood experience of a 4th of July meal, but a simpler, low-key version, since that was how Barry and I were dealing with the day otherwise. The fact that I didn't want to heat up the kitchen and we weren't able to cook outside certainly contributed to reducing my ambitions as well. I ended up with bratwurst (unfortunately they were nothing like the legendary Sheboygan sausage) grilled on a ribbed castiron pan, real German potato salad, some fantastic pink/white radishes, a cucumber salad my mother would have been proud of and a decent loaf of pumpernickel bread. In a significant departure from my Wisconsin family's experience we decided to raid the wine rack rather than the beer we're no longer laying down in the refrigerator because we need the space. The excellent riesling is probably what persuaded me to continue the Rhineland theme the next day, the day after the next, and eventually through tonight as well.

On Tuesday I located some excellent smoked trout, which I served with a bowl of whipped cream I flavored with lemon and grated horseradish, and we continued through most of the vegetables we hadn't been able to finish the day before, with the rare addition of some spicy puntarelle not consumed in an Italian salad two days earlier. Another Rhine or Moselle from the "cellar," and then a ginger rhubarb compote for desert.

Wednesday evening we had some crisp flatbreads with two smoked eels I had collected from the Union Square farmers (fisherman's?) market that afternoon, some wild watercress and the rest of the whipped horseradish cream. For an entree I turned on the gas for the first time since Monday in order to saute a thick slice of Niman Ranch ham and to boil some new potatoes I finished in sauteed sweet onion slices and topped with fresh thyme. We had small bowls of what remained of the cucumber salad on the side, now slightly augmented and refreshed with chopped puntarelle. Another good riesling, a Pfälzer, a Deidesheim.

Tonight after returning from a number of art openings in Soho we only needed a small snack, since following an afternoon in Chelsea galleries we had enjoyed Korean sushi at what was an outrageous hour for lunch - even for us. I had managed to save a bit of the ham from last night and we had it together with some good German mustard, the last of a potato salad which was still showing the stuff it was made of and some buttered slices of the sturdy pumpernickel. A fine Nierstein Riesling Kabinet was our company.

My point is that German food does not have to be scary. It never did, but today there is even less cause for alarm because of the development of a nouvelle German cuisine which I had predicted was inevitable years ago, at a time when I could and would abandon myself to the heaviest examples of German cookery with no regrets, no complaints. Unless she has changed her opinion, wherever she may be now, I would argue with Ms. Moskin that today German cookery finally has become fashionable; it's just that most of the world doesn't know it yet.

If anyone is looking for inspiration they should take a peek at the gorgeous photographs in "Culinaria Germany." My potato salad came straight from its pages, but I fell in love with Mimi Sheraton's "The German Cookbook" four decades ago and won't let it out of my sight. I may have moved from a German kitchen into a French one and today an Italian, but my first great love was this 1965 classic. It remains unchallenged as an English-language guide to German cooking even if it can't boast a single illustration. It was Sheraton's cucumber salad we enjoyed this week.

I knew I was going to go back to Southern Italy again, at least for a while, but I bought another handfull of kirbys just yesterday at the greenmarket. Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can find anything in Italian cuisine which could possibly love a cucumber.

NOTE: I tried to locate an image from "Culinaria" or elsewhere which might do justice to my argument, but without success, so I settled for the entertainment value of a World War I British propaganda postcard which may or may not be serious in complaining about the enemy's cookery.

[image from]

Christian Jankowski 16mm Mystery 2004 35mm film [video still in view of installation]

I waited a long time before checking out the "Greater New York 2005" show at PS1, but in taking in much of it on a relatively short visit this past Sunday I ended up thinking it was surprisingly good, and sometimes great fun. It was the weekend of July 4th, and there was almost no one else there, so I'm wondering how that might have effected my impressions. Well, it was relaxing, more like visiting a dusty museum in Calcutta than the vital loft-like spaces in which is installed the art we are told best represents our own anxious time and space.

Sure, we're seasoned veterans, so there weren't too many surprises, but even artists with whom Barry and I were pretty familiar generally showed unfamiliar work. That was what the curators had wanted, and most of the invitees seemed to have gotten that part down pat.

After hearing so many friends in addition to ourselves admit that they hadn't made the trip out to Queens (and not just because even now there are still almost three months left to see the stuff), it turned out to be much more interesting than either of us had been led, or had led ourselves, to expect.

We'll be going back soon to catch what we missed the first time around.

reaction in the public gallery of the Cortes on June 30, as the Spanish parliament extended full rights of marriage to all citizens

Some day a people crazy about waving its own flag at home and around the world may actually understand the liberty and justice it was intended to represent.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the world has already overtaken us.

Excerpts from the speech by Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero delivered just prior to the vote last Thurday which legalized gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples:

We are not legislating, honorable members, for people far away and not known by us. We are enlarging the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and, our families: at the same time we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.

In the poem 'The Family,' our [gay] poet Luis Cernuda was sorry because, 'How does man live in denial in vain/by giving rules that prohibit and condemn?' Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people who, during many years have, been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, their identity denied, and their liberty oppressed. Today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty.

It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone's triumph. It is also the triumph of those who oppose this law, even though they do not know this yet: because it is the triumph of Liberty. Their victory makes all of us (even those who oppose the law) better people, it makes our society better. Honorable members, There is no damage to marriage or to the concept of family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. To the contrary, what happens is this class of Spanish citizens get the potential to organize their lives with the rights and privileges of marriage and family. There is no danger to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law enhances and respects marriage.

Today, conscious that some people and institutions are in a profound disagreement with this change in our civil law, I wish to express that, like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will generate no evil, that its only consequence will be the avoiding of senseless suffering of decent human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of decent human beings is a better society.

With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of liberty and tolerance that was begun by the democratic change of government. Our children will look at us incredulously if we tell them that many years ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or if we tell them that people had to stay married against their will even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every right gained, each access to liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people that deserve our recognition and praise.

Today we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to the unhappiness and humiliation of some of our citizens. Today, for many of our countrymen, comes the day predicted by Kavafis [the great Greek gay poet] one century ago: 'Later 'twas said of the most perfect society/someone else, made like me/certainly will come out and act freely.'

Can we try to remember these noble words the next time any U.S. politician opens his or her mouth?

[a dear friend of mine, Jamie Leo, forwarded the speech text this morning; it can be found on Doug Ireland's site, where the translation is credited to Rex Wockner; image by Susana Vera from Reuters]

Ann Craven Pink twig III [detail]

Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert have installed a very impressive summer garden show in their very urban quarters on West 19th Street. I'm leading this short post with a detail image of one of the works in the installation rather than the picture of the entire piece with its neighbors because, I think, it works so much better on the scale of this small screen. Much of the surface of Ann Craven's luminous oils have the soft focus of pastels and their extravagant beauty can barely be suggested in reproduction, but this small detail of a branch packs a lot of punch even in a few square inches.

I love her work, as much for its seductive beauty as for its totally uncynical goof on the popular excesses of cuteness and its reproduction.

Ann Craven [installation view of Pink twig I, Pink twig II and Pink twig III, each 2005, oil on canvas, 60" x 47"]

The other artists in the show are Ena Swansea, Petra Singh, Will Ryman, Elizabeth Neel, Bart Romberg, Laura Stein, Jeannie Weissglass, Benjamin Cottam, Debora Warner and Joyce Kim. They make an odd assembly, especially for a show entitled "Flower Power," but these aren't your mother's daisies.

Jeannie Weissglass The Garden 2005 wallpaper, ink pencil and oil paint on wood panels 84" x 144" [installation view]

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